Power of the Oil

Who doesn’t love the beauty of the mountains covered with evergreen conifers?! When the mist is settling above the trees, it brings a sense of peace in its beauty. We see the Master’s handiwork in full display. But how do these green trees survive the harsh months of winter with almost no effect? It’s in the oil!

Conifer trees send oil throughout their branches in the winter to protect them from freezing. The colder the temperature, the better the oil works. The actual essential oil of the tree acts much the same as antifreeze does in our cars. For the trees, the oil is stored in the roots during warmer temps.

How like our spiritual lives! When the cold harsh trials of life are hitting us and we feel the stark deadness of a winter season, it is then that we can start to rise above the circumstances as we allow the oil of His Spirit to protect us from the death often found in the cold. Scripture is filled with references to the oil of the Spirit and its power. Kings were anointed to lead. Priests were anointed to serve. Christ was anointed to walk in the role as our Messiah. And the bridesmaids were instructed to store up the oil for that day when the Bridegroom would appear.

“For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord— for wheat and new wine and oilTheir souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all… For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:11-12, 14

In the Vine Parable, Jesus stressed to His disciples the importance of abiding in Him. He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 4-5).

About six months prior to my husband and I being called to minister in Missouri, the Lord spoke to my him saying, “You and Rhonda need to spend more quality time with Me because you will need My strength for what you are about to walk into.”

This could very well be compared to the oil that is stored in the roots of the tree, which later would act as a preservative during the harsh winter season. That is what Jesus was conveying to His disciples before His departure. He told them to abide in Him and in His Word. By doing so, He would abide in them and supply all they needed to endure the trials they were about to experience.

It’s as simple as this: Spending time with Jesus produces the needed supply of oil – His Spirit – for each and every encounter we will face at home, in the church and in the world. What a blessing that He has promised an endless supply of fresh oil of His Spirit to help us in our time of need!

Winter's Beauty

In the midst of the joy of starting a new year, we recognize that this‘newness’ comes during the coldest season of the year. Winter. To many, winter appears to be a season of cold, bitterness and death. Most plants lay dormant during the winter months. No new life seeming to appear. Yet there is beauty hidden beneath the layers of cold earth.


The snow on top of mountains will eventually melt into streams and rivers giving life to others below them in many directions. Both plants and animals in dormancy are taking a rest from their labors. In that, there is a beauty in the midst of the harsh conditions of the winter season.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a harsh winter season in our spiritual walk. Yet during those times our heavenly Gardener is giving us rest as well as preparing us for that burst of new life that is to come with Spring. Afterall, there has to be an ending of one season before the next can begin. We cannot connect to a future season without a shift into that season. But just like the winter snows, He promises that the fruit of our harsh season will be worth weathering the storm. We just need to seek the hidden beauty of the situation trusting that He has a purpose for the season. What may seem as cold snow or ice in our lives today will be water of refreshing that will flow to others in the next season. Perhaps even for years to come.

I love His promise in Isaiah 55:10-11 “For just as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, yielding seed for the sower and bread for eating, so will my message be that goes out of my mouth it won’t return to me empty. Instead, it will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (ISV)

My prayer for you today is that the Master Gardener will show you the beauty in each situation you are facing. Let’s start this new year preparing for that harvest that is even now preparing to burst forth with new life!

(Copied from my post on lasisterhood.com)

Charting a Path

2020. A new year has begun. With it comes the tradition of looking back at the previous year and setting resolutions for the upcoming year. Too often when we look back, we find ourselves discouraged or disappointed because of targets we set and missed. But what if we chose to see the ones where we hit the mark? Or even those where we found ourselves closer to the mark than ever before.

In the movie Moana, the character Maui is teaching Moana how to sail. His first instructions came as an explanation of the sea sailing art, “It’s called wayfinding, princess. It’s not just sails and knots, it’s seeing where you’re going in your mind. Knowing where you are by knowing where you’ve been.”

Knowing where you’ve been. It’s a concept not born by the creators of a kids animated movie. Instead it is one that started with the Creator Himself. He had Moses repeat over and over to Israel what God had delivered them out of. Throughout the Old Testament, people and leaders continue to remind the nation of their previous state of slavery and God’s deliverance. Why? To help them focus on where they should be going. To remind them that they were in slavery because of their actions and they were delivered out of slavery in order to fulfill their purpose. Paul also made a similar statement in the New Testament.

“Remember your desperate situation before God saved you so that you will rejoice in what Christ did for you on the cross.” Eph 2:12 (paraphrased)

Often we hear the term, “three steps forward; two steps back.” When said, the statement seems to bring defeat. But what if we chose to focus on the truth that one step was still gained? That means we are one step closer to the mark than before we took the three. We can rejoice in that!

As we take time to reflect on 2019 and set goals for 2020, let’s choose to see the progress we DID make and start fresh being encouraged that He who started that journey with us will continue to assist us in charting our path forward!

Look to the Manger

“…You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger…” Luke 2:12

This time of year brings to mind so many memories! Events such as family gatherings, class parties, school and church plays and cantatas, each brings a rush of fond memories. In fact, many stanzas that resonate often in my mind are songs that were part of a church choir cantata or one of the many Christmas productions I have directed throughout the years. But there is one that stands out most in my mind.

Let’s revisit the scene — The play was a broadway style musical. Time frame was just after World War II when so many people still had little money in the bank. Among the ’40’s musical pieces, we see a cast doing their final shopping rush on Christmas Eve. And one of the main characters, the local shop owner, has lost hope in the true meaning of Christmas. But he ends up at the live nativity outside his store and comes face-to-face with his own life. The song sung during his heart change is one that to this day reverberates in my own heart. “Start at the Manger”. This song paints a beautiful picture of the scarlet thread of redemption from the manger to the cross.

“Start at the manger on a cold winter night look for the star in the sky then follow its light

It leads to a Savior for a world that is lost. Start at the manger and go to the cross.

Start at the manger at a Child in the hay, the gift of our Father in heav’n, the price He would pay to save all His children no matter the cost.

Start at the manger and go to the cross.

Imagine that you own the wealth of the world, all of its silver and gold. What good will it do when tomorrow arrives and your heart is empty and cold?

Start at the manger, where redemption began where Jesus stepped down from His throne to die as a man.

All of our riches, we will count them as loss if we start at the manger then go to the cross.

To this day, The Christmas Post is still one of my favorite productions to have been a part of. Not only was it fun with its newsies, ’40’s choreography and costumes, beach balls flying throughout the sanctuary during the shopping rush, and all kinds of fun, but it had an ending that pointed back to the ‘why’ we celebrate Christmas. It was about the Child that would lead us to the cross of salvation.

This Christmas, let’s remember that it is not about trees or lights, presents or food. It’s all about a manger, a Child, a Father and a cross. That night was just the beginning of a love shone to a needy world. A loved wrapped in swaddling clothes and later hung on a tree.

The manger. It’s just the beginning of His story!

“……and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

It Starts Here

November is here! It’s a month that has become synonymous with the attitude of giving thanks. In a world where too often we hear complaints more than we hear admonition, having weeks of listening to people talk about being thankful is like a breath of fresh air! Yet, as Christians, a lifestyle of thankfulness should be a goal we are actively pursuing.


In Thessalonians 5:18, Paul admonishes us to live a life of giving thanks. As we read the passages connected to the well known verse, we see that he also is painting a picture of a life that walks in both joy and thanksgiving.


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (v16-18)


This passage was written by a man who was beaten often and faced jail time repeatedly. But he still says, “Rejoice, pray and give thanks!” How can that be? He had found the key in his relationship with Jesus.
Imagine a person that is always rejoicing. Or that person who spends so much time in prayer that as they just walk in a room peace follows. It often is easier for those who are happy to show a heart of thanksgiving. And when you find a person who make prayer a part of their daily focus, you also find a person that walks in more peace and joy. It all ties together to complete an attitude of being grateful.


Last night I sat at a table with a family who had just walked through a devastating trial this weekend. Fighting back tears, the husband opened up with thankfulness of how God has carried them and has taught them so much about the body of Christ through this hurt. What is their key? They leaned on Him. They live a lifestyle of prayer. They chose to not push Him away but allow Him to hold them. Are they walking through some of the “why?” questions right now? Yes. Daily. It is literally one foot in front of the other, slowly, to get through each day. But they still are thankful for His amazing love. As we sat there surrounded by cousins, laughter was abundant in the midst of pain. It reminded me of Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” That’s the beginning of thankfulness.


Like both this family and Paul, we are not promised a rosy path in this life. But as we choose time with Him over all other life events, we find a thankful heart for His promise to carry us through. That’s where it all starts….time with our Father.


Let’s start this thankful month with Him and watch joy and peace follow. He is worth it!

Childhood Reboot

“If I could only go back…..” How often have we heard this phrase spoken by someone who want a reboot?Yet none of us can actually move back the hands on the clock of time to an earlier moment of life. So why does God continue to encourage us to do just that?

In Genesis 35, God tells Jacob to go back to Bethel. Throughout Exodus and even into the New Testament, the Israelites are reminded of where they came from. What is so important about the past? It’s the experience. The past represents encounters we have with our Maker. God wanted Jacob to get back to when he had heard God’s voice. A time to remember the covenant he had made with God. To get back to what had been seeded into him years before.

Recently, God gave me a vivid dream. It was as if He culminated my church experience into one event. The buildings were a combination of the ones I had attended during childhood and people were from every season of my life. All around me, leaders and people were pushing their desires and way of ‘doing church’. It finally built up to where I had enough and passionately stopped it all. I took one person with me and, with tears and much passion, led him to the old church building. Passionately, through streaming tears, I voiced, “You want to draw people in, get back here. To the altar! I never needed any of the other things being talked about because the power that was here made me excited to attend church!” I awoke from the dream and was still feeling the heart of God crying out to His people, “Return to your passion for Me!”

My favorite memories of church was what happened at the altar. From our senior women dancing in the spirit up front to the people whose lives where changed as they prayed through. I can still see the night as an 8 year old when I received the baptism of the Spirit. I see the altar in the small white country church, us kids and youth kneeling in prayer with the adults around us. My life was forever changed. Communion as a family around the altar. Everything of value happened around that altar. And I know from my dream that God is crying out, “Get back to My altar!”

The words I heard from a local pastor a few weeks ago still is reverberating in my spirit. “God never visits an empty altar. You want the fire of God? Live at the altar.” (Lee Shipp) Think about it! Throughout scripture we see God visiting the altar. We see His purifying fire on the altar.

God Himself is the one who ordained the altar in the tabernacle. Moses understood the significance. David yearned for time at the altar and was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet today we heard people in and out of our buildings by groups. We offer people to pray where they are and then send a text to receive follow up. But what about leading a people to that altar of incense. Yes. It can happen at home. But for a people who have never experienced that amazing, heart changing encounter of altar time, who will lead them?

I am so thankful for my dad, and pastor, who taught me the importance of time spent at the altar. It’s time for a reboot in our spirit! It is time to go back to that ‘Bethel’ moment in our lives. Clear away the schisms and seek His face! To cry out saying, “Your face, Lord, I will seek!”

Where did He first change your heart? Have you drifted from that intimate time with Him and been distracted by life’s events? Let’s reboot today!

Wounded Soldiers

……”for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”   Philippians 1:19

Intercession. What does that really mean to us as Christians? First, let’s look at the definition:

in·ter·cede– /ˌin(t)ərˈsēd/ verb         intervene on behalf of another  

That definition brings the thought of standing in the gap for another person. Taking action on their behalf when perhaps they are too weak to fight it alone. Intercession is coupled with prayer as we do battle on a spiritual level. Yet too often we forget that just as much as our enemy is spiritual, our own actions can wound those that need our intervention.

Our military has a motto to leave no one behind.  But what about the body of Christ?  Do we fight just for ourselves or for each other?  And when we see others wounded, do we run to their assistance or sit back to analyze why and how they ended up on the ground bleeding?  I recall a time early in marriage when we were praying for my husband’s healing.  As we continued to stand in prayer and not yet seeing healing, the more advice we received from others  Advice such as, “Just claim it!”  “Rebuke the enemy.”  “Maybe you don’t have enough faith.”  “Maybe there is sin in your life.”  And the list goes on.  So does the dying process of the wounded.

Having walked through this several times during tough seasons in our lives, I’ve learned the power of having someone to walk beside me……..and to just be there!  Often I have cried out, “God, please stir someone to pray for me as I have nothing left to give.”

There’s an old Steve Green song that puts it so well —

See all the wounded
Hear all their desperate cries for help
Pleading for shelter and for peace
Our comrades are suffering
Come let us meet them at their need
Don’t let a wounded soldier die

Chorus:
Come let us pour the oil
Come let us bind their hurt
Let’s cover them with a blanket of His love
Come let us break the bread
Come let us give them rest
Let’s minister healing to them
Don’t let another wounded soldier die

Obeying their orders
They fought on the front lines for our King
Capturing the enemy’s stronghold
Weakened from battle
Satan crept in to steal their lives
Don’t let a wounded soldier die

Did you catch that? Obeying orders……for our King.  In real life we recognize that if a soldier in battle is on the front lines, he might be paying the price with his life.  But we fail to see this in the spiritual war.  Instead we judge and analyze the ‘why’ of someone’s situation. We pick apart every move the person makes trying to determine where they are doing something wrong, as if they are choosing to live under constant attack.

Let’s not let others die on our watch. Declare today, “Not on my watch!” Too often ministers, leaders, and  fellow Christians are wearied from the fight due to the battle. They need someone to walk WITH them, and sometimes FOR them. Do you know a single mom fighting to keep food on the table for her kids? Intervene. Pray for help and round up others to stock her pantry. Know a teenager who is being bullied? Pray with them for strength and speak affirmations to them. Know of a minister who is bearing bruises of battle scars? Pick up the phone. Call them and let them know that their ministry matters to you and to God.

Intervene on someone’s behalf. Stand in the gap. Pray. Intercede. Leave no one behind on the battle field bleeding. Fight in the spirit while the warrior is being mended and made whole. Be a battle buddy. After all, we fight better together.