Click on the title to watch the story summary. The Big God Story Summary
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Click on the title to open the video:How to pray specific Scriptures
Monday, January 4, 2021
(Art created by Marge Mowczko take from https://margmowczko.com/samaritan-woman-john-4/)
Our small little church was holding a women’s retreat in our living room. The speaker was tall and beautiful. The kind of person you look at and say, “I want to be like her!” She was the most organized woman I had ever met. She was introducing us to a Day-Timer-Calendar that held spiritual components so we could get organized in all areas of our life. I was young and eager to learn. I had no idea that one of the concepts that she shared with us would be a life-changer for me. She asked, “Have you ever asked Jesus to give a certain number of disciples in a year?” “Uhm, no!” I could honestly say, I had never prayed for the LORD to give me a certain number of souls. She then said, “I want you to pause and pray right now and ask God for a number of people for you to be the one to lead to Him this year! I want you to write it down in your calendar and circle it. Then go back and see what God does for you this year!” I thought, “Oh my that is bold. WOW! I am really going to go big here… 3! Yep! I wrote down three and circled it big and then worried that I was asking God for too much. How in the world would He ever use me to lead three whole people to Him this year? I feared God would not answer my request and I would fail. LOL!
As the Minister to Children and Family Life for our church, I was responsible for the follow up on cards that were filled out by parents or children that visited our Safety Fair the week before. So, on Monday after the retreat I was going through the cards and noticed that Nancy had written down that she wanted to know more about Jesus. I called her up and asked her, “Nancy has anyone ever shared with you how to know Jesus?” She responded by saying, “No, but sure would love for someone to do so.” Okay, that was fast! I thought, “God, what are you doing?” So, I asked her, “Would you like for me to come over and share Jesus with you?” Nancy said, “Yes, how about Monday at 4:00 pm?” So, I found myself driving to Nancy’s house on Monday a week later.
As I drove to Nancy’s house that day, I was white knuckled! I had been to seminary, but I had never personally shared Jesus with anyone that I knew that had decided to become a Jesus follower. I was terrified of messing things up! I prayed hard and begged God to show up. I had said the prayer and He was out to show me this is the kind of prayer He will not say, “No!” to! I would like to say it was hard, but it wasn’t! Nancy was what you would call ripe fruit that was ready to be picked. I just happened to be the person that bumped into her to help her understand the Scriptures. I stayed for a couple of hours as Nancy and I talked about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. She then asked me to come and share Jesus with her son, Logan, the next Monday at 4:00 pm. I did. Then her daughter, Morgan, the next. Both of them became followers of Jesus. This hit me quite profoundly. I had only asked God for three people to become followers of Jesus in a year and He showed me that He could use me to lead three people in three weeks. Well, more than that, it was over the course of six weeks I went to Nancy’s house to share with someone that needed to know about Jesus or recommit to Jesus. Eventually, I stopped counting that year. It was enough that I realized that I should not limit God with just a number. If He can use a Samaritan woman to lead a whole village to Him, then He could use me.
The whole point of a testimony is to bear witness to what I have seen and heard and in the case of being a Jesus follower it is to tell what I have seen and heard about Jesus. When I do this from an authentic heart of what Christ is at work in me then others will come along and want to join in the beauty of what God is creating in me and would like to do so in them!
I am reading through the Samaritan woman in preparation for the podcasts for Wholly Loved Ministries and I am caught by the beauty and simplicity of a testimony! It never ceases to surprise me that when I study a passage that I have studied many times through the years that God brings out something new. Last year I was caught off guard by the reality that the disciples were sent into the Samaritan woman's town to get food. It occured to me that the disciples somehow missed the bigger picture of the harvest. They were distracted by the physical need to get food for their master and in the process forgot to take spiritual food to the villagers. I realized that I could not be upset with the disciples because I do this all the time. You know the drill, I rush into the store to get food and instead of taking time to make eye-contact and have conversations with the strangers in the store. I keep my eyes focused on what I want and need and get out. Instead of going through the longer check-out I might rush to to the self-check out so that I don't have to bother with human contact. Instead of helping the person struggling to get something off the shelf I walk by and move on because I worry they might not appreciate the lack of social distances. I assume and presume my way in and through the store without ever once thinking of the soul harvest right there before me.
As I reflected on this Samaritan woman this time, God caught me by the effectiveness of her testimony. It helps to know that it would be considered embarrassing for John to write a story about a woman, muchless a Samaritan woman as the one who led the entire village to Jesus. Theologians refer to this type of testimony as validity by embarrassment. They would not tell it unless it was true because honorable men would not talk to women of ill-repute or to a Samaritan woman much less use it as story to share Jesus. Oh the crazy and foolish barriers we put up in culture. GOD forgive us! I love how this woman was so fast! One theologian called it the "Cry of a new life" (Holman Bible Commentary: John, quoting Boice). There is something beautiful about such a cry. It is honest and simple.
So, I found myself asking, What makes an effective testimony based on the woman at the well? I noticed a few things that caught me. Simple statements like "Come and see!" are inclusive and initiates the conversation. But, the woman didn't just tell them what they needed to know. She asked questions that invited them to reflect on their own thoughts to determine their answer. She asked, "Could this be the Messiah?" I love that she was inquisitive enough to pose questions to Jesus and to those in her community. Her passion was undeniable! She went to go get water, but was so excited she left her jar behind and chose to share her felt experience and express it in such a way that she ignited others to want to join! Her invitation to come and see included welcome and participation!
It makes me wonder if I give testimony so simply. Am I inclusive and intiate conversations? Do I inquire and ask questions to invite reflection? Am I ignited so that others see my passion and want to join in? Do I invite a spirit of welcome? Her testimony to come and see is so welcoming because her passion and transformation are evident to all who know her. Have you reflected on sharing your testmony? Can you say these are also true of you? Or are you like me and the disciples and have moments where you focus on the need of the moment rather than the harvest fields? I know I want to be more like the Samaritan woman. How about you?
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Do you sometimes wonder does God hear my prayers? How do I pray in God's will? This will help you to know what to look for to help you pray with authority, power, and in the will of God.