3 Surefire Ways to Labor in Vain

My sister-in-law was tired, weary, and in extreme pain delivering her firstborn when the doctor paused and said, “It’s called labor for a reason.” Though insensitive and borderline cruel, the obstetrician was right. Labor is hard.

Webster’s Dictionary defines labor as “the expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory.” As followers of Christ, there is no way around it. We were created for hard work. For labor. For toil. From the time God set Adam and Eve in the garden to care for the land and subdue it, Biblical narrative reveals that action is expected. We are workers. Whether laboring as stay-at-home parents, students, teachers, landscapers, artists, truck drivers, accountants, or lawyers, each and every one of us is called to a life of productivity. 

King Solomon introduces us to vain labor in Psalm 127:

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)

To toil or labor in vain means to waste our work – To nullify it or make it void. Solomon knew that unless God was overseeing and at the core ambition of building, the final product wasn’t even worthy of a watchman. The house was useless. The work – however difficult, cumbersome, emotionally draining, yields a worthless result.

Prophets shared the same lament of useless toil as they warned a godless Israel to repent: 

You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine. Micah 6:13-15  

Though they build houses, they will not live in them; though they plant vineyards, they will not drink the wine. Zephaniah 1:12-13 

You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.  Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, ‘ says the LORD. ‘You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Haggai 1:6-9 

There are ways we as followers of Christ can yield worthless results as well – Approaches to work that leave us “busy with our own house” (Haggai 1:6-9) while effectively producing nothing. Here are three surefire ways even followers of Christ end up laboring in vain.

1) We Follow Our Passion

Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford’s 2005 graduation ceremony was legendary. Many believe the catch-phrase “follow your passion” came from Steve’s poignant call for students to “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition” and to “find what you love and do it.” 

There is nothing inherently wrong with doing what we love. It’s freeing and beautiful when God’s will and our passion projects collide, but a simple look at the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles reveal that labor for the Lord doesn’t always mean we’ll enjoy it. Rather, it may land us in Ninevah, a flaming furnace, or with the beloved John exiled to the island of Patmos. 

Labor for the Lord means serving who we love rather than doing what we love. There’s a stark contrast. One leads to selfish ambition, temporal gain, and earthly reward – A possible shifting from one thing to another as we surmise that, ‘If I don’t love it, I must be on the wrong path.’ The other promises everlasting life and bountiful fruit. 

Following our own passion without prioritizing Kingdom needs, God-given gifts and talents, and where He is asking us to go may yield immediate pleasure, but following Christ’s passion ensures true satisfaction – A life of purposeful toil rather than worthless labor.


2) We Work For Our Own Glory

Paul’s message to New Testament believers was clear: Whoever you are and whatever you do, do it with grit and a heart that’s invested. Be ALL IN, but not for earthly gain.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

But as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Ephesians 6:6-7 

If we truly work for the Lord, we won’t require human glory, appreciation, or approval. Daily surrender as service to Christ Jesus may not bring earthly recompense, but we’re promised the greatest reward possible: A share in the Kingdom, everlasting life, and a forever home with our worthy God.

So when we study, we study for the Lord. When we sing, we sing for His glory. When we raise children, we raise them in an effort to please Him, and when we build a home, we build it for His purpose.


3) We Diminish the Significance of Our Work

I’ve said it more often than I want to admit: “I’m just a stay-at-home mom,” or, “I used to be a teacher.” I minimize the value of my labor and have heard some of you do it, too. 

We need to remember that ALL of our work is ministry work. Each dish washed, coffee served, class passed, corporate deal secured, house sold or lesson taught is for His glory. Every aspect of our labor is significant. Our toil is important. No work surrendered to His purpose and for His glory is in vain.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul argues that an attitude of selfless work for God’s mission should make us glad and cause us to shine as lights in this dark world. We don’t complain about our work because we know how valuable it is to the Kingdom.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

We rejoice as a “poured out drink offering” not because our work feels significant, is enjoyable, or fulfills a void in our lives. We rejoice because our labor has Kingdom purpose and forever consequence.

So when we feel overwhelmed, empty, bored, threatened and weary in our labor, we need to remember who we’re really working for. In the words of Paul, we must “hold fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ [we] may be proud that [we] did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Toil for His passion, work for His glory, and believe that your efforts matter for eternity. 

For Further Study

Read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 4.

In what context was this passage written (pay attention to the “therefore” at the beginning of the chapter). Who wrote it and for what purpose?

  • Based on the text, what can we expect from a life in service to Christ? Consider making a list in the margin of your Bible or in a separate notebook.
  • If everything in the list you created is true, why should we “not lose heart” (v. 1 and v.16)? What will we receive?
  • Do you find yourself laboring in vain? Unsure of why or for whom you are working? Take time to write a prayer of confession and determine a plan of action. Remember, we must be “doers of the word, and not just hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).


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

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Lisa loves the local church and is proud to call Summit View Community Church in Vancouver, WA home.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.  



Not Sure What Bible Study to do this Fall? 13 Ideas to Get You Started

It’s the time of year when small groups and churches select Bible study curriculum for the upcoming Fall season, but finding theologically sound resources that accommodate a particular timeline, group dynamic/need, or topic can be difficult. We want to help!

Below is a list of options we think will help women better understand the Word, the character of God, and the purpose He has for our lives.

The list is not at all exhaustive, but we hope it will serve as a starting point for choosing your Fall studies.

(Click directly on the titles below to view and purchase the resource from Amazon).


God of Creation: A Study of Genesis 1-11

  • Author: Jen Wilkin
  • Timeline: 10 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 1–2 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

God of CovenantA Study of Genesis 12-50

  • Author: Jen Wilkin
  • Timeline: 10 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 1–2 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

No Other Gods: The Unrivaled Pursuit of God

  • Author: Kelly Minter
  • Timeline: 8 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes, but not absolutely necessary

Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break

  • Author: Kelly Minter
  • Timeline: 7 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes, but not absolutely necessary

Daniel: Lives on Integrity, Words of Prophecy

  • Author: Beth Moore
  • Timeline: 12 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

Patriarchs: Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

  • Author: Beth Moore
  • Timeline: 10 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

The Armor of God

  • Author: Priscilla Shirer
  • Timeline: 7 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story

  • Author: Angie Smith
  • Timeline: 7 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes, but not necessary 

Finding I Am: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart

  • Author: Lysa TerKeurst
  • Timeline: 6 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes, but not absolutely necessary

Follow Me: A Call to Die, A Call to Live

  • Author: David Platt
  • Timeline: 6  Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

Mercy Like Morning: Discovering Truth is Seasons of Waiting

  • Author: Jane Johnson
  • Timeline: This book/guide is designed for individual use. It empowers the reader to prayerfully and accurately study the Bible using context clues, word studies, and a variety of other techniques. The book includes 7 chapters with follow-up examples and practice.


We also love Precept Upon Precept and Bible Study Fellowship classes. These are facilitated by trained instructors all over Canada and the USA. Click on the links below to find one near you.

Precept Upon Precept

Bible Study Fellowship

Expository Bible Study: Unfolding the Wisdom of God

Who is the wisest person you know? What do they do to make you believe they are wise? How do you feel when you’re around them?

Wisdom is hard to find in this life. We often equate wisdom to knowledge, but those who have knowledge don’t always do the wise thing. There are a lot of brilliant fools in the world. 

A quick Google search finds multiple lists of the character qualities of a wise person: Open-minded. Compassionate. Reflective. Always learning. The list goes on. Yet not one of these lists hints that we are born wise. We innately know that human wisdom is valuable, is learned. It comes with experience and study.

Biblical Wisdom

The Bible doesn’t define wisdom the way humans define wisdom. 

In Psalm 2:6-7, David tells us that it’s the Lord who gives wisdom – That he stores up sound wisdom in those who walk with integrity.  

The wise are those who are able to see the big picture and align their actions to reach the main goal.

This is the long game. Not just the experience in the now. True wisdom is seeing the past and having the foresight to know how it will affect the future.  

Charles Ryrie describes it like this: “The wisdom of God tells us that God will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time.”

God doesn’t have to learn wisdom. God has no need to learn or experience life to be wise. He is the embodiment of wisdom. 

The whole of the Bible is God’s wisdom unfolding. 

When you read the Word of God, His perfect wisdom is being revealed. Everything God says in scripture is said on purpose.  But sometimes it is hard to uncover what God is saying when we read the Bible. 

How can we truly understand God’s wisdom as we read Scripture? 

Using an expository method to study the Bible is a great way to uncover God’s perfect plan. We get to dig into God’s word ourselves and work to uncover the big idea of each passage. What a privilege! 

The goal of this way of studying the Bible is to explain it, prove it, and apply it to your life by looking at Scripture verse-by-verse. This type of approach is time-consuming, yes. But if something has to be consuming your time, why not let it be the pursuit of wisdom and truth?

The Three Steps to Expository Bible Study

Prayer is the most vital part of any scripture reading we do. The Bible is a living work, and its truths will be revealed over and over when we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and reveal meaning. Remember to ask His for wisdom and discernment when working through these three steps of Expository Bible Study.

1) Explain it: Begin by figuring out the context and purpose of the text you are studying. Who is the book addressed to? Who is the author? What is the historical situation? What is the major subject? Is there a “therefore”? – If so, there was likely important information that came before. Go back and read the verses or chapter before your section.  

2) Prove it:  Underline any words or places that you don’t yet know, then look them up! You can do this in your own Bible if it has maps and resources, or find trusted Bible sources such as word study books, a concordance, dictionary, Bible handbook, or lectionary. The Read Scripture app is also an excellent resource. The grammar and geography research will guide you into a deeper understanding of when and why this piece of scripture was written.

3) Apply It. I love this part! Our God meets us where we are. We need to ask ourselves – Why should I apply this Scripture? And how should I apply it?  Each verse in the Bible has one truth, but the application of that truth looks different depending on who is reading it, their culture and stage of life. 

Take Isaiah 40:31, for example: “But they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall walk and not faint.”

I have this verse underlined in all of my Bibles. The truth of this verse is the same for everyone – That if you are faithful to God, He will give you the perseverance you need to keep on going. However, when I underlined it in high school it meant that I could run my cross country race with confidence because God was with me. In college, the application of this verse was that I could survive these undergraduate years and it would be worth it at the end of those four years.  Currently, I apply this verse to my life through my calling to be a Bible teacher – Knowing that if I stay inside of God’s will and His calling that He will sustain me when I feel weak and under-qualified.

To expositionally study the Bible is to dig deep into God’s Word. It is to find treasure beyond price. 

 This is not the quick way. 

But if you are longing to deepen your relationship with God through a more technical study of his Word, then Expository Bible Study is worth your time.


For a quick-reference printable guide and worksheet, click here.


About the Author: Sarah Delamarter Benson is a wife and stay at home mom to her three young children. She is “somewhat organized” and is “ always singing and always dancing” per her children. She enjoys all kinds of music, most kinds of fitness, bible study, reading and caring for her small menagerie of animals.

She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Biblical Exposition program at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with a passion for pointing women and girls to Jesus through the truth of God’s Word. She is the founder of RagtagWarriors.com, an online community of women doing life together with grit and God.

Stuck Up a Tree – One Mom’s Reflection on Raising Godly Boys

A Boy, a Tree, and a Fireman

It was Easter weekend and my husband was out fishing the last of the spring salmon run. Like a normal weekend during fishing season, I’m often home alone with my boys. With a bye off t-ball, I decided to catch up on a months’ worth of laundry. I work full time and laundry sucks the life out of me, so I often procrastinate doing it. 

I shooed the boys outside and they took the opportunity to run out and play on the first dry day we’d had in months.  

Now, let me tell you a little bit about my boys. I ALWAYS need to be one step ahead of them. I have just now started showering alone, and my oldest is six. Even locks on the doors don’t keep them in. I constantly need to make sure they haven’t scaled the fence to go play with the neighbors or started the power tools in the garage while I’m distracted.  

I started in on the mound of laundry that was covering my kitchen table – Suspicious that they may find trouble.  “Marco-Polo” is a game we taught the boys to trick them into letting us know where they were – Occasionally yelling “Marco”, so they would respond with “Polo.” I started shouting to keep track of them outside (the neighbors think I’m crazy, but at least I know where my boys are). 

The response “Polo” was coming from a 65-foot-tall Ponderosa Pine in our backyard.  I could see Bridger, our youngest (age three), at the bottom of the tree and Tucker (five years old) in the tree.   

Tuck had never gone higher than 15 feet in a tree, so I let them play.  As a mom of boys, I have to walk a fine line in allowing them to explore and have fun but not hurt themselves or others in the process. Their nature is to climb and get dirty any chance they can.  

It had been about 30 minutes and I was making a good dent in the laundry when I heard Tucker calmly shout from the direction of the tree. 

“Mama. Call 911. Call the fire department. I can’t get down.”

Honestly, I thought I would head outside to find him 10 feet in a tree and only a little bit stuck, so I started videoing to capture the moment. 

“Tuck, where are you?” I asked, looking around for him. “I can’t see you.  Where are you?”

“I’m up here,” he replied.

Panic started to hit. I couldn’t see him. Anywhere. 

I went under the tree and looked 20 feet up into it. No Tucker. I backed away and strained to finally see a tiny little face – 60 feet up in the Ponderosa Pine, sitting on a branch looking out over the world.  

This was not at all what I was expecting. 

I rushed to call my brother in law, but it went straight to voicemail. I called my sister: “Is Otis home? I need his help getting Tuck out of a tree.”

Her response, “Just tell him to climb down” led me to pull out my phone and put her on Facetime. Her panic immediately echoed mine as she saw her nephew so high in the tree. “You may need to call the fire department…”

I looked for a neighbor or someone on the street that could climb up and help us. No one was home to help me. NO ONE!  

So I did what any mother whose 5-year-old was hanging on for dear life in a Ponderosa Pine tree. I called 911.  

“Hi, yeah my son is stuck 60 feet up in a tree. Can you please send the fire department to get him out?”

Those were words I never thought I would hear come out of my mouth. But when raising young boys I have said many things I never imagined, so I’ll just add this one to the list. 

All of this happened in a matter of 5 minutes. My youngest son fled up and over the back fence, taking advantage of the chaos,  and was running down the street to the neighbors. I reminded Tuck not to attempt climbing down at this point, and left to find the three-year-old. My sister lives in the neighborhood, so as I ran out the front door to track him down I saw her running toward my house in her socks carrying her 5-month-old in only a diaper. 

The fire department arrived and four men chuckled a little as they walked through the door.  Surely they thought I was an overprotective mom that called them for something minor. Boy were they in for a treat!

“Where is he?” The first one asked.

I pointed to the top of the tree, but it took a while for them to find him.  

“Oh! He’s way up there!” One said in surprise and pointed out Tuck’s location to the others. They stood there for a second wondering what to do when the youngest firefighter said; “I’m just going to climb up as far as I can and see if I can get to him.”

Let me remind you that when I started doing laundry I hadn’t changed out of my PJ’s and had kicked the boys out into the backyard before a morning cup of coffee. There I was standing with these men in my pajamas in my backyard.  And to top it all off, I recorded the whole thing. I just knew I needed to document this for my grandkids one day! 

Back to the story.  The fireman climbed about 10 feet in up the tree when I heard Tucker say, “OK, I’m coming down.”  

Insert facepalm here…  What? You could get down the whole time?!?  

I was relieved when the fireman told him to wait so he could guide him down on the strong branches.

Step by step, the young fireman led my 5-year-old down from the tree (jacket in his mouth because he knew mom would be extra mad if he left it up there), and safely to the ground. No boom trucks needed, just a little extra boost of confidence that came from having someone there next to him – To guide my young son and assure him that if he slipped, there was someone to catch him.

Lessons Learned

As parents, we want to give the world to our kids.  We want to cushion everything so they won’t feel pain.  We want to set them up for success at any cost and shelter them from all things that might hinder their future.  

But what if our job in raising little humans is establishing the grounding principles so they have the tools to move forward on their own?  Maybe we are just the extra boost of confidence – A guiding hand in case they slip?  

The fireman stood below Tuck as they climbed down together branch by branch, guiding his way, but I was the one who taught him the basic skills of climbing (well, my husband was the lead on this one), and the skills of listening and respecting the person giving him directions.  

I often revisit this experience and can’t help but liken the young fireman in Tucker’s story to the Holy Spirit. He is there to guide our children down the tree – Holding them every day as they maneuver the difficulties of life. But WE need to be the ones to teach them to listen and obey – To feel the Spirit’s gentle embrace leading them to the strong branches. 

Giving Roots

“Then he told them many things in parables saying:  ‘Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and birds came and devoured them.  Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, the thorns came up and choked it. Still other seeds fell on good ground and produced fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown. Let anyone who has ears listen.’” Matthew 13:3-9

“So listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground – this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he who has no root and is short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away.  Now the one sown among the thorns – this is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and deceitfulness of wealth chokes the word, it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground – this is one who hears and understands the word, who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what he has sown.” Matthew 13:18-23

I look at the parable from Matthew 13 about the sower and the three different types of soil, and can’t help but think of our experience with Tucker and the tree. 

My job as a parent is to prepare good soil for my sons’ roots to grow deep when they are young – So they can take all God has to offer them and yield much more in their life then we ever thought possible:  “But the one sown on the good ground – this is one who hears and understands the word, who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what he has sown.” Matthew 13:23

I need to be careful that I don’t extinguish the ambition and God given gifts out of them while tilling the soil to make it good for planting.  But if I can teach them to harness these ambitions for good, like Tuck’s climbing skills, ability to listen, obey, and respect authority, then God will do something amazing with them.  

In the End

We cut down the tree.

Tuck tried to climb it again the next day (ripping a huge hole in his pants five minutes before we had to leave for Easter service). 

Knowing that we would never be able to keep him out of it, we decided that the best thing to do now is take it away until he is old enough to handle the responsibility and safely climb down on his own. Sometimes helping our kids establish deep roots means providing boundaries and measures so the roots have time to grow. 

A Humble Prayer 

Dear Lord,

Let me mold my boys in a way that creates a soil for you to sow a harvest that multiplies.  Give me the insight and wisdom to parent my kids that gives them the foundation you need to shape them. Allow them to produce your fruit.  

It’s sometimes hard for me to parent in a way that is glorifying to you and I often lose my patience or am tired at the end of a long day.  Lord, please give me grace and fill me with a light that resonates out to my children, so even when I fall short they see that you are working in me the same way I am trying to teach them that you are working in them.  

Lord, please speak to me right now as I sit and listen (take a few moments to listen to the Holy Spirit) and give me a word that I can work on with my children this week.  

Thank you for your never ending grace and wisdom.  Thank you for blessing me with the responsibility of raising the future generation of your Kingdom.  I know you picked me to raise my boys for a reason. Help me live that out to fulfill the story you have for me.  

In Jesus name,



About the Author:  Nikki Duke is a speaker of truth and seeker of justice. God has given her the gift of raising boys – A task that is not for the faint of heart. With a stirring in her soul over the last year, God has led her on a journey to change the fate of the world by changing the hearts of the next generation of boys – Teaching them to empower, respect and protect women to be all God has created them to be.  Embarking on this new journey God has led her to speak and teach about the lessons the Holy Spirit has taught her on the path of motherhood.  

Along with writing, Nikki runs “My Friends Are Not For Sale,” an organization that raises awareness about sex trafficking here in our communities.  She is a mother to three, a wife, a full time working mom and a Daughter of the King. She is not content just sit still, but believes God has made each and everyone one of his daughters to do something extraordinary to make this world a better place.  Arise, my daughter, Arise.



First Fruits

We just finished the last jar of homemade strawberry jam and are anxiously awaiting the new crop of strawberries.  It promises to be a good crop this year because of just the right mix of sunshine and rain.  My 94 year old mother and I make enough to fill the freezer, supplying all the siblings and grands (and now great-grands) with sweet jam throughout the year.  

So we wait excitedly for the crop of the first-fruit of Pacific Northwest strawberries and then the bounty that will come.

There is great meaning to the term first-fruits in scripture and it is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament.  There are seven Feasts ordained by God for the Hebrews to follow listed in Leviticus, chapter 23.  Four in the spring and three in the fall.  And each of the Feasts signified something that had happened in Jewish history but is also a glimpse of what was or will happen in the future.  They point to Christ, they were fulfilled by Christ or will be fulfilled by Christ, in the age to come.  God’s entire plan of salvation is outlined by these feasts which are also related to Israel’s agricultural seasons.

The Feast of Passover, in the spring, is the start of three feasts over eight days: Passover, Unleavened Bread and First-fruits. Passover enacts the night the angel of death passed over the Jewish homes that had been marked with the blood of a lamb, but did not spare the houses of the Egyptians. It stands for justification by faith in the blood of the Lamb.  Jesus ate the Passover feast on the evening He was arrested and He died at 3pm the next day, the same time as the daily evening sacrifice of the lamb at the Temple.   In 1Corinthians 5:7b Paul tells us “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (ESV) 

The following day the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins and lasts for seven days.  Historically this was when the Hebrews left Egypt, it signifies that they left in haste not having time for bread with yeast to rise.  Yeast in the Bible is symbolic of sin, so unleavened in Hebrew (matzah) means sinless, and is a picture of Jesus, the only human without sin.  This is the time Jesus spends in the grave, He who conquers the grave, He who had no sin is the Bread of Life.

Next comes the Feast of First-fruits: Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.  ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. (Leviticus 23:9-14 NASB). 

It’s significant to remember that the Feast of First-fruits was instituted when the nation of Israel was still wandering in the desert eating Manna. It was observed in faith and obedience that God would lead the people to the land of ‘milk and honey’ he had promised.  After settling in Israel, no grain was to be harvested until this offering was brought before the Lord.

The Feast of First-fruits was a way for Israel to convey to God that all good things come from Him and that everything belongs to Him. It was also a way of expressing trust in God’s provision; just as He provided the first-fruits, so He would provide the rest of the harvest. Jesus arose from the dead on this day.  His resurrection was like a wave offering presented to the Father as the first-fruits of the harvest to come.

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming”, (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NASB)

So while first-fruits speak of a harvest of crops it also speaks of a spiritual harvest.  In Jeremiah 2:3 “Israel was holy to the Lord, the first-fruits of his harvest.” (ESV)  Israel was to be a promise of a greater harvest, as she would experience God’s redemption and then be a witness of this redemption to the nations; that they too might come to know the God of Israel.

And it’s expanded in the New Testament where Paul uses the Greek term aparche, which is an agricultural term to show we will be like Christ.  Just as first-fruits indicate what the harvest will be like, all Christians are dedicated to God in the manner of first-fruits.  We are told in James 1:18, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits (aparche) of His creatures.”(ESV)  We need to be mindful, just as God wanted Israel to be mindful, that we are redeemed and are to be a witness to others of that redemption.  In Romans 8:23 Paul says that as redeemed people we possess the “first-fruits (aparche) of the Spirit.” (ESV).  Just as the first-fruits of the harvest provide hope for the future, the fruit which the Spirit produces in us now provides hope that we will one day be like Christ.  The Feast of First-fruits is today our Easter.

Lastly, is the Feast of Pentecost, which means 50.  This was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of First-fruits, to commemorate the end of the barley harvest.  It was on this day the Holy Spirit came and the fearful disciples became bold men and the first of the spiritual harvest came in when 3,000 Jews heard the Gospel, believed and were baptized.  Two loaves of bread were offered as sacrifice in the Temple, on this day.  The number fifty signifies freedom and liberty. The number two signifies the number of witnesses, in this case both believing Jews and Gentiles that make up the Church, thus fulfilling the Feast of Pentecost.

So, just as we await the first-fruits of Pacific Northwest strawberries and the bounty that will come, we as the first-fruits of God’s harvest await the bounty of our resurrection and Heaven.  Remember the next time you eat strawberry jam that you are redeemed, the first-fruit of God, and a witness of Christ’s redemptive work.


About the Author:  Ellen Newman was a registered nurse for 45 years and is living proof that you are never too old to go back to school. She returned to college at age 60 to get a degree in Biblical Foundations from Multinomah University, and has a passion for seeing people engaged in the Word of God. Ellen has worked as a Community Pastor for Women at Summit View Church in Vancouver, Washington, and is a seasoned Bible student/teacher.  This picture was taken in Israel – A place she has visited multiple times and is dear to her heart.

Podcast 016 – “The Art of Mentoring” with Vicky Dillon

Gospel-centered living means we admit our inadequacy, know we need support, and learn from others further along or stronger in their faith journey.  But how do we enter into these relationships and what expectations should we have?⁣⁣ In this podcast, host Lisa DaSilva and longtime mentor Vicky Dillon chat candidly about their own relationship and expose some of the joys and challenges in mentor partnerships.

Noteworthy Quotes

What is mentorship?  “When people come along side each other, encourage, teach and disciple. ‘Go and make disciples’ were Jesus’ parting words.”

“There’s no magic formula. One person has something to share from their own experience and they give that and share it with somebody else.”

“We’re meant to be in relationship with one another.  We’re created that way.  There is something beautiful – a blessing that can happen when we invite others into our world.”

“You were willing to learn, teachable, humble.  It doesn’t happen overnight.”

“Talk less.  Listen more and listen with a discerning heart.”

“Typically, things we struggle with, others struggle with as well.”

“Part of being mentored is being willing to be really honest.  When you mentor someone, you also need to open and vulnerable.”

“It takes purposeful effort to press pause and really evaluate, ‘where is my heart?'”

“How can we be honest with others if we aren’t honest with ourselves?”


Scripture References

Ephesians 4:7,11-13

“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”.

Titus 2:3-5

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

1 Corinthians 11:1

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:2

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

                                                                                                                                    About Vicky Dillon: Vicky lives in Camas, Washington and is the wife of a pastor and mom of two adult sons. While she’s trained as an accountant, Vicky has served in vocational and lay ministry for the majority of her career. She is currently the board chair of Journey Theater – A local theater group ministering to youth here in the Portland/Vancouver area. She also serves on the board of SHAPE NW-a summer camp program for kids. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, tennis, snowshoeing, puzzles and game nights with friends and family. 

Coming Alongside – 5 Helpful Hints to Successful Mentoring

She lived in a basement suite not far from campus. We chatted in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil and I took my time choosing tea from a basket overflowing with options. A candle burned in the living room as we settled under cozy blankets and began talking.

Sue was the Director of Student Ministries at my university and I was undoubtedly nervous to be alone with her for the first time. I’d watched her from a distance my entire Freshman year and admired her faith, relational prowess, confidence, and strength. She was the woman we all wanted to be around – To learn from and laugh with. I secretly longed to know her and for her to know me.

And not just the me everyone else saw, but the me hidden under layers of hurt and secrets. I wanted her to pray for me, love me, and cover me with truth. I wanted to trust her, and for her to trust me.

Invitations for conversation over tea would become more of a norm over the next few years, as would chats in her office and walks around campus. She asked me hard questions and seemed genuinely interested in the answers. We kept in touch as she moved from singleness to married life and transitioned out of vocational ministry when pregnant with her son.

The life lessons Sue taught by simply allowing me to come alongside her were invaluable, as were the things I’ve learned and gained from other mentors in each season of change. There were teachers who invited me to babysit and stay for dinner during tumultuous and broken teenage years, Bible Study leaders who patiently answered my many questions in an effort to draw me closer to the Lord, and a pastor turned sister who has mentored me for over a decade. My life has been blessed by more experienced women coaching, instructing, listening, and challenging me along the way.

This is why I believe so deeply in the power of mentoring relationships and why I seek to come alongside others in their journey to Christ-centered wholeness.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the process:

1. Be brave 

Mentorship begins with boldness. See someone in your church community, Bible study or school social circle you’d like to meet with and learn from? Ask them! It might feel scary, but the worst that can happen is they say no or not now. Just think of the fruit that may come if they say YES!  I think it’s worth the risk.

And to those of you being asked, please don’t shy away from the opportunity and responsibility. Women are longing for your wisdom. Share it. Let them watch you and learn from you.

Do you know the Word well? Teach it! Read scripture together and model your study strategies.

Do you have the steadfast patience of Job in difficult circumstances? Allow someone going through a rough season to see how you do it. Tell them about your journey to deep, sustaining faith and let them be a firsthand witness to the Lord’s strength in you.

Have you raised children? Great! Share what you’ve learned and experienced with a mom of little ones who’s still knee-deep in the trenches, or one who is battling the teenage years.

I understand the fear and trepidation that comes with trying to fit one more thing into an already full schedule (really, I do), or the anxiety associated with believing you have little to give (yup, major hold-up here). Just know this: There is no prescribed method and you can create a relationship with expectations that work for both of you.

2. Be flexible and creative

When I was a young mom I often chatted with my mentor Vicky when she was driving. I’d put the phone on speaker mode and make lunch, wash dishes, or fold laundry while we talked. Before our relationship evolved into a more natural one, we had monthly scheduled meetings that included legitimate homework and tools to help hone my leadership and ministry skills.

During what I refer to as my striving season, Kim and I laid on the couch and listened to worship music or read scripture out loud because she knew it was just what I needed. She’d check-in throughout the week to make sure I hadn’t added more to my already overflowing plate, and came over to help me make chili and cornbread as we puttered around my messy kitchen reflecting on how best to balance (or get rid of) the expectations I’d placed on myself.

Fast-forward a few years and I’ve found myself in more of a mentoring role. I may visit a young mom and sit on her living room floor to chat and pray while her babies play and crawl around us. Sometimes we just text – unable to find a time that works, but unwilling to lose touch.

Morning walks or coffee dates are my current go-to for engaging with young women – The added bonus is that they know the BEST quaint cafes and have introduced me to some of the cutest spots in the city. My current role in women’s ministry allows opportunities for valuable time with sweet millennials, even if just for a quick one-time meeting at my counter, over coffee, or for a quick lunch.  They have SO much to offer, and I always leave more enriched and filled than when I came.

There doesn’t always have to be a schedule or process – Just a willingness to engage, grow, and be used. Go ahead and get creative!  The possibilities for getting together and learning from one another are truly endless.

3. Get real 

When beginning a mentoring relationship, be honest about your fear, time limitations, and even expectations. In a more organic relationship these conversations may come about more naturally, but they’re essential to sustaining ones that are more systematic and planned.

Once a rhythm and trust is established, I’ve found that the deepest growth comes when both people in the mentoring relationship are open and aware of their weaknesses. All of my mentors have been beautiful fruit-bearers whose lives testify to their faith and walk with the Lord, but they don’t pretend to be perfect. I love and admire that about them. My greatest lessons were learned when they shared dark moments, sad times, “not-knowing,” and even personal struggles – All the while believing God would give them the strength to overcome. The best mentors are aware of their inability and serve out of a deep-assurance that Jesus really is their everything.

4. Pray (out loud)

No, really. Do it. I didn’t understand or value the power of praying out loud for people until I was mentored. When Sue asked how she could pray for me, she actually DID IT. Immediately after I answered.

Vicky always ended our Wednesday afternoon calls with heartfelt prayer for me – Right there over the phone while I paced back and forth across the hardwood floor with open hands accepting her intercession.

It was and continues to be the most powerful part of our relationship – Inviting God into the mess or praising Him for provision. So now I do it, too. Anywhere and at anytime. Because that’s what they modeled, and my greatest hope is that the women I love and mentor will benefit from laying everything at His feet the same way they taught me to.

5. It’s OK to end it 

Not even the best things last forever, and some (likely most) mentorships involve a season. When Kim agreed to meet with me, we knew I needed her skill and gift for a time – That when I had grown, changed, and developed the necessary skills to be more patient with my children and stop the unnecessary striving (spoiler alert – It’s all about a relationship with Jesus and staying in the Word), she would begin the necessary process with someone else. It’s not that we stopped loving or liking each other – She will always remain a cherished part of my life and I’m forever grateful for her influence – But her call was to mentor many women in the ways of Christ. It would have been selfish for me to hold on to her for longer than necessary.

The same is true for Sue. Her role on campus ensured she had dozens of mentees, and she continues to mentor women in her role as a counselor and lay-minister even today. I was blessed to have her for a time, and while I still love seeing her and count it a joy to talk on the phone or touch base online, Sue has other women to attend to. Her role was to guide me in my college years and I’m so very thankful she did.

Sometimes, mentor partnerships just don’t work out. You may have had different expectations, values, or learn that you don’t connect the way you thought you would. It’s ok. Really it is. Love each other anyway, appreciate the lessons you learned, grow from the experience, and find someone else.

Because here’s the thing, I’m a living testimony to the transformation that occurs through mentoring relationship. They work, friends. Really they do, and I want you to benefit from them as much as I have.


It’s been 24 years since I first met with Sue in her cozy basement suite. We talked on the phone the night I was writing this article and she prayed for me (out loud) and offered the sweetest encouragement (along with some much-needed guidance).  We don’t get to see each other much anymore, but I’m forever grateful for the influence she’s had over me.

And If you ever find yourself at my house for an impromptu or scheduled chat, I’ll likely offer a tea basket filled with a myriad of options, light a candle, and make sure there are plenty of blankets by the sofa.

For His glory –



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

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Lisa loves the local church and is proud to call Summit View Community Church in Vancouver, WA home.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.  


The World’s Best Mom

We can’t all be the “World’s Best Mom,” but Instagram paints a different story. Post after post this Mother’s Day stated that each person on the site had the “Best Mom Ever.” I asked my kids if we should do a vote online and get down to the bottom of this.  

What makes a great mom?  Is it the connection the mother has with her children?  Her ability to have fun, to listen, to give great advice, to provide… all of these?  There is an old saying that “you can’t do all things great, all the time.” Sometimes we pick and choose what we are going to focus on and what our kids need and put our efforts into these areas. When our kids’ needs change, we change with them.  But what do we do in the areas we are lacking in? Try harder, or let it go?

I’m probably not the world’s most fun mom, nor am I the world’s most organized mom, but I can sit and have a conversation with my kids like nobody’s business. I have always joked that my husband would have made a way better stay at home parent because he would have had the house whipped into shape and the kids would have had more routine and schedule. But I was the one to be there every day and by the grace of the Lord they somehow survived. The Lord blessed me with my three awesome kids and I did what I could do at the time with what I knew.  I always pray that the Lord fills in the spots that I missed or messed up on. Mom guilt is REAL. We all have regrets and there are areas that we are all going to mess up on. It’s one of the reasons we are in need of a Savior – To redeem broken things.

Glorify Christ

The best thing we can do for our children is to be in constant communion with God.  Our number one job is to glorify Christ in our lives and in our homes. When we glorify Christ the Holy Spirit is present.  Wow, that sounds so simple. Just glorify Christ and all will be well? Well, it’s simple yet difficult and complex. We need to have discipline in our lives that allows us to spend time in God’s word.  

Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.  A great way to study God’s word is to utilize the Inductive Bible Study Method (link here) We need to know God’s word to truly know and understand Him.  Be in constant prayer “Pray without ceasing” (Thessalonians 5:17), and live a life that points others to Him: “Be holy because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).  Simple yet difficult.

It is ok to remind our children that we are sinners in need of a Savior and forgiveness.  We will make mistakes. We are not the picture of righteousness, but Christ is, and we need to continually point our children to Him. Hopefully, our humbleness will be seen as a strength by our children and they will model this behavior.  2 Corinthians 12:9 says “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Pursue Our Children

Reading through the Old Testament, it is almost shocking to see how many similarities I share with the Israelites. I quickly forget what God has done in my life as I start to fear and want to take control over so many areas of my life.  I have a short memory sometimes. God is so faithful as I seem to wander. He continually pursues me and pulls me back to himself. Sometimes this looks like a desert experience and sometimes this looks like straight up discipline.

Our Heavenly Father pursues us to bring us back to Him.  

Just stop and think about that for a second….

He could allow us to wander away and turn the other way.  We are needy and whiney and have a need for control at times.  He still loves us and brings us back to Himself. THIS is one of the major tenants of His love and we need and long for this.  

Much like our relationship with our Lord, our children are longing for us to pursue them.  Many times they don’t even know it.

I have teenage clients that struggle in their relationships with their parents and act distant or rebellious toward them.  The thing that I hear over and over again is the child’s heart to be close to their parent. They will convey how irritating their parents are but they want more time and attention from them.  When I bring the parent into the counseling room the parent will say something like, “I try to talk to them but they push me away and they want me to leave them alone.” I will ask the child directly if this is what they want and they will most of the time say “no”.  

A child wants to know that they are worth pursuing and that the parent is willing to risk their pride and being hurt to pursue the child God has given them.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are boundaries that need to be put in place by parents, but many times a child just wants to be pursued. Think about your own childhood.  I can remember being upset with my parents and wanting them to just come in and say something like “I know things are tough right now, but I love you and I am here for you.” Just sitting silently on the side of their bed, putting a hand on their shoulder (even if they shrug it off), praying for them, or taking them by themselves to be with you.  This is something that needs to be done deliberately. It must become a priority when you feel your child drifting away from you.

Many times we don’t feel like being around our child.  Let’s get real, they can drive us out of our minds at times.  It’s important to take a break and set boundaries, but it is also important to maintain relationship with our children and pursue them.  In most situations relationship restoration rests on the parent as we train and guide them.

Hold fast.



About the Author: Kimberly Crum graduated from Western Seminary with a degree in Mental Health Counseling and is currently a LMHCA working at A New Life Christian Counseling in Vancouver, WA.  Kimberly specializes in working with women and young women in many areas of mental health.  She offers SITT (Story Informed Trauma Therapy) which is an evidenced based trauma therapy which brings healing to those affected by childhood trauma.  She lives with her husband of 24 years and has recently launched 2 of her 3 children.  She loves integrating her clinical training with biblical truths.  

Podcast 015 – “Though the Mountains be Shaken” with Stacie Campbell Waits

Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10


What would you do if your world seemed to be falling apart? Where would you find hope? Who would you turn to?

Stacie Campbell Waits joins host Lisa DaSilva to tell her story of love, loss, and commitment to follow Christ even in tragedy.

About Stacie Campbell Waits: Stacie is a California transplant whose life journey has brought her to Vancouver, WA. She has been involved in ministry since the young age of eighteen and is passionate about people. One of her favorite things is sharing God’s love and showing others how they can find joy no matter what circumstances come their way. Stacie’s story of love and loss is a beautiful testament to God’s faithfulness. Her journey of being a youth pastor’s wife, having three children, widowed, single mom, remarried, step-mom (aka “bonus” mom) to two, widowed again, and now single mom raising teenagers has given her a platform of great insight to speak directly to the heart of women in various seasons of life. Stacie is a teacher by trade, speaker by calling, and currently volunteers in her church’s youth ministry mentoring young women. One of Stacie’s greatest strengths is her authenticity. She loves to hear people’s stories and encourage them in their season all while pointing them to the beauty of Jesus.





Equipping the Nicaraguan Church to “Stand Firm”

group photo of Nicaraguan women's conference

Arise Ministries Collective’s mission is to equip women in the church in Bible study so they are prepared to take the Good News to others. Most often Arise does this locally in Vancouver, Washington but this May seven women had the chance to travel to Nicaragua to equip the global church to be his hands and feet.

Managua, Nicaragua

The first thing to hit us was the heat. The air conditioning at the fringes of the Managua, Nicaragua airport, where people stood waiting, couldn’t keep up. The people in the waiting area were packed together like chaotic sardines, some asking if we needed a taxi, others with written signs.

After a full day of traveling from Portland, Oregon, we wearily wandered into the crowd looking for a familiar face. William, our Villa ride found us first, guiding us outside to Susie Miller and the two Forward Edge/Villa Esperanza vehicles parked on the overcrowded curb. After loading our bags in, we piled into the vehicles, thankful for the weak air conditioning, and absorbed the sights and sounds of Nicaragua on the long-ish drive to the Villa Esperanza.

The Villa isn’t a mission trip you may envision – it is a mix of serenity and exhaustion.

Once you pass the gates of Villa Esperanza you enter a peaceful space of mango trees and flowering bushes. Birds sing. The team homes have bunk beds and bathrooms with cold showers and blowing fans.

May is hot. So those fans do very little. The cold showers are nice though. And this may be one of the only times to rejoice in cold showers. Sleep can be hard to find but the food is always served with a gracious smile.

Getting settled in the Villa we began the process of figuring out what we were doing over the next four days. We planned to pack a lot into our four days on the ground. The main focus of our trip was to equip women in Bible study.

Holding Our Plans Loosely

We went prepared to do a two-day conference for women in local churches. Our conference theme was “Stand Firm.” We had workbooks printed in Spanish and English. We had our teachings about God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, holiness, and mercy prepared. We were as ready as we could be.

We also went with our expectations held loosely.

We had prayed for months for this trip so we knew that God was in control of how things would go.

We had a plan but God was going to be in charge.

It is hard to know what will happen on mission trips. I have been traveling to Nicaragua since 2008 and each trip has its own challenges, its own lessons, its own beauty, and tears.

Sometimes the lessons learned don’t really hit you until you are back home and can reflect.

In the last few weeks home, I have been thinking back over our six days in Nicaragua, reflecting on what God was revealing to me.

I think much of what God was using our team to do is reflected in a little home situated down a small street in a Managuan neighborhood.


Kenia and Sarah

We had been told the story of Kenia and Sarah before we piled into the bus that would take us to their home. The tragic events that led us to Kenia’s door pulled at all of our hearts.

Two years ago, Kenia was a normal mom. She had a husband, a twelve-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. Kenia’s daughter, Sarah, was a normal, active three-year-old when she needed some dental work done. Kenia and her husband were told they would need to have their daughter sedated and they saved money to afford the best dentist they could find.

At the dentist, things went horribly wrong. Sarah was very young and during the procedure, she was over sedated. The dentist and staff waited too long to call for help. Tragically, Sarah now suffers from permanent brain damage that has left her needing 24-hour care.

For Kenia, the loss of her healthy child was compounded by the loss of her husband who abandoned them, her job, and her home. In many ways, Kenia is no longer able to be a mom to her older son, who lost his family as it broke apart.

It has been two years and Sarah is now five. Kenia and Sarah now live together in a room in her mother-in-law’s home. The mother-in-law graciously took them into her small three-bedroom home – probably less than 1000 square feet – after Kenia’s husband abandoned them. The now fourteen-year-old son also has a room in the house along with two other family members.


The God of Comfort

Praying over Kenia and Sarah

While she lives in her mother-in-law’s home, Kenia still has to provide for Sarah and she has no time to work. Sarah now needs full-time care. She requires a complex array of medications along with other needs – diapers, syringes, formula, physical therapy and more. Sarah’s father provides a little support but the fourteen-year-old son must also work to bring in money.

Kenia is stuck in deep sadness. She has lost her family and a vibrant little girl and her daily life reminds her constantly of her loss. She struggles to forgive. And she struggles to find hope. But in the midst of all this, she became a Christian searching for answers in the God who provides and comforts.

Kenia’s story was brought to the attention of staff at the Villa who are working to find out what she needs and how they can responsibly help. Our team came to her little street and into her bedroom with prayers, encouragement, and food but long-term Kenia needs the local church to encourage her broken heart and walk with Kenia on her journey with little Sarah.


Citizens of Heaven

And that is what God allowed our team to be a part of – equipping the local Managuan churches to stand firm in the midst of trials.

When 30-ish women from 15 churches showed up to our conference we didn’t know exactly what God was using us for – we didn’t know these women’s stories, we just knew we had been called to equip them to read Scripture faithfully.

Every believer is now part of God’s holy nation matter where they live (I Peter 2:9). We are citizens of another country. And we are called to proclaim the light of the gospel to the places we live.

Lisa said it clearly at the end of the conference when she stated: 

“We stand firm because God and God alone in all of His sovereignty, all of His faithfulness, all of His holiness and all of His mercy has given us the prize of heaven. One day we will get the crown. We are no longer citizens of this world. We are citizens of heaven.”

When believers in the church know the Bible, study it deeply and let it change our lives it also brings practical hope. Soaking in God’s character changes how we live with others as friends, neighbors, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. We care about what God cares about.


God is the Center of Peace and Happiness

Nicaraguan woman studying her bible

And God cares about human flourishing. We are created in God’s image to care for creation and each other. Scripture commands us over and over to love each other and Jesus’ earthly ministry provided spiritual hope and physical healing to the broken.

In Matthew 9:1-7, a paralytic is brought to Jesus and the first thing Jesus does is to forgive him of sins. He takes care of his spiritual needs first before he takes care of his physical ones.

Poverty is a result of broken relationships between God and us. Our spiritual poverty leads us to darkness and eternal death.

When we truly love God we love our neighbor and we want them reconciled with God. We want to bring light. In the light of God’s love, new things grow. Peace. Joy. Grace. Forgiveness. Mercy. We often want to take care of their material needs, which isn’t a bad thing when done correctly, but as C.S. Lewis writes,

God cannot give us peace and happiness apart from himself because there is no such thing.”


Ambassadors for Christ

When the people in the church are equipped to have a proper view of Scripture we are able to properly fulfill our call to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). It becomes natural to live lives filled with compassion for our neighbors like Kenia.

This means we serve outside of our comfort zone. We serve because Christ served.

When the church is equipped to read Scripture rightly it reminds us that all that we have is His and given to us by His grace – so, therefore, we can share it. Spiritual joy in God helps us abandon our comfort to serve.

We don’t live in Nicaragua. It is not our home. But God used us and our little conference to build the local Nicaraguan church and empower Nicaraguan women to more deeply understand God’s character and His word so they can bring light to the darkness in their own country.

The women who attended our conference had a lot to say about what they had learned and we were blessed by their prayers, their joy, their tears, their stories and their faith in the midst of trials.

Here are some highlights of how the conference impacted them:

“We are so grateful because God has chosen us to be his servants. Everything we have learned here is to respond to our merciful God and he forgives and is a good God to us.”
“When we know how sovereign God is, it’s easier to obey.”
“We know that the reward will not be here on earth. We can go through the fire knowing our reward is in heaven.”
“What I have learned is to be courageous and I have learned that from the word of God.”
“I feel so joyful because I have learned a lot. The Lord wants us to stand in the gap and be courageous and strong.”

We are truly blessed to be God’s hands and feet to strengthen the church globally.


Would you like to join us in our mission?

Please prayerfully consider giving to Arise Ministries Collective to equip and encourage women in the local and global church.

About the Author

Valerie Hooks photoValerie Hooks:  I like to write, read, drink tea, and research stuff. I am a passionate follower of Jesus. I have teenagers (pray for me) and a fantastic husband. I call Summit View Church in Vancouver, Washington the place I am loved, honed and challenged in my walk with Christ. 


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