Monday, January 18, 2021

New and Old Treasure

I marked this verse some 20 years ago in my Bible and just read my prayer and right now I am overwhelmed by the old and new treasures God is pulling out of me. The Quest study Bible says that people who have been instructed about the kingdom of God are like home owners that have the gift of hospitality. They share all of their belongings both old and new to refresh others. May the wisdom of the past and presence bring forth refreshment that heals souls!  Amen

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Where is your inheritance?

"Spare your people, LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" (Joel 2:17). 

I realize that this verse is a cry of the prophet Joel for God to move in behalf of the nation Israel during a terrible time when locusts destroyed the land. It is a desperate plea for a remember me, remember my people, and remember, we are Your inheritance. I was praying this thought when I began to praise God because He has chosen to call His children, His inheritance! What a beautiful reminder when our contemporary situation of COVID and political unrest seem distraught with destruction and implosion. Joel used the temporay pain to call the people to remembrance and repentance. 

"Rend your hearts, not your garments. Return to the LORD your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love" (Joel 2:13).

But, He also used it as a reminder to the LORD, we are Your inheritance! The nations are watching! Let them see You are at work among Your people! Now that is not just an Old Testament thought. It is also a New Testament promise. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ...(1 Peter 1:3-12).

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-14).

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).

Do you see that as a believer of Jesus we also have an inheritance that is imperishable! Yes, we will face trials of many kinds, but we must remember where our hope resides. It is not in people, programs, health, politics, or even possessions. Our inheritance is eternal, imperishable and guaranteed. So this morning as I pray, I am praising God for the remembrance that I am His inheritance and He is mine. So, when I am asked "Where is your God?" I can say very securely, "He is with me. He has not left me. He walks with me on this journey through COVID and political unrest. I look to Him for my hope and deliverance." 

What about you?  Do you know where your hope rests?  Do you know you have an eternal inheritance? Do you know the blessing of being called God's inheritance? If not, read the verses again and pray they become true in you. Do you need to rend your heart, repent, and return to God? Do you know God is a compassionate and loving God? Do you know the hope found in Jesus? Can you say with confidence you have the Holy Spirit at work in you? 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints... (Ephesians 1:18).




Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Why is it so important to listen to or read the Bible?

Why is it so important to listen or or read the Bible? I get asked this question enough that it is worthy of answering. Sometimes. It is asked in sarcasm, but other times in a plea for understanding.

This is a great question considering we all have so many things vying for our time and energy and the fact that we are living in a time of Biblic illiteracy. When I did my research for my doctorate Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Seminary said that America was nearly 80% Biblically illiterate. This is sad considering that the Bible helps us to grow in our relationship with God so we know how to be in relationship with man.

The Bible is a sacred text. It is holy and set apart because it tells the history of how God interacts with people. The Bible is God breathed and it teaches us and equips us (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The Bible judges our thoughts and the motives of our heart (Hebrews 4:2). The Bible endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). The Bible blesses us when we listen to it and obey it (Luke 11:28). The Bible is for all people because God loves the whole world (John 3:16). 

Have you ever listened to or read the Bible? Why or why not? Would you just listen and see what He might reveal to you? I know for myself that the Bible is what radically changed my life because through reading it and obeying it I got to know God and how much He loves me.

Remember, to be in God's Word, to be with Jesus, to be transformed! 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Resilience

I woke up this morning pondering the word resilience. It was the last thing I talked about before I went to sleep last night. I was sharing with Grant my outline for a speaking engagement coming up in February. The topic is resilience. When I woke up I had the this visual of a tree that was deeply rooted with strong character traits that helped it dig in deep into the earth so that when the winds blew it was steady. I was reminded of verses and character traits that have helped me in moments of resilience. The tree's leaves moved from green, to yellow, to red, to brown, to nothing on the branches. This showed that resilience that is built on faith and the character of God can withstand the seasons of fruit bearing and even barrenness because its roots are deep. What character trait or verse helped you stand resilient through the seasons you have walked through?  I would love to know!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Fight the fear of being alone


In this podcast, I share a moment when I felt very alone and how God became my comfort. Jennifer and I discuss how Hagar struggled with feeling alone, too.  

Click on this to hear the story: Fight the fear of being alone

Check out Wholly Loved Podcast: Faith over Fear. Thanking God for Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey,  and Shellie Arnold. I am learning so much from this podcast team. All three are prolific writers. Go Google them! It is so much fun to sit and talk over life and Scripture together.

The spiritual discipline of storytelling

God showed me how He took a struggle and fear into a spiritual disciple that became an act of worship. 

Click on this to hear what God taught me: The spiritual disciple of telling a Bible story

Friday, January 8, 2021

Spirituality does not have an age requirement

Spirituality does not have an age requirement. Faith does not have a quantity requirement. Both fly in the face of our attempts to reason with faith. Obedience determines our spiritual age and our dependence and utter recognition that without Christ nothing is possible, with Christ all things are possible is what builds our faith. Both spirituality and faith are strengthened by complete surrender. Easier said than done! O Father, increase our faith and grow us spiritually! In Jesus' Name, AMEN! Today, we will record about the demon possessed boy in Matthew 17:14-21.

Run swiftly toward holiness and pursue peace

"In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness..."  (The Passion 12:14). 

Choose peace over competition and run swiftly toward holiness. Yes and amen! I love this. I want this! Read it this morning and prayed over me and you! See, if I do not choose peace then I set up opportunity for bitter roots. Those are ugly beasts to break. I read once that one leader cannot stop a mob because the root is embedded too deep. They are too far gone. You stop bitter roots by slaying the beast within in the moment it shows up. A leader gives what a leader has within. We cannot give peace if we do not choose to run to it personally in the quiet of our own homes in those early morning hours when it is only you running amuck in your head. What do you do with those thoughts? Well, stewing and brewing will not promote peace, but running swiftly toward holiness will promote peace. Father, help us all to run swiftly to You and allow Your peace which surpasses all understanding guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen

Esther by the artist Ann of Head Trip Creations

Scripture Art Journaling from Headtrip Creations by Ann

Click on Esther and you can watch how the artist created this piece of art.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem with Rami of JEO

"In peace I will lie down and sleep,for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

As the world's eyes turn to Bethlehem as advent begins, would you like to see the little town for yourself? Check out the video below to see our Director Rami share some encouragement, some views of Bethlehem and catch our vision for  sharing Christ with the people here. We invite you to make your investment in His kingdom in this little town today. Let's make a difference this Giving Tuesday! https://newhorizonsfoundation.com/projectsdonate/1359-jeo-ministry/backingRami of JEO at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem"

The Big God Story Summary

A simple metanarrative of what GOD did in sending Jesus for mankind.

Click on the title to watch the story summary. The Big God Story Summary

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Complete others don't compete

"True vision doesn't compete with others, but completes others!" John C. Maxwell. How does my leadership complete others? Now that is a question worth asking! You know that crazy moment when you feel the thought of jealousy rise up? That is comparison or competition. Slay it! Repent of it! Ask God to cleanse it! It only destroys what could be! Choose to celebrate the gifting and beauty you see in others! Recognize that God has gifted you distinctly as only you can serve. There is no one exactly like you because you are you. Don't try to be someone you are not. Be unapologetically you and let others be that too! Oh in my younger years that beast would pop up in me and I would have to make determined choices to slay it! With practice and humble submission before God it isn't as daunting anymore. I now thrive in unleashing others and see this more the better way. See, if I am competing with you then I cannot unleash you to be you with me and vice versa! So, today let's determine to ask ourselves, how can I complete you?

How to pray a specific prayer from Scripture

Several people asked me questions about how to pray specific Scriptures, in this video I answer those questions and share different ways I have prayed Scripture. 
Click on the title to open the video:
How to pray specific Scriptures

Monday, January 4, 2021

I prayed for 3 and circled the number 3


(Art created by Marge Mowczko take from https://margmowczko.com/samaritan-woman-john-4/)

Our small little church was holding a women’s retreat in our living room. The speaker was tall and beautiful. The kind of person you look at and say, “I want to be like her!” She was the most organized woman I had ever met. She was introducing us to a Day-Timer-Calendar that held spiritual components so we could get organized in all areas of our life. I was young and eager to learn. I had no idea that one of the concepts that she shared with us would be a life-changer for me. She asked, “Have you ever asked Jesus to give a certain number of disciples in a year?” “Uhm, no!” I could honestly say, I had never prayed for the LORD to give me a certain number of souls. She then said, “I want you to pause and pray right now and ask God for a number of people for you to be the one to lead to Him this year! I want you to write it down in your calendar and circle it. Then go back and see what God does for you this year!” I thought, “Oh my that is bold. WOW! I am really going to go big here… 3! Yep! I wrote down three and circled it big and then worried that I was asking God for too much. How in the world would He ever use me to lead three whole people to Him this year? I feared God would not answer my request and I would fail. LOL! 
As the Minister to Children and Family Life for our church, I was responsible for the follow up on cards that were filled out by parents or children that visited our Safety Fair the week before. So, on Monday after the retreat I was going through the cards and noticed that Nancy had written down that she wanted to know more about Jesus. I called her up and asked her, “Nancy has anyone ever shared with you how to know Jesus?” She responded by saying, “No, but sure would love for someone to do so.” Okay, that was fast! I thought, “God, what are you doing?” So, I asked her, “Would you like for me to come over and share Jesus with you?” Nancy said, “Yes, how about Monday at 4:00 pm?” So, I found myself driving to Nancy’s house on Monday a week later. 

As I drove to Nancy’s house that day, I was white knuckled! I had been to seminary, but I had never personally shared Jesus with anyone that I knew that had decided to become a Jesus follower. I was terrified of messing things up! I prayed hard and begged God to show up. I had said the prayer and He was out to show me this is the kind of prayer He will not say, “No!” to! I would like to say it was hard, but it wasn’t! Nancy was what you would call ripe fruit that was ready to be picked. I just happened to be the person that bumped into her to help her understand the Scriptures. I stayed for a couple of hours as Nancy and I talked about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. She then asked me to come and share Jesus with her son, Logan, the next Monday at 4:00 pm. I did. Then her daughter, Morgan, the next. Both of them became followers of Jesus. This hit me quite profoundly. I had only asked God for three people to become followers of Jesus in a year and He showed me that He could use me to lead three people in three weeks. Well, more than that, it was over the course of six weeks I went to Nancy’s house to share with someone that needed to know about Jesus or recommit to Jesus. Eventually, I stopped counting that year. It was enough that I realized that I should not limit God with just a number. If He can use a Samaritan woman to lead a whole village to Him, then He could use me. 

The whole point of a testimony is to bear witness to what I have seen and heard and in the case of being a Jesus follower it is to tell what I have seen and heard about Jesus. When I do this from an authentic heart of what Christ is at work in me then others will come along and want to join in the beauty of what God is creating in me and would like to do so in them! 

What makes an effective testimony?

Taken from: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/two-tombstones-the-story-of-the-samaritan-woman-and-jesus-christ-11582592.html

I am reading through the Samaritan woman in preparation for the podcasts for Wholly Loved Ministries and I am caught by the beauty and simplicity of a testimony! It never ceases to surprise me that when I study a passage that I have studied many times through the years that God brings out something new. Last year I was caught off guard by the reality that the disciples were sent into the Samaritan woman's town to get food. It occured to me that the disciples somehow missed the bigger picture of the harvest. They were distracted by the physical need to get food for their master and in the process forgot to take spiritual food to the villagers. I realized that I could not be upset with the disciples because I do this all the time. You know the drill, I rush into the store to get food and instead of taking time to make eye-contact and have conversations with the strangers in the store. I keep my eyes focused on what I want and need and get out. Instead of going through the longer check-out I might rush to to the self-check out so that I don't have to bother with human contact. Instead of helping the person struggling to get something off the shelf I walk by and move on because I worry they might not appreciate the lack of social distances. I assume and presume my way in and through the store without ever once thinking of the soul harvest right there before me. 

As I reflected on this Samaritan woman this time, God caught me by the effectiveness of her testimony. It helps to know that it would be considered embarrassing for John to write a story about a woman, muchless a Samaritan woman as the one who led the entire village to Jesus. Theologians refer to this type of testimony as validity by embarrassment. They would not tell it unless it was true because honorable men would not talk to women of ill-repute or to a Samaritan woman much less use it as story to share Jesus. Oh the crazy and foolish barriers we put up in culture. GOD forgive us! I love how this woman was so fast! One theologian called it the "Cry of a new life" (Holman Bible Commentary: John, quoting Boice). There is something beautiful about such a cry. It is honest and simple. 

So, I found myself asking, What makes an effective testimony based on the woman at the well? I noticed a few things that caught me. Simple statements like "Come and see!" are inclusive and initiates the conversation. But, the woman didn't just tell them what they needed to know. She asked questions that invited them to reflect on their own thoughts to determine their answer. She asked, "Could this be the Messiah?" I love that she was inquisitive enough to pose questions to Jesus and to those in her community. Her passion was undeniable! She went to go get water, but was so excited she left her jar behind and chose to share her felt experience and express it in such a way that she ignited others to want to join! Her invitation to come and see included welcome and participation! 

It makes me wonder if I give testimony so simply. Am I inclusive and intiate conversations? Do I inquire and ask questions to invite reflection? Am I ignited so that others see my passion and want to join in? Do I invite a spirit of welcome? Her testimony to come and see is so welcoming because her passion and transformation are evident to all who know her. Have you reflected on sharing your testmony? Can you say these are also true of you? Or are you like me and the disciples and have moments where you focus on the need of the moment rather than the harvest fields? I know I want to be more like the Samaritan woman. How about you? 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

How to pray through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation


Do you sometimes wonder does God hear my prayers?  How do I pray in God's will? This will help you to know what to look for to help you pray with authority, power, and in the will of God. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Do I teach anything that is universal?

I often ask myself if a concept I am teaching is universal. Will it apply anywhere and why? Get this! God's love is universal! In His gracious love, God sent Jesus that all who believe in Him will have the gift of eternal life. All people need to know they are loved. All people need to know they have value. All people need to know they have a purpose. These truths are universal. I love that God gives good gifts. We do not have to work for it, compete for it, or even earn it. His love is free. We simply receive His love given in the gift of His Son, Jesus. I have visited people in many nations, jail, prison, homeless shelters, hospitals... always the heart of the issue... Am I loved? Do I have value? Where do I belong?  What is my purpose? The answer is found in knowing God and His plan. He loves you! He created you! He has a purpose for you! He has a gift for you... Jesus! We must simply believe.