Who Will Have Pity on you O Jerusalem? – Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem

by Betsy Roy

The Bible asks a poignant question in Jeremiah 15:5. “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”

Jesus grieved and wept over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34,35 and Luke 19:41,42) because he knew Jerusalem would be trampled down in 70 AD and an hour is yet to come when all nations will come against Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. Yet the final outcome will be victorious for the Kingdom of God as King Jesus will rule from the Holy City and all who have survived of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:16).

In the meantime, much has happened in Jerusalem and Israel over the last 150 years or so as we witness the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral home, the restoration of the Hebrew language, the blooming of the land, and most astounding the increase of Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah! Hallelujah!

Jerusalem is the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5). Not Tehran, nor Mecca, nor Cairo, nor Washington DC, nor Moscow, nor Bejing, nor Tokyo, nor London, nor Paris, nor Rome, nor any other city. It’s Jerusalem! In this city our Lord Jesus was crucified, died, resurrected and ascended back to heaven. To this city our Lord Jesus will return as his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. There is no city like it! It is unique!

Man has tried and continues to try to bring “peace” to this city, but it is beyond us! The Bible instructs us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), but what does that really mean and how do we effectively do it? The meaning of Jerusalem is “teaching of peace”. Jeru means Torah or teaching. Salem means peace. The word “pray” in this Psalm means to “ask” so the phrase can be written to say “Ask about the prince of peace and his teaching of peace.” Therefore, when we pray for the “peace of Jerusalem” we aren’t praying for the absence of war per se although we can pray that the enemy of our souls not be allowed to bring war out of God’s timing. We should be praying that people (souls) that do not know Jesus as Messiah begin to ask about him and his teachings. We can also pray that those of us who do know him have a deeper understanding of his teachings and walk as disciples in this world. May we be salt and light and draw others to him.

We can pray that veil in front of the eyes of the Jewish people becomes thinner and thinner and that they will look up and recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and that a spirit of supplication and repentance comes upon them so they will cry “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:35). Only when this happens on a national level will the Lord return. Let us cry out for a great harvest of souls in Israel and throughout the Middle East of both Jew and Gentile.

In Hebrew the word “peace” means completenes, wholeness, a state when things are as God intends them to be so this is what we are asking of God. We are not asking Him to withhold the final time of war because as it is written, so it will surely come. Jesus prayed that we would understand the way of peace. May we understand it and pray for others to understand it also. That is “praying for the peace of Jersualem”.  Will you join me in it?

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation. 

 

The Fall Feasts

by Rose-Marie Slosek

The fall is a time of several major feasts in the Jewish calendar.  On September 9-11 of this year (2018), the Jewish Civil New Year, Rosh Hashanah (also known as the Feast of Trumpets), will be celebrated. It is the first of the “High Holy Days” and celebrates God making the world!  A shofar is blown during the service.  Giving to the needy so that one may be included in the Book of Life and have a happy year is a tradition practiced by Jewish people all over the world. 

Sweet food is eaten, such a challah bread with raisins and apples dipped in honey. The head of the fish is often served so you remember to be “the head and not the tail”– a leader instead of a follower! If you want to wish someone a happy new year you say, “L’shanah Tovah”  which means “a good year” in Hebrew.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is scheduled ten days after Rosh Hashanah. On that day, people repent of their sins, and ask God to forgive their sins. It is called the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths.” People fast and do not work that day so they can repent.  It is called the “Day of Atonement.” September 19th is the date this year. 

On September 24th and 25th is the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) or Sukkot. It is a time to remember God’s provision in the wilderness but also to look forward to the time when the Messiah comes and all the nations come to Jerusalem to worship God. People construct and live in hut like structures on their porches, balconies, back yards, to remember the fragility of life and to be thankful for their homes and God’s provision.  It is a time of great celebration! People gather in the sukkot structure and eat and rejoice together. This feast also has great prophetic meaning for us as believers.. Zechariah tells us that a day will come when we will go up to Jerusalem year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14: 16).

At the end of Sukkot, the Jews celebrate Shemini Atzeret where people spend an additional day with God! While Sukkot is for everyone to celebrate, only the Jews celebrate Shemini Atzeret as they celebrate the special relationship they have with God. This is celebrated on October 1st this year.  

On October 2nd is Simchat Torah.  It celebrates the conclusion of the public Torah readings for the year. People often dance with the Torah scrolls around the table where the Torah is read! In Israel Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are condensed into one day.

As Christians, we can appreciate these holy day celebrations as they often are very symbolic in nature and point to Jesus in some way.  Jesus did celebrate the Feasts and learning about them can be very enriching. 

These holidays have three parts to them:  Israel was to observe the holiday each year to remember and celebrate something God did in the past, while looking forward to some prophetic purpose hidden within each festival that is still to come!

There is often confusion as to whether Christians should or even must celebrate these festivals. Paul addresses this in the book of Colossians : Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  (Colossians 2:16,17)

Judaizers, even modern day ones, say that we must celebrate these festivals but we have liberty to honor them or to no partake in them. They have beautiful imagery, but all things find their completeness in Christ so we are not compelled to as far as religious duty.  We can easily enjoy the symbolism and history of the festivals and contemplate their prophetic meaning. Thank God that we have a once and for all atonement of our sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All things have been provided by God in Christ and this is nothing that we can earn of ourselves.  However, we can take this good advice from Paul as he writes to the Corinthians : Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. “  (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women. 

Roadblocks

by Bethany Wuerffel

2018 seems to be the year for road construction in our county and more specifically, in our exact location. Every single road we use in our immediate vicinity, except our own quiet little street, has been repaved in the past few months. The culmination of this roadwork confronted us three days ago when they closed two different places of a main highway our street connects with. Our street lies right between these two closures, meaning most destinations these days involve a detour.

While the outcome of this work is good as it was desperately needed and has created wider, smoother roads, the process has been exhausting. No matter which direction we go we’ve been confronted with ‘One Lane Road Ahead’, ‘Prepare To Stop’, ‘Detour Ahead’, and the least favorite, ‘Road Closed’ signs. Delays, unexpected stops, and new travel directions have all become the new ‘normal’ in our lives.

Lately my heart has been acting like the highway in front of my house. Every normal thought, processing, and action from my past now dead ends into a large, bright-orange ‘Road Closed’ sign. Except in the case of my heart, the signs read ‘Death’, ‘Loss’, and ‘Tears’…

…I go to change the shower curtain in my parents bathroom and am struck with a tears delay as I remember so many sweet moments of chatting with mom in that bathroom as she curled her hair and prepared for the day, and then at the end of her life when she could no longer do those things and I did them for her. I long for those times again.

…I make deliveries for my brothers egg business (a job my mom used to do for him) and every customer sweetly checks in on our family and we detour from our typical conversation to spend time reminiscing together, often with tears, of the many special memories of Mom.

…Our kitchen table is covered with sympathy cards, clean dishes that need to be returned to friends who incredibly blessed us with meals, and letters going out to supporters with memorial service information and an update on life without Mom. Every time I walk in the door I’m confronted with that table and the large orange ‘Road Closed Ahead’ sign that reads ‘Mom’s Gone’.

Unfortunately, sometimes the road closed signs have no warning. You just come flying around the corner and find yourself face to face with orange cones and a closed road.

A few days ago we picked up mom’s ashes from the funeral home. As soon as I picked up the bag holding the box and felt the unexpected weight of it, a whole flood of thoughts and emotions swept over me. Another detour to life as I walked down memory lane once again, remembering mom in her last days, her sweet presence and I how I loved to just sit in her room with her for hours at a time. There wouldn’t be much talking as her voice was quite weak, but we would hold hands and listen to music or sermons together and it was enough. Then I remember her the last time I saw her- at the funeral home for the viewing and how natural and unnatural she looked at the same time.

It’s this thought that causes my detour to take me past a gorgeous scenic overlook as I remember Mom isn’t really in the box I’m holding. Her empty shell is. The mom I know and love is rejoicing in heaven, having the time of her life. She’s free of stress, anxiety, and pain. She’s worshiping her beautiful Maker with every tear wiped from her face. Instead of holding my hand she’s holding His and basking in His presence. I stop for a moment and soak up that gorgeous view. I am so happy for her, but for me right now, it’s just a glimpse of that beauty and the ache of an empty hand. The latter overcomes the former as the large orange construction signs obscure my vision.

I could ignore the signs and plow through the closed section of the road. Two of my brothers (who will remain anonymous), actually did this recently. Unfortunately for both of them this didn’t work out so well. One of them had to call in reinforcements to get pulled out of a ditch, and the other tore off his bumper. Thankfully neither of them were hurt and no serious damage was done but it’s a poignant reminder to me that those signs are there for a reason both on the road and in my heart right now.

The Lord is good and sovereign and has a plan and purpose through this. I trust that He has put these road blocks and detours in my life right now because He is upgrading my heart and mind. He is blowing His healing power into the hurting places and working through the pain in ways He couldn’t have otherwise. And He is creating good because that is what He promises He will do in every situation. If I continue to submit to His roadblocks and detours, and seek Him daily, I trust the outcome will be worth all the delays and frustration along the way.

May I patiently submit to His plans and trust He is working even through the unexpected sorrow, the detours of pain, and the road blocks of loss. He is good.

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Bethany Wuerffel grew up with her 7 siblings as missionary kids in Papua New Guinea where her parents served with Wycliffe Bible Translators. As a young adult she pursued missions herself, moving to the Philippines for two years to study midwifery and serve the people there through childbirth with the love of Jesus. While she now calls North Carolina home, she continues to enjoy

Bethany at the Dead Sea, Israel

international travel and ministry work. Through Women of the Word, Israel has become one of her passions and she has traveled there several times for both tours and ministry. In 2018 she lost her mom to aggressive brain cancer. This post was written soon after her mom’s death as a form of processing the incredible loss of an amazing mentor, Mom, and dear friend.

How should Christians Relate to Israel: Part 2

by Rose–Marie Slosek

Click here for Part 1: How Should Christians View Israel

Part 2: A hundred years ago, one could not have even seen that Israel would come back on the world stage as a country. If you read books concerning eschatology and end time issues written before 1948, they do not seem to focus directly on Israel because Israel did not even exist as a sovereign country.  

In 1948, Israel was once again a nation! This was a mere 70 years ago! But Israel is now, and will be increasingly, at the center of much world controversy.  Jerusalem is the most contested city on the earth and will be until Jesus comes. It is now essential to realize that God is not finished with Israel. He who has begun a work in her, will finish it, and why is this? It is because of covenant.  Although we can be happy that the embassy of the US has moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem we must also realize that we cannot relate to Israel, nor does God relate to Israel, through political avenues. Because Israel is both a sovereign country and a political state, many Israelis may not remember or pay heed to Israel’s covenant with God, and those that do may be mistaken in its application and meaning at this time in history.

So we need to be able to relate to Israel according to biblical wisdom and not secular or political protocol. So let us turn and search the scriptures. God has spoken to Israel by means of The Law and the Prophets. When Israel was straying from God, God sent prophets to call Israel back to Himself. When they did not return, then there were consequences. God allows free choice, but He was sovereign over the nation, and sovereign He still is and will forever be.

Blessed be He! To our way of thinking, God’s ways can be difficult to understand or appear harsh. But God is God and acts from wisdom and covenant love.  We must stand with Him and trust Him.

There is much humanism that surrounds both Jewish thinking about its own nation, and also our thinking as Christians about who and what Israel is and what God will do to accomplish His purposes with His nation on the earth. If we find ourselves on the wrong side of God, we will find ourselves of no use to Him, or worse, to be at odds with Him and He will have to sweep us aside. At some times, in some crucial moments in history, there is little place for error.

Many stand with Israel no matter what she does. Yes, it is our place as Christians to stand with her, but not without discernment and clarity as to where God stands with her.  To the degree that she is astray, we cannot fully support her. So it behooves us to know the covenant. God has a history of using other nations to come against Israel to bring His people back to Himself.  We cannot forget this. He controls the discipline, but He allows it, even causes it, make no mistake. (Ezekiel 38:14-18, Ezekiel 8:7-18).

Just as the bible says, “God disciplines everyone He loves and chastises everyone He receives.” (Hebrew 12:6) So it is individually, so it will be corporately with Israel. He cannot now accept them because in many ways they are not right before Him and because they have not yet “Looked upon He whom they have pierced and… mourned… and wept bitterly” (Zechariah 12:10). Make no doubt about it, national repentance is in Israel’s future. But gloriously, when they have, He will raise them up. God’s heart is restoration and salvation and grace, but all things must be in order. So let us, even if we do not not understand everything, begin to pray with a spirit of brokenness and supplication, that God will have His perfect way with us, as the Branch, grafted in, and with the original branch, the nation of Israel. We are in this together. May God give us great wisdom and compassion. 

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women. 

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The Power of (S)words

by Jackie Riopelle

“No, I am crazy”, I said jokingly, in an effort to get the kids to stop throwing that insult at each other. It worked, but not in the way I expected. Each of them stopped and looked at me horrified. “No! You are not crazy!” They shouted. “You are not crazy, you are nice girl.” One little boy corrected me severely.

Apparently crazy is a strong word here.

In South America “stupid” ranks as a swear word. (Don’t say “stupida” in Peru!).

In America we have our own special words designed for vulgarity or insults.

It doesn’t matter what country you go to, every culture has their own set of words designed to tear down and cut away at others.

Words are powerful. In fact, the Bible says that the very power of life and death is in the tongue. Now that’s crazy!

Words are like a sword, and I often use them as such. Sometimes I’ll parry with my friends just for fun, but if I’m angry or feel attacked, I tend to wield them with worse intentions. Words are the sword of the Soul, formed of our selfish passions, our pride, bitterness, emotions, and close mindedness.

You might say I am a gifted swordswoman. I can argue almost any point with an infectious passion. (I’ve been told I should be a lawyer). I can block, parry, fence, jab, and stab with the fluid agility of a samurai sword warrior. It is both my greatest weakness and a powerful strength.

I am gifted with the ability to wield the sword. It’s a gift that I believe is God given and for a purpose. I know that the sword is one of the things I’m meant for. But am I carrying the right one?

There’s another sword sitting on the shelf of my heart. It’s rustier, and I haven’t had as much practice using it, but its dusty edges glisten betraying the diamond mold beneath. The sword of the Spirit. It’s the sword I am designed to wield. The sword with the power to divide truth from falshood and darkness from light. It is the sword meant to be carried to the dark places. The places of spiritual oppression and demonic presence, the places of depression and isolation and darkness and lies. It is a sword never meant to be wielded against man, but against the authorities and principalities of this flawed world. It is a sword made to take on the enemy.

I have been given the gift of swordmanship, but I have also been given a choice. There are two swords lying in the inner room of my heart. Two swords, but I can only take up one. Do I wield the sword of the soul and use it against my brothers and sisters? Or do I take up the sword of the spirit and apply my passion and fierce fighting spirit to the real enemy on the real battlefield?

It’s the choice we’ve each been given.
It’s the power of the (s)words.

Blog is re-posted here by permission.

Born and raised in Massachusetts (not Boston!), Jackie Riopelle is a writer, manager, and a Chick-fil-A enthusiast with a passion for kids, missions, and Jesus. Currently, Jackie is in the beginning stages of a year long missions trip ranging over eleven countries in South America, Europe, and Asia. This trip is unique in that the ministry itinerary is not preset. The team prays as they go out and then they serve however the Lord leads. So far this has included sports ministry, home to home prayer ministry, kids ministry, Bible studies, forging relationships with both believers and non believers and just showing the love of God everywhere they can. Jackie says, “It’s been amazing, terrible, fun, difficult, painful and so so worth it! It’s been absolutely incredible to see what God has done just in these two short months and I can’t wait to see what He does next!”

Here’s what YOU can do……

1) Pray
We came into this journey with the firm belief that prayer is powerful and the more people joined in prayer the better! Please be praying for us for the following:

•  ‎Endurance as we begin to get tired or discouraged
•  ‎Wisdom and clarity as we listen and follow God’s lead
•  ‎For open hearts both in ourselves and in those we come in contact with
•  ‎Provision as most of us are still fundraising

2) Donate
Fundraising is something most people shy away from, but it is definitely one of the ways that God works both in the fundraiser and those that give.
I still have $1,500 left to raise in order to be able to see this mission to it’s completion. If you feel led to donate or to check out what it’s all about, you can access my blog at jackieriopelle.theworldrace.org

3) Tell people about it!
My platform is relatively small at the moment. I would love to be able to share what God is doing with even more people.

Women of the Word has donated to Jackie’s year long missionary journey. We pray for her and we are delighted to share about it here on our blog! WOW’s ministry is inter-generational and we want to encourage young women to step out and do what God has called them to do. Won’t you consider coming alongside Jackie too? Please visit our website to learn more about WOW and join us at an upcoming event soon. The Lord bless you.

How Should Christians View Israel? Part 1

by Rose-Marie Slosek

It is really important for a Christian to correctly understand how we are to view Israel in the plan of God.  There is much misinformation that is widespread and often Christians will mix different schools of thought together without realizing it is confusing their thoughts about Israel. Let’s discuss a few critical points for a foundation.

God chose the nation of Israel to be His own nation in the world, a priestly, prophetic people who would show forth to the world around them Who the Living and True God is. Deuteronomy 7:7 & 8a says, The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than the other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers…”

God chose a people, not because they were strong or special in themselves, to reveal Himself to the peoples of the earth. Israel did not choose God, God chose Israel.  He made a covenant with Abraham and swore by Himself (Gen. 22:16) to uphold it. This made him the chief Upholder of the covenant. Abraham did not hold back his son, Isaac, from God (foreshadowing God not holding back His Son from us)  and so God promised to make the descendants of Abraham as the “stars in the sky and the sands of the seashore” (Genesis 22:17). God honored Abraham’s faith but God swore by Himself and not by man when He made the covenant.

God knew that man was fallible. Israel’s history is a checkered one: they strayed from God, they did not heed the prophets nor obey the commandments of God, they wandered in the wilderness because of “unbelief.” (Hebrew 3:19).  God has always been looking for faith, not just lineage. So not everyone of the household of Israel is or was right before God. What now qualifies both Jew and Gentile is belief in the atoning work of Jesus Christ to save us. Paul says, “ 28 He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is external in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly. And circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit, and not by the letter.” (Romans 2:28-29).

The nation of Israel, as a whole, rejected Jesus as their Messiah. There were individuals who accepted Him, but Jesus was not accepted by the nation as a whole. Jesus said, “they [Israel] missed the day of their visitation” (Luke 19:44). Judgment was sent: they were sent into a deep spiritual and physical exile. A veil now covers their spiritual eyes (2 Cor 3:15). Paul says that a “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.“ (Romans 11:25).

We, as Gentile believers, are the wild vine that has been grafted into the vine of God. Some of the original vine (natural Israel)  has branches that have broken off because of unbelief. We do not replace the original vine (Israel), but we are blessed to be able to be added to the household of God. When the “times of the Gentiles” are over, God will bring the nation of Israel to full salvation as a nation! There will not be one Jew who does not know the Lord on the Day when they shall look upon HIm whom they have pierced! (Zech 12:10). ALL Israel shall be saved! (Romans 11:25-26). Let us pray for that Day, but also pray that individual Jews, each come, today, to a heartfelt conversion during their individual  lifetimes. During this season, the “times of the Gentiles,” the gospel is presented to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, and each must make an individual choice before God, although collectively the “veil” still remains over Israel.

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women. 

Peace-Maker vs. Peace-Keeper

by Kim Warf

Boundaries, consequences, and rewards…order is kept through these three things but love should be the base principle interwoven through them.

I have personally been a peace-keeper through most of my life. A peace-keeper loves peace and will try to keep it at any cost. What a peace-keeper doesn’t realize is that continually giving in and not holding someone accountable will never resolve the disturbing condition that is interrupting their peace.

Painting by vinedressercollection.com

Over the years, I am learning to be a peace-maker. A peace-maker will speak the truth in love and hold people accountable for their behavior. Usually, the person or people in question will not like this at all because for far too long the “control” was in their hands. However, holding people accountable for their behavior is the only way that things will change.

First, you must realize who you are. Are you a parent, a spouse, a business or church leader? If you are a parent, then rules are of absolute necessity with listed (enforced) consequences or rewards. The same goes for a business or church leader. People must know what is expected of them, what is appropriate, and what is not appropriate.

If you are a spouse, you are not a ruler over your mate. Remember the base principle needs to be love. When respect, kindness, and proper communication are missing; then boundaries must be drawn. Do not go off in a corner and pout, do not get in someone’s face and shout.

Clearly communicate how you feel and why. If it needs to be in letter form in order to not be interrupted; then do so. Speak the truth in love. If you are dealing with a mature Christian, then you can expect a humble apology and a conversation regarding how to make the relationship work. However, if you are dealing with an immature or controlling person, then you can expect silence, anger, or a litany of your faults.

Learning how to be a peace-maker is an important skill in life. It is not going to be easy; however, your home (business or church) and heart will be a happier place.

Kim Warf is the associate pastor, alongside her husband Paul of New Beginnings Church in Bangor, ME. She is also a Board Member of Women of the Word and has served as Conference Chairman of several WOW conferences in Maine. Paul and Kim have two grown daughters and a beautiful grand-daughter.

Seeking God

by Kim Warf

“God, are you real?”

Do you really want to know? If so, there must be moments of seeking and asking. God has been drawing you with whispers of love and with shouts of glorious displays of His creation.

A way has been made for the seeker yet the path is narrow. There are so many other paths that are well-lit, well-paved that seem easier to travel. The true path is not always comfortably trod; there are obstacles that test our carnal flesh. Yet, it ever beckons us forward.

This narrow path leads to a Door. It is not outwardly notable and shiny but worn and welcoming. A Light seems to escape from its tiny cracks and crevices… drawing one near.

You may approach; you know you are welcome. A thousand thoughts and fears try to stop you…but you are drawn by it’s comfort. The seeker extends a hand and knocks, all the while wondering, “Is this too good to be true?”.

With no hesitation, the Door swings open! Love which is Light; Light which is Love, one cannot tell the difference, pours out. All of the inward thoughts and intents exposed yet Love and Light infiltrates and washes every doubt, every sin away.

A transformation occurs; a new inner life, a new spirit is born from within. The seeker has found the answer and yet, the journey is just beginning.

Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

John 1:12-13 “But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God.” All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.[a] 13 All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth[b] resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God.

Kim Warf is the associate pastor, alongside her husband Paul of New Beginnings Church in Bangor, ME. She is also a Board Member of Women of the Word and has served as Conference Chairman of several WOW conferences in Maine. Paul and Kim have two grown daughters and a beautiful grand-daughter.

 

Listen Well

by Rose-Marie Slosek

Words are powerful yet sometimes inadequate tools. When I speak, something of myself comes out.  Over the last weeks I have been pondering the process of how best to listen to others. Jesus said, “Be careful how you listen” (Luke 8:18). He speaks this while telling us that whatever is hidden will one day be revealed.  What someone says is sometimes only a little or the beginning of what they mean. Deeper things lay buried if we can hear them.

Are you a good listener? I’ve been in the presence of a couple good listeners of late for which I am very grateful.  We don’t just listen with our ears, but with our heart, and our spirit. Benedict of Nursia said, “Listen carefully and incline the ear of your heart.” George MacDonald said, “There is a lot of difference between hearing and listening.”  There are many times when words are not enough and we must hear what someone is saying with our spiritual ears much more than our physical ears.

Can you imagine if God only heard our words? What if He did not hear the deepest cry of our hearts when words fail?   We are even given the Spirit to intercede for us “with groanings that are too deep for words “(Romans 8:26). Our hearts are full of deep things, are they not?

So let us listen to hearts and not just words when we listen. Often we are listening only to speak.  Sometimes the person we are listening to is desperate to be heard but testing to see if their words will be truly heard or will come bouncing back to them.

Sometimes words are just not enough and we must hear between the lines. Hearing deeply, accurately, gracefully is a spiritual discipline we can develop. Spiritual listening that heals and makes a place for others is birthed out of our own ability to listen to God. When we listen to God, we allow a place for silence and mutual communication on a non-verbal level. When we listen to God we strain to hear because we value the words of God.  When we listen to God we also hear ourselves, not our words, but the disposition of our heart in listening. It takes two to listen really. One to speak and one to hold a place open for the words spoken to rest.

So listen carefully: understanding what a person is really trying to say is born of compassion, humility, grace, and spiritual discernment . We are limited to the degree that our own opinions, blind spots, and incompleteness which block the kind of conversations God wants us to have. You have not walked a mile in your neighbor’s moccasins. They may have experienced something you have not yet experienced. It might be a hurtful something or something precious to them. Listen and receive a great gift. Hold them up to God while they speak.

Sprinkle your conversations with mercy, encouragement and enough silence so you can hear the other and God and not you. Hold a place in your heart open for the ones you speak with. Listen knowing that God is listening with you. Cooperate with Him. Hear Him reply first before you speak.  He alone knows what should be said. When people are really heard healing takes place. Good listeners are so needed, and relatively rare. Be one.

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel.

 

Fierce Forgiveness

by Lisa Gould

Unforgiveness is a force that can hold us back from living an abundant life in Christ.  It leaves many in a quandary because we know God’s word says we need to forgive, but to release forgiveness to others is not always easy.

Many times we don’t forgive because we have a misunderstanding of what forgiveness is. The enemy lies to us about what forgiveness truly looks like. He holds us in bondage with those lies to prevent us from forgiving. He does not want us to be free to be all God has called us to be. One of the most effective lies of the enemy is to convince us that if we can’t forget what a person has done, we have not truly forgiven.

Forgiveness is NOT forgetting what someone has done. If you are waiting to be ready to forget what someone has done to you before you forgive them, it’s probably never going to happen.  Although we can’t forget, we can forgive.

We must first look at the forgiveness God gives us.  If we repent and accept the free gift of God’s redemptive, Fierce Forgiveness for our sin, and then forget why we needed to be forgiven in the first place, where would our testimony be?  If I come to Christ, receiving His forgiveness for my sin and then “forget” that I had an abortion, committed adultery, and truly had broken all of the 10 commandments, the power of God’s forgiveness would be diminished. I wouldn’t have a testimony of my life before Christ and after Christ if I forgot why I needed to be forgiven.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the power of our testimony (Rev 12:1).  It is the power of our overcoming testimony that draws others to Jesus.

People look at those of us whose lives have been transformed because of Christ’s forgiveness; they see and even hear that we are no longer who we used to be. The testimony of our lives spurs others on—if Jesus can forgive us, then He can and will forgive them. We can testify that He is no respecter of persons; what He does for one He will do for all (Rom 2:11-16).

When the Word talks about God “forgetting” our sin, it doesn’t mean He literally forgets it. It means He no longer holds us accountable.  If God literally forgot our sins, there would be no Bible stories like David’s. He committed adultery and murder, yet God called David a man after His own heart because, despite all his sin, David was repentant. David recalled in the psalms how he had been forgiven for his sin giving God the glory.  God didn’t forget what David had done; He chose not to hold him accountable once he repented.

In spite all of our sin, God CHOOSES to turn His back on the sin we have committed when we come to him in repentance.  He FIERCLY forgives it, all of it, every last bit of it and lavishes His love and grace upon us!  His forgiveness is FIERCE–overwhelming, overpowering, piercing, sudden, extreme, relentless, strong, harrowing, passionate, wild, brave and intense! I will never forget how I have been forgiven. When I think about how much He forgave me, it takes my breath away and leaves me in awe.

Isaiah 43:25 says that God blots out, or forgets, our sin.  He chooses to turn His back on our sin extending His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and acceptance so our past sin no longer brings shame upon us; nor can the enemy condemn us or hold us in bondage. The Father doesn’t want us to live with the memory of his forgiveness so we dwell upon the shame of that sin but to focus on how His Fierce Forgiveness has redeemed our lives.  The power of the blood of Jesus Christ gives us victory over our past sins. We can then tell others about our journey– how we have experienced His forgiveness to live free.

Forgetting what has been done to us by others is not even a possibility unless we have some kind of operation to wipe our memories clean. That would make us robots.  God gave us a memory for a reason. If someone has abused us or our children, committed adultery, stolen from us, or broken trust in some other way, forgiving them is essential. Forgiving someone does not, however, automatically mean that the relationship is restored, especially if that relationship could be harmful. Even when continuing the relationship would not be harmful, restoration cannot happen unless there has been true repentance on the offender’s part. Repentance is a military term meaning to pivot on one’s heals, to turn and go in the other direction. It means to stop doing one thing and to start doing something else.

Even if it were possible, forgetting every time we forgive could mean a whole lot of trouble for us as we would always have the possibility of going back to unhealthy or toxic relationships. Setting appropriate boundaries with people who choose a pattern of behavior that is harmful to us does not mean that we haven’t forgiven them. It does mean that we are not going to forget how we have been mistreated and continue to allow that mistreatment. Forgiveness and restored relationship are very different things. Restoration in relationship requires the fruit of repentance Matthew 3:8–a positive change in the heart and behavior that can bring about restoration of trust and restoration of relationship.

We have a memory so we can give God glory for what He has done! It reminds us that we desperately and continuously need His Fierce Forgiveness.  We should choose to extend forgiveness to others because of the forgiveness we have received, not because we are going to forget the sins that others have committed against us. Don’t let the lie that forgetting and forgiving go together prevent you from choosing to forgive.

Lisa Gould describers herself as an ordinary lady who encountered THE extraordinary God! Growing up in an abusive home Lisa had an abortion at 18. She married an abusive man at 19 and then got radically saved at the age of 25. She began to realize her identity in Christ and that He did not intend for her to live in abuse. Lisa and her children have been set free from it all! She worked her way off welfare to become a daycare provider and then a kindergarten teacher in a Christian school for 10 years. She now has been a member of

Lisa Gould

the staff of New Life Church in Maine for the past 6 years building volunteer teams and overseeing close to 300 people in those ministries. She ministers to many women one on one to speak identity in Christ to them through  encouragement, prayer and  guidance by the power of the Holy Spirit…. which is her ultimate passion! She lives in Kennebunk Maine with her husband David of nearly 18 years. They serve together in providing spiritual guidance to couples through a program called SYMBIS( saving your marriage before it starts) and assist in facilitating a drug and alcohol program within the church. They have 5 grown children between them  who live from Maine to British Columbia Canada and places in between. Lisa will never forget the Fierce Forgiveness she has experienced through Christ’s redemption and love!  She is now in the process of completing a book on her testimony and the power of Fierce Forgiveness.

Lisa served on the Conference Steering Committee for the Women of the Word Fall 2015 Conference. Her testimony of that event is: “What an amazing time in the Lord we had at our Women of the Word conference. The conference was an intentional, appointed time of God’s daughters coming together to see His hand move in their lives. As God’s vessels, each of the speakers brought a word in due season for women collectively and individually. This was not just another status quo event to attend and then go back to living life as usual. This conference has already and will continue to have a ripple effect on women as they received salvation, healing, strength, courage and have become equipped (meaning to mend the broken places) to carry out their destinies. The women who attended will be an example to others of God’s power to suddenly transform them. Those who attended will be contagious for the Kingdom as they encounter their families, friends, work colleagues and home churches. Revival is coming and we must be equipped as his daughters for such a time as this! Women of the Word is a tool God is using to accomplish this in the earth.”