Justice, Your Family & You: Thoughts and Resources to Help Foster Empathy and Understanding

The loud cry for justice rises against stark silence and turning away. Some seem consumed with raising issues and demanding action while others are contentedly blinded – unwilling to know because it might mandate some sort of pain, change, or response. Feelings and opinions divide communities and churches.

Phrases like social responsibility and social justice are rampant in current Western culture, but what do they mean for followers of Christ? Sons and daughters of the king? Parents determined to raise children with meaningful faith? Members of local neighborhoods, nations, and citizens of the world?

Looking Through Lenses

While I normally begin sorting through these types of questions by searching Scripture (always a great place to start), I wonder if an honest and heartfelt exploration of the self as it relates to both social justice and the Bible is an appropriate place to begin. 

Here’s what I mean.

Each of us has presuppositions – Deeply-rooted ideas and ideals about the world we may not even know are there. Understanding how we think and interact with others begins by posing questions about ourselves. Who are we, and why? What are the beliefs and values we cling to and how have they been shaped by past experiences, upbringing, family history, political affiliation, socioeconomic status, cultural background, trauma, relationships, ethnicity, country of origin, church, social circles, and/or theology? 

Our past experiences work together to create personalized lenses through which we see  – Like a pair of glasses we don’t know we have on. These lenses not only cause us to assess, evaluate and assume things about the world and people around us, but also affect the way we interpret Scripture. We can understand the Bible and the great God it speaks of when we better understand how our personal perceptions shape the way we approach its content. This is why studying Scripture to learn the intended audience, context, culture, history, and author of a particular passage is so important (read more about the Inductive Study Method here). Employing rigorous Bible study strategies and uncovering our own biases can help us better determine what Scripture actually says rather than what we want it to say.

Justice and the Human Story

Recognizing how our own story contributes to underlying assumptions not only helps us rightly handle God’s story in the Bible, but better prepares us to listen to and connect with someone else’s. Empathy (a key part of justice) is manifested when we willingly take off our lenses to see other people more clearly.

I believe stories are a doorway to justice and mercy. Hearing or reading about a person or people groups’ experience helps us understand and empathize. Taking time to immerse ourselves in a story about another’s plight, a justice/injustice themed event in history, a narrative that challenges pre-conceived ideas or yields an empathetic response are all valuable to understanding social justice as followers of Christ. Our goal in listening should not be to evaluate someone’s personal story and deem it right or wrong, nor to follow up with “but” or comparative statements. We read and listen to gain perspective. To understand. To begin to know the teller and value his or her experience, regardless of whether or not we can relate to it.

As a teacher by trade and reader by passion, I have a storehouse of books in my home and garage. While I regularly sift through them to get rid of ones we no longer read, those about social issues and human rights will likely remain with me forever. There are joy-inducing stories celebrating differences and the will to overcome, and others that pose questions about injustices in our world such as racial inequality, the Holocaust, Japanese Internment, our response to the poor, and refugees. There are stories that evoke empathy, and others that simply make me think, grieve and wonder. There are stories for young children, school-aged students, and young adults. Few of them are deemed “Christian” books by the publisher, but the nature of their content draws us to call on Biblical truth and initiate a response in both thought and action (scroll down to see some of my favorites).

I believe God thinks stories are a key way to understand His precepts, tug at our heart-strings, and reveal His plan. It’s why the Bible is so full of them – A glorious and inspired collection of stories about the character of God, His creation, Israel, and the Messiah.

Micah 6:7-8 is one of the most well-known scriptures about justice and kindness in the Old Testament. We’ll unpack it together in a moment, but I’ve included a printable download with more Scripture for further study and some suggestions to guide your investigation. You can access it here, or by clicking on the image below.

 
Do Justice, Love Kindness

6  “With what shall I come before the Lord,

      and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

     with calves a year old?

7  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

     with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8  He has told you, O man, what is good;

     and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

     and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8, ESV)

 

Micah asks hypothetical questions on behalf of Israel: Lord what do you want from us? How can we please you? We’ll sacrifice. We’ll offer our firstborn children. Just tell us what you want.  So God answers through His prophet, Micah. He tells them there are three things He requires, and infers that they should already know what they are: 

To do justice

To love kindness

To walk humbly with God.

Semantics are important here. The Bible doesn’t say to love justice, or to consider just responses. It says to DO justice. It’s a practice. An action verb. We can’t simply think about it and call it good. We can’t cry a little and be done. We can’t post a few great images or catchy quotes to check a now-I-feel-better-about-it box.

Israel’s sacrifices and words meant nothing to God because they weren’t being just – upholding the laws of protection, dignity, and lawfulness made clear to them through Moses during the Exodus.

Other Old Testament prophets speak to this concept as well. Through Amos, for example, God absolutely rebukes Israel because of the way they treat their own people. They repeatedly subject them to poverty and oppression for their own gain (Amos 5:11-12, Amos 8:4-6). While Old Testament justice is often the simple act of upholding the law (being fair and not taking advantage of the poor), New Testament scripture takes this a step further. The apostle John implores that “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth “ (1 John 3:17-18). James makes a similar claim: 

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17 

Our faith saves us, but the way we treat the poor, oppressed, needy and hungry is evidence of that faith. It gives proof of what we believe and who we serve.

Social Justice Vs. Biblical Justice

While social justice shows diligent concern for people, the earth, and doing what one deems “right” or moral, biblical justice takes this a step further. As followers of Christ, we are to study what God says about pertinent issues, then view each and every person involved as deeply loved and made in the very image of the God we serve (Genesis 1:27). 

We care for people because He cares for them. 

We extend grace and mercy because He has done the same for us. 

We come alongside the broken because we understand our own brokenness in light of our Father’s holiness.

We see others in the same way the Lord God has seen and found us – desperate for healing and in need of restoration.

We understand that He has justified by no merit of our own, so we serve for the justice of others – Even if we feel it’s underserved.  

We seek restitution.

We apologize with genuine humility and work hard to become part of a solution.

We actually have to do something, friends, and with love and empathy. We can’t blind ourselves and our children to the hurt and oppression in the world, and we can’t strive to protect ourselves without protecting others.

So what do we do? How do we respond? It’s a difficult question because there isn’t one answer. Each of us has been given different gifts, situations, strengths and resources that the Lord will ask us to use for His Kingdom purpose and glory. So have our children. It’s complicated and complex, but here are a few suggestions to begin the journey toward living with a Biblical justice mindset.

What Now? A Few First Steps
  1. Wipe off our lenses:  Do the hard work to uncover the biases and presuppositions that frame the way you see the world and justice issues. Review the questions outlined above and prayerfully surrender the process to the Lord.  Be patient. This will take time, effort, tears and struggle. 
  2. Know the needs: We can’t turn a blind eye to the suffering around us. It’s imperative to know and allow ourselves to feel. A great place to start is by reading and listening. Check a variety of news sources (they have biases, too) to determine what’s going on in your community and in the world. I like to read and listen to both local and international commentaries for a more well-rounded perspective. Books are a wonderful way to educate yourself and begin the discussion of local and global issues with your kids. Scroll down to get some of my personal recommendations.
  3. Study the Word: Use the attached resources to determine what God thinks about justice and kindness. The Scripture I’ve included in the link above is really just a launching point for your study. The Bible is packed with stories about God’s response to justice and His expectation of ours.   
  4. Engage: Get started! There are incredible organizations who have identified needs and are responsibly coming alongside fellow humans to provide for needs, freedom, justice, and empowerment. While we need to be mindful of ways we can actually hinder development and cause more harm than good (click here for helpful resources about this concept), step into empathetic, thoughtful action and relationship if/when you see a need around you. Teach your children that these can be as simple as asking personal questions and genuinely listening to the response, bringing a meal to someone, advocating for someone who is often teased or bullied, helping a friend with his or her homework, volunteering for a non-profit, walking in a march, or saving money to donate and assist a reputable organization. There are many needs, and many ways to make sacrifices and come alongside those either requiring or providing assistance.

Oh what a refreshing and glorious day it will be when, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Amos and quoted by Martin Luther King Jr. in his powerful I Have a Dream speech, we “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

 

With great expectation,

 

Recommended Resources & Stories

The following are books I’ve personally read and own. Not everyone will agree with the concepts expressed in each one, but I believe empathy begins with openness to anothers’ experiences and perspective. You can click on the image to order a book directly and support that author’s effort (we receive a small commission from Amazon and are grateful for that, too), but I’m happy to lend any of them out if you live near me and need to borrow one instead.

Children’s Books About Appreciating Differences

 

Children’s Books About Human Rights, Suffering & Oppression

Children’s Books About Refugees

Children’s Books to Promote Empathy, Understanding & Personal Potential

Youth / Young Adult Fiction

Books for Adults

 

About the Author: Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, teacher, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

 

Join Us Live Via Zoom For: “Standing Firm: A Four Week Inductive Study of Philippians”

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27

 

A Quick Note

Covid-19 has left many of us isolated and in need of encouragement. Our desire is to draw strength and guidance from the Truth of God’s Word – To let it shape us, change us, strengthen our faith, and advance the gospel for Christ’s glory.

Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi does exactly this. It is a letter full of instruction and exhortation that, when heeded, can transform the way we live in adversity.

This study uses the Inductive Bible Study Method to guide understanding. We hope you’ll join us beginning Monday, April 20th as we meet virtually from 7-8:30’ish for four weeks (ending Monday, May 11) to work through the text together. You’ll then use the strategies we’ve practiced to study a few verses independently at home, and return to our meetings having reviewed the previous week’s scripture. We’ll have a time of sharing and discussion before working through the following week’s text as a group. By the end ofthe four weeks, you’ll have studied the entire book Philippians and gained what we hope is a deep and transformative understanding. 

For more details on the structure of this study, please see the schedule and outline in the Philippians Study Guide. Click on the picture below, or link directly to it here.

We want you to know that you are welcome – Whoever you are and in whatever condition you come  – Whether you’re new at studying the Bible this way, a seasoned woman of the Word, have young children running around in the background, or are just trying to hold it together right now . Our prayer is that we join together as a sisterhood of believers – Putting aside worry and inhibition to fully engage in the Word during this time of trial.

We’re excited to learn alongside you and have you as a vital part of the Arise Collective. May this season of sacrifice and adversity be one that help us “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

 

Zoom Access Details

Due to current concerns over the lack of privacy on live platforms, we’ve decided to email the Zoom link to anyone that wants to join us. Please request the link via private message on Instagram, Facebook, by emailing us here at Arise, asking for it from a friend, or getting in touch with the Summit View Moms group. We’re sorry to add this extra level effort, but think you and your families are worth it.

 

Things to Bring

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates, and feel free to invite friends.

See you Monday, April 20th at 7pm!

 

Help Us Help Others: Coming Alongside Our Local Community During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Our mission at Arise is threefold: Equip, Encourage, Engage.

We believe that a deep understanding of the Bible compels us to action – That we can’t simply study the Word without DOING what it says.

That’s why we’re creating care packages and bringing them to women we know need them – Single moms who are worried about providing for their children, women who have lost their jobs and don’t know when their next paycheck will come, the elderly and the alone. We want to provide encouragement and sustenance for the glory of Christ! These bags may include gift cards to grocery stores and/or gas stations, easy recipes with accompanying grocery items, and beautiful scripture to enlighten and bring comfort.

Each bag is hand-painted and includes personal items and notes particularly chosen for the recipient’s
needs – A beautiful reminder that she is loved and valued during these difficult times.

We need your help! Consider joining us in one or more of the following ways:

  • Donate online through our website and let us know that you want your funds directed towards the “Engage” portion of our ministry.
  • Directly sponsor a bag for someone you know would benefit from one. Donate the amount you’d like to spend online, and message us with the details of your acquaintance. friend or family member. Someone from our team will get in touch with you to discuss the details and organize delivery. Bags have difference price points depending on what’s in them, the needs of the recipients, and contributions of the giver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve absolutely loved watching women of all ages work together to fund, create, and deliver the few care packages we’ve created already – Generously lending their time, treasure and talent to show others they are cared for.

Our heartfelt prayer is that this endeavor would draw women closer together and closer to the Lord during this season. We look forward to partnering with you as you help us help others 💗.

Donate using the link below. All contributions are tax deductible.





Podcast 025 – “Soul Song Coffee: Fostering Empowerment Through Meaningful Work” with Ann Ordway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It began with a spark of hope and a few simple questions: “What if we could multiply a few dollars to keep giving back while we train young teens to start a business from the ground up? What if these young apprentices could explore various aspects of business structure and development and try their hand at developing usable skills? Most importantly, what if they could see the direct impact of their actions in the lives of others both here and across the globe? What if in this process we can help individuals find their soul’s song?”

This spark led the birth of Soul Song Coffee – A company rooted in the belief that meaningful work fosters empowerment, that young people have the ability to build a business, and that a local community can come together to actively practice Biblical truth in a way that demonstrates Christ’s love and promotes lasting change.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Ann Ordway, the vision behind Soul Song Coffee, and how you, too, can find and live your soul song.

Be sure to visit the Soul Song Coffee website to read about the ways they empower local youth, come alongside ministries in Uganda and Haiti, and source beans from farms and companies that employ sustainable practice and embrace dignity.

Click here to support Soul Song by purchasing coffee directly from their website. I’m a monthly subscriber and genuinely look forward to receiving my beans each month!

May we all heed Ann’s encouragement from Isaiah 41, get on our bike, and start riding.

With great expectation,

Lisa

Soul Song Coffee’s young entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Our Guest: As the Founder of Soul Song Coffee, Ann Ordway wears quite a few hats, but her favorite jobs in the world are being wife to Jason and mama to four amazing kids whom she has the privilege of homeschooling.

Her greatest moments are spent discussing the finer points of life with friends, journaling in her morning prayer time, and capturing most everything in picture! She has an inquisitive spirit and a passion for developing young minds, which ultimately led to the development of Soul Song Coffee!
She dreamed of an opportunity where young teens could be exposed to different careers and aspects of business in a setting where they could immediately apply that learning to a real business, one that existed for the greater good. Not just an idea, an action.

 

20 Things God is Showing Me Through Quarantine

Quarantine.

Just saying the word makes me cringe and immediately paints mental pictures of disease, isolation and people in hermetically sealed rooms. As a self-professed germophobe in regular life, this whole COVID-19 situation has taken things to a whole new level. Anyone else’s hands taking on the appearance of reptile skin from the constant washing, disinfecting and sanitizing? 

All humor aside, the last two weeks have certainly been a learning experience for me. As a creature of habit and one who loves routine and structure, having my daily life basically turned upside-down in a matter of days has really thrown me for a loop (and all the people said, “AMEN”). Amidst so much change, anxiety, and uncertainty, Psalm 91:3-6 has been resonating so deeply with me: 

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4  He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5  You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6  nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

As I was working from home the other morning, the Lord sparked an idea for me to start making a list of all the things He’s revealing to me during this time. It’s by no means comprehensive, as I’m sure He will continue to add to it throughout the duration of this quarantine (cringe) and hopefully long afterward. 

So here they are – 20 things I’ve learned (so far) during quarantine:

 

I am not nearly as patient as I thought I was. Not even remotely.

 I don’t know how to relax.

My “to-do” list runs my life.

 My “priorities” are not necessarily the right ones.

I am not in control. I’ll say that one again…I am NOT in control.

I don’t act like I trust God, even though I say that I do.

I am being given (or gifted) an opportunity for time with my daughter that I will NEVER get back.

My creativity and playfulness get squandered by my constant “need” to be doing something “productive.” The chores ain’t going anywhere…go play with your kid.

I am stronger than I give myself credit for.

As the mother of a toddler, there is never a “good” time to read my Bible. I have to learn to read through the noise.

My home is absolutely my comfort zone.

I have WAY too many things that hold God-like weight in my life. Some of the “inconveniences” of this quarantine are really idols in disguise.

Jesus really does want to be invited into EVERY aspect of my life, including the mundane day-to-day things. But the key is to extend the invitation.

SO much of parenting is consistency. I am NOT consistent.

Even introverts need people and community.

Things like fresh air, spring colors, and birds singing are life-giving in a time when everything feels heavy.

I need to be much more aware of what I’m filling my time (and my head) with.

My daughter is not an adult, so I can’t expect her to communicate like one. Toddlers have bad days, too.

After getting a taste of a slower-paced schedule, I’m not sure that I want things to go back to normal. Maybe God is showing us His desire for a NEW normal, one that allows us the time to consistently commune with Him.

Despite the world seemingly coming to a standstill, the morning continues to come, and the night still follows it. Spring still follows winter, and summer is still on its way. And His mercies are still new every. Single. Day.

 

I pray that we (myself included) would see this situation as an opportunity to really start to peel back some layers and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal our areas for growth (maybe in areas we didn’t even know existed or that we needed). 

I would love to know – What is the Lord teaching YOU during this time? Keep our list going on social media or comment below.

Learning right beside you,

Ali

About Ali Gadbaugh: Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ali is a homebody who counts coffee, her husband and daughter, and Jesus as a few of her favorite things. She likes to add a little sarcasm and humor to life, and is passionate about growing and deepening her relationship with her Savior. 

 

Join Us Live Via Zoom For “Deliverance During Trial: An Inductive Study of Daniel 3”

Several weeks ago, we at Arise decided to look into the Old Testament prophets for our monthly Inductive Bible Study.  We’ve been meeting with a group of women in a home, and it’s been so lovely to watch them dig into the Word and have a desire to truly engage with the Bible and study it together. I was scheduled to lead the group for our March session.

The third chapter of Daniel came to my mind and I began to study it and prepare. It’s a familiar story of three men, a fiery furnace and a God who delivers. The trial they were facing was a fire, but we all face trials.

Little did I know that COVID-19 would become a wild fire in our state of Washington.  This is a trial for each of us as we navigate daily life in a way we never have before. One big impact is that we can no longer meet in groups. We are so thankful for technology that is going to allow us to continue to meet virtually using this link!

Use this link to join us live via Zoom on Monday, March 23, from 7-9pm.  A few us will be online at 6:45pm to welcome you and help you get ready.

Click on the images below to print the Scripture Observation Worksheet and Key Words. A summary of the Inductive Bible Study Method is available as well. You’ll also want to bring some colored pencils/pens and your Bible. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates, and feel free to invite friends.

We’re excited to study the Word and the character of our God who delivers together.

In Him,

Lee Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Anne HeadshotAbout Our Leader: Lee Ann DeRoos is a simple girl who loves jeans, sweatshirts, decaf coffee and dark chocolate. She is a servant, learner, worshiper, gluten-free baker, hobby farmer, and Arise Ministries Collective Board Member. Lee Ann is a wife, mom of two, and daughter of the King – Always striving to get out from under her bushel to let His light shine.

 

Podcast 024 – “Unexpected Homeschool Mom: How to Survive (and Thrive) During Covid-19 Closures”

“Children are not a distraction from the more important work, they are the most important work.” – Dr. John Trainer

Let’s be honest. We just weren’t prepared for this. Mamas and caregivers around the world are suddenly  responsible for educating their children at home with limited experience or resources. Even with school districts posting lessons and offering support, we need help with the basics. That’s why we called on Angie Forrester, homeschooling mother of five with nearly a decade of experience. We hope you’ll listen and be encouraged as she shares tools and ideas to help us thrive during the COVID-19 school closure.

Scroll down to find a summary of things we discussed, additional helpful strategies, as well as direct links to some of the resources Angie mentions.

 

From Surviving to Thriving: 6 Strategies to Help You Succeed

Create Routine – Children thrive in structure and need consistency. So do we. It’s good to know what to expect each day, especially when things around us seem unpredictable. Create a schedule using your child’s input if at all possible. Kids often respond to change and expectations better when they’re part of the process and feel ownership. Be sensitive to what’s working and what’s not as the days (and weeks) go by, and feel the freedom to make adjustments.

Foster Character Through Responsibility – Giving your child chores to complete during the day not only keeps your house tidy and organized, but cultivates responsibility. He or she will soon learn that others in the home depend on their hard work and effort. If you have multiple children, consider rotating responsibilities to ensure that everyone gets a chance to try something new. We also hope you’ll allow your son or daughter the opportunity to manage their own time and make decisions independent of you during this season at home. Responsibility is often learned behavior that comes through experience. Use positive reinforcement to encourage helpful behavior whenever able. You’ll be surprised at how quick your child rises to the occasion!

Provide a Space for Optimal Learning – Angie suggests giving each child a personal space to keep their school books and supplies. This may be as simple as giving them their own area on a bookshelf, desk, or table. For kids that work better on the move, consider a rolling system like the ones in the link below. Angie’s three younger students prefer this method. One of their actual rolling carts is featured in the image to the left. Whichever method you end up using, encourage your son or daughter to be responsible for his or her space just like they are at school. It should be tidied up in the evening and ready for learning in morning. They may even begin to enjoy using and taking care of their new school area and resources!

Reframe Expectations – Our frustration and disappointment is often caused by unrealistic or unspoken expectations. Remember that everyone in the home is experiencing a new reality. We’re not used to being around one another for extended amounts of time. Angie reminds us that our own selfishness often gets in the way of optimal learning. Take some time every day to surrender your will to our Father. While self-care is always important, acknowledge that regular alone time may be less feasible in this season. You and your children are learning new rhythms together!

Give Grace – Understand that your children may be suffering, too. They’re not used to being home and learning from their mom. They may miss friends and all of the learning and social benefits they experienced at school. Both of you are first-timers, and both of you need grace for one another. We think it’s ok (and advantageous even) to be honest about your fears and trepidation. Maybe your children want to share their own with you. Be willing to say sorry and commit each day to prayer. We’re all going to need it.

Make Memories! – You have always been your child’s primary teacher. While we know that this is a season of hardship for many, our prayer is that you would enjoy this unexpected gift of time as much as possible. Take a moment each day to make a memory! Go on a nature walk. Bake something together. Write letters and put them in the mail. Learn a new instrument. Snuggle on the sofa and read a novel out loud. Make small care packages and anonymously drop them off on a neighbor or friend’s porch. Paint. Play board games. Document this adventure in a journal. Do a Bible study together. Linger at the table after meals. Do whatever you can to make positive memories and leave a legacy of the way your family tackled the COVID-19 homeschool season.

 

Active Learning Activities and Supplies

 

Suggested Picture Books and Novels to Read Aloud

 

Click here for a direct link to our Recommended Resources page where you can find Gospel-centered children’s books and resources to encourage and equip moms from a Biblical perspective.

Websites with Free Printables, Online Support, and Suggested Activities

Khan Academy

Read Aloud Revival (great book lists)

Board Slam (free printable)

Classroom Freebies (reading logs and worksheets)

Virtual Field Trips

 

Closing Thoughts

Our hope and prayer is that you would cling to the hope in Christ as you navigate this season of life at home. May these suggestions and resources bring calm and clarity, and may you rest in the unwavering truth that you truly are the very best teacher your children have.

With great expectation,

Angie and Lisa

Meet Our Authors

About Angie Forrester: A northwest native, Angie enjoys spending her time cultivating gardens and young minds including her five “free-range” children.  She has been a home educator for 9 years, working alongside other mamas to build community for homeschool families.  As a lifelong learner you may find her reciting Latin, reading aloud to her children, or applying National Park stickers to her water bottle from her most recent adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Lisa Da Silva: Lisa has never (ever) officially homeschooled her children, and is increasingly thankful that her kids are young adults with online programs mandated by their schools. She is passionate about education and loved being an elementary school teacher before starting a family. She is honored to be the Director of Arise Ministries Collective, and longs to see women transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. She is willing and ready to come alongside all of the young mama’s unexpectedly at home during this season.

Podcast 023 – “Buried in the Margins: A Quieting Practice for Bible Reflection” with Kelsi Folsom

What would happen if we, like David in the Psalms, bore our most intimate revelations, struggles, fears, joys, and thanksgiving before the Lord – Uninhibited and free? How can we begin to quiet our spirit, uncover feeling, and respond to Scripture in a way that transforms and unearths that which we’d rather keep hidden?

When today’s podcast guest began writing poetry in Middle School, she never anticipated one day sharing her soulful words with others. As an adult experiencing the newness of marriage, motherhood and unexpected twists and turns, Kelsi Folsom realized her poetry could help other women feel seen and hopeful. As someone living in light of Scripture and wholeheartedly embracing her calling as a daughter of Christ, Kelsi believes poetry can enhance our prayer lives and become an intimate response to what we’re reading and studying in the Bible.

Her vulnerability and candor bring a gritty and welcome light to feelings and struggles many of us as women have, but may find difficulty putting into words.

Our prayer is that this conversation, the accompanying downloadable devotional, and Kelsi’s book, Buried in the Margins will help each one of us practice wholehearted surrender and bring glory to God through the creativity of our words.

To download your own printable copy of Kelsi’s devotional, Quiet Waters: Poems for Reflection and Prayer, click here. More of Kelsi’s poetry is available in her recently published book, Buried in the Marginsas well on on her website.

From Amazon: “Wife of a medical school student and mom to three young children, navigates marriage, motherhood, faith, and repatriation in this beautifully rendered collection of poems spanning oceans, continents, and landscapes of the heart. From finding first love and becoming a parent, surviving the eye of the strongest Atlantic Hurricane in recorded history, Irma, to rebuilding a marriage after being separated by an ocean for 7 months, opera singer Kelsi Folsom bares the depths of her soul in these life-affirming poems. With ferocity and vulnerability, Buried in the Margins will take you on an exciting, hope-filled journey you will never forget.”

About Our Guest: Kelsi Folsom is a wife and mom to three navigating marriage, motherhood, and a husband in medical school with the assistance of black coffee, cozy slippers, Leontyne Price recordings, and a whole lot of prayer. She loves connecting with and encouraging women to experience the divine grace and presence of God in their everyday lives through what they already love to do. Her essays and poems are published in Mothers Always Write, the DC-Area Moms Blog, Motherly, The Caribbean Writer, Women Who Live on Rocks, Voice of Eve, and elsewhere. She is the author of poetry collection Buried in the Margins, and is a regular contributor to Red Tent Living an online, faith-based women’s publication. She enjoys traveling with her family, scouring estate sales, getting lost in a good novel, and occasionally putting her B.M. in Voice Performance to good use. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and at her website.

 

 

 

Arise Ministries Collective exists to equip women with Biblical truth so they are empowered to love God, love others, and live in radical and beautiful ways for Christ.

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The Sovereignty of God: Deliverance in the Midst of Our Trials

Have you ever heard someone say “God is sovereign?” If you have heard it, have you stopped to truly think about what that means and allowed it to change your life? 
When we understand the sovereignty of God, we are able to fully rest in Him. But first I think we have to understand what the word “sovereign” truly means. Let’s study together today.

 

God’s Sovereignty in the Book of Daniel

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word sovereign as “a characteristic of a supreme ruler. Possessing supreme or ultimate power. Supreme authority.”  
The Lord has supreme power and authority. Nothing happens without His knowledge or control.  All things are either caused by Him or allowed by Him for His own purposes and through His perfect will and timing.  
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36
The book of Daniel is a great place to begin studying and understanding the sovereignty of God. I’ve studied the whole book two different times and can honestly say I’ve seen and heard different things on each occasion. Both times allowed me to see God as completely sovereign, which helps me to rest in Him and His plan for my life. 
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.” Daniel 1:1-2
I have “God is Sovereign” written next to verse two in my Bible. When I began studying this book – looking at it verse by verse, I noticed something BIG in verse two. Do you see it? It doesn’t say God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jerusalem.  It doesn’t say God wasn’t there when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. It says, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand.” He GAVE them! God delivered His chosen people right into the hands of king Nebuchadnezzar.

 

What Does the Word Say?

When I study the Bible, I like to ask a few questions of the text and see how many answers I can find. The questions I ask are simple: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Let’s look at Daniel 1:1-2 in light of these questions, and see what answers we can find.
Who? God. What did He do?  He gave Jehoiakim King of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. Where? The kingdom and people of Judah into the hands of Babylon. Why? While we can’t find this in this particular scripture, we do have documentation of the prophets warning Israel that this would happen if they did not obey in 2 Chronicles 7:19. When? It doesn’t say it in these verses, but Biblical timelines tell us this happened in 605 BC.
The fact that God delivered Israel into the hands of their enemy may not make sense to you and me. But it doesn’t have to. Because our God is sovereign.  He’s going to do what He says He will do for His glory. These are His people. He loves them. He warned them and now He’s following through. Much like a parent who loves their child warns them to not do something that might cause harm, then follows through with the discipline.  
Daniel is a servant of God and yet he is still captured along with his people. While in captivity, we see him continue to stand firm in his convictions and love for the Lord. 
Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah.” Daniel 1:6
Here we find out there were three other men standing strong in captivity with Daniel. The commanders in Babylon changed their names to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.
As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Daniel 1:17
God gave them knowledge and wisdom. God loved these young men.  Could God have rescued them directly from King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians? Yes. I believe He could have. But He didn’t. Why? Because God is sovereign. His ways are not always our ways. He does not always rescue.  
God had a plan for Daniel’s life. It wasn’t an easy one. He had to leave his home and live as a captive in a foreign land. God’s plan doesn’t look like our plan, yet He is still sovereign today and working towards a predestined end and return of our Savior.

 

Trial By Fire

In the third chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar builds a statue of gold. If you read more of the scripture, you’ll see that the king is a really arrogant man.  He’s very full of himself and now he’s built this great idol in his own image. Naturally, he calls everyone to come for the dedication of this idol.  
And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6
Let’s ask the WHAT question again as it refers to this scripture. What was required of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah? Whenever they heard the sound of the instruments they were to bow down and WHAT does it say?  Worship the golden image. And if they didn’t? Be thrown into the fire. 
Not only were these men of God taken into captivity by Babylon, but they were asked to defy their own beliefs and worship another god!
Well, these three men stood firm. They did not bow. And Nebuchadnezzar gives them a second chance. He says “I’ll blow the horns again and if you don’t bow, you’ll be thrown into the furnace,” then challenges them further by asking, “What god can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18
Our God is able and He will deliver us.  They fully believe God can and will deliver them from the fire.
Oh, how I love verse 18.  “But even if He does not” ……Oh friends.  This right here is the root of so much of our life.  What are you asking the Lord for right now? What trial do you see coming that you’re asking Him to deliver you from? What is it in your life that you fully believe the Lord is capable to remove from you? There are times that He does. But He is sovereign and does not see things the way we do.  And so sometimes we have to say “But even if He does not,” I will still stand firm. I will rest in His sovereignty. I will still be faithful.
Well, this angers Nebuchadnezzar and he demands the punishing fire be seven times hotter than normal – So hot that it kills the guards who even come close to it.  And what do verses 25 -26 tell us happened next?  
He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25-26
Only three men were thrown into the fire but they see four. Who was the fourth? It was the very God who delivered them through the fire! 
These next words are not my own but I want to quote Beth Moore and then I’ll explain.  She says, “The Lord can deliver us FROM the fire. He can deliver us THROUGH the fire. And He can deliver us BY the fire.”
The “fire” here is any trial you might be facing.  Have you had times in your life when you’re so worried and praying about something that you think is going to happen and then it doesn’t end up happening at all?  That is the Lord delivering you FROM the fire. You didn’t even have to experience that fiery trial.  
And sometimes we have to walk all the way THROUGH that fire or trial.  Sometimes it’s hard and messy and there are tears and heartache but the Lord is with us through the whole thing and He delivers us to the other side.
And sometimes He delivers us BY the fire straight into the arms of Jesus.  Sometimes He doesn’t save us here from that illness or tragedy and He takes us home, but we are still delivered from the fire.
How I pray each of us would be able to stand as strong in whatever trials or fires come our way. When we’re in the midst of them, can we cling to the Lord’s sovereignty and not our own plans?

 

Perseverance, Encouragement, Hope

As I wrap this up, I want to look at one more verse with you. In Romans 15:4, Paul tells us that  “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” I pray that when you study the life of Daniel, you will find hope in the Sovereignty of our Lord. 
I don’t know if the Lord is leading you into trials, delivering you right into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, or if He’s allowing things to happen. But what I do know is we can rest in His sovereignty. Rest in the fact that He has supreme authority. Like Daniel and his fellow captives, we can stand firm in our convictions. We know, ultimately, that He will rescue us safely to His kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

 

 

Lee Anne HeadshotAbout the Author: Lee Ann DeRoos is a simple girl who loves jeans, sweatshirts, decaf coffee and dark chocolate. She is a servant, learner, worshiper, gluten-free baker, hobby farmer, and Arise Ministries Collective Board Member.
Lee Ann is a wife, mom of two, and daughter of the King – Always striving to get out from under her bushel to let His light shine.

The Sovereign God Who Writes Our Story

There are always “what ifs” that cross our minds throughout our lives. What if we would have made a different decision here or there? What if we would have been born in a different family or country? What if we would have gone to college or not? What if we would have gotten that job? What if we hadn’t moved?

The God Who is Sovereign

It’s important for us to know the attributes of God so that we may intimately know WHO God is. When our feelings, the hardships, and loss in life come and don’t seem to align with who we think He is, the TRUTH of WHO scripture says God is will always bring us back to a place of peace and rest in our all-knowing and sovereign Creator.

Understanding and knowing the sovereignty of God is one of the most foundational truths. All other doctrines of our Christian faith must be brought into alignment with God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty means He is the one, and only one, who has supreme power and authority over all things. He is the one true God of infinite rule.

In the very beginning of time God spoke and therefore it was. He spoke the world and all that is in the world into existence.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

In the beginning, God created and because He created and has always been, this establishes His supreme authority over everything. God is the “sovereign Lord of all by an incontestable right” as our Creator. God must be sovereign to be truly God. We wouldn’t want a God who wasn’t.

The God Who Acts

That’s the difference between the creation and the Creator. God’s sovereignty means that there are no limits on His authority to act. He is in control of all things and His perfect plans are being exacted. We see this all over scripture, for example, when we look at how God used Pharaoh to further His Kingdom work.

Romans 9:17 says,

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 

He didn’t raise up Pharaoh to just be mean to the Israelites. He had a grand plan – a sovereign plan for how He would provide a Savior and how His name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Let’s not forget how God worked in Joseph’s life. Joseph was the youngest son of many. He was favored by His father and despised by his brothers. He was sold into slavery at a young age as a result of his brothers’ hatred. He was then a slave in Potiphar’s house, but in this circumstance, he was put in a position that would eventually help in reuniting him with his family and give him the ability to help them.

I’m sure that during this process Joseph questioned how God could possibly use any of this for good.

How could God’s ultimate plan unfold in the midst of this betrayal and pain?

But there is a far grander picture here of God’s work through Joseph’s life. Something that was sovereignly ordained before the beginning of time. God is not just saving the Egyptians and Joseph’s family from starvation and ultimately physical death, He is keeping a covenant promise to Abraham through Joseph’s life story.  Joseph’s life seems to be full of unfortunate events, but ultimately God reveals his plan to provide an inheritance – One that leads to salvation.

He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”
When they were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”
When he summoned a famine on the land
and broke all supply of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him.
The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free;
he made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions,
to bind his princes at his pleasure
and to teach his elders wisdom.

Psalm 105:8-22

The God Who Sustains

Through this process, even the unthinkable things Joseph went through, God was keeping the covenant and was sustaining the line of Seth regarding the ‘seed of the woman’ who will triumph over Satan. God was fully executing His sovereign plan to provide a rescuer and a way for salvation as Jesus would come through this lineage.

Even when faced with adversity, Joseph tells his brothers “You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).  Joseph truly had an eternal perspective with his life circumstances. His faith was commended by the writer of Hebrews.

 “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave direction concerning his bones.”  Hebrews 11:22

Wendy Alsup explains it this way in her book The Gospel-Centered Woman: Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel:

…when the author of Hebrews references Jospeh in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, it is Joseph’s conviction that God was doing something that transcended Joseph’s lifetime for which he is commended. Joseph had such confidence that God’s purposes for His children transcended their current struggles and that they were all a part of something eternal that he gave direction concerning his bones.

The God Who Saves

Joseph had a God-given faith and believed that God would make good out of his life story, and God, in His sovereignty, ultimately fulfills the Abrahamic covenant and provides a rescuer, Jesus, to make a way for salvation.

These are all wonderful and great stories, and we can see the bigger picture now because we have the Bible. We can see God’s promise of a Savior provided through Abraham’s lineage fulfilled.

But what about now, when things happen in our very own lives? Things that cause us to question and doubt God’s goodness and sovereignty? What about when we desire to have a spouse, a baby, a healthy child, a living parent, a forever friend, a body free of cancer, that job we’ve been wanting, and they never come when planned? Or they never ever come at all?

And in an even broader sense, not just in our personal lives but in huge current day events?  Throughout history, there have been things we do not fully understand, but we can rest in the fact that God is sovereign over it all whether we see His plan play out or not in our lifetime. Things like abortion, the Holocaust, politicians being elected to office, and the rise and fall of empires. God’s word attests to this in Proverbs 21:1:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

We so badly want to be in control of our lives, and we want it to contribute to our life story in some specific and positive way, when in fact God is the sovereign one who is in control of all things and is executing His sovereign plan to further His kingdom for eternity.

Psalm 18:30 says:

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

His ways ARE perfect, even when they don’t feel perfect to us.

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Romans 9:14-21

God has a way of reestablishing His authority in our lives through life circumstances as sovereign Creator and King. When we come to the end of ourselves and to the end of our plans and realize that we are eternal beings made for His glory alone and are not the ones in ultimate control, we can rest in the Lord’s sovereignty over our lives and even over our sin.

The God Who Redeems

He has lavished us with grace and granted us redemption as a part of His perfect plan to unite all things to Himself for our goodness and His ultimate glory.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:7-14

May we be women of the Word, living from a place of confidence in who we know God is instead of what or how we feel things should be.  May we learn to stretch and grow into the story He has written for our lives even when they don’t line up with the story we wrote for ourselves.  May God continue to grow our faith through each decade as we know He works all things for our good and for His glory alone.

Personal Reflection

How should the knowledge that God is sovereign change the way that you live?

In what area do you feel the most out of control?

How does the truth of God’s sovereignty comfort you personally?

How does it shape your understanding of the miracle of salvation?

How can you share that comfort with others?

About the Author: Janell Sorensen is a follower of Jesus, a wife to her best friend David, and a mother to five gifts. She has a heart for women, women’s ministry, and the study of God’s Word. You can find her most days sitting at her farm table schooling her kids, telling punny jokes, and resting in the beauty and grace of her race because of Jesus. She occasionally writes at janellsorensen.wordpress.com.

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