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!

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!

All Inclusive

Highlights and disappoints. Both were seen this past weekend during Mother’s day. For me, it was a full weekend with family events. Yet sitting now and reflecting on our time, it is not just the activity with family that stands out to me. It is also posts and videos. Stories shared by others which left an impact. Family at times is complicated. Messy. Joyous and heartbreaking. But it all becomes a blanket of fabric that has been woven together and wrapped around us.

One post this weekend was from someone I admire, Tracey Mitchell. Tracey and her husband have a ministry headquartered in Dallas. Not only is she a powerhouse speaker, but she also has a writing style that grabs your heart and pulls you into the story. This weekend she had a post that spoke volumes:

As Mother’s Day approaches and pictures of smiling families fill my timeline my mind and emotions drift in countless directions. My heart goes out to the seven-year-old girl who will put on a brave face and battle through feelings of abandonment and rejection. She hasn’t seen her mother in years; may never see her again. My stomach feels tied in knots when I think of the young woman whose husband was unexpectedly killed last month. This will mark her first holiday as a single parent. She now carries the weight of being mom and dad all rolled into one. Tears begin to form as I think of my dear friend who will be unable to hug her incarcerated son. I cannot tell you the number of sleepless nights she has lost to grief …


Life is messy. Special days aren’t always special. For many, Mother’s Day is a complex time of reflection. It is a mixture of heartfelt memories and pain filled moments. What matters most is not what we have experienced but what we are yet to encounter. Maybe you need to experience the freedom of forgiving someone who wounded you or was simply never there for you. Trust me, the joy that comes with forgiveness is far better than a tear stained past. Maybe you need to bridge the gap in a distant or strained relationship. The initial step is always the hardest. Be brave. Be bold. Be daring enough to make the first move. Motherhood is not limited to birthrights or DNA. A mother is anyone who helped birth a better you. As you take a trip down memory lane pause and thank the women who supported you, defended you, created space for you and loved you unconditionally. Celebrate them. Love them. Honor them.

Such powerful truth! This is a Mother’s day message I have spoken on before. I can still see the faces of moms in one church I was speaking at who had lost kids to death. And the woman who was barren due to her husband’s cancer. Too often on Mother’s day we forget those women and they sit in our services hurting or feeling ‘not enough.’ But God makes His acceptance all inclusive and loves to show us creative ways bring this balance to our ministry.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:31 NIV

Another post that grabbed my heart was from my own daughter, Lauren Nelson. Although she has a son almost three and another who is just eight months old, God told her to go to Haiti. Alone. He was calling her to ‘come away’ with Him. After much struggle and tears to leave her babies, she obeyed. While planning the trip, she decided to surprise the other eleven kids that she has mothered in Haiti. The video of those surprised kids was priceless!

There were other posts that spoke as well. A niece who is a stepmom. A friend rejoicing over reconciled relationships. And the silent posts – those empty spaces where many hid from ‘mom notes’ which would be a reminder of abuse or neglect.

Yes. May has become a month for moms. But let’s not forget to minister to ALL women and recognize the spiritual moms among us. May our churches and lives be all inclusive when showing gratitude to those who serve among us. Honor the women who have chosen to foster, adopt, or just be that mom chosen by our hearts. And if that is who you are, we honor you as well for taking the step to mom whoever comes in your path.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxVSXEvHsjH/?igshid=1hddi7089q86b

Fresh Start

Warmer days. Cool nights. Brown turning to green. Vibrant colors bursting through the green. These all point to the season of Spring. Green and color representing fresh, new growth everywhere we look. The smell of fresh blossoms is in the air around us. And with it comes the excitement of a fresh start.


Spring. Just the word brings pictures to our minds of opening up the windows, letting fresh air in, while we sweep away the dust that had settled in our homes during the drab, cold months of winter. As if going from death to life. We box away the blankets and sweaters. We step outside to breathe the fresh air, while planning time to get with friends and family for fun activities. Windows are shined. Corners swept of cobwebs. And everything just seems to come back to life.


Our current ritual of spring cleaning is not too far removed from an ancient practice that God orchestrated with the first Passover. When the children of Israel came out of the dark, cold season in Egypt, God ordained the first feast of Passover as a continual reminder of how He had delivered them They were to remember the night which they had been told to box up all they had and prepare for a desert journey. As they prepared their food for traveling, the bread had to have no leaven – or yeast. It was to be simple and without any extra ingredients that added flavor.


When we read the account in Exodus 12, God made it clear how serious He was with the putting away of the leaven.
15 You will eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day you must remove yeast from your houses because anyone who eats leavened bread anytime during those seven days will be cut off from Israel.

19 For seven days no yeast should be found in your houses because whoever eats leavened bread will be cut off from the Israelite community, whether the person is an immigrant or a native of the land.

What was so significant about leaven that He would cut a person off? Besides that to ignore this act was disobedience to God, it also represented things in our lives that can pull us away from Him. This act was to teach the principle of dealing with the areas that war against our spiritual growth. He knew that if we did allowed ourselves one slip up, it would be easier to allow another…..and another…..and another. In time it could eventually effect every are of our lives. Just like the yeast.

I love the smell of warm yeast bread fresh out of the oven. And baking bread is a favorite past time for me. No matter how large of a recipe I am making, I trust that the dough will double in size while just sitting there. Even after I punch it down, it will rise again. Eventually it is large enough to make bread to feed a family because that yeast had effect every cup of flour I had added to the dough.

Just like the yeast in my bread, sin or complacency will effect our lives if we allow it to sit too long without cleaning away every spec of yeast in the hidden corners of our hearts. Sometimes ‘punching it down once’ is not enough. This cleaning away of anything ‘extra’ in our lives should be continual. A daily sacrifice. It was to be an example of the spiritual act of ‘laying aside every weight and sin’ that should govern our lives.

Every Passover, the Jews spent hours cleaning their homes. The goal was to make sure NO SPECnot a single drop – of leaven could possibly be found anywhere in their home. And they still do it to this day. And so should we. Each of us should spend time asking Him what needs to be swept away from our lives. Sometimes it’s a secret sin. Sometimes it can be just a weight that pulls us away from time with Him and gets our focus on other things.
Galatians 5:9 gives the warning:  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
May we take time today to Spring clean our souls while spending time in His presence. The results? We may just find that He will breathe new life into old dreams!


2 Peter 3:14 “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” ESV

Care for the Heart

Jesus is the key to broken hearts.

Sitting across the table from a young mom, I listened to as she shared her story of shock, pain and grief. A twenty-four-hour whirlwind that forever changed her life. I recognized that no words spoken by me would ‘fix’ her situation. While my nearly untouched coffee became cold, my heart was beating with a desire to turn back the clock and rewrite her story with a different outcome. But life doesn’t work that way no matter how much we may desire it.

After pouring out in detail the events she walked through less than a year prior, she shared the journey she has been on since. Disillusionment. Grasping for understanding. She keeps life turning for her family while balancing her own emotions – and still grasping the reality of what happened. Listening to this young woman as a friend, my heart ached for her with each detail. Listening to her as a pastor, it brought so much more depth of understanding to the need I see for the body of Christ to create ‘safe places’ for the broken hearts around us.

Safe haven. That should be a great definition of the body of Christ. Yet reality often reminds us that the body of Christ is made up of humans that sometimes miss the mark.

Like when tragic events happen.

Too often we have a heart that just wants to see the other person healed. To see their situation turn around and make sense. In our true concern and desire to help, we go into autopilot with our words and actions. We grasp at the first thought that comes to mind as we desperately want to bring comfort. After all, we know all the Christian idioms, right?

“God has a plan.”

“It was their time.”

“He would not give you more than you can handle.”

“It must have been in His will.”

Sound familiar? Words that have meaning as they stand alone. Yet these words can also sound empty even as we speak them. Why? When words are spoken in autopilot mode and not Spirit breathed, they become as ‘sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.’ Each of these statements have truth. But unless they are ‘God breathed‘ for that time, place and person, they will fall to the floor empty. Those empty words can even pierce a heart with pain.

We are admonished to be ‘quick to listen and slow to speak.’ What would the body of Christ look like if we listened to each other completely? All the way. Allowing the story to flow freely and having our minds completely engaged with the conversation. Undistracted by our cellular devices or even our own running thoughts.

Although it was over twenty years ago, I can still hear the ‘comforting’ words of a dear friend after my miscarriage. “You are not the first person to have lost a child.” And as she walked away, I picked up my bleeding heart. That was an obvious statement. Yet I was grasping with more than the grief of losing my baby. Our church had been in the middle of a revival. Miracles had been happening. And we had chosen to delay the DNC in order to stand and believe for God’s healing touch. Now, I was not only grieving but facing the disappointment of not having my prayer answered. Not having the miracle others were seeing. What action gave me the most comfort? The friend who just came. The one who just was. No words needed. Just their presence. That action showed me their love for me was bigger than their need to help me.

Sometimes we are not ready to answer questions. Instead, we sneak in a church service late and sit in the back in hopes to hide. We are not ready for the questions or comments. The group of loved ones surrounding us for prayer can be smothering if we are not ready. So how do others that really love you know when to run to you and when to just sit and pray for you? When they take time to pause and listen to the Spirit’s whispered voice.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

In this month where our society celebrates love, let’s examine our hearts. Do we love each other enough to stop, breath in the Spirit, listen to His counsel, and speak slowly? When reading the stories of Jesus, He doesn’t seem to be in a rush when He is giving answers. He didn’t even rush to Mary and Martha when their brother died. But He always did what His Father showed Him to do in a situation. Remember the the accusing crowd that brought an adulterous woman to Christ for judgement? He didn’t rush to answer but breathed in His Father’s thoughts, starting writing in the dirt, and made one comment. The crowd turned away. The situation diffused. All because He operated WITH His Father and the Spirit.

May we continue to grow in being Jesus with skin on!