Relatives I Didn’t Know I Had

by Rose-Marie Slosek

Awhile back I was researching my natural family tree.

Olive Tree

My relatives on my mom’s side, the Del Negro’s, come from a tiny village in the mountains of Italy called Atena Lucana. It’s amazing to me all that had to transpire for each of us to come into the world, and we are largely unaware of all those little destined moments crossing into time so we could come to be!

I guess it has surprised me to find out just how many relatives I do have, since the part of our family that I know seems relatively limited. I started to think about this, and how, even on an earthly level, this fact somehow expanded
me, made me see a bigger picture. Then, I really started to think about this concept spiritually.

No matter how large our earthly families are, most of us have felt, at least at times, alone, out of place, misunderstood, and longing to find “our people.” I think because the Body of Christ feels fragmented (from our point of view, anyway, from God’s point of view it isn’t) we feel a bit more solitary than we need to. Let’s face it, sometimes its hard to find fellowship with people who really
love and understand us, and are rooting for us!

What we fail to realize is how many relatives we have that we don’t know that we have! Paul, in Hebrews, and John, in Revelation, see things in terms of earth being a large theatre for spiritual truths to play out before those in the heavenlies. Angels watch and learn, but listen to this:

“On the contrary you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the ever-living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to countless hosts of angels, to the great festal gathering and Church of the first-born, whose names are recorded in Heaven,
and to a Judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
and to Jesus the negotiator of a new Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks in more gracious tones than that of Abel.”  (Hebrews 12:22-24 Weymouth translation)

Beloved, if we could know in our hearts just what kind of glorious family surrounds us, if we could know that “our people” are watching us and
cheering us on, if we could sense that we are not alone in our little enclaves but actively part of a universal Body, unhindered by the constraints of space and time, and undivided from God’s point of view, we would have a greatly enlarged perspective of what our life means. The sinful, self-focused part ofour experience could be diminished and the good, “I’m part of a greater Whole” part could
be increased. “Little ole me” would seem both less important but also more important.

When Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, surrounded as we are by such a vast cloud of witnesses, let us fling aside every encumbrance and the sin that so readily entangles our feet. And let us run with patient endurance the race that lies before us”, my brothers and sisters, my beloved in Jesus, you are included in the spiritual genealogy of Jesus, and of God, our sweetest Father! You have family immeasurable, and holy, royal family at that! You are not alone, not forgotten, not poor for resources! We can think ourselves poor when we are rich beyond our wildest dreams. We can think ourselves alone when we are included in a Family more numerous than the grains of sands are on the beach, fathered by the God of the Universe!

Dear hidden ones that dwell in the solitary wood (Micah 7:14) know you are well cared for. You are never alone! Perhaps I am writing to just one person out there, but I know in my spirit that I am writing to MANY of you. Sleep well in the safety of your Shepherd, know that you matter and are noticed, know that in the heavenlies, your true family cheers you on.

And so do I…..

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, where you can connect with your spiritual roots on location! 

Getting More Useful to God.

by Rose-Marie Slosek

In a society that glorifies youth, anyone over 30 can be considered a gone-by.  That is not at all a biblical way of looking at the life-process of a believer.  God has special, highly favored, uses for those over-50’s!  There is a maturity that only walking with God for decades can produce. Jesus did not enter public ministry until age 30. He had to follow the natural order of life and learning before His time to minister came. Abraham, the father of our faith, was not called until he was 70 years old!

By its very definition, the leaders of the church are called “elders”

photo by Thomas Hafeneth at

They have reached a certain age and are recognized for their wisdom,maturity and strong walk with God. Jesus tells us that people can start out well, but  that they can become like seed scattered in thorny soil–they start out well but over the long run they are choked out and overtaken by the troubles of life.  Spiritual elders (and I do not mean just church leaders), on the other hand, have a positive track record with God.

We need to remember that what we consider the end of life is but a beginning to eternal life. So we are not getting older and then passing away but we are growing more mature and entering into the place where we actually know a little bit about God.  In a sense, the oldest you could get on earth is still but a drop in the bucket of how long you will be alive (eternally!) …so please try to let that inform your perspective of aging and what it means.

Samuel Whitfield said, “One of the great mistakes we make is trying to fulfill our entire purpose in this age. When we have that perspective, unmet expectations crush us. In reality, the primary purpose of this age is to form and shape us to be a suitable companion for Jesus in the age to come.” So we are really just beginning our journey but yet we have lived long enough to know the frailties of life and of human nature. What we have to offer is a humble sense that our own strength can not carry us across the length of a life, but that we can learn to abide in and lean on God because He is ALWAYS faithful . The young rely on themselves, true “elders” rely on God.

Knowing where you end and where God begins brings a stability to you and to your environment.

Photo by Vick Mellon on

One of the characteristics of people in the earlier part of life is that trouble tosses them around more severely than it does those who have learned to walk with God through many ups and downs.  Your presence in the life of your children and grandchildren can bring a deep sense of stability to them. They see that you are still there and have weathered the storms with some wear but with grace and wisdom.  They sense that.  It brings comfort to them.  All of us want to feel that someone older and wiser is leading us.  Our Heavenly Father specializes in that!

Paul writes, “For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have become your father through the gospel.  (1 Cor 4:15). Paul recognizes that many people can teach you things about Jesus, but not that many can protect, watch over, and make you feel the safety that a Father’s love gives.  We get that sense of how to father (and mother) from having been fathered by God throughout our lives. We know that people don’t just need truth, they need to feel our compassion, they need someone to bind up the scrapes, someone to cry with and run to when the way seems lost and hopeless.  They need a strong figure that they can watch when it feels like they are drowning: one that stands head and shoulders above the storm and are themselves, watching and being Fathered by God.  They need someone whose gives them the reassurance of a loving gaze when they feel lost or incapable.  These love subtleties we simply do not have when we are younger.  Do you remember Radar O’Reilly, the company clerk from MASH? He knew exactly what was needed by some kind of “intuitive” radar.  That kind of radar takes awhile to grow in us.

So you can see how rare and how precious being a spiritual father and mother is.  This does not come in our youth–it blossoms, if it is going to blossom, in later decades.  You can be an outstanding example, a brother, a sister, but you can not be a father or mother in the faith until at least a few grey hairs show!

So start to see that the “race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,” but that the prize goes to the one who loves the most and can watch over the flock of God in such a way thatothers feel the Father’s love flowing through your bespectacled eyes, and your wrinkled hands.

As you get older, you are, or can be, getting more useful to God!

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 spreading the Gospel, 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.


Why was Resurrection “on the Third Day”? Two Answers

by Lois Tverberg

Every year during Holy Week, Christians scratch their heads over questions about Jesus’ being raised “on the third day.” We look at our calendars and see that Sunday comes only two days after Friday. Elaborate schemes have been worked out to make the timing make more sense.


One neglected cultural detail suggests a simpler answer. Throughout the Bible, Jews counted time this way:

– Today

– Tomorrow

– Third day

What they call the “third day” we would call “the day after tomorrow.” It sounds surprising, but here are a couple examples:

When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. (Leviticus 19:5-6)

The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day.” (Exodus 19:10-11)

The idea is not to count 24-hour time spans but to name successive days, including the day of an announcement, which was understood as the “first day.” If an announcement came towards the end of a day, the beginning of the “third day” could arrive not much more than 24 hours later.

Seen in this light, if Jesus died and was buried on Friday, it would be completely logical that Sunday would be seen as the “third day.”

Why was the “Third Day” so Significant?

Understanding how the Jews counted days solves one mystery for our logical, Greek-thinking brains. But another insight comes from looking at Jesus’ words about “the third day” more Hebraically.

In several places we hear Jesus talk about his death, but then how he’d be raised on “the third day.” He makes this prediction over and over. Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide thinks that he did so because of a motif that Jewish teachers had noted in their Scriptures that reminded them of a promise from Hosea:

Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him. (Hosea 6:1-2)

Hosea had rebuked the people of Israel for their sins, and they knew they were suffering from God’s punishment. But then the prophet invited them to return to the Lord, issuing a gracious promise that God’s forgiveness would soon come. Today might be a terrible day of his anger, but tomorrow would be better, and in not too long, life would seemingly begin again. This message gave them hope that even when God was angry, he desired to forgive.

When the rabbis looked back on the Scriptures in light of Hosea’s words, they noticed several places where the “third day” was when redemption came. They were not being woodenly literalistic in counting up days. They were not developing codes and prediction schemes. They were saying that scripturally, God’s forgiveness and redemption comes on “the third day,” poetically speaking.

Lapide writes that in Jewish thought,

“On the third day” has nothing to do with the date or the counting of time but contains for ears which are educated biblically a clear reference to God’s mercy and grace which is revealed after two days of affliction and death by way of redemption.

It made perfect sense to Jesus’ first Jewish followers that Christ would be raised to life “on the third day.”



* Genesis Rabbah 56. Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis, Fortress: 1982), 91-93.

For more about this motif of “the third day,” see p 214-216 in Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (Tverberg, Baker, 2018).  It is part of a larger section called “Reading about the Messiah” (p 178-250) which discusses the distinctively Jewish, Hebraic way of reading the Bible that Jesus used to communicate his Messianic identity. Some of his boldest claims float right past us because we don’t know how he read his Scriptures, our Old Testament.

(Images: Raw Pixel, Dion Tavenier)

Original blog posted at Re-posted here with permission.

Lois Tverberg

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

Lois will be the speaker at “Through the Eyes of Jesus”, a Bible study seminar for men and women in Janesville, Wisconsin April 13 & 14, 2018. Registrations close April 6, 2018.

Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.

Women of the Word is an inter-denominational, inter-generational, and inter-cultural ministry dedicated to transforming lives into the image of Jesus through growing disciples taught by God’s Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We honor our elders, learning from them as they mentor us. We value and strengthen the middle-aged. We seek to reach the millennials and younger generations to encourage and mentor them in the ways of the Lord. Our prayer is that we honor God together. We welcome men to join us at Bible seminars such as “Through the Eyes of Jesus” and on our Amazing Israel Adventure trips. 

A Prodigal Son’s Redemption

by David Fontanez

There is so much truth to the statement, “I wish I knew then, what I know now.” We all learn things at different speeds, but we often think back to our younger days and wonder how much further in life we could have come or how much trouble we could have avoided. Some of us learn easily, but people, like me, tend to learn the hard way. To be completely honest, learning the “hard way” often involves one of those moments of realizing “my parents were right” or “I should have listened to my parents.”

I was raised as a Christian boy. I was taught about the love of God and His will for my life. For a long time, I was actively involved in the church and served in different ministries.  But like many teenage boys, I allowed myself to be influenced by the things of the world, and I fell away from God. At age 15 I became rebellious. Often times I was disrespectful, mostly to my mother, who made every effort to guide me back to the path for which she knew I was destined. But I felt I was too far lost.

As time passed, I went on ignoring the call of God on my life. I was focused on material things: fancy cars and late nights partying and hanging out with the wrong crowds. I remembered who God was and still believed in Him, but whenever I got myself into trouble, I blamed Him for my circumstances. I expected Him to fix all my problems when I was the one who had turned my back on Him. I hurt a lot of good people including my parents. I did a lot of things of which I am not proud. I was living in sin and found myself in bad relationships over and over again. I experimented with drugs. I became a father before I was ready, and my relationships always failed.

Then one day, the worst thing happened. I was arrested and taken to jail. I was completely broken in that moment. In my cell the negative thoughts consumed me. I had lost my job, my home, I couldn’t see my kids, but most of all I felt completely lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I even contemplated suicide as I sat there drowning in tears of regret and shame, wishing I had taken my mom’s advice and changed my ways.

God has a way of using our most broken circumstances to bring us to a defining moment. During my jail experience, I was reminded of who I was meant to be in Christ. I was reminded that I had two little girls who needed me. God even sent a good friend of my mother’s (Denise Ridley) to visit me in jail with a message: “I see you, I love you and I have plans for you.” It was written on the bottom of the paper she handed me that had several verses on it about God’s love.

From that moment I knew what I had to do. It was a long road back home. It was a difficult process of fixing years of mistakes and seeking deliverance from bondages and chains that I had gathered on the road of rebellion. But I had a lot of help and support from my amazing mother (Heidy Fontanez) and my pastors (Revs. Eliezer and Cindy Garcia) who welcomed me with open arms and guided me back to where I needed to be – closer to God than ever before.

Today I am happily married to a wonderful woman of God. We serve together in different ministries at a humble and growing church in Springfield called CCRN Massachusetts (Christian Community Restoration for the Nations). I have four beautiful daughters who light up my life and shower me with love. I have a great job that I enjoy, and God is in the center of everything we do. I’m genuinely happy and tremendously blessed. I owe it all to my Good Father in heaven who, despite my flaws, my imperfections, disloyalty, sin and shame welcomed me back to His Kingdom as if I had never left. Thank you, Jesus, my Savior and my Redeemer! Thank you to my mom for never giving up on me. Thank you to my pastors for investing their time and pouring their wisdom and knowledge into my life. “I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.” (Luke 15:24) It’s amazing what God can do when He comes into a young man’s life and says, “I’m not done with you yet.”

If you are a prodigal or struggling in your walk, do not give up hope. Trust in the Lord, trust in His plan, and may His will be done in His perfect timing in your life. I leave you with this verse: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

David Fontanez lives in Springfield and is married. He and his wife have four beautiful daughters. They are both members of the church they attend and are involved in ministry.  As a young boy David was involved in Junior Bible Quiz, which is a ministry of memorizing scripture for students. Those verses would rise up within him from time to time to remind him of God’s love. A verse that helped him through his  journey was out of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding, in all you ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.” David loves working on cars and spending time with his family.

David’s mother Heidy Fontanez assists in administering a closed Facebook group for Moms of Adult Prodigals, a ministry of Women of the Word. To learn more about H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals click here.