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The First 3,000

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41

My husband and I are back in the process of a church search.  For some of you, your church has been your lifelong home.  For others, you know all too well the difficult path of church searching.  We spent the last seven months trying out a church and realized it just wasn’t the right fit.  Great preaching and friendly people but there were a number of pieces missing that we didn’t see being resolved any time soon.  We left on friendly terms as we began our journey to the right home.

And this search led me to think about the first church.  That fateful day of Pentecost when 3,000 souls turned their hearts and lives over to Jesus when the Holy Spirit was delivered to Earth.  There could’ve been more.  Others stood in the temple that day and heard the sound of the violent wind.  They heard the Jews from every nation speaking to each other in their native tongues.  But they hardened their hearts.

Some however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”  Acts 2:13

The 3,000, selected by God, were urged by Peter to recognize what had just occurred.  He quoted the prophet Joel in explaining how the Holy Spirit would be poured out just as it had happened.  He reminded the Jews of David’s words when he spoke of God’s promise to fill them with the joy of God’s presence.  When Peter had his brief history lesson the 3,000 asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

He answered with the message of the Gospel.  And he went on to plead with them to abandon their corrupt generation.  Imagine.  3,000 people all at once starting on their new beginning.  It must’ve been glorious!

But their baptism wasn’t the end of their stories.  What came next was an intense learning period.  They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.” (v2:42).  They ate together, worshipped together, studied together, prayed without ceasing, worked together to help those in need.  And they multiplied.

You don’t get the impression from reading about the first church in Acts that a bunch of individuals were saved then when to their own homes and began an intensive self-realization study.  Or went about their work day as though nothing spectacular just happened.  No, their common goal was to spread the news of Jesus Christ dying for our sins.  Remember, they spoke in many different languages.  So, they were preparing to go back home to make even more believers.  Preparing to go do difficult work.  That first church was all about discipleship.  I wonder how many of our churches can truly say the same?  I haven’t been a member of one yet.  But it’s what I’m looking for now.

The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.

Henry Martyn

The act of baptism, confessing our faith in Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit, is typically a public affair.  It’s the starting point of our new beginning.  But after that one time event we call on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit to fill us continually for one mission – to be in service to God.  Those first 3,000 believers would need the Holy Spirit to continue on their mission.  They would most likely encounter adversity, opposition, violence, and yes, success.  Beautiful success.  

We should all celebrate the day of Pentecost, which comes on the 7th Sunday or 50 days after Easter Sunday (June 5, 2022). For the Old Testament Jews, it represented the giving of the Law to Moses.  But the new covenant, for all the world to partake, saw Jesus enter our lives.  And after Jesus’ foretold crucifixion He gave us the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  On that day 1000s of years ago, yet another promise was fulfilled by God.  His Spirit came to live in all of us, permanently.  And we were commissioned into His service.

As my faith and biblical knowledge has matured, my list of “must haves” for my new church has been honed.  I want a church that is biblically strong, always pointing me to Jesus, a joy-filled body of believers, and one whose primary goal is to create well-versed and confident disciples.  I hope you will pray for us in finding such a place.  

The modern church itself needs a new beginning.  As individuals, may we be spurred to greater expectations of our Christian communities.  And may we seek out ways to draw each other together in unity as our forefathers in Christ did on that day of Pentecost.

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Father of Steadfastness

Then the Lord said, “My spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3

Most people today are familiar with the Wright Brothers – credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane.  But unless you are an aero-enthusiast you may not know of Karl Wilhelm Otto Lilienthal (died August 1896).  He was known far and wide as the “flying man” for his attempts to make successful glider flights.  Because of his repeated and public attempts, newspapers and magazines influenced the public and scientific communities into believing flying machines were truly possible.

But imagine walking by his artificially made hill he built near Berlin and seeing this man running and leaping forward into nothingness with a wing on his back.  You’d think he was crazy.  You’d probably say he was going to break his neck one of these days – which he did.  But until that fateful day when his glider took a nose dive, he influenced and educated many who would go on to create our modern “flying machines.”  

History is replete with inventors and entrepreneurs who have been mocked, dismissed, and even jailed.  Many failed in their endeavors while others succeeded – sometimes only after their deaths.  But what they all had in common was their steadfastness.  That commitment to the dream which was placed on their mind by some unseen force.  In my series, “30 Days of Thankfulness,” I thanked God for placing that desire to create, to invent, to improve our world, on our hearts and minds.  And when we look back through the history of the world one man can be described as the Father of Steadfastness to an idea, to a goal of a new beginning placed firmly on his mind – Noah.

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. Genesis 6:13-14

What makes this steadfast commitment to following God’s command even more amazing is that scholars believe the world had never seen rain.  And here, a man is building a giant boat because something called “rain” or a “flood” was going to inundate the earth.  Oh, how the mocking must have been endless!  With each day spent placing yet another board on this 350 cubit (510 feet) long ship, Noah was like Mr. Lilienthal on his hill making another attempt at flight while the onlookers snickered.  

But Noah wasn’t the only steadfast player in this scene of the world’s eminent demise.  His not-named wife, sons and their wives must surely have been the subject of constant ridicule.  Each day at the well or in the fields the slurs and evil behavior towards them must have been almost overwhelming.  How many of us could say we would’ve remained true to God’s command?

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Genesis 7:1

As Christians we so often have been asked what we would do or say when we approach the gates of heaven.  Imagine, however, being told before we leave this earth that God has found us among the few righteous!  Would God say that to you right now?

During the last few years our world has been put to a test.  We, as Christians, have been put to a test.  A flood of sort began to overtake the earth.  Some have fallen away out of the fear of that mocking.  Out of fear of being set apart.  Many have drawn closer, like Noah, in obedience and steadfastness.  And their reward?  A new beginning – a renewal of faith.  A rainbow placed in front of them reminding us that God always delivers on his promises.

Like Noah, each day we commit to be steadfast in our faith we are renewed with His love and His presence.  Noah toiled away for 120 years building that ark, not knowing what the fruit of his labor would produce.  He had no idea what his new beginning would be. He just had a dream of a boat.  And a promise from God of a new beginning.  He put his head down and started building it, as God commanded.  He let the mockers and scoffers slide off his back day after day after day.  His family toiled alongside him, set apart from the world.  And his new beginning was our new beginning.  A chance to make the world a better place.

In our modern world we so often overlook the everyday obedience God asks of us as banal.  Yet the steadfastness of say, Christian parenting, produces so much good fruit and beautiful new beginnings.  When our children become successful, healthy adults we get told it is “luck.”  But Noah didn’t go about his work with a rabbit’s foot in his pocket.  He was diligent, sticking with God’s plan.

Each day it seems the work of Christian steadfastness gets harder and harder.  I’d bet as Noah’s massive ship grew closer to completion and stood out taller than the trees more and more people threw insults at his family.  God’s path to our new beginning is rarely easy.  In fact, during the Christmas season I kept hearing the same Bible passage over and over:

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. Luke 12:51-52

This message from Jesus makes many uncomfortable.  During the last 50 years or so the prevalent message painted of Jesus is as a kindly, gentle god.  One who just wanted everyone to get along.  But that rejects so much of Jesus’ teachings and life here on earth.  It rejects the idea that there will be mockers and scoffers while we seek to be steadfast in obedience to God.  The apostles, whom many were surely educated about the steadfastness of Noah, themselves were faced with the same challenge. And while we are called to be peacemakers where possible, when we “go along to get along” we join the audience watching Noah build his ark.  But the flood will come – not as water but in the ways as described in Revelation.  

Friend, it’s time for your new beginning.  It’s time for you to make a commitment to steadfastness.  The world, in general, may never know how your heart has changed but God will.  Your family will know, your friends will know.  Be ready for the mocking, but also be ready to help others board your boat. 

What is God asking you to do today that might set you apart?  Your steadfast commitment to it may just be your new beginning!

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Bountiful Harvest

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. Genesis 2:8-9

As we approach the holidays, and especially Thanksgiving, one topic is on everyone’s lips – what will be served on our festive tables.  And while there are still many impoverished people in the world, through science, technology, and better understanding of growing crops and maintaining our herds, we have overall become much more richly blessed with food.  Not only is there more food to reach the ends of the earth there’s more variety. 

Where I live if I want to make any dish I can find the ingredients, no matter the season or even it’s ethnic origins.  We have Middle Eastern markets, Mexican shops, Asian groceries, German meat markets, Ethiopian restaurants, Italian delis and more.  You want to try it?  Just search for it on the Yelp app and you’ll find it nearby.  

I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Deuteronomy 11:15

God promised us a very long time ago that He would provide for us.  And one short drive around just about any city in the world will show that promised fulfilled.  I need to remember this abundance is God’s gift to us.  He not only feeds us but gives us the opportunity to share our cultures and our traditions through food.

On our Thanksgiving table this year we will once again have my husband’s favorite fresh cranberry sauce along side my mom’s favorite canned jelly cranberry sauce (with the indentations from the can!).  We will enjoy a large turkey, stuffing, homemade rolls, pies and more.  A feast for sure.  A bountiful harvest lovingly given by God.

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A Promise of Triumph

The Lord will march out like 
a champion,like a warrior he 
will stir up his zeal;with a shout 
he will raise the battle cry 
and will triumph over his enemies.
Isaiah 42:13

Like you, I’ve dealt with a lot of difficult people throughout my life.  Whether it was at work, my children’s school, youth sports, or even my church, I encountered people who just wanted to be adversarial.  And I am certain I was someone’s “difficult person” at one time or another.  But I think the most painful experiences surrounding adversaries are when they are part of our family.

I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day about our two families.  We both struggle with difficult parent situations.  One day she and her sister had a heart to heart about a disagreement from a few weeks prior.  With my Christian friend’s kind and gentle approach she spurred the revelation that they had become their parents.  Each sister taking on the personality and fighting style of one of their parents.  That revelation started a healing process in both of them.  Truly a small victory.

In my own life I have transitioned through the stages of grief when it comes to my relationship with my parents.  I denied there was a real problem in my family.  When I finally recognized the problems, I became angry and fought constantly with my mother – trying to change her.  I even had my own way of bargaining to try and create a Hallmark-style mother-daughter relationship.  I would do things for her to help her see what a good person I really was.  But my expectations and hopes were always dashed.  I became depressed for awhile when I realized we would never be a family that loved being together. I just wanted to untie myself from my parents and let them go adrift.  All of this was before I finally surrendered.  I raised my white flag.  But not to any human.  To God.

But thanks be to God, who in 
Christ always leads us in 
triumphal procession, and 
through us spreads the fragrance 
of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14

Paul wrote this to the church of Corinth during a very difficult time for him and his relationship with this church.  They were angry with him for changing his plans about visiting.  Some had started false preaching about him behind his back.  And, as Warren Wiersbe states, “When Christians misunderstand each other the wounds can be very deep.”  Isn’t that true of our families as well?

During the last few years, I have experienced that Christ-given “fragrance of knowledge of Him.”  And as I have done so, I finally had to experience that last stage of grief – acceptance.  For us Christians that acceptance comes, more importantly, with forgiveness.  I stopped trying to change the situation by myself.  And I started to rely on God to handle the situation with my parents.  I hold on to the truth of who loves me for all eternity. And I’m learning how to stay tied to my parents without feelings of hurt and anger. As I spoke of this with my friend she announced very boldly, “And now you have VICTORY!”  

..so you should rather turn 
to forgive and comfort him, 
or he may be overwhelmed by 
excessive sorrow. So I beg 
you to reaffirm your love for him. 
For this is why I wrote, 
that I might test you and know 
whether you are obedient in 
everything. 10 Anyone whom you 
forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, 
what I have forgiven, if I have 
forgiven anything, has been for 
your sake in the presence of Christ, 
11 so that we would not be 
outwitted by Satan; for we are 
not ignorant of his designs.
2 Corinthians 2:7-11

I forgave my parents for not being able to provide me with what I was looking for in a relationship.  I realized they had never been the recipients of overwhelming love.  I stopped being angry and instead became thankful for the life which God has blessed me – a loving family of my own.  Had I given up at any of the other 4 steps of grief surely Satan would have won.  But like Paul, I am no longer ignorant of the devil’s designs.  

Thanks be to God for the triumph He has promised us. We can hold fast knowing that, not only will He have victory over those who would do us harm, but also over our own souls which get injured and hurt by the world.  We can have victory because the Spirit of God rests in us.

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Hanging By A Thread

Can a mother forget the baby 
at her breast and have no compassion 
on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will 
not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on 
the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16

I just was having a bad day.  Nothing really seemed to fall into place.  My husband got some bad news from work which makes me worry about him and our financial situation.  And then we decided to go get my car washed.  My husband was vacuuming the back of my hatchback.  I decided to walk around the back in order to reach the passenger front window.  Unbeknownst to me he had pushed the button to close the hatch as he walked away.  I walked square into the corner of the door with the top of my head.  My husband was completely unaware as he was now on the opposite side of the car.  I bent over holding my head trying to 1) not cry like a baby and 2) stay conscious. 

I cried out to him like a mewling lamb.  My first reaction was to blame him and then I apologized, saying it was just an accident.  But that was the last straw for me that day.  I  wanted to sit down and sob.  It has taken so much out of me to stay in tune with God during the trials and tribulations of the Covid pandemic that I just wanted to give up.  No more joyful grasping for God.  No more peace resting in His Word.  I just was done.  

Come to me, all you who 
are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

And God whispered to me, “I’m still here. And I still love you.  And I know you are having a hard time.  Come and talk to me.”  

I still find it so hard to pray when I’m truly struggling.  But God is so compassionate to us.  He knows when we are holding on by a thread.  He will take even the tiniest snippets of prayer from us to help us hold on.  Like the mother in the Isaiah verse today, He longs to hold us in His arms if we would just run to him – or even crawl.  

The process of sanctification this year made me realize quickly that I was shrinking away from not only God but my husband at that painful moment.  I didn’t want to burden my husband any more than he already was. But after a little while, I shared with him how I was feeling.  I know it’s hard for men to see their beloved wives in pain and not be able to fix our ills.  But he gave me what I needed — a listening and compassionate ear, and a hug.  

That’s what God wants to do for us too.  Although we shouldn’t turn our prayer time into a litany of complaints, we should bring him our pain.  

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, 
holy and dearly loved, clothe 
yourselves with compassion, 
kindness, humility, gentleness 
and patience.
Colossians 3:12

I like this visual of clothing ourselves.  The fruits of the spirit are God’s way of giving us that spiritual hug and listening ear.  He is compassionate, kind, gentle and patient with us.  And Jesus was certainly humble.  When we encase our minds and hearts in these gifts and then turn those fruit outward toward God’s people, we get them back tenfold. 

My husband is a godly man.  Because of this, God used him to give me the compassion and gentleness I needed that day.  And I was able to pull myself back on track. 

I could have easily given in to my despair.  I mean my head was killing me and felt like I had a concussion.  Nothing I could do would fix any problem around me.  But I have learned to grab hold of the promises of God for my rescue. 

Be on your guard; stand firm 
in the faith; be courageous; 
be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

My head still hurts a few days later but I can almost (almost) laugh about it now.  I’m glad I don’t have to keep apologizing to anyone for losing it – since I pulled back my anger almost immediately.  My husband felt bad enough as it was.  And my compassion toward him helped me to stay in line with God’s Word.

I thank God for His promise to never forget me, always hold me tightly and guide me with the fruits of His spirit. 


Join me starting January 11 for my next series! Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help create a vision of you! The words we speak and think and pray have a great impact on our life. We will embark on a journey of praying changes into our lives. New Year’s resolutions have nothing on what God can accomplish when we ask for miracles to transform us!