Sunday, November 27, 2022

Anticipation for Jesus Birth

Anticipation gives me such joy! I love looking forward to something, sometimes I get a ticklish feeling runing up and down my spine as I anticipate something fun. It makes me wiggle and giggle.

Yet, there are times that when I anticipate something that it takes too long and it falls into the category of waiting. I do not like waiting. It makes me feel heavy and sluggish. It feels like a burden. 

I imagine the anticipation and wait for the birth of Jesus brought about both of those feelings. There were those that were so excited that they felt their spine tickle, but the wait was long. You really need to know why you are waiting to get the joy of aniticipation when it is a long wait.

Just before the birth of Jesus there were 400 years of silence from God. There were no prophets giving His messages. They had to focus on what they knew. They knew the Messiah or Savior of the world was coming, but not when. They needed to prepare their hearts to give Him room when He arrived, but didn't know the day or time. 

The last of the birth pangs before Jesus' arrival were long and laborious. The wait was hard.

Today, we start the advent season anticipating the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is such a happy time because it is when God's presence comes in human form. Christmas is the fulfillment of the Messiah's arrival. 

He came to us as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Heaven's gift, Emmanuel, which means God with us. We no longer are waiting His first arrival. He has arrived. He has made a way for all men to draw into the presence of God and know the gift of eternal life.

Join me in celebrating the birth of Jesus on this first day of advent. Here is the first story in our series.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Why do I model a simple telling of God's Word?

Why do I model a simple telling of God's Word? 

Is it because I don't like drama, skits, or musicals?  Not at all. Those each have a time and place for presentation. I love them and they can be a great asset in drawing someone to the LORD if done properly in the right cultural context.

If someone is hearing the Word for the first time, I have a responsibility to tell it in such a way that they hear it clearly and can repeat it clearly. I want them to be able to replicate what I have done.

A simple telling is easily reproducible. 

It is the first step of learning a story. It is the foundation of good storytelling.

When I lead trainings, I always start with how to recall a story as the first basic element. I have a responsibility as an educator to establish a good foundation to build on.

The pattern is listen, learn, share. 

When our partners observe this model in other countries, they get so excited because it is so easy to follow. I am often told "Thank you! This is so easy. We can do this!"

Often, material is presented in highly literate methods and reproducing it seems difficult. When they see our books, posters, PowerPoints, dramas, wardrobes, digital media, etc. It feels daunting because they may not have these readily available and this then makes it appear that God's Word is not accessible in their context. 

Often we do not realize how those watching us will think I must copy everything they do. This is true right down to how we dress. If I only teach with a robe on then those watching determine they must wear robes. The focus moves from telling the story to the outer appearance of the leader or even the material.

A simple telling guards the purity of God's Word and what is perceived about the role of the teller.

Once a basic storytelling is established, we will then learn how to ask good questions and model different learning styles. 

The goal of asking good questions will be to help them discover from God's Word the truths that the Holy Spirit is revealing to them in their context. It isn't about me teaching them what I know. 

The goal of using different learning styles will be to encourage the person in their context to reproduce the Word through their arts: drawing, drama, skits, music, poetry, digital media,  etc. 

The key is that they are the creator of the art form to take place not me. This lends it to be culturally relevant and reproducible in their context.

A simple telling of God's Word is foundational. If done well, then those listening and learning will immediately start dreaming about how to share it in their context. Dreams of dramas, skits, poetry, art, and digital media will be envisioned as they seek to communicate God's story to their people in their ways. A good basic telling opens the door for the Holy Spirit to unleash His creativity in them to create and tell His story well in their culture and context.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

I am in Awe of GOD!

I am reading Job with the intention to focus on what I learn about the character of God. It has added a whole new layer to my understanding of the book of Job, but also the beauty of knowing God in our suffering. 

I am asking myself to reflect on what I learn about the character of God through Job and even his friends.  If you have never studied Job, you need to understand that his friends are known for talking too much and blaming Job for His suffering. 

As I am reading Job to know God, I am focusing on HIM instead of the inadequacies of Job or his friends. I am discovering that I am walking in a deeply rich worship experience that causes me to write out prayers that are inspiring to my heart, my soul, and my spirit. And as crazy as it sounds, they often feel poetic to me. They are a beautiful conversation between me and God.

Today, I was blown away by the beauty of how God's creation displays His wonders. God sets boundary lines in creation that man cannot undo. Like the existence of light and dark. We can add light to dark but we cannot undo day and night or the pattern of their existence.

I am astounded as I ponder the crushing of the earth to form rocks that can be cut into brilliant diamonds.  Hidden treasures we can discover, explore, and even do our own creating. If we dig deep enough we find math and science revealed in these discoveries. Holding patterns and equations that give us clever beauty. 

I am in awe! I am basking in His wonderful creation allowing myself to behold His beauty as He displays His splendor for us to explore. Immeasurable. Unfathomable.  Mysterious. Consistent. Ingenious. Divine. 

I am in awe of God!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Unconventional Ministry Podcast Interview on Story-Centric Discipleship in Bible Engagement

What a blessing! I was interviewed on Unconventional Ministry Podcast by Dennis Weins. 

My family always said I was Unconventional! LOL! 

What an honor and privilege!

Thank you Coleen Becker Black for the connection. Your introduction at the Grace Alumni Event made this possible. 

Dennis was an incredible interviewer that truly grasped the value of what I do as an oral strategist with Bible Engagement at Audio Scripture Ministries.

Feeling unexpectedly honored and excited for good fruit to be born through this podcast.

I'm listening to Unconventional Ministry | How Story-centric Discipleship Could Change Your Church on Podbean, check it out! 

https://www.podbean.com/ei/pb-pjceq-12fbc3f

Unconventional Ministry Podcast

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

LORD, teach us to pray!


One time I had a friend share with me that she was diagnosed with cancer and on another occasion a friend shared a very trying time in her marriage. I found myself struggling how to pray so I asked God to teach me how to pray.

I love that the disciples had the same feeling as they watched John and Jesus pray. They knew they lacked. So, they asked!  "LORD, will you teach us to pray as John taught his disciples?"

Jesus provided a model to pray, but He also used stories to teach the importance of persistence and to trust the generosity of God.

Do you struggle knowing what to pray, too? If so, just ask Jesus to teach you how. I promise it will bless you and give you words beyond your understanding and ability to pray.

Check out the story below.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

He is Worthy of Praise because HE is Love and Truth

Probably twenty years ago, the LORD convicted me of treating Him like Santa Claus instead of Holy God. So I did a fast of asking God for anything. I took thirty days and I determined in my prayers to only praise God for what I knew about Him. 

I had no idea how this would radically change my life and how I pray. It gave me God confidence and I discovered that my prayer life was more fruitful. My faith and trust increased and others noted my prayer life. 
What started out as an act of repentance produced good fruit. I guess this is what John the Baptist and Jesus meant when they said, "Produce the fruit of repentance" (Matthew 3:8;Luke 3:8).

I am loving the slow process of writing out what I am learning about God as I read the Illuminated Bible. I first read the chapter and then as I color in it, I am listening to the Street Lights Audio Bible. I might listen to the chapter three or four times. It reveals truths I did not catch in the reading.

This week love and truth are the two characteristics that have stole my heart. God is love! God is truth! 

How might I give Him praise for these qualities? How might I repent for the lack of them? Or even repent for my family, city or nation for the lack of them? How can I encourage love and truth? 

Father, we praise You! You are the Light of the World that brings love and truth. Thank You that Your love and truth set us free. Thank You for these gifts that abound in You and are freely given to us so that they abound in us.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Lessons Learned as I Messed up Telling Ruth 1


Before we began the story of Ruth, Greg shared background information about where the story fits into God's timeline. He emphasized that Ruth happened during the time of judges when all were doing things in their own way which was contrary to God. He also shared that the Moabite nation was an enemy to Israel and cursed by God.

I took the time to explain that God chose to use a widowed Moabite to teach Israel the lesson of loyal love (chesed in Hebrew or translated as kindness in English). This is key to the story because the LORD has loyal love for us and we should demonstrate loyal love like Ruth did for Naomi. 


I then told the story twice. It wasn't until Senda retold the story back to me that I realized in both of my tellings I skipped the line where Naomi thanked her daughter-in-laws for their kindness or loyal love to their dead husband's and her and asked God to give them rest in a new marriage.

Seriously, I missed it twice even after telling them how important this is to the entire text. Ugh!

So, when Senda was done telling, I told her, "I am so sorry. I just realized as your were telling, I missed the most important line twice."  I then explained the line to her and Abel and told them where it went in this story.

I asked if I needed to retell so they would know where it went in the story. They said, "No." They got it and understood.

This is one way an oral culture and a literate culture differ. An oral culture can hear parts of a story in a circular way. It doesn't bother them for us to to say, "Oh I forgot this part. It goes here." For them it makes sense. They get it and they do not need the linear outline. Where a literate person feels that they have hurt the story if it is not linear. 

John Walsh helped me understand this by saying that we should think of it like a family telling a story at the dinner table over and over. It may not be told the same everytime because different people tell it. But the same story is told. The content is in tact, but the order may fluctuate.

I have noticed through the years that this happens as my friends in eastern cultures retell a Bible story. This can be because people from eastern cultures focus on the big picture of a story while people in western cultures focus on the details. Neither are wrong. Both are a perspective. Our perspective can cause a shift in how we hear a story and retell a story and as a trainer of cross cultures I find myself in this different perspective periodically.

Sometimes, if I do notice a mess up I will do a retelling with a story correction and then point it out or ask if they noticed I added something. With this couple, I don't need to because I know their skill level and ability to tell. 

I also provide audio recordings and YouTube recordings for future reference and accuracy checks. I also provide the drawings as a resource. These are helpful. 

The other resource that helped me better understand this ambiguity was the Bible. One year as I read through Acts, I realized that they told the story of Jesus over and over but differently each time. It was reordered with each audience and parts were emphasized and other parts removed based on who was telling and the people group. All were accurate, but a little different. 

We must remember that the Bible was first orally created in an eastern culture.  

This does not mean that we should add our commentary, devotional thought, or preach what we think it means when we are telling a Bible story. Those need to be dealt with outside of the telling of the sacred text. They have their place for explaining and helping people understand a text, but should not happen when the text is being told as a whole.  We need to keep the sacred sacred. This is why we use clear beginnings and endings when we tell a Bible story. 

Everything in the Bible is true and in Ruth, we are told...

...May God honor the telling of His Word!

A good storyteller will mess up. For me, it felt like a royal ugh!  Yet, my friend's just nodded and made the mental story correction. 

Have you ever told a Bible story and had to make a correction after skipping a part? What happened? What did you learn from it? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son by Rembrandt 

Ever felt like you have just done too much for the LORD to love you or accept you? Or have you ever felt like if people really new the bitterness or jealousy in your heart they would not accept you? Well, today's Bible story is a parable Jesus told to illustrate how deep and far the Father's love is for us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

God is Looking for Obedience not Emotions


He drew on the chalk board three doors and then he slowly went to each door and began to draw so that his hand motions matched the emotions he was describing. 

On the first door, he drew fast with large sweeping motions as he described a family with fear. Their shoulders were hunched and they walked around with worried expressions. He said, "This family was terrified they would do it wrong and not fast enough. They felt like they must hurry before the LORD passed over Egypt to take the first born son."

On the second door he drew with very slow and precise motions to make sure every part of the frame was covered. He said, "This family was subdued, quiet, focused on the details with very little interaction. This family felt that it was all about the details and getting it just right."

On the third door he slapped a quick line on the top and a quick line of each side. He shared, "It was sloppy but done with laughter and alot of noise as the family gathered."

He then drew one more door, but he didn't draw over it. He then turned to us and said, "Which families were passed over?"  Everyone agreed the first three but not the fourth.

"Why was the last door not passed over?"  

We answered, "Because they didn't obey God! God said to cover the door post with the blood of sacrifice and all doors with the covering would be passed over."


"Did the emotions matter as they obeyed? Did their emotions stop the LORD from doing what He said He would do?"

"NO!" We all cried out.

"So as you go to do ministry you will face many highs and many lows. Your emotions will want to drive you, but you must obey what the LORD has called you to do and trust that He will do as He said."

His words are echoing in my heart and mind today!

I don't even remember my professor's name! But, everytime I read this passage or let my emotions get the best of me, I remember this truth! God is looking for the one that obeys Him. My emotions do not determine God's faithfulness. God is faithful. He will do what He says. 

Today, I will remember the promise that He is my ever present help in a time of need.

How about you? Which family most represents you right now? Where do you need to walk in obedience regardless of the emotion? 

For some, it might be at the very start, believe on the LORD Jesus and you will be saved. 
Did you know that this passover moment was a foreshadowing of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and that anyone who believes in Him will have the gift of life? Regardless of your emotion your belief is like the blood covering over the doorpost when death comes it will not hold its sting. 

Shalom y'all! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Boaz Blessing

Have you ever had someone verbally bless you? 

I love it when someone blesses me. There is something special about a kind word that softens the heart. It can come through a greeting, a text, a kind word, and even a kind deed. As I studied Ruth 2, I noticed something that was profound to me. Boaz was the owner of the land and as a landowner, he had workers harvesting the fields. When I think of most bosses, I do not envision them walking into the office shouting out, “The LORD bless you!” But this is exactly what Boaz did. As he approached his workers, he shouted out a blessing to them, “The LORD bless you!” and they called out a blessing to him in response, "The LORD bless you!" 

Now, Boaz didn’t just bless his workers, but as he had a conversation with the young foreign, widowed, girl that showed up to glean with his women workers, he gave her a blessing, too. But it wasn’t an ordinary blessing. 

After acknowledging Ruth’s good character Boaz said, “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” 

I honestly had to sit on this blessing for a while as I answered the question, “What do you learn about God?” I was reflecting on Boaz’s blessing and these three words repay, reward, and refuge stood out to me. 

In order to repay someone, it implies that something that was lost will be restored. 

In order to reward someone implies that something will be given that you do not already possess. 

In order to provide refuge under His wings implies that there is the intimacy of one being held close under the protective shelter of one’s strength. 

It occurred to me that Boaz recognized that the LORD was the One that can restore what was lost, give us what we don’t possess, and provide us with safe intimate refuge as our Protector. 

Keep in mind he said this to a young woman that recently lost her husband due to illness, left her home to go to a foreign land to care for her widowed mother-in-law, and left her people’s culture and gods to follow the God of Israel, the Most High God. How little did he know that his blessing her would open the door for him to become the answer not just for her but for the whole nation of Israel and the world. 

Boaz became her husband and the father of their son, Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse. Jesse became the father of King David and King David was the grandfather of Jesus. Boaz not only provided the intimate protection that gave her refuge that was safe and secure, but he restored what was lost in her husband and gave her more in a son. 

Not every blessing we give will have such profound outcomes, but when we give a blessing, it implies that there is something to give. We must take note that the blessing comes from the LORD. He alone is the Giver of all good things even if we may become a part of the solution or answer to the blessing in time. The good gift is from Him alone. 

Some might hold back in giving blessings for fear they may have to sacrifice as part of the solution, but we must remember that if we hold back in giving the blessing then we might miss out on the greater good that will come. 

What if we all gave Boaz’s blessing to one another? 

May the LORD repay you for what you have done. 
May the LORD richly reward you. 
May the LORD give you refuge under His wings. 

Please know that it is my heart's cry over you right now! May the LORD bless you so you can go and be a blessing! 

Shalom, y’all! 

(The Ruth 2 Storyboard was created by Alice Swartz! She created it during our study and then blessed me by sharing it with me!)

Monday, September 19, 2022

Our Cedar Table

Gorgeous! Incredible! We are blown away by what our son-in-love, Zach Davy, created for us through his business Sunshine Cedar Company.

The furniture is Amish handcrafted to the finest detail and it's made from locally sourced cedar.

The richness of the color and live edges give the table character and beauty that make you want to just look at it. It is so amazing that such beauty was hidden inside a tree. I love how God cares about details and gives beauty even in places one would never know about unless you did further inspection.

Greg and I were very sad when we realized our big round table was too big for our new dining room. God blessed us with so many divine appointments and memories that it was hard to let it go. We cherished the memories around it. It was our hospitality platform and hard to imagine anything better.

Until a conversation happened around making a table that was a part of Zach's story. What better way than to use one of his cedars for our table! It is just one more way of his family and our family becoming one.
I am being a little obnoxious in saying to the kids that I look forward to grandbabies filling up the whole bench! 

In the meantime, we cannot wait until you come and sit at our one of kind Nebraska raised cedar table. 

Your presence is requested to start our new table memories! 
Reach out to zach@sunshinecedarco.com if you'd be interested in a quote for custom built cedar furniture.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Why put blood on the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe in the consecration?

Sometimes reading the Levitical law can seem daunting. Okay, maybe all of it is unnerving. This morning as I read about Moses consecrating Aaron and how he put the blood of the sacrifice on Aaron's right ear lobe, right thumb, and right toe suddenly this all made sense to me.

First, we need to know that the right hand represented the favored one. So to be on the right is favor. Whenever the right hand is referenced about the LORD it represented the strong arm of the LORD. When we ponder both of these we begin to understand why culturally the right hand respresented cleanliness or purity. What good is favor and strength if it is not done from purity? This is probably why the right hand was never used for doing unclean tasks. It was meant to be set apart. Essentially, we need to know that the right is used to symbolize favor and strength that is pure. 

The ear was marked by the blood sacrifice because we need to listen to God. If we are not tuned to Him then we can not be set apart. The whole point of consecration is to be set apart. Different. Holy. To be an instrument of God so that we can honor Him as we listen and obey.

The thumb was marked because our thumb is the appendage that makes us uniquely different than any other creature. Our thumb allows us to create, build, grasp; well, do fine motor skills that would be hard to do other wise. Our ability to create is one thing that illustrates that we are created in the image of God. 

We are also told in Scripture that God gives the Holy Spirit to the craftsman or artisan so they can create. We are inspired by created things to worship. This reminds us that we are called to not just create, build, work or serve,  but to worship as we do. But our worship should be in the One who gave us that thumb so that we can create as HE created to inspire others to worship Him alone!  Worship should never be in the object or the one who created the object. 

The right toe was covered with the blood sacrifice as a reminder to us that we are called to go. Our feet are what help us go so we can create, build, work, serve and worship. But, consider this also, our big toe is what gives us balance. Without it we cannot balance our person. 

Could it have been a physical reminder to keep things in balance as we go create, build, serve, and worship?  

Could it be it was placed on the big toe so that we must remember in all things that if we truly are set apart it should be done as an act of worship? 

I also wonder if it was done on the ear, thumb, and toe because this covers the entire person. True consecration must be whole hearted. All of you!  There is no room to say to the hand or toe that we will not do as we hear from the LORD. All three must work in a spirit of oneness.

As for the blood sacrifice, this is a symbolic pointer toward the final sacrifice that would be shed in Jesus. He is the One who died for our sins and covered us so that we may be consecrated or set apart for the kingdom of God. Because of Jesus, blood sacrifices are no longer needed because HE was God's favored one, who sat at His right hand that lived a holy and pure life. 

When I was younger reading Leviticus seemed tedious, but now that I know how to ask good questions and assimilate truths with the rest of the Word of God I see such depth and I find it affirming. 

May His favor, strength, and sacrifice be upon your right ear lobe, right thumb, and right big toe so that you are keenly aware that if you have believed in the LORD Jesus then you are set apart to create, build, serve and worship with your whole being. Amen!

Monday, September 12, 2022

What type of leader does God honor?


What type of leadership does God honor? Sometimes, it is helpful to see the contrast in a unique way.

Selfishness, disobedience, anarchy, and perversion prevailed during the time of judges. The nation of Israel was nearing the end of 400 years of the nation living by "doing what is right in their own eyes".

Judges were deliverers sent to remind, rescue, and redeem the nation during a crisis. It was during this time that we hear of a young Moabite widow named Ruth. Keep in mind that to an Israelite a Moabite was cursed by God because they attacked Israel in her wanderings. They were basically viewed as an enemy of the people of God. Yet, Ruth's loyalty and kindness stands in stark contrast to what has occurred in the last 400 years in the nation.

God has a plan and His plan is to redeem His people. His plan will prevail even if He must use a young foreign woman to illustrate the depth of His redeeming love.

It is during this time the story of Ruth rises to remind us of the type of leader God will honor.

As I reflected on two truths David Guzik said about Ruth's leadership, "Character before conduct and responsibility before results," I started pondering basic truths that must come before leadership is known. Notice that all begin with what is happening on the inside before outward results occurred.

We do not know how long Mahlon and Kilion were married to Orpah and Ruth, but we do know that the family lived in Moab for ten years. Ten years they were able to show what was on the inside. Ten years for Ruth to watch and observe. Now in the moment of great grief and decision Ruth reveals what happened on the inside. The truth of her depth is revealed and her story stands judge over the nations prevailing attitude of "doing what is right in their own eyes."

The more I pondered my list started growing. Some are truths we see in Ruth. Some are truths that support what we observe in her. All are truths we must grow in.

Seek to find
Knock to open
Build foundation before reformation
Build formation before transformation
Willingness leads to opportunities
Dig roots before bear fruit
Build character before conduct
Walk in faithfulness before fruitfulness
Live responsibily before we see results
Grow in depth before breadth
Be before doing
Build the invisible before visible
Live in closet prayers before public influence

How might these character qualities influence our nation today as it faces its own "do what is right in your own eyes" attitude?
 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Commanded Rest


Do you enjoy a certain type of ritual that helps you restore? I was just reading about how God gave the command in the Old Testament that after war those that killed or touched blood were to go for seven days outside the camp to be cleansed. They were to clean their weapons and leather. The thought occurred to me, I get it that they needed to protect each other from the possible contamination, but I recognized something more. In a way, it was commanded rest.

Seven days to debrief what just happened. 

Seven days to do routine activities like cleaning tools and clothes. 

Seven days of discussing with those around you what happened. 

Seven days to lament. 

Seven days to celebrate. 

Seven days to refrain from the daily grind at home and work. 

Seven days to debrief in the mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Commanded rest. It helped them get spiritually pure. 

Doesn't spiritual purity happen when we have taken the time to let our mind, body, soul, and spirit catch up with what just happened? 

The quiet rest and routine gives room for repentance, restoration, refreshment.

I recognize that the text is showing how we are to be pure before God. I also love that the practice of stepping away helps us get there. 

So, I ask again. What ritual(s) do you do that gives you time to get spiritually pure before God? When this one thing is right all the rest fall into place.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

What if..? Moses asked God

Do you ever struggle with "What if" syndrome? What if the car breaks down? What if I don't get it done in time? What if they make fun of me? What if they don't like me? What if I am not good enough? What if they dont believe me? What if it can't be fixed? What if..?

As I read Moses' conversation with God at the burning bush this morning, I noticed he said, "What if they don't believe me or listen to me?" Oh I knew he said it but it hit me hard this morning. 

Moses revealed alot in his "what if" statement. Fear! You heard me! The fear of man in particular. Even worse, he was giving more power to man not believing or listening than to God telling him that HE was sending him and would help him.

I love how in their conversation God revealed to Moses that He is all powerful, all knowing, and all present God. He reminded Moses that He was the Father of his father, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

As if that wasn't enough God gave him mini miracles for Him to interact with so that he could experience before hand what HE would do through Moses before Pharaoh. 

Do you see how God revealed His character and person to Moses?

Why? 

When we know and understand the character of God, how HE is bigger than creation because HE created it, we find our "what ifs" seem insignificant when we trust and obey. 

Moses went so far as to ask God to send someone else. This caused God's anger to burn, but God gave him a concession for a moment, but in the end Moses did exactly as God asked.

This gives me hope that my "what if" moments don't sideline me. They do give me opportunity to grow and know the LORD more. They become faith steps.

Father, please forgive me of my "what ifs". Help me to let go of my fear of man and help me to know You are bigger than what man says. Help me to let go of not being good enough and trust that You will give me the Words to speak. Help me to let go and just get up and go. Thank you that You are all present, all knowing and all powerful. Thank you that I can trust You to help, provide, and make a way. Help me to honor Your calling in me and through me. In Jesus name amen

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Seeing God in an Ordinary Routine

Sometimes when I drive a familiar route I go into mental autopilot and have no clue what is happening. It is terrifying to think of how unobservant I can be when doing a routine activity. I think knowing this about myself causes me concern not just on the physical danger level, but on the spiritual as well. 

As I read about Moses watching over Jethro's flocks I realize Moses was doing his routine activity. There is nothing extraordinary about watching flocks in a field. Yet, he was observant. He noticed something unusual... a burning bush that was not consumed. So he walked over to check it out. This moment of curiosity allowed him to have a conversation with God and receive a holy game plan to rescue the nation and help them to move into their promised land.

I want to be so observant! Now, don't think that I believe that in my ordinary that God plans on using me to change our nation. I do not have grandiose expectations. But I do believe that God can and will meet me in the ordinary to show Himself to me.

Because God is always the same I can trust that He will reveal His presence, His Name, His purpose, His history, His destiny, His plan, and His outcomes to me in my circumstances.

So, I find myself asking, "Are you seeing God? Are you looking for Him? Do you listen to Him? What is He revealing to you? How might the ordinary become extraordinary simply because I am willing to pause, be curious, ask, listen, and obey?

Father, help me to guard against being on auto pilot. Help me to be observant even in the ordinary so that I can be with You and how You are at work around me. In Jesus name amen

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Four Courageous Women in Moses' Birth

I love the beauty of courage and creativity. It causes me to pause and notice. In the birth of Moses, we see the beauty and creativity of four women.

Moses' mom hides him until he is strong enough to be away from her for a bit. She then puts tar on the bottom of a papyrus basket so he could float down the Nile when Pharaoh said throw the baby boys into the Nile. She did but she waited a bit and did it in a basket where Pharaoh's own daughter walked. She made sure she did everything she could to ensure her "fine" son would survive. Her reward was that she would be paid to nurse her own son.

Miriam which is only called Mose's sister couldn't let her baby brother just go into the water without someone watching. When she saw Pharaoh's daughter had compassion, she came out of the reeds from her secret hiding place and offered to bring a nurse. She took a risk. It worked. She was able to watch her baby brother grow into a toddler.

Pharaoh's daughter saw something unusual and sent a slave to check it out. Even though her dad said throw the Hebrew boys into the Nile River. He feared one of them would become a leader that would over take him someday. She had compassion and offered to pay the woman to nurse the baby. That woman was his very own mother. And she became a mother to a "fine" son. The word "fine" meant that everything about the baby was healthy, strong, and beautiful. 
The slave girl is the one who opened the basket. Whether it was her that had compassion or Pharaoh's daughter who had compassion it overflowed. A crying babe is a crying babe. The nationality is not important. The babe was in need.

These four women were willing to be courageous when others just did blind obedience to a ruthless law that killed. 

May we be so courageous! Amen

Video of the story: 
Moses' Birth

Yellow Submarine: A Moment of Remembrance

Mema wasn't able to go to the hospital to see Papa because her portable oxygen tank was not staying charged. I knew it had been a long and lonely day for Papa so I wanted to cheer him up.

I asked hoping to trigger a memory and pull him out of his dementia for a moment, "What was your favorite music group Papa?"

As I opened up YouTube to play a song by the Beach Boys, "Aruba, Jamaica..."

"Was it the Beach Boys?"  As the song started to play he turned and looked at me with intrigued raised eyebrows. I asked, "Or was it the song Yellow Submarine?"

He whispered, "Yes, It was the Beatles!" He remembered!

I started the song Yellow Submarine and he started nodding his head to the music. I noticed his banana was not eaten so I asked, "Would you like to eat your banana?"

He nodded happily to the beat of the music. So, I opened the banana and handed it to him. "Why don't you try to feed yourself."

He slowly reached for the banana, grabbed it, and took a bite. I thought, "Yes! I got him to eat something!" His loss of appetite had already taken 20 pounds.

To my surprise Papa then started waiving the banana as if he was conducting the music.

The yellow waiving banana gave me such joy. This was the most active I had seen Papa in a long time. Was it because
we were listening to the Yellow Submarine? Somehow it just seemed felicitous with him waiving the banana and eating. I imagined the Beatles would have loved this scene.

This made me wonder about the meaning of the song. So, I looked it up  and discovered that a friend of the Beatles believed that the song, Yellow Submarine, was Paul McCartney's way of conveying what it was like for the Beatles to live in their sea of fame. They were encased in their submarine in a sea of green and a sky of blue. While the yellow submarine kept them safe it also cut them off. I guess in a way it was kind of like being in the hospital.

Yes. It truly was fitting that Papa and I enjoyed our Beatle concert.

Papa was so happy he even started moving his toes under the blanket. Nathan, the nurse, came in and said that this was the most alert he had seen him.

Music is such a gift.  It helps us to remember. I let the "Best of the Beatles" keep playing while Papa and I sat quietly enjoying our memories. I like to think that for him it was about remembering his younger years, but for me it was about creating a memory now.

Please sing with me, "We all live in a yellow submarine. Yellow submarine..." I know you started singing the song. Lol! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Solar Powered Bible

I am so excited about these new Solar Audio devices that Audio Scripture is testing out, that can be requested and distribute at a lower price point. They can be charged with the sun or with with a USB port charger. 

They can be uploaded by our team leader Jonathan to hold the Bible, Leadership lessons, discipleship training, evangelism training, music, etc. in different languages.  The larger device even has a flash light that has four levels of brightness that is 3x's better than an IPhone.

How might you use these?

In the US....

With the elderly that need to just listen. 

With someone in crisis that is having difficulty focusing so they can just listen.

With the blind.

With someone in the hospital.

With children.

With someone wanting to learn English. 

With anyone that prefers to listen and not read. 

For refugee empowerment.

For inner city encouragement. 

Keep one in your car in case you drive in an area where you don't get radio reception. 

Teams traveling over seas can take these as gifts to give out in the heart language of the people. Whether you are visiting family, going on a business trip, or going as a church team. 

Over seas...

Teams can do distributions of devices in the language of the people. 

Teams can leave behind with extra training content so that teaching can continue when they leave. 

We have a friend on our prayer team that always carries a device with him here in the US. He prays and sees who God wants him to give it to. He finds ways to be generous with God's Word through solar devices. 

They come in different colors. 

How might God be encouraging you to distribute God's Word through a solar device today?

Contact info@audioscripture.org to order 1 or 100 or 1,000! 

Please share this post!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Shared Suffering & Vulnerable Compassion


As I sat across from a new dear friend almost 28 years ago, she shared this passage with me as she grieved the loss of a baby. As she shared that the God of all compassion and comfort gave her hope and strength as she suffered, I found myself desiring to know this type of compassion and comfort. I shared in her suffering and in her hope. Peace covered us. 

This morning I shared this passage with a pastor friend in Africa as he seeks to minister to one of his leaders. This leader left his former church to be under my friend because he recognized that the teaching is deep and real. At his previous church, he was paid to preach but in his new church and leadership position he would preach truth but not be paid. He decided that teaching the truth was more important than pay. 

Yesterday, after he finished preaching the new leader and his wife took their one year old girl to get her immunizations. She went to sleep after and never woke up. Now my pastor friend must lead a funeral service today for his new leader's family.

Grief is a beast. But comfort and compassion overflow. They give us hope. This can only happen if we are vulnerable enough to share in our sufferings. I am beginning to call this in my life the vulnerability of compassion.

Shared sufferings means that I must share the truth of my sufferings so others can pray. As we seek God, He will pour out His comfort and compassion in us and through us so that we can pour it out into others. A shared suffering is an easier suffering to walk. We all need help in our sufferings and prayer shows that we are not relying on ourselves but in God alone.  

This past weekend as Greg and I went to move my parents God overwhelmed me by the goodness of shared sufferings. But He also poignantly revealed to me that it always requires vulnerability. As Papa wept in our arms because he is lonely and tired of therapy it hurt so much. As Mom wept over Papa's pain, I felt her suffering deeply. As Aunt Janie cried because she can't fix this and make their pain less I cried, too. But after we shared our pain and wept, we experienced the reality of the comfort that overflows. Peace covered us and compassion overwhelmed me. 

As each one of us were willing to be vulnerable and share our pain, we knew the release of shared suffering. As we prayed together, we experienced the hope of salvation help us to stand firm. As I reflected and processed with my family, I knew that our Gracious Giver was giving us great favor. So this morning as my pastor friend shared, I was able to let the comfort and compassion of a shared suffering overflow. 

Where might you be suffering today? Have you shared your suffering with the One who pours out all compassion and comfort? Do you know the hope of salvation in your suffering? I know it requires vulnerability to share, but shared sufferings gives us hope. The kind that helps us stand firm even as we suffer. 

Beloved, you are not alone!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Love Covering

I bought this print for my mom two years ago for Mother's day. It now sits on the mantle waiting for her to move into her love covering. 

As a woman there is a gift we bring to our families that no one else brings. We are the heart guardians. The older I get the more I understand why God took a rib from Adam as He fashioned and formed woman. There is strength, support, and a framing that a rib provides to the heart. 

Some might accuse and say, "Stop spiritualizing!" My answer to them, "Be silent!" If what I say causes a wife to love more and sacrifice once more or a mother to get up when she thought should could not get up or a daughter to lift up her family then it's worth speaking.

Women, we are called to provide the love covering to our families. This is a sacred role. That means it is HOLY! 

Our gifts are not relegated to a season, title, or position. They are in a person. Us! We are the gift. Right now. Right where you are! Exactly in what you are doing. Whether it is in the mundane or the profound by man's economy is not important. What is important in God's economy is what is happening in the heart gardens around you. How you cover your family so growth and blessing may take place is what matters. 

Love is a covering. It is a shelter in the storm. It is a word to lift up. It is a hand to hold. It is a shoulder to lean on. It is an ear to hear. It is a body that responds. It is. 

My lovelies when we provide the love covering it is when we are most like Jesus. 

My prayer is this covers you with the encouragement you need today. Beloved, you are loved with an everlasting love. He has covered us let us go and cover what He has given us. Amen

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

When Children Ministered to Me


As all the children gathered in the room at One Hope, their energy was palpable. I was there to share about going and telling Bible stories. I wondered will they listen? Will they get it and go and tell? Why I ever wonder such things behooves me! I know the power of story and how it can cause a child or adult sit and listen! 

So I opened with a personal story,
"Back in March I got on a plane and I flew all the way to Dallas, Texas!" I said while holding my arms out like I was flying as I moved across the room in front if the children. "I then got on another plane and flew all the way across the ocean to a far away place." I moved further around the room going behind the children. "I continued on this journey for four different flights and after 36 hours, we finally landed in Asia. 

But then my friends said, 'Get some rest for tomorrow we will fly for another hour and forty-five minutes.' After that flight, we got in a car and drove for well over an hour only to get out and walk a path to a remote village in jungle area. We finally reached our destination and I was able to tell a Bible story to six people sitting on grass mat's in the dirt who had never heard this Bible story.

Children ages four to twelve sat quietly as they listened. Caught up in the story. 

"I am here today to tell you that Jesus wants you to go and tell too! We will learn a new word today in our Bible story. It is 'witnesses.' A witness it someone who sees and hears something and they then go and tell what they have seen and heard. 

Our Bible verse is "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the outermost parts of the world." I used hand motions to help them remember their verse and had them stand up and practice it several times. I told them to listen closely so that when they heard the verse in the story they coukd help me by doing the handmotions.

I then told the story,

"One day the disciples were standing together talking and one of the disciples asked Jesus, 'Will this be when you bring in the kingdom of God?"

Jesus said, "It is not for you to know the times, dates, or seasons. Only the Father has the authority to know the times, dates, and seasons. But, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria to the outer most parts of the world..."

I continued telling Acts 1:1-11 and then told it again so that the story could settle in their hearts and minds. When I asked if anyone was willing to tell the story a little girl that was maybe four or an early five waved her hand. Kat (name changed) needed me to start the story, but once she received a few story prompts she got it and started telling it in her own words.

Unexpectedly, I met God through my little storyteller. In her little helium sounding voice, she looked me in the eye with complete trust while she held my hand and said, "It's not for you to know. The Father knows!" Tears welled up in my eyes. Her little summation had perfect meaning and her pure heart believed it. It was as if God spoke directly to my heart. 

I had just learned that my step dad had a bacteria in his blood stream. He was very sick. I had my own questions that I was bringing before the Father. He chose to use a little storyteller speak to my heart. "It's not for you to know! The Father knows!" Peace covered me.

Later that day, I was teaching the same lesson at our south campus and again God used a child to speak a message to me. The service was going longer so our class there was longer so after the storytelling and game to learn how to go and tell, I invited the children to draw out the story. One twelve year-old decided to create an envelope and fill the envelope with little notes. On each note he wrote parts of the story. The first part of the story he chose to show me was "It's not for you know!" 


This time I just sat in awe of God! Not once but twice He used the younger storytellers to speak truth back to me. 

I love how I get the privilege to go and tell His stories, but He reminds me often that He ministers to me as much if not more through those I think I have gone to go and serve. 

On this particular day at two different churches, He chose to use the story I was telling to speak life back to me through His little children.

No wonder Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me!"

Friday, July 22, 2022

Go and Tell Lessons

Yesterday at camp, God blessed me so much. I had two groups, the Blue Group the first hour and the Red Group the second hour.

You never know how a lesson will go the first time you teach it. I always learn more and adjust as I go. When it was time to place the Blue Group into four groups to play the Go Tell Game. I just assigned them groups. Then I gave them their assignments. 

When I asked Blue Group 1 if they would like to stay together or split up to go tell the Bible story. They chose to stay together. So we were one big group traveling from group to group to tell the story. They did it, but it took a long time and there was ALOT of waiting for the other groups. I knew this could happen so I gave them things to discuss while waiting. 

We did not get to finish the lesson, but they left knowing we are called to be His witnesses in our city, state, with people we don't like, and the nations. I later heard that they were retelling their Bible story at crafts so they did get it.

The Red Group came in ready to go. When I divided them up, I tweaked it one way. I simply asked who in the room wants to be the storyteller? I then chose them to be Group 1. 

After giving group assignments I asked them, "Do you want to go as a group or split up?" They jumped up and down and said, "Split up!" So I let them choose where they went. They equally divided and ran to their groups to go tell the Bible story.

The Red Group was able to tell all of the groups the Bible story and even bring others along to go tell other groups. They multiplied faster and more people heard the story and more people told the story.

What an incredible visual God gave me through the two groups. When we say, "I don't want to leave my group. We want to stay together. We can't do it unless others are with us." We still get it done, but not as fast and not to all places. It means alot of people do not hear in time before they die. But, when we get it, go, and give it away in as many places as we can then more people hear and more can get the call to go. We multiply faster. 

I had no clue how God was going to use this lesson, but He sure gave me a great visual that I will now use as a model as to why we each have a responsibility to go. 

What does your church look like the Blue Group or the Red Group? Pray you and your church become a Red Group! 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Conquering What You Possess


As I was reading about Israel conquering the land this morning, I noticed in Deuteronomy 3:18-20 that it says that "Your God has given you the land..." and later it says the "LORD gives rest..."  I noticed that the LORD gives us both the ability to conquer and the ability to rest, but in both cases it is our responsibility to take possession of both. Israel couldn't conquer the land if they did not go into battle. The LORD made it very clear "go to this land and leave this land alone." Not all things or places are our responsibility to conquer. He also promised Israel rest, but they had to take it. 

For the most part, I get the conquer responsibility in that I must do my part. I fight the rest part. I might be thinking of the next thing I need to conquer instead of resting. Or how I can conquer rest. Lol!

Being with people and creating art are restful for me. Lately, I have been literally mind craving the need to create. This shows me that I have been in conquer mode for too long. I must take time to take possession of the rest the LORD gives me. 

So, I have been studying Impasto painting. I think I want to learn how to do it. Lol. I know I won't be able to conquer it!  Lol!  But I want to sit and see what God might create in me and through it rest.


Where do you struggle with taking possession of what God has given you? Do you struggle more with conquering the task or taking the rest? 

Father, please help us to be more mindful if what You have already given us and help us to take possession of it for Your glory.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Get Up and Go Get Grain


"When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why are you standing around looking at one another?"

If the situation wasn't so serious I would let my laughter spill out because I can see me in this story. I have been in this type of situation before. You know one of those moments when life hits... A diagnosis, a death, a natural disaster, a person... And you find yourself just standing there frozen. Just staring at others not really knowing what to do when someone with a voice of reason speaks and then boom. You can move again. The voice of reason breathes life and causes the shock to disappear. Thanking God for all of the different voices of reason that God has sent to get me moving again. 

Now, on the side of the one who speaks reason. I have been there, too. It is so easy to walk in and see no movement and just forget the human factor that has just happened. Just because we may be able to see the next step doesn't mean we should forget the people. Praying that my reasoning is full of grace. Oh wisdom let generous grace over flow when we reason together through the trials of life.

 I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise, we will die. (Genesis 42:1).