A Time of Conception

by Briskilla Zananiri

December is usually a month in which we ‘pause’ our regular routines, adapting instead to festive celebrations with friends, family, and even some strangers. The common expectations of this month are many depending upon the culture to which we belong. December brings with it decorating trees, lighting Chanukah candles, buying gifts, baking, choosing a restaurant for a memorable, reformatting meetings to include “good cheer” to all, thinking of next year coming, and helping a friend in a time of crisis.  The Christmas “To Do List”  fills up fast.

In December we remember Christ’s birth, which carries with it a “warmth,” as many remember the One who came to restore humanity and all of creation. Our thankfulness not only takes us into a personal quiet space, but also into a more grand joyous space of opening our arms to all those around us. He was born for all humankind!!

FOR A MOMENT LET’S GO BACK ABOUT 2000 YEARS TO ISRAEL.

The East was filled with political and religious tensions. Injustice was vibrating through the streets touching the earth with its venom, through tyranny and death. Demanded by Rome, taxes were of illegal measure, being paid for by the labor of children and adults alike. Those who revolted were hung on trees lining the highways of the promised land. In addition, the “church” of the day implemented laws which proudly drew the people to the leader and not to God. Yet among it all, God had a remnant who earnestly waited for the Messiah’s coming. In the midst of darkness, God’s plan was at work. To see through His lens brought hope to all who would dare take a glance. Remember Anna, Simeon, and Nathanial? Yes, there were more.

Let’s go back farther, all the way to the Garden of Eden.

The incredible thought I would like to remind us of today is of His eternal plan, which involved women. God chose women who would embrace the path birthed in the heart of the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Within the garden He chose a woman taken from the man, formed in such splendor as to emulate the Spirit of the Living God. She was to partner with God and man; and in so doing, both man and woman would walk together in full authority. Both were formed in His image. Both were a multiplication of God’s likeness. Both were equal and both so unique.

Without the beauty of His daughters, there would not have been human life reproduced on the earth. Adam and Eve were chosen to begin the generations…to “Be fruitful and multiply.” She who came from man was given stewardship over the safest place on the earth—her womb. For within her womb the woman would carry the creation process of humankind.

2,000 years ago through Mary, God was about to reproduce again….
www.artbycorby.etsy.com

……to multiply His Life. Yes, through the womb of woman, God’s heart (His life) would be seen and heard on the earth. Mary’s womb was the safe place for the conceived seed to bring God’s plan to full gestation.

From the Bible, we know that Elizabeth and Mary were cousins. When Mary visited Elizabeth in the Judean hills, she was in her first trimester and Elizabeth was already in her sixth month. December may have been the time of conception for Mary, when her overshadowing by the Spirit occurred.  September/October would then have been the time of Christ’s birth, near the Feast of Tabernacles, for it is at the time of His birth God was revealed to man in His earthly tabernacle – His flesh suit. This would place Mary and Elizabeth’s visit somewhere between December and February.

Let’s return to the thought of the darkness of the day in which Mary and Elizabeth lived. Christmas trees were not lining the streets at this time, but instead crucifixes. Stars were not hanging from synagogue roofs, but instead despondency and questions were hung on every heart. The aroma of fresh baked cookies was not wafting through neighborhood homes; instead, food was scarce on dinner tables.

Even with all this darkness in the nation, God was still at work. Can you imagine the moments after the angel came to Mary? The mental gentle whiplash or better said “awakening” Mary went through? Did hope fill the air? What followed as she processed? Mary’s mind went through an intense transition as she realized prophesies of old were coming to pass THROUGH HER. She had to adapt to truth in order for her to press through the threshold of “what was” to “what is.” His words changed everything. She was caught in the “dimension of the in-between” for just a moment.

Remaining in the old paradigm would have disqualified her.

Doubt, fear, embitterment because of the current political and religious environment would have shut her out of partnering with God.

She heard,

she perceived truth,

she believed,

she yielded,

she accepted change,

she adapted,

she acted,

she decreed,

she became.

I’m not so sure she knew she was creating a formula for reformation, but it is one which I’d like to present as an important rhythm to consider, as we also move into a season of birthing within the New Day. Yes, we have reached the gates of the Last Day Bride.

Mary and Elizabeth became mothers in impossible situations: One to the Announcer of the Messiah; the other, to Messiah – Eternal King.

We know that Elizabeth carried within her Christ’s earthly cousin. He exemplified for us the paradigm shift of what an evangelist, prophet, and priest would be. He would be the first among men, one filled with awe, love, and servitude for the Bridegroom of nations. He would be one who groaned for the conversion of the tribes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and would announce the coming of ‘The Way’ for Israel and for the nations. Through John the Baptizer’s life message from the desert floors to the roads of civilization, he would trumpet the invitation for all nations to come and be transformed by the King.

Can you see Jesus and John in Israel together? Priest and King alive in the East together, exemplifying these heavenly identities of holiness?  Known to God and Father, the evangelist announced the coming of the One who would baptize with fire.

Can you imagine Elizabeth’s and Mary’s daily activities and responsibilities as mothers of these two?

Such courage and strength was found within them. They were women of authority because they believed, crossing through the time machine from waiting to becoming.

What does this mean for us? We are in the month of conception. If you haven’t already done so, take time alone with God. He desires to infuse us with His Living Word.  Our “tents” are being stretched and our “boundaries” are being enlarged. He’s got this, we just need to yield, act, and become.

Let us remember that earth’s perspective, the news and all that is going on around us, does not influence God, and is not the lens from which we live. His Book, filled with the Word and blueprints for individuals and nations, is living and breathing with delight and love. The vibrations of this living invitation are available to anyone who has said “Yes,” yielding to His Divinity and to His ways. Let’s say “Yes,” allowing the SEED of His Word to find a resting place within our womb, in sync for the fullness of time. “Be it unto us according to His Word.”

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to all. Happy Conception time!

Briskilla Zananiri is a daughter of God, a lover of the Word and of His nations. She has been married to Emil for 29 years, and they are blessed with three children (Tori-Joy, Jonathan-Blake, and Malakey-Wells). Together they have many more Kingdom children and friends around the world. More at visualeast.org.

Diana’s Story of Redemption

by Andrea Parker   photos by Julie Ganey   re-posted with permission

Diana’s smile is amazing. I met Diana in August. But, it took until quite recently for me to see that smile. Before I share Diana’s story, I want to briefly introduce some background on story-telling…

In the past few years here at Tenwek (hospital in Kenya) , I have learned the difficulty in sharing someone’s story, especially with attention to the different contexts from which we come. But, we pray that the words and pictures convey the “beauty from ashes” that is this story.

Injuries are a huge part of what we see as doctors at Tenwek. In addition to accidental injuries, many injuries are intentionally-inflicted, perhaps due to land disputes or livestock ownership issues or in situations of domestic violence.

Diana was admitted in August with severe head injuries, deep cuts through the skin and bone such that the brain was visible, as well as multiple other deep cuts and injuries to her back and arms and amputation of two of her fingers. These were violent injuries, clearly meant to do serious damage or cause death. Diana was brought in several hours after her injuries, and immediately taken to the operating room, where…

her wounds were washed out and repaired. Her physical wounds, that is…

Over the next several days, we began to see that as severe as Diana’s physical wounds were, equal in severity were the non-physical wounds. And those wounds cannot be sewn together and repaired in a few hours of time in an operating room. Diana struggled to eat. She was tearful. She would not make eye contact. She rarely spoke and relied on her sister to answer questions; I did not even realize she spoke English.

We began to hear parts of Diana’s story – she had been injured by a man, not her husband as she is not married. It was not the first time; she had old scars. She was scared. Over several days to weeks, we prayed for her on our team rounds, and we spent time with her later in the afternoons. We felt a deep desire for her to know her worth, both to us and to a God who loves her with an incomprehensibly immense love. We wanted her to know that she was deeply cherished. Our chaplains and a social worker came and met with her, and over the course of those few weeks…

she came to know the radical love of Jesus who cares so profoundly about each of us.

As we began to make plans for her discharge from the hospital, we had questions:

  • Was it safe for her to return home?
  • Did she have a community to support her?
  • How could she better understand who Jesus is and how God can work in her life?

Throughout our few years here, Bob and I have seen numerous examples where the ideal person is available at a time when their particular, unique skill or expertise is needed. For instance, a patient with a complex vascular problem is here the one week of the year that we have a vascular surgeon available. In these times, we have become deeply grateful for and found a new appreciation in the way that God uses the Body of Christ – our various gifts, desires, enjoyments, strengths – for His glory. We have become keenly aware of our own small part in this picture. While most often I’ve seen this happen through medical providers, in this situation…

God used Tabitha Ministry and some other missionary and Kenyan friends.

Tabitha Ministry  is a ministry to Kenyan women in the area surrounding Tenwek Hospital. It started out of a home Bible study but has grown to a network of thousands of women learning the Bible and caring for one another. It was started by a missionary friend, Linda, and a Kenyan woman, Peris Rotich. As Diana was in the hospital, I reached out to Linda, Peris, and another friend who works with Tabitha Ministry, Julie, in hopes that they could meet with Diana so that perhaps she could be connected to a group of women from Tabitha, near her home, who might be able to provide continued support and encouragement.

God used the Tabitha leaders in beautiful and wonderful ways to minister to Diana, and I began to hear more of Diana’s story through them.

Diana is one of eight daughters and no sons. Had she been born into a family with sons, likely her life would have been much different. If she had a brother, as her parents aged, they would have been cared for by a son and daughter-in-law. Instead, Diana was chosen to stay with her parents and care for them, both as a financial provider and for their daily needs.

Diana is a teacher, and her home is on the same plot of land as her mother and father’s. Diana is not allowed to marry. As an unmarried woman, Diana is vulnerable, lacking the protection a husband would afford her. And there are men in her community who take advantage of her vulnerability. She has three children with two fathers. A particular man in her community, the father of two of her children, periodically comes to her house to spend the night, and at least once prior to this story, he has abused her violently enough to leave scars.

One morning, as he prepared to leave the house, he suddenly turned violent, taking a machete and attacking her, even as she tried to run away. Leaving the house, she screamed for the neighbors before she collapsed, and he escaped. The neighbors came, and when they saw the severity of her injuries, they assumed she was dead; she scared them when she asked them to take her to the hospital.

The first hospital they took her to saw how bad her injuries were and wouldn’t even allow her into the hospital, sending her instead on to Tenwek with a blanket to soak up some of the blood. Tenwek is an hour and a half of very bumpy dirt roads from her house. Diana said she didn’t even feel the trauma of the ride as she was unconscious.

As the women from Tabitha Ministry talked to Diana, they were able to share personal experiences and situations and encourage her in her newfound faith.

They spent hours over several days with her acknowledging her trauma, allowing her to talk and process the situation, and hearing her fears. They prayed, shared scripture, and sang songs with Diana before her discharge. And they arranged for Diana to have women visit her at her home through a Tabitha group nearer to her. I am so very grateful for the time these women spent pouring into the life of another woman.

A little over a week ago, Julie, Peris, and I had the opportunity, along with several women from Tabitha Ministry who joined us at various points on the journey, to visit Diana in her home. We met her parents and children and had a beautiful time of hearing Diana’s story.

She related that in that moment as she was escaping, as she was fearing for her life, she just cried out to God, that he would forgive her and forgive this man. Hearing her say that reminded me of Christ on the cross. She said she had heard about Jesus all her life but had never known him until she was in the hospital.

Diana and her family told us of the many ways in which God intervened on her behalf that day and the way He has changed her life since.

Her family was supposed to be away, yet their plans had changed, and they were around. In this very remote area, a car just happened to be passing by the neighbor’s house, and the driver offered to drive her to the hospital for no charge. When they arrived at Tenwek, Diana’s mother was told that she would need a blood transfusion and also given an estimate of the cost of the hospitalization and surgery. She was overwhelmed wondering where she would find family to donate blood and money to pay.

She happened to run into another relative who was at the hospital for an unrelated reason, and that relative organized family members to donate blood and contribute to the cost of her care. She talked about God’s work in her life including the way that He has miraculously taken away her fear, her nightmares, her anger and her bitterness and her shame. We shared chai (Kenyan tea) and songs and prayer and hugs.Diana is in the middle with the blue head scarf. Her 4 year old is in the front center. The rest are Tabitha Ministry* bible study leaders, friends, neighbors and relatives.

I will not pretend to understand why these things happen or why sometimes evil seems to prevail in this world or give easy answers.

Nor do I want to naively overlook or simplify the trauma that she or others have experienced. But, I do know that God’s work in Diana’s life is obvious. Her smile is not one of naivete or ignorance or denial. Her smile is that of someone who knows the love of God in a real way. 

 

 

Women of the Word  helps to support the work of  *Tabitha Ministry through offerings and prayer. We heard about this ministry through personal connection with Dr. Mike and Julie Ganey.  Mike is a pediatric surgeon and Julie is a nurse. They have 2 children, Eden and Caleb and have ministered in Kenya for several years at Tenwek Hospital and in the community.

It Will Be Worth It All

by Bethany Wuerffel

The silent tears fall on my cheeks. My heart is broken. My throat choked with emotion.

Bethany Wuerffel

Her absence leaves a void so wide and so deep, no part of life is unaffected, all the pain is connected.

Cancer took her too soon. Her work can’t be done. But she’s passed on the baton. There are souls to be won.

So we press on in the battle, our sight often blurred. Life is hard, there are so many fears! God is still good though, and for Him we’ll keep on. Doing His work, singing His song.

Sharing His smile, arrayed in His love, touching each life for His kingdom above. Serving, praying, her legacy portraying. Our day’s not yet done, nor our work for the Son.

We each have a calling, our life’s work to do.
But take heart! One day that work will be completed, the enemy finally defeated!!

And when that day comes the reunion will be glorious. Together we’ll worship our Savior victorious. Our crowns cast before Him, our hearts glad and free, His love washing over us as deep as the sea.

I can’t wait to see you again in heaven Mom. ❤️

Bethany’s mom, Sonja, with her husband Mark and their grandchildren.

Read Bethany’s blog “Roadblocks” here. She 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 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.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.