Take Heart—God Has a Plan

Dear Christian Sisters,

After everyone at the temple saw that Zacharias couldn’t speak, Zacharias and Elizabeth went home. Luke says:

After these days, Elizabeth his wife became pregnant…
Luke 1:24a

Can you imagine Elizabeth and Zacharias’ excitement? Not only were they finally pregnant, Zacharias now knew what the angel said was true! Confirmation!

…and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked withfavor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”
Luke 1:24b-25

I find it sad that we think of not being able to have children as a disgrace.

If you are unable to have children, my love pours out for you. I am praying for you as I write.

Know that even if the Lord has not given you the ability to bear children, you can have spiritual children.

Isaiah 54:1-4 says:

“Woman, be happy! You have not had any children, but you should be very happy.

“Yes, the woman who is alone will have more children than the woman with a husband.” This is what the Lord says.

“Make your tent bigger. Open your doors wide. Don’t think small! Make your tent large and strong, because you will grow in all directions. Your children will take over many nations and live in the cities that were destroyed.

“Don’t be afraid! You will not be disappointed. People will not say bad things against you. You will not be embarrassed. When you were young, you felt shame. But you will forget that shame now. You will not remember the shame you felt when you lost your husband.”

Take heart. God has a plan.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Zacharias’ Inconvenience Brought God Glory! (#BraveLikeMary Series)

The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute. When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.
Luke 1:21-23

Dear Christian Sisters,

If Zacharias had had a voice when he came out of the temple, would the crowd have believed him when he told of the angel?

Would Zacharias had even told them?

So, no cell phone, no texting, and no computer for Zacharias. The only thing he could do was write–and paper and pen were not readily available back then. This would have made his work and his ability to purchase needs for his home difficult to do.

Isn’t the story is so much more powerful because Zacharias could not speak?

Even though Zacharias was inconvenienced by his inability to speak, God got the greater glory!

In Christ,

Cheryl

Take Heart in God’s Plan (#BraveLikeMary Series)

The angel answered and said to him (Zacharias), “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Luke 1:19-20

Dear Christian Sisters,

God had a plan, and He wasn’t going to let Zacharias’ unbelief stop His plan.

God has a plan for your life. Are you believing it?

Before I believed in Christ, I imagined myself as public speaker. Once I had a relationship with Christ, I thought I might want to be a Christian speaker, but I didn’t know what I would talk about.

Well, I knew that I could speak about schizophrenia and abortion, but I did not want to speak on either of those topics!

While on my first short-term mission trip a year ago, the Lord made it clear that I needed to speak about abortion. I didn’t want to. I was miserable for about 6 weeks until I submitted and said, “Yes, Lord.”

God sent me with Julie Mad-Bondo, Founder of A Mother’s Cry, to speak in Uganda. He set everything in motion. The travel part of that trip is one huge God story that you can read on my post titled, “God’s Perfect Plan or Sometimes God Just Likes to Show Off.”

I’m going to Uganda again December 26-January 6. Will you support me with your prayer and donations?

Trust me. It’s better to submit to God’s plan for your life than resist it. He works everything out for your good.

Not sure what His plan is for your life? Ask Him. He loves to bring Himself glory through your life. And once you submit, you’ll enjoy His plan.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Doubting Zacharias (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

I know we haven’t gotten to Mary, yet, or how brave she was. But there’s still lots to learn in the story of John the Baptist’s birth.

We Say Chance—He Says “For Such a Time As This”

Now it happened that while he (Zacharias) was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
Luke 1:8-9

There was a whole process for deciding when priests were to serve at the temple, hence “the appointed order of his division.” Then Zacharias was chosen by lot to enter the temple to burn incense.

From a human perspective, Zacharias was chosen by chance.

From God’s perspective, Zacharias was chosen for such a time as this. (“For such a time as this” is from Esther 4:14.)

Being chosen to burn incense was a big deal! A once in a lifetime opportunity!

Do you think that Zacharias told anyone? Of course he did! He told all his friends and relatives.

And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
Luke 1:10

Considering the honor this was for Zacharias, the multitude would’ve been his family and friends, including Elizabeth, who were all celebrating the honor with him.

What do you think was Zacharias’ first prayer request?

Don’t Be Afraid of Angels

And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias…”
Luke 1:11-13a

When people are visited by angels, as recorded in the Bible, they are afraid. How do we know? Because the angel says, “Do not be afraid” as the angel Gabriel says here.

But are they afraid because angels are scary looking?
or
because angels are big?
or
because angels bring God’s glory with them?

Answered Prayer

…”for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
Luke 1:13b-14

Zacharias asked and God answered!

Nazirite Vow—No Wine or Liquor

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”
Luke 1:15

No wine or liquor? This may seem strange to us. Some Christians don’t drink wine or liquor, some only drink wine, and some drink both wine and liquor.

The Bible does not say do not drink.
The Bible does say not to get drunk.
You can read more about this on the GotQuestions website.

Why didn’t John the Baptist have wine or liquor? Because he was a Nazirite from birth.

Being a Nazirite is not the same thing as being from Nazareth. Jesus is from Nazareth, but He never took the Nazirite vow.

Any Jew could take the Nazirite vow, which included not drinking or cutting his or her hair, for a time in order to dedicate him- or herself to the Lord. During the time of the Nazirite vow, the person is holy to the Lord. You can read about taking the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6:1-21.

There were three people who were Nazirites from birth, as recorded in the Bible: Sampson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.

Preparing Others for the Lord

“And he (John the Baptist) will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:16-17

Perhaps there was someone in your life who prepared you for the Lord. Or perhaps you are preparing others for the Lord.

Who prepared you? Thank them!

Who are you preparing? Your children may be the most obvious answer, but remember that everyone you meet, even while going to the grocery store, may be someone you are preparing for the Lord. (Read my blog post about being a missionary to McDonald’s.)

Doubting Zacharias

Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”
Luke 1:18

Not only did God answer Zacharias’ prayer, but He answered big!

Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us.

Zacharias was granted his request. The angel promised to give him what he asked for—and more!

Zacharias is in the temple. Zacharias is serving the Lord. Zacharias is praying. And yet he is surprised and doubting that his prayer will be answered because he asked for something that seems impossible.

That was me. I was a doubting Zacharias.

What I want, more than anything, is that not only would both my sister and my brother be completely healed of schizophrenia but that they would accept Christ’s sacrificial gift of love.

From a human perspective, schizophrenia cannot be healed.

  • Medicine doesn’t heal schizophrenia.
  • Counseling doesn’t heal schizophrenia.
  • Natural health doesn’t heal schizophrenia.

I didn’t ask God to heal my siblings until recently.

Many years ago, I did ask God to let me know if my brother was okay because no one had seen him for weeks (this was the first time that he was homeless). God answered in a matter of hours. He answered so quickly that I couldn’t help but ask myself why I asked so small.

Now I ask big! And I am believing that God will answer my prayer and answer big. Why not? I’ve got nothing to lose.

Heart check!

Are You a Doubting Zacharias?

Are you a doubting Zacharias?

Are you doubting that the Lord will answer your prayer because it seems impossible?

Or perhaps even though you have an impossible request, you haven’t even asked because you can’t imagine that God would give it to you.

What is your impossible request? Are you trusting that the Lord will answer your request?

Your request may not be big like healing my siblings of schizophrenia. Maybe your request is about your career. I have requests like that, too.

I’ve drafted a book and have several others in my head. Oh how I would love for these books to be so moving to readers that they become best sellers so that I can pour more money into my favorite ministries!

What’s Your Impossible Prayer Request?

So, what is your impossible request? Are you ready to trust the Lord to answer and answer big?

Now might be a good time to ask God if you are being a doubting Zacharias.
Now might be a good time to ask God for forgiveness for being a doubting Zacharias.
Now might be a good time to ask God for that impossible request in complete faith that He will grant your request and answer big.

What do you have to lose?

Try this prayer:

Lord, my Rock, my Salvation, You can do anything—far more than I can ever imagine or guess or request in my wildest dream.

I’m sorry for being a doubting Zacharias.

Thank You for answering my little prayers. Now I’m coming before You in humbleness to ask big.

Lord, carry out Your purpose and do super abundantly far over and above all that I dare ask or think—infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams in the name of Jesus so that You are glorified.

Amen.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Elizabeth’s Barrenness—Her Perspective vs God’s Perspective (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

The story of Jesus’ birth actually begins with the story of John the Baptist’s birth.

John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Mary’s, so John and Jesus were cousins—not first cousins because Elizabeth and Mary were not sisters, but cousins in their larger, extended family.

Elizabeth plays an important role in Mary’s life. She was Mary’s mentor.

But before we talk about Elizabeth mentoring Mary, let’s try to see the story from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Introducing Zacharias and Elizabeth

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1:5

So what Luke is telling us is that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were of the tribe of Levi. The Levites were the Jewish priests.

Elizabeth is Both Righteous and Barren

They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Luke 1:6-7

So, Elizabeth’s clock had been ticking for some time. She wasn’t beyond childbearing years, that is, she had not yet entered menopause, but she was getting close.

Yet, she had no children.

In the Jewish culture of the time, big families were the norm. To not have children was rare. And as you may recall from my blog post titled, “Abortion & the Bible,” Old Testament Jews valued children.

It could have been that others shamed Elizabeth for not having children, yet she walked blamelessly.

Barrenness

Let me ask you this: Is an inability to have children a curse from God?

I hope you said no!

The answer is in Luke 1:6-7 (quoted above). Both Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous in the Lord, yet they did not have children.

God is love (1 John 4:8). A curse cannot come from love.

If Elizabeth’s story is like your story, know that your challenge to conceive or to carry a child to term is not about how good you are.

It’s about furthering God’s kingdom.

God’s Perspective

We all have our stories. We tell our stories from our own perspectives.

“We can’t have kids” is Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story.

“When I will receive greater glory, Zacharias and Elizabeth will have a child” is God’s story.

We can look at every story in the Bible from the perspective of those who were there and from the perspective of God.

Now, our insights won’t be perfect because the culture of the time isn’t like ours today (especially that of the United States) and because it’s challenging to imagine God’s thoughts since He is so much greater than we are; however, taking time to consider other perspectives will help us to understand God.

We can also look at our own stories from our own perspective, from the perspective of others, and from the perspective of God.

It’s a whole new twist on He said/she said.

He Said / She Said

Have you ever told a story from childhood only to hear your parents or your siblings tell the story in a completely different way?

To encourage my older boy to write, we teamed up to write some he said/she said stories. We took the same event and each told the story. It was a great way for him to learn perspective!

Our favorite he said/she said story was about a trip from Minneapolis to Atlanta through Detroit, where we had a 5-hour delay. He absolutely loved that trip because he got to watch videos, explore the airport, ride the tram and the moving sidewalk, and go on a big airplane (777).

He was 7 at the time of this story. My other boy was a potty training toddler. The 7 pm flight ended up being a 12 midnight flight. Can you guess what the trip was like for me?

I carried my bag, my purse, a diaper bag, and a toddler.

I took all of us to the bathroom for diaper changes.

I walked boys in the moving sidewalk and took them on the tram over and over again.

When we finally got on the airplane, the boys wouldn’t go to sleep because they were so excited that they had their very own TV.

When we got to the Atlanta airport, the 2-story escalator going down to the tram was out-of-order. Thankfully it was going down, not up, but it was 3 am, and I was carrying several bags and a toddler!

What my son thought was fun, I thought was exhausting!

My Abortion Story from My Perspective or God’s Perspective

When I think of my own abortion story, I can think about it from my perspective (read “Faces of Abortions“)
OR
from my boyfriend’s perspective
OR
from my parents’ perspective
OR
from God’s perspective.

How does the story change?

She Said

When I had the abortion, I was relieved because I thought the crisis was over.

How else did I feel? Good question. I think that mostly I was angry that I got pregnant. It didn’t seem fair to me that men could have sex without consequences, but women were shamed for being pregnant out of wedlock.

I’m not saying that I was right. Feelings are not right or wrong. They just are.

He Said

I’m sure God cried when I aborted my baby. I’m also sure that God welcomed my baby girl into heaven that day.

I am also convinced that God decided to use my story to stop future abortions, to stop other women from hurting themselves through abortion.

And here I am today, redeemed by His love (read “Forgiveness“), compelled by the Lord to write this blog, and speaking in Uganda and in the U.S.

I traded my story for His story.

[Will you sponsor my next mission trip to Uganda? (Dec 26, 2017-Jan 6, 2018) Your tax-deductible donation can be made online.]

The United States’ Abortion History from Women’s Rights Perspective or God’s Perspective

When I think of crisis pregnancies and abortion throughout the history of the United States and the world, I can look at it from from the perspectives of women who are worried about bringing a child into this world
OR
from a women’s rights perspective
OR
from God’s perspective.

How does the story change?

She Said

Women’s reasons for aborting are varied. Here are just a few:

I can’t afford to raise a child. My parents will be so disappointed with me. The baby daddy will be so mad. Children put up for adoption feel abandoned and might be abused by their adoptive parents. I have the right to choose.

Again, I am not saying that these are right. They are feelings, mostly feelings of fear.

He Said

God cries for every woman who aborts. God welcomes every aborted baby into heaven.

I am also convinced that God is saddened by women not feeling valued by men even though we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

As for our nation—as for all the nations that have legalized abortion—I’m sure God is angry. He founded the United States based on His commandments, yet as a nation we have decided that murder is okay in some cases and not others.

How is this different than King Ahaz burning his sons in fire as sacrifices to a foreign god (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chron 28:3, 2 Kings 16:2; 2 Chron 28:1)?

(For more on King Ahaz, read the “What God Said About the Jew Who Did Not Value Children” section of my blog post “Abortion & the Bible.”)

A good friend of mine has a lot to say about this. I’ve asked her to be my guest blogger in January, which is Sanctity of Human Life month, so stay tuned!

I look forward to reading more of Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story with you tomorrow.

In Christ,

Cheryl

PS: Here is the link to my son’s He Said/She Said blog post titled, “My First Flight on a 777.”