You are on page 1of 16

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering

the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish my desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

God’s Word: seed for the sower and bread for the eater, accomplishing God’s desire and purpose.

Dear Reader,

worship. We become aware that our growling, malnourished hearts will only be satisfied in Christ. It is the desire of the Journey team to be a voice for God’s truth. It is our prayer that the Journey magazine, Between the Lines, be seed for the sower and bread for the eater; hearts on paper, endeavoring to communicate God’s desire and purpose. We rely on the power of the Word to bud and flourish in the life of every woman who reads the words penned on each page. Please pray for us in the coming days as we follow God’s lead in connecting women to Jesus Christ. As always, I close with the thought that we are privileged to be on this Journey of a lifetime with you, headed for Home. Praying for God’s desire and purpose in our hearts, our homes, our churches, and our world,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 1-2, 14). Jesus Christ, the living Word: seed for the sower and bread for the eater, accomplishing God’s desire and purpose. What is God’s desire? His desire is that all men come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Tim. 2:3). He provided the Way, the Truth, and the Life in Jesus Christ. Between every line of God’s holy Word, the Bible, is God’s desire for you and for me. Both in and between every line of the Bible is Jesus. The Christ. The savior of the world. Emmanuel, God with us. The Bible is God’s heart on paper. It is God’s desire. To know God’s Word is to know God’s desire. His Word turns our grabbing selfishness into gratitude. Our prideful ways that shout “me!” surrender in humbled quiet and awed

Mary Ann

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

Between the Lines • Winter 2011 • Volume 1, Issue 4

We’d love to know what you think about Between the Lines.
E-mail us at In the next issue: Giving—how to be cheerful, extravagant, and worshipful when you give This Issue’s Theme: Desire Verse of the Season: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Meet the Contributors
Wendy Arneson is a licensed professional counselor at Horizon Hope Counseling. Originally from St. Louis, she now lives in Swansea with her husband, Erik, and three sons, David, Johnny, and Sam. She enjoys yoga, studying the Bible, and working part-time at a local hair salon. 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 three-year-old around the backyard, literally. Cyra Lohman is a wife, mom, and the development director at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, Illinois. CAC is an afterschool haven for young people ages 6 through 18, which offers healthy snacks and meals, homework help, recreation, medical care, and a variety of life-enhancing services and activities. Pat Mace, longtime member of Christ Church, committed her heart to God at thirteen. She taught Sunday School for many years and likes to write about her experience of knowing God. Here’s a morsel of Pat’s wisdom: “It seems to me the focus should be on the moment before me, the present. How is my relationship with God right now? As circumstances change, will I respond with obedience and trust? Will my loyalty always be first to God?” 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. 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.

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend (Not)
by Mary Ann Turner

As we delight ourselves in him, his desires become our desires.
“Come with me and let’s look at the moon.” My grandson’s eyes get big and he comes along without hesitation, nearly running ahead of me. “Look Asher, isn’t it beautiful? God made that moon.” He gestures vigorously the sign for “want.” I reply, “Oh Asher, we can’t have the moon, it’s far away and too big, but we can look at it with our eyes—it’s so pretty, isn’t it?” That’s just it, we look with our eyes and we want what shimmers and shines. We gesture vigorously our desire, “I want, I want.” Engaged to be married, I firmly said, “It’s ok, I don’t need a ring. I love you,

and that is all that matters.” I meant it with all my heart. What I desired most was to marry this wonderful man. Never mind that we were poor college students and couldn’t afford a ring. Love, romance, and the desire to pledge lifetime love claimed the right to make the diamond decision. Over a backgammon table at one of our favorite eateries, my husband placed a small diamond on my hand; a perfect surprise. Several years later, after our move to North Carolina, my tune changed a little. I looked with my eyes at bigger diamonds. I never wanted anything huge, but somehow my little ring seemed too small in comparison to the others I feasted my eyes upon. During a fall church retreat I shared a room with my dear friend who, at the time, was more mentor than friend. Confessing to her that I had this desire for a bigger diamond, I expressed my sorrow that my once-contented heart had started looking for more. She smiled at me with kindness and said to me in her lovely North Carolina accent,

“Honey, you’ve got the prize!” She meant my husband. I already had the prize. Oh, how right she was. Her response was all I needed to hear to get me back on track. I still had a twinge of diamond desire now and then, but on that retreat I snapped back to reality and my original priorities of desiring what was dear to my heart. It remains as a “turn the head, change the heart,” defining moment in my life. Why want the moon when I could catch a glimpse of heaven every night as I fell asleep beside the love of my life? We are so shallow at times as we feast our eyes upon what the world offers instead of the Prize of Jesus Christ. It’s a shallow grave, and we dig it for ourselves. We push aside Life for the temporary pleasures that lead to death. Just to be sure you are hearing me correctly, this conversation is not about getting rid of your diamonds, or about being married to the man I love; it’s about desire. It’s about the real Prize. It’s about loving Jesus more than anything the world can offer us. I personally enjoy the simple yet elegant approach to jewelry and, minus that little trip off the narrow road years ago, I have remained true to that preference. It is my personal preference. Enjoy your jewelry—it can add sparkle to your ensemble. Take note, though: that sparkle doesn’t compare to the light in your eyes and the joy in your heart knowing that you’ve got the Prize! The gift of God’s grace in and through Jesus Christ is the only Prize that will last for eternity. More years passed and we moved again, this time to the Midwest. Just before we moved, the small diamond fell out of my ring. How did I respond? Content to wear just my wedding band,

it was my choice and I insisted that we keep it that way for a while. It was a special time for me, maybe even a little test of my desire. It didn’t matter to me anymore. The band on my finger had no beginning and no end. It represented my marriage covenant, commitment, as well as a deeper meaning—a circle of contentment and the desire for Christ alone as I delight in him and he delights in me. The pages of the calendar continued to turn, thirty-six months of shimmering moons passed. A deeper love, years of romance, and love for a lifetime claimed the right to a new diamond decision. My husband surprised me with simple elegance: a beautiful and perfect-for-me diamond ring. All the more, I realize deeper, daily, I have a prize in the man God gave me. While I enjoy this life beside my husband and believe it is God’s delight to bless us in this way, my eyes are fixed on the Prize as I look forward to the day I meet Jesus face to face. Why desire the moon when Jesus Christ is the light of the world? Vigorously gesture with all of your heart, “I want Jesus. I want the Prize.”

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4


Delight, Trust, Wait
Desiring the Gift of His Presence
by Lindsay Tallman

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). My heart jumped when I read that verse several years ago as my husband and I were trying to decide if it was God’s will for us to add another child to our family of four. Already blessed with two daughters, I believed that we were meant to have a son, but our life circumstances kept us wondering if having more than two kids would be pushing the limits. For four years, I had been praying regularly for God to give us clear direction, but lately I’d become so focused on getting an answer, I let worry and discontent creep into my life.

I’d forgotten to rest in his presence and delight in his company every day. I’m ashamed to admit that I was focusing more on my prayers than on the one I was praying to. I knew what the desire of my heart was, but I needed to trust that if I stayed in close relationship with the Lord, my desires would also be in alignment with his will. I think sometimes we want to cherry-pick the decisions we consult God on. We might go to him first in the middle of a health crisis or tragedy, but we like to do other things on our own. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him . . .” Often, it seems a lot easier to just do what we

feel like doing than to commit everything we have and do to his control and wait for his timing. I can’t tell you how many times during those four years I wanted to just decide one way or the other so that the decision would finally be made. Sadly, not giving God control of our decision distracted me from the incredible blessings that already surrounded me. Maybe you are in a season of waiting too. Perhaps you’re waiting for a dream job, a dream spouse, a dream baby or a ministry to come to fruition, and the wait has become longer than you ever imagined. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . .” (Psalm 37:7). Take heart and remember that he is with you. You have not been forgotten! Rest in his joy and delight yourself in the knowledge of his love for you while you are waiting. He knows the desires of your heart, and when we align ourselves with his will, we can trust that he has our best interests in mind. Right about the time I began to delight in the Lord’s presence again and realized that my happiness wasn’t dependent on whether or not this desire ever came to fruition, I arrived at my mailbox one day to find a letter with my name on it congratulating me on my pregnancy from one of the large baby product companies. Not only was I not expecting, but I hadn’t signed up for anything or done anything that would warrant such mail. My husband and I laughed it off as an ironic coincidence. But week after week, other companies sent random baby items to my mailbox. One day I’d discover baby shampoo samples, another day it’d be a box of formula. By the time two tiny newborn diapers arrived, it was pretty obvious

that it was more than just a coincidence. Doesn’t God have an awesome sense of humor? I can’t tell you how much I delighted in finding those special treats in my mailbox each week. Through prayer, advice from Christian friends, daily reading of scripture and dreams, God made his will for our family clear in his time. On a beautiful morning in July 2008, I found out I was expecting our third child. After I shouted praises quietly (my girls were still sleeping), I stood there wondering what to do. At that moment, only God and I knew about the little one to come. I opened my Bible and my eyes fell on these words, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:27). My son, Coleton Samuel, was born two and a half years ago. He brings such joy and delight to my life! All those years of waiting make his presence with us now that much sweeter. God gives the most incredible gifts. But the most amazing gift he gives to us is his presence! I don’t know what your heart’s desire is, but he does. And I know that whether the ending is sweet or bittersweet, he will always walk with us. It just doesn’t get any sweeter than that. Whenever I’m tempted to try to rush this thing called life or make a decision on my own because I’m impatient, one glance down at my little boy reminds me of these three steps: delight in the Lord and embrace joy today, trust him to take care of your tomorrows, and wait patiently for his timing.


The Desires of Your Heart
by Cyra Lohman
I believe the desire to please God does, in fact, please God. I’ve messed up in life enough to know that I cannot, on my own, please God, but hopefully my desire to does. This year a scripture caught and held my eye: “. . . for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). Whew! It’s not up to me. God works in me to the point that, at last, I’m at times pleasing to him. There is DNA in every believer to know and to do the will of God. God’s goal is to conform us to the image of his son, Jesus. What a great relief—his yoke is easy, and he’s “got this.” In the same way, Psalm 37:4 speaks of the desires of our hearts: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This might be the most misunderstood verse in scripture. I’ve come to understand that God does not grant the wishes in our hearts when we delight in him. God gives us the desires themselves. He puts the wishes in there. Our desire to please Him. Our desire for missions. Our desire for singleness. I sure didn’t desire to write grants for a living. But our good Lord set this amazing lifelong work in my heart when I was, oh, 26ish. Ten years later he’s greatly cultivating it, and I get to help change the lives of kids in East St. Louis. I guess we need to be aware, then, of new desires cropping up in our hearts. Are they our own, or are they direct deposits from God? If I’ve been working with youth at church and sense a new burden for women, God might be planting a new desire in my heart. The trick to discerning whether these new longings are our own or God’s is looking to the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit gives us a new desire, it will align with these four ways that he speaks to affirm that the desire is from him: scripture, prayer, circumstances, and the church. (See Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.) And these new desires I need to chase down with zeal! Delight yourself in the Lord (first) and He will give you the desires of your heart (second). If I’m obedient to a desire God gives me—if I delight in a task—I believe God will continue to give new desires of my heart, new work for him. And this is the greatest gift: to delight in the desires he gives us, over and over and over again.


The Desires of My Heart
It is such an honor to be asked to contribute to this issue of the Journey magazine. When I learned the article should consider thoughts on desire, Psalms 37 immediately came to mind: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” Desires are stronger than wishes. Desire is more of a longing for something that will fill the emptiness you feel and satisfy your soul. Psalms 40:8 says, “Oh my God, Your instructions are written on my heart.” I will always remember the day I committed my heart to God. I was thirteen and filled with the desire (need) to do something for God, and to know him personally. Now we say that we desire a personal relationship with God and guidance for our journey. When I mentioned the future, people told me to pray and listen to God. Somehow, I never found God to be in the paint-bynumbers business. When I look back on my life and consider key events, I see them as quiet nudges God used to guide me. I confess, guidance only becomes evident when I look backward, months and years later. Then the hand of God seems clear. At the moment of decision, however, I often feel confused and uncertain. Almost all the guidance in my life has been subtle and indirect—a teacher I came to know by

by Pat Mace

chance, an article in a conference report, a transcript of some devotional talks. As I look back, the hand of God seems evident, but at the time I didn’t think there was anything extraordinary. My husband and I were married in November 1945. If you had asked me then as to the desire of my heart, I would have said to be the best wife possible. When the children came along, my desire was to be a good mother to each of the four children. Now I think those relationships are part of what Jesus meant when at that last breakfast he said to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus had his defining moment in the wilderness; Peter had his at a picnic breakfast. I have had mine, and I am sure you recognize yours. Perhaps while he was fishing that night, Peter learned how much he really loved Jesus and how much he needed him. He learned that even a life as a servant was acceptable if Jesus was the master. Right now I can say that the desire of my heart is to be the Pat Mace that God intends me to be. I am making a new career focused on loving people—giving those I meet the precious gifts of attention and acceptance. They are all children of God. Jesus said we were to love one another as he had loved. I believe God desires our churches to be schools of love.

Dreaming Bigger Than the Next Deal
by Emily Climaco
A few years back, Phil and I were relaxing one evening over coffee at a local bookstore. I looked into the dusk outside the windows lit up by chain restaurant and store signs of every kind, and I had an epiphany. “Phil,” I said, “did you know I’m living my childhood dream?” Growing up in a one-Wal-mart town, I dreamed of living near a big mall. And here we were, just a short drive from retail heaven. “Hmmm,” Phil said. “Hmmm,” I responded, “I gotta get a bigger dream.” Okay, so I like to shop—a lot. I don’t like overspending, so I’m always on the hunt for a great deal. Bargain shopping is a major source of entertainment. Several years ago, I learned about coupons, these magical slips of paper that allow you to get a better deal. Today, I use coupons for groceries, clothes, books, just about anything. Sometimes I use coupons for things I don’t need or even want, just because it’s fun to use a coupon. But wait, it gets crazier. I don’t actually shop for my present self. I shop for my future, ideal self: the one who will eat the fresh greens in the fridge, the one with skinny thighs, the one who plays educational games with her daughter, the one who applies lip gloss for a quick jaunt to the playground. This person does not exist—not in my house. I will never be as thin or fresh-faced as a J. Crew model, but maybe, just maybe,

if I had a tangerine-colored cashmere sweater . . . When I was a graduate student studying for oral exams, I spotted a lovely jacket that represented my future self: soft, camel-colored herringbone tweed. In my mind, this was how professors should dress, and it lacked only suede elbow patches and the ineffable smell of books. I wanted it, but it was expensive. Three months later, I browsed the clearance racks on my birthday, right before exams. I discovered the very jacket I’d wanted hanging all alone and steeply discounted. It was as if God said, “Here you go—no big deal!” Oh, did I mention my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills? Why should God be concerned about my material comfort? This is a valid question, in light of God’s children who don’t have clothes to cover them, much less the superfluous layer of a Ralph Lauren blazer. Admittedly, I’m not anyone special, but God wants to astonish us with blessings, and he meets us wherever we are. He has met me in the petites department at Dillards, depraved shopper that I am, and he will meet you wherever you are. However, God doesn’t want us to stay there. After sweating through my exams in that preppy jacket, I began to wonder how often my search for a great material deal comes at the expense of a great spiritual blessing.

God gives good gifts to his children—some spiritual, some material—but God wants us to seek him for himself, not for his gifts. Medieval theologian Meister Eckhart wrote, “Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow—for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God, when they love Him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost Truth.” Paul gave the following warning: “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:16-17). When I feel this inner conflict, I ask God to direct my desires. I believe that God is pleased when we dream big within his will; every playground needs a fence. I still enjoy the pursuit of a good deal. But how much would it please God if I pursued his blessing? If I held onto the

promises of his Word like valuable coupons at a clearance sale? A deal is good for today; blessing is the currency of eternity. Will you join me in the pursuit of God’s pleasure? Let’s ask God to direct our desires; let’s dream bigger than ever before; let’s ask God to enlarge our sphere of influence in proportion to our faith in him; and let’s watch and wait for God to astonish us!


Wanna Know the Way?
In a befuddling conversation between Jesus and his disciples, Thomas asks for some much-needed clarification: “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus replies, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:5-6). Maybe you are as confused as Thomas about “the way.” Paul’s letter to the Romans spells out some important principles about the way to a relationship with God, known as the “Roman Road.”

God accepts us, no matter what we’ve done.

“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:13).

We must believe that what God promised is true.

We have all sinned.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

the wages of sin is death . . .” (Romans 6:23a).

Sin has a serious penalty. “For

When we agree to God’s plan for us, he can transform us.
“That you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). God’s way is better than our way. When we follow the path that is lit by God’s Word (the Bible), guided by the counsel of the Holy Spirit, we are changed for good, for the better, forever.

God loves us and has an eternal purpose for our lives.

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

God gave his son, Jesus, to die for our sins in our place.
“But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).


REDUCE – get the digital version via e-mail at REUSE – pass along this issue to a friend when you’re finished RECYCLE – toss in a Paper Retriever bin at Christ Church

A Bride’s Desire
by Wendy Arneson only desire to serve and worship God. She, too, recognized the promised Messiah and joined in on the praise and exclamations. And no wonder! Our God rewarded her faithfulness with a face-to-face encounter with her savior (Luke 2:36-38). As a young girl, my dreams and desires were focused on finding the love of my life. Fantasies of meeting the perfect man and our desire to be together. Standing face to face and vowing our lives to each other. The flowers, the kiss, the dancing—I could spend hours romanticizing it all. Do you realize that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the perfect bridegroom waiting for us? And right now, we are waiting for him to come for us. We are planning and preparing for our wedding day (Rev. 19:7-8). We are like Simeon, “eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.” Simeon’s desire rested on all the promises of the Old Testament, and the Holy Spirit had told him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Imagine the thrill Simeon felt when the Holy Spirit led him to the temple to meet the baby Jesus! In excitement, he took the baby from an amazed Mary and Joseph and rejoiced (Luke 2:25-35). We are like Anna, the aged prophetess, who came along as Simeon was whooping it up over the baby. She stayed in the temple day and night, her Simeon and Anna were prepared to meet their Messiah—and how they enjoyed that first meeting! Jesus, too, is planning and preparing for us (John 14:2). He is our perfect bridegroom. He has already made his vow of unending love to us, and he is excited to take us home and spend all eternity with us! Erik and I went to a wedding earlier this year. It was a beautiful event, but what stands out in my memory is the face of the bride as she proceeded down to her groom. Truly, I have never seen a bride so radiant with joy—her smile reached from ear to ear and she fairly trembled with excitement. I heard a fellow attendee comment, “She looks like she’s about to jump out of her skin.” How exciting to think that, someday, that will be us coming to Jesus! We will get to see the one we have longed for face to face for the first time. We are His bride. And we will have forever to delight in each other. We should eagerly wait for this promise to become reality. In fact, we should “jump out of our skin” at the very thought of it! Go ahead and romanticize it all you want; it’s every bride’s right to delight in her wedding day!

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID E. St. Louis, IL Permit #2290

Learn more about the Journey at
339 Frank Scott Parkway East Fairview Heights, IL 62208