Never Unnoticed

“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” Luke 8:1-3

I always think it’s fun to wonder about the people Jesus spoke with, ate with, walked with and laughed with. And of course, the first people who come to mind are His twelve disciples. After that, you might think of Lazarus, Mary and Martha-maybe even Mary Magdalene. I think Nicodemus, the pharisee who believed, spent extra time with Jesus. But have you ever heard of Joanna?

The Bible doesn’t say much about this woman who loved and followed Jesus. We do know she was the wife of a man named Chuza, Herod the Tetrarch’s (a ruler) steward. Joanna was one of the many people Jesus healed. We also know that she traveled with Jesus, along with many other women, caring for Him and the disciples and providing for them.

If we dig a little deeper and “put ourselves in her shoes” there’s a lot we can learn from this female follower of Jesus.

Joanna’s name meant “God has been gracious”. When she was born, I’m sure her parents had no idea that one day Jesus would work a miracle in her life. But, after Jesus healed her, she must have taken great pride in her name. Indeed, God had been very gracious to her.

When the Bible says, “These women were helping to support [Jesus and the disciples] out of their own means”, most Bible scholars believe that means the women traveled ahead of the company. In each place where Jesus and his disciples stayed, the women made sure they had lodging, food and other provisions. They did these things out of their own provisions. Joanna and the other women sacrificed their time, money and energy to serve Jesus.

As the wife of Herod’s steward, Joanna had a special opportunity to witness to those of Herod’s household. After Jesus healed her, everyone must have asked questions! Knowing her love for the Lord, it’s easy to imagine that Joanna was excited to tell everyone about Him. This took great courage because the ruler, Herod, felt threatened by Jesus as His fame spread among the people. In fact, Herod had already beheaded John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. We can learn courage from Joanna as she chose to follow and worship Jesus despite the danger.

The Bible says that the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee watched carefully to see where He was buried. Three days later, they returned to care for the body of the Lord. Joanna was one of those women. She heard the angels say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”

Even though her name is only mentioned in the book of Luke and even then only twice, there is much we can learn from Joanna. She reminds us that no matter how small, insignificant or unnoticed we feel, God always has a plan for us.

 

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No More Trafficking

A sweet friend of mine, Esse Johnson, works valiantly and tirelessly to rescue women.

Here at Predatory Lies, we talk a lot about rescuing ourselves and our daughters from the lies of eating disorders and other cultural, relational and personal lies. This is one we haven’t talked about often, but Esse opened my eyes to the insidiousness of human trafficking. Friends, it’s not far from our doorsteps.

I encourage you to watch this video and pray fervently for Esse and others like her who are extending the love of Jesus to women mired in this terrifying world

“Trafficked No More”
Trailer
from Adrian Leon on Vimeo.

A New Magazine!

Dear Friends,

I am so excited to share with you a new publication that has accepted one of my articles, Inspired Women Magazine. Truthfully, I don’t know how I hadn’t found this rich, diverse ezine before, but I am confident we’ll both enjoy it.

I wrestled for quite a while to embed the ezine itself into this post – to no avail. However, here is the entire .pdf file, so you can open it on your own computer, devour it, save it, share it, do whatever you like.

Thanks to all of you for being my cheerleaders as God broadens my horizons and deepens my dreams in this art of writing.

Because He Lives,

IWM112013

Book Review, Steppin’ Into the Good Life

For a change of pace, I chose an uncharacteristic genre for me, as my next Moody Publishers book review. Sometimes you just have to stop with the insights, pause the theology, set aside the deep things, rest the from the applications and indulge in some brain candy.

That’s the best way I can describe Tia McCollor’s new book, Steppin’ Into the Good Life. It’s very similar to the Shopoholic books, quite literally, as the protagonist, Sheila, admits and learns to contain her voracious shopping habit. The quality that sets this book apart, however, is the bright thread of faith woven through the story.

Within the first three chapters, Sheila, a new unemployed, recently dumped, down-on-her-luck socialite meets Jesus. The fact that she is secretly attending her ex-boyfriend’s wedding when this happens, sets the theme of the entire tale.

Tension mounts as Sheila’s luck plummets. Through a series poor choices in men, she finds herself discouraged, lonely and in debt. Then Jesus, as He so often does in adversity, quietly, almost invisibly woes her to Himself as the only one who can satisfy her heart’s desire for love.

Now Sheila doesn’t face her obstacles alone. Her new faith leads her to meet Eden, a spunky Christian bookstore owner with her own troubles. Eden mentors her, as much by her own example of faith as by her words. At Eden’s church Sheila also meets Sherry and Anisha, Christian women who surround her with compassion and prayer. Sherry even gets involved on a very practical level, helping Sheila to turn her shopping habit into an entrepreneurial opportunity.

The man of Sheila’s dreams is waiting in the wings. In perfect timing, through means of the body of Christ, God leads her into a brand new, pure, romantic relationship.

As a work of fiction, Steppin’ Into the Good Life, is well done. It is simple, but entertaining. McCollors develops all of the characters thoroughly, the dialogue is unique and witty and the plot is a fresh twist on the over-done, chick-lit romance.

 

Synchroblog for International Women’s Day

I (and you) have been invited to participate in a synchroblog to honor the Midwives and Patron Saints of our lives. Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Let’s recognize it from the perspective of those women who have nurtured our relationship with Jesus.

You can read more about Sarah’s invitation to this synchroblog here. Join us!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

It is impossible to contain the list of women-blessings God has placed in my life. Each of them has taught me, by example, how to lean into and walk by the Holy Spirit. In His presence we have become inseparable companions. I first tasted the delicious, life sustaining Fruit of the Spirit in my mom.

Mom embodies love. Hers is the love that most looks like Jesus to me. Through my ages, I leveled offensives at her, wrestled against all her wise restraints and even denied her love. And yet, in the darkest moments, her voice was calm and clear. Her voice ensured a future, a future encased in ceaseless prayers. When the light returned, from sliver to full day, she is still here, a confidant, a cheerleader, a voice of wisdom, undeterred love.

Joy! That would be my sister Rachelle. From her birth, I christened her, “Sunshine.” Nothing dims the radiance of Christ-life in her. She is infectious and real. Even her tears illicit a smile and resurrect courage.

My sweet sister Jennifer. Though it isn’t specifically a Fruit of the Spirit, it is Joy’s identical twin. Her passion for life, mesmerizes me and energizes me. In her I learn to press on, to finish the race, to strive.

Peace is my Grandmother. In 33 years, I have never heard her raise her voice. Her entrance settles the atmosphere of room to, “as it should be.” When Granddad passed away a couple years ago, her hurt must have gone deeper than anyone else’s. Yet, even then, she portrayed a calm, assertive, hope-filled peace.

Patience, that is Nanny, my adopted over-90-year-old grandmother. When I met her she warned me not to expect her to hang around too long. She was on her way to meet Jesus. But Jesus has seen fit to let her linger on earth, birthing and feeding the generation behind her.

Kindness. When my sister, Kelsey was little, she could throw tantrums five times her berth. I wondered if my parents had named her wrong. Kelsey means, “refuge, like a harbor, quiet waters.” She filled out her name. Mercy oozes from Kelsey’s pores. Tenderness, kindness and compassion are her signatures.

Goodness, is Tina. The face-to-face aspect of our friendship will be fleeting. Soon, my husband and I will move on to a new duty station, and her life will remain here with her family. But in the gifted days I’ve had with her, I have relished her goodness.

Faithfulness is, Dana S. When hell clutched at the heart of her marriage, God gave her a double portion of faithfulness. In her I have learned the humility and strength, twin foundations of faithfulness.

Gentleness. She might not even remember my name, but when I was little, my friend Grace’s mother let us loose in her home many afternoons. Even then, I marveled at her soft-spoken gentleness and its quiet power.

Self-Control. She wouldn’t believe me to hear me say it, she is far to humble and blind to her own graces. Beth has so many dreams, so many plans, so many places she wants to be and ministries she longs to start. At the moment, God has placed a loving hand on her shoulder and said, “Wait.” And now waiting seems like it’s been forever. But she is growing in self-control and her meekness to learn at the feet of Jesus is precious to me.

Time and space fail me to name all those women I consider to be my Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints, but this is a start.

I thank my God every time I remember you.

Naked Disparity

This is a slightly more casual chat about nakedness than we have been having here lately. But, it struck me so bluntly Sunday morning that I just had to share.

My girlfriend texted me: “My son is so funny. When he’s naked he kinda goes goofball silly on me!” (her son is almost 2)

Body image
Credit: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/b/body_images.asp

I replied: Aren’t all men a bit that way?

Now, certainly I’m not an expert on all men and I haven’t seen but one man naked, but nonetheless, I think it’s a widely accepted fact that most men are pretty proud of their nakedness. If you spy on a naked man with a mirror (who thinks he’s alone) you’ll probably find him flexing, dancing, admiring and pinching (his biceps.) Replay that scenario with a woman and you’ll find her hiding behind her towel, dressing as fast as possible, or moaning about the jiggle on her right butt cheek and pinching (what she calls flabby thighs). Am I right?

How did such similar bodies, both fashioned in the image of a divine, creative Master become interpreted by one as near perfection and by the other as nothing short of a pariah?

Food for thought.

Bearing in this broken frame

Your stamp, your glory, emblazoned name.

Bearing within His mortal dust

Your hope, redemption for all of us. 

That now inside our fragile flesh,

We can know your heart to bless

Breath, shape and perfect form.

Christ’s life in us, naked flesh reborn. 

The Secret to World Peace (and yours)

In an election season, ‘peace’ is the buzzword. Every politician vying for your vote is promising you peace through their plan. Peace in your finances, peace in the form of less crime, international peace, partisan peace, peace with minorities and the absence of hate.

They valiantly pledge their lives to the betterment of public life. Then they turn around and viciously sling mud at their opponent. The worst part is, they can’t all be right! So where do we go for real, true peace?

The simple answer is: God. But unfortunately, that’s become a token response, spoken almost as glibly as a first grader in Sunday school class.

“Well, I’m just praying that God will intervene. If we would all just be obedient to God. Well, God’s going to punish America and then He will establish His peace.”

I’m absolutely not denying the fact that God Jehovah is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.”

If generations, centuries of Christians have believed that God is the source of peace for the world, then why do we not experience peace on earth? At the very least, why don’t we have peace in our own homes?

Remember the “good old days”? We say that when we look at our kids and realize that they have no concerns.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we think, to go back to having no worries, just trusting that Mom and Dad would take care of things? Those nights when you slept well; your breaths were soft and deep and you only cried if you stubbed your toe. Even then, Mom or Dad always had the power to make it better.”

Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Ah children, peaceful, quiet, innocent babes. (Not always, but you get my analogy.)

So what are they doing right?

In her Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore made a startling observation – at least to me. She said, “peace is always associated with authority.” Think about it, your child lives peacefully, relative to you, because she is under your authority. This position includes being loved by you, cared for by you, advised by you and disciplined by you.

I have been mulling over that idea for a couple days. Then this morning, my Father showed me this truth definitively in His own words.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Peace is found under the rulership of Jesus Christ. When I try to be my own authority, peace becomes an illusion.

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. The next verse tell us of His governance. Jesus brings peace to those who are under His authority.

Question: In my most harried moments, the days when my brain feels as if it’s filled with rabid birds, when the anxiety almost seems to physically burn my insides: am I under Christ’s authority? If so, then like a child, I can simply trust my Father – to love me, care for me, advise me and discipline me.

One final thought, that I hope to explore in more detail later:
Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, tension has been an inevitable part of marriage relationships. There God cursed the man to be frustrated in his ambitions and the woman’s desire to be for her husband. Most scholars believe this indicates a power struggle between the two.

Throughout the Bible, God calls the man to be a leader in the home and for the woman to submit to his authority. We also know that God does not prefer men to women, or women to children or one race over another. So why this submission thing? Aren’t we equals?

Could it be that God knows in our sin-sick world, peace-less-ness will reign? I think He is offering us peace on earth by saying, “Yes, I love you the same, you are equal. But peace comes with authority. For the sake of peace in your homes, I am establishing a leader and a follower.” What do you think?

Book Review: Unseduced and Unshaken

When I hear the word seduce, I think of a brazen vixen, oblivious to an innocent man’s wedding ring. With her long black lashes, polished lips and glistening skin she expertly maneuvers him away from all things chaste and moral. Unseduced, would be that man’s extraordinary willpower to resist such advances.

Rosalie De Rosset’s book, Unseduced and Unshaken, isn’t only about withstanding sexual temptation. The book is about that and so much more. Unseduced and Unshaken explains describes a postmodern culture as a seductress. De Rosset points out the predatory nature of advertising, pornography, peer pressure and other things that particularly young women must be wary to stand firm against.

De Rosset uses classic literature and well known movies to exemplify both desirable and unbecoming character traits. She enforces the need for dignity, modesty, self-confidence and strong, Biblical theology.

One of the most valuable aspects of the book is the extensive list of suggested reading in the appendix. De Rosset lists all of her sources and whets the reader’s appetite to know more about each one of them.

The book is easy to read and extremely well written, calling on a vast vocabulary. While the book is directly targeted at young women, De Rosset’s points apply to every Christian.

 

Chazown – Your Reason for Living

I confess, I haven’t finished my journey through Chazown.

Chazown is a Hebrew word meaning vision. Chazown is an online resource produced by LifeChurch.tv to help Christians discover God’s vision for their life.  Through an in-depth six step process, followed by related resources Groschel leads participants to discover the reason that God created them. Do you ever wonder, “Why me?”

I do. I know a lot of other women who do. Many of us think there must be something more, we must be missing something big, something we’re supposed to do. Do you believe you can figure that “one thing” out? How would it change your direction (your perspective, even) of your own life, if you knew the one thing you were meant to do.

I have learned so much already. I found purpose in whole seasons of my life that had once appeared to be wasted pain.

Imagine, reasons for loneliness, reasons for failure, reasons for people and places and a path through the past that led you to right here.

In step 4, Groschel has you write a purpose statement. At the first of June, before I began this journey, I would never have written something like this. Honestly, I probably couldn’t have put any purpose statement together. I’m so excited. What I am learning has fueled me with courage to take on somethings I’ve been afraid to do because now I understand that they are a part of God’s purpose for me. And His purposes never fail.

FIND YOUR CHAZOWN. 

Is. 55:11 So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; and it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.