Wednesday, August 26, 2020

OT-2 Boring Parts by Design?!!


If you assembled the Bible what would you include?

This week, a post by Pastor John Piper got stuck in my head and I could not shake it. It is called, "How do I feed my soul in the hard books of the Old Testament." Writers often do a literature review. I like reading what others say about what I'm researching. The audio/article is worth checking out. If you do, you will see I am echoing a lot of what he says.

As a teen I decided to read the Bible from front to back. Genesis was pretty exciting. There were familiar stories from Sunday School. Exodus was also great about Moses raised in a palace, his wild rebellion, the burning bush, the plagues of Egypt… But then I got to Leviticus. That was so dry. Yawn. I wondered why so many details from an ancient culture were put in there?


For starters the Bible was orchestrated and inspired by God the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15-16, Hebrews 4:12-14, 2 Peter 1:21). Individuals of many different backgrounds wrote the different books with writing implements. But God was in the workings of it all. The Bible is His master creation, His Word to us. And it is for all who have ever existed or will come to be.

There are 66 books total, written over a thousand year+ time span by writers of various backgrounds. Realize it is inspired by God with one central message throughout. God who created mankind loves and wants a relationship with every person if they sincerely, earnestly seek Him. He wants to bring immense value to our life. He wants to delight in us and we in Him. In the odd, hard-to-get-through passages of the Bible, know it is the story of Almighty God desiring an amazing relationship with each of us.


Try wrapping your head around this. God was interested in a relationship with people of every culture, every nation, during every century of the Bible times. Now think of the spread of the early church. Same thing. It was not just for Israel. His desire was for every culture of every nation in every century through the first one thousand years A.D. For the second thousand years A.D. too. In fact, for every culture, every nation on the face of this earth today too. Hard to fathom, but it is true!

Let me back this up with choice Scripture. We see here an interest on God's part for people from all nations to be blessed and have a relationship with Him. Let's start with what God tells Abraham when He calls him.

 The Lord had said to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3 NLT)

From the Psalms we read…

The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. (Psalm 22:27 NLT)

Here is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus,

 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)


Check out some examples in the Bible and Early Church history demonstrating God loves and accepts people of all nations who want Him. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Old Testament

Abraham and Sarah were called to follow God from an area near modern Iraq (Genesis 12).

Rahab was a Canannite who was of a tribe God ordered purged from the land. But she declared adoration for God and she was saved from Jericho's destruction. She ended up being an ancestor of Jesus (Joshua 2:9-14, Matthew 1:5)

 The Queen of Sheba (thought to be from Ethiopia) visited King Solomon. She declared the goodness of God (2 Chronicles 9: 1-8). The early church of Ethiopia harkens their faith to the Queen of Sheba.

New Testament

The Apostle Paul went as a missionary to many places far and wide. Here is a sampling of a few countries familiar to us today. He spent time in Ephesus which is modern Turkey. He started churches in several other places in Turkey. He preached in Athens Greece (Acts 17:22) and many other places in Greece. He ministered in Rome (Italy). He died in Rome. A great longing before he died was to go preach the gospel in Spain.

Paul sent those he trained as pastors to new regions to work. The most notable is Titus, to whom he wrote the book named Titus. He sent Titus to the island of Crete to begin churches there. Later he sent Titus to  Dalmatia which is called Croatia today.

Early Church History

72 A.D. Thomas (one of the twelve, "doubting Thomas") was killed by spear in India. It is thought he brought Christianity there. By 300 A.D. there was a growing population of Christians in India, but the latter 300s has such ferocious persecution many left (many went to Syria, some to Bahrain, Dubai other places such as France).

160- c240 A.D. Tertullian, an early church father and writer, was from Carthage, which is still today a part of Tunis, Tunisia. There was a huge Biblical library of written works there. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was also from Tunisia.

150-215 A.D. Clement of Alexandria. He was Greek but he taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Egypt which was a huge theological studies center. Many other well know church fathers spoke or taught there as well, such as Origin, Jerome and many more.

347-420 A.D. Jerome. Quite widely travelled. He was from an area we call Bosnia. He spent some time in France, teaching in Trier, Germany, and also some time near Bulgaria. He died in Bethlehem. A very interesting Biblical scholar.

Gallaus Oratory
600s - St. Patrick. He was from Britain and went as a missionary to Ireland. He has an amazing life story.

In the history of Christianity in China/Mongolia, Genghis Kahn reigned from 1206-1227. A grandson who became the Khan, Möngke Khan, listened carefully to Christians and protected their rights.

Today there are Christians in or from every corner of the Globe. Many Christians in America are concerned Christianity as they’ve known it is having less and less impact in America. However, rapid, even massive, church growth has shifted to the southern hemisphere especially in Latin America and Africa.


So let us get back to the original question? If you assembled the Bible what would you include? Remember it is not just for you and your corner of the world. It is for every century there ever was or will be, for every person.

When a Bible passage doesn't thrill you, seems boring or irrelevant, remember it is put there by God for a reason. It is for someone, for a people group, for some time frame. There just may something there for you too. Ask God what insight He might have for you. I will have tips for how you can work through some of those passages in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned! But let me pass on a final story Pastor John Piper recounted. I was so tickled by it I researched this Bible translation story from Papua New Guinea for myself.


It seems a young missionary and his wife (Des and Jenny Oatridge) worked on Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea with a very small tribal group. Over the years, many from that people group were wiped out by war and displacement. They were decimated from 3,000 to 111 people when the translation work began.

When Des finished the book of Matthew he had left the first 17 verses out, which were the genealogy of Christ. He realized he needed to include it to say the book was complete. His language helper sailed through helping translate this section. He then insisted they absolutely must read it at a village meeting that night. Why the urgency, Des wondered.

As Des read the passage that night, more and more people arrived and pressed in to hear. The room got so quiet it seemed even the night insects were silent.
 He wondered if they are angry. Had he broken some taboo?

"Why have you not told us this before?" they urgently demanded.

They explained no one records the ancestry of a spirit or a make believe tale. This Jesus must be a real person!  The whole room chattered as it dawned on them that Jesus and the stories about Him in Matthew were real. They had to be true. "What the mission has taught us is real," they said.

Who knew? Who knew that one of the more boring parts of the Bible to us would be the key that would unlock the reality of the Son of God made flesh for the sake of a small isolated people group on the other side of the world.

Don't disrespect the boring parts of the Bible! They are part of God's master plan. Ask God to speak to your heart, what you need today, from God's Word.

Up Next: Old Testament: Poetry, Legalese and History Lessons

Previous Post: Jesus Loved the Old Testament

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

OT-1 Jesus Loved the Old Testament

 What do you think of the Old Testament?

This is the first post in a series on the Old Testament, laying groundwork for how we can study that part of the Bible better.

I have always loved the Old Testament. Maybe it is because of the amazing stories I learned as a child in Sunday School which forged my faith in God. I am always a bit surprised to run into Christians who say the Old Testament doesn't speak to them, it's boring reading, or they want to spend their time reading about Jesus and how to live the Christian life which is clearly spelled out in the New Testament.

I muse to myself, "Do they not realize just how much Jesus quoted the Old Testament and valued it?"


Remember Jesus was born into a Jewish family descended from King David. He was not trained as a religious leader or a rabbi as other rabbis were in those days. But His command of those writings called the Scriptures was so astute and practical, it always got people's attention.

Every little Jewish boy and girl in those days would know portions of the Word. They would sing parts of it every Sabbath, at the Passover, and other times. It was not a literary culture. Many people could not read and learned by oral tradition, that is, through storytelling, singing and chanting. If you have been watching the new video series, The Chosen, you see this illustrated in Season 1 Episode 3 "Jesus Loves  the Little Children."


We know Jesus could read. One day He took a turn at the Synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth and read out of the scroll for the next public reading (Luke 4:14-22).

That which was called "The Scriptures" with a capital S, was a collection of many books about God and His work among the Hebrew people. Jesus called them the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).  They were Moses' books in the first five books of the Bible, Historical books, poetry and wisdom literature, and the teaching of prophets.

Jesus KNEW the Old Testament. He used it to teach, to illuminate and to verify what He did. He used it against temptation from the Devil and when the Pharisees tried to make Him trip up. He considered the Old Testament as real, not a fairy tale. He spoke of the Biblical characters as people, people He knew.

Even those books and sections that some today say are fabrications He treated as real events as a matter of course (Creation of Adam and Eve Matt. 19:4-5, Jonah in the Big Fish Matt. 12:38-41, the Flood Matt. 24:38-49 as examples). He completely trusted the Old Testament. He considered it the trustworthy authority and believed it was the Word of God. An excellent article on this is at the Blue Letter Bible website.


The method of preserving these writings was meticulously crafted and taken very seriously by men of the Old Testament called Scribes. They would count the syllables of the original text and the copied text. They read each word out loud as they wrote. To learn more check out this blog by apologist, Josh McDowell. Most of the writings were in Hebrew until the period between the Testaments (Old and New) which was about 400 years,

In the intertestamental period it was translated into Greek, which is called the Septuagint (abbreviated the LXX). That version was used some in Jesus' day. It is quoted a lot more in the post-Gospels New Testament because of the widespread church that moved into predominantly Greek speaking regions. Because the Septuagint and Hebrew Old Testament writings were used regularly as a decided unit, there was clearly a consensus among spiritual leaders about which books should be considered God's Word. Jesus seemed to validate that as He referred with authority to pretty close to every book.

There are about 300 quotes in the Gospels, mostly credited to Jesus, referring to the Old Testament. You will find it marked as "The Scriptures," "The Law of Moses," "Moses and the Prophets," and at times you read "It is written," or "It is said" and it is usually another Old Testament quote.


Jesus quoted the most from the Psalms. He quoted a lot also from Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Exodus.  He quoted from every book of the Law of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy), and numerous prophets.

We see a lot of Scripture is quoted by Jesus to help teach people that the Old Testament pointed to Him and why He came to earth. There is a lot about His death and resurrection. The word "fulfilled" is used with reference to the Old Testament a lot. It definitely points to the fact that Jesus is a fulfillment of a lot of things written in the Old Testament.

I was at a conference once where an icebreaker question was - If you could be a fly on the wall for any Bible story, which would it be? Most in my group said what I did: be on the Emmaus Road after the Resurrection. One of the most beautiful stories about Jesus and the Old Testament comes at the end of Luke. Two disciples walked between Jerusalem and Emmaus discussing and processing the recent events where their friend Jesus was killed on a cross, buried and is missing. A man joins them and connects the dots from the Old Testament what it said about Jesus, His life, His death and His resurrection. They realized later it had been Jesus,


Luke 24: 22-27  “Some of the women of our group have surprised us and made us wonder. They went to the grave early this morning. 23 They did not find His body. They came back saying they had seen angels in a special dream who said that He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the grave and found it as the women had said. But they did not see Him.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish men. How slow you are to believe what the early preachers have said. 26 Did not Christ have to go through these hard things to come into His shining-greatness?” 27 Jesus kept on telling them what Moses and all the early preachers had said about Him in the Holy Writings.

Jesus used the Scriptures to teach about God's nature and how we should live. Many are found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4-6) and when He privately taught His disciples. The Sermon on the Mount has a section where Jesus talked about the incredible value of the Scriptures. By keeping it and teaching it, He says you will be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Pretty intense affirmation!

Luke 5; 17-19  “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 He also underlines that He will fulfill it.  Even down to the smallest detail, the Scriptures accomplish God's purposes. He was talking about the Old Testament Scriptures here. Do you still think it has little relevance? Think again.

Pray for an open heart and mind to receive all God has for you to learn in the Holy Word of God from Genesis to Revelation.

Up Next: Old Testament: Boring Parts by Design?

Previous Post: The Simplest Prayer: Help!


For Reflection:

1. How do you feel about the Old Testament? Have you read it very much? Why or why not?

2. Does learning how Jesus valued the Old Testament give you a new desire to try to read more?

In the next few weeks we will be learning more about how to approach Bible study in the Old Testament to build up our Christian life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Simplest Prayer: HELP


You don't need a lot of fancy words to pray.

One word, shared in one sentence. It changed my prayer life.

I have had a lot of prayer partners over the years.  In my early adult life, they were older women I hoped to glean life lessons from. Now I'm the older woman. We should always have someone we're learning from and someone learning from us.

I was feeling distressed. I had no idea what to do and it was wearing me down. My prayer partner was a pastor's widow. This dear old saint told me, "I learned a long time ago that sometimes the only thing we can pray is simply, 'Help!'"

Wow! How easy is that? I mused. I can do that.

I started praying this simple prayer when I was at my wits end. It gave such comfort. When I discovered I had aggressive breast cancer in my first year of marriage (my husband had lost his first wife to breast cancer also), I was at a loss for words to pray. No kidding. But this brought me through. "Help, Lord!" I would cry.

He did. Every day.


Let's look to the Bible for some clues as to how and when the prayer "Help" might, well… help.

My process, which you can do on your own.  As always, pray first when opening God's Word. Then to an electronic Bible search, (explained in a previous blog). I am going to the You Version app. I punch in the words "help" and "pray." I want to know which verses have both words in it. Here is what comes up, and more. In You Version you can choose sort order of relevance or traditional. Traditional usually lists them in order from Old Testament (OT)  to the New Testament (NT).

Scroll through the whole list and read them for clues about the subject of prayer. Write down some notes and insights you see there. I also went to the search for help and God for more insights. I checked out if there were any added insights in looking at the word meanings in the original language. Those are Hebrew for the OT and Greek in the NT. I usually use Bible Hub App or The observation of the words in the original language of the Bible follow true to the English definition.  That is, it depicts responding in a need, especially in a crisis.

As I did this exercise myself, there were some words that stood out. I determined I could place them in a format to help us process them and perhaps remember them. 

When you are HEARTBROKEN.

The normal human experience, even for Christians, is experiencing the tragedies and emotional upheaval of life.  We will have heartbreak, desperation and dismay at times. I love the authenticity of the Bible. The Psalmist wrote over and over to hear his cry and his pleas for mercy. God invites us to be honest with Him in our pain. This is because He wants to be "God with us," Emmanuel," in all circumstances.

Psalm 18:6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

Psalm 28:2 Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary.


You see in the verse directly above, the Psalmist lifts up his hands toward God. That is a posture of humility. We cannot figure this out on our own. We need Him. God will honor the humble heart. He will lift your spirit and give you strength.

I Peter 5: 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

When you are EGOTISTIC.

When you try to tackle life on your own and are too proud to ask God for help, you are implying that you know better than God. Or just stubborn. As a single woman for many years I learned to carry my own suitcases and boxes. But now with back troubles, my husband will offer to carry something for me. I will insist I can do it and the next day be laid out in backache and headache. He really wants to help me, and will remind me that he does not want me to be laid out in pain the next day. Alas, it has taken me a long time to learn to accept his help. It takes even more effort for me to ask for his help. Crazy isn't it? I think God looks at us struggling sometimes and thinks, that's surely going to cause them pain. Why don't they ask me to help? It is such human nature to want to try to do life ourselves. With God, it really comes down to us not trusting that He is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, all knowing, all powerful One who knows us and loves us.


We learn from God's word that God really wants to help us, but he needs a heart that wants Him to help with a humble posture. We are dealing with a Holy God. Being mean spirited and full of defiant sin was the reason verses exist in the Bible that say God would not help them. It sounds so shocking. But think about it. If another adult kept insisting they don't want your help, even if they make things worse, you would respect that. God is a God who respects us. He should command our respect, but even if we don't give it to Him, He respects us. He does not help us much uninvited. He desires a relationship.

Jeremiah 11: 14-15 Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress. What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things? They actually rejoice in doing evil!

Ps 26:2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.


This makes me think of the original Star Wars movie when Princess Leah had a hologram message sent through R2D2, to Obi-wan Kenobi. "Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."

There are times when we are humble before God. But we have run out of options, humanly speaking. It is a very vulnerable place to be. Even seasoned Christians find themselves at some point in their life surprisingly the end of themselves. There was a worship song popular a number of years ago that sang out, "Oh I… I'm desperate for you. Oh I… I'm lost without you." This is the idea. The idea that we cannot do this on our own strength.  

Romans 8:26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

You can LEAN ON HIM.

Have you ever tried to pray and you don't even know what to say because you are so hurt, so lost? This is when the "Help" prayer really comes in handy. Did you know prayer can sometimes be silent? Just start out with Help, and then trust the Holy Spirit to present in heaven what you cannot articulate on this earth and flood you with His presence. Focus on Him and your dependence on Him in your silence and let Him bring comfort to your heart.

I have learned to love this verse:

1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

You can tell your worries and cares to God. Sometimes it is good to compare different version of a verse in the Bible. What this version, the New Living Translation, does not show adequately is how to do it. At Bible, you find an easy way to compare translations. Under the verse is an option, Other Translations. When you click on that they all open.


The photo on the left shows a partial list of those that opened. Many versions say cast your cares.  Others say "throw" as in throw your worries/anxieties on Him. Imagine casting or throwing something to someone. There is intentionality to it that is even forceful. The idea of that verb, in the original Greek language, as you might now guess, is about throwing something, as if to throw it away or throw it off yourself.

So for our HELP solution, we are to intentionally throw off our cares and deposit them in God's arms, as if we are getting rid of those worries. It is a much more active verb than a passive one.  In the French translation there is a sense implied of putting all your weight on Him. That is why I say lean on Him. It is to depend on Him. To intentionally give it to God if it means giving back to Him again when you take it back. Be keeping a continual dialogue with Him, giving it again and again as needed.

When you are PROMISED.

If you look at the verse we just examined, it has a promise. He cares about you. Moving back over our verses you see in Romans 8:2 a promise. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Look at Psalm 139:18 which tells you two promises. 1. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted 2. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

As you read God's Word, such as this exercise recommended regarding the help search, you will find truths of God that are actually promises. Do not squander them or gloss them over as rhetoric.  They are His promises of what He will do for you. You can even throw those back to God in prayer. Here is an example how to pray a promise.

"God you said you are close to the brokenhearted. I am brokenhearted over this situation. Please be close to me. Let me know it, Lord."


Sometimes life seems crushing and we are brokenhearted and desperate. This is the context of Help prayers. But you will find you can go on, as you pray to Him and lean on Him. An excellent passage for this concept is:

Romans 5:3-5  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

As we learn to pray HELP for ourselves, we can also learn to pray it for others, too.

I Timothy 2:1   I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

I leave you with this verse of great comfort that unites prayer with the grace God gives just when we need it.

Hebrews 4:16  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 Up Next: Jesus Loved the Old Testament

Previous Post: Beginning with God

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Beginning with God

The Big Idea: We’re each unique. God loves each person individually and has a gift for you. Take it.


"Everybody grows up in some culture," said the professor.

It was a class on marriage and the family. Marriage is the merging of two people from two different backgrounds, she taught. Each family varies how they celebrate birthdays and holidays, resolve conflict and practice punctuality. Though a couple might grow up in the same small town, marriage is a merging of two separate life experiences, two distinct cultural systems.  

I  love getting to know people of different cultures. Even in elementary school I befriended the lone migrant worker's daughter that no one else talked to. We're all just people trying to make our way in this world. And every person's story is unique. 


God wants a one-on-one personal connection with you, no matter what background you have. Everyone's story, their journey to connect with God, is unique. God wants to connect with you! He who created the world knew you from the time you were in your mother's womb.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:15-16 (NLT)

He loves you. It is a mystery that He's crazy about each of us, all at the same time. I have a nativity collection to make an entire Bethlehem village. But when I find a new piece on ebay at a good price, I get all excited when it comes, added to my collection. I find a joy in each piece. It makes sense. I am created in the image of God who loves His collection too, His collection of people on this earth. So when I say He loves YOU, be assured. He does. He knows you by name. (Ex. 33:17, Is. 43:1)


But there is one little problem. God is love (I John 4:10). He is also eternal. He has always been and always will be. He knows everything. He is incredible and He is on our side. But He is absolutely perfect. Being His friend, while mind boggling, would be hindered because we are imperfect creatures. In fact, we have a bent toward badness.

You may say, I'm really a good person with good intentions. I'm not so bad. But here's the thing. You are not perfect. Where that matters is being a friend of God, who is perfect. It is hard for Him to even look at badness, because He is so holy.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 (NLT)

In fact, this sin problem is pretty serious. Not only do we fall short on perfection, our sin is our death sentence.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our
Lord. Romans 6: 23 (NLT)

Do you know someone who received a ticket for speeding when they did not realize what the speed

limit was? Well, our bent toward badness, whether you are aware of it or not, has a price. It is
against God's law to have us dirtied with sin in His presence. In fact the penalty is death. That's a problem when you have been expecting to spend your eternity in heaven.

You might think - well, if He's God. He's love. He should put up with my ways and accept me for me. You might even say - I know some who say they are Christians who are the most mean spirited folks I ever met. Don't let that derail you. They will need to answer to God for that themselves. Each of us are individuals and we each need our own relationship with Him, accountable to God individually.

Here is the problem put simply. How can we as imperfect, sinful creatures be viewed by God as pure?


Because of God's great love He has provided a way for us to be made right with Him. There is a description of what God does for us in the Bible that implies a special covering (the theological word for it is propitiation). It is Jesus. His sacrifice by His blood is what God sees when He looks at us. Our status becomes forgiven.

I had a one-on-one Bible study with a Japanese woman, a military spouse. Every week we discussed what it means to know God. She felt so confused. Finally, I took my fork and my napkin and said, "Imagine that you are the fork. Jesus is the napkin. When you ask Jesus for His forgiveness, He covers you just like this. You can't even see the fork now. It is still there, but the napkin is covering it. It is the same with God. You are sinful before a holy God. But when you personally ask Jesus to cover you, that is now what God sees. He sees Jesus over you, because He took that penalty for your sins."

She nodded. She understood. That may have been the day she prayed with me to connect personally with God.

Let's review the verse we just looked at, Romans 6:23.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6: 23 (NLT)


Note the alternative to death for our imperfection of sin: the free gift of eternal life. This alternative is through Christ Jesus.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 (NLT)\

There had to be a way forgive our badness to make us pure in God's sight. But Jesus, who was God in the flesh, sacrificed himself on our behalf. He took our place, dying for us, as the verse says, while we were still sinners. That is incredible.

He died, but being God, He rose from the grave through His godly power alive forever (I Corinthians 15). It was a unique moment in world history when God Himself, who became human, died for us and then rose from the grave to live forevermore. Because He was God it was the perfect sacrifice, once for all (Hebrews 10:10). He is the only way to provide forgiveness for our sins. He has become our bridge to God. We only need to invite Him to enter this relationship once. It is a secure connection. From then on He is available for friendship, for help, for peace and joy.

God doesn't want anyone to lose opporunity to engage in this personal connection. There is a beautiful Bible verse in the book of 2nd Peter. I really like the way it is put in the God's Word translation.

The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, He is patient for your sake. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act. 2 Peter 3:9 (GW)

God really wants everyone, as many as possible, to turn to Him. But there is a catch.


Let's look one more time at Romans 6:23.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our
 Lord. Romans 6: 23 (NLT)

The gift is free to us. There is no payment necessary. It is not contingent on monetary gifts to the church, doing good things, or any other way. The only thing is, you need to take the gift. Imagine finding out someone in your town gifted you with a home and an estate worth millions. You can tell all your friends about it, frame the letter and boast about being a millionaire. But if you never follow up on it with the lawyer and accountant and get the keys you will not receive your gift. It will do you no good.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)

You see that God's grace is involved. We do not deserve to be forgiven. We cannot take credit for it saying look what I did. We just need to believe it and receive it.

You need to take the gift.


This next part is simple. You just talk to God and establish this personal connection. There is an easy way to review what to do based on A-B-C.

A- Admit - that you are a sinner in need of His love and grace. Admit you are sorry for your bad ways.

B- Believe - that Jesus has paid your debt and will forgive you.

C- Commit - to be a true friend in this personal connection with God. That includes reading the Bible, talking to Him regularly and seeking to act in a way that reflects Him well.

You can pray to Him in your own words, or use this prayer.

God, I know I am not perfect. In fact, I find it too easy to sin sometimes. I am sorry, God. I believe you love me and paid for my sins with your death on the cross. Forgive me of my sins. Take them away! Cover me with Jesus' sacrifice. Teach me how to keep this new relationship with You alive, so I can learn more about You and live in a way pleasing to You.

Go ahead. Start your own story with God!


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For reflection: What kind of relationship do you have with God? Do these steps make sense to you? If not, what do you struggle with most? Tell God everything. Even if you feel confused.

Please email me and let me know if you have prayed this prayer or if you have questions.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

How I got this way

Passionate about Teaching the Bible

I'm an enthusiastic Bible teacher who loves to delve into the Bible and see it applied to life. How did this interest develop in me, a young girl from the Midwest? Here are touch points in my journey. (Lots of anachronisms)

· My youth (VBS, Bible Camps, Coffee House)

· Higher Education (University with IVCF, Internationals, Seminary, Manhattan)

· Nurse and Bible Educator in West Africa (Guinea, World Missions Consultant)

· Military Chaplain's Spouse (PWOC, OSC, travels)

· Last stop Learner and Educator in NE Ohio

My youth

I grew up in North Dakota/Minnesota. My parents loved Jesus. They wanted me and my siblings to grow to love Him too. But they did not try to force it on us. Rather they positioned us coming regularly to church, in Sunday School classes, going to Bible Camp in the summer, Youth Groups… any opportunity offered in church for children. I later learned they felt that kids need other people in their life in addition (not a substitute) to parents to answer their questions and model for them a good Christian life. It really worked well. Knowing I had done bad things even as a little child, I asked Jesus to be Savior at Vacation Bible School when I was six years old. I wanted tell people around the world about Jesus since I was nine.

In High School I got involved with a Friday Night Coffee House. We sang and ate together, but we also studied the Bible. That group, very influential in my young life, helped me develop an interest in devotional literature from historical notable Christians, such as Andrew Murray, C.S. Lewis, Amy Carmichael and the like.

Higher Education

I went to a branch of the University of Wisconsin where I was a nursing major. There I became involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. That organization introduced me to personal Bible Study, attending and leading small group Bible study and one on one mentoring. I was also involved in International Students Association and a couple other International clubs. I enjoyed my international friends so much. I had small Bible Study with a couple of Japanese students. The skills I learned there and my experiences with others prepared me for a lifetime.

I had felt a call to tell the world about Jesus even when I was in elementary school. I worked as a nurse in Manhattan, which was a great cross-cultural experience. I led Bible Studies for nurses in my apartment building through Nurses Christian Fellowship. Going to Alliance Theological Seminary near New York City was my next step to prepare for this venture. ATS gave me the Biblical studies foundation for Bible study. I had an introduction to Greek and learned to use tools for Bible study. God was at work equipping me to do what he created me to do.

Nurse and Bible Educator in West Africa

I went to West Africa as a nurse with the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. I would spend parts of the next ten years at a Bible Institute for the training of pastors and their wives. I learned French and a local language. I was assigned there as a school nurse, but I discovered I loved to teach and make the Word of God come alive. While there I taught in two areas to the freshman of future pastors... The Pentateuch, and the History of the Old Testament. This experience really honed my desire and skills to get at the timeless Biblical truths and apply it to current life. I worked with people in another culture so different from my own, explaining as an American woman the culture of the Biblical times. It was so critical to get at the most important truths God wanted to communicate and see it apply to my students' lives.

For about four years I worked as a District Missions Consultant in various Christian and Missionary Alliance districts. My role was to help churches embrace the call to the World to touch nations with the message of God's love. It was the message that all peoples would know our amazing God, who transcends culture, desires a personal connection with each human being.

Military Chaplain's Spouse

During that time I met my husband, a military chaplain, who had lost his wife. We had been at Alliance Theological Seminary at the same time, but did not know each other personally. We established a friendship of mutual interest, and the military moved him to a new location. After three years we became convinced God would have us serve Him together in the US military setting and got married.

As a military officer's wife, I became involved in Officer's Spouse's Club and in our chapel ministries, most notably Protestant Women of the Chapel. In both organizations on various occasions I led a Bible Study for those interested, often to people of quite diverse backgrounds.

Last stop

Now in retirement my husband and I find ourselves in a wonderful community in North East Ohio. We have postured ourselves as learners, teachers and mentors to those desiring to minister to others. We both teach classes and Bible studies in our church, and we both teach in adult education classes in the community on Biblical subjects.

We have both been trained by Precept Ministries as Precept upon Precept leaders and have in the past taught Precept Bible Studies. My husband, a world history and church history buff, has taught me to value how history impacts the way we live and think today. Wherever we have lived in our military assignments, we have traveled and taken in the local history of the area. While stationed in Germany we took days off for day trips to the most interesting of places, including places in Martin Luther's life, the Greek Islands, the Apostle Paul traversed so many times, and Rome where Peter and Paul were most likely killed for their faith. We recently went with a group from our church to Israel.

It all comes together now

All these experiences in my life have given me a love for studying God's Word, a desire to be true to the Biblical text, and a passion to communicate its truths well to those who want to learn. Our travels and experiences all over the world have given me a hunger to know more of the background of the Bible and its' culture. I have recently found great joy in finding Bible background Study Bibles and resources. I love hearing about how craftsman operated in Jesus' day, for that is what he was. I love learning cultural tidbits about the daily life in Jesus' day. I see so many parallels of the Middle Eastern ancient periods to my days in rural West Africa, seeing how men and women tilled the ground and fed and clothed their children.

Maybe now you understand why I get so excited about the Bible. Come along with me on this written ride. There is so much to take in! Thank you for joining me.


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Has God given you a passion for something that is honoring to Him? What might it be? How might you do something this week that uses this gift for His glory