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“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the

full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:2-3

One of the wisest women I know completed a first grade education, baked bread and did chores under the supervision of a harsh stepmother, came to New York on a boat from Italy at age 16, worked as a seamstress, and married a handsome, loving husband. Her dream to visit her beloved father and brothers was never realized. The couple lived in a modest apartment and she counted every penny, yet she was always generous towards others. Every morning she sat in a chair with a scripture and prayer book written in her native language. Her prayers, I know, were sweet incense to our Lord.

Dear Reader,

I was drawn to that simplicity in her, that beauty that comes from a pure devotion to Christ. No wonder the Bible tells us to search for wisdom as if searching for treasure and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Yes, Grandma was one of the wisest women I know. Her heart was a storehouse filled with beautiful treasure— not the kind you can buy. Out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth spoke wisdom. This issue of Between the Lines is filled with treasure. It is soaked in wisdom from the fountain of living water, the Word of God. I pray that our thirst will be quenched as we read each word. “Know also, that wisdom is sweet to your soul, to find it there is future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.” Prov. 24:14 Please share this issue with others—it is our hope that Between the Lines will continue to travel near and far to connect women to Jesus Christ. And thank you for sharing with us in the journey of a lifetime on the road that leads us Home. Desiring God’s Wisdom,

A year or so before she left this life to be home with the Lord, I sat across from her at her little kitchen table as I had many times before. I looked at her lovely face with its soft creases, and I asked, “Grams, if you could share only one word of wisdom, what would it be?” Without hesitation and with conviction Grams replied, “Have faith in God.” One of the wisest women I know says, “Trust.” Simple and pure. Trust in the one who created you, who knew you before you were born. Trust in the Lord God Almighty, who sent his son Jesus Christ so that all who believe in him would not perish but will have everlasting life.

Mary Ann

Between the Lines is a magazine of the Journey, a ministry of Christ Church Fairview Heights, IL. © 2011, Christ Church. mychristchurch.com Graphic Design by Justin Aymer

Between the Lines • Fall 2011 • Volume 1, Issue 3

We’d love to know what you think about Between the Lines.
E-mail us at thejourney.betweenthelines@gmail.com
In the next issue: Desire—what do you really want?

This Issue’s Theme: Wisdom Verse of the Season: “By wisdom a house is built; and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Prov. 24:3-4).

Meet the Contributors
Mary Ann Turner is the leader of the Journey Team at Christ Church. A former elementary school teacher, she is the wife of Mark, mother of two grown children, and grandmother to one precious little boy. She enjoys great conversations, hiking with her family, and encouraging others to grow in their Christian faith. Emily Climaco, Ph.D., is a Journey Team member and the volunteer editor of Between the Lines. The wife of Phil and mom of Caroline, she spends time riding her bike, drinking green tea, and chasing her two-year-old around the backyard, literally. Lindsay Tallman is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Nature, Biotech, and Commerce magazines. A wife and mother of three, Lindsay enjoys reading, traveling, and playing with her quirky children. She and her family live in O’Fallon, Illinois and worship at Christ Church. Courtney Doctor is a wife to Craig and a mother of four: two in college, one in high school, and one in middle school. She and her husband are both students at Covenant Theological Seminary, each pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. She loves her horse, Carson, coffee, studying, and teaching God’s Word. Christine Hipp resides in the St. Louis area and works for the e-commerce division of New Balance. She’s pursuing her dream to provide Christian ministries, small businesses, and independent contractors with cost-effective, efficient financial solutions. She utilizes her talents at Embrace A Village, a ministry to leprosy victims in India. She loves studying and sharing God’s Word.

Farewell to My TV Friend
by Emily Climaco Fall is approaching, which means cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and a new season of Oprah. Wait a minute. No more Oprah show? Say it ain’t so! I’ll admit I teared up when Ms. Winfrey left the stage for the last time this past spring. While I’m not an “ultimate viewer,” I’m a longtime fan since grade school. I appreciate Oprah as an entertainer and believe that she has noble intentions of helping people improve their lives. Oprah has a special gift for making viewers feel like they know her—and that she understands them. As a child she wanted to become a teacher, and she still thinks of herself as a teacher, albeit one with a vast, nontraditional classroom. While Oprah does not claim to be a teacher of the gospel, she often has shared spiritual truths based on her life experience. I have learned from some of her ideas—even those which are not overtly Christian—because our God is the source of all truth. My job as a Christian living under the authority of
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the Bible is to acknowledge the truth as God’s and attribute credit and glory to him. We should be wary, however, of putting faith in spiritual principles originating in human experience or intuition, no matter how well-meaning that person may be. Those who seek to teach spiritual truths will be held to a higher standard than the average man or woman: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1, NIV). Nonetheless, in this age of information, there are many “teaching” voices vying for our attention and allegiance, making discernment crucial. The Christian’s test of truth is the Bible, and a belief that does not line up with scripture is neither godly wisdom nor trustworthy. Furthermore, while Oprah has said many wise things over the years, we must acknowledge that if we can more readily quote Ms. Winfrey— or even our beloved pastors—than we can call scripture to mind, there is a serious problem.

A critical distinction must be made between godly wisdom and the wisdom of the world. The prophet Isaiah spelled it out this way: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God’s processes are utterly unlike ours, a comforting truth if we’ve ever been forced to face our own bleak limitations. Oprah’s assertion that, “With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice,” may be enlightening to a reader who doesn’t acknowledge the importance of intentions. And yet, however important our thoughts and choices may be, they are downright puny compared to the sovereignty of God. As Solomon wrote with transcendent wisdom, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21). While my intention is not to pass judgment on Oprah, I do want to highlight the wisdom of the author of Hebrews, who warned, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (2:1). It’s imperative that you and I grow strong molars in order to handle the solid food of biblical wisdom (Heb. 5:11-14) and discern Truth from sort-of-true-depending-on-your-worldview. We also need to recognize how blessed we are to have access to the wisdom of God through the Holy Spirit living in us: “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). One of my great-

est “aha moments” was sparked by this truth! I appreciate Oprah’s contributions: she changed the tone of TV talk shows, emphasized gratitude, confronted the crime of sexual abuse of children, and re-popularized serious reading, to name just a few. At the same time, my Christian responsibility is to discern the good from the best, worldly wisdom from godly wisdom, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Cor. 3:19). The wisdom that you and I can rely on is dramatically counter-intuitive, oriented not toward self-actualization but self-denial. For instance, Jesus warned, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). In the topsy-turvy world of God’s wisdom, living your best life means giving it away to the One who made you. (For more examples, see 1 Cor. 1:18-31, 1 Cor. 2, James 3:13-18.) Paul offered his readers hope in this way: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-10). To paraphrase Paul’s godly wisdom in the simplest of terms: we should love more and more, aim to know what is best, give all credit to God. This is what I know for sure.
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pumping out its youth/ beauty-centric message, God has something entirely different to say about growing old. In the last chapter of Proverbs, he paints a picture of a woman who has qualities that cause her to be praised. And it never once mentions what she looks like or her age. Instead, it says, “She is a woman of strength and dignity, and has no fear of old age. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says. She watches carefully all that goes on throughout her household, and is never lazy. Her children stand and bless her; so does her husband. He praises her with these words: ‘There are many fine women in the world, but you are the best of them all!’ Charm can be deceptive and beauty doesn’t last, but a woman who fears and reverences God shall be greatly praised” (Prov. 31:25-30, The Living Bible). This woman’s self-worth, wisdom, and beauty are a result of her relationship with God and the way she treats and serves others.

Are We Getting Wiser or Just Older?
by Lindsay Tallman
I’ve been thinking about getting older lately. Perhaps it’s because my 35th birthday is quickly approaching, which I suppose marks the halfway point between young (20) and middle-aged (50). Or maybe it’s because, when I go for hair appointments now, getting highlights has become less “for fun” and more “out of necessity.” Possibly it’s due to finding my oldest daughter staring at the clothes in my closet and, when I asked what she was doing, she replied, “I was just wondering if I can have all these clothes when you die.” But whatever the reason, in a world where women are bombarded with images of airbrushed beauty, medical procedures to turn back the hands of time, and magazine covers saturated with beauty tips, it’s hard not to frown at the first signs of aging. Thankfully, while the world keeps
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As a mother of two girls, I’m well aware of the uphill battle they’ll be facing in a few years when they enter junior high and high school. I have already begun talking to them about the need to have wisdom to make correct decisions. The Bible tells us that, “the Lord grants wisdom! His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understand-

ing” (Prov. 2:6). In other words, there are no short cuts. If we want to make good decisions that honor God, our families and ourselves, we’ve got to read God’s Word and seek to understand his ways. This world judges people based on outward appearance; however, God’s Word says, “Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God” (1 Pet. 3:5). We’re all guilty of making assumptions (often subconsciously) about people based on what we see in front of us. God calls us to be more deliberate and look past the external to see his child within. Whether we are mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, or friends, we have a responsibility as Christians to set an example of what it looks like to be a godly woman who is walking in his wisdom and tuning out the deception of this world. And the tricky part is not just knowing what we believe, but actually putting those beliefs into the fabric of our lives in a way that speaks through our actions and words. If we say, “beauty is on the inside,” but spend tremendous amounts of time, effort, and money on outward appearances, our words don’t count for much. What spoken or unspoken messages are we sending to the women or girls in our sphere of influence? Contrary to my rush to color mine, Proverbs tells us that, “White hair is a crown of glory and is seen most among the godly” (16:31). So I guess the question becomes, are we going to let the inevitable aging process distract us by staring into the mirror and

wondering if one eye is looking a little more squinty than the other lately? (Not that I’ve ever done that . . .) Or, are we going to work on searching for wisdom like hidden treasure so that we are actually becoming more beautiful in God’s eyes? In an age when people have made a business of offering extreme makeovers and nips and tucks, we can rest assured that the only makeover we’ll ever need is the one that comes from above. Through Jesus Christ we are, “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24, NIV). The next time I find some new sign of aging, I won’t let it bring me down (and I definitely won’t frown because then I’ll get that little wrinkle between my eyebrows, and that’s just one more thing). As a Christian, I know that I’ll be cashing in this body for a new one someday anyway. Until then, I hope I can laugh at the days to come. Age 35 . . . bring it on!

Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
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Heavenly Jewels
a ministry to the hurting
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Heavenly Jewels is an outreach of Christ Church, Fairview Heights, that offers hand-crafted salvation bracelets as gifts to men and women who need to hear the Good News of Jesus. It is a growing ministry that seeks to share the gospel message with those experiencing a significant emotional event in their lives. Offering these people prayer and an outward, visible symbol of Christ’s salvation reminds them that they are not alone in what may be their darkest hour. People who receive the bracelets are facing some of life’s toughest trials. More than ever, they need to know that Jesus is present in their lives. Living in a shelter, divorce, family separation, serious illness, severe depression, lifealtering injury, or death of a loved one threaten to plunge us into the depths of despair. It is during those times of utter hopelessness that we need to be reminded that God loves us, and that he is the light that can break through the darkness. Crafted from stunning Swarovski crystals and sterling silver, salvation bracelets are beautiful, tangible reminders of the salvation Christ offers each of us. Each colorful crystal symbolizes a unique aspect of this salvation. The bracelets are free, hand-delivered, and offered with a short prayer. Recipients may be believers, non-believers, or anyone in between. If you know someone who is experiencing an emotionally traumatic time and needs to hear the good news of Jesus for the first or the hundredth time, a salvation bracelet may be requested by e-mailing: Christine McNulty mcnulty5@charter.net or Theresa Cavalier cav79@charter.net

a hand on my shoulder; it was Daddy, behind me. When had he entered the room? He was right on time, again. “Look here, let’s see if we can blot this up,” Daddy says gently. With tissue in hand Daddy blots out the dark stain and draws a perfect little tree over the mess and makes it beautiful again. Isn’t that just like me today? I am just a mess and still, permitted to grow like a tree as God perfects me and makes me more like him. Later, as a mom and as a teacher I would share this story many times. God makes something beautiful of the mess of our lives. In Christ we are a new creation—the old has gone, the new has come (Col. 3:17). Remember always, repeat often. Years of motherhood teaching me, molding me, challenging me, and bringing me to the time to let my children go on their own. “Dad, I can’t seem to stop crying. I am so happy for them, but it is bittersweet.” Wisdom again touches my ears, “You are mourning, Mary Ann. Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Yes, I have read those words, and many times shared them with others. Now they are spoken to me. Peace settles over me and pats my tears. The only perfect parent is God, our Father. But if we look and listen, God’s wisdom comes to us through imperfect people who love him and know his Word. Wisdom is the first word and the last word, every time, in every season, for all eternity. “‘For I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Rev. 1:8).
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Through the Eyes (and Ears) of a Child
by Mary Ann Turner “Daddy, don’t let go, don’t let go,” I call out while riding my pink bicycle with the wind in my curls. No more training wheels for me! I imagine my dad still running behind me with his hand on the seat. And then it happens; I take a look back. Over my shoulder, Daddy seems to be a long way off. My smooth ride ends. Kerplop! The next moments tearful, and comforting, Daddy runs and scoops me up and helps me try again. Ah, the wisdom of God as displayed in a parent’s actions and words. Letting us go at just the right time, there to pick us up when we fall or fail. Thank you for showing me, so that when you tell me God loves me, I understand. “I love your mother, Mary Ann, but I love God more.” My little ears don’t quite understand Daddy’s words. As a woman, my mind and heart have remembered their sound. Love God more, more than anyone or anything. A memory of the greatest commandment—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”—lived out in front of me (Matt. 22:37). Wisdom, come to life. Pen and ink gently and carefully brush across the canvas of my quill-andbrush paint set until the bottle of black ink topples and gushes with the mistaken tap of my hand. Tears flow. “My picture is ruined!” Then, the touch of

A Mortgage and Two Dogs, or The Cost of Wisdom by Courtney Doctor
I’d like to ask you a question. First, let me tell you the story that prompted my question. A few years ago I had a plumber in our house working on our kitchen sink. I was talking with him as he was half-submerged in our cabinetry, and he commented that what he wanted more than anything in life was a cabin in Washington and an RV. His comment caught me off-guard. He was serious, passionate even, in his desire for these two things. All I could think was, “Really? More than anything?” Those seemed like good things to put on a bucket-list, but to have as his ultimate goal in life made me feel unexpectedly sad—as if there was nothing greater to propel and direct him through life. So, I’d like to ask you the question. You don’t have to write your answer down or share it with anyone, but, in the quietness of your heart, will you answer the question: what do you want? I mean, what do you want more than anything? Honestly.
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I don’t know what your answer is, but God tells us in Proverbs that “To get wisdom is better than gold” (16:16) and “. . . wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you desire cannot compare to her” (8:11). The apostle Paul gives his answer to my question in Philippians 3:7-8. He says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” You might be thinking, “Wait a minute! Didn’t Paul say that “knowing Christ” is of surpassing worth, while Proverbs says that wisdom is what is better than gold? So which is it: wisdom or knowing Christ?” Well, if we flip over to Colossians, we read that “all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ” (2:3). Wisdom is found in knowing God because he is the source of all wisdom, he is the embodiment of all wisdom, and he contains all wisdom. Listen again to what Paul is saying. He says that he is willing to lose all things in order to know Christ. But, in knowing Christ, what he gains is worth far more than gold, or silver, or jewels. So what

is lost is rubbish and what is gained is everything. What a deal! Who wouldn’t want that? John Piper says, “We should bend all our efforts to become wiser tomorrow than we are today.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t do that. I lose perspective. The little things in life become big, and the really big things become little. I have a friend whose son-in-law felt the Lord was leading him to go to law school. But it was a very difficult decision because he had a wife, a mortgage, two dogs, a daughter, and another on the way. He and his wife finally decided they were not going to let a mortgage and two dogs stand in the way of following God. I was cheering for them as they took this step of faith, but, at the same time, I was asking myself what the “mortgage and two dogs” were in my life. What were those little things that had become big and were keeping the big things from happening? What is it for you? What would it cost for you to pursue knowing Christ more? What might you lose? To ask another way, what are the “mortgage and two dogs” in your life? Sometimes the answer can be as basic as sleep or time. Sometimes it can be as big as a career or a reputation. Most of us live in a country and a culture where our faith is not highly costly. We don’t fear for our lives. Most of us will never be demoted or lose a job over our faith. But what if we did? What is it worth for you to pursue him and his wisdom? Would you be willing to count your career, or your savings, or your circle of friends as loss? What about sleep? That’s about as costly as it gets for most of us, yet it can feel like

a costly sacrifice when that alarm goes off and the snooze button is calling! Whatever your particular “mortgage and two dogs” are, in light of eternity, scripture tells us that they are considered like rubbish. But the cost of pursuing wisdom does not stop there. Proverbs 9:10 says that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Knowledge is important, and we have to commit ourselves to its acquisition. What we know of God and how we think of him affects our lives. On one hand, wisdom is not merely knowledge; you can’t just fill your head with knowledge about God and consider yourself wise. But neither is wisdom devoid of knowledge. Wisdom is a lived-out knowledge of God. Both the attainment of knowledge as well as the endeavor to apply that knowledge take a lot of time, effort, change, focus, and sacrifice. Whoever said that wisdom is both a divine gift and a human task was absolutely right. God has inclined our hearts to pursue him and has given us his Word; God has made himself known. The knowledge of God, the wisdom of Christ, are available to us. But scripture tells us to dig, seek, search, and cry out for it. So we’re back to our original question. What do you want more than anything? If it is knowing Christ and the wisdom found only in him, it will probably cost you. But what you lose is nothing in light of the surpassing worth of knowing him.

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Wit & Grit
There are a lot of smart people in the world, but wise people are rarer. Book-smarts, street-smarts, common sense—they’re all important to some degree, but “God-smarts” is the greatest kind of insight. We asked readers, what’s the best bit of wisdom you’ve ever received?

“Treasure each moment and trust the Lord.”

For Your (Life-Altering) Information
God loves you.
John 3:16

Laurie Van Hoof, Air Force wife, mom of three, photography lover

“Make ‘Quiet Time with God’ your highest priority for every day.”
-Marcy Matson Bitner, mom, fitness fanatic, pianist

We’ve all sinned.
Rom. 3:23

Jesus died for you.
Rom. 5:6-8

“No man is an island, no man stands alone—everything we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.”
-Debbi Cutright, mother, grandmother, nurse

Receive him, and he’ll forgive you.
1 John 1:9

God offers you his abundant life.
John 10:10

“Let go and let God.”
-Lisa Beckner, loves to learn

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Running with Wisdom
by Christine Hipp It was 1994. I was sitting in a movie theatre watching the new release of Forrest Gump when the truth of Hebrews 12:1-2 resonated in my heart: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NKJV). Forrest Gump, the character with the below-average IQ played by Tom Hanks, describes his childhood years and how he started running. This particular scene shows Forrest as a young boy walking with his new-found friend and love, Jenny Curran, when he gets hit by rocks thrown by bullies on bicycles. He’s hindered by leg braces and slow to react, so Jenny yells, “Run, Forrest, Run!” In fear, Forrest runs and keeps running. Eventually, the leg braces begin to fall off and he is running freely. He continues to run, no longer motivated by fear. It was at that moment I realized that my “Jenny” was God behind me telling me to run. It was time to lay aside my own perceptions of my weaknesses and start running with my eyes focused on Jesus and who he is—both in me and through me. I needed to stop choosing to believe the lies about my shortcomings and stand on the truth of what God says about me, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). I no longer had to live life on my own strength. Now 17 years later, I am still challenged to live by faith and not fear; to be an overcomer and not a victim; to understand God’s love for me despite my mistakes and “leg braces.” Are these tumultuous moral and economic times distracting you from the author and finisher of your faith? I want to extend the same encouragement to you and challenge you to run like Forrest, but with God’s wisdom. May you continue to seek God’s Word about Jesus, to understand the victory he provided you when he conquered death after the cross, and to build a love-filled relationship with him that empowers you to keep running through the strength of the Holy Spirit.
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