Summer Shore

Summer Shore is co-founder of Revive Ministries, a writer, speaker, and co-host of the Experience Revival podcast. She has been an on-air personality in Christian radio for the past 6 years and has been speaking and teaching for 18 years, using humor and real-life experiences to connect with women, speak to their hearts, and draw them closer to God. She also enjoys singing and leading worship whenever she can. Summer and her husband, Jake, have 3 boys that keep her on her toes! Summer loves spending time traveling and going on adventures with her family, especially if it involves going to her favorite Cuban restaurant. When she’s not on the air or working with Revive, you’ll find her curled up in a fuzzy blanket with a mug of chai tea and a Hallmark movie. You can connect with her on Instagram @summer_shore.

  • Identity in Christ in Africa

    It’s been a minute since we updated you on our Bible Studies being sent to women around the world! 

    In December 2023 and January of this year, we sent a total of 150 Bible studies to Africa! Over 50 different congregations in Uganda, Kenya, Mombasa, Nairobi, and beyond received copies of Royal: Finding Your Identity in Christ to share with their congregations, families, and communities. 

    Since then we have been amazed and humbled as God is already doing more than we could have dreamed! Not long after the Bible studies arrived in Kenya, we started getting updates on the various women and churches who are growing in God’s Word through this study:

    Sister Shore, this is just a short update. I am having a good and fruitful trip so far. We’ve been visiting three local congregations a day and as of yesterday, we have had 19 souls putting on Christ. Today we will be visiting a congregation with halfway deaf brethren. Also, I’ll be sharing with the deaf women. They can read English luckily enough. The ladies were happy to receive the Finding Your Identity in Christ gospel material and they’re going to study with women in their congregations -Brother Martin

    A sister who is a widow in a congregation I visited in December reported about her work with sharing your studies with other widows and ladies in the area. Such wonderful news. She uses the study material and the Bible to teach and encourage them. It’s such a wonderful joy to know that they are making use of the lessons. Pray for them! These women live difficult lives. Some go without food and medical attention but are glad they can have time to come study and get encouraged. -Brother Martin

    Beatrice (left) & Jennifer (center) are school administrators from Missions of Hope International Area 2 School, in Mathare Valley, Nairobi. They received 50 copies of the Identity in Christ Bible study and have started a study with teachers at the school!

    After sending the first round of Bible Studies, we wanted to create a version that is culturally relevant to women in Africa. We are so thankful to our friends at Village of Hope in Uganda for helping us update the study. The new version is called Daughter of God: Finding Your Identity In Christ, and will better connect with the culture and experiences that women in Africa face. We have also included the full scriptures (instead of just references) throughout the study so that those without Bibles can have the Word of God at their fingertips. Today our friend, Cindy, is traveling to Uganda with the new version and will share it with the women at Village of Hope. 

    We had no idea who would receive the copies of the Bible studies. But God did. He saw the widows group that needed encouragement. He saw the deaf women who may have never heard His spoken Word, but now are reading His words of love, and how they are beautifully and wonderfully made. God saw the teachers at the Missions of Hope school and as these teachers serve and lead their students, they can be reminded of who they are in Christ, and be living examples of Jesus’ love. God sees the women at Village of Hope and meets them in their need, through His people and through His Word.

    While women in Africa are going through the Identity in Christ Bible study, this week we also started going through it online with a group of almost 80 women from all over the United States. It has been incredible knowing that as we do this study, we are not just united with the ladies here, but also across the continents. We are all studying God’s Word together, as daughters in His Kingdom.

    Please join us in praying for all these women, that they will:

    • Know and experience God’s love and grow in their faith as they learn who they are in Christ.
    • Learn how they are uniquely gifted and have a place and a purpose in the Kingdom of God.
    • Be empowered by the Holy Spirit to boldly live out their faith.

    And please pray for us as we continue to follow God’s calling to share His Word with women worldwide—may He be glorified!

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  • Fresh Start with Jesus

    With flowers popping up, and Easter just around the corner, the optimism of a new season is all around. Especially coming out of dark winter, the light and new life of spring offers a welcome reprieve, full of promise and hope.

    All this newness (and that extra hour of daylight) inspired me to do some spring cleaning. I opened the curtains to let in more light and figure out which areas needed a little extra TLC. I opened all the windows and let the spring breeze air out the stale corners of the house that hadn’t seen the bright light of day in a while.

    I stood there for a moment, breathing in the sweet scent of the recent rain, and fresh-cut grass, and I realized there are probably parts of my heart that need the same treatment. There are corners in my heart that hadn’t seen the bright light of day in a while, and parts of me that were still holding on to the old ways instead of walking in the light of Christ as a new creation. 

    But that’s the beauty of this verse in 2 Corinthians. As Christ-followers, we can throw open the shutters of our hearts and let the light of Jesus sweep through and renew us. We can breathe deep of new mercies. We are released from the slavery of sin and are made new by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. In Christ we are raised to new life, to walk in new ways, with new hope.

    Every Easter, we remember that the story of Jesus did not end at the cross. The cross was the plot twist-Jesus overcame death and the grave and rose to life again. We have that same power living in us through the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, we have the power to leave the grave behind us and walk forward as a new creation.

    Because God did not intend for us to stay stuck in darkness. God intends for us to awaken, arise, and step forward in faith into new life. But not on our own power or strength. 

    When God sent Jesus to redeem and restore humanity, it was more than just a rescue mission. God came near, revealed His heart through His Son, and through Jesus gave us access to all the resources and power of the Kingdom of God. 

    It’s not about us, or our ability, it’s about Jesus and what He has done and is doing in us. It’s about having a heart that is willing to be transformed in His presence and letting the light of his love shine through us in our everyday lives. It’s living daily in the awareness that the very same power that raised Jesus from the grave, now lives in us. Because of Christ, we live in a new reality-standing firm in the unshakable Kingdom of God. 

    That renewing and transformation leads to seeing things from a Kingdom perspective. We walk through our day, aware of God’s power and presence, and look for ways to join Him. Maybe it’s taking the time to listen to someone who is hurting. Or when you have a super long day and you are weary, you pause and pray and lean into the power that we have in Christ. Maybe it’s standing firm in your faith, even when it feels vulnerable. Or leaving the grave of sin and shame behind you, so that when the world looks messy and hopeless, your heart can be confident and steadfast. As a result, our lives can reflect the light of Christ like the sunrise spreading across the horizon of a brand new day.

    Are there places in your heart that could use some “spring cleaning” and renewal? Any ways that you could use a fresh start? No matter what you are facing, there is no mess too big for God. You are never so far gone that God cannot reach into your situation and breathe new life into you. His mercies are new every morning, every minute, every second. He can make you new, and set you on a new path. Whatever Jesus is calling you to, He’s already there waiting for you. Let’s open the windows of our hearts and let His light in.

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  • Helping Women in Africa Know Who They Are In Christ!

    I reread the message in my inbox, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Six years ago, I never would have imagined our ministry would be sending Bible studies across continents to serve women on the other side of the world. But now, here was my friend, Brother Martin, asking if we could help.

    “Will you please help the women at the congregations here in Kenya know who they are in Christ?”

    I had just posted a reel on Instagram about Revive Ministries, and in the video, I mentioned that our Royal: Finding Your Identity in Christ Bible study is now available online year-round. Brother Martin was hoping we could send 50 printed copies of that very Bible study to Kenya so that he could deliver to 8 different churches in the area.

    I felt my heart leap and a smile spread across my face as I began to imagine what God might be doing in this moment. I immediately called Melissa, my bestie and fellow co-founder/director of Revive, and we began preparations to print and ship the Bible studies to Kenya.

    Let me tell you, when God sets His people in motion, it is a collaborative thing of beauty. A couple of local churches and one of our donors came together to help with the costs and the Bible studies were on their way!

    The package finally arrived in Mombasa, and just a few days later we got the first exciting update. What had started as a small trip to a few churches had grown into a 21-church tour to share the gospel and give copies of the Royal: Finding Your Identity In Christ Bible study to each congregation. 

    What was even more exciting was that the women receiving the Bible study would also be teaching and leading other women in their churches, families, and communities, helping them understand who they are in Christ. Each Bible study would impact not just one woman, but many women with the life-changing truth of God’s Word. 

    Tears of joy and affection streamed down my face when I saw these pictures. I just wanted to reach into the photo and hug them and tell them just how loved by God they are. And until I hopefully can someday, that’s exactly what these Bible studies will do. It will tell them about our God who loves them more than they can imagine, who created them beautifully and uniquely for a purpose right where they are. Our God who sees them and cherishes and delights in them. And it will tell them of our God who empowers them through the Holy Spirit to boldly live out a faith that will ripple out for generations to come. 

    Here’s the most amazing thing: not only did God open doors in Kenya, but when we told another friend about our Bible studies in Africa, they asked if they could take 50 copies to Uganda next month to 31 churches there! Friends, that’s over 50 churches in Africa receiving Biblical resources to help women grow in their faith and love for Jesus. 

    The effect is exponential: each woman who gets a copy of the Bible study shares it with multiple people in their churches, families, and communities, and it just keeps growing from there. And I have a feeling that God is just getting started. 

    I pray that someday Revive Ministries can travel in person to the congregations that have received Royal: Finding Your Identity In Christ. It would be incredible to see them and hug them, pray with them, and worship our Almighty and Loving Father together. Until that day, whether on this side of heaven or the next, our prayer remains the same:

    “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:17-21)

    Would you consider helping us send more Bible studies to Africa? We are currently raising funds to send 50 more Bible studies to Uganda in January. A gift of $20 will provide one Bible study for a woman in Uganda, who will share it with countless others. 

    Thanks to a generous partner, all donations will be matched up to $1,000 until 11:59 pm December 31, 2023! Anything raised above and beyond our goal will go to continuing to provide Biblical resources to women worldwide. 

    We want as many women to know and experience the love of Christ, and to see it transform their lives. Your gift can make a real difference! Will you help?

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  • Experiencing Advent Through God’s Word

    As we enter this Advent Season, it feels like there’s just a lot going on. Christmas shopping, special concerts and programs to attend for little ones, winter sports and finals for students, fewer daylight hours, and a general sense that time is accelerating when we’re not looking. 

    There are countless opportunities to experience God at Christmas, but there can also be countless distractions and demands competing for our energy and attention. It can be a challenge to feel connected to God when life feels like a blur of activity and lights. 

    Over the next 4 weeks, we’ll be sharing different ways to experience God’s presence and love this Advent season. It is our prayer that you will be able to draw near to Him and that His love, joy, peace, and hope will fill your heart to overflowing so that you can help others experience God too.

    One of my favorite childhood memories is of my family reading the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible every Christmas Eve. When my brother and I were little, my mom and dad would take turns, and then as we got older, my brother and I joined in. And even though it felt like we’d read it a thousand times, there was something about reading it next to the Christmas tree, under the soft glow of the lights that made it seem even more special. 

    John 1:1-5 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    We often think of the story of Jesus starting as a baby in the manger. But this passage in John reminds us that Jesus is The Word and that His story starts at the very beginning of everything. He is the Beginning and the End. He was with God at creation and it is through Him that all things were made. 

    Yet, despite His great power and might, His infinite wisdom, and eternal nature, Jesus humbled himself to come to earth with the singular purpose of redeeming us and restoring us to God. He was fully God and fully human and experienced everything that we do. Our Savior is not distant, indifferent, or ignorant of what we face daily. He knows firsthand what it’s like to navigate all the joys, heartaches, challenges, and victories of this life. 

    The song Arrival by Hillsong captures it beautifully:

    The One who holds the stars
    In the creases of His hands
    Is the One who holds my heart
    Like a mother once held Him

    The holy Word of God defined by name
    The Author climbed inside the page

    Oh, come now hail His arrival
    The God of creation
    Royalty robed in the flesh He created
    Jesus the Maker has made Himself known
    All hail the infinite infant God

    The fact that God would go to such lengths to be with us is part of what makes spending time in God’s Word so impactful. It’s the story of God’s radical love for us. It’s powerful in every circumstance, in every corner of the world, and in every generation. God’s Word is alive and active, reaching the deepest places in our hearts and minds and transforming us. It meets us where we are, but does not leave us there. 

    During this time of year when we remember the arrival of Jesus, we also look forward to His arrival again one day. We eagerly anticipate with joy and longing, the day when we can behold Jesus face to face, in all His glory, tenderness, and might. 

    This Christmas, I want to encourage you to spend time with God in His Word. Dig deeper and learn more about what you are reading. Don’t be afraid to cross reference, journal, read the same passage again out loud, or talk about what you’re reading with a friend. You’ll be amazed at the depth of richness and meaning that is waiting for you. 

    My prayer for you is that as you read your Bible, you’ll read it through the lens of God’s radical love for you and know that He has gone to the greatest lengths for you to be with Him. Search for God in His Word, sit before Him in eager anticipation, and He will show up every single time. I pray His words will settle deep in your heart and meet you right where you are. 

    And as you see God’s character unfold in the pages of the Bible, I pray that the depth of your love for Him will flourish and you will cultivate a longing to spend time with Him every day, in every season.

    If you are looking for a place to start or could use a Bible reading plan, we have some great Advent resources that you can download here. They include things like daily readings and weekly devotionals and are all designed to help you experience God in a real and meaningful way this season. 

    May Emmanuel, God with us, The Maker and Creator of heaven and earth hold you close. And may you experience His love, presence, and power as you spend time this Christmas season with Him in His Word. 

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  • Standing on the Promises of God

    I grew up going to an a capella church and have loved singing pretty much from the moment I could form words. Now and then, one of the old church hymns will get stuck in my head and become the soundtrack to my day. It cracks me up that somehow my brain still remembers the words to just about every song, but I can barely remember my email passwords.

    One morning, a few years ago, I woke up with the hymn, “Standing on the Promises of God” stuck in my head. As I got ready for the day, the second verse was playing on a loop in my mind.

    Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
    By the living Word of God, I shall prevail,
    Standing on the promises of God.

    The fact that this particular song came to mind during this particular season of life, was no coincidence. My husband and I were facing major job changes, we had a new baby on the way and it was pretty unclear how all the details of our suddenly complicated life would fall into place. This song reminded me right when I needed it most, that we could stand firm on God’s promises, even when everything else felt like shaky ground.

    That’s a big deal when the world we live in often operates under a different model. You may have even heard the expression, “Promises are made to be broken.” We’ve all experienced the sting of disappointment when someone breaks a promise, great or small. But where other people fail, our Unfailing God never disappoints. 

    Author, Jennifer K. Dean said in one of her books “A promise is only as good as the person who makes it.  The character of the promiser is what gives the promise its value.” One of the ways God reveals His character to us is through the promises He makes in the Bible. Knowing that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do, helps us to respond in faith. 

    In Exodus 3:13-15, God told Moses that he would free the Israelites from hundreds of years of captivity and lead them out of Egypt to a land that God was promising them. Moses asked God who he should say sent him when He went to lead the people, and God replied, “Tell them “I Am who I Am” sent you.” In one statement, God established His character as the God who always was, who is now, and who always will be. He is constant, and never changes, He is eternal, with no beginning and no end. Everything He says is true because He himself is Truth.

    And because “I Am” said, “I Will”, Moses believed in God’s promise. Moses’ confidence was bolstered and he stepped out in faith, not because of his own ability or credentials, but because of God’s. 

    Throughout the Bible, God makes and keeps His promises in relationship with people. His covenants are invitations for His people to partner with Him, to work together to ultimately renew God’s relationship with everyone. God gives them a role to play in His plan and asks for commitments on their part. He gives them instruction and guidance for how to live so that they can enjoy the blessings He has in store for them, and for generations to come. 

    And even though they grow impatient with God’s timing, or fail to do their part, God still does His. There are consequences for sin, and sometimes the blessings are delayed until they return to God and to right relationship with Him. But despite their failings, God’s promises are not dependent on their perfection, ability, or flawless obedience. Instead, God reveals himself as “The God of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. He lavishes unfailing love to a thousand generations and forgives iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7a (NLT) 

    And we are just the same today, aren’t we? Time and time again, in our relationship with God, we make commitments to follow Him, to strive to be more like Him, only to stumble and fall. But God’s faithfulness and love are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And because of His lavish love for us, God sent Jesus as the fulfillment of every promise, to be the faithful covenant partner that we could never be so that anyone can have a renewed covenant relationship with Him forever. Because of Jesus, we can stand on God’s promises and the truth of His character. We can enjoy the blessings of relationship with Him, and receive His compassion and grace when we fail. 

    And every season, whatever we are facing, we can turn to God’s Word, remember His promises, and the truth of His character, and we will stand firm. God’s track record is flawless. So when the I AM says “I Will”, we can rely on it. We don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus is. We will make mistakes, but God already planned ahead for that. The storms of life will come, but we are safe in the arms of the Almighty God. And there’s nothing that can separate us from His unfailing, lavish love, because God himself is love, and he has gone to the ends of the earth to make sure that we can always be with Him. 

    So stand upon His promises that cannot fail and when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God, we shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.

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  • Experiencing Revival Through God’s Word

    I sat there, curled up in a swirl of blankets, with my open Bible in my lap. My mind was racing and my heart was weary. This quiet time I was supposed to be spending with the Lord felt like it was more out of obedience than a longing to be near Him. In my anxiety and stress, it was hard to feel like God was close or understand how He was going to work things out.

    My eyes hovered over the pages as I skimmed Jeremiah 29:11 hoping for a little encouragement. 

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    I must have read that verse a hundred times before, and even though the greater context is God speaking to Israel after a time of exile, it still reminds me of His love and perfect plan that we get to be a part of as His children. But this time, I kept reading. 

    “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…”

    It was exactly what I desperately needed to hear. A promise that God will be found by any willing heart that seeks Him. 

    The words were the same as they had always been, but in light of the week I’d had, they settled in my heart differently. It was like God was reaching out to me in that very moment through these ancient words, to breathe new life into my tender heart.

    That’s the beauty of God’s Word. It is steadfast and unchanging, but also powerful, dynamic, and transformative. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “…the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

    I love that! God’s Word is neither stagnant nor indifferent. It can reach the deepest places in our hearts and minds and transform us. It meets us where we are, but does not leave us there. God’s Word is powerful in every circumstance, in every corner of the world, and in every generation. Whatever you are facing today, wherever you are in your faith journey, God has something to say to you in His Word. And if you want to get to know God better, there’s no place better to start. 

    Through the Bible, God reveals His character, His heart, and His thoughts, especially as we look at the life of Jesus. God sent His son, Jesus to reveal Himself to us, so that we can know Him better. That means that when we see Jesus’ compassion, love, kindness, justice, and patience, we are beholding the character of God himself. Through this lens, we begin to experience God’s love for us, and God’s ultimate story of redemption and restoration comes alive. 

    As we find our place in the story of God’s people, we discover that the Bible is also a practical tool for every facet of life. It guides us, helps us grow, and equips us thoroughly for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It helps us discern what is true, right, and good as we navigate a world full of opinions, pressures, and temptations that are all competing for our allegiance. 

    A friend was recently sharing how workers at the U.S. Mint can quickly spot a counterfeit bill. They don’t memorize all the different kinds of fake money. They spend all their time studying the real thing. As they learn everything they can about the true bill, the phony becomes immediately obvious. The same is true of the Word of God. As we study and learn the truth of God’s Word, the counterfeit gods that the world offers are easily spotted. We can measure what we hear, see, and experience against God’s character because we know it firsthand through Scripture. 

    My prayer for you is that each time you read your Bible, God’s words will settle deep in your heart. I pray that as you see God’s character unfold, your knowledge of His love for you will grow and the depth of your love for Him will flourish. And I pray that you will cultivate a longing to spend time with Him each day, reading His Word.

    It only takes a few minutes a day to start on a journey of discovering and experiencing the love of God through Scripture. If you are looking for a place to start, the first 4 books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are great ways to catch a glimpse of God through the life of Jesus. Maybe there’s a local Bible Study Fellowship or Community Bible Study group that you could join and learn how to study the Bible more. Or you can find a friend and take on a few paragraphs at a time together. 

    I pray that you will seek God with all of your heart, my sweet friend, and dive into His Word with eager anticipation. Just like God met me that day, sitting alone in a pile of fluffy blankets, He is waiting to meet you too, right where you are. You won’t have to look any farther than the pages of the Bible.

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  • A Divine Invitation

    I squinted and pulled the visor down as I sat in my car, waiting for the car ahead of me to turn onto the highway. My kids and I were on our way to church and I was lost in thought, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel and wondering if we had enough time to get some Starbucks on the way.

    Traffic was pretty heavy and I didn’t think much of it when a few minutes passed and the car ahead of me still hadn’t moved. But when the passenger door suddenly swung open, and an older woman stepped out onto the road, it snapped me out of my daze. 

    She looked around for a moment, turned west, and started walking on the shoulder of the highway toward town. The car she’d been riding in turned east, and left her to continue her journey on foot. 

    I was truly perplexed and turned to follow her for a moment. Her steps were shaky on the uneven gravel and I worried that she might fall, or worse, accidentally step into the steady stream of traffic whizzing by. 

    I’d never picked anyone up from the side of the road before, but as my car idled past, I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I needed to pull over. It felt like a voice inside me was shouting “Stop the car, NOW!” 

    I immediately pulled over and told my kids to stay in the car while I checked on her. As I got closer to her, she was not at all what I expected. She was dressed in her Sunday best and her soft, silvery hair was swept gently back with a barrette. 

    I asked her if she was ok, and her bright eyes met mine and she replied, “Yes, I’m on my way to see my daughter.” She said her name was Hazel* and explained that she had caught a ride up to that point and planned to walk the last few miles to her daughter’s house. 

    I paused briefly to pray and ask God to help me discern my next step. I took a deep breath and told Hazel that we were on our way to church, and offered to give her a ride to her daughter’s house. She smiled and said “Oh, I’d love to go to church! I’ll just go there with you!” 

    Hazel hopped in the front seat and down the road we went. As we drove, she was talkative and cheerful but was also struggling to remember what town she was in or where her daughter lived. By the time we arrived at church, it was clear that Hazel suffered from dementia and was lost. A friend from church called the police while I sat with Hazel and within minutes they were able to contact her daughter Susan who lived 30 miles away! 

    Susan arrived with tears in her eyes and hugged us all. Her family had been getting ready to go to church that morning too, when Hazel wandered off from the house, something she had never done before. They had called the police and been frantically looking for her, hoping and praying that she was ok. Susan laughed that not only was Hazel ok, she still had managed to go to church! 

    Our laughter was still hanging in the air when Susan’s countenance suddenly became serious and her voice earnest. She leaned in and quietly asked at what time exactly did I pick up Hazel from the highway. I told her I remembered it was at 9:30 am because that was the moment I had been overwhelmed by the feeling that I needed to stop the car right then. 

    Fresh tears filled Susan’s eyes as she said, “It was at exactly 9:30 this morning that our family knelt together in the living room and prayed that God would find Mom and keep her safe.” 

    I was utterly speechless. I could scarcely wrap my head around what God had done. Not only had He heard their prayer and placed me in the right place at the right time, but God had also invited me to participate in His miraculous work.

    In John 5:17, Jesus says, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” That means that in every moment, God’s love, power, and presence are working all around us. We just have to have to recognize where He is working and have hearts willing to join Him.

    It all begins with our relationship with God. On the Experience Revival Podcast, we have been talking a lot lately about being aware of God’s presence throughout our day and actively directing our thoughts toward Him. We become intentional about inviting God into what we are doing by having an ongoing conversation with Him. Dallas Willard calls it ‘living prayer”, where we talk with God throughout the day about what we are doing together. 

    As we spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in community with other believers, we get to know God’s character and better recognize His voice. We are transformed to be more and more like Him and our focus shifts from what God is doing in our own lives, to becoming more aware that God might be inviting us into what He is doing. 

    It’s a shift in our thinking because sometimes we just can’t quite imagine that what we have to offer could be of significance in the Kingdom of God. But God is more interested in our willing hearts than our skill sets. We see time and time again in the Bible that God calls someone to join Him in the work He is doing, and then equips them for the task. He uses ordinary people in ordinary circumstances to do extraordinary things. 

    The word calling comes from the Greek kaleo which means “Divine invitation”. In the Bible, it’s used most to describe a divine invitation to partake of the blessings of redemption. In every moment, with every breath, we are given a divine invitation to join God in the redemptive work He is doing all around us.  

    Henry Blackaby wrote a book many years ago called Experiencing God, where he encourages people to “look for where God is working and join him there.” Practicing the presence of God will help us to see Him working around us, but it’s the Holy Spirit that will help us know how to respond. 

    It is through the Holy Spirit that we can discern what our role in a given situation is, as well as what it isn’t. While God is always working, He doesn’t call us to do everything, everywhere, all the time. Our job is to lean into Him, and prayerfully surrender to His will. 

    And it’s not always the big, obvious things that God is calling us to. A lot of times the Lord is working in the details. The big stuff is often hiding in the little stuff. But in God’s hands, the little things can have a divine purpose and a huge kingdom impact. In fact, there’s a good chance that you have already been joining God in His work and maybe didn’t realize it. 

    Like that time you saw your neighbor and sensed that they could use some encouragement, so you stopped to visit for a moment. 

    Or that woman in the grocery store who was a few dollars short, and you felt the Holy Spirit nudge you, so you added it to your bill.

    Maybe it was a kiddo on your son’s soccer team whose family was going through a hard time, so you invited him over to have dinner and watch a funny movie, just to take his mind off things for a bit.

    Maybe it was that time you simply obeyed the Holy Spirit’s prompting to pull the car over to check on someone. 

    They may seem like small things at first, but in God’s hands, they can have a Kingdom-sized impact on their life, and yours. It also changes how we see the details of our lives. Suddenly, what once seemed trivial or mundane now has a bigger purpose. 

    As you go about your week, I want to encourage you to practice being aware of God’s love, power, and presence throughout your day. Talk with Him about what you are doing together. Then look for where He is working, and join Him. The Holy Spirit will often take you outside of what makes sense or beyond your comfort zone, but God has already gone ahead of you. He is always working and He can’t wait for you to be a part of what He’s doing.

    *Names in the story have been changed to protect privacy.

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  • Finding Rest When You Can’t Slow Down

    “Have a great day! I love you!” 

    I smiled and waved to my boys as they walked into school, my eyes straining to soak up one more precious glimpse of them before I began my hour-long commute to work. 

    As I merged onto the highway, the tears began to fall. It had already been a long week, and it was only Tuesday. Between working two jobs, taking care of the kiddos, trying to keep the house at least functionally clean, and making sure we ate real food at some point, I was running on fumes. And my schedule showed no sign of slowing. 

    I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve taken on too much, and I had to humble myself and give my plans over to God and reprioritize according to His will. But this was not one of those seasons. 

    I had already trimmed the fat from my schedule. I had not taken on anything extra, there wasn’t anything I could cancel or move around on the calendar. The responsibilities on my plate were non-negotiable. I had to make it through this week somehow and I was out of steam. 

    I knew that I needed more rest, but it seemed impossible from my perspective. In my mind, I called out to God, “How am I supposed to rest and feel your peace when I can’t slow down?”

    I remembered Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus tenderly says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    At a glance, nothing about a yoke sounds restful or inviting. After all, a yoke is used to hitch beasts of burden to a plow to work a field. But the yoke Jesus is talking about is submission and obedience to God’s will and loving instruction. Jesus is inviting us to take up the light and easy yoke of the Kingdom of God with the promise that we will not find merely rest, but rest for our very souls. 

    In my state of urgency and overwhelm, I had missed an important part of His invitation: to take up His yoke and to learn from Him. 

    I think I had always stopped in my mind after the first part because I didn’t want to “take on” anything else. It didn’t dawn on me that when God said that He would provide for all our needs, He meant rest too. 

    Jesus invites us to put down our yoke of self-reliance and take up the light and easy yoke of God-reliance. What’s more, we don’t even have to figure out how! Jesus said we could just learn from Him. 

    Jesus was intentional about living in a rhythm of rest and conversation with God. He often withdrew from crowds and the business around Him to pray to the Father. Other times, He’d pray right there on the spot. 

    Jesus lived every single day in the presence and power of His Father in Heaven and submitted to His will over and over again. He demonstrated the same kind of dependence on God that He intends for us to live out in our lives.

    And while we can’t always withdraw to lonely places to pray, there are a million little moments where we can steal away and talk to God. We can connect with Him while we wait for our kids in the school pickup line. We can sit with Jesus while we rock our babies to sleep, or as we make a meal for a sick family member. We can walk with Him through the aisles of the grocery store, and know that He is with us, or pause in His presence as we get the mail. We can sit in the car in the parking lot and lean on Him for a few minutes while we listen to a worship song. I’ve even stayed in the bathroom an extra moment or two and prayed. I mean, it’s called a restroom for a reason right?

    When we pause and connect with God, suddenly, we no longer feel alone, because we become aware that He was right there waiting for us. We get to catch a glimpse of God’s eternal perspective, and as we breathe in His peace, He steadies our souls.  

    I love the way the Message version phrases this same passage of scripture:

    “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

    Ahhhh….the unforced rhythms of grace. Can you imagine? 

    That’s the light and easy yoke of Kingdom life. It’s inviting. It’s free. You don’t have to strive for it or earn it, you get to just relax into the grace-filled arms of God. 

    And every moment that you pause and talk to God is an opportunity for His grace to sustain you, fill you up, and encourage you, simply because you are His beloved daughter. 

    Living in the unforced rhythms of grace means you don’t have to be perfect. It means you are not defined by the laundry pile waiting to be folded or the dishes in the sink. Your worth is not determined by the clothes that you wear or what groups you volunteer for or how many activities your kids do. 

    You are defined by Christ’s love for you. He invites you to come to Him, tell Him what’s on your mind. To tell Him about your day, and let Him walk it with you. 

    As we live in the presence and power of our loving Savior, we get to trade the world’s rhythms of urgency and self-reliance for the unforced rhythms of God’s grace. 

    By the time I got to work that morning, I had surrendered my will and my plans to God. I told Him that I was weary and needed rest. I told Him that I couldn’t do this on my own strength and asked Him to help me and give me rest.

    Moment by moment, as I walked through my day, Jesus was there. 

    I stole away for a minute in the hallway before I went into my first meeting of the day and just took a few deep breaths. As I leaned against the wall, He reminded me that He will always be my safe leaning place. 

    I bumped into a friend at lunch that I hadn’t connected with in a while and shared a laugh for a few minutes before I had to head back into the fray. Just the brief interaction was a blessing from God that lifted my spirits and renewed my energy. 

    Later that day, I got word that another important meeting had been rescheduled and I was able to leave early, and beat rush-hour traffic home. 

    And even though the weight of workload was heavy, God gave me peace, strength and rest, at just the right time and in just the right ways. 

    The next day was longer and more challenging, but as I continued to lean on God and steal moments away with Him, I got to practice a new rhythm of reliance on Him. I was learning that I could trust Him to provide what I needed and that all I needed to do was continue to walk and talk with Him. And when the weekend arrived, I was able to take a real break, knowing that the next week was already in His hands. 

    My prayer for you today is that you’ll steal a moment with God to tell him what you need. Let Him be your safe leaning place as you breathe in His peace and allow Him to steady your soul. His shoulders are broad enough and strong enough to carry you and everything else you are carrying. I pray that you’ll trade your heavy yoke for His light and easy one, and begin to learn the unforced rhythms of His beautiful grace.

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  • Is It Ok To Have Doubts About God?

    There’s a song that I used to sing at church when I was in college that gets stuck in my head often. And this past week it’s been living there rent-free, on loop.

    The lyric starts, “To come into the presence of the Lord is to be changed. You cannot come into His presence and remain the same. So change me, Lord, remake me, Lord, reshape me in the image of your Son…”

    It had a simple melody with a simple message: being in God’s presence leaves an indelible mark on our hearts and lives. It’s something we see time and time again in the Bible. When a person spends time with Jesus, there is a startling transformation in them that can only be attributed to the Lord. 

    One striking example (and one of my favorites) is in the story of Mary Magdalene. The first time she meets Jesus, He heals her from being possessed by seven demons. She joins Him in ministry from that point on, as a believer, supporter, and friend. 

    In John 20, after Jesus is crucified and buried, Mary returns to the tomb with a few others, only to find it empty and Jesus’ body gone. Not knowing yet that Jesus had risen from the dead, she was in deep grief and despair. It is then that the resurrected Jesus meets here there, calls her by name and she recognizes Him, and runs to Him. Jesus commissions her to go and tell the disciples that He has risen and she doesn’t waste a second. She goes straight there and exclaims, “I have seen the Lord!”

    In the presence of Jesus, her despair was transformed to joy, her sorrow to elation, and any doubts she had were transformed to confident faith. 

    Later that evening, Jesus appears again, this time to the disciples that are gathered. He shows them His hands and feet where the nails had held Him to the cross and his side that had been pierced during His crucifixion. They are in awe and overjoyed at the sight of the Risen Lord standing before them. 

    And in the presence of Jesus, their confusion is transformed to clarity, their despair is transformed to hope, and any lingering questions are transformed to a joyful proclamation, “We have seen the Lord!” 

    But not everyone was there. Thomas was not at the empty tomb. He was not with the disciples that evening. We aren’t really sure where he was. It was Jewish custom for friends, family, and loved ones to remain in town throughout the week during this most intense part of the mourning period. So it’s likely that Thomas was around, but he still had not seen Jesus.

    Everyone grieves differently, and it’s possible that Thomas was so overcome by grief, so lost in confusion and sorrow, that he simply could not bear to be with the very people that reminded him of all he thought he’d lost. Maybe it just made the loss and pain all too real. 

    I can imagine the pull to isolate himself would have been powerful. But in being away from the very people that could surround and support him, he had missed seeing Jesus face to face not once, but twice. 

    When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, he struggled hard to wrap his head around it. Maybe it seemed too good to be true, or maybe his grief was clouding his faith that Jesus had already done the impossible and still could. You can almost hear the pain in his voice when he responds, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 

    Thomas gets a bad rap for doubting what the other disciples had experienced, but it wasn’t necessarily Thomas resisting faith. He was someone who was inquisitive by nature, often asking for specifics and logistics as he earnestly strove to understand Jesus and follow Him well. Thomas was struggling to reconcile what he thought he knew about Jesus and the crucifixion his own eyes had witnessed, as well as process this new news of his resurrection. It not only defied reason, it seemed too good to be true. But Thomas doesn’t walk away. He continued to wrestle and wonder and question. And that is so incredibly important.

    Suzie Eller shared something that she heard recently from a friend: “The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s indifference. If you are doubting, you’re still in the game.” 

    Suzie went on to say, “How do you come to an understanding unless you wrestle, unless you ask the hard questions and you’re honest with how you are feeling? God is the safest place to go with that. It’s essential.” 

    Thomas was not indifferent, he was wrestling. He was hurting but he was still in the game. 

    A week later, at just the right time, Jesus appears again to the disciples. And this time, Thomas was there. 

    Almost as if to finally break Thomas’ dependence on his own faculties and reason, Jesus suddenly shows up inside a room with a securely locked door. I can’t explain the physics of it except that Jesus can do whatever He wants. He is God. And maybe it’s a hint that our resurrected bodies in the next life are going to be way cooler than the ones we have now. 

    The point is, Jesus’ entrance defies logic once more, reinforcing His power and sovereignty in every circumstance. Jesus knows Thomas’ doubts, and He lovingly meets Thomas at the exact point of his need. He shows Thomas His hands and his side. Finally face to face with the resurrected Jesus, Thomas can’t help but exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” 

    In the presence of Jesus, Thomas’ doubts are transformed to confident faith, his reluctance to believe is transformed to stalwart conviction, and his hesitance is transformed to bold proclamation.  

    But the scene doesn’t end there. Jesus addresses Thomas again, but He also has a message for us: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    Friend, that’s us! Jesus didn’t say “blessed are those who never have questions or doubts”. He says blessed are those who believe even though they haven’t seen him in the flesh. 

    Jesus wasn’t asking Thomas to check his brains at the door, and he doesn’t require that of us either. He created us to reason, think and question. But Jesus is calling us to something deeper: to fully trust Him and have faith, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense, to depend on God more than our own understanding and experiences, and to believe that God has the bigger picture in view, even before we see it unfold. 

    There are no questions that are off-limits or too big for God. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we never have doubts and always understand how God is working or where. But at the end of the day, we have a choice to believe that God is still God and that His ways are the best ways.

    As Easter approaches, maybe you find yourself longing to see Jesus at work in your life. Maybe you are struggling to see where God is in the middle of a difficult circumstance and how you’ll ever get through. Maybe your heart is hurting for someone close to you, and you want to help them “stay in the game” as they wrestle with their faith. Or maybe you just are aching to feel God’s presence in your life once more. 

    Please don’t wrestle with this stuff alone. We are not meant to work these things out as a solo mission. Thomas may have missed out on experiencing the presence of Jesus sooner because he was off on his own. It was when he was surrounded and supported by the faith of others who had been with Jesus, that Thomas’ own faith was strengthened. 

    We experience the love and presence of the Lord when we are together. He works in us and through us to build one another up and to support one another. Jesus knew it would be hard to believe when we haven’t had a chance to see His hands and touch His side. That’s why He gave us church families and community. It’s why we have His Word to guide us and comfort us. It is time spent in God’s Word and with His people that transforms us and our faith. 

    He is also a God who knows us well, just like He knew Thomas. He knows how we are made, what we need, and what will strengthen us and build up our faith at just the right time and in just the right ways. We can bring our doubts, worries, and questions to Him and He will meet us there with grace and an invitation to deeper faith. As we lean on Jesus, He gives us an eternal perspective, and our fears are transformed to faith, our doubts transformed to testimony and our hearts are transformed to look more like His. He is loving and patient with us and He won’t ever give up on us. He will show up for us over and over so that we too can victoriously proclaim, “I have seen the Lord.”

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  • Made For Worship

    Worship is a remarkable phenomenon, as we are currently witnessing thousands of people gather in worship around the nation. We saw it unfold at Asbury college when one ordinary chapel session continued for 10 days before it was moved off campus to accommodate the flood of people who were arriving to participate. Worship continues to break out on other college campuses, churches, and communities inspiring believers everywhere and piquing the curiosity of a watching world. It’s no surprise that people are drawn to worship, and seeking to connect with God. After all, it’s what we are made for.

    From the Garden of Eden to now, we were created to be in relationship with God. Our hearts are designed to long for Him, and worship plays a vital role in our relationship with God and in living the Kingdom life to which God has invited us. 

    Isaiah 61:1-3 describes a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven, the kind of life that Jesus came to bring and set loose in the world.

    “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

    When it comes to worship, we often limit our definition of worship to singing songs and reading a Scripture or two in church on Sundays. But when we look at Kingdom life, we see that worship is so much more. It is every aspect of our being pointing to God and living every facet of our lives as a sign and a foretaste of God’s Kingdom coming. 

    That means singing songs and hymns and reading scripture and praying, but it also means comforting a neighbor, fixing a meal for a new mom, or listening to the grocery checker when they are having a hard day. Worship can be loving your family, kissing boo-boos and helping with math homework. It can be helping someone cross the street, or treating one another with love and grace. 

    All of these things can be acts of worship to the Lord, but I want to zoom in specifically on the time we set aside intentionally to worship the Lord both on our own and in our church families.  

    When we gather together for worship, we remember what God has done in the past, rejoice in what He is doing now, and look forward to what He will do in the future with eager anticipation. In worship, we have an opportunity to be close to God and grow in our relationship with Him. It’s a chance to recognize God’s Sovereignty, stand in awe of His love, realign our hearts with His, and surrender to His will. Worship is an act of our devotion to God and a source of encouragement and edification for others. (Ephesians 5:19-20)

    But what astounds me, is that in worship, God meets us right where we are but He does not leave us there. His Holy Spirit works powerfully in our praise and we are truly transformed. In worship, we can encounter God, and in doing so find exactly what we need, right when we need it most. 

    When it comes to worship, especially in churches, it can be tempting to disqualify ourselves or to keep God at an arm’s length. Maybe we are keenly aware of our sins and imperfections and don’t feel worthy to be in the presence of the Lord. Maybe we are broken or hurting and feel like we have to pretend we have it all together before we walk through the doors of the church. Maybe we are scared that if we let our walls down, God may lead us out of our comfort zone into the unknown.  

    But in John 4:23-24, we hear from Jesus’ own lips the kind of worshipper He’s looking for:

    “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 

    In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman who was an outcast in society, known for having 5 husbands, and whose life was a complete mess. Because of her societal prejudice against her gender, race, and her checkered past, she had both disqualified herself and been disqualified by her community, from being able to worship God. There wasn’t a fake smile big enough that she could put on to distract anyone from the shambles her life had become. And yet Jesus assures her she can bring her whole heart and her whole mess to Him, and just worship. 

    He says it’s all about the heart. He will take care of all the messy bits, if we just give Him our whole hearts, and allow the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word to work in us. 

    And there’s the miracle of it! When we bring our hearts to God in worship, if we are willing, He will not give it back in the same condition. He renews it, makes it whole, and restores us to right relationship with Him.

    I know from experience. 

    There have been times in the past when I’d show up to worship in the worst mood. Cranky with everyone and sick of myself too. I’d sit down in my church pew like a toddler in timeout, with a scowl on my face and little in my heart that resembled gratitude or grace. My attendance was out of sheer obedience, but song by song, Bible verse by Bible verse, the Holy Spirit would go to work and my walls would begin to come down. In the presence of the Lord, my heart was softened and by the end of worship, I was filled with the love of God and overflowing with thankfulness and peace. I came to God with a heart that was ugly, and God made it pure. 

    I’ve gone to worship in seasons of grief and found there were times I could barely whisper the words. My heart was so heavy that sometimes I’d just sit when everyone else would stand. I just couldn’t muster the strength to rise. But bit by bit, as I listened to songs of hope, encouragement, and of our God who never lets go of us, my heart would start to lighten and I’d begin to experience a comfort that words could not describe. The circumstances of my heartache and pain had not changed, but I had. I felt held, safe, and secure in the arms of my Heavenly Father who met me there, to walk alongside me in my grief. It was in worship that I was reminded that God sees me, knows me, and will not let my grief consume me, because His love is stronger. 

    There have been other times still when my self-sufficiency and pride kept me from obeying God, from following Him with my whole heart, and doing the thing He has asked me to do. And yet in worship, I’d remember the Lord and who He is (and just as importantly, who I am not.) My heart would soften, not out of obligation, but in joyful willingness to join God in the work He is doing. 

    If I was unsure of myself, overwhelmed by insecurity, and stuck in a cycle of comparison, it was in worship that I was reminded of my belovedness as a daughter of the King. My heart was renewed and my vision cleared so that I could see myself and others more like Jesus does. 

    Isaiah 61:3 says that God gives us a “garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

    In the Kingdom of God, we are not stuck in despair, or even prisoners of our past. We are given a new heart and a garment of praise! When we allow God to transform our hearts and our lives, we become like mighty oak trees, displaying the splendor of the Lord for all the world to see. We are living the life we were made to live. We are living a life of worship. 

    Hebrews 12:28 says it beautifully: “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”  

    That is my prayer for all of us dear friend, that everything we say and do could be worship to God. And if you’re going through a difficult season, or you’re just not feeling it today, I want to encourage you to spend some time in worship-in your car, in your closet, or on a walk with a friend. If you’re a music lover like me, check out this song. Sit with the Lord and let Him give you praise for your despair, and beauty for your ashes. And as God transforms us to be more and more like Him, may our lives be a little glimpse of His Kingdom breaking through, like sunbeams filtering through the branches of a mighty oak. 

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