Category: FOR HER

YouVerse names most popular Bible verse of 2019

About YouVersion: Created by Life.Church, YouVersion is on a mission to help people grow in their relationship with God by engaging with the Bible. The team designs and builds experiences that make it easy for people to integrate the Bible into their everyday lives. Since 2008, the Bible App has offered a free Bible experience that can be accessed on smartphones, browsers, voice platforms, and more. The Bible App for Kids launched in 2013 and engages children with Bible stories on an age-appropriate level. The newest app, Bible Lens, analyzes objects in photos, finds the most relevant Bible verse to match, and automatically creates beautiful, shareable artwork. For more information about YouVersion, visit youversion.com.


The global YouVersion community engaged more in the Bible this year than in any previous year. In fact, people read and listened to the Bible 30% more this year compared to last year. In total, YouVersion saw 5.6 billion chapters listened to and 35.6 billion chapters read in 2019.

Around the world, the Bible verse most engaged with throughout the year is Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

“Our desire is to help people grow in their relationship with God by encouraging them to read the Bible and seek Him every day,” said YouVersion Founder Bobby Gruenewald. “We’re encouraged to see so many people turning to the Bible in response to their worries, remembering what God has done in their lives, and choosing to trust in His faithfulness.”

One of the most popular offerings of the Bible App is daily Plans that combine portions of Scripture with devotional content. This year alone, the community completed a record-breaking 1.1 billion days in their daily Bible Plans. People also made 2 billion highlights, bookmarks, and notes to mark meaningful verses and record what God revealed to them in their studies. Many even took the extra step to tell others how the Bible was impacting them, resulting in more than 478 million verses shared.

“What we are seeing in global engagement is exciting to us because with every verse highlighted, Plan day completed, or audio chapter listened to, that’s a person who is being transformed by knowing God more intimately through spending time in the Bible,” said Gruenewald. “We’re humbled by the opportunity to see lives changed in every country around the world.”

The Bible App saw a significant global increase in both installs and engagement this year. In 2019, YouVersion grew by nearly 50 million unique installs to reach a total of 400 million installs worldwide, and the majority of those new installs came from outside the U.S. Based on the YouVersion Community’s engagement with Scripture throughout the year, Poland was one of the fastest growing countries with a 75% increase. India saw 51% more engagement in 2019 compared to last year. Bible engagement also grew across Southeast Asia in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam seeing increases by 36% and 37%, respectively.

“Every year, when we dig into these numbers, we’re overwhelmed by how God is using this app to deliver His message of hope and love to a hurting world,” said Gruenewald. “We also can’t help but recognize how much more work there is to be done together as the global Church to reach every nation.”

Right now, the Bible App offers more than 2,000 Bible versions in more than 1,350 languages. However, over a billion people globally don’t have access to a complete Bible in their native language. Together with illumiNations, a movement of ten Bible translation agencies, YouVersion is working to give more people the Bible in their native language. The group’s goal is that by 2033, 95% of the world’s population will have a complete Bible, 99.9% will have a complete New Testament, and 100% will have at least some portion of Scripture.

Through the generosity of the YouVersion community, translation projects in Republic of Congo, Malawi, Benin, Indonesia, Croatia, Madagascar, and Serbia received $1 million this year to advance their efforts. Combined, these projects will give more than 4.7 million people the first portion of Scripture ever available in their language. To date, the YouVersion community has donated a total of $3 million to fund Bible translation.

“When you take in Scripture in your native language, the words take on new meaning and suddenly, He isn’t a God who came for someone else. He is your God who knows you personally,” said Gruenewald. “Experiencing the Bible in your own language is a powerful gift, and we’re eternally grateful to our partners who share our dream of making the Bible for everyone.”

For more information about the YouVersion community’s Bible engagement in 2019, visit youversion.com/share2019.


How Do YOU YouVersion?

I was blown away when Life.Church first announced bringing the Bible to our mobile devices as an app. My fascination continued, as more and more downloads happened. With over 400 million downloads and counting, it’s literally revolutionized how you can engage with God’s word. Anyone remember toting your Bible on business trips in your bag? (If you haven’t downloaded it—I’d stop right now and grab it. Did I mention it is absolutely free? Plus, the studies are also free? Amazing, right?)

So, I wanted to talk through a few ways I do YouVersion because they are kind of out of the box for Bible reading. That’s my favorite part of this whole thing. It is a great way to engage with God’s word more often than just the time you sit in your quiet place. It makes God’s word a part of your day in really active ways. It’s easy. It’s educational. It’s certainly motivational. Plus, it never ever hurts to write more of God’s word on our hearts.

  1. YouVersion actually reads the Bible to me in my car. Yep. I can get through an entire chapter if the traffic is just right going from place to place.
  2. Walking—both in the neighborhood and at the gym when I find time to go—I just select it and it starts reading.
  3. On the plane—sitting on a runway and too tired to actually read? Keep on talking to me YouVersion.
  4. Witnessing in the mall—Yep. I was talking with the Chinese massage therapists and I needed to give them a Bible reference. We had a language barrier. I whipped out YouVersion and they read the verse in Chinese. Witnessing crisis averted.
  5. Multiple versions—Honestly, I love reading the same verse in 4-5 different versions—from New Living Translation to the Message. It brings life back into words I’ve read so many times that I sometimes gloss over them a bit. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, many verses that you’ve heard since your childhood become a bit easy to zip through as your brain believes you already know everything there is to know about the verse. Reading it in a different version with a bit different wording (translation) can give you a fresh perspective on the verse you know so well.
  6. Little Bible studies with reminders from some of my favorite authors. Share them with your Bible study group. Dr. Tony Evans has been a favorite of mine since college. If you don’t know him, you should give him a try. There are hundreds of others.

It’s pretty easy to “Choose Life” through investing in Bible study for 2020. Set your reminders and don’t choose to invest in God’s word and let it grow in your heart and your mind. It is truly powerful!

CITY ELDERS: 2020--Time to Catch the Vision

Written by Jesse Leon Rodgers

The interest level in the mission and vision of City Elders has reached a fevered pitch, now, even on a national level.  Therefore, I suppose it is time for a clear, unambiguous and public explanation of what City Elders is all about. We wanted to organize the group, the warriors really, in the spiritual sense of the word before we marched too far into battle with the wickedness which has engulfed our nation.

If the history books haven’t been rewritten yet, last I checked, our nation was founded on the freedom of religion. It is the core of who we are as a country. When you consider the incredible persecution allowed around the world, it is easy to see the importance of such a freedom. In China churches are being bulldozed, burned—literally destroyed. Church members are imprisoned for their faith. Many are put into re-education centers to teach their youth a new way. In our nation, we just sat back and allowed the re-education centers to happen right under our noses without much of a debate.

Oklahoma City City Elders Recruitment Meeting

Like it or not, we are being drawn into a fight; God’s word is being disregarded as if it is merely a possible suggestion.  Our spiritual and governmental foundations are still in place and we can rebuild again.  But it is going to take patriots and preachers of righteousness, business leaders and civil servants, who have had their fill of surrendering territory to the enemy and are ready to go into a spiritual war to preserve a nation. 

There has been an assault in America for the soul of our nation for the last two generations.  Unfortunately, those of us reading this somehow virtually laid down and played possum. We just didn’t engage in the spiritual, cultural and political battles we should have been in.  Rest assured, we are at war against the powers of darkness which are on a mission to destroy the family, the church, the culture and ultimately the nation. City Elders is here to raise up God’s people to take our place in these battles.

Many have not engaged in the battle because they have not understood the nature of the spiritual war, where the attacks are coming from or how to engage.  Many are disengaged because they are holding out for the imminent return of the Lord or thinking that the demise of the nation is simply a “sign of the times” and there is nothing that we can do but bemoan our losses and “hold-on” till the end.  This theology and eschatology shackles these folks to a sinking ship mentality without sail or rudder rather than a victorious vessel sailing to shore with the spoils of war aboard.

Others have hunkered down in their homes and houses of worship while the enemy has ravaged our youth. He has destroyed morals, undermined biblical marriage, murdered the unborn, pillaged the political system and been allowed to roam freely through our nation. In fact, he roams about with quite a bit of support.

He marches on a full-frontal attack to destroy the next generation of children through the indoctrination and reorientation camps we call schools. Public schools weren’t ever meant to be a political playground. The very innocence, purity and eternal destination of our children is at stake, having been made the target of the Wicked One. He wants to sexually assault the minds of primary school children, sully their morality and confuse their identity through the lie of gender fluidity and sexual reorientation. It’s not ok to redefine our children against what our Bible teaches. It’s not.

The Wicked One does not stop “until He is stopped!”  And this is precisely where City Elders comes in.  The mission of City Elders is to stop evil from being forced upon others, especially through civil government policy and institutions.  We hold that people should be free to practice what the Bible would address as sin (although within the law).  However, governmental institutions cannot and should not be used to promote that form of anti-Biblical action.  Neither should the government control or subsidize institutions be used to promote or propagate these actions.

There is one, and only one, reason why wickedness has pervaded the culture and dominated the governmental arena . . . and that reason is Christians have allowed it to happen. And we, in the “City Elders Movement” intend to change that narrative.

City Elders exists to govern the gates of our cities spiritually, politically and economically, so that:  life is protected, liberty is defended, Christ is exalted, suffering is alleviated and families can flourish.  That is our mission, plain and simple. 

We have identified spiritual leaders, elders, in the county seats of forty of Oklahoma’s seventy-seven counties.  These spiritual leaders are found in the church, in civil government and in the business sectors.  These are men and women of God whose spiritual influence reaches far beyond the walls of their own home and the church house.  These are leaders who realize the Lordship of Jesus Christ was intended to be recognized in every sphere of our lives, public and private.

Our goal is to have “Spiritual Governing Councils” established in all seventy-seven counties of Oklahoma by November of 2020.  We are well on our way to reaching that goal.  These spiritual governing councils are praying men and women who function in the same capacity as the City Elders of the ancient cities of Israel.  They were the influencers, the decision makers, the leaders of the city.  These leaders sat in the gates of the fortified cities of Israel and made judgement calls upon what was allowed in the city and what was disallowed.  They protected the city from invasions and intrusions.  And they were the first line of defense against attacks from enemies or anyone who would do the citizens harm. 

The concept of City Elders is not new; it is an ancient and Biblical form of city governance which recognizes the significance of dominating the spiritual atmosphere through prayer and proclamation.  Thereafter believers must wield their spiritual authority by influencing the sectors of civil government and business through participation and engagement.  This is governing and protecting the city and its inhabitants within the framework of a Biblical worldview with an understanding that we were and are made in the image of God and for the glory of God.

ABOUT: Jesse Leon Rodgers is the founder and president of City Elders, a reformation model of city and state governance that trains up and empowers Christian elders how to govern the gates of the city spiritually, politically, and economically.

He is the chairman of the Oklahoma Watchmen on the Wall Network; the pastor’s network of the Family Research Council, Washington, D.C.

Rodgers’ unique role with the Family Research Council and City Elders has positioned him to influence government officials from the local municipalities to the White House.

Learn to Defend Your Faith
Dr. Jim Burkett

75% of Christian young adults will leave Christianity if not trained to think logically through a Christian worldview based on the facts of Christian apologetics. What is Christian Apologetics?

  1. Presenting the reasons why Christianity is a factual faith.
  2. Defending the Christian faith.
  3. Making the intellectual case for Christianity.

HOW CAN I BE TRAINED IN APOLOGETICS?

Apologetics Study Chapters are available in the Tulsa area:

Reasonable Faith Chapter—Mark Goodnight

Meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each each month mark.goodnight@reasonablefaith.org);

Reasons to Believe—Dr. Dominic Halsmer

Meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month at Believers Church dhalsmer@oru.edu)

Oklahoma School of Apologetics & Practical Theology—Dr. Jim Burkett ccccpastor@aol.com

Courses have weekly schedule in area churches as well as APOLOGETICS-on-Fire Sunday Conferences at local churches

Next course:

The Case for the Bible—The Scientific and Historical Evidence

The Liberty Center (9410 E. 51st Street, Suite A, Tulsa, OK 74145 on Tuesday evenings 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM; January 14,21,28; February 4,11,18, & 25.

Register and Contact:

Liberty Center, Tulsa (www.libertycentertulsa.com) text 918-691-8756 or www.apologeticsonfire.com.

APOLOGETICS WEBSITES: www.oneminuteapologist.com Leading Apologists answer probing questions in 60 to 180 seconds. www.thepoachedegg.net One of the world’s leading apologetics websites. www.oklahomaapologetics.com


John Wyrrick Custom Homes and Remodeling

When I caught up with John Wyrrick this month, I wanted to get a better understanding of his plan for a successful building and remodeling process. I have done both. Sometimes well, and sometimes well—please don’t make me have to relive it by telling you about it. Just that one reference made my pocketbook cringe and my blood pressure jump a few points.

As easy as it looks with Chip and Joanna, the truth is good subcontractors do their best work with a clear plan but also when they know the person in charge knows how to do the job right. It’s just a fact. Wyrrick said, “My job is supervision, inspection, and management of all of the people and companies involved in the project. Having been in the business for a while, I have found that people do what you inspect and not what you expect.” He went on, “It is incumbent upon me to “inspect the expects” to get your desired results.”

Wyrrick continued, “Building and remodeling should be enjoyable and exciting. Based on my years of experience, I have found some essential steps, which lead to a happy ending. First, a clear, complete, and specific plan gives us our roadmap to the desired finish. Second, a procedure and protocol for progress meetings, inspections, cost updates and change order reviews must be established.” These items, which to some (like myself!) might seem like formalities, are critical steps in a successful project. They just are. Wyrrick went on, “I strive to deliver the best product for the best price, which results in our client receiving the greatest value. Having an established process and expectations coupled with my ability to inspect for quality results gets my clients the outcome they wanted.”

Behind the Scenes:

Architects/Planners

Depending on your desires, needs, and the complexity of the project, we recommend an architect to provide a full set of plans complete with elevations, sections and details. If you have a small project, we can employ a building designer. In either case, we make your thoughts and ideas come to life with drawings that allow us to pinpoint the costs.

Budgeting/Bid Process:

Plans are complete. So, now we meet with our team to cover all aspects of your project and prepare an accurate budget and cost. We work on a “cost plus” basis or a “fixed price” model. We will fully cover how each of these models work and which one might be best for you. We want our customer to be comfortable with the financial terms and conditions.

Construction Management:

We schedule a weekly meeting. Communication is critical; it allows both parties to be transparent with their thoughts to ensure the desired result is delivered. Project supervision is an important part of the process as well. We can provide dependable supervision at the level requested, either full time or project specific. Cost summaries are provided twice a month and change orders are executed in a timely fashion to eliminate surprises. These elements will make the construction experience amenable for everyone.

Subcontractors:

Skilled and knowledgeable tradespeople are a vital part of any project. We assembled a group of contractors who possess the quality construction skills coupled with integrity and dependability for our customers. Our subcontractors have a close relationship with us, which results in quicker response times and trusted results.

John Wyrrick, LLC
Custom Homes and Remodeling
Contact: Phone: 918-510-0331
Email:  jwyrrick@sbcglobal.net
Services: Custom Homes, Custom Remodels, Outdoor Living Spaces, Full Design and Plan Services





Rise&Shine: Are You Too Busy?

Written by Mike Henry Sr. – Follower of One

The Good Samaritan

The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10:30-37 tells of a person on the road to Jericho who gets mugged and left for dead. A Priest and a Levite both pass the man without stopping. Only a Samaritan man, one the Jews would have hated, stopped to help the man.

Jesus told this story to answer a question asked by an expert in the Jewish Law, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Would you stop?

I believe most people reading this magazine think we would stop. I’d like to think I would. But in 1973, J.M. Darley and C.D. Batson published a study “From Jerusalem to Jericho.” The study tested Princeton Seminary students. The students prepared a presentation to be given across campus. Half of the students were to present on career prospects and the other half on the parable about the Good Samaritan.

Some students were told they were running late for the presentation, some were cutting it close, and a third group had plenty of time.

Then, for the study, the path of each student went by a person who appeared to have just been mugged. The test was to see who would stop and help the victim.

While 40% offered some help to the man, only 10% of those who thought they were running late helped the man. Forty-five percent (45%) in a medium hurry stopped and 63% with plenty of time stopped to help.

Importance of Time

It seems the American epidemic is busyness. Most of us are in a hurry, period. Often we answer the question “How are you doing?” with, “I’m good, just busy.” Busy is the new black. If you’re not busy, you’re not very important. If you have time, you must not be in demand. Important people are busy.

Time, Attention, and Email

Another commodity seems to be attention. Do you answer all of your email messages each day? It seems fewer people read all of their email. I have friends with thousands of unread messages. If you need to contact these people, text them. And, then wait.

What Am I Missing?

How much of our busyness and attention deficit are related to our fear of missing out (FOMO)? New things happen daily. A new iPhone or a new movie just came out. Did you see this new viral video on Facebook? Our kids are in soccer and basketball, (and this and that) this year.

As Americans, we run from one thing to the next, consuming experiences like fast food and then running to the next experience.

We’re so consumed with our own lives, we never see our neighbors!

Love God and Love People

Jesus told this story because the Jewish lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. I guess he didn’t want to miss out. Jesus asked him what he thought, and the lawyer stated clearly the Great Commandment, that we love God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, and we love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus confirmed this man’s thinking. Then the lawyer asked, “And who is my neighbor?”

The Neighbors We Miss

As we race from experience to commitment to experience, I wonder how many neighbors we miss. Could it be our neighbors and the things we do for them will last? Everything else will burn up. Our experiences and our busy lifestyles load us up with treasures on earth. Moth and rust will destroy those. The memories may linger, but I doubt they’ll compare to eternal life. And, the treasures will stay here.

See Others

Can we make time for people? Can we put some slack back in our own schedule, so we have time for our neighbors? Intentionally “see” others in every setting, especially those settings, like our family and work, that aren’t optional. Can you make more time for your family? Can you focus more of your life to get to know and serve your co-workers? I wonder how our workplaces and our co-workers might change if we made more time for them? I wonder if they would experience more of Jesus and his eternal joy if we lived more gracefully toward them?

Let It Go

Drop one thing to invest in people at work. We all need to move closer to Jesus. Help your work neighbor see Jesus. They want their life to last. They need a savior who gives meaning and purpose in this life and the next. Create some time in your schedule to serve others and make Jesus visible.


Mike Henry Sr. is the Founder and CEO of Follower Of One, a ministry designed to mobilize Christians in the marketplace. Get started by taking the Marketplace Mission Trip.


Put On Your "God Goggles"

Holiday seasons are funny. For some, they bring such a wonderful time of gratitude for all that they have. Not things, but people really. Family. For others, they highlight things that are missing. Not just things, but people as well. People who are missed. People who may never have been there, like parents or spouses prayed for but not yet met. For all the joy of the season, there can be a real space for sadness and even a bit of despair. Goodness, I remember vividly as a child when we first had a chimney. Finally, Santa had a way in! Crisis averted!

For Christians, this is a season where we turn to traditional giving outlets to share some Christmas joy. It’s a great plan. Keep it up.

However, for 2019, we want to toss out a challenge to think bigger. We want to think even beyond the gift trees at the mall needing a requested present. (Again, still do those OF COURSE!)

Do you have a family in your church? Your neighborhood? Your work? A family who cares for children in foster care? A single parent? Friends without family in town? Friends from other countries? Elderly neighbors missing family and friends? I bet you could find at least one in one of these categories just on your street alone.

So, open your eyes. Put your “God Goggles” on to catch His vision.

Foster care parents take in children who need love during the holidays. Reach out to them. Find out how you can help around the house. Maybe it’s babysitting? Maybe it’s gifts? Maybe it’s wrapping presents? Maybe it’s something special that you can provide that I can’t even imagine not knowing your talents!

And guess what?

Single parents need those things too! My husband traveled excessively for work this year. He was gone for back to back full weeks month over month. Ay-ay-ay. It was beyond trying to parent alone—to not have that person to run to the CVS for cough medicine in the middle of the night. I have an amazing support group in Tulsa with my family. My parents don’t know they’re too old to dance and play in the floor, while they entertain my highly energetic and sometimes slightly high maintenance daughter. Goodness. They help so much!

Not everybody has those kinds of life savers to throw a rope. Single parents could use a break. Offer them one. An evening where they could go shopping without spying little eyes could be invaluable. Tossing in a Visa gift card could make that event a bit more enjoyable!

Stop to invite a single friend or an elderly person over for the whole “magic in the eyes of a child” kind of thing. Invite them to join your family for Christmas lights at Rhema. Put them between the car seat and the door for a crazy night of Christmas light touring they won’t soon forget. There’s just so much fun to be shared!

People aren’t connected in the way we used to be. It used to be that everyone sort of just knew what was going on in others’ lives. Maybe it was the party line my grandparents had back in the day. I don’t know. I just know there are a lot of people who will never ask you for help. They might even be afraid that if they asked, you might ask for something from them later. Right? You know that thought process. These kinds of people will answer “Fine.” when asked how they are. They will smile to keep your attention off of their coffee stained shirt. Sure. They will make it without you, but I bet they could make it SO MUCH BETTER with you.

So grab your “God Goggles” and #GoDoBe in the ways you always do and in ways you had never thought of before.

CITY ELDERS: Why Christians Must Be Involved in Government

Written by Jesse Leon Rodgers

If you are like me, you have watched the downward slide in our nation against Judeo-Christian values and felt overwhelmed at what has taken place in our courts and schools. In the last fifty plus years we have watched the following:

June 25, 1962 in a landmark case Engel v. Vitale, the Supreme Court decided the sanctity of prayer and word of God were no longer necessary or welcome in the public education system of the United States.

January 22, 1973 that same Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that a child would no longer be safe in the womb of its mother. The sanctity of life now gone.

June 26, 2015 the same Supreme Court decided in another landmark ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges that the sanctity of marriage would be removed from our courts and our laws in the United States.

California Senate SB Bill 48 targeted the purity and innocence of our children with government mandated public education training of our children in the history and substance of the LGBTQ community.

The Illinois Legislature passed House Bill 5596 which also targeted the purity and innocence of our children in primary school by requiring the schools to teach the history of the LGBTQ community to school children to create gender confusion.

What we are seeing is social engineering and secular humanism at its best. How has this happened? Because we believed the lie that as Christians we were not to be involved in government and that pastors and Christian leaders were not allowed to speak out about these important issues. We stepped back and went silent. And this has been the result. We can no longer remain silent.

Jesse Leon Rodgers speaking at City Elders meeting.

We must recognize that government funded and government subsidized public education has been the greatest adversary of faith, family and freedom for a generation.

The Humanist Manifesto states blatantly that their desire is to turn the public education classroom into their sanctuary. The teacher is their high priest, secular Humanism, Dialectic Materialism (Marxism), Evolution and Atheism is their creed and our children are the worshippers in their new religion of secular humanism.

Has the vision and strategy of secular humanism worked? You bet. Over 80% of the children of evangelicals jettison their faith in their first year of college. These numbers are not sustainable. If we want to remain a free country, if we want the United States of America to remain free for our children and grandchildren, then the men and women of God across this nation must stand up to be collective in their efforts and we must do so right now.

That is the goal and role of City Elders, a non-profit organization with a model to position Christian leaders/elders to work alongside government officials across our nation. We are already seeing this happen as this model is implemented in our state.

Who are city elders? They are proven Christian leaders from the sectors of the church, the business community and civil government, who when they convene constitute the spiritual governing council of a city or community.

They are local leaders whose personal lives are guided by biblical principles and governed by Judeo Christian values and who are committed to the exaltation of Jesus Christ and the practice of his lordship in every sphere of life.

We need to return to the concept of city elders who in biblical days guarded and governed the cities at the city gates. It was the watchmen on the wall and the elders at the city gates who were the first line of defense against attacks, invasion or intrusion of any kind and their responsibility was the protection of the inhabitants of the city including their own families.

The mission of City Elders is to govern the gates of the city spiritually, politically, and economically so that life is protected, liberty is defended, Christ is exalted and families can flourish.

This is a national network strategy being implemented currently in Oklahoma in over forty of our seventy-seven counties. Can you imagine the transformation if this model was implemented in every state of our nation?

We have already surrendered far too many civil liberties and religious freedoms. We have watched as our own government has been commandeered and weaponized against Christians. The public education system has been infiltrated and militarized against the family, Judeo-Christian values and biblical world view.

It’s time now for the people of God to arise and take their position in the gates of the cities across this nation as we move back into government rather than watch from the sidelines.

For additional information or to become a part of City Elders go to: https://cityelders.com/

ABOUT: Jesse Leon Rodgers is the founder and president of City Elders, a reformation model of city and state governance that trains up and empowers Christian elders how to govern the gates of the city spiritually, politically, and economically.

He is the chairman of the Oklahoma Watchmen on the Wall Network; the pastor’s network of the Family Research Council, Washington, D.C.

Rodgers’ unique role with the Family Research Council and City Elders has positioned him to influence government officials from the local municipalities to the White House.

Heart2Heart: Generous YOU!

Written by Andrea Stephens

Generosity. The giving of good things to others freely and abundantly out of a heart of genuine kindness. Generosity is something we are challenged by during this season of thankfulness and gift giving. It affords us the opportunity to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Have you ever met someone who is generous? Not just someone who repeatedly tells the story of her one-time over the top act of kindness. I mean someone who lives it. Someone who sees what they own, what they earn, what they do with their time, and their words of encouragement as tools to use to bless the lives of others. Someone who has experienced the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive and can attest that giving increases their own well-being and happiness (Acts 20:35). Someone who’s heart has been so touched by the love of God that it overflows toward others in a consistent, almost natural way.

Several years ago, I met Marge. She was an older lady, a widow, the mother of two adult sons who were inattentive to their mother. Her life had not been easy but her disposition was one of gratitude, a key to generous living. She could be heard thanking the Lord for this or that and giving Him credit for all the good in her life; Marge had well learned Jesus’ command to love the Lord with everything within her and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39). I got to watch up close as she would hear about a need and find a way to meet it. Mr. Avery had been laid off and his family needed groceries; Suzette didn’t have a winter coat and the temperature kept dropping; Karen was in the throes of chemotherapy and just couldn’t prepare Thanksgiving dinner as usual. Marge had three bags of groceries delivered to the Avery’s, took Suzette shopping, and shared her festive meal so Karen could rest. The majority of her most generous giving was done anonymously so that the credit went to God alone. Even as someone who became one of her close friends, I didn’t know all the giving she was up to, yet that smile on her face let me know that she and Jesus were up to something good. Together, they were on an adventure that brought energizing joy, contentment and purpose to her life.

Her example taught me that I, too, could possess the quality of generosity. Generosity is not about how much you possess, or how much money you make. It’s about the condition of your heart, your mindset, your willingness to put it into action. Caring, sharing, and giving because it blesses the Lord, blesses the recipient, and blesses you.

Sometimes our generosity is an act of obedience to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. A friend tells the story of having lunch at one of her favorite restaurants—the kind with country style cooking. When she was getting ready to leave, the Holy Spirit whispered to her/impressed upon her to leave her waitress a $20 tip. She admits that her first reaction was what, $20? After all this wasn’t one of her regular waitresses but a new person she didn’t even know, a person with a pink streak in her hair. Well, she knew the thought hadn’t come from her. So, she had a decision to make. Should she trust the impression or pass it off as a ridiculous thought?

Obedience won. She tucked the money along the side of her plate and left the restaurant. The next week she returned to that restaurant for lunch. While scanning the menu she heard someone say, “Hey, you’re the lady that left me that awesome tip last week.” She looked up to see the waitress with the pink streak in her hair. She smiled. “I was having such a bad day. Several customers had been mean and no one was tipping. In fact, I had just been alone in the walk-in freezer crying and asking the Lord to help me. Then I came out and there was your tip. Thank you so much.”

Wow. Who knew her obedience was actually the answer to someone’s prayer? My friend was doubly blessed. She had followed what the Lord lead her to do and she had impacted another life with her generosity.

Of course, the greatest example of generosity was done by God, our Heavenly Father, when He choose to send His Son, Jesus, to earth as a human baby who would one day sacrificially give His life to save the world from the wrath of sin and restore all that was lost in the Garden of Eden. When Jesus gave His life for you and me, it was the greatest demonstration of love being the motivation for generosity. First, God loved the world which resulted in the giving of Jesus (John 3:16). Then Jesus loved His Father so much that He obediently went to the cross to die for the world His Father loved (Matt 26:36-44). Yes, Jesus loved us, but His motivation came from the love he had for God.

To complete this demonstration of love, Jesus rose from the grave having defeated death and paying our sin debt so that we can live forgiven, free, and forever reconciled to our Heavenly Father. This alone, gives each of us reason to be grateful and to show our love for God by loving others. Life can be hard, messy, and disappointing. Yet when we intentionally keep our focus on the generosity of God toward us, we will recognize our blessings and be motivated to bless others.

How can we become more generous women? First, study God’s Word. The more we know His love, the more we will love Him (and the more we will want to obey Him). January will be a great time to get in on a local Bible study. Check out these studies for women: Bible Study Fellowship held at Asbury Church on Thursday mornings and Community Bible Study held at Evergreen Baptist Church on Wednesday mornings. Second, practice an attitude of gratitude. Challenge yourself to write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Get in the habit of telling others when you are grateful for them. Third, just start being generous. Yes, begin paying attention to how and when you can be generous to those around you—whether it is someone you know or a seemingly random person God puts in your path. As you do these things, your desire to be more generous will grow. Your joy will increase. You will become a natural at it!


Just How Fruity of a Fruitcake are YOU?

Written by Teresa Goodnight

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

Galatians 5:22–26

I  know. I couldn’t help the reference with the holidays coming, but our fruitiness is pretty important. Our CORE is a pretty good indicator of our status with Christ. Makes sense. God tells us that the closer we get to Him, the more the Holy Spirit will produce these kinds of fruits within us:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-Control

God tells us “There is no law against these things!” Makes sense. Why would there need to be a law against such things? I know no one complaining at the Thanksgiving table—“Kenzi, she’s just too loving. I always feel like she is just joyful or something. It’s really aggravating me. When things aren’t going her way, she’s peaceful. It’s like she thinks that no matter what happens, everything is going to be ok. She’s kind when I think she should be boiling over. It’s like she’s full of goodness or something. I mean her faithfulness and gentleness anger me. I wish she wasn’t so stinkin’ self-controlled. I just don’t like to be around people like her.”

It’s so silly—it’s difficult to write (and probably read). I just don’t hear people complaining about people filled with the Spirit. In fact, I’m more likely to step back and challenge myself when I’m around such people. There’s no one in my life who would naturally call me self-controlled. Gentleness isn’t exactly on my type A personality trait list either. I want it to be. In fact, when I spend more time with God, it actually starts to creep into me. I notice it. Then, when life gets busy and I get off track. It’s gone. Type A me, me, me is right back in action wondering if anyone noticed I was next in line and not the person they waited on ahead of me. As I wonder in my head how they missed me, I stand there annoyed I’m having to wait longer, fighting rushing up to get my turn that was due. It’s not just self-control I’m lacking there. It’s patience. It’s love. It’s goodness. It’s certainly gentleness. All not happening. ARGH!

So, why can’t I keep producing the fruit I want? Many times, it’s because I AM PRODUCING THAT FRUIT. When I’m just doing it on my own, it won’t last. It doesn’t have the sticking power that a fruit of the Spirit does. People can sense you aren’t even happy with what you are trying to force yourself to do, but when it’s just growing out of you—it has its own life and power, God’s Holy Spirit’s power.

It’s not that I shouldn’t try to be good. We should all try of course. It’s just that there is a different power source behind the actions when we are plugged into Christ. When I’m reading God’s word, spending time in prayer about it—all of a sudden, the fruit just starts growing in me. Sure, I’m participating. I’m there letting the seed be planted with God’s word. I’m listening to God as I pray, letting the Spirit water me like a garden if you will. Then I’m out there operating in the sunshine watching it grow inside me. It really is a very different crop though. One is born out of pushing myself to do it myself. The other is truly born of the Spirit. It actually can feel a bit effortless at times. In fact, it can even surprise you that it’s just happening. I know it has me. (Mainly because I know it is NOT my natural instinct. Hey. Don’t judge. LOL)

My daughter is addicted to a dumplin’/carrot kid’s meal at the Cracker Barrel (Please stay with the no judging theme here. Ha! ). She’s a picky eater. Anyway. One day, we had a waitress who was just downright grumpy with us. Anything we asked seemed like an enormous drain on her. I wanted to throw down a bit of righteous indignation that a paying customer feels they deserve to throw when things aren’t going well. I own that mode when needed (Sadly!). However, we had been challenged at church to be a bit different. The seed had been planted just the service before. It was watered with some Biblical teaching and addressed in prayer. So, without even having to debate it, which still baffles me, we left a $100 tip. It wasn’t because we made ourselves do it. It really flowed right out of us. We left being thankful that God had turned us that direction in that moment.

Several weeks later, my daughter and I went back to the Cracker Barrel. Honestly, I didn’t remember the waitress, but she remembered us. (Don’t even know how she knew it was us, because you pay at the front desk at CB!). Anyway, she came over and talked about what a horrible day she was having that day. She talked with me about some of her trials. She knew she had been pretty awful to us. She was so thankful to us for being generous on her really bad day. I had to tell her—I think God wanted you to have that encouragement. He must have known you needed it. We do NOT do that all the time. We have done that only when we feel a tug that feels from the Spirit and we just respond immediately. It’s difficult to put into words, but it is just different. I’m sure you’ve felt that tug.

So how fruity are you? Are you working on any kind of spiritual fruit crop at all? Do you have some artificial, genetically modified fruit crop that looks a bit like real fruit out of “I oughtas or I shoulds” or are you plugged into the Holy Spirit and watching God grow something amazing in you that you know couldn’t be produced without Him? Again, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t put for the effort, but I’m telling you—there’s something different when the Holy Spirit is growing it in you. There just is.

So, I think we should throw down the holiday fruitcake challenge for this season. Let’s spend some time with God to be as fruity as we can be going into holiday time with our family and friends. See what happens!

Action:

  • Let’s read and study Galatians 5.
  • Look up a definition of the words Paul used like love, patience, etc. day by day.
  • Pray about at least one of them daily.
  • Pray that God will bring you opportunities to display them and that He will grow them in you like a harvest!

Then #GoDoBe.

We’d love to get some notes from you over the holidays with any stories of God producing a bountiful crop in your life through His Spirit! Be blessed, but more than that, BE A BLESSING!

What does a SUPER Lost World Need? A Savior.

Goodness. America feels upside down and torn apart. Admittedly this country has made more than its fair share of mistakes growing up. So have I. One of the best parts of who we become grows out of the grace God gives us for those mistakes. At our worst, at our best, or somewhere in the middle—God loves us, sent His son to die for us, and offers forgiveness that knows no limits. So, in these times of social media wars, families divided over our political state, and hearts that fully reject God’s Word, His grace and even ours, how do we love? Like God did.

God being under attack isn’t anything new although it feels a bit new to our generation. In fact, although we focus on the amazing birth of our savior in this season, we must also remember He too came into a very tumultuous world. There was a hunt to find where the Messiah would be born—to destroy Him. The horrible taxes drove Mary and Joseph to travel when she was with child to get them paid. There was no room for a woman giving birth at the inn? Really? Would noone give their room? The owners? Even through the hunt, the lack of common decency, God still saw fit to send His son. He was born in a barn. He would die on a cross at the hand of the very people He came to save. 

Why? Because then and now, the world still needed a savior. That’s how God loves. 

This is not our home. It’s not. No matter how “blessed” we feel with all the frills even America offers, at the core of every human being, it remains true: THE WORLD IS STILL VERY MUCH IN NEED OF A SAVIOR. You have the answer to a broken and hurting world living inside of you. Breathing His Spirit into you. His grace covers you. You are grounded in Christ. In this season, #GoDoBE Christ wherever you find the opportunity. America is crying out desperately for a savior, reminding us of the real reason why Jesus was born. Give the gift of a savior with God this season. It just may change someone’s eternal life.


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Natalie Stitt’s article has already touched so many. We’ve had families thanking us for approaching the subject both for schools and for churches. It’s opened my mind beyond where God started me. I pray with this little story God inspires you to move into action. It’s really that simple.

Forming a ministry for those who are differently abled is incredibly difficult. Right?

Wrong.

Few things could be further from the truth. Our two-part series with Natalie’s senior thesis challenges us all on our role as the Church (and as Christian Schools) to go into the community and seek out those with disabilities to bring them to God.

Job 29:15 (NLT) says, “I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame.” The Bible is full of references to God’s heart for those with any kind of physical or mental needs. However, many of us have unknowingly created a world where they don’t seem to belong. Does that even sound right when you read it? Not in a Church called to reach the least of these, it doesn’t.

There are scattered churches in our area, who have made wonderful efforts towards reaching these souls for Christ. However, as Natalie referenced in her thesis, the needs of those with a handicap of some kind aren’t really “special.” They have needs just like any of us—to be loved, included, cared for, part of the Body of Christ. So many people believe a lie Satan puts in their minds that ministering to those who are crippled in some way is difficult. Eastland Assembly is one church who has proven otherwise for 26 years now.

“Eastland’s ministry started with puppets at Hissom Memorial Center (a residential training facility for mentally disabled children).” shared LaDonna Harper, who now has the reigns for the ministry with her husband, Al Harper. She went on, “The church launched the ministry with Jason Couch, one little member. It grew quite quickly by word of mouth. It has been steady ever since.”

Jason was an autistic boy. He was also the pastor’s son. If we think about the newfound awareness for autism we have these days—it’s better than it was, but still very misunderstood by most. So, 26 years ago, it was really a shot in the dark to begin this ministry. LaDonna said, “Since then, we have 150–170 people each Sunday who attend the service. That includes caregivers. We have about 100 people or so with special needs, but we also have the 75 or so caregivers. That’s a captive audience, because the caregivers bring them to ­services at their request.” LaDonna continued, “Most of the ministry on Sunday mornings for the service is done with songs. You talk about pure praise. It is just beautiful.” When she mentioned the caregivers attending services, being fed the Gospel, it even further opened my heart as to why this ministry is so critical to a church in their efforts to reach the world for Christ.

LaDonna said, “There are separate services but sometimes we bring both groups together with our regular service. Those in the 0–21 category attend the regular children’s and teen programs. They would have someone from our church with them full time if they needed someone from the church or they might have their own caregiver. The adults have their own class.” In Eastland’s program, the parents get a needed break with their children being so well cared for in the classes. Just a little extra attention really ministers to the entire family when you think about it. All parents know parenting is incredible, but a little break goes a long way. When a child has a disability, that can be even more true. It’s really a ministry to so many different people when you think about it.

LaDonna explained, “We use the ‘Action Bible’ chronologically with the Bible stories. It looks like a comic book, but it’s amazing. We just go through it with them.” LaDonna said, “Sunday school at 9:15 and 10:00 service so that they can have their meds at noon. That’s about the biggest bit of advice we have, because everything else is just holding a regular kind of service. That timing gives them room to get back to their facilities and homes for the medication.”

One other tip LaDonna had was to skip the donuts. LaDonna laughed, “We used to have a larger Sunday school when I brought donuts. It did get them out of bed, but the sugar affects their behavior so much. That leaves their staff dealing with those impacts when they get back. So, we steer clear of the donuts now to create the right situation for everyone.”

LaDonna shared, “We have parties for holidays like the 4th of July and of course we have a big Christmas party. We give them gifts. Sometimes that’s the only gift they get. Many are wards of the state. They are aged from their early 20’s to 75 or so. Actually, half of our congregation has been here the whole 26 years.”

We give them gifts. Sometimes that’s the only gift they get. 

I was in awe of what LaDonna was doing. However, realizing she had ZERO training in special needs ministry or education was the biggest surprise. LaDonna said, “We decided to fill in when the team left the church to try to help other churches start ministries like ours. I would come in and sing, but I didn’t really think about being part of the ministry. My husband is an engineer. We just never thought about this ministry. It’s been an amazing journey. Most people that come see them in worship can’t watch without crying. My mother in law was Presbyterian and is now Baptist. She just sits down and cries at the service. It’s something to see.”

LaDonna shared, “There are many times when you go through struggles in life. Sundays are more like salvation for my husband and I. I know that Jesus truly is our salvation, but there’s so much love
in this service; it just gives you a peace
for the rest of the things going on in
your life.”

It’s quite beautiful and contrary to popular belief, quite simple. That’s really the message here. Of course, there will be challenges once in a while, like with any ministry. However, if your church isn’t doing it—then maybe God is calling you to be the one to get the ball rolling? Maybe? It may not be anything you’ve ever even thought about before reading this article. However, if you drop in on Eastland Assembly for one service and take a tour, it might ignite your heart with fire you never even knew were burning inside of you. God certainly lit LaDonna and Al with a fiery passion, equipping them with exactly what they needed to bless these families. #GoDoBe

LaDonna Harper invites people from other churches to come check out their services to get ideas and inspiration on what you might be able to do at your church. Their door is always open. She said, “I’m not worried if someone starts another ministry that we lose attendees. If the new location is closer to them, then it’s better for them. This is about what’s best for them.” Stop by one Sunday. See if this might be the God has prepared in advance for YOU to do.