Stepping It Up a Notch at 60

by Rose-Marie Slosek

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:12-14)

While we are eternal beings in an ultimately real sense, we are also mortals while on this earth. The Psalmist tells us to “number our days” that we might gain a sense of how short they are, and how imperative it is that our earthly sojourn should count much for the eternal kingdom of God.

A couple of us at Women of the Word are turning 60 this year! With that comes a soberness of heart that causes us to turn to the Lord, and implore Him to use us as He wills. There can be nothing held back from Him in this hour. As our bodies age, our spirit can burn every more brightly because we identify with our Lord and understand His purposes and ways in an even greater way. The desire and pursuits of earlier decades give way to wholehearted and unreserved abandon to our God and His passionate work to win all peoples to Himself.

There are some things that can not be done when we are young because we do not yet have the experience. Maturity in God happens over the course of decades– line upon line of faithful walking with God, day in and day out, through the many storms of life.  While youth has energy, the seasoned know that of themselves, they can do nothing and their self-trust has given way to trust in God alone, or at least the beginning of that. There are no shortcuts to some things. Knowing where you end, and where God begins is a great wisdom.

Paul writes, “Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character produces joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for us in our ungodly condition (Romans 5:3-6 Amplified).

By the time one turns 60, our character is soberingly starting to show itself for what it is. Now is our wake-up call to be awake, and surrendered, and fit for the Master’s use. For if not now, when? If we have not taken the claims of Jesus upon our life seriously, we had best get down on our knees. And if we have, there are always deeper, more wonderful depths to plumb. I feel that I am only getting to the starting line and I have endeavored to run the race with sobriety for these many decades.

God views our life from the finish point. He stands at our finish line and beckons us to run well, run with abandon, run with character, run with grace.  So let us do that, with all our mind, soul and strength. There is no time to lose, and no time like the present to press into God.

Re-posted here with permission. Original blog posted here.

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.

Golden Nuggets

by Yvonne Beals

There are golden nuggets to be discovered in the Word of God most usually when you least expect it. Ever have that happen to you where a line, a phrase, a verse, or a whole passage seems to be alive and jumps off the page to grab your attention? 

In moments where I might be tired from endless tasks, or busy schedules, or weary from battle I like a light read. Something that can get my attention without the use of commentaries and study guides. In these times I will most often pick up one of two of my to go to editions of the Bible. The MESSAGE and WYCLIFFE NT BIBLE. In these pages I can find all the intrigue of love and romance, mysteries, murder, revenge, who done it, and hope at the end of the day for those who follow God’s precepts. There are times when one segment or even one verse will jump off the page and catch my attention, I call these “golden nuggets” for in them there is life, usually the answer to some quandary I have been facing, assurance that all will be well, and encouragement that the Lord is near. My purse may not be filled with riches, but the riches of my heart are above monetary measure with golden nuggets tucked deep inside panned out from the Word. Here I find fellowship sweet with my Best Friend and my soul is refreshed.

Springs of Living Water
“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.” Psalms 23:1-3
Psalm 23:1-3 reminds me that the Good Shepherd is looking out for me. These precious times of light read also remind me of His closeness, and that He is actively working even when I feel like slouching. He has my best interest at heart. Reading the Word for pleasure is like catching your breath, while drinking in fresh water by quiet pools. What refreshment is to be found when reading the Book of books with all the intrigue of a romance novel, history, murder and suspense!
 
Wise Counsel

While it was still dark outside, in the early morning hours I had been semi-awake and the answer to a quandary seemed to have come from within me but the source was far greater than my own thoughts. I knew the direction I needed to take in my life’s situation. As I sat with my morning tea I picked up the Word to read my morning devotion and I found myself the recipient of one of those “golden nuggets”. Psalms 16:7 seemed to come alive for me – don’t you just love it when this happens! In the night watches when the earth is quiet and still, He reminds us of His Word and whispers quiet guidance. “The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart.” This verse was reminding me that even while sleeping He gives wise counsel.

 
Drawing Near

“Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Because God is all around us in all times and in all places even when we are tired He is actively participating in our lives. It’s up to us to draw near to Him. Even the most mature believer can find times when the well is dry, when life has been taxing and their personal time alone with the Lord has drawn stale. That is the time to push in, I find replacing “study” time with “pleasure” reading a refreshing time of regrouping and as I was once read wine tasters will eat a slice of cucumber to cleanse the palate in order for them to be able to distinguish the next taste of another wine, so the Word of God refreshes a tired soul, quieting the mind, and giving stability in uncertain times. The Word of God motivates, it uplifts, it keeps the soul rich, that carries easily in our thought through the day and night. Our times of pleasure reading gives opportunity for life to be revived. We have a rich inheritance and it comes from Christ Jesus. What better way to learn from Him then in reading His word for pleasure. “Day and night, I’ll stick with God; I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.” (Psalms 16:8)

 
Get Inspired

Let’s get inspired together, regardless of how busy our day/life may be, lets find time to read the Word for pleasure as well as for study. Take it along at lunch time, coffee break, read it, enjoy it, for in it we will find a wellspring from which to draw throughout our busy days.

Re-posted by permission. Original post here. Images courtesy of unsplash.com.

Yvonne Beals

 Yvonne Beals holds a Bachelors in Theology, is a Master Certified Life Coach, holds diplomas in Christian Education and Biblical Counseling. Her life motto is,“Allowing the petals of your life to unfold in His love” as she partners with women in their journey of learning to be over-comers and reaching for their potential in Christ Jesus. Her passion includes her family, quiet walks by oceans edge and leading others to faith in Christ. She is a speaker and long-time monthly partner of Women of the Word.

When it Hurts like Hell and the World is Crashing Down

by Jackie Riopelle

“Praise Him in the storm.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times and it’s something that I’ve said and prayed myself, but it’s not as simple as some make it sound.

I know how hard it is to pray when your heart is aching with pain and your mind is numb. I’ve felt the struggle of trying to worship when everything in you just wants to hide and grieve.

There’s a war that goes on inside because I know who my God is. I know that He is good in all things. I know that He doesn’t abandon me. I know that I can cry out to Him. I know that He is in control. One of the biggest flaws of humanity though is how easily we forget, and I am no exception.

When a baby that was loved and wanted and needed so badly lies dead in his mother’s arms, I forget that God is good. When the man who helped cement my faith jumps off a bridge, I forget that God never abandons us. When the future of people I love is uncertain, I forget that God is in control. When I feel alone and unworthy and broken, I forget that He still wants me to cry out to Him.

I have seen the love and the grace and the mercy of God in ways that are beyond comprehension. I have seen His hand of protection. I’ve heard His voice. I’ve seen His healing. I’ve felt His love. And yet…still I forget.

The fact is, we will always forget. There will always be that war in our hearts and our minds. There will always be that temptation to fall into grief and pain. The enemy will always try to convince us that we are still in bondage. The biggest lie he will try to tell us is that we don’t have a choice about staying there. It’s not true.

When the world is crashing down around me, I can choose to remember that the ground I stand on is solid. When it hurts so much that it feels like my heart is being torn from my chest, I can choose to stand and worship…not in a pretense of being strong and alright…but in brokenness. When I feel alone I can choose to cry out to the God who promised He would never leave me. When doubts fill my mind, I can choose to trust. When things happen and my questions go unanswered, I can choose to remember that His logic is not my logic, and His ways are not my ways, but His ways are good… Even when I don’t understand.

Last month a couple who were strangers to us took us in, they loved and encouraged and poured into us despite their busy schedules. Despite the fact that the wife was eight months pregnant they went out of their way to serve us. Never have I met two people who carry the love and light of Christ as purely as they do. They were so in love with Jesus, with each other, and with their coming baby, Christopher. They were so happy. That was last month.

Last week, Christopher died unexpectedly.

And his parents broke.

How could they not? Their baby is dead. He was so loved and so cherished and so wanted. It’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense. How could a good God allow this to happen? His mom is not ok. She’s not. Her heart is breaking into a hundred thousand pieces and her husband grieves with her. Right now they’re in the worst storm of their life. How can you praise God through something like that?

It’s not even my baby, but when I heard about his death I sure didn’t want to worship. I didn’t want to praise God. I wanted to rage, I wanted to scream out at the heavens, I wanted to demand back the life that He took to Him. I wanted answers. How could anyone believe in God’s goodness at a time like this? How could anyone praise Him in that moment? The enemy screamed into my mind that it was impossible and in my flawed humanity, I forgot that it was a lie.

A few days ago the baby’s mom posted on Facebook. This is a small piece of what she said, “We may not always understand why, but in our hearts is the certainty that God’s will is perfect.”

And I remembered…….That’s how you praise God in the storm.

You break and you cry and you grieve and then you hold onto Him and to His promises with everything you have. You choose to remember that He never stops holding onto you. You don’t have to be ok to worship. You don’t have to have it all together to pray. You just have to be willing to come to God in your brokenness. Even when it hurts like hell, we can choose to praise Him.

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 $4,100 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.

Aging from a Biblical Perspective

by Lois Tverberg

To understand your Bible you need to grasp the assumptions of its cultural world. Sometimes glimpsing its alternative point of view can even put our own reality into perspective.

For instance, in the Ancient Near East, advanced age was not seen as something to be avoided. Aging was seen a source of honor and dignity. Job saw a long life as a source of knowledge: “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12)

We, on the other hand, live in a society that idolizes youth, where our heroes are Mark Zuckerberg and Justin Beiber. We can hardly imagine living in a society where growing older is actually seen as a good thing.

Our perspective is not universal, though. Even today, it’s an insult in the Middle East to estimate a person’s age as too young. Hasidic Jews line the cribs of their newborns with pictures of white-bearded rabbis, who are the “rock stars” of their world.

 

The Dynamic Heroes of The Prince of Egypt

Do you remember The Prince of Egypt? In Disney’s animated retelling of the Exodus story, Moses, Miriam and Aaron all look about 23 years old. But have you ever considered the fact that the real Moses was actually eighty, which meant that Miriam would have been in her mid-nineties, and Aaron even older? These three dynamic “leaders of the revolution” were all senior citizens, old-timers who’d be long out to pasture in our world.

Believe it or not, even more of the players in the “original” Prince of Egypt were distinguished by their age. When Moses went to the leaders of Israel with God’s plan, the ones he approached were the zakanim—the elders, or literally, the “beards.” Disney doesn’t seem to realize that every one of the key roles in the Exodus story was significantly aged.

Where Elders were Leaders

Throughout the Bible, communities were led by elders, zakanim. The early church continued the tradition of forming counsels from elders, presbyteroi. In the ancient world, advanced age was seen as a prerequisite for leadership, because of the wisdom that accrues from experience. This was even more important in oral cultures, where traditions were handed down from generation to generation.

Youth was actually seen as a disadvantage, if you wanted to be influential. Jeremiah protested when God first called to be a prophet, because he felt so young that no one would listen to him (Jeremiah 1:6). Likewise, Paul had to encourage his disciple Timothy by saying, “Let no one despise you for your youth.” (1 Timothy 4:12) To have no one in one’s family who lived to an advanced age was a curse. (1 Samuel 2:32)

What would it be like if Christians reconsidered our culture’s worldview and saw aging as a blessing, rather than as a burden? What if middle-aged pastors didn’t feel saddled by the expectation that they act like teenagers?  What if older folks were the most influential, sought-after people in a congregation, rather than being treated as a declining, needy group?

I’ll be celebrating my next birthday in a few weeks. With every year, I like the Bible’s positive view of aging more and more.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31

Original blog posted at ourrabbijesus.com. Reposted 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. Early Bird deadline is March 19, 2018. Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.

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. 

Ask Away

by Rachel Hansen

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Timeout here. Talk to God? Yes.)

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

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

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

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

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

“I can handle your questions. Ask me.”

Can you imagine hearing these words? Have you?

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

unsplash.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original blog at pressingintogod.com. Reposted here with permission.

Rachel Hansen

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

Notebooks image credit unsplash.com

 

Peace in the Storm

by Heidy Fontanez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heidy Fontanez

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

 

God Will Bring You Through

by Barbara Benton 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original blog at BarbaraBenton.org. Reposted here with permission. 

Barbara Benton

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

A Message to Millennials from a Millennial

by Christine Disibio

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

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

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

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

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

The path to His love:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christine Disibio

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

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

A Call to Prayer for a Generation

by Christine Disibio

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a song on Christian radio by Tauren Wells:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christine Disibio

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

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

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

by Betsy Roy

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

Vigil in Parkland, FL photo by Brian Anderson/AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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