Love Thy Neighbor

Love thy neighbor

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27, ESV)

You might assume that all pastors’ neighbors have heard the gospel. I should hope that you are right. However, evangelization doesn’t mean salvation.

My pastor-husband and I have lived in the same house for twelve years. In that time span we have witnessed to all of our neighbors in our court with the exception of two – one who moved in within the past year and one set who only scurry to the mailbox, their door, and their car.

For one reason or another, none of our neighbors have repented and put their faith and trust in Jesus. Each of the neighbors have their own reasons and excuses. Some attend mass and feel that the combination of going to church, being a good person, and committing no unpardonable(venial) sins is enough to get them into heaven and rescue them from hell. Others take the pragmatic position of “that’s good for you.” Finally, one adheres to a self-made form of religion that mostly resembles the modern thought of coexistence—every path leads to god.

For me this begs the question, what are we doing wrong?  

Hop over to iBelieve to read this post. (Click here)

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Priscilla and Aquila: Following Their Faithful Steps

P and A Following Their Faithful

On Friday, we learned how Priscilla and Aquila entertained Paul (and thus probably his traveling companion, Luke) and equipped Apollos in the complete knowledge of the gospel. Today we consider how they endangered their lives for the gospel and encouraged the Body of Christ, His church. Finally, we will consider what women of the 21st century can learn from the life of Priscilla.

Endangering Their Lives for the Gospel:

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. (Romans 16:3-4)

We are told that Priscilla and Aquila risked their lives for the Apostle Paul but the details surrounding the specific event are not made known to us. They considered Paul’s life as more important than their own and his ministry of greater importance for reaching the Gentiles. Moreover, they demonstrated they were committed unto Christ Jesus even unto death.

Priscilla and Aquila followed in the footsteps of Christ Jesus in true love and friendship outlined in John 15:13:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

While their offering was sincere, they would be spared along with Paul to proclaim the gospel message. Additionally, like Paul, they would later give their lives for the salvation message they proclaimed. Tradition has it that Priscilla and Aquila were martyred in Rome. (Exploring Church History, J.P. Eckman, 2002)

Encouraged the Body:

Priscilla and Aquila were transient. They moved multiple times in the Bible. From Pontus to Rome to Corinth and Ephesus then reportedly back to Rome. In city after city, Priscilla and Aquila opened their home to preaching and teaching of the Word. They viewed their home as an extension of ministry; a commodity to be used for living out and sharing the gospel. Priscilla and Aquila grasped the reality that earthly life is temporary and true citizenship is granted beyond death.

What can women learn from the life of this influential woman of the Bible? 

  • She lived a life of ministry. (Mark 10:45)
  • She was an exemplary partner in the ministry with her husband. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
  • She equipped and evangelized. Priscilla was a woman bent on fulfilling the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • She followed the teachings of Paul in that she learned and ministered in line with scriptural mandates. (2 Timothy 2:11-12)

Jesus’ earthly ministry and the teachings of his followers validated women more than any other religion in history. Priscilla’s actions fell in line with the mandates of God and we can follow her lead. We know this because Paul was accustomed to call out women within the church who were outside the mandates of God in his other writings. He does not do this with Priscilla. She is a woman who kept ministerial boundaries in accordance with the scriptural mandates.That is the type of women we need in the church today.

We should strive to become women  and couples who follow in the Christ-centered footsteps of this God-fearing, God-honoring couple.

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Priscilla and Aquila: Models in Marriage and Ministry

priscilla and aquila

Have you ever made a decision in your life which only in retrospect you could say was a turning point? A decision that was setting into motion opportunities for encounters with believers and events that would shape the person you have become?

I believe that we could all answer yes.

Step back almost two-thousand years ago and we encounter a couple whose back-story is  unknown, yet whose choices changed the nations and generations for Christ: Priscilla and Aquila. Famed partners in ministry with Paul and teachers of the well-known preacher, Apollos.

Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned six times in the New Testament. Four of these times Priscilla (Prisca) is listed first:

  • Acts 18:2, 18,26
  • Romans 16:3
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19
  • 2 Timothy 4:19

Some scholars have speculated that either Priscilla was of a higher social status (Aquila possibly a former Jewish slave) or that in some way her ministry was greater than that of Aquila’s. Either way, this continued coupling of their names indicated their unity in marriage.  Five of the six times they are mentioned in the New Testament, their names are separated by the word and alone. This is a peanut butter and jelly pair!

This couple demonstrated that beside every good man there is room for an equally good woman.

Let’s take a closer look at the life and ministry of this influential couple and the woman beside the man in a two-part blog series.

First they are remembered for entertaining Paul.

Like the Apostle Paul, Priscilla and Aquila were tent makers by trade. Most likely, Paul, who had traveled from Athens, met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth while he looked for work. It is possible that Paul heard of their ministry in Corinth prior to meeting them on his journey. (Acts 18:2-3) Paul stayed with them six months (Act 18:11). From Corinth the three set sail for Syria and stopped in Ephesus where Paul left them to minister to the people of Ephesus. Paul was known for traveling with Luke so it is probable that it was more than the three of them that journeyed together. Either way, Paul would travel 1500 miles before he would see them again (Acts 19:18-22)

Secondly, they equipped Apollos. 

Soon after Priscilla and Aquila settled in Ephesus, they visited the temple. They were blessed to hear a young man, eloquent in speech and competent in the Scriptures who preached the baptism of John. Enter Apollos. Apollos was a Jew from Alexandra (NE portion of Egypt), named after Alexander the Great who ruled during the Greek Empire between 356-323 BC.

Apollos was a convert of John’s most likely from the teaching of a disciple of John the Baptist. He continued to look for the Messiah as he preached in the synagogue. Priscilla and Aquila heard him and took him privately and explained the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-28)

Note that they equipped Apollos in a spirit of love (1 Cor. 13), accurately and with the support of the Scriptures, and they set him up for future ministry that was later equated to the level of Paul and Peter. (See 1 Corinthians 1:12)

Priscilla and Aquila both possessed an in-depth understanding of doctrine learned from Paul (and their own studies), and this husband and wife team was able to pass on their knowledge to another Christian and build him up in the faith.  Apollos’ message was not inaccurate or insincere; it was simply incomplete. That’s where this iron sharping pair stepped in.

I want to equip myself in such a way that when an Apollos walks into our lives, Ron and I are ready to further his or her understanding of the Scriptures. I hope you will join me for part two on Tuesday.

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Reliability of the Scriptures Part III

 Archaeological

What have archaeologists discovered that would lead us to believe in the historical claims of the New Testament? Thankfully, the answer to this question is, archaeology has unearthed a great deal of support for the historical accounts of the Bible. Today I will provide a springboard for further studies of the wealth of archaeological support.

  • “There are at least thirty characters in the NT who have been confirmed as historical by archaeology or non-Christian sources.” (Geisler, Norman L. and Turek, Frank, 2004)
  • The John Rylands Papyrus, discovered by Grenfeld in Egypt in 1920, provides the oldest known fragment of a New Testament Manuscript. The small scrap from John’s Gospel chapter nineteen verses thirty-one to thirty-three, and thirty-seven to thirty-eight, was one specific finding that helped to fix a date to the gospel of John. Papyrologists dated the scrap to 125 A.D., “but since it was so far south into Egypt, it successfully put an end to the then-popular attempt to late-date John’s Gospel to the second century rather than to the traditional first century date of A.D. 85–90.” (Walter C. Kaiser, 2007; Walter C. Kaiser, 2007)
  • The well-known, well-referenced Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1948 in caves at Qumran in the Judean Desert, near the northwest end of the Dead Sea. This archaeological find provided around eight-hundred manuscripts of every book (in part or the whole) of the OT except for Esther. “Prior to that, the earliest Hebrew texts dated to around A.D. 1000, but the scrolls at Qumran are generally more than one thousand years older! These Hebrew texts illustrate that a thousand years of copying had provided us with an amazingly pure text, with one of the best examples being the book of Isaiah where only three words had slight modifications. (Walter C. Kaiser, 2007)

Given the number of manuscript copies (here), the agreement between manuscripts (here), and the archaeological support of Biblical, historical characters and events, we can say with confidence that the Bible is a historically reliable text. Further, that it is the most historically reliable text of all of ancient documents.

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Prayers for Ukraine

 Prayers for Ukraine

Between my husband and I, we have traveled to Ukraine eleven times. Even now, six years since my last visit, places, sights, and smells will take me back to the beautiful countryside or the bustling brick streets in my mind within seconds.

The people of Ukraine have many lessons to teach: how to share, the enjoyment of creation, laughter, creativity, and simplicity. This was at least my experience in the more rural areas and with the children and younger generation of Christ-followers that we interacted with. On the opposite end of the spectrum were the hardened, worn faces we encountered of people who had lived under the iron curtain for longer than they had been free of it. They bore the marks of distrust and fear.

Communism leaves a mark long after its iron grip is loosened.

It pains me, as it does the souls of many, to see the powers that be straining to make the country of Ukraine once more wear the yolk of communistic slavery. As Putin seeks to take back all that the countries freed in the eighties, for I am convinced that is one of his highest aims,  he, akin to others in Ukraine’s past, will want to strip this beautiful country and her people of their language, freedoms, and identity. He wants to squelch the liberty in their lives for the end goals of his own dreams for Mother Russia.

I am no expert in foreign policy nor current affairs. I am simply a Christian-praying-thinking-woman who desires to see liberty and justice for the people and the orphans of Ukraine, Russia, and all the former Soviet countries.

Today, I ask you to join me in praying for this country that has made an everlasting impression on my life. For this region of Europe full of people who love the Lord Jesus as well as people needing to hear and receive the message of the gospel. I am asking you to make a difference in the history of the world. Will you join me? I know my God answers prayers and He is concerned with every facet of life. With God there is no split in the secular and the sacred; it is all a matter of sacred to Him.

  • Pray for the government leaders of Ukraine to act with wisdom and justice for all her people.
  • Pray for the leaders of NATO and the USA as they attend to the needs of Ukraine and the surrounding countries of the former Soviet Union. Pray that the powers that be will cut the rhetoric and act with reason and a sound mind.
  • Pray for the gospel to go forth in the land of Ukraine and for the people’s hearts to be receptive to the message of salvation and a Christian worldview.
  • Pray for the Ukrainian believers for wisdom to understand the signs of the times and to act in accordance with God’s will. Pray they will know how to respond to this face of adversity on a daily basis and for the long term.
  • Pray for daily needs to be met for the poor and the orphaned.
  • Pray that steps will be taken towards energy independence and/or other options for energy apart from Russia.

 You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

~John Bunyan

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Encouraging Our Children’s Dreams

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daddy and ee

I would love for this story to be about me, a mom who chose to encourage her child’s big dream, but it isn’t. This is a story about a little girl with a dream, and a daddy who chose to encourage her.

Each year, at Christmas, we allow the children to choose items from the Gospel for Asia’s (GFA) Christmas Catalog. They choose from gifts such as farm animals, warm blankets, gospel tracks, or even a water buffalo! Last Christmas, our daughter noticed the Jesus Well in the catalog and started asking questions. We explained to her how many people in the world don’t have access to clean water and that GFA builds wells for such people while simultaneously sharing the gospel.

She was hooked.

“I want to raise money to build a Jesus Well,” she declared. We explained that the cost for one well was one thousand dollars but encouraged her to start raising money if she was committed to the project. Please follow me over to iBelieve.com for the rest of the story. (Click here.)

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In Green Pastures

 St. Patrick's Day

I’ve grown up believing St. Patrick’s Day to be a holiday giving every adult in America (and anywhere else the world over) an excuse to drink beer and celebrate life fully donned in Irish green. I mostly dismissed the holiday with the small exception of wearing green so as not to get pinched along with the annual viewing of Darby O’Gill and the Little People. However, little did I know about the man, St. Patrick, missionary to Ireland.

In his autobiography, The Confession of St. Patrick, Patrick outlines his history and conversion to Christianity.  Enslaved in Ireland and working in green Irish pastures as a shepherd, Patrick recalled the truths of the Gospel which had been taught to him during his childhood in Great Britain. Patrick then put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ to save him from his sins. From that point forward, Patrick was a new man in Christ and would live with a new purpose:

Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favors and graces the Lord designed to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven. (The Confession of St. Patrick)

Once more, green pastures were the home of a man who would lead people to the One True God. Like the young shepherd, David, another disciple was being made to walk in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Surely goodness and mercy had followed a young man unaware of the future stretching out before him.

Six years Patrick worked as a shepherd, slave in Ireland before receiving a message from God in a vision to escape back to his homeland. Once safely reunited with family, Patrick dreamed another message from God to return to Ireland as a missionary spreading the good news of the Gospel. Patrick’s life work was revealed. He would later take the oath of a priest and return to the land of his slavery to set people free in the name of Jesus Christ.

Behold over and over again I would briefly set out the words of my confession. I
testify in truthfulness and gladness of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had
any reason, except the Gospel and his promises, ever to have returned to that nation from
which I had previously escaped with difficulty. (The Confession of St. Patrick)

This year as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, remember the missionary behind the man we know as St. Patrick and the mission which continues.

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Here By Design

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 Create…design…

These are terms that most all people would throw about when talking of crafts, woodworking, interior decorating, or art. However, insert the terms created and designed into a conversation about the earth and its beginning, and we will immediately bring a battle of worldviews into the discussion.

Your worldview is the lens through which you view life. Your worldview is your paradigm, your philosophy, pertaining to the reason we are alive, how the human race was born, and the origin of time, space, and matter. Additionally, your worldview affects all decisions that you make and the value you place upon human life.

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People operating from a Christian worldview look at all of creation as a work of God Almighty as outlined in the Genesis account. First, we view man superior to the animals because he was created in the image of God. Next that man is now fallen, a sinner, as a result of his initial disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Finally, we preach the redemption of sinful man through Jesus Christ alone by the forgiveness of sins. Our sins are forgiven through the spilled blood of God’s sinless son, Jesus, on the cross of Calvary over 2000 years ago.

Creation, Fall, Redemption, the divine narrative of the Author of Life.

Let’s take a look at the predominant counter worldview I would propose is pursuing the minds and souls of people today, that of naturalism, or an evolutionary worldview.

An evolutionary worldview holds that man evolved over millions of years from a series of natural processes under the chance of macroevolution. This suggests a large scale change in kind with the change being progressive. Catie Frates, a biblical scientific creationist teacher refers to evolution as “the ultimate frog to prince fairy tale.”

Evolutionists preach macroevolution although it cannot be tested nor proved by the scientific method. It is neither repeatable nor observable. In fact, ask any evolutionist to point to a change in kind from one species to another and they will not be able to give you even one example on the level of macroevolution. Sure, they can provide various examples of microevolution; what we could call adaptations to environmental change, but no change in kind. Moreover, they cannot determine the origins of the first proposed amino acids that would have kicked off a form of living organism on earth in the first place.

Further disheartening to evolutionists is the fossil record supports only fully formed fully functional species with no transitional fossils. They don’t have a leg to stand on… pun intended.

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Dr. Henery Morris of Institute for Creation Research puts it this way:

Since there is no real scientific evidence that evolution is occurring at present or ever occurred in the past, it is reasonable to conclude that evolution is not a fact of science, as many claim. In fact, it is not even science at all, but an arbitrary system built upon faith in universal naturalism. (Henry M. Morris, 2013)

Dr. Morris continues to explain:

The fact is that evolutionists believe in evolution because they want to. It is their desire at all costs to explain the origin of everything without a Creator. Evolutionism is thus intrinsically an atheistic religion.

Did you catch that? Evolution is a religion…not a science but a religion.

Some may prefer to call it humanism, and “new age” evolutionists place it in the context of some form of pantheism, but they all amount to the same thing. Whether atheism or humanism (or even pantheism), the purpose is to eliminate a personal God from any active role in the origin of the universe and all its components, including man. (Henry M. Morris, 2013)

It is imperative for each of us to understand that evolutionists and creationists are faced with the same scientific data. The difference lies in our interpretation of the data and the causation of the earth that we see around us today.

Evolutionists need millions and billions of years, plus a good deal of imagination, to explain merely the topography of the earth today. Creationists explain the same data as a result of a catastrophic world-wide flood as the Genesis account teaches.

Study the Word, the world around you, and the scientific evidence to date, and decide for yourself. You might be surprised to find, we are here by design.

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Trading Our Hearts of Stone

Trading Our Hearts of Stone

As is often my custom, I like to escape from mommy and house duties a few times  a month and spend time writing in a coffee shop. A couple of years ago on one such outing, I had the opportunity detailed below.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)

As I entered Panera, a couple came in behind me.  I noticed them immediately in the parking lot. The bald head, slow gait, and walker for a woman in her 30’s grabbed my eye first. Then her husband helping her and waiting on her patiently subsequently grabbed my attention.

I hurried in ahead and ordered already beginning to be disturbed by this frail woman whose diagnosis quickened one’s thoughts to the eternal.  The Holy Spirit began impressing upon my heart to go and talk to her and ask her name so that I could pray for her.  Also, He urged in my spirit that  I should share the gospel with them if they did not immediately decline my intrusion upon their lunch.  I squeamishly asked God to have them sit beside me as if I was the one having to labor to walk!  He did not do that, but instead put them within sight.  I prayed for my opportunity, ate my lunch, read some commentary, then gathered my writing supplies to travel the 5 yards over to their table.

After short introductions, I asked Nicole if I could pray that she would be healed from her cancer followed by asking her and her husband their thoughts on God and heaven.  They responded that they had just been talking about God. However, Wade said they weren’t religious at all so I proceeded to lay out the gospel.  In the course of our 15-minute conversation, Wade went from saying, “We are all god,” to saying, “What god would make only one way to him?” to, “It is my right to approach God without an intermediary let alone Jesus.”

Wow.  Wade had an obvious beef with Christianity because it proclaims that there is only one way to God and therefore heaven.

Both Nicole and Wade, much like the majority in our day, had a problem with absolute truth.  To say that Christianity is the only way is to say that one way is right and others are wrong. That was a stumbling block for both of them. I will spare you all the details of our conversation, but sadly, Nicole and Wade left saying they would pray that my eyes would be opened to the fact that Jesus isn’t the only way to God and for an open mind for me to embrace other faiths.  Undoubtedly, this was not how I had hoped it would go, but I was minimally contented in my obedience to Christ and prayerful that He would use my meager obedience to one day bring these lost sheep to Christ Jesus’ saving grace.

Don’t you wish that every lost and dying soul would appear to our spiritual eyes as a frail chemotherapy patient?  Wouldn’t that make the sense of urgency in sharing more real for us on an unavoidable level?  It would be hard to escape the emaciated bodies on TV, billboards, and restaurants across our land. Sporting events would look much different if the players were barely able to stand much less slam dunk, fast pitch, and tackle.

“Prophecy,” says the Lord in Ezekiel 37:4. In other words, preach. Tell God’s story.  How hard is that?

I was almost in tears before I even approached Nicole and Wade. I was praying and hoping that I would be able to hold it together to preach to them.  It didn’t take long for my emotions to subside once I was confronted with the hardened hearts of two very lost people. Neither this woman, nor her husband can save Nicole, yet she and her husband refuse to believe in Jehovah-Rapha.  Rather, they deny His provision and salvation.  These were dry bones indeed; very dry. Only God can breathe The Life into these two lost souls.

In Ezekiel chapter 47, Ezekiel is prophesying to wayward, exiled Jerusalem:

I will put my Spirit in you and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken! (Ezekiel 37:14, NLT)

God longs for His glory to be revealed, to be reveled in, and to be made a big deal of.  Many times in the Old Testament God says, “Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.” It is for God’s glory and His renown that He saves us spiritually, physically, and undeservedly again and again. 

Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21, NLT)

God wants the glory.  I hope God breathes His Holy Spirit upon Nicole and Wade. It will indeed take a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to give these people a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone.

I will be listening and waiting expectantly to hear the rattling of bones, and then see the bones coming together with tendons and flesh and skin.  Until that moment, I will keep prophesying and praying and asking God to sanctify and refine me, a wretched sinner turned saint.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” ( Zechariah 4:6, ESV)

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The Salt and Light of Fostering

Salt and Light of Fostering

We continue to pour into the life that God has allowed to grow and flourish within our home for the last year. We, and those in our sphere, have sought to be the salt and light of Jesus to our child.  Today we await yet another decision on reunification with his biological parents. In the waiting, I would like to pause and remember our foster care journey as documented at This Temporary Home, and invite you to join me over at iBelieve to read my confessions as a first time foster mom. Click here to read this post.

Thank you for your prayers for our Little E. and thank you to the over twenty-five new e-mail subscribers of This Temporary Home in the last weekend. Your presence is an honor and a trust. Enjoy this look back with us at our foster journey from the earliest days to the present.

  • Tomorrow’s Race (here)
  • Pour Another Cup (here)
  • Simple Addition (here)
  • Lessons for Everyday (here)
  • Moments Bathed in Thanksgiving (here)
  • Who Is Accountable? (here)
  • Lord Give Me Eyes to See (here)
  • Glimpses of Our Everyday and Thoughts on Rest (here)
  • I Must Remember This (here)
  • The Changing of Seasons (here)
  • Confessions of  A First-Time Foster Mom (here)

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