Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mary, Did You Know?

I still remember how to sing “Mary, Did You Know?”. Oh, I never sang the solo, but for years I sang the choral part and loved it. Dressed in Hebrew costumes, we held lit candles as we made our way through the sanctuary to the stage, and knelt in a semi-circle asking that timeless question—Did you know?

Mary, a godly girl, a willing maidservant, did you know what you held that first Christmas night? Did you know that you held the hope for every soul? The power that would crush all evil? The love that would show us the Father?
Did you know that you held in bodily form the God who parted the Red Sea, stopped the mouths of lions, and rained fire from heaven? Did you know that you cradled the Savior of the world? That you gave birth to the great I AM in human form?

According to her song, I think she did (Luke 1:38, 46-55). Did she think of it in those terms? I’m not sure, but I imagine so. Do we?
Do we stop in the hustle and bustle of Christmas to consider what great miracle happened that night? Every nativity scene we see is a reminder of the love, mercy, and selflessness of our God who left heaven to become one of us so He could die for each of us. Every Christmas is a reminder that the Son of God left His celestial home so He could make the heart of every believer His permanent home.

Christmas is lovely because of its lights, decoration, and music. What makes it beautiful beyond description is the act of the Creator becoming one of the created so they could know Him forever.
One day we’ll get to ask Mary just how much she knew and understood. She may ask us—Did you know, and what did you do about it?

With the knowledge we have of the true meaning of Christmas, let’s use every opportunity to spread God's love and light this Christmas. Every time we can, let’s say “Merry Christmas” or “God bless you” or “Is there something I can pray for you?”. I’ve been surprised how many people say “Merry Christmas” in return. Perhaps people are hungry for the love that God demonstrated in sending His Son to earth. We know why He came, and we can share that with our words and our lives.
Merry Christmas, and may God’s love hug you a little tighter this Christmas! God bless you.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? …” Isaiah 40:21, NKJV
Please visit my new blog site at http://lighthousebiblestudies.com/katy-blog, and be sure to "follow" the blog there!  Thank you!

Friday, December 6, 2013

New Blog at Lighthouse Bible Studies


Guess what?! We're official! Lighthouse Bible Studies now has its own website where you can see more about our Lighthouse team and our books. I have a new blog on there, too!

Visit our new site at http://lighthousebiblestudies.com/. I had a hand in designing it, and I'm grateful to all those who put it together.

I would love for you to visit my new blog! I can't transfer this blog's followers to that one, so please type in your email address in the Follow box to still receive emails. This blog will remain active for a while. (I've written so much on it.) But now all my new material will be on the new site. And here it is: http://lighthousebiblestudies.com/katy-blog!

Commenting should be easier on the new blog, so please leave a comment! I'd love to talk with you about Life with God and all its adventures. So you know, all comments must be approved to avoid spam submissions, so it may take a little while for them to show up. But thank you for reading this blog, and I hope you follow the next one!

God bless you, and may you know the fullness of life's adventures with Him!

~Katy


Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Arsenal for Victory

What songs do you like to listen to again and again? Is there a song you play when you’re feeling down? I have a couple of playlists on my computer that I play when I need a good pick-me-up song. The playlists include: By Your Side (Tenth Avenue North), Shout to the Lord (Darlene Zschech), The Prayer (Josh Groban and Angie Stone), and My Help Comes from the Lord (The Museum). These songs are a part of my musical “arsenal,” that I use to fight back thoughts of worry and feelings of depression. They remind me that God is great, I can trust Him, and He has a plan.

What about Scripture? Do you have a Scriptural arsenal that you use to defeat negative thoughts that Satan shoots through your mind? When fear threatens to stop you in your tracks, when doubts cause you to worry, when Satan tempts you to give up, what Scriptures do you run to?

I run to 2 Timothy. It is a book that I can pick up again and again and find truths to calm my heart, promises to empower my spirit, and encouragement to go get ‘em. I want to share those truths and promises with you.

My book, 2 Timothy: Winning the Victory, is all about how to win the spiritual battles of life and ministry. It shows from 2 Timothy how God’s children can win their spiritual struggles and make a difference in the world around them. God has used the four chapters of this short book of the Bible to show me over 275 principles of victory. The apostle Paul first passed the principles of victory to Timothy, his son in the faith. Now they have been passed to us.
Click here to read the back cover.

Whatever victory you need today—over a personal struggle, temptation, or spiritual harassment—turn to God and His Word for help. In Jesus, we find the power to defeat every foe. He equips us with the wisdom, power, and strategy to win the victory. Let 2 Timothy have a special place in your Scriptural arsenal, and remember—victory is possible because God makes it possible. In Christ, we don’t just survive. We excel.

2 Timothy: Winning the Victory is available directly from Lighthouse Bible Studies by emailing lighthousebiblestudies@hotmail.com or it will soon be available to purchase online.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In the Waiting

Are you good at waiting? It's hard for me to wait for the brownies to come out of the oven, or for my favorite TV show to come on, or for my friend to receive the package I just sent her. It can be hard for me to wait for more important things, too--things that I am hoping God will do. But I have found that waiting on big things that I'm praying for doesn't necessarily equate inactivity. It doesn't mean that I just do nothing.

No, in the waiting, I discover more of who God is. Like the peace He gives me when I'm tempted to doubt He won't provide. Or the joy He gives me when I remember all the good things I do have. When I remember Him, that I always have Him and He is always faithful and good, I can wait a little longer. I can focus on my relationship with Him and the good things He has called me to do. There's so much to do! So many people to reach and love. And I get to love the best Person of all and have confidence in His character, love, and power.

So, to repost something I wrote on Facebook one day, when I was thinking about being "in the waiting," this is what I've learned:

It can be hard to wait for good things. But it seems that while you wait, you learn stuff you wouldn't have otherwise. And God becomes closer, or you just realize how close He is. And fortunately, He often provides company for the journey. So were you waiting the whole time, or were you just getting closer to your destination? (July 2013)

What have you learned "in the waiting"? May God give you new strength to trust Him while you wait, and may He give you new adventures in the waiting and in the receiving.

"But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31, NKJV).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Snippet 1: Deer Feet

Today I'm starting a new series called "Snippets," bite-sized thoughts about Scripture, songs, and current events. These snippets won't follow a regular schedule but as God highlights a verse or song (has He done that for you?) or as current events affect the United States and believers here or around the world. If you miss any snippets, you'll be able to find them on the "Devo Series" page. Here's the first one--a verse God highlighted in my quiet time recently.


"The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills." Habakkuk 3:17, NKJV

God may not always smooth out the path before us, but He will transform our feet to walk on rocky terrain and rugged mountains. On the "high hills," we will see His strength sustain us when our own strength gives out. His presence with us will supply the courage to move forward, and His words will be our guide and wisdom.

What gives you strength on high hills?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Amazing Creator, A Loving Father

We all saw the same sunset. Two nights ago, three of us friends in nearby towns were captivated by the beauty of God’s painting at dusk. Technology couldn’t do the scene justice. Our cameras tried to capture the golden, persimmon clouds that stretched across the sky. The pictures were pretty enough, but nothing compared to standing underneath the radiated glow that the clouds emitted and taking in the glory of God’s masterpiece painting.   

God’s glory radiates through the universe. Every eye that looks heavenward can see His beauty and creativity. The stars that shine each night testify to His matchless creative genius and to His limitless power. The rising and setting of the sun constantly reminds us that He is in control of all things, having set the earth in its orbit and the stars in their place. Nothing is too big that He can’t manage.
Nothing is so small that He doesn’t care about it. Under the great expanse of heaven, God knows each beating heart and each life with its cares and concerns. He sees every joy and tear (Psalm 56:8).

Whatever care or concern you have right now—great or small—take it to the God who loves you perfectly. If He formed the stars and called them all by name (Psalm 147:4), He knows what our needs are and how to meet them if we look to Him (Matthew 6:25-33). If He paints the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, He can bring beauty into our lives and make something stunning out of them. The Creator of the universe loves each of us, His most cherished creations. May each sunset and each star remind you of His unfailing love and limitless power that acts on your behalf.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A July 4th Prayer

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance." (Psalm 33:12, NKJV)

Dear God,

Thank You for a country that was founded for the sake of liberty, to be free from oppression--spiritual and political. Thank You for the men and women who have given their lives to keep our country free. Please protect those who are serving now, and help us to stand for what is right here at home. Make our hearts strong, our character sound, and our lives a reflection of Christ. Guide us with Your wisdom. Thank You for blessing America, and please continue to bless her. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, June 21, 2013

This Place of Love


This poem was written shortly before I went through a very difficult time. Perhaps God knew I would need to remember that I am always safe in His love. Whatever difficult times come and go in our lives, we can abide--constantly remain--in God's love. He will be what we need to make it through. If I could choose any place as my resting place and strong tower, it is God's love.

"As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." John 15:9, NKJV

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Bloom for Every Season


In every season God is working in our lives. Nothing reminds me more of that than the beautiful grounds of the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Every time I visit I feel like I’m entering an enchanted forest. Towering trees greet me and more than a million visitors every year as we drive through miles of rolling hills. A mansion that rivals the manors of Europe, the Biltmore house is the largest private home in the United States.

I love to visit Biltmore at any time of the year—to see the house surrounded by golds, oranges, and reds in the fall or to count one more time the house’s thirty-eight Christmas trees in December. But recently, spring and summer have become my two favorite seasons. From early spring to fall, the Biltmore gardens showcase exquisite, timeless flowers—tulips and daffodils in the spring, roses and dahlias in the summer, and chrysanthemums in the fall. The winter garden inside the house’s atrium displays poinsettias for Christmas. Every season has its blooms and beauty.

In every season of our lives, God is tending the soil of our hearts and nurturing the blooms of our spirit. Whether we go through a season of peace and overflowing joy or a season of struggles and conflict, God can produce from that season the blooms of grace in us and the fruit of godly character. If we are willing to seek God, practice the principles of His Word, and cooperate with His work in our lives, every season will have its beauty and triumphs.

The road to victory and peace isn’t easy, and the growing process can take its toll on us. Two things can help us when we feel overwhelmed by a difficult season—remembering the good and doing good. When trials seem unbearable, don’t forget the good—the blessings God has given, His presence with you, His unending supply of grace and strength, and the truths and promises of His Word. When you don’t know what else to do, do what God has taught you so far—continue to read His Word, pour out your heart to Him in prayer, receive His comfort and direction, surround yourself with believers who encourage you, and depend on God to triumph in everyday life. God will be faithful to teach you more and to give you what you need to come out strong and victorious.
In every season the Master Gardener is at work. When we look to Him, He will produce in us the most exquisite traits of strength, perseverance, godliness, and goodness. He knows how to cultivate hard times to yield much glorious good. So count on Him and His investment in your circumstances, and do your part. Remember the good, and do the good that you know. This season’s blooms will be something to cherish for a lifetime.

 “The LORD will guide you continually, and … you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11, NKJV
 
*All pictures taken by Katy Kauffman at Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Easter Weekend

Twenty four years ago on Easter weekend, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. At just six years old, I knew that I needed Him, and I loved Him. I had heard from my parents, pastor, and Sunday school teachers that each of us has sin, and it separates us from God. So we need someone to rescue us. Jesus is that someone.

As God’s Son, Jesus came into our world as a baby, and grew up with life’s struggles and battles. But He never sinned. His mission was to show people who God is (John 1:18, 14:9), and the fullest expression of God’s love was the cross (Romans 5:8). On the cross, Jesus died for every person’s sin who has ever lived. Nothing deterred Him from the mission—not being betrayed, denied, and arrested. Not being mocked, beaten, and scourged. Not being forsaken by His closest friends and from God Himself (He had to be separated from God to bear our sin). He was true to the mission even though it cost Him so much suffering. Why? Love.
For love’s sake, Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin. But the story doesn’t end there. Sorrow on Good Friday turned into joy on Easter Sunday when He was raised from the dead. His death was sufficient to pay for our sin, and God raised Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Alive again. Reunited with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Seen by witnesses. His death was real, and so was His resurrection.

Jesus is alive today, and cares about each of us. He wants every person to know Him and to spend the rest of eternity knowing God and loving Him. Jesus is the someone who can rescue us from a life without hope, who can heal our hearts when they’ve been crushed, who can save us from our sin and from eternal separation from God. He is the Hero. There is no better person to love and cherish the most.
On Good Friday, He died for us. On Easter, He was raised to life. This Easter weekend, may Jesus’ love flood your heart as we celebrate His death and resurrection! He is a living Savior, a personal Savior. With a Savior like this, we have much to celebrate!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Soak It Up

I was trying not to be sad. A few days after my grandmother passed away this year, my family went to a florist shop to pick out flowers for her burial. We wanted something beautiful and elegant, but not overdone.

I was doing pretty well emotionally until the florist pulled out a catalog of arrangements for us to look at. I stepped away from the counter, letting my mom and aunt flip through the book. Flowers are the main thing I remember from the funerals I attended as a child. To me, flowers are supposed to be a symbol of joyous occasions and times of celebration. I needed to remember they are also used to honor someone special.
The florist led us to the backroom of the shop, where she had just completed a lovely arrangement of white flowers. While my mom and aunt talked with her, I joined my dad in the adjoining workroom and noticed something sitting on the workbench. A glass vase held some flowers as blue as the water they stood in. I had no idea what color the flowers originally were, but because they had soaked up the blue water, they were the most vibrant, charming shade of blue I have ever seen.

What are you standing in? If we choose to stand in sorrow, fear, or guilt, we will soak it up like those cut flowers. It will color our outlook on life and our enthusiasm. But if we stand in God’s hand and look to Him, we will soak up His love, joy, and peace. The warmth of His love, the vibrancy of His joy, and the relief of His peace will fill us, and He will provide the hope, healing, and momentum that we need.
Don’t let your “vase” be filled with the wrong thing. Stand in God’s grace, and allow Him to fill you with His love and power. Soak up His goodness, and let Him bring your color back to life.

God gave my family grace to bear the passing of my grandmother. Although it was hard, we bore it together and held a touching burial to honor her long life of eighty years. As Mark Twain's eulogy for a beloved family member says, “Good night, dear heart, good night.”  (Mark Twain’s full eulogy is engraved on my great-great-great grandfather’s tombstone, just across the cemetery from my grandmother’s resting place.)

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Renewed Hope

This morning I noticed buds on the trees for the first time. Spring is coming. After an exceptionally rainy winter, I am ready for spring—to walk outside in the sunshine, hear the birds sing, and delight in bright blossoms and bright days. I know the rain was needed, and perhaps it’s the winter rains that make spring even brighter. But now, I am grateful for the sunshine.

In life, we go through seasons of winter rains and spring sunshine. We cherish the good times, but when hard times cloud our sunny days, we can have renewed hope that God will use it for good. He will use the winds and rain of adversity to produce within us strength, beauty, and sound character. No raindrop goes unused. God is working to make us stronger and more useful in His eternal plan. Joy comes even in the rain, as God shines His light in our hearts, helping us to know Him in ways we might not have otherwise.
So cherish the sunshine. But also, see the good in the rain, and may this spring bring you renewed hope of all that God can do in you and through you.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18, NKJV

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Blessings

For whatever this new year holds, may you find in God a Friend who is always there, a Guide who will lead you into His very best, and a Father who loves you with all His heart. So many joys and adventures await us in the new year. And remember He is already there!

"And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8, NKJV

Happy 2013!