A Troubled Woman Meets Her Savior Jesus- John Chapter 4

John chapter 3 ends with proclaiming Jesus is the Son of God and has all authority. The first three chapters of John show us that Jesus is the creator, is God the Son, is eternal, and that he came for us.

In chapter 4 we see the first account by John of Jesus interacting with someone desperately in need of God- a Samaritan woman.

Samaria was an area that no self respecting Jew would walk through. Jews thought of Samaritans as being unclean half breeds and Samaria as being a place one would be defiled just walking through. Serious Jews would walk around Samaria to avoid it.

The closest we come to it in the USA would be the days of whites only and colored sections in restaurants. The division between Jews and Samaritans ran so deep.

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So what did Jesus do? He went into Samaria one day and sat down next to a well waiting for the person he knew was coming, a Samaritan woman with a dismal track record with men and relationships.

She came to the well and Jesus spoke to her:

“Will you give me a drink?” 

This simple request sent shock waves through the woman. She knew Jesus was a Jewish man and she knew her “place” in life. She knew Jews did not interact with Samaritans and she knew women were not valued. She replied:

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Jesus steered the conversation to the reason he was waiting for her- to offer her forgiveness and relationship with God. He used the physical water to begin to speak of spiritual matters:

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Living water, the Holy Spirit living within us because of knowing Jesus is what he is beginning to offer her, but she did not understand yet was trying to grasp it:

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?

Jesus shared with her that he was speaking of spiritual water and eternal life:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

She asked Jesus for the water he was speaking of but first Jesus let her know that he knew about her life saying:

“Go, call your husband and come back.”

After she replied that she did not have a husband, Jesus let her know:

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jesus knew this fallen woman had a series of broken relationships with men. We do not know if some died or if they left her. We do not know if she left them. We only know she had a string of husbands and was then living with a man not married. And yet Jesus spoke with her offering her eternal life.

She tried to change to subject by talking about where to worship. Jesus corrected her thinking about worship by saying:

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.”

The woman began to understand something about Jesus saying:

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

She wondered if he was the long awaited promised one from God- The Messiah.

Jesus confirmed it for her:

“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The woman became the first Samaritan to share with others about Jesus when she ran back to the village saying:

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 

No matter how far we have fallen in life, no matter what others think of us, Jesus loves us and will come to us just as he did the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus will give us relationship with him and eternal life if we will believe in him. We cannot earn it just as the Samaritan woman could not.

Not only that, Jesus will do his work through us just as he did with the Samaritan woman.

Out and About and Book Update

Yesterday after Blogger Chat, it was time to get out and about to run some errands. One of the errands was stopping by the place where I buy CBD oil. My fellow Spoonies will know about CBD oil.

The last time I was in that store, I had to opportunity to chat with a young lady who was working there. We had a great chat about many issues. One of the things she brought up was human trafficking. I shared with her about how I support Love Justice an organization that fights human trafficking in many countries.

That time I also shared with her about my short story- Jessica’s Encounter At The Harbor Coffee Shop. She wanted to read it, so I emailed a link to her.

Yesterday she told me she read it. She also told me she loved it. We talked some more and I shared with her the name of my church and the website for it and suggested she watch the service online. It was one of those divine appointments God sets up for me at times.

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After talking, I felt encouraged to write some more. It felt great to write some more. I am nearing the end of the first draft. After finishing the first draft, it will be time to put my language skills to use and go over it with a fine tooth comb to edit for mistakes.

Progress is being made. It might be slow, but it is progress lol. 🙂

By the way, it was a blessing to have a new person join our blogger chat. Alicia of forhispurpose.blog joined us. We also sang Happy Birthday to Vanessa of braveblessedandbeautiful.com.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Sharing God’s Comfort

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

These verses from 2 Corinthians 1 have become theme verses for my life in recent years. God has helped me with many difficulties. The principle is God helps us, so we can in turn help others.

My ministry is focused on refugees and immigrants, but God has opened up new areas for me to share his love. Living with chronic illness and depression/anxiety as a result of chronic illness I have experienced God’s comfort. Yesterday I had the opportunity to share some of God’s comfort with others.

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I stopped by a deli I get some of my favorite food from and saw a young woman I met this past summer while she was working. The first time we met I noticed she had a semi colon tattoo, which indicates a person has thought of suicide but decided not too. Yesterday she confided in me about a recent difficulty. I asked her to promise me she will be okay. We pinky promised on it. When we pinky promised, her eyes filled with tears. Hopefully we will connect later today to talk.

Last night a friend I helped a year ago asked if her friend could contact me. He is struggling with anxiety. We talked on the phone and I sent him some links for some videos to watch. We made an appointment to meet Sunday afternoon.

While my ministry won’t be changing from being for refugees and immigrants, I am grateful God gives me opportunities to share his comfort with anyone struggling with depression.anxiety.

There are hurting people all around us each day. If we are open to being led by the Lord, we can have opportunities to share his comfort with others.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

October- A Special Memory for Me

October has special meaning for me. I will never forget a day in October 1989 that changed my life and ministry.

One Saturday evening I went to see a film by Billy Graham Ministries-Caught. The story line of the film is about a drug addict from America on the streets of Amsterdam. An evangelist from India in town for the Billy Graham World Conference for Evangelism reaches out to and helps the young man come to Jesus and be freed from his addiction.

At the end of the film, it shows Billy Graham speaking to the conference. He did the finger point thing as he said, “And do the work of an Evangelist.”

At that moment, it felt like a arrow through my spirit. The moment I will never forget is what happened when I returned home from seeing that film at a local church.

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I walked in the door and as soon as I entered my home I felt the presence of God in a way I never had before. I fell to the floor in his presence. Images of people needing help and feeling hopeless kept going through my mind. I felt in my spirit a message-:”everywhere you go I will bring people across your path who feel hopeless for you to share me with them.”

A few days later I went to get my haircut. I had never met the woman who cut my hair before. While she was cutting my hair, she shared with me about a trauma in her life. That was the first in a continual series over the years of people opening up to me. It still happens often to this day.

Over the years, the Lord used that as a training ground to prepare me for the ministry I have today reaching out to refugees and immigrants. Refugees are by definition people who feel hopeless in this life. When I meet refugees, share the love of Jesus with them, and help them, I often remember how it all started that October day 30 years ago.

Do you have a special October memory?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- A Reminder about God’s Timing in Romania

Romania is a place that is always on my mind in the summer. I had seven trips there and learned so much about interacting with other cultures, teaching ESL, and most importantly about God.

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When I travel, I like to find the gate for my flight as soon as I enter the airport. When I travel with a group that has some first timers, I feel a responsibility for them. My second trip to Romania started off with a lesson about how God’s timing is perfect for us.

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Our flight was delayed leaving Chicago, but we still made it in time to catch our flight from Amsterdam to Bucharest. However, our flight from Amsterdam was delayed one hour due to weather. We had boarded the plane but had to wait. I prayed asking for God to intervene so we wouldn’t be late. I was thinking about the missionaries who were going to meet us at the airport and about the tired group I was with.

We arrived in Bucharest and were met by the missionaries who organized the English Camp in Constanta. They saw the flight was going to be late, so they went to McDonalds and bought food and came back. We arrived to cold McDonalds.

It was on the road to Constanta that God had a reminder for me about his timing. As we rode the small bus down to two lane highway we came upon a stretch of road with several tree branches down in the road. The driver had to drive weaving around the branches. A major storm had blown through,

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With no warning systems in place yet, if we had arrived on time, we would have driven into the storm. We could have been in an accident and some even injured. But because we were delayed, we came to that stretch of highway after the storm had blown through.We were safe because of the delay.

I thanked Jesus for being delayed and missing the storm.Whenever I am concerned about timing, I remember that practical lesson in Romania in the summer of 1998.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God Prepared Me to be Ready for Brazilian Friends

It’s hard to believe it has been four years already since we had a couple of hundred Brazilian students studying at the university here in a program that was called cientistas sem fronteiras. It was a program Brazil had to send undergraduates to another country to study for one year.

One day in late August 2014, I went to have lunch with a visiting professor from Brazil, my friend Rodrigo. We went to the student union and as we were getting out lunch, I heard some people speaking Portuguese. I turned around and greeted them and introduced myself in Portuguese. That began a year of getting to know many of them and friendships forming.

God connected all the dots for it to happen. I went to Brazil in June 2013 and as a result of the trip studied Portuguese for one year. My church has sent groups to Brazil each year for many years which include high school students, so we had many university students at my church who had been to Brazil. In November 2014, we had our first lunch at church for Brazilian students to meet the American students at my church.

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We had three specials lunches that school year for our Brazilian friends. It was a wonderful year with them. Sadly, the program was canceled due to economic crisis in Brazil, but we had a year together that I will never forget.

That year actually began one year before when in pray, I felt God show me that he wanted me to study Portuguese. It also began before that with Brazilian friends I had met before. It also began with my first trip to Brazil.

God will guide us to do things that lay the groundwork for future opportunities that we have no idea will happen. When I registered for my Portuguese class in August 2013, I had no idea my life would be blessed by meeting so many friends from Brazil the following year.

It reminds me of what Ephesians 2 says:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God knew my Brazilian friends would come and put pieces together for me to be prepared for that special year.

If we follow those promptings from God, they can lead to wonderful adventures.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Moments with God

Sunday morning I was sitting in the coffee area in my church that we call Solid Grounds. I was sitting near the coffee counter when a woman walked up.

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We started talking and she opened up about her life. She shared about her health struggles, struggles with depression, financial difficulties and family struggles with a child with autism. We talked for about 20 minutes with me mostly listening. I encouraged her to go to the women’s group on Tuesday morning and encouraged her to continue meeting with the woman in the church she has received counseling from.

After she left, I thought about the time Jesus sat down by a well in Samaria in John 4. A woman came to get water and Jesus asked her for a drink. She was surprised he would talk with her because he was a Jew and Jews thought of Samaritans as being unclean spiritually. Jesus spoke with the woman who had been married five times and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. He shared with her about eternal life and God.

God meets us in everyday moments in life such as going to a well for water or connecting us with someone close to the coffee bar at a church. God is always at work everywhere we go.

Divine appointments can happen when we follow God and his leading in our lives. When we spend time with God in prayer and grow in our relationship with him, those divine appointments can be frequent occurrences and a great blessing.

When God arranges those moments for me to help, share Christ’s love, or be there for someone at a key moment, I feel close to God. Jesus talked how we can know what God is doing because of our friendship with him in John 15:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

What moments in life make you feel close to God?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Connects the Dots

I love it when God connects the dots to make something work. When he does so, it is time to step back and appreciate how sovereign God is to connect the minutest of details. In those moments I feel something of what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 8:

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

God is all powerful and yet he cares about the little details that affect our lives. He connect the dots for us.

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Last week a colleague of mine asked me if people from my church might be willing to donate used clothes for three girls for winter. The girls are from a refugee family. I told her I would check.

Sunday morning I asked a friend at church who happens to help lead one of our women’s ministries, MOPS-Mother of Preschoolers. She told me that she had been praying for an opportunity to meet a refugee woman and would pray about it.

I went into worship service and the pastor taught from James 1 including James 1:2:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

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My friend contacted me today to follow through and I connected her with my colleague. Three refugee girls will have winter clothing that fits them for the coming winter.

It is one of those times that I can sit back and be thankful that our God cares about people and their needs. He chooses to work through us and others giving the opportunity to partner with him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

 

Seeing Myself Through My Students’ Eyes

June was a really tough month for me. Going through issues with autoimmune got me down. It is something I have struggled with at times and some of those times get to me more than others. June was one of those times it got to me more. Not feeling well physically can affect my mood. In prayer I was asking Jesus about going home to heaven but of course his will not mine be done.

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Then Saturday morning happened. My Saturday morning reading group normally has people from Haiti, Iraq and Japan, but Saturday morning only one student came. It is that time of year of travel, vacation, and this year the World Cup. When I have those times of having only one student, I pay attention because it usually means it is time for a divine appointment for an opportunity to share Jesus with the person more in depth than is possible with a group. Sharing in a divine appointment is more customized for the person I am sharing with.

I did have an opportunity to share Jesus with my one friend a Yazidi man from Iraq. We talked for over an hour about many different things, but something my friend said made me realize that Saturday was a new twist on having a divine appointment. For the first time, the divine appointment was for me. God spoke to me through my student.

Toward the end of our time together, my friend said, “Teacher you help so many people and mean a lot to people from so many different countries. You help me a lot and you help so many people a lot too.”

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When he told me that, I realized I need to push through this time and come through it on the other end. I need to make it through this time, so I can be there for those Jesus has called me to show his love to. My resolve returned in that instant. I had lost my resolve after what felt like my millionth bought with autoimmune.

Some of my autoimmune issues I think of as pesky little flies that cause minor problems at times. Asthma is occasionally a problem but my inhaler takes care of it. Allergies are only a problem in the spring and gone as soon as the trees stop putting out pollen. Hypothyroid was a near fatal  problem before I was diagnosed, but now it is just the continued fatigue.

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But there are two that are just plain chronic pains, arthritis and Celiacs. Arthritis means pain is my constant companion. Celiacs means I have flare ups unexpectedly and in June it was having a reaction to a medication that flattened me and took the wind out of my sails. The thing with chronic diseases is that they are always at work to pull us down.

But God is also always at work. I was down but he spoke to me through my student. He gave me the grace of seeing myself in the eyes of my international friends to see what they think of me. It renewed my resolve to press on to the goal of knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection, so that I can share Jesus with the nations by showing his love to people from all over the world living in my city.

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Sunday morning I went to church and communion took on a whole new meaning for me. It was a time of coming to the Lord to be strengthened. His presence was there once again. Focusing on his suffering for me, for us, and thanking him for his sacrifice of for us, confessing my down mood to him, I felt his presence.

As Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 4:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

God has more work for me to do. I may have been wiped out for almost a month, but there is more to do, more people to reach out to, and more opportunities to show the love of Christ.

When Jesus First Called Me

In July 1989 I went to an outdoor Christian concert in a park in a small city near Lincoln. The concert was called LoveFest. While I was listening to a group, I suddenly felt the presence of Jesus around me in a powerful way I had never encountered him like that before. It was so wonderful, but I wondered why it would happen to me because of my past. It left such an impression on me that the next morning I drove out to a lake in my city, Holmes Lake, to spend time with Jesus.

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I sat in my car and read John 21 where Jesus asks Peter the same question three times in front of the other disciples. Jesus asked him three times- “Peter do you love me?” Jesus did that to restore Peter in the eyes of his fellow disciples because they knew Peter denied Jesus three times. As I was reading John 21, I was listening to a song by First Call- Lord of All. That song has been so significant in my life and always brings me into the presence of Jesus.

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It has been a great adventure since that day with eleven ministry trips to the countries of Brazil, France, Mexico, and Romania. The Lord called me to ministry to the diverse people from other countries living in my city and to teach English. I have been blessed to have friends from literally all over the world.

Yes there have been down times and deep valleys along the way with struggles with autoimmune issues and times of wondering how things would work out. There have been times I wondered if I would have been better off to ignore the call of Jesus and stay in my career in the 1980s and just go to church, but then I would not have met all of the wonderful people God has blessed me with the opportunity to share his love with.

So this morning I stopped by that place to take a few pictures to write this post as a way to say to Jesus, I would do it all over again and hope for more time to reach out to others with his love.

Special places are nice to have, but I also want to embrace new special places and not be stuck in the past. My hope is to continue to serve Jesus many more years in this life. There are so many people who need his love.

Do you have a special place with the Lord?

Thanks for reading and God Bless. 🙂

Here is the song Lord of All by First Call 🙂