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Keep up the good work, Moms!!! 

In a sample of Barna’s 2019 research on Households of Faith1, moms were at the top of the list of who teenagers trusted to talk to about life problems and spiritual matters. In all areas of spiritual life – going to church, talking about God, teaching the Bible – moms were identified as the “main spiritual coaches for teens.” This message is consistent with well-known theologians in history: John Newton, Hudson Taylor, Charles Spurgeon, and even John Piper. They all proclaimed the significance of their mothers in their spiritual development.2 

The Apostle Paul also gave significance to the impact of moms when he commended Eunice and Lois to his protégé, Timothy. Their deliberate teaching of the Scriptures and modeling wisdom led to Timothy’s salvation in Jesus Christ. His mother and grandmother, respectively, provided the spiritual development Timothy needed for life as a Christian, in spite of the fact that his father was a Greek and not described as a believer (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).   

It will look different for each mom, but being genuine with your faith and intentional to instruct your children in spiritual disciplines will have an eternal impact on their lives.  

Happy Mother’s Day 



Life is such a struggle at times! There are real battles going on around us. The world is so unsettled, especially now with the pandemic impacting all facets of human life. The current virus may be new for our generation, but the Bible tells us that early in the creation story, a war was waged against humanity. A war without and a war within. The evidence is all around us. The world we live in is anything but peaceful, with an enemy who desires to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). As if that is not bad enough, personal struggles with sin keep us from thriving.

But there is good news! You can have faith over fear and be victorious over the battle. You can overcome whatever battle you are facing through the powerful love of God. He is not surprised by any situation you are facing. In fact, He will equip you with everything you need for victory.

Discover the battle plan God revealed in the story of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, through the Invincible Love, Invisible War Bible study. The six-week Bible study is an overview of the entire Bible, which highlights the war we encounter and the love that triumphs over it.

You will discover who the battle is really against and have access to the weapons to prevail. You will realize that the promised future victory is available today.

When you follow God’s battle plan, you will avoid the despair and hopelessness that many people find themselves consumed by. But rather, you will live confident in the plan, knowing God is always in control. You will recognize that you are a part of a much larger story that God is weaving throughout human history – a story of an invincible love that is victorious over an invisible war.

Are we in a battle? Absolutely! But we can live victoriously!

Not long ago, Crawford Lorritts offered the opening address for the Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week Celebration. In his message, he explained that the Bible must be the context from which Christians live, not the culture. The emotions that the culture stirs up in individuals must be set aside to look at the truth. Truth doesn’t change, but our emotions change how we respond to it. I couldn’t agree more.

But how is the Bible supposed to be the context of our lives when our current culture is so far removed from when the Scriptures were written? We have a 21st century understanding of the world and reading even the New Testament with a modern point of view can be difficult to fully grasp. After all, why are hair and hats worth discussing in 1 Corinthians 11? How is it that slavery still exists after the resurrection (Colossians 3:22-25)? And what’s the harm of having a replica of a statue (Ephesians 19:26)?

There are realities of the early church that are vastly different from the realities of today.

We cannot assume that we can fully understand the core of what is being communicated unless we know the circumstances of the original message. Who was delivering the message and to whom was the message delivered? Were there any specific situations or issues that were being addressed? If so, why?

These are important questions, especially when reading the epistles. The Apostle Paul delivered his message to be received by the audience he was addressing. He used images and examples that they would understand and relate to in their own lives. By his second missionary journey, he had developed a pattern of sharing the gospel in his ministry journeys. Upon entering a new city, Paul and his traveling companions would enter the synagogue to share with the Jews that the Scriptures had been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:2-3). As a “Jew of Jews,” Paul had a heart first for his own people to know that Jesus was the promised Messiah. His message was rejected by most of the Jews and he was banned from the synagogue. Paul would then take the good news to the Gentiles of the city (Acts 13:46-47).

In Acts 17, Paul arrived in Athens and was “provoked” in his spirit by the sheer number of idols in the city. When the opportunity presented itself to speak with some of the thought leaders of the day, he gave a culturally-specific sermon that was tailormade for the listeners on Mars Hill. For those who can remember learning about ancient Greece in history class, you may remember the pictures of all the temples and altars to the numerous gods that provides a backdrop of what was taking place while Paul was there. The historical context lends richness to our current understanding of the message.

The gospel may have been contextualized for the Athenians, but the good news is just as relevant for our culture. The ancient idols may have been carved from stone, but today’s idols are just as numerous. And the sneering response of the philosophers to the resurrection of Christ is no different from the reactions given today.

There is much we can learn from the cultures of another era that applies to our own culture.

Reading the epistles, you sense how Paul was equally intentional with each letter he wrote to the different churches. If we are observant, we will discover the specific issues and challenges that Paul was addressing in each letter. When we learn more about the context and the culture of the original recipient of the letters, we realize the essential truth that Paul is conveying. Paul was teaching the early church how to live a life worthy of the gospel. Because the letters were written many years ago, it is crucial to understand Biblical context, because the practices may have changed over time, but the principles have not.

The timeless principles can be then be contextualized for today’s culture.

When the norms of today are the foundation of a person’s life, it will be difficult for him or her to see the biblical truth through that “lens.” It will be hard for him or her to live biblically, much less have the Bible be the foundation for living. As Bible teachers, we can help broaden students’ perspective of the Scriptures by helping them discover the biblical context first, and then they will be able to accurately discern the truth that is being portrayed.

Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

The word “continue” is the root word for “abide.” This is ongoing remaining; never departing. What truth! John wrote the words Jesus spoke, so the original hearers would be free from the cultural norms and so can we!

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the truth of the Bible can be the foundation of Christians of every era.


Serving Jesus is such a joy

Abby was so excited. Her mission trip to a difficult-to-reach country had grown into a ministry leveraging technology to disciple the people there and to prepare them to share the good news of Jesus with others. Humbled that God would allow her to participate in what He was doing, Abby expressed it well, “Serving Jesus is such a joy!” In His love for us as His children, He draws us close to encounter what He is doing in the world. You can click now as he opens our eyes to see more of His glory and our faith is grown as we experience Him answering prayers .I would agree with my friend Abby; it is a privilege to serve the Lord in any capacity.

At Big Dream Ministries, we have the opportunity to speak to many different ministry leaders around the country. They have a passion for helping people learn God’s Word and guiding them to understand how to apply it to their lives. Witnessing the Bible coming alive for students is so exciting. However, ministry can also be hard. At some point, the weight of ministry leadership grows heavy. As we care for people in our fallen world, any number of issues could threaten our joy of serving. It could be a conflict on our team, a loved one suffering greatly, a rebellious child, false allegations…the list could go on and on.

The burden of leadership grows heavy

As the burden of leadership grows heavy, these challenges cause us to question whether God has really called us to the position. Reading about the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys should encourage us that whether we are fighting fires, resolving conflict, or walking through difficult circumstances with one of our flock, we are probably right where we need to be.
In Acts 18:1-11, we read that Paul is nearing the end of his second missionary journey, when he arrived in Corinth. He met a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who had been exiled from Italy and shared his vocational background of tent-making. He stayed with the couple and worked alongside them, taking time on the Sabbath to visit the local synagogue to persuade Jews and Greeks of the good news of Christ. We don’t read of Paul’s usual missional activity that was his practice when he arrived in a new town. In fact, he seems very low key until Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia with provisions (2 Corinthians 11:9). Who could blame Paul? He knew the eternal stakes for those he was trying to reach and was willing to lay down his life for them (Romans 9:3). Up to this point in his journey, he was chased out by locals, rejected by the Jews, and accosted by Judaizers, with beatings and stonings that jeopardized his life more than once.

Paul must have been shaken and afraid

As we marvel at all that Paul accomplished in spreading the news of Christ, we can see the work of the Holy Spirit enabling him to endure. From our busy 21st century view of Paul’s life, we could overlook that he too felt the burden of leadership. Even with the assurance from Christ of his mission (1 Corinthians 1:17), he confessed the weakness and fear he felt when he arrived in Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:3). After a bold denouncement of the Jews in the synagogue, Paul must have been shaken and afraid of the repercussions that would follow. But graciously, the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision saying “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Can you imagine the encouragement that must have been?

His strength fortifies for ministry

When Jesus has called you into ministry, it will be exciting, but it will also be challenging. To endure, we strive for a tender heart for those we serve and tough skin to withstand the external opposition. We need to offer every bit of ourselves to the Lord, but seek to be filled with His strength. Ministry is doing all the work He has given us to do, while maintaining a posture of prayer. It is recognizing our own desperate need for a Savior in every moment of our lives that enables and equips us to tend to the needs of those He has given us to serve. It is His strength that fortifies us to do the work of ministry.

When reserves are running low

I have experienced the joys and challenges of ministry and I have learned several practical things we can do when our reserves are running low. The first is to rest. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap and trust God with the mounting to-do list. Second, spend time reading the Bible. Not for lesson preparations or ministry engagement, but to let God’s Word speak freshly to you. Third, ask for prayer. Having a friend or two pray for you is a powerful hedge of protection. Fourth, ask the Lord for encouragement. He will surprise you with random moments of encouragement that let you know that He hears you and He is with you. Finally, unless the Lord makes it very clear, don’t quit. Your flock needs you. You are valuable to them. And you have been given a mission!

It is always exciting to serve the Lord

Remember, although ministry can be challenging at times, it is always exciting to serve the Lord.

Written by Kellye Rickman

Mary, a humble girl, was told she would be a part of God’s plan to send Jesus to earth. Imagine with me what that must have been like for her to experience Jesus, God Sent.

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you had to make a choice between having faith or giving way to fear? Have you ever dreamed dreams for your life only to realize that God may be writing the story of your life differently than the way you had planned?

I certainly have.

My name is Mary and I am going to share an incredible story

My name is Mary and I am going to share an incredible story of when I had to choose between having faith or giving way to fear.

As a Jewish teenage girl living with my parents in northern Israel, my life was pretty ordinary. One day as I was doing my daily work around the house,sweeping my room and cleaning the floors, I began to daydream about my future. I was feeling so much joy and excitement, as I was thinking about my engagement and wedding day that was quickly approaching. I was going to marry the man of my dreams. Joseph was the most honorable and amazing man I had ever met.  I was still amazed by the great blessing God was giving me in a husband. As I was thinking about Joseph, who was most likely already hard at work in his carpentry workshop,I knew that he would be a devoted provider for our family.  I was dreaming about the home we would make, the children we would have, and what a wonderful life it would be.

And then– all of a sudden, the most amazing and unexpected thing happened!  An angel of the Lord appeared. Yes, an angel from heaven standing in my room right before my very eyes.  I was instantly terrified to the point of trembling. Probably much like you, I had never seen an angel.  The experience was magnificent and completely breathtaking. The angel Gabriel had come with a message specifically for me.

An angel visiting a small-town girl like me?

Who would have thought? An angel visiting a small-town girl like me? The angel spoke and said, “Mary, you have found favor with God and the Lord is with you!”

My mind was reeling.  It was hard to take it all in much less understand what this message meant. But the angel Gabriel spoke again and said for me not to be afraid, because I had found favor with God. He had come to deliver a message to me from God.

He went on, saying, “You will conceive in your womb and have a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

As my mind was trying to process what the angel was telling me, I was feeling confused because I knew that I was a virgin.  It was hard to fathom how this would be possible.

Then the angel revealed the answer.  Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon me, and the power of the Most High would overshadow me.  And the child that would be born to me would be called Holy- the Son of God.

Would I choose faith? Or fear?

Wow! This day had certainly taken a turn that I didn’t see coming. I was envisioning our wedding day and my life with Joseph. And then the angel appeared and revealed a different direction for my life. I had a choice to make in that moment.  Would I choose faith? Or fear?

I knew that faith was believing without seeing.  It was so much to take in, that I would be the one to carry the Messiah, the long-awaited One, the One who would redeem Israel – the One sent by God. And I could already sense the great love that I would have for this child, my first child, my own son, the very Son of God.

Even though this seemed impossible, somehow I knew deep within in me that every word he had spoken was true.  I trusted and believed all that the angel was speaking over me. I knew that my God was the God of the impossible. He starts with impossible and shows the world that all things are possible with God.  My God always keeps His promises even when His plans are different from mine. That day I chose faith and trust over fear and worry.

However, as any girl would, I began to think about what this might mean for my future, the future I longed for with Joseph. What would he think?  What would he do? What would my parents think? What would the neighbors say?

How was I to move forward in confidence of this beautiful revelation that had been spoken over me? I had more questions than answers. But I had faith.  I truly believed that God would be with me as the angel had said. I chose to trust God with my future, and I knew in my heart that God was the One writing the story of my life.

I really didn’t know what to do at this point

I really didn’t know what to do at this point. So, I packed a bag and left to visit my relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth.

I had heard the story of Zechariah in the temple.  I heard that an angel of the Lord met him there revealing to him the Lord’s plan for their lives, even in their old age. I heard that Elizabeth was now pregnant as the angel had spoken over them. And in my heart I knew that I needed to go be with them.

When I arrived at their house and walked through the door,You can also view more to know more about door and its designs. Elizabeth was completely overjoyed to see me. She was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out with a blessing over me. She said, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

Elizabeth was completely overcome with immeasurable joy.  She knew what was happening.  The Holy Spirit had revealed it.  The mother of the Lord Jesus had come into her home. And perhaps the most surprising of all was that the baby in her womb leapt for joy. This baby, John, knew the joy of the presence of the Lord even from the womb.  This child would be the one to prepare the people for the Messiah to come.

My heart was so full at that moment that I felt like it could burst wide open. And the only thing I could do was to cry out in a song of praise to the Lord for His goodness to me and His blessing over me.

I wasn’t quite sure how Joseph would respond when he heard the news. Would he be angry and upset about the situation? I knew that he was a kindhearted and good man and felt certain that he would do the right thing.

Joseph decided to end our relationship quietly

Joseph decided to end our relationship quietly as to not bring any shame on me. As he was making plans to that end, he too was surprised as an angel appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” The angel revealed to him that the baby in my womb was from the Holy Spirit and that I was going to have a Son and His name would be Jesus.  This child would be the One who would save the people from their sins.

Joseph was a wise man with great faith. Joseph also had a choice to make.  He too chose faith over fear.

He believed the angel and chose to trust God with his future.  He chose trust over fear even when the plan was different than he thought it would be. He quickly took me to be his wife.

In nine short months I would give birth to a son and we would give him the name Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us.

My story continues as Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus decided to take a census of his land to count the people. Everyone was required to return to their hometown.  Although I was great with child, we would be heading to Bethlehem, the city of David.

When we arrived in Bethlehem, the city was jam packed with people.  I had never seen anything like it.  The streets were so crowded you could barely pass through.  We made it safely, but there was a problem. All of the inns were full, and we had no place to stay.

Finally, we met the nicest man who had a cave that he used to give shelter to his animals. He said we could stay there for the night. We gladly accepted, as this was truly our only option.

As I laid my head down on a pile of hay, exhausted yet joyful, I began to replay my story over again and again.  I pondered every detail in my heart.

The prophet Micah had spoken about the Messiah

Then the thought came to me.  The prophet Micah had spoken about the Messiah, that out of Bethlehem would come One who would be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.  I began to feel the pain and knew this baby was coming tonight.

It was amazing to realize that God had orchestrated every detail, and I was about to give birth to the Son of God, fulfilling prophecy as the angel revealed in the City of David.  And that night, the very first Christmas, Christ was born.  God sent the Messiah into the world to make a way for redemption for all people through His one and only Son.  It was miraculous and it was the most beautiful night of my life.

For Mary and Joseph, life didn’t exactly turn out the way they had planned.  There were certainly bumps in the road and big things they didn’t see coming.  We have a lot to learn from them about choosing to trust God with the unknowns of our lives.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we had imagined.

We will each face unknowns.  Life doesn’t always turn out the way we had imagined. But we can go forward with confidence knowing that it is God who is writing the stories of our lives.  God created each of us uniquely and He has a great plan for each of us.  We can choose to trust His plan for our lives with confidence; not confident in ourselves, but confident in the One who is able and always faithful.

Will you choose faith over fear?

“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:13-21)

Written by Pat Harley

The timing was all wrong for sure. There was something more exciting on the other side of the room and so I had lost my audience.

It was Christmas Morning and, as is our tradition, each one of my family including my husband and our then-young two young daughters, gathered early to give our gifts to Jesus. This always comes first before we dive into our own Christmas presents. Now this is not a complicated thing. Beloved had written a poem, Jenna had learned a violin piece and Cameron ( the youngest) had drawn and colored a picture  of the nativity scene. I had written a story entitled Meshed and the Messiah. (more…)

Libby came into class beyond excited! Now she could see! She could see what her husband was talking about. She could see what her friends were talking about. She grew up attending church and heard all the Sunday school stories about Jesus, but she could not see what the consuming passion for Him was about. In fact, Libby was pretty annoyed with Joseph’s new found love for Jesus. Joe had been challenged to read through the gospel of John with a co-worker who practically dared him to stick with it until the end. Libby didn’t hear her husband talk much about his time reading the Bible, but she definitely noticed some changes in him. He was a bit more patient with their boys; he was a bit more helpful around the house, and he was a bit less sarcastic – and she was not complaining! However, Libby was dumbfounded when Joe returned home early from work one day and announced that he was born again. She just couldn’t see what he was talking about.

At Joe’s urging Libby reluctantly joined the women’s Bible study at a local church. They were teaching The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ so she thought she would start there. Now, 9 weeks after she reluctantly started the Bible study, she could see Jesus for who He is and the sacrifice He made on her behalf. She was no longer confused; her eyes had been opened so that she could see the truth of Jesus.


Jesus’ Disciples Couldn’t See

Following Jesus’ resurrection, His followers couldn’t see the truth about Him either. Cleopas and his friend had been in Jerusalem for Passover when the city was reeling with the news about Jesus’ crucifixion. These men were His disciples; they had known His teaching and they believed and desired Him to be the long-awaited Messiah. The problem was that they only saw what they wanted to see about Jesus. He said He was coming back after three days, yet instead of anticipating His arrival and waiting in Jerusalem, these two disciples were heading home to Emmaus. When Jesus joined them on the road, they didn’t recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16).

Jesus, always a teacher, questioned the travelers about their conversation, drawing out all that they knew about Him and the events that had taken place. They relayed the facts accurately, even the women’s report of Jesus’ body being missing. Yet, the two still could not see Jesus right in front of their eyes (Luke 24:17-24). When they had finished their account of the events surrounding the weekend, Jesus spoke to them.

       “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to enter into His glory?”    ~Luke 24:25-26

Jesus Uses Scripture to Open Their Eyes

Then Jesus reviewed all the Scriptures written by Moses and the prophets – highlighting how they pointed forward to Him. What a Bible study!  Even with the detailed exposition of the Scriptures, Cleopas and his friend still could not see Jesus. It was not until later in the evening when Jesus broke bread with them, that they were able to receive not only the bread, but their spiritual sight – they could see Jesus and couldn’t wait to share the news. Once the men moved beyond knowing only the facts about Jesus, to receiving Him, they were able to see.

Bible study teachers have the privilege of walking students through the Scriptures, pointing to Christ along the way. The Bible is more than a historical narrative of what has occurred; it contains the very words we need to know about Jesus.  When we teach the Bible with the purpose of knowing the Lord better, every book, every chapter, and every word will point to Christ. As we see Christ portrayed, His heart is revealed over and over again – and the Holy Spirit will affect a person’s heart and open their eyes.


Bible Studies Are a Lens to See Jesus

Everyone attending Bible study needs to see Jesus in a fresh and comforting way. Students attend studies for different reasons. Some are committed to learning more about Christ. Others come to satisfy their need for companionship or curiosity. We have heard countless testimonies from people taking The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book or The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ that the truth of Scripture and Christ is revealed to them as never before.

Let us never to be so accustomed to Scripture that we only learn the facts, but rather approach each and every study with the prayer, “Open my eyes that I may see!”