Ask Away

by Rachel Hansen

My 5-year-old son posed one of my favorite life questions in a car ride last month: “Mom,” he said. Pause. “We’re rockin’, right?” As I cranked the music volume up a couple more notches, I smiled widely and responded: “Yes, son. We are!”

I’m building a legacy here. As a musician, this moment felt epic! My heart beat to each sound of the drums, feeling the depth of the bass in my bones. My soul rejoiced in the innocence of such a simple, fun question — one of a million questions to date from him in five short years.

Questions. Questions. Questions. My oldest boy is full of them! I guess he’s a chip off the old block in this way. As crazy as they can be – the inquiries AND the kid – the truth is that I enjoy fielding my son’s questions. His asking is funneled through my open ears and an interested heart because I love him. This one inquiry a few weeks ago about pop/rock music was an easy answer. Some questions require much more thought. And others challenge me to my core! The challenge is welcomed because I want him to explore the world with me. He’s growing and trying to make sense of this place, of his world… as am I.  So, questions are welcome here.

If he’s the chip, I’m the block. Despite my laid back demeanor, my mind is a chatter box! The more time I have to think about something, more questions arise. The more time I spend with a person, the more I ask. Maybe it’s the journalist or philosopher in me? I just want to know MORE. I want to wrap my mind around “it” (whatever it is). I seek answers and understanding. I want to go deeper.

Where do you take your most important questions? Who do you entrust with hidden heart inquiries? Each of us needs a trustworthy, wise and available confidant if we intend to grow.

What I’ve grown to love about God is how gracefully He handles my questions. All of them. Grace. I can ask away. No filter.

(Timeout here. Talk to God? Yes.)

I wasn’t born ready to knock at God’s door with all my concerns. Life got me there. God found me in a very tired season when I had exhausted my questions and had no answers. For a moment in time, I had actually stopped asking… I call it a “tangled hanger” season — no matter how hard I tried to find the problematic root, to pull out the source of the tangle, the mess remained intact. How frustrating! The sad truth is I had already spent years confronted with these “tangled hangers” struggling under the oppression of nagging health issues. Doctors had not yet cured me and the Internet confused me with so much hypothesis. I become lost in the pursuit of knowledge while my body, soul and spirit suffered. So tired of dead ends, I stopped my pursuit of healing to rest. My efforts to fix myself had failed.

Sometimes a dead end can redirect us to truly experience the spiritual reality that God’s door is always open. And I needed to open my life even more to Him. Tired but desperate to become unstuck, I realized I had to ask God some REALLY hard life questions to find peace. I had to become completely honest about the struggle before I could grow from it.

So, with nothing more to lose, I made an event out of seeking God. I decided to press into Him harder then ever before! I remember the two seater small table in the bustling coffee shop where I sat and journaled to God looking at the empty chair in front of me (His place). I sat there in this caffeinated seat to hash “it” out. (Fascinating that God got there ahead of me and proved Himself ready and waiting. I think He was holding that last free table in the back corner for me! Little did I know this gut wrenching practice of complete honest dialogue with God — just writing to Him, periodically looking up at the empty chair as if He’d show His face — would become several years of table talk.)

When I sat with God that day and wanted to spill my guts, it felt intimidating to be completely honest! Before I ever wrote Him a single word in my notebook, a few questions haunted me: Was I in fact going to question the God of the Universe? Who was I to demand answers from God? I wasn’t brought up this bold in the church. Talking to God was much more polite. My questions seemed less reverent and way more gritty. I was going there, to the hard places. What would He say? Would I even hear from Him? I had to find all this out for myself. I put my ability to hear from God to the test! I took a risk.

Surprisingly, His immediate response changed EVERYTHING. I heard one simple and profound reply:

“I can handle your questions. Ask me.”

Can you imagine hearing these words? Have you?

God raised the volume of His voice to me a couple notches. It still astounds me! This open door response changed my relationship with God in a moment and began my healing journey. It brought me deeper into prayer and ongoing, honest conversation with Him. I better understood then that I am His child and like my own little boys now, I also need to press into Him as children do to their parents. He could handle me. No filter.

Now when I look back into my notebooks, I had so many “why” questions at first. (Which is so like my other son, the 2-year-old! One of his first words was in fact “why”!) And in time — as I asked God questions and read His word — the “why’s” turned into “what” questions:
What should I do in this circumstance?
What do I say to him? To her?
What do you want me to do for you God?

Because God met me in my “why’s”, I grew to trust Him with the “what’s” of my life. And then I gave over the “who” and “where” questions. The often most difficult “when” questions came last! I learned that the door to God is open and yet His response timing is His own. If I haven’t heard His voice or seen His response, I can trust He is still working on my behalf. After all, I’m His child.

“No question is a bad question.” I still hear that elementary encouragement because I stored it in my heart. We expect and encourage little ones to press in. Go ahead. Ask away. But when we “grow up” some of us inquire less. And with the hardest questions, we may wait to ask God or not ask Him at all.

Today, if you’re holding onto deep unresolved questions, take a leap of faith! Take a risk and talk openly to God. Ask away. He can handle you! Then wait and see how He responds… He’s waiting with open ears and an interested heart because He loves you.

Maybe you’ve already spoken to God about an issue in the past and received no answers. My guidance is the same: Take another leap of faith! Keep knocking at His door. Or don’t knock at all because the door’s actually open wide! Walk right in and share your heart. Again if needed. No filter. He’s expecting you and has a two seat table waiting for you! Take your seat at the table.

Relationships starve on silence. Don’t silence yourself. Don’t turn down God’s volume. Seek God out. Ask away. My hope is that God speaks personally to your heart and soul. And in these divine moments your spirit will find strength.

Original blog at Reposted here with permission.

Rachel Hansen

Rachel loves tracking the movement of God in and around her, sharing the miraculous hope found by faith in everyday life. An adventure seeker with a curious heart, she loves living by the Spirit exploring wherever life takes her! She has Midwest roots as a former Chicagoan and currently resides in Southern California. As a full time mother and wife serving God, two energetic little boys and her husband, she’s often on the move and lives in her running shoes! Passionate about the transformative power of God, she enjoys prayer ministry and serves as a leader of women’s ministry at her church, The Bridge, in Pasadena. She’s currently working on a faith based book and sharing spiritual insights on her new website.

Notebooks image credit


Peace in the Storm

by Heidy Fontanez

Most of us have experienced times when thoughts of defeat and hopelessness attack our minds. Fears well up and anxiety takes over when we experience the loss of a dream or the loss of a relationship or the heartbreak of a child walking away from the Lord. The voices say that our sons and daughters are lost and that it is hopeless to pray. Only God knows when our children will return to Him, but we must be convinced that God is working. We must believe; therefore, we pray and wait, but in the meantime we must fight against the thoughts that the enemy and even our own flesh try to throw at us.

God’s Word says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Our thoughts can take us on a ride….but we can take the wheel and hit the brakes. The way to do this is to apply the knowledge of God to the argument; this brings our thoughts into obedience. What He says is what is truth.

What does God’s Word say about the argument? The enemy and the flesh say, “It’s impossible.” His Word states, “ALL things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). The flesh and enemy say, “It’s hopeless” but His Word says, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24). They say you are too weak to endure…you can’t do this anymore… His Word states, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 9:10).

A while ago I had to fight the battle. In the middle of doing everyday life, I got THAT phone call. You know the one that throws you into a frenzy. My son was in jail. WHAT? My world turned upside down, and I began to look for answers. I even thought it might have been a mistake! My heart began pounding, I thought I would faint any minute, my thoughts were hard to manage and I couldn’t understand the words I was hearing…yes, that’s the call a parent never wants to receive.

Well, after my initial panic, the Lord began to remind me of the Bible story about Jesus sleeping in the boat in the midst of a storm. Just days before I was sharing that same story with my son, not realizing that the Lord was already speaking to us before the storm even arrived. I came to a new understanding. As I sought the Lord, I felt the Him say to me, “Even before I lay down in the boat, I saw the storm coming. I already knew the storm was on the horizon, and I already had the answer. Just as I was with them in the boat, I am with you in your storm.”

This word, and many others that the Holy Spirit gave me, helped me to ride the wave during this period in my life. Was it easy? NO! But I decided to praise the Lord through it. I decided to align myself with His Word, with who He is, and who I was to Him.

So…you are probably wondering what happened to my son. Well, he came to the Lord through this tragic time. PRAISE THE LORD! Almost two years later and many trips to the courthouse, we saw the hand of God move in great ways. It was two years of believing Him over and over and over again. This is just one incident in my son’s life that ultimately caused him to come to the Lord. There were many other broken times that we endured with our son, but this was the one that caused Him to begin his journey home to the Father. My son is now married, and he and his wife both serve in their church. God is doing amazing things in both their lives.

I want to leave you with one more scripture on which to meditate: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:5-7

Heidy Fontanez helps administrate H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals, a closed Facebook group, and an outreach ministry of Women of the Word. 

Heidy Fontanez

During the loss of a 12 year old daughter she learned of the power of applying God’s Word and relying on His grace. She serves in various ministries in her church and is the executive secretary to the Senior Pastor of Bethany Assembly of God in Agawam, MA. She speaks at women’s events, both in English and in Spanish. She has traveled on missions to Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras. She and her husband Ramon, have two adult sons and three grandchildren. Her testimony is, “God has brought me a mighty long way and He is not done with me yet”. 


God Will Bring You Through

by Barbara Benton 

Six years ago, on February 11, 2012, Gaylon and I got a call that no parent wants to receive.  I remember watching my husband as he received the news, “Your son went into cardiac arrest and we were unable to resuscitate him.” The pain in Gaylon’s face and voice were beyond description.

For the next few days, it was as if time stopped. My mind played and replayed that phone call, hoping it was just a bad dream. How is it possible that Bryan would never meet his unborn son?  How would Christmas be the same?  What will Mother’s Day and Father’s Day be like?

There is the marvelous joy of knowing that we can be reunited with loved ones who have gone to be with our Lord. Yet, there is the depth of pain and sorrow that we can’t physically touch our loved ones or talk with them. You wish you could say, “I love you!” just one more time.

Grief is a personal, intense journey that all of us will experience at some point. The scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” I believe God’s word, and though death does not sting, emotional bees will swarm around those of us left behind. As a Christian believer, I was able to rejoice that Bryan was with his Heavenly Father, but as a mother, my heart was crushed.

Circumstances can change so quickly. Life hands us difficulties we don’t understand and can’t explain. All of us face moments in life when we are overwhelmed. It is hard to find ourselves in situations that alter life, situations that are unfair, and situations outside our control.

For nearly forty-nine years, I have walked with God. There have been the most glorious times, and there have been times that have knocked the breath out of me. February 11, 2012 was suffocating. Would we ever feel like laughing again?  Would we ever wake up and not feel such heavy grief?

After the flowers faded, the phone calls lessened, and the meals stopped coming, I had to face the reality of this painful twist that life had brought. I had to choose, “Do I let grief take over, or do I give my grief to God, and ask for His strength?” Over and over I cried out to the God of my salvation, and over and over He gave me strength.

What will you do when life knocks the breath of out of you?

Death is not the only thing that can knock the breath out of us. There are other events that have the force to utterly crush us and turn our world upside down. It may be the death of someone we love, a cancer diagnosis, a betrayal by a person we trusted, or financial ruin. The list of life-altering situations that we can experience is a very long one.

Do you feel like you are being suffocated by life? Has stress taken its toll, causing you to feel afraid, discouraged, lonely or ready to give up? Is your heart broken today? Run to God! He is ready. He is willing. He is able. There is so much power and grace available when we turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face.

Yes, life can knock the wind out of us, but God can give it back. Trust Him, lean on Him, love Him and you will catch that breath once again.  You will be amazed what God can bring you through, and He will bring you through.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help … the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:15-18).

Original blog at Reposted here with permission. 

Barbara Benton

Barbara Benton was reared in an environment of poverty, abuse and alcoholism, which led to severe depression. At the age of 17, life began to take on new meaning as Barbara accepted the love of Jesus Christ as Savior. Over time, God has truly changed her into a new creation and overcomer. She is a living example of how God can “turn mourning into dancing” and fill one’s heart with joy. Her approach to teaching the scriptures is relevant, passionate and often times humorous. She will be the keynote speaker at “Fearless Love”, the spring Women of the Word Conference, April 27 – 28, 2018 in Bristol, CT. You will be encouraged, empowered and transformed by her real-life application of the Scriptures.

A Message to Millennials from a Millennial

by Christine Disibio

I recently read an article written by a millennial about why millennials and church don’t seem to mix. This article left me MAD. The article said that 59% of millennials raised in church are currently not attending. It then went on to state why. What made me so mad was that really many in my generation agree with this article. It’s sad.

Why is there distain for the Church? Do we know what the Church actually is? In its purest form, it is the body of CHRIST, the hands and feet of Jesus. The church is the Bride of CHRIST. The Church isn’t about an individual; it is about relationship and unity and a mission-focused life-style. It is meant to be life giving, uplifting, unifying, love seeking, and edifying. The church offers fulfilling relationships, first with God, then with each other, then out to the lost and broken world. It is a bunch of people who are so madly in love with Jesus and so forever grateful to Him that they can’t wait to be together to praise Him and be with Him in spite of all of our imperfections.

We run into problems in the church when we have people who love themselves and their individuality more than they love Jesus. People like you and me — :).  LISTEN, I or anyone of you are not better than any church leader or church attendant. We are all flawed, and the thought that my flaws are not as bad as yours is pride. Big PRIDE, spiritual PRIDE. God opposes the proud, and He spits the lukewarm out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). That statement should scare us.

I pray, Father, by the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ that you would break the sprit of pride off the millennial generation of your people! Father, remove the veil of pride and arrogance we see through, in Jesus’ name! Jesus, we need a revelation of Your love. Oh, God, if only You would reveal Your love to us, we would be forever changed.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind” which means putting nothing before Him. He also said that to “love your neighbor as yourself” is the second greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-39) That even means to love the pastor who hurt you. We need a revelation of God’s love, his forever agape love… without it we cannot possibly love His people. Without is we can’t possibly love him.

The path to His love:  

  • When all you see is problems, LOOK TO JESUS.
  • When all you see is the world, LOOK TO JESUS.
  • When you see good, LOOK TO JESUS.
  • When you see prideful and arrogant leaders, LOOK TO JESUS.
  • Whenever you see anything but the cross before you and your old life behind you, LOOK TO JESUS.

Wake up, you sleeping generation, wake up and look up. Focus your eyes on what is above, and He will make right the details of your life.

If you are discouraged or have been hurt by your church, ask God where you should be. If He tells you to stay where you are, then ask Him what you should do. He will tell you to pray; I know he will. Then when you have His answer, He may set you to do something to bring restoration, but everything starts with prayer.

Now is the time! Members of our generation are mostly adults; therefore, we must take responsibility for our own actions before God. We all need to submit to God and follow His word so He can show us how to forgive so He can heal us and restore us. He so desperately wants to!!!!

A benefit of being restored to relationship with other believers is having mentors available who are farther along in their walks with Jesus. I am blessed to have mentors in my life. I started out by serving them, getting around them as much as I could and being humble and available to help them in any way possible. I still serve them, and I still arrange my plans to get near them whenever possible. I purpose to remain soft, supple and open before them and God, but I cannot have a relationship with Jesus through anyone else. People around me to help me, guide me, encourage me or admonish me are great as long as it all points me to Jesus. But nothing, nothing replaces Him. HE, will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). HE is able to heal all my wounds, and satisfy all my needs. He can do the same for you. He is able to do immeasurably more then we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Nothing replaces our personal relationships with him. Within that relationship he changes us and molds us. Our lives flow from that relationship.

As you seek Him, He will place the desire in your heart to be part of a community of believers, a church, if you let him. Within that church, there will be leaders, and administrators with whom you might not always agree, but scripture says God appoints them (Romans 13;1), and God also tell us to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:2). Within that body there will be preachers and teachers, prophets, worshipers, intercessors, and leaders. There will be mentors and helpers– people who are gifted at serving and giving. All these people will work together, and if they operate in humility, their effort will be blessed. If they are obedient to God, He will open the flood gates and bless them and you with His presence and glory.

I encourage you to PRAY, to seek first the kingdom of heaven, to seek the heart of God and to know your heart before him, establish a relationship with him. Then GO find a body, a church, find where God wants you to be. He has a gift, a talent, a spot for you. Not one of us is too good to take out the trash. Consider it an honor in the house of the Lord. He may use you to heal a crowd of a thousand with leprosy one day and ask you to serve cheese the next. But HE has a place for you! You just need to get involved, plugged in and  serve!!!!

Click here for Part 2: A call to Prayer for a Generation

Christine Disibio is a speaker for Women of the Word, an inter-denominational and inter-generational conference ministry. She is a millennial with a heart to reach them and the iGeneration with the Gospel. In the everyday circumstances of life, the light of Jesus shines into darkness. Her life is rooted in applying biblical principles and prayer.

Christine Disibio

Christine and her husband are entrepreneurs who see their business as an avenue to witness of God’s redemptive purposes to their employees and customers. They have two young children and live in New England.

Christine will be leading a session at “Fearless Love”, the spring Women of the Word conference on April 28, 2018 in Bristol, Connecticut. The keynote speaker is Barbara Benton. Worship will be led by Josh and Elizabeth Eldridge. 

A Call to Prayer for a Generation

by Christine Disibio

Click here to read Part 1: A Message to Millenials from a Millenial

I am a member of the group of people they call “Millennials” although I don’t feel as if I fit the common description of that group, and I wonder if other millennials feel the same. The media and pretty much every person who is older than a millennial like to describe us using words most of which are not edifying or encouraging. Who are the millennials? Why have they been so disparaged?

Technically the millennial generation spans the birth years of about 1980-2000 or so. People say if you were born in the early portion of the generation (as was I) you’re not so bad. Really what I want to know is why are any of us considered bad? It has become so popular to mock the millennial generation, I am left to rationalize that it is the devil himself who is out to get us. Even millennials themselves don’t know how to speak life over the generation. I confess I have been one of those people.

We are created in the image of God, we are his children, and He loves us. He made us unique individuals with gifts and talents, and he has a great desire to be in relationship with us. I really wish people of all ages would stop speaking destruction and death over our generation.

I want to plead with you to pray for this generation. Satan himself is after us! He is after all mankind, but never in history has he sought such destruction against an entire generation. Abortion is one of the proofs. Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized abortion, a mere 9 years before the first precious millennial baby was born. According to the National Right to Life website, approximately 31,700,000 babies have been aborted in the years 1982-2002. That is 31,700,000 babies murdered who would have been members of my generation. My husband and I sat on our couch adding up the numbers year by year… we sat in silence, in horror. Deeply saddened, my husband noted that the number of aborted millennials is roughly ten times the population of Connecticut.

OH MY GOD, MY GOD HAVE MERCY ON US! Father, that you would still call us your children and want to bless us after such perversity. We have allowed ourselves to be fooled by satan into thinking we aren’t doing anything wrong by destroying these most fragile of lives. Lord, forgive us. Lord, thank you for your forgiveness, heal us, oh God. Heal our land, heal our people, heal our souls.

There is a song on Christian radio by Tauren Wells:

People hurting, people broken, beaten down and feeling hopeless….Wonder if it’s gonna always be this way?

Who will speak up for the captive? Show some love and heal a past that binds the wounds we think will never go away.

But what if we could be a people on our knees as one before the KING ‘Cause we believe. All the world starts changing when the church starts praying! Strongholds start to break……Oh, when we pray! Prison walls start shaking at the sound of praising. Nothing stays the same…. Oh, when we pray….Oh, when we pray…. oh in Jesus name…

I believe that all to be truth. If we would all stop speaking death over millennials and start uplifting then in prayer and speaking life…if we would all pray that satan and all his demons would SHUT UP and be gone in Jesus name! Listen, millennials are up against a lot. They have inherited a lot of iniquity, and little understanding of the state of their own souls. Many are hurting and some, no doubt, have been hurt by the church. People of God, the time is now to pray for this millennial generation. Will you join me? 

Click here to Read Part 1: A Message to Millenials from a Millenial

Christine Disibio is a speaker for Women of the Word, an inter-denominational and inter-generational conference ministry. She is a millennial with a heart to reach them and the iGeneration with the Gospel. In the everyday circumstances of life, the light of Jesus shines into darkness. Her life is rooted in applying biblical principles and prayer.

Christine Disibio

Christine and her husband are entrepreneurs who see their business as an avenue to witness of God’s redemptive purposes to their employees and customers. They have two young children and live in New England.

Christine will be leading a session at “Fearless Love”, the spring Women of the Word conference on April 28, 2018 in Bristol, Connecticut. The keynote speaker is Barbara Benton. Worship will be led by Josh and Elizabeth Eldridge. 

Parkland, Florida: What does the LORD require of us?

by Betsy Roy

Another mass school shooting happened in our nation this week. A high school in Parkland, Florida was the scene of 17 senseless deaths.

Vigil in Parkland, FL photo by Brian Anderson/AP

It seems like a bad nightmare is being replayed. For many of us it is almost too painful to watch; too painful to look at the pictures of the victims, never mind the videos of the event. Yet, we can’t just pretend that nothing is happening all around us. We’d like to. We’d like to forget and just move on. But the cycle continues: a mass shooting – outrage and lots of comments on social media – some tears and some prayers – little if any action – forget and move on – some time passes – another mass shooting.

Many have ideas of how to break the cycle and stop this insanity. Few do anything, expecting someone else to act and fix it. As Christians we must ask “What does the LORD require of us?” The Bible points us to many places one of which is Micah 6:8:

“O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right (act justly), to love mercy (kindness), and to walk humbly with your God. “ (NLT) Read different versions here.

  1. Do what is right – act justly and live righteously, following God’s ways in relationship with him and with people. It means to live unselfishly by putting other’s needs before your own. Let your “talk” be known by your “walk”. Live authentically. Write letters to government officials expressing your views. Respond to hatred and evil with love as Jesus taught us.
  2. Love mercy and kindness – show your children the way of the Lord by how you live. Talk to them about how to be kind to others.Do not tolerate bullying. Reach out to the lonely and forgotten. Consider getting involved in your child’s or grandchild’s school. Pay attention to the other children in the classroom. Click here for one teacher’s strategy that speak volumes. 
  3. Walk humbly with your God – exemplify a life of prayer that earnestly seeks God in knowing what to do and how to live. Pray for others. Pray for your child’s or grandchild’s school, administrators, teachers and schoolmates. Do this regularly.

Our nation has lost its way. We have taken God out of the school. It’s more than time to stand up as Christians and say “enough”. We do this by how we live. We will pray. We will believe God and trust him for his protection. We will live lives that honor God and teach our children to do the same. We will reach out to others in Christ’s love and seek to bring his comfort and healing to those that are hurting. We will act in the school and within government. We will not sit idly by, forgetting the lives that have been lost. Right now we pray for Parkland, Florida and we will continue to do so, asking God to intervene in that community and bring his light into the darkness. We “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Don’t go it alone! Gather others to pray and act with you – even two or three can make an impact. A group of people can encourage each other and help keep one another focused and accountable. It’s too easy to start and then quit. Perseverance is key. Here are some suggestions on how to start a prayer watch written by Mike and Cindy Jacobs.

Women of the Word is committed to pray for our children and grandchildren and to teach them the ways of the LORD. We desire to raise up godly offspring and encourage the generations following us to live out Micah 6:8. 

Please join us at a WOW gathering soon! We welcome women of all denominations, cultures and generations.

Getting Beyond Me-O-Centric Bible Reading

by Lois Tverberg 

This blog is based on an excerpt from Lois Tverberg’s latest book “Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus”. You can read the first chapter free here

Did you know that you can now order a copy of a Bible translation called “Your Personalized Bible” which will insert your name in more than seven thousand verses? Here are a few verses from my copy:

Lois like a sheep has gone astray. Lois has turned to her own way; and the Lord has laid on Him Lois’s iniquity. (Isa. 53:6)

Lois is the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)

You have made Lois a little lower than God,
And crowned Lois with glory and honor.
You make Lois a ruler over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things under Lois’ feet. (Ps. 8:5–6)

You might think I’d be a fan of this style of study. I’m single, never married. I’m self-employed. I work by myself out of my own home office. I have no boss, no husband, no children. I’m queen of my own pleasant little world.

I’ve heard the siren call of individualism and succumbed as much as anyone, so you’d think I’d want to read my Bible that way. The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that a me-o-centric approach misunderstands the text.

Take, for instance, this Bible’s translation of 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Lois is a temple of God.” Often people read this line as saying, “Your body is a sacred ‘deity-shrine’ and you must pamper it accordingly.”

Paul, however, wasn’t trying to convince us to apply more UV-blocking moisturizer and eat more leafy green vegetables. Rather, he was telling the Corinthians that all together they were the temple of God, and that they were being built together into one dwelling place for his Spirit. Pagans had many temples, but the true God had only one. They were the “house,” the beit that God had promised to David—not just a structure but a lineage, a family. Paul’s focus was not on each person individually but rather on the body of believers as a whole.

Lois Tverberg

Lois Tverberg holds a Ph.D in biology and was a college professor. While in a Bible study class she became interested in studying the Bible in it’s cultural context. Discovering the answers to head-scratching questions and sharing the “ah-hah” moments with others became a passion. She began learning Hebrew and Greek, studying in the land of Israel, and exploring recent scholarship on Jesus’ first-century Jewish world. Ultimately, she left a life in academia to devote herself full-time to teaching and writing on the topic, and now has been at it for almost twenty years. She has authored five books and also directs the En-Gedi Resource Center, an educational ministry. 

Lois will be the speaker at “Through the Eyes of Jesus”, a Bible study seminar for men and women in Janesville, Wisconsin April 13 & 14, 2018. Early Bird deadline is March 19, 2018. Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.


The Lord Stirs Up The Spirit

by Betsy Roy 

Click here to hear this message in its entirety on mp3

I have been spending a lot of time in the book of Haggai (ESV) over the last several weeks, reading it in several different versions of the Bible, studying some of the words in Hebrew and asking the Lord to bring revelation. What is HE saying? What does it mean for Women of the Word? Here are some things I gleaned:

  • It’s good to “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:4 & 7 NIV). Am I changing more into the image of Jesus? Do I reflect His likeness to others more than I did a year ago? Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life? If not, I must sincerely take time before the Lord and ask Him to examine my heart and motives and be willing to make adjustments as He directs.
  • Obey the voice of the Lord and fear (reverence) the Lord (Haggai 1:12). Obedience results in blessing and peace. It also affects others because nothing happens in a vacuum. The Body of Christ is a community.
  • Know that God is with us (Haggai 1:13, Haggai 1:4 & 5). Jesus echoed this when He said “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
  • The Lord STIRRED (ESV) up the spirit of Zerubbabel (governor), Joshua (high priest), and all the remnant of the people (Haggai 1:14). In the NLT the word stirred is translated SPARKED! It means to arouse and awaken. Are you catching what God is doing? He is working on three levels: governmentally, in the Church, and among the people. HE is doing this in 2018!
  • Three times the Lord says “Be strong” (Haggai 2:4). He says it to Zerubbabel (governor of Judah), Joshua (the high priest), and the people. He’s not just saying it to the leaders! HELLO! Please hear me. He’s saying it to YOU and me! 
  • We tend to look back at the “former glory” or the “glory days.” The book of Haggai is about the Jewish people returning from exile in Babylon. They are attempting to rebuild the destroyed temple of Solomon. But they become disinterested, discouraged and dissastified. They were more interested in building their own houses rather than the house of the Lord. Once they did start building they became discouraged because it was taking a long time and they had to fight against enemy interference. The older generation who had seen the First Temple was dissastified with the Second Temple because it didn’t have the splendor of Solomon’s temple. For us this means we must stop looking at what “church” or “the ministry” looked like in the past. We judge by our eyes. God is interested in building a dwelling place for Himself within us (individually and corporately). Let’s stop looking at the “former glory” (Haggai 2:3). He promises that that the future glory will be greater than the past (Haggai 2:9). For baby-boomers, like me, that tells me I ought to be encouraging and mentoring the millenials and future generations to live authentically and passionately for God.
  • God is shaking the heavens and the earth (all nations), but He has all resources at His disposal to build His dwelling place among men (Haggai 2:6 – 9).
  • God has made an everlasting covenant of peace with us, His dwelling place, and He affirms it again (Haggai 2:9).
  • If I were to summarize these OT verses in NT terms, I would say “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus tells us 6 times in this chapter “do not be anxious.” Anxiety is rampant in the world and in the church. We must actively live out “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)  Then we can expect that the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

As a result of studying the book of Haggai (ESV) I’ve made some decisions. I will NOT be  disinterested, disfocused, discouraged, nor dissastified.  I will NOT give into anxiety. I will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and I will get to work building the dwelling place of the Lord in myself, the church and in Women of the Word in whatever ways He shows me. Will you join me? 

Click here to hear this message in its entirety on mp3.

H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals

by Denise Ridley

Denise Ridley

The cell phone rang at 2:00 AM, waking me from a sound sleep. A call at that hour is never good news and this one didn’t disappoint. It was about my son and the caller gave me news that rocked my world and placed me on the prodigal road along with a multitude of other moms. How did we get here? How is it that we gave our children the greatest treasure possible, how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the compass of His Word for all of life’s journey and they have turned their backs and thrown it away?

I received Jesus at the age of 22. I was not raised in a Christ-following home but my mom gave me what she could. There was a God and He should be honored on Sundays. I have grown up with a religious perspective of God, church on Sunday and the 10 commandments but didn’t learn that a personal relationship with Jesus was possible until graduate school. I was thankful that I knew the Savior prior to meeting my husband and starting a family. I was eager to base my marriage on Biblical principles and raise our family according to the ways of the Lord. We were first generation believers and had no modeling in our own childhood families. After our two sons were born, there were nightly prayers, Sunday school, Christian school and camp. Music and television were closely monitored. The family budget was tight and we watched the Lord provide in miraculous ways. I loved hearing my son’s questions and observations and enjoyed their humor about life. Both of our sons were developing a personal faith in Jesus of their own! As we sailed through childhood and then the teen years, I privately congratulated myself that we avoided the usual heartbreaks of other families. We were raising our kids the right way!

When other parents hit rough patches in child rearing I thought….”those parents are getting the fruit of their labors”. What do you expect if your family is worshipping soccer on Sunday instead of the Savior”? I was so judgmental! Many years later, I learned that the issue is not so black and white. Godly parents can have rebellious adult children who don’t honor the Lord and His commands. Look at God, the perfect parent. He had a broken heart over Adam and Eve and Judas to name a few.

God was and continues to humble me. After both sons graduated from Bible College and worked in the youth ministry, I thought I was home free. They are grown and walking with the Lord. Now, I will enjoy them as young adults and await marriage and grandchildren. Was I in for a shock! The enemy set his trap and little by little, my sons began to follow worldly pleasures.

So after the 2:00am phone call, there have been a series of events that have caused a long painful road of broken dreams and unanswered prayers. At times the sense of failure, shame and brokenness has been more that my mother’s heart can bear. Although my husband was heart-broken, I noticed that he did not experience the prodigal journey the same way I did. For moms it’s a deeply personal sense of shame, brokenness and failure. The mother-child bond, given by the Lord to protect and nurture a little one to adulthood can be overwhelmingly painful when living with a prodigal. Many times I would meet other moms in church or out shopping and face the inevitable question, “how are the kids”? and I would raise my mask and respond, “oh, they are doing just great”. I hated it! How did we get to this place? Where did I go wrong? Where are you God and why aren’t you answering my prayers?

As a Christian leader, I have been aware that there are many hurting moms whose children are not following the Lord. Now I had joined the sisterhood in the shame, grief and isolation, the overwhelming sense of failure. H.O.P.E for Moms of Prodigals was born.

I realized that the Body of Christ provides connection and support for moms of toddlers and teens. But when the child grows to adulthood, a mom is on her own. If that adult child makes poor choices and turns her back on the ways of the Lord, the journey can be lonely and devastating.

H.O.P.E. is the expectation that God is at work in secret places. The evidence of His hand often appears suddenly in an atmosphere of faith, trust and belief. There is so much of this journey that is out of our control, while we wait with hopeful expectancy. But there ARE things we can do. There ARE strategies for prayer. There ARE mindsets that will ease the pain and we share the journey with other sisters.

H is for humility. We have spent a lifetime loving, nurturing, comforting and praying for our child. When our child hits the rough patches in life, we attempted to smooth it over, to fix it. But we can’t fix this. Our adult child must walk through this one on his or her own. And so in humility, we release our child to the ONE who has all power, all knowledge and loves our child more than we ever will. In humility, we admit we don’t have the answers and cling to HIS promises. His ways are greater than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

O is for obedience. We cling to the Lord’s Word and His presence. We listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. We ask the Lord to show us what needs to be change in our own hearts. We confess sin to the Lord and to our adult child as the Holy Spirit leads. Whatever He says to do, we do it. We keep the love line open with our child, sending texts and cards, assuring him of our love. We keep our commitments. We serve the church and build His Kingdom. We trust God and do good, just as Jesus did, led by His Holy Spirit. We fight against the temptation to isolate, to complain about where is God in this situation, to have an anger that slides into bitterness. We are “no matter what” sisters and we are determined to trust God and be obedient in all things. No matter what the outcome, let the Lord find us obedient to His ways and will! If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

P is for praise and prayer. We are aware that our words have power. And as the enemy desires that the prodigal journey would draw us away from God, the Lord bids us to draw close. He stirs us to change our perspective and adjust our focus. Our focus must come off our adult child and on to the Lord.

  • Set your mind on things above, not on things of earth ~Colossians 3:2. Our focus must remain fixed on our precious Savior who is mighty and loves greatly and works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose ~Romans 8:28.
  • We are to praise Him no matter what and lift up our adult child in continual prayer ~1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray with THANKSGIVING. Pray without ceasing  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
  • Let’s encourage our sisters on those days when the pain is great, the discouragement is overwhelming, the future looks hopeless…do not weary in well doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not~Galatians 6:9.

I am reminded of the words of one mom who gave me this Word from the Lord. As she was crying out on behalf of her child, the Lord spoke to her heart…release your child to me, stop praying and start thanking me for what I’m doing in secret places”. I walked away, pondering that word. Stop praying? Really? Then, I realized that to “thank the Lord for what he was doing in secret places” was a position of FAITH. Prayer is so much more powerful when faith is mixed with the prayer. Thanksgiving primes the pump of faith. And so we practice praising in the storm and praying continually with an attitude of faith.

E is for expectation. What would become of me if I had not expected the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living~Psalm 27:13. Any day! Suddenly, our breakthrough will come. And the Lord will find us in faith, believing, trusting, expecting. Hallelujah!

Are you a mom with a prodigal? Do you know a mom who is walking the prodigal road? While we can’t control their choices, we can control our response to their choices! Join us as we respond with H.O.P.E., encouraging one another, persevering and awaiting the homecoming! May the God of hope fill you with all hope and peace as your trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit~Romans 15:13.

Click here to join the closed H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals Facebook group.

Denise Ridley is the founder of Waters Edge Ministries. She is a speaker for various ministries, including Women of the Word and hosts a Christian radio program that airs in VT and MA. Her professional career includes being an Educational Therapist, Admissions Coordinator, Director of Guidance and Vocational Rehabilational Counselor. She holds an MA in Deaf Education and a M.Ed in Rehabilitation Counseling. Denise is married, with 2 grown sons and 4 grandchildren.

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

An Interview with Author and Speaker Lois Tverberg

You’ve written a couple of other books before this one that have similar titles – Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus. How do they relate to your new book?

Lois Tverberg

Sitting at the Feet was about the Jewish customs that deepen our understanding of Jesus’ life and ministry, like the biblical feasts, the Jewish prayers, and the relationship of rabbi and disciple. Walking in the Dust was about the Jewish context of Jesus’ teachings. Many of the things he said make much more sense when you know the conversation that was going on around him. Disciples are supposed to “walk in the ways” of their rabbi and obey his teaching. So I chose some of Jesus’ teachings that are especially practical for our lives and have a Jewish context that sheds light on their meaning.

My newest book, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, pulls back a bit and starts by looking at cultural issues that get in the way as we read the Bible in the modern, Western world. Among the things I asked myself as I wrote was, what cultural tools can I give readers to read the Bible more authentically? How does a lack of grasp of Jesus as a Jewish Middle Easterner cause us to misunderstand his words? Ultimately, my goal was to equip the average Christian to read the Bible more like a first-century disciple. 

In your new book, you talk about cultural differences that get in the way of understanding the Bible and suggest that we need to grasp how the Bible “thinks.” What do you mean by that?

I started the book with a story about when my five-year-old nephew arrived in Iowa from Atlanta for Christmas. He had never seen snow before, so he asked, “What do you do with the snow when you have to mow the lawn?” He couldn’t imagine a reality where people didn’t mow their lawns year round, so he assumed it was universal. In the same way, many of our problems with the Bible come from misunderstanding its cultural reality and projecting our own onto it instead. We need to grasp how the Bible “thinks” – the basic background assumptions that biblical peoples had about life. Often these were very different than ours today. It’s also important that we don’t mix these two worlds together inappropriately, like mixing lawnmowers and snow.

You mention an acronym, “WEIRD,” that psychologists coined for the ways that that American culture is unusual compared to the rest of the world. How do you think this comes into play in reading the Bible?

The acronym “WEIRD” stands for “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic.” All these traits tend to characterize Europeans and especially Americans. We live in an educated, Western culture that values scientific thought above all else. We are industrialized so that our world does not revolve around family and clan but around work and business. We are relatively rich so that many basic worries are simply not on our radar screens. We live in a democracy and dislike all hierarchy and authority.

I point out that these same characteristics tend to set us apart culturally from the Bible, so that major biblical themes, like farming and kings, simply do not resonate. I explore these and other cultural difficulties that modern readers (especially Americans) have with the Bible.

There’s a chapter titled “Greek Brain, Hebrew Brain” where you discuss the difference between Western vs. Eastern thought. How does this influence how we read the Bible?

Western thinking is very analytical, theoretical and focused on abstract concepts. It began in Greece in the 5th century AD and has deeply affected European-based cultures. We see it as the essence of mental sophistication and have a hard time imagining that anyone could think any other way. Much of the Bible, however, communicates in a more ancient way. It speaks in concrete images and parables rather than abstract concepts and argumentation. In this chapter, I show that brilliant ideas can be expressed this way too, and to give readers some basic skills to bridge the gap between East and West.

Another chapter is called, “Why Jesus Needs those Boring ‘Begats.’” In it, you point out that many people wonder why the Bible contains so many meaningless lists of names. What is significant about genealogies, culturally? Why were they included?

In the Bible, the family was central. Even if you don’t agree with it on every issue, you have to grasp how it “thinks” in terms of family as the center of reality in order to follow its most basic themes. The growth and relationships of a family were the core of how societies functioned. The main theme of the biblical story is God’s promise to Abraham to give him a great family, and the covenant that God makes with that family, Israel. Every time genealogies are listed it shows how God is fulfilling his promise. Even in the New Testament, whether or not believers in Christ needed to be “sons of Abraham” (Torah-observant Jews, who lived by the family covenant) was a major issue.

How does our perspective change if we read the Bible as a “we” instead of merely as an individual?

Americans are very individualistic, and we tend to focus on the Bible as a series of personal encounters between individuals and God. We also assume that the ultimate audience for Bible reading is “me.” We miss how often the Scriptures focus on the group rather than the individual. When Jesus preaches, he’s almost always addressing a crowd. When Paul tells his audience that they are a temple of God, we hear it as about how “my body is a temple.” But Paul is actually talking about them all together as God’s temple, not to each of them individually. In this chapter, I point out many places where things make more sense when you see them in light of their communal implications.

Here’s another example of how “we” is important. People talk about Jesus is “my personal savior” and struggle to find the gospel in the Gospels. That’s because the biblical imagery is actually about Christ saving a group of people. Jesus is the “Christ,” God’s anointed king, who has come to redeem a people to be his kingdom. When we “accept Christ” we are submitting to his kingship and joining his people. The imagery of a “kingdom” is inherently plural, so it passes right by us.

You tell about a Christian scholar who theorized that Paul knew his Scriptures by memory. Christian scholars were very skeptical, but Jewish scholars strongly agreed with him. Why was this story important to you?

When I first started hearing about Jesus’ Jewish context, I was skeptical about whether it could be of use to Christians. I was also skeptical of ideas like that Jesus and Paul likely knew their Scriptures (our Old Testament) by heart and expected their listeners to be very familiar with them too. I was told that they would hint to it and drop in little quotes often in their teaching, and these hints were often quite important to grasp the point.

At first, I absolutely didn’t believe this. But as I studied more about traditional Judaism, I discovered that even since the first century, rabbinic sermons have been overloaded with hints, quotes and subtle links to Bible passages. Memorization has been strongly stressed. I laughed when I read about a scholar on Paul’s Jewish context who spoke about this at conferences about twenty or thirty years ago. Christian scholars would all poo-poo him and say, “highly unlikely” or “totally impossible.” The Jewish scholars in his audience, however, would all nod their heads in agreement and say, of course, he did!

In the last section of the book, I go into more detail about how Jewish teachers studied their Scriptures and alluded to them in preaching. Most importantly, I talk about how some of Jesus’ boldest claims to being the Messiah, the Christ who God sent as Savior, were delivered in this very subtle Jewish way. There are a lot of skeptical scholars who have said that Jesus was just a wandering wise man whose followers exalted to a divine status. But they know nothing about Jesus’ Jewish habit of hinting to his Scriptures, so they miss some of his most powerful statements about being the Son of God.

What started your interest in the Jewishness of Jesus? Was there a particular event that piqued your interest?

I was raised in a devout Christian home. I’m not Jewish and my overall interest is in understanding the reality of Jesus and the Bible, rather than Judaism per se. A little over twenty years ago I signed up for a seminar on ancient Israel and the Jewish culture of the Bible at my church, thinking it would be just some dry historical information. But all of a sudden Bible stories that were foggy and confusing became clear and deeply relevant to my life. I started hearing the words of Scripture through the ears of its ancient listeners, and it made all the difference in the world.

My background was originally in the sciences, and I have a Ph. D. in biology. I was teaching as a college biology professor and my background in research compelled me to dig deeper. Over the years I’ve traveled to Israel several times to experience the land and history in person and to study the language and the culture. Every time I come home I’m newly inspired because in the past few decades scholars and archaeologists have unearthed enormous amounts of information that clarifies the Bible’s stories, particularly the Jewish setting of Jesus.

Why do you think that so many Christians are unaware of their Jewish heritage?

All of the disciples were Jewish, and the New Testament was written almost entirely by Jews. But within only a couple centuries Gentiles became the majority in the church, and many were hostile to its Jewish origins. Even in Romans, Paul warned the Gentiles not to be arrogant toward the Jews, but his words went unheeded. One reason was that early Christians needed to establish their identity as a new movement, and they defended their faith by focusing on their differences with Judaism.

Through the ages, there has been occasional interest by Christians in understanding their Jewish roots, but for much of its history, the church has struggled with anti-Semitism. And Jews who had felt the persecution of Christians were understandably less than interested in helping them understand the roots of their faith. It’s only been in the last century that Christians have become avidly interested in the topic. One reason for this is because we mingle so much more. Jews and Christians now have relative freedom to discuss their beliefs, and both groups are curious about how the other reads their common Scriptures.

Click to read a FREE chapter of Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

Lois Tverberg has been a speaker at Women of the Word. We look forward to her return with us in April 2018 for “Through the Eyes of Jesus”. Click here for more information. This event is open to men and women. Please join us.