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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Someone once pointed out to me that the notion of forgiving yourself was not a Biblical principle. I hunted and searched for hours trying to find something in the Bible about forgiving oneself. The closest I came was David’s Psalm 51 when he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within him. When you compare his Psalm 32 in verse 3 When I kept silence, then my bones became old, through my howling all day. We see the consequences of unconfessed sin. But that is different from forgiving one’s self for past transgressions which we have confessed…  ( Click for more )

March 8, 2015

I love spinach. Yes, I truly do. Well, the more accurate truth is that I like spinach very much. I don’t actually love spinach.

Adages saturate our lives: “You can’t help whom you love,” and “Love blossoms in strange places.”

But I rarely hear the truth about love. Satan has built a huge cult about infatuation and lust calling it true love. Things like “You don’t have a choice about whom you love,” and “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” One word describes those lies. Poppycock! …  ( Click for more )

Jesus uses the word mercy with the intent of compassion, kindness, or good will towards those who are miserable and afflicted. The Greek word is éleos. According to Vine’s it is the outward manifestation of pity and assumes the need of the one who receives it.

So when Jesus says, “The merciful will receive mercy,” that assumes the need of the one giving the mercy as well as the one the merciful bestows mercy upon. How fascinating! Oh, not that God receives mercy. No, God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), so what He pours out of the windows…  ( Click for more )

February 15, 2015

They that mourn are happy. What a conundrum. I was wondering how mourning and happiness being in the same person at the same time. I thought of all the weeping passages (well probably not all of them). There are so many different things that people in the Bible mourned over. Abraham mourned and wept when Sarah died. Joseph wept when his brothers came to him in Egypt. Jephthah made a foolish vow to God to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his door if He would vanquish his enemies for him. The first thing out the door was his beautiful daughter. It became a custom…  ( Click for more )

February 1, 2015

In my Thursday morning Bible study, we’re walking through Matthew. We’ve made it to Chapter 5. One of my ladies said she just zipped through the chapter, and another one said she found tons about it on the Internet. I was struck by the familiarity I have with the Beatitudes as well. It is so tempting to rely upon one’s existing knowledge when teaching something familiar. I am so glad that I dug deep, because I learned so much. I realized after three pages of notes that we would not make it through the whole chapter in one sitting. There is just too much…  ( Click for more )

Prejudice vilifying prejudice is the same as the pot calling the kettle black.

A man, former fire chief of Atlanta Kelvin Cochran, was fired from his job. He's black. He's a Christian. He wrote a book. Which one of those things do you think prompted the mayor to fire him?

Here in Mississippi a person can be fired for absolutely no reason at all. I know because I experienced that. Only God knows what the real reason was. I think it was because I was perceived as a threat to the passage of the sale of alcohol within the city limits (our county is a dry county). I stood…  ( Click for more )

January 18, 2015

One of the things that sets humans apart from the baser animal kingdom is self-control, deductive reasoning, and planning. To be promiscuous as well as indiscriminate, a person is living a risk-filled lifestyle with probability of STDs and pregnancy. Birth control merely opens the door wider for health risks, rather than preventive medicine. The only 100% effective birth control is abstinence which I taught both my daughters.

I'm talking about how society has cheapened the value of life.

The Institute of Medicine reports that free birth control such as pills, IUDs,…  ( Click for more )

January 11, 2015

Several years ago I wrote several stories , one for each part of the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The story on goodness gave me pause. The idea of goodness is not foreign, but to define it was difficult for me. I’m talking about the biblical definition. If you recall, Jesus said, “There is only One good.” (Luke 18:19) What did He mean by that?

There are two Greek words for good. Agathos (ag-ath-os’), a primary word meaning intrinsic benefit or well; kalos (kal-os'),…  ( Click for more )

January 4, 2015

Several years ago I wrote several stories , one for each part of the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The story on goodness gave me pause. The idea of goodness is not foreign, but to define it was difficult for me. I’m talking about the biblical definition. If you recall, Jesus said, “There is only One good.” (Luke 18:19) What did He mean by that?

There are two Greek words for good. Agathos (ag-ath-os’), a primary word meaning intrinsic benefit or well; kalos (kal-os'),…  ( Click for more )

December 28, 2014

In my house this year, we had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. You know, rather small and insignificant looking with only 70 lights and a few red bells for decoration. It is a live tree, though, green and straight, not leaning over, or withered looking. We were just too sick this year to drag out all the decorations or to do much shopping. However, in your living room or somewhere in your house there may be a green tree standing tall and draped with beautiful, tinkling jewels of light and glory.

I didn’t hear much conversation this year about Holiday tree versus Christmas…  ( Click for more )

December 14, 2014

I was concentrating so hard on my work that I never noticed it was getting harder for me to breathe. I rose to grab a cup of coffee and was shocked that my head swam so much I staggered. Suddenly chills ran over me and I knew that the bug going around was not satisfied with just taking up residence in my chest, but had to have my head, too.

I didn’t have time to get sick. So many things had to be done, work had to be fed into the pipeline so others could do their job. So I sucked it up and kept plodding along. Never mind that it took twice as long to do what I…  ( Click for more )

December 7, 2014

Little, sweet baby feet. Mary will soon cover them with her hand, warming them against the night chill. She has treasured in her heart all the words spoken about her first born Son. Things like, "The angel was so glorious, shouting out praises to God on High and the Good News! The Messiah is born! Our long awaited Savior, the Lord, is born!" And word went out publically, through the bright streets of Bethelehem. The star shining down on the child. The little feet, toes curled against the chill, wiggled in His mother's hand. Eight day old, tiny feet with…  ( Click for more )

Something I had not thought about before is those wicked kings that show up in Jesus’ lineage. Matthew Henry points out that grace does not run in the blood. Here’s what he says:

Some observe what a mixture there was of good and bad in the succession of these kings; as for instance (Matthew 1:7-8), wicked Roboam begat wicked Abia; wicked Abia begat good Asa; good Asa begat good Josaphat; good Josaphat begat wicked Joram. Grace does not run in the blood, neither does reigning sin. God's grace is his own, and he gives or withholds it as he pleases.

Often…  ( Click for more )

But let all who put their trust in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever, because You cover them. And let those who love Your name be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:23-24

The Psalm was written and sung long after God had performed many miracles: …  ( Click for more )

November 2, 2014

...I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." 2Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. (Revelation 4:1-3)

Then a voice like a trumpet called out, “Come up here!”

I ask you, who…  ( Click for more )

October 26, 2014

Luke 15:8 Or what woman having ten drachmas, if she loses one drachma does not light a lamp and sweep the house, and look carefully until she finds it? 9 And finding it, she calls together the friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I lost.

The drachmas, in Jesus time, was equivalent to the Roman denarii and was worth about 18 cents, so ten coins was worth about $2 or approximately ten days wages. James Merritt told his congregation back in March of 2002 that these ten coins this woman possessed were her engagement ring and…  ( Click for more )

October 21, 2014

GOD smelled the sweet fragrance and thought to himself, "I'll never again curse the ground because of people. I know they have this bent toward evil from an early age, but I'll never again kill off everything living as I've just done. (Genesis href="">Genesis 8:21 MSG)

Noah was offering the sacrifices that God had told him to bring with him into the ark. Not only were there two of every kind of unclean animal and creepy crawlies in the ark, but there were also seven pairs of clean animals and creepers …  ( Click for more )

September 21, 2014
There was a story told long ago about a certain wealthy man. He had so much wealth he struggled to remain alive because he did not want to leave behind his wealth when he died. When that fatal day finally came, the angels came for him, and he begged and pleaded to bring at least some of his gold with him to Heaven. The angel tried to explain to him that naked he came into the world and naked he would leave. But, his gold had never let him down. He had always been able to open locked doors with it and to build bridges to foreign lands with it. So after vigorous pleading,…  ( Click for more )
August 31, 2014

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” (Scott, 1808).

Frankly, we are all guilty. (James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.) The question remains though: Should public officials, pastors, and ministerial staff be held to a higher standard? Is there any lie that is okay for any of these guys to tell?

Let’s take a look at a few examples…

Corrie Ten Boom tells of a family who were hiding Jews from the Nazis. The grandmother of the household was so nervous…  ( Click for more )

I always know when the music swells and the snow starts falling the movie is over, and the couple, entwined in each other’s arms will live happily ever after. However, for the two hours (or hour and a half depending on commercials) before this special moment the couple have waged a battle of the sexes or have montage-d through a breathy song or two to fall in love. They look deeply into each other’s eyes and suddenly realize that life is unbearable if the other is not around. They seem to know this because we need another montage and breathy song to tell us they…  ( Click for more )

My daughter wailed, "I wish God would quit strengthening me. I'm so tired of all these trails and tribulations!" That was several years ago. She has since matured greatly in the Lord. I am amazed at how much in such a short space of time.

Then someone asked me to send them "that thing from that Baptist church where that shooting took place." It took a minute for me to remember what "that thing" was... and where it was. When I found it, I read it again and tears just poured down my cheeks. It was then that I realized there are many, many blessings…  ( Click for more )

August 10, 2014

You know you rock along really well for a long time not doing anything stupid. You don't get all puffed up about it, but you feel really responsible because you haven't locked your keys in the car in years, you haven't locked yourself out of the house in months, and you haven't spilled your dinner on your shirt in days.

Then you do something really stupid like wash your cell phone... in the washing machine... with bleach.

I never took out the insurance on my phone because I've had one for years and years and I've never dropped it in the sink, or on concrete, or in the…  ( Click for more )

(An excerpt from my new workbook that is a companion to my book "Refreshment in Refuge")

Our battles begin and end in the mind… Freedom of will is the same as freedom of choice. We choose who we love, where we live, what we eat, how we react to our trials and tribulations. We choose not us suffer consequences so we obey our parents. We choose to believe God exists and believe His Word, or we can choose not to believe. As in the passage from Joshua, "Choose you this day whom you will sever, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." …  ( Click for more )

How can it possibly be all right for any person to sin and then to blame someone else for the sin?

How can it possibly be all right for any person to sin against another person causing havoc, chaos, hurt, and heartbreak?

It is not. It never will be all right.

God never said it was all right. This is precisely why He sent His Son to die on the cross. It was to reconcile Him to us, His creation. No sin can enter into His presence. We have to be covered by the blood of Christ so that the sin is atoned and we are reconciled.

That does not make sin all right.…  ( Click for more )

July 13, 2014

I remember when gasoline was 35 cents a gallon during a price war in the late 1960s. (Yes, I know that dates me! Although, I am not as old as dirt.) That was long before Esso had to change its name to Exxon. I can still hear my dad say, “Fill’er up.” We’d get the full treatment. It was why they were called service stations rather than gas stations. My dad worked at one of those while he went to A&E school—Airplane and Engine mechanic school. He was very familiar with Christian service.

Service is much more than checking the oil level…  ( Click for more )

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