Soon after I graduated from college I gave my life to the Lord. Even though I grew up in a godly home, I treated salvation like a game of Russian roulette. I played around because I figured I had time on my side. Was I ever deceived!
I know today what made me drop to my knees, repent of my sins and ask Jesus into my life: prayer. My mother spent untold hours in prayer crying out to God, "Lord, save my children." She knew back then what I know now: Prayer changes things. read more
Have you ever read Frank Peritti’s This Present Darkness? I read it maybe 15 years ago and it changed my prayer life forever. The book is about spiritual warfare and what happens when Christians pray—or don’t pray. I held on to every word, comma and semicolon in the book because it taught me the value of seeking God.
After watching Gloria Copeland’s powerful healing prayer in Say It, Sister!, I thought I would invite you to join me in prayer right here on SpiritLed Woman eMagazine. Let’s pray for the lost, our loved ones, broken marriages, our nation, and whatever else in need of God’s intervention.
I believe this world will soon get what it deserves if the church does not repent of its slothfullness and pray more. Second Chronicles 7:14 says: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (NKJV). read more
In my research for Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey, I spent time with a shepherd in Oregon, a farmer in Nebraska, a beekeeper in Colorado and vintner in California. With each person, I opened up the scripture and asked, “How do you read this passage—not as a theologian—but in light of what you do every day?”
The journey was chock-full of spiritual insights, but one of my favorite stops was my time with Lynne, a shepherdess, who took care of a flock of a few dozen sheep in the fields near her home in Oregon. Not only did we feed and water the sheep together, but we just spent time among the flock sitting in the field, watching the sheep and talking.
During our time together, I was struck by just how much a sheep knows its shepherd. One of the most amazing times I had with the shepherdess, Lynne, was the very first time she introduced me to her flock. I followed her up a muddy path to the upper field where the sheep were grazing.
She whispered to me, “When they hear my voice, they’ll come running.”
Then simply by saying the words, “Sheep, sheep, sheep,” she called her flock. Every last sheep in the field bolted toward her.
That moment was powerful for me. John 10 describes the sheep knowing the shepherd’s voice as a metaphor for us knowing God’s voice. Yet it isn’t just a metaphor—it’s the way sheep really behave. Standing in the field with Lynne and watching the sheep run toward her made that verse come alive in a whole new way. I recognized that just as a sheep is created to know its shepherd, we are created to know God and live in relationship with Him.
During my research on sheep, I discovered a remarkable story from Gary Burge, a professor at Wheaton College, that illustrates the close relationship of shepherds and their flocks. He describes how Israeli soldiers visited a poor village outside of Bethlehem after a Palestinian uprising and demanded that the people pay the taxes they owed. They refused.
The officer in charge gathered up all the animals of the village—primarily sheep and goats—and placed them into a huge pen. A poor woman approached the officer in charge and begged him to release her animals. Because the poor woman’s husband had been imprisoned, her sheep were literally all she had.
The officer laughed at her request. How could she possibly find her dozen sheep in a pen of more than 1,000 animals?
The woman challenged the officer. If she could find her animals, could she keep them?
Intrigued, the soldier agreed.
The woman then invited her 10-year-old son to stand before the pen. He pulled out a flute and began to play a simple tune. As he walked through the fenced-in area, a dozen sheep gathered behind him, following him all the way home.
The officer and soldiers were impressed. They broke into applause, shut the gate and then announced that no one else could use the trick to get their sheep back.
Why did the sheep follow the boy? Because they knew he was their shepherd. And they knew he was a good shepherd. They were not only familiar with his voice, they knew the very tunes he played on his flute—songs he had played in the fields many times before.
That portrait of a sheep knowing its shepherd so well gives me hope that I, too, can know God intimately. For me, spending time with a loving shepherd was a powerful portrait of God’s love for each of us—a love that is tangible, practical and unending. From this perspective, some of the seemingly opposite attributes of God, such as discipline and grace, began to make sense.
Over the course of our time together, I watched a shepherd who truly loved her sheep—it was so evident in the way she spoke to and about them. Whether feeding her animals by hand, changing their bandages, administering medicine or keeping a watchful eye, her love was constantly on display. I also watched when Lynne had to reprimand or punish a sheep by placing it in time out. Even those moments were founded in love and caring for her flock.
The entire time, Lynne wanted what was best for the flock and the individual sheep. She was for them. For me, it was a tangible reminder of just how much God is for us, individually and as His flock.
You are successful to the degree that you empower others! Too often, in today's world, success is defined by the size of your organization, the amount of money you accumulate or how influential your name is. Although each of these things may be found in a successful person's portfolio, they are not true indicators of real success. Success as a leader is measured by the degree that you empower others.
Several years ago I regularly struggled with discontentment. I was so disheartened by my problems and life in general that I spent hours seeking God for answers. I would pray in my car, in the office, everywhere. But nothing changed.
The uneasiness I sensed was the last thing on my mind when I went to bed at night and the first thing to flood my thoughts when I awoke the next day. I started to concede defeat and remain unhappy when God spoke to me through His Word.
“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good things” (Ps. 107:9, NKJV).
At that moment I knew what God meant. I had experienced many highs in my walk with the Lord. I was used to the Father blessing me every time I sought His hand, so I became relaxed in my relationship with Him. But God wanted more, so He started prodding and creating in me dissatisfaction for spiritual mediocrity.
I cannot adequately describe what God did for me during that season of my life, but I can say I learned never to take His goodness, favor and presence for granted. Yes, God blesses us with earthly blessings, but He is the only person who can satisfy that deep yearning we have for Him because He is the one who creates it.
Don’t settle for business as usual. Step out of your comfort zone and let God move you to a new place in Him.
No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, whether on the mountaintop of life or in the valley of hardships, stay close to Him and seek His face. He will respond and invade your mediocre walk with Him. read more
Remember several years ago when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were performing at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show, and he ripped off her costume exposing her chest to nearly 90 million viewers?
The performance caused uproar in the public arena over indecency on TV, and led to bills being passed increasing fines against broadcasters that violate decency standards. But despite federal regulations, the push to saturate our kids' minds with sexually explicit content and products is alive and well in our culture.
The assault on young girls is especially heinous. I was taken aback the other day when I walked into a store and saw racy underwear on sale for girls as young as 5 years old. It's only a matter of time before our sex-crazed society causes kindergarteners to lose their innocence. read more
Recently my good friend and co-worker married a wonderful, God-sent man. As I watched their beautiful Italian ceremony, I was reminded of the many years I spent with her praying and asking the Lord to send her a husband. So needless to say, I was excited to see her stroll down the aisle!
My friend wanted to be married, but she didn't waste time lamenting her singleness. But for many women, being single is a lonely life to live. They exhaust a lot of prayer time cutting deals with God: "Lord, if You allow me to get married, my husband and I will work together in ministry for You." But the reality is not everyone will get a chance to say I do, and God will still expect us to serve Him.
I used to pray similar prayers, but one day I stopped complaining long enough to hear the Holy Spirit speak. His message to me is my encouragement to you: Learn to be content in Christ as He unfolds His plans and purposes for your life—but by all means, have a life!
First Timothy 6:6 tells us "godliness with contentment is great gain," and it is. But contentment doesn't mean single women should mope around waiting for a husband.
Take advantage of the countless opportunities you have to do ministry and become the woman He created you to be. The Bible says the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.
My friend met her husband in church where she was busy serving the Lord and fulfilling His purpose for her life. She doesn't regret waiting years for the right guy to come along.
Please don't spend all your time negotiating with the Father asking Him for a tall, dark and handsome man; use your time to advance the kingdom. His message of covenant love isn't directed at just married people. It's for every single one of us. read more
This week I traveled to South Bend, Ind., to attend the funeral-or should I say the home-going service-of my 94-year-old grandfather. Lawrence Lowe Sr. was a spry man and as the patriarch of the Lowe clan, he possessed wisdom far beyond his years.
He stood about 5 feet 11 inches tall, but in my eyes he looked more like 6 foot 6. His ebony complexion hid the scars and hardships of growing up under the burden of racial segregation and Jim Crow laws. But he let nothing stop him from leaving his mark on the earth in his own unique way.
He spent his early years working as a farmer on his dad's farm along with his eight brothers, and as a carpenter in his latter years. His huge fists no doubt held the key to thousands of family stories that I unfortunately never got a chance to hear.
We all regret when we peer into the casket of a loved one and realize we didn't get a chance to say "I love you" one more time. But years before my grandfather slipped into eternity, I got the chance to tell him "thank you." I thanked him for giving me the man in my life-my dad.
Daniel Lowe is an awsome man! His love for me is unconditional, and his guidance is too. When I became a single mom, he stepped into my daughter's life and became a surrogate father to her. He has instilled character and integrity in me, and today I love the Lord because my earthly father made a believer out of me. It's my definition of a living legacy.
I believe love and life are the two greatest gifts we can give to one another. The Bible says for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and the Son gave His life so that we might spend eternity with Him (see John 3:16).
When we accept Jesus into our lives and live for Him, we not only secure our place in heaven, we leave behind a spiritual legacy that will never die. God's love is the gift that keeps on giving, and we must pass it on to our children's children and for generations to come.
This week, moms across the country will be showered with gifts and heart-felt words from their loved ones in recognition of Mother’s Day. I’m glad someone thought to set aside the second Sunday in May to honor the faithful women who love and care for their families.
Decades ago gospel singer Shirley Caesar penned a song that I believe characterizes the depth of a mother’s love—and God’s love for us. No Charge is a song about a young boy who charges his mom a fee every time he completes his chores or helps out around the house.
For mowing the lawn, $5 Taking out the trash, $1 Running errands, 50 cents Making his own bed, $1 “Playing” with his brother, 25 cents
The boy includes a few more chores to the list, adds it up, and hands his mother a bill for $14.75. Had that been my mother and me, she would have told me to sit down and be quiet—or else!
But the woman responds to her son the way I believe Jesus responds to us.
“For the nine months I carried you, growing inside me, no charge / For the nights I sat up with you, doctored you, prayed for you, no charge / For the time and the tears and the cost through the years, there is no charge ... / For the nights filled with dread and the worries ahead, no charge / For advice and the knowledge and the cost of your college, no charge/ … When you add it all up / The full cost of my love is no charge.”
The Bible says for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (see John 3:16). The Son, in turn, gave His life for us and paid the price for sin. So be encouraged as you render selfless service to your family. Jesus is your role model, and He is pleased to know you are following in His footsteps.
What do you do when you're struggling with feelings of fear? Do you face your emotions and come up with ways to combat the problem? Or do you concede defeat and allow the assaults to continually rob you of your joy?
Fear is a powerful emotion and when left unchecked, it metastasizes like a cancer cell. It spreads quickly through your mind destroying your creativity, confidence and the godly authority you once wielded as a servant of the Lord. The result is paralysis of the will.
Several years ago I was ministering to a woman in her 70s who told me she didn't go to college because she had been retained in sixth grade. She was afraid and thought she would never be good enough to be a college student. She managed to graduate high school, but low self-esteem gave way to fear and she stopped living life to the fullest.
Today, with the help of the Holy Spirit, she is facing her fears head on. She enrolled in a community college and is pursuing a degree in business.
What's holding you back from fulfilling your godly purpose? Have you fallen prey to some sin and now you're afraid God doesn't love you? Do you listen to the enemy's lies about who you are? Whatever the cause, fear is keeping you from your destiny.
When you see fear coming or sense its presence, face it. Fear is oftentimes rooted in deception. But when you discover the truth of God's Word, you begin to see yourself as God sees you. How freeing! Let the Holy Spirit transform your thinking today (see Romans 12: 1-2).
We don't have to live our lives characterized by fear. We can live confidently and carry out His will in the earth. God hasn't given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound, well-disciplined mind (see 2 Tim. 1:7).
Valerie G. Lowe is editor of SpiritLed Woman eMagazine.