Wednesday, November 29, 2023

How to share about God's Word

A hard lesson I learned in telling my story was people don't need the details of my pain or suffering. They can relate if I give labels or short descriptive words. Telling my details never healed anyone or changed anyone that I am aware of, but when I shared about God, His character, and how He moved in my life and circumstances, I would see people change for the better because they drew nearer to God. I learned this lesson the hard way through trial and error.

I recently read this passage and saw immediately in Scripture the format I learned the hard way. Lol. 

In five short verses, we are given a simple model of how to share about God's Word in our lives and circumstances.

It clearly says when your children ask. Okay, there is an assumption that we open the door for questioning and we are discusding truth from the perspective of God's commands not man's. Sometimes, that is the hardest door to open. But when it is this is a simple model to follow.

Here is what you do...
1. Tell my/our story in God's story. 
2. Explain the circumstances simply.
3. Give God's name. 
4. Show God's character. 
5. Explain how God moved in the circumstances.
6. Explain how we should respond.

Did you notice that more attention is focused on God? 

I love this because it gives God the glory and not my pain or suffering. 

Don't get me wrong. I know there is a cathartic healing that comes in processing our pain. But that is a totally different circumstance than this. That should happen at the feet of someone that can help you see and discover God in your circumstances. 

This is more about telling others about why and how God's Word provides us our healing. Save the catharsis for your place of receiving. This is about the moment when you know and are healed so you can give. 

I had so much to learn. God has taught me so much. I am still learning. I love that He is giving me truth through His story so I am better at sharing His character. 

Shalom y'all!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Irresponsible shepherds were given a warning by God!

Irresponsible shepherds were given a warning by God! 

That could be a newspaper headline for Ezekiel 34. Wozer! 

It is important to know that biblically a shepherd represents a king, prince, or overseer that can be political or spiritual that is in charge of leading God's people.

God asks, "Should not shepherds feed their sheep?"

God does not tolerate leaders that are self-indulgent, greedy, uncaring, or self-serving.

God makes it very clear He is against shepherds who only feed themselves. 

God does not tolerate shepherds that do not clothe, feed, strengthen, heal, bind, bring back lost sheep, scatter sheep, or protect their flock.

The warnings are a comfort for the one who hears because God speaks of promises found in emphatic I WILL statements.

I am against the shepherd that does these things.
I will require my sheep at their hand.
I will put a stop to their feeding sheep.
I will rescue my sheep from their mouths.
I will seek out my sheep.
I will rescue my sheep.
I will bring them out from the peoples and nations where they are scattered.
I will bring them into their own land.
I will feed them on the mountains of Israel.
I will feed them on good pastures.
I will give them good grazing land to lie on.
I will seek the lost.
I will bring back the stray.
I will bind up the injured.
I will strengthen the weak.
I will destroy the fat and the strong.

God then speaks very clearly to His flock. The above was a warning to the Shepherd gone astray. Below is the promises given to His sheep who hears HIS voice.

I will make a covenant of peace and Banish wild beasts.
I will make it so my sheep dwell securely.
I will make them places of blessings.
I will send them showers of blessings.
I will bless them with fruitful trees and fields.
I will make them secure.
I will break your bars of yoke.
     They will know I AM THE LORD!
I will deliver them.
      They will no longer be prey to the nations.
I will provide plantations.
      They will no longer suffer, be hungry, or receive the reproach of the nations.

You are my sheep. The sheep of My pasture. I AM YOUR GOD! Declares the LORD!

A leader's service must be for the benefit of others and their community. God does not tolerate self-indulgent leaders.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The little red plane grounds me

As Papa got into bed he said, "You know every night, I leave and go places. Sometimes I get in the car to go to work. I went shopping the other day. But everytime, I open my eyes and I see the plane, I know I am home."

I bought this plane for Papa for Christmas last year and hung it above his bed so he had something fun to look at. I had no idea that the little red baron plane would be his grounding.

Papa often tells me about how the plane helped him. Sometimes his journeys are not fun and the plane helps him to know he is home safe. 

I have been thinking alot about grounding. What in my life grounds me? 

Greg, Mikayla, Grant, Mom, and a few dear friends ground me. When I feel discombobulated, I can process with them and suddenly I am centered again. They help me see things from a different perspective, calm me, and remind me to laugh or cry when necessary. I feel at home and safe in being real with them. 

Creation grounds me. Just being able to sit outside, walk, and enjoy the trees, birds, and beauty of creation fills me up. It centers me. I find I feel more grounded when I spend more time in or with creation. It gives me joy and opens my heart to awe and wonder. This includes Peach and Melchizedek as they minister to me through their kindness and silly antics.

Creating things grounds me. I believe part of it is because it is something I can control. Part of it is because it ignites joy in me. Truly wonder and awe of beauty and giving come alive in me when I am creating. When life is really stressed I am always better if I pause and take time to create. It slows me down and stops the crazy cycle that can run amuck in my head. It also inspires generosity in me. It must be shared to be fully known.

My morning ritual grounds me. I get up, make my chai, get my Bible and my journal and then I sit in my comfy chair to watch the birds and squirrels while I read my Bible and pray. My time with God in the Word grounds me spiritually and emotionally. I can tell when my time is shortened. I am not as grounded if I don't keep my eyes on the LORD. He is my red plane that helps me know I am safe and home. He is the reason I can process with my family and see beauty in creation. He is what makes me centered and stable. He opens me up to repentance, forgiveness, love, hope, healing, kindness, generosity and so much more that is beyond me apart from Him.

What is your red plane that grounds you? What helps you remember who you are and that you are safe? 

If you don't know the answer, maybe you should seek God and ask Him to help you find what will help you become grounded. I promise He will give you what you need at the moment you need it.

Shalom, y'all.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Golden Tumors and Golden Mice

Truly, there are some strange things in the Bible. Like golden tumors and golden mice. This morning as I read 1 Samuel 5 and 6 about the Philistines and the ark of the covenant. I wondered, why in the world would they think sending the ark off in a cart carrying golden tumors and golden mice would be a good thing? Lol. 

First, we need to know and recognize that the ark of the covenant represented the presence of God and when they sat the ark next to Dagon, their god made of stone, Dagon kept getting knocked over and eventually decapitated. They started to recognize that the presence of the ark in their territory was not a good thing. The plague made them realize they needed to do something.

Apparently, the illness they were struck with was most likely the bubonic plague. This disease was caused by mice and it affected the lymp nodes. So of course they thought, if we turn these into little gold idols God will leave us alone.

Their diviners said, 
"So you must make images of your tumors and make images of your mice that ravaged the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps He will lighten his hand from you and your gods in the land." (1 Sam 6:5)

This always makes me laugh, but this morning I realized that when you do not know the One True God or how to worship Him of course you would try to do something that would appease Him. When you don't know that He desires pure hearts not sacrifices, a golden object seems like a good offering. 

It did work in that the presence of God was removed and they could go back to worshipping gods made by human hands. But they missed the opportunity to know and worship the one true God. 

Then I thought, how often do I find myself trying to appease God rather than worshipping Him? How often do I try to do a ritual or focus on an object rather than my Savior hoping to find the magic bullet? 

Truly, this is a crazy story with even more twists like a nursing cow wandering with the cart carrying the golden tumors, mice, and the ark of the covenant. Can you imagine them watching the cows lowing over the hills headed to the field of Joshua in Beth-shemesh? They figured the milking cows would go back to their locked up calves, but if they returned the ark to the Isrselites they would know the One True God was at work against them.

They removed the object that they thought was causing harm and did have relief from the removal, but they did not know the gift of a relationship with the One True God. 

Did any believe that day? We don't know. Unlikely since we aren't told. What a sad thing to recognize the presence of God, but to settle for appeasement and not a relationship.

There are so many deeper lessons in this story, but the one that seems to resonante today is I need to keep the sacred, sacred by worshipping the One True God. This cannot be done through appeasement with idols fashioned by human hands or from tests to see if He is at work. It is done through the humbling of a human hearts and a desire to know Him, celebrate Him, and to worship Him alone.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

I will be with you

I am with you! by Nordeman & Grant

Every night I pray with my Mom, Papa , and Aunt Janie there is one thing I always pray. Thankfulness for being together and that God is with us. 

This morning God so blessed me with this song and the reminder of the beauty of saying, "I am with you." I was listening and decided to play it again as I read and then God had me read Isaiah 43:2. God gave us this verse when we flooded and lost everything. Mom and Poddy let us live with them while our home was restored. I just realized that we are blessing them the way they blessed us.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you" (Isaiah 43:2).

I love those whispers. I heard God whisper His reminder this morning, "I will be with you."

Our lives are blessed and good. We are under no trial or tribulation. Our blessing is that in both our good times and bad times we know that God is with us and we are together.  

We are so thankful.

Simply, God says to me and you, "I am with you!"

Saturday, November 11, 2023

How to pray

I was recently asked how I pray. Here are two videos that share what has been the most transformational in my spiritual walk. These videos provide my persinal prayer walk journey. 

How to pray Scripture from Genesis to Revelation

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Sacred Rhythm of the Storytelling Process

At our ASM retreat, Naomi asked me to teach on curiosity from two Bible stories of my choice. God surprised me by the two Bible stories He put on my heart. The first one was Naaman's healing. Wozer! Once I got into the story, I was blown away at how curiosity was demonstrated by every person and we were able to see both the good and bad of a king and a servant using curiosity. There were two kings and several key servants. We see the use of curiosity for good and for bad in such a profound way that it is almost embarrassing to watch the bad. Crazy! Go check it out in 2 Kings 5 or you can watch the video I created of it on YouTube.

The second story made sense because Paul used the curiosity he found in culture to share about the One True God in Acts 17. 

I started practicing this story for a week before the retreat. I am always trying to train myself in a new story and as I prepared this story, God reminded me of a time when trying to tell a story like this one would have been overwhelming to me. But now that I have created mental story maps for years and used them consistently over time, I was able to settle into the sacred rhythm of the storytelling practice to trust its process and to trust the story to do its work in me.

God is blessing me with seeing the fruit of faithfulness in staying consistent in the process. It bears its own kind of peaceful fruit. I love it and want everyone to know and find the peace of such a gift in their service to our LORD. 

I feel that God is giving me a deeper sense of trust and peace which is even harder to explain. 

FATHER, please bless my dear beloved with the fruit of consistent processes that develop peace as they use their gifts faithfully for Your kingdom. Show them how You are at work in this sacred rhythm of growing their gifts and talents. Show them there is blessing that comes through the struggle and time. Allow them to know the grace of just being in the process and how it builds trust and hope. Kiss their souls today. In Jesus name, amen.

Here is the new story I learned.

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Spirit Stirred Up!

I started Ezra this morning. I needed a change of pace in my reading. I felt God wanted me to read it as I glanced over books I had not read in my Bible this go through. I am caught by two things this morning.

1. The Spirit of God stirred in a political figure that was not Jewish to send his people back to go rebuild His temple.
2. God stirred up a small remnant of His followers to go do the work.

When the Spirit of God stirs things up, things happen!

I find hope because God can and does stir up political figures! We must pray for it! And God can use a tiny band of followers! 

We must never underestimate the power of a small minority stirred by God! Despite hardship, difficulties, sacrifice, lack of comfort, costly endeavors, lack of resources, and lack of majority support a small group stirred by God can rebuild a broken spiritual house! 

And when this happens God will cause others to make provision for it to be accomplished!

Holy Spirit, come! Stir the nation's political leaders to bring forth Your will and plan. Raise up Your remnant! Make them strong and courageous in You! Build Your Spiritual house and let Your kingdom reign. In Jesus' powerful name. Amen

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Persistent Prayer

The importance of persistent prayer was provided shortly after the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith ( Luke 17:5-18:8).

Notice that the judge who the widow kept begging for justice told himself, "I do not fear God nor do I respect man."

This judge was so removed from God that his own self talk bragged about his disbelief in God and his lack of concern for others. 

Yet, he was finally willing to meet justice for a persistent widow so she would leave him alone.

We are then reminded that God gives justice. He hears those that cry to Him and He will give them justice.

So, as we face injustice, what do we do? We persist in seeking justice!  We persist in prayer. We do not lose heart. We, too, should ask the LORD to increase our faith.

Shalom y'all!

Friday, October 13, 2023

The highest point of praise (Psalm 145)

Psalm 145 is considered to be the highest point of praise! 

It is believed that King David wrote it at the end of His life. After much blood shed and poor life choices that lead to adultery and murder. After running and hiding in caves. After gathering mighty men, fighting alongside mighty men, and watching mighty men fall. Through the highs of love and depths of death. Through the sorrow of a pursuing king, rebellious sons and mighty escapades. Through it all, we are told that King David kept his heart toward God. He was known as the man after God's own heart. He was not perfect. But the one thing he did right was praise God.

This morning as I studied this Psalm, I noticed that praise must be personal, direct, specific, and from a heart of knowing! 

Praise is an act of submission and blessing. 

Praise blesses all involved when it is sincere. It lifts up. It upholds. It bonds. It gives life and strength. 

We are told in Scripture that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).

It is more important now more than ever for us to develop the habit of praise to the LORD. 

Would you consider reading this Psalm and writing out the character traits of God and all the ways you can praise Him?  

What might you add to David's long list? Make it personal, direct, and specific. Speak it from what you know. If you do not know then ask God to reveal it to you until it becomes a habit, practice using King David's Psalm and consider praying it every day. 

I can only imagine how this will bless you and His Holy name. Because one of things I have noticed is that praise blesses all involved. It never happens alone. It must be done in relationship with another! 

Shalom y'all!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

GOD'S comfort for those in exile (Isaiah 40)

Do you ever just feel overwhelmed by the news? I don't even watch it and right now I am feeling overwhelmed by it. My heart grieves about what I am hearing. I hate evil. I hate its nonsense and lack of respect for the dignity of life.

I catch myself in these moments and realize I need to get my mind focused on God. This morning I asked Him to show me what I should study for my morning time with Him. He led me to Isaiah 40.

I love listing out what I can know about God and His character. It helps me to stay focused on hope.

This morning the list was long on what I can know about God based on Psalm 40. It reminded me that when we wait on the LORD we, too, can renew our strength and mount up on wings like eagles.

For God is our COMFORT, PEACE, forgiveness, glorious, breath, TRUTH, might, SHEPHERD, reward, gatherer, leader, JUSTICE, counselor, measurer, IMMEASURABLE, INCOMPARABLE, GREAT & MIGHTY, namer, CREATOR, POWERFUL, UNSEARCHABLE, enabler, and renewer.

I made the highlights with bold based on what I really needed to remember as I pray.

Which one(s) ministers to you?

I am praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I know you are, too.

It is so important to be in the Word. To be with Jesus. To be transformed!  

Shalom y'all.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

What is spiritual leprosy?

What is spiritual leprosy? 

Well, let's first consider what happens with physical leprosy. Upon enough exposure it can be caught. Apparently, a one time exposure does not catch but continued exposure puts you at higher risk. It will then penatrate and begin to cause nerve damage and affect the appearance of your skin. If not treated it will cause you to lose the ability to feel, see, and breath. 

Now, what is spiritual leprosy. It is when we allow ourselves to be exposed to and desensitized to behaviors and circumstances that cause us to lose our spiritual discernment (sense), spiritual sight, and spiritual breath (ability to speak life). 

I was reading Numbers 12 about Miriam and Aaron complaining against Moses. Their complaint was most likely born of jealousy because they said, "Has the LORD not also spoken to us."

Or maybe their spiritual leprosy started out of comparison. Or as one Hebrew tradition tells a story that Moses' wife, who was a Cushite, complained to Miriam about Moses. So Miriam continued the rant. 

So possible orgins for spiritual leprosy are complaining, comparing, and jealousy. Exposure to these deaden us to our spiritual senses and our ability to be God's instrument to speak life.

I have always been frustrated by the fact that Miriam was struck and not Aaron, but I realize now that the story reveals the why. 

Because Miriam's name was listed first in saying that they spoke against Moses we discover that she is where the root began in this spiritual leprosy. God likes to deal with the root. 

We also notice that Aaron repents immediately. He knows that he sinned and asked for forgiveness. I imagine Miriam did as well, but because we are not told she did, we can assume it was not as quickly as it should have been. 

Miriam is a prophet like Moses. What she speaks carries alot of weight. God reminded them that He speaks to His prophets through dreams and visions.  But He then pointed out that He speaks to Moses mouth to mouth. This means that when Moses speaks God is speaking through him. There is a special anointing that God gave Moses that He did not give Miriam. She knew it, but in this moment she forgot it, and allowed spiritual leprosy to deaden her to her sinful action. This is why she was disciplined.

It has nothing to do with Miriam being a woman and Aaron being a man. It had to do with the root that was born in her heart and pouring out of her mouth. It had the potential destroy the unity and community in the camp. It could spread.

Aaron's exposure obviously in this moment was not as deep as Miriams.

This should cause all of us to pause and ask, What am I allowing in my life that is causing spiritual leprosy?  Am I complaining? Am I complaining against God's leader? Am I acting out of comparison or jealousy? How am I breaking the unity in my community? How am I not speaking life but death with my words? 

What really caught me was God allowed for a time of cleansing to take place. See removal from the camp would enable her to deal with her deep roots that needed to be brought before the LORD in repentance. It would allow her time to reflect on her words and their impact. It would allow her to seek to draw near to God again and allow her physical leprosy to be completely gone so that others would know she was clean. And we know clearly that God was just as concerned for her spiritual cleansing! It was both! 

Sadly, her actions and punishment effected the entire camp. They were then required to sit for 7 days, too. Seven more days not in the promised land. Seven more days added to their journey. But, it was also seven days for them to reflect on their own spiritual leprosy. Would they learn from Miriam's discipline? 

After her Seven days were over there was restoration. She was brought back to the camp and they continued on the journey.  There is hope in this. She was restored to her community. But, there were consequences. From this point in Scripture we do not hear about Miriam's role as a prophet again. We are only told when she died.

Spiritual leprosy has its consequences. It infects the person and has the potential to spread. It can and will cut you off from your community. Miriam's story should be a serious reminder for us all. Do not take lightly when you recognize the spirit of complaining, comparison, or jealousy in you. Repent immediately and ask God to deal with it. And put a guard on your heart when you see it or hear it in another. Pray and ask God to help you find a way to be the one that stops the disease and brings healing by speaking life and not death into the situation. 

It is amazing how we can learn so much from God's Word. It is important to be in the Word, so we can meet Jesus, and be transformed y'all. 

Shalom y’all!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How to pray when life is hard

Sometimes life can hit us with many blows. As I sent this prayer to one of my beloved this morning I realized I should post so others can take hold and pray it, too.

My beloved friend, when Greg and I were in the worst season of our lives, I realized I had forgotten how to praise God. So, I began a journey of studying the prayers in the Bible. I called it Redeemed to Praise. As I studied the prayers, I realized that lifting came when praise was lifted up, so I decided to fast for 40 days of asking God for anything. Instead, I simply praised Him for what I know about Him. This became my soul talk and prayer walk. 

Watch and pray...

Father, You are the Great I AM. You are the Great Physician. You are my present Help in my time of need. You are my hope, my shield, and my deliverer. You give sustenance and endurance. In You am resilient. 

You are my immeasurably more and way maker for You make all things possible because You are my provider.

This is what I know!

In these I give thanks. In these I give You praise!

I am so glad I am Your child and that when I seek You, I will find You. Thank you for the truth that when I knock You answer. 

I am Yours, and You are mine. You are the Prince of Peace, and because of Jesus, I have the Prince of Peace in me. 

Your Holy Spirit resides in me. I love that He alone guides me in all truth. He is my helper who comes alongside me, assists me, and helps me. Thank you! You know my needs, my wants, my desires, my hopes, and my dreams. You see my pain, my suffering, and my agony. 

You understand what is happening in my life, and You promise that if I seek to fulfill Your purposes You will use it for good. You also promise that if I commit something to You, You will grant me success. 

I recognize this as true. Your success, not man's is the safest place to be. Truly, I would rather stand one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere. 

In this I give You my praise and thanksgiving. Here, I am LORD, I am Yours. I trust You because Your peace surpasses all understanding and in you it is mine to take hold. 

Thank You for all of these truths. I rest in them.

 In Jesus' name, amen

This season became my daily habit. I would much rather praise God than ask God because when I praise Him for what I know about Him I am choosing to believe Him and trust Him. 

This season radically changed me and I believe it did others because the LORD inhabits the praises of His people.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

How do I keep my hand on the throne of the LORD?

Do you ever feel like you are in a battle and just don't know how to win? Some battles are so obvious because the enemy is quite clear, but other battles are mysterious and we just can't see where it is coming from or why. 

This morning I caught something I have never seen before and it captured me.

I heard this phrase in a message by Rob Reimer. He said, "a hand on the throne of the LORD" showed Moses authority came from the LORD when His hands were held up so Joshua could defeat the Amalekites.

Once I heard the phrase, "a hand on the throne of the LORD" it was like a download of moments in my mind when I had taken the time to stand firm in prayer seeking the LORD and discovered victory after I had kept my hand on the throne of the LORD. I know the beauty of Jehovah Nissi... GOD as my Banner. 

I immediately had to go digest the passage and see what I discovered.

What did I learn about God?
1. Prayer brings about conversations that lead to the ...
2. Plan and process.
3. People (who to show and who to take along).
4. Provision (tools, nourishment, history, and covering).
5. Presence and power! 

How do I keep my hand on the throne of the LORD for victory?

1. Don't be afraid to question people testing God.
2. Seek the LORD
3. Listen to and obey what God reveals
4. Call out leaders and give the God's plan.
5. Hold onto God's authority and lift it up.
6. When I get weary I need to stand firm, position myself for a better stance, and seek help from others.
7. Praise the LORD for His presence, and provision.
8. Take the LORD at His Word.

Beloved, this is yours, too, if you just seek Him and believe in Him. Just try it out in your circumstances. Place your hand on the throne and ask God to show you that He is your banner! 

Shalom y’all!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Witnessing to a devoted leader based on Acts 10

Sometimes when I interact with someone who appears very godly, I think that there is no need to share Jesus with them. They are already good. Have you ever felt like that? A good or moral behavior means a person already knows God. What if that is not so?  What if it is an open door? 

Today's story in Acts 10 has always been the story that God has used to show me that He notices good and moral behavior,  but He still wants us to be in a relationship with His Son!

This passage is about Cornelius. He is a Roman soldier that was devout in prayer, feared God, and gave generously to the poor. But there was something missing. So God sent him an angel to direct him to Peter so he could hear.  This is why we must be listening.

Now, Peter had his own issue. Peter did know God's son, but he was a racist. I know that is a harsh word, but he still had things inside him that did not honor God that needed to be dealt with. For Peter it was that he considered non-Jews unclean. Yet, all people are created in the image of God and Peter needed to understand this truth. So God gave him a vision when he was praying and challenged his thinking. This is why we need to pay attention and listen to hear what God is showing us.

God met both men where they were at. Cornelius in his devotion that needed Jesus and Peter in his devotion to Jesus that needed repentance and acceptance of all people.

I couldn't help but wonder at what Peter shared with Cornelius. What truths were considered so important for Cornelius to grasp?

1. God shows has no favorites. He shows no partiality.
2. Anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God. Regardless of nationality.
3. Jesus is LORD of all.
4. Jesus is good news.
5. Jesus is peace. 
6. You must produce the fruit of repentance.
7. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit.
8. Jesus was affirmed by God at His baptism.
9. Jesus did good and healed the oppressed.
10. God was with Jesus.
11. Jesus was killed on the cross.
12. God raised Jesus on the third day.
13. Jesus appeared to many but not all after He rose from the grave. 
14.  Jesus appeared to the disciples and ate and drank with them after He rose from the grave. 
15. Jesus gave the command to preach and testify that He was appointed by God to judge the living and the dead.
16. All of the prophets bore witness to Jesus.
17. If you believe in Jesus you will be saved and receive the forgiveness of sins.

In this short discourse, we are provided the most basic truths of what we need to know about Jesus and what we need to share.

While Peter was still talking, the Holy Spirit fell on the people and they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the one who guides us in all truth.

Imagine the peace that covered Cornelius and his whole household that day. Up to this point, he was working at being good, but now Cornelius would serve out of peace and gratitude not trying to win the favor of God, but know he had already received the favor of God. His devotion will now be done out of gratitude and blessing.

At this time in your life which one are you more like? Cornelius or Peter? 

It is important to be in the Word. To be with Jesus. To be transformed.

Shalom y'all.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Aunt Jeannie's Last Bible Story

As I looked down at this photo on my phone, I realized that Ruth was the very last Bible story that Aunt Jeannie (Greg’s Aunt) heard before she passed. Last weekend, Greg and I made a hurried trip to Illinois to say goodbye for now. At one point Greg had the privilege of living with Uncle Stan and Aunt Jeannie. It was a good memory for Greg in a season when life was not good. Uncle Stan and Aunt Jeannie provided Greg and Darren with family and love. So, when we heard about Aunt Jeannie taking a turn for the worse we rushed there because Greg needed to let her know how much he loved her.

Our time was precious. Holy. On our last afternoon with Uncle Stan and Aunt Jeannie, they wanted me to share the Bible story of Ruth because I had given them a bandana from our last trip. She had me hang it up in her room so she could stare at it and everyone coming in could look at it. There is something very beautiful about how family affirms us.

Greg and I helped them nestle in and get comfortable. Hospital rooms are so cold and as we get older our bodies seem to always be cold. They were like two little bugs all snuggled up in their blankets as I stood to tell the story of Ruth. I tried very hard to keep my storyteller voice quieter than normal since I tend to project. As I started telling the story they both smiled at me and started nodding their heads as they remembered the story. I felt inspired and blessed.

By the time I reached the fourth row of the storyboard, I noticed they were both starting to nod off to sleep. I looked over at Greg and he smiled at me the same way he did when the kids were little and we felt the honor of accomplishing someone into the gift of glorious rest. There is something peaceful and magical about these types of moments.

I slowly started lowering my voice more so that it did not startle them awake as I told a little more of the story until I knew for sure they were sound asleep. What an honor.

Later that evening, Uncle Stan told me he remembered exactly where he fell asleep. He knew it was the fourth row! I love that he knew the story so well that he could identify where in the story he rested.

So, today as I looked at this image of the storyboard hanging on the wall, I had this gift of remembrance cover me. I am so thankful that we went. It will forever be a treasure to Greg and me. But, to have been the one to tell Aunt Jeannie her last Bible story just caught me off guard.The morning after I told her the story Aunt Jeannie went home to be with the LORD.  I wonder. Will she tell Ruth that she was just listening to her story the night before?

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the lesson we taught in South Asia about Providence, Providence is when God uses the ordinary to bring about His supernatural plans.

Shalom y’all!

Jesus' Story and Message Revealed

My friend called me yesterday afternoon because she needed to process something. She said I am always concise in my responses. I had to laugh because I don't think I am concise. My posts prove it, but I sure do appreciate it when I receive a concise answer or message is given that packs a punch. 

Yesterday, I was studying John 1:19-51. This passage shares about Jesus' calling of the disciples. It truly hits home on what is important to know. I realized John was concise in sharing what mattered in His message. 

Probably 10 to 15 years ago, God revealed to me something beautiful in this short passage. As each disciple was introduced to Jesus they called Him a different name or spoke of an aspect of His identity. If you read just the titles given in this passage you will hear Jesus' story and message. John knew how to be concise and pack a punch in a story.

This is what God revealed to me so long ago. It still ministers to me powerfully today.

1. Lamb of God: Jesus' sacrifice (spoken by John).
2. Son of God: Jesus' divinty (spoken by John). 
3. Lamb of God: Jesus' sacrifice (spoken again by John). 
4. Rabbi (Teacher) : Jesus' calling (spoken by two disciples one of them was Andrew).
5. The Messiah (Christ): Jesus' title (spoken by Andrew).
6. Written about by Moses and the Prophets: Jesus' Old Testament History (spoken by Philip).
7. Jesus of Nazareth: Jesus' New Testament History (spoken by Philip).
8. Son of Joseph: Jesus' humanity (spoken by Philip).
9. Rabbi: Jesus' calling (spoken by Nathaniel).
10. Son of God: Jesus' divinty (spoken by Nathaniel).
11. King if Israel: Jesus' reign(fulfillment): (spoken by John).
12. The Son of Man: Jesus' Humanity (Spoken by Jesus).

Remember that repetitions are important! Jesus' sacrifice, divinty, humanity, calling, and title are repeated. Repitions shout that this is important!

Also, notice that each person identified with different aspects about Jesus. This is because God will uniquely meet us where we are at and will reveal Himself to us in what will speak to our heart language. It will be different for each person. 

The following two are blessings of what Jesus does for us and not necessarily a name. 

1. Takes away the worlds sins: Jesus' gift (spoken by John).
2. Baptizes with the Holy Spirit: Jesus' blessing (spoken by John).

So why did John write about the disciples calling Jesus certain names when Jesus invited them to follow Him?

Is it to help us seek how we should know Him?

Is it to reveal Jesus' story and message?

Maybe he had no clue what we would discover from his notes. But it sure is obvious God was penning Jesus' story through John.

What character traits of Jesus do you identify with today? 

What character traits did you identify with Jesus when you started to follow Him? 

Right now my word is glory. I am seeking His glory to be revealed to me and basking in His wonder awe!  Which is a revelation of His divinity. I want to know Him more this way!

I would love to hear what yours is! 

Shalom y’all!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Great is thy faithfulness!

Do you ever awake hearing a song? I do! Even though I do not have the gift of music! Most of the time even if I awake singing a song in my heart I can't name it or sing it a loud, but this morning I awoke singing "Great is thy faithfulness."  

Yesterday, in a meeting with a leader in Europe he prayed faithfulness over me and my ministry. I had shared that I just want to be faithful in what God has given me. So when his training ended, he prayed I would be faithful. He is working hard behind the scenes for a course that ASM is allowing me to create. Many things and people get in the way of me recording and sending him the scripts. These are people and things I am faithful to, but now I am seeking to add in a new habit of creating for a season. I need faithfulness to push through.

It reminded me of a moment when Greg and I first met when he said to me, "I have never met someone as faithful as you."

At that time in my life, I felt like no one would ever call me faithful because of one choice I made. I thought that one choice would define me for life as unfaithful. But God loves to show us His faithfulness. His steadfast love and pursuit of me showed me how to walk faithfully in the small habits that I honestly thought are never seen or heard by anyone, but Him. But here Greg revealed to me that he could see faithfulness in me.

Greg's compliment at that time in my life was probably the most beautiful compliment I had ever received. I realized this morning that even today it is a word that blesses me. That prayer by my trainer was so soul filling. It made me want to be ever so faithful! And Greg's compliment encouraged me in faithfulness, too.

Do you see it? Faithfulness is best done in community or relationships. Even when it is done in secret it can be seen by God for certain! But, whether we realize it or not those around us can see what we are doing faithfully whether good or bad. It is experienced by others through us.

Faithfulness! Pray for it! 

Pray to know the faithfulness in God's character. 

Choose to walk in faithfulness in the tiny habits that will daily show your faithfulness as you go, serve, and live. 

In time, the faithful little habits bear good fruit. 

Truly, Great is His faithfulness!

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Sincere Faith

Greg recently shared with me that he was enjoying the fact that Jesus referenced two stories from the OT when He was giving a sermon. We were discussing the implications of sharing a story with in a story. I got all excited! I asked Greg to learn all three stories so I can post them, but then this sent me on a search to know more about this moment and it's significance. Oh boy, was I ever so richly blessed.

First, this was Jesus' first sermon written about by Luke and it happened when He visited His hometown. 

I love that Jesus stood to read and sat to explain the Scripture.

In this short passage, Jesus quotes three different OT passages and one proverb (not in OT). He quotes a prophecy about Him by Isaiah, and references the ministry of two respected prophets (Elijah and Elisha).

The people at first celebrated His graciousness, but they quickly turned fickle and sought to throw Him off a cliff. They liked Him until He pointed out that they needed to have a sincere faith and that God uses unlikely people. He wasn't going to do miracles for them because their focus wasn't in the right place or rather person. 

There are habits we need to recognize about Jesus that we should also live by.

1. It was His habit to go church on the Sabbath even while traveling. 
2. It was His habit to read, share and explain the Scriptures.
3. It was His habit to quote the OT. He knew it well.
4. It was His habit to preach the truth.
5. It was His habit to seek people of sincere faith. 

Notice how He calmly walked away when they tried to throw Him off the cliff.

Please understand that the people would have known well the story of Naaman and the widow of Zarephath. 

Jesus' one sentence reference would have conjured in their minds quickly the story and how in both cases the prophet of God ministered to the person that showed sincere faith. All of them would known immediately that both Naaman and the widow of Zarephath were NOT JEWS! The prophets were ministering to non-Jews or Gentiles because they were who showed sincere faith.

Jesus was declaring that He was taking the GOOD NEWS to the Gentiles. This is why they were mad! 

Jesus wanted to reach you and me! Now that is GOOD NEWS! 

Oh, there is always so much more in the story than we realize. 

It is so important to be in the Word so we can be with Jesus and be transformed. 

Shalom y'all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Winsome Courage

What is courage? 

At the heart of it, courage is the willingness to move forward when great risks are involved. For a follower of Jesus, true courage is trusting that God will be your strength as you move forward.

I have been pondering courage, ALOT. I am wondering if I should pray for more courage.
The other word that has captivated me lately is WINSOME.

To be winsome is to be attractive or charming with an open and delightful childlike innocence while demonstrating genuine love. It is socially attractive and inoffensive. 

How do I live a life that is both courageous and winsome?  Or should I say winsome and courageous?

Genuine love has both. It is attractive enough to be in the conversation, but risky enough that it is mindful of the risks and moves forward anyhow. 

Sometimes, I am too courageous, and I speak before I should. Sometimes, I am so worried about being offensive that I back off when I should allow the beauty of pure love to show its glory.

When I see courage I want to follow. When I observe a winsome spirit, my heart is drawn in. 

I want both. Don't you? 

Father, will you please create in me a courageous heart that is winsome for Your glory and for others blessing. In Jesus name amen

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A more noble way... a Living Sacrifice

Do you ever just long for a nobler way? Do you ever just wish for a list you can follow? Do you ever wonder if you can be so noble? 

I know I do! I long for the more noble in me and in others!  I grieve when I do not see them in my community and Oh how I struggle when I do not live up to them. 

Maybe this is why I love Romans 12 so much. The other day as I read it, again I felt the urge to really know it. So for several days I am just sitting in it. I am listening to it from different translations. I am reading it in different translations. I found the Message fun and the Amplified Bible even more challenging as I ponder the beauty of this chapter. 

I love that God welcomes our living sacrifice and that Paul just says to use your gifts according to your measure of faith. It gives me permission to not worry about what others might say about my gifts and how I use them. They are my grace gifts and I just need to offer them up. What peace this gives. 

Oh but the reminder to not think so highly of oneself. Pride and insecurity are such ugly little beasts. Well, actually, they are huge obnoxious beasts that I absolutely hate when I recognize them in me. Maybe this is why we are called to celebrate the gifts of others and recognize that they have been given a measure of grace to use them. I find when I am celebrating another it leaves little room for the elevating of me. 

As if learning to celebrate a brother or sister's gift is not enough in our living sacrifice Paul then challenges us to genuine love. Genuine love will laugh and cry with another. Genuine love will overcome evil with good. It isn't enough for me to celebrate a brother or sisters gifts and measure of faith, but I am to love and serve the one who harms me. 

I wonder, "Do I really have that kind of love?"  I have friends that know what it is really like to live with evil slaying those you love. I wonder, "LORD, do I have that measure of faith to love persecutors?" 

Maybe, this is why Paul said that we should be in constant prayer. Maybe this is why we should be serving and opening our homes. It sure is hard to be angry at the one you eat and drink with.

God has me sitting in Romans 12. I truly have a heart that wants to do that which is honorable to all and be at peace as much as it depends on me. But, sometimes I confess I still need to be in constant prayer to truly live out genuine love. 

I imagine you struggle with this, too. Beloved, let's be patient in our tribulations. Let's bless and not curse. Let's be fervent in spirit and serve the LORD in genuine love as living sacrifices. AMEN

Monday, August 7, 2023

What does it mean to have manifold wisdom?


What does it mean to have manifold wisdom?

First, I thought, "Well, there is many in the fold!" I visualized the deep folds of a warm velvety blanket covering several family members on a cold night while watching TV.

Then I looked it up and discovered that the original Greek for manifold was used to describe the variety of colorful flowers in an embroidery. 

God's variety of flowers are so glorious that artisans have wanted to capture the beauty for centuries. There is much to discover of their variety and beauty as well as the richness of their color. There are many yet to be seen and discovered.

This is also true of God's wisdom. God's gift to the rulers and authorities is the church making known to them the mystery of God's manifold wisdom revealed through Jesus. It is full of mystery and so much for us to discover. He is unsearchable and yet in the great mystery, He delights in allowing us to know Him and be known.

Through Jesus, we can approach God boldly with confidence. Through the love of Jesus and His sacrifice, we can be rooted, grounded, and strengthened. Through Jesus, we find hope, healing, belonging, oneness... 

Faith in Him helps us to not lose heart in our suffering, but to find hope that is full of unsearchable riches in Christ. The manifold or variety of His riches is so worthy of discovering.

In His manifold wisdom, He has always sought to have many in the family of God covered in His warmth of mercy and grace. Consider covering yourself in His grace and mercy through Jesus.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

What is the Kingdom of God?

What is the kingdom of God? What does it mean to pray for the kingdom of God to come? How do I become a part of the kingdom of God? How can I see the kingdom of God? 

These were a few of tge questions rolling in my head and then I thought how would I share with someone about the kingdom of God? 

I just started jotting my notes. Some of these are found in Luke 9 but not all.
Kingdom of God...
1. Come to Jesus like a child.
2. The kingdom of God is something we receive. It is a gift of God. 
3. It starts as a small seed that blooms into a full blown tree.
4. God is the rule/monarch.
5. It is a spiritual rule. All will submit to Him.
6. All authorities were created by God.
7. Repentance of sins and turning from them is necessary to be a part of it.
8. New birth or a spiritual rebirth will be a part of it. Peace comes with it and it surprisingly beautiful. 
9. It cannot be destroyed but the enemy of God will keep trying. 
10. His fullness is revealed in it.
11. When you seek Him and His kingdom you gain everything eternal.
12. Those who serve in the kingdom of God serve as the least of these. 
So when Jesus says, "Follow me" the kingdom of God is what you are joining. Jesus told His disciples to go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

You will be My Witnesses!

Do you remember the first time you heard, "You will be my witnessess?" Or maybe the first time you actually understood what it meant? To be a witness you must share what you see and hear. 

When we have perceived something deep or profound, no one needs to tell us we should go share it. First, they will observe it and if they are close enough they will hear about it. 

On the day of Jesus' ascension, we can discover many things about what makes a good witness or evangelist. An evangelist is someone who tells good news. A good Bible story teller is both.

As I reflect on Acts 1:1-14, I discover so many things. I wonder if you see other things. Share them if you do. 

I noticed that Luke presents to us simply about what Jesus did and taught. He tells us about the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' life.

Luke tells us about Jesus' appearances after His Resurrection/time of suffering. Jesus visited people for 40 days and spoke to those He met with about the kingdom of God.

He reminds the hearer or reader that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come and that He would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. We must remember and share that the Holy Spirit comes with power and authority. But, only God, the Father knows the seasons and times of things to be. 

One of the key things we must understand about being a witness is that it is not just about us and only our immediate group. If we are true witnesses it will go beyond us. Luke points out to us that Jesus tells the disciples that they will be His witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the outermost parts of the world. 

Jerusalem is your hometown.

Judea is your region.

Samaria is the people you don't like or want to share good news with so get rid of your prejudices.

And to the end of the earth. 

A true witness is in community communicating beyond their comfort zone in places beyond their expectations or perceptions.

This was so profound they found themselves gathering to meet in one accord with a spirit of unity to pray with both men and women. I love how Luke is pretty faithful in pointing out the women leaders. 

So while we gather, pray, and wait on the Holy Spirit to move, we must know that Jesus will return.Until then, we must prove ourselves faithful to share what we have seen and heard about Jesus. 

It is important to be in the Word, be with Jesus, so we can be transformed.

Shalom y'all!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Jesus Sent the Disciples to Tell His Story (Witness)

While on a trip in Brazil a long time ago, my interpreter said, "Here, Tara, here!" When I asked him later why he chose those three women for me to share the story of Jesus he said to me, "They were people of peace."

This was the first time in my life I heard about seeking the people of peace. I had read the passage numerous times, but in this moment I caught the truth found in Matthew 10:13.

It's been a couple of days since I had time to do an evangelism Story so, today, I wanted us to turn to Jesus and see what He expected of the disciples. Remember, we want to examine the action words that we are able to do today. 

As I read Matthew 10:5-13, I circled the action words that Jesus commaned the disciples to do when they went to go share the good knows about Jesus.

Please keep in mind in verse 1 it says that Jesus gave them all authority to go and do the miraculous.

1. Go in Jesus' authority not your own.

2. Go.

3. Proclaim the kingdom of heaven. 

What is the kingdom of heaven? 

It is God 's dwelling place. 
You are invited to join Him through Jesus. 

Believe in Jesus and you are a part of the kingdom of heaven.
This means you will repent of yours sins and move from darkness to light.

4. Heal the sick. This is God's work. Our role is pray for it in faith. 

5. Raise people up from spiritual death.

6. Cleanse those that are ostracized and bring them back into community. 

7. Give freely the truths you have been given.

8. Find worthy people. These are tge people of peace that are willing to let you share about Jesus.

9. Stay with the worthy people and disciple them.

10. Greet with a spirit of welcome.

11. Give your peace to those that are ready to receive.

12. Hold your peace and move on if a person is not open to receiving the truth about Jesus.

In all of this know that you will have those that want to stop you as you go.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Witnessing while Suffering

Evangelism Story #5: Witnessing while Suffering based on Acts 16:16-40.

Sometimes when we are doing the right thing and even going to the right places there will be things that will annoy us, harm us, challenge us, and quite honestly hurt us. Honestly, this is the part of sharing the truth that is down right hard. Not everyone wants to hear the truth. Sometimes, someone can know the truth and even speak it, but they cause more harm than good. Their voice becomes a clanging gong that hinders the gospel. 

Paul and Silas find themselves hounded by a demon possessed girl that follows them every where and this time their sharing of the story of Jesus gets them beaten and thrown into jail. What do they do? They sing and worship. Let's see what we can observe about this particular encounter.

1. Be faithful to go to the place of prayer.

2. Know that you could encounter people that are possessed or mentally ill.

3. Know that you will get annoyed. Things will not always be easy or pleasant.

4. If you encounter evils spirits command them to leave in the name of Jesus. 

5. Understand that attack is inevitable. 

6. Understand that attack will come in many forms: mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually.

7. Understand that attack can be painful and extreme.

8. Keep praying, singing, and worshipping God because others are watching.

9. Pay attention and always seek to protect souls even those that imprison you.

10. Watch and be amazed as whole households will be changed.

11. Recognize that your suffering can be used as the open door for another to believe so be aware, be faithful, be consistent in Jesus. 

12. Stand firm in your rights legally.

13. Fight for justice.

Today's story removes any romantic thoughts toward sharing our faith. This is a serious encounter that has eternal consequences. This is why attack happens. The enemy of God wants us to stop, be afraid, walk away,  and give up. But the LORD will honor those that keep moving forward in due time. We may not see our reward today, but we must keep moving forward. Who knows whose family needs you to share with them so the whole household can know Jesus?

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Witnessing in a Place of Prayer based on Acts 16:11-15).

Evangelism Story #4 based on Acts 16:11-15.

Sometimes, one of the last places we would anticipate witnessing will be in house of prayer or a known place of worship. But, sometimes these can be the places we might encounter some of the toughest resistance and attack.

This was true for Paul & Silas. First, I want you to notice that he has a new leader on his journey with him. Don't ya know this is because he sought to invest deeply in Silas. Oh boy! Was Silas about to learn some seriously hard lessons. Like, going to the house of prayer does not mean all things will be lovely and easy. Quite the contrary! 

Witnessing in a house of prayer based on Acts 16:11-15.

1. Go to places of prayer as you travel about.

2. Enjoy conversations with those present. In this case, it was only women that were present. They were not ignored because of their gender or told to go home. They were engaged in conversation because they were there to worship.

3. Trust God to open the hearts that need Him. So do not assume that because someone is in a house of prayer to worship that they have believed in Jesus as their Savior (for the forgiveness of sins). 

4. Once someone believes, support them to follow through of baptism to show that a decision to follow Jesus has occurred. Remember, baptism is an outward expression of an inward change.

5. Watch for faithfulness. You will be able to see that a heart change has occurred by the actions that are taken after as well as the impact on others around them.

Did you notice that we cannot assume belief based on a person's presence in a religious setting? We must remain faithful in sharing the goodness. God will reveal what needs to happen to the heart that is open for true worship.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Witnessing in the face of opposition based on Acts 13:3-12

Day 3 of Evangelism Stories:

So yesterday in church as Dr. Eckman taught, he mentioned a story I hadn't considered using, but it was so profound that I added it to my story set.

Today's story is based on Acts 13:3-12. It is quite short, but so profound. I am ashamed to say that in all the years that I have read through the Bible I have never noticed Sergius Paulus until yesterday. But, Oh how I love him now! 

This story models for us how to travel to far places to share the good news and what to do when confronted with opposition that hurts the faith of those seeking truth.

1. Fast and pray with your believing community.

2. Trust your community to lay hands on you and send you. (This represents support, authority, and provision).

3. Make sure you are sent by the Holy Spirit.

4. Proclaim the Word of God upon arrival in the synagogue (the place where the religious go).

5. Travel in pairs like Paul and Barnabas and welcome others join you (Mark).

6. Travel sharing all over.

7. When requested, go to share with the one requesting you to share.

8. When confronted with evil opposition or false teaching that hinders the faith of others rebuke them in the Holy Spirit's leading. Confront it head on.

9. Speak a miracle into happening. I confess that this one is harder for me. It may be my lack of faith or upbringing. I know God can do the miraculous, but I might not pray something like strike him with blindness. I am more likely to pray LORD, give us a miracle like you did for Paul with the evil magician. Move in such a way that he is silenced and those watching are amazed. Move in such a way that they cannot help but believe. So, I will pray for bold belief to speak what I must so that the enemy is silenced and faith increases.

10. Watch as others believe and are amazed at the teaching of God's Word.

I am so glad I caught this little story. It really is profound as a model for us as we go and share the good news of Jesus.

It is fun to be in the Word, to be with Jesus so we can be transformed. 

Shalom y’all!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Witnessing with a Seeker based on the Story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Day 2 of how to do Evangelism Stories:

Just as each of us are created uniquely, our spiritual journey will be just as varied and unique. The reason, the approach, and timing will be specialized based on our need.

In today's story, we will discover that sometimes the Spirit of God will tell us to go do something that requires us to take a journey in order for someone to hear the story of Jesus.It was a 47 mile journey from Jerusalem to Gaza. It would have taken at least a day to get to him by foot if he was stopped, but remember the Ethiopian Eunuch was traveling so Philip was also trying to listen and see who the Spirit of God was wanting him to share with on the road. When someone is truly seeking, God will send someone to go and share the truth in a way they can understand.

As we go through these stories we should observe the outcomes for both the disciplemaker and the one being discipled.

I have titled this story, how to witness to a seeker.

1.  Listen to what the Spirit of the LORD speaks to you.
2.  Rise up and do it!
3. Pay attention to what is happening in the surroundings and in what the people are doing.
4.  Ask questions for clarification.
5.  Help the person to understand the Scriptures.
6. Listen to the person's questions.
7.  Answer the questions and share the good news of Jesus.
8. Take your time with them.
9.  Be spontaneous when necessary.
10.  Help the person follow through with baptism.
11.  Know the person who understands will leave rejoicing.
12.  Go to where the Spirit takes you.
13.  Continue preaching the good news of Jesus where ever you go.

There are certain elements that will always be the same like telling the person about Jesus. While the way, the how, and the why will be varied from person to person.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

How to share a testimony based on Paul's Testimony before King Agrippa in Acts 26

I was recently asked by a leader in an oral context how to tell a personal testimony in an oral culture. I didn't want to just give the typical here are the three things you must do. It is important to me that I am using Scripture as the authority to teach the process.

Who better to start with than Paul as he stood before King Agrippa? 

So, I am looking up various stories in the Bible that model sharing a testimony. 

Here is what I discovered from Paul's encounter in Acts 26. Go check it out and see if I missed anything.

1. Get permission to speak. 

2. Find a way to bring honor to the one you speak to. This is not for manipulation, but for connection!

3. Share about the one thing in your past that has changed the most. Do not give ugly details. Simply the gist of it.

4. Share the hope you now have in Jesus.

5. Explain why you are now sharing with the one you seek to honor with your testimony.

6. Share why it is important to know Jesus and what one must do as a next step. 

   A. Open your eyes. 
   B. Move from darkness to light.             C. Receive forgiveness. 
   D. Repent and turn to God.             
   E. Produce the deeds in keeping with repentance.

7. Give praise to God for His help.

8. Speak boldly even when accused and rejected as you are called out of your mind.

9. Point out that you are speaking truth rationally. Make sure you do so!

10. Point out how you and the one you are sharing agree. 

11. Be persuasive so that a nerve is struck.

12. Express that you long for them to be like you in what you know and believe. 

Please know there is no set order and there may not be all of these elements, but it is a good pattern to follow because it is provided as an example in Scripture.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

What does it mean to walk worthy of the manner of your calling? (Based on Ephesians 4)

What does it mean to walk worthy of the manner of your calling? 

Well, we do not have to work hard to think about it because Paul gives us quite a hefty list in Ephesians 4 that shows the does and don’ts. 

I love that Paul starts us off with knowing and understanding the character and nature of God! He doesn’t hit us with how we should behave until he has first shown us how God is toward us. The very first thing Paul makes sure to clarify is that we have One Father, One God, who is Father of ALL! We need to get this right. There is ONE Most High GOD that is Creator God! He alone provides us with the spirit of unity and peace. He graciously provides us with grace gifts that are intended to be used for building up the kingdom of God not ourselves! This means that the very words we speak about another and how God has chosen to give them a grace gift must build them up NOT TEAR THEM DOWN!!! Otherwise, we are dissing God! Hmmmm! That should truly cause a holy pause every time we speak. 

The LORD gives grace gifts in accordance with the measure given in Christ Jesus’ gift. How He chooses to bless a person with certain gifts is not up to them or to those around them. It is GOD given with the intent that it is used to attain unity! Let me repeat this one again. IT IS GIVEN SO IT WILL BE USED TO ATTAIN UNITY! 

This type of unity will build up the faith of others, build up the knowledge of God, bring about maturity that understands the stature and fullness of Christ not just among the believing community but with those watching us. 

Paul does not say it here, but I am hearing the beautiful sound of love he speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13 making a melody in the heart, mind, soul, and spirit. NOT A CLANGING GONG that hurts!!! We must remember that those around us are listening and watching us! Do they see love? Are they drawn into His presence by our words? 

Paul reminds us that we are a body as believers. This means that when one of us hurts we all hurt. If I destroy someone verbally or hinder their use of their gifts, then I am only hurting myself. Silencing someone from using their Christ given grace gifts given by HIS measure hurts the whole believing community. This terrifies me! I do not want to be the one that hinders growth in my own body! Do you? 

It also terrifies me because when we walk in darkness, we become calloused, and our hearts are no longer soft. Maybe this is why Paul reminds us to get rid of bitterness, anger, wrath, clamor, and slander. We are created in the likeness of Christ and He is the Light of the World (Genesis 1:27; John 8:12). 

If I am ignoring or hurting someone based on the grace gift given to them through Christ, then I am snuffing out the method God has chosen to shine the Light of the world! 

I love that Paul reminds us that we must put on soft hearts that are pliable, generous, pure, and full of truth. 

Have you ever thought of the fact that it is generosity that allows someone to use their grace gift? 

These character traits are not spoken to any one type of person not male, female, race, creed, educational status, etc. These are spoken to the body of Christ! 

Paul tells us that we must put on the blessing of a pliable heart that is generous, pure, kind, righteous, holy, honest, forgiving just to name a few of the character traits he reminds us to live by as we seek to live at peace as we serve. 

When Paul says, “walk in the manner worthy of your calling,” I am reminded clearly that I must seek to honor the gifts that I have been given and one of the best ways to do this is to use them to build others up. I also want to give them the opportunity to use their grace gifts to build others up as well! This is what brings honor! 

Beloved, we are created after the likeness of God. We are created in Him for His glory to build up the body of Christ. When we are living and serving properly the entire body of Christ will grow. Maturity is a calling to holy excellence! This is what it means to walk worthy of the manner of your calling.