Unexpected with Hannah Love

That Sounds Fun Network

Have you ever spent much time thinking about the events that led you to where you are? Have you ever noticed that some of the most unexpected moments are very ones that God used in the biggest ways? Not only did I notice this theme in my own life but I also saw it all over the Bible. From Moses and Gideon, to David and Esther and Nehemiah, God seemed to call the most unqualified people to do the most unexpected things. As you listen to stories, I hope you gain a new perspective of how God loves us enough to call us to the things we couldn't have imagine for ourselves. This is Unexpected. read less
Religion & SpiritualityReligion & Spirituality

Episodes

Episode 79: His Will > My Will
2d ago
Episode 79: His Will > My Will
It’s safe to say we have all experienced the hills and valleys of life. Some hills are higher than others just like some valleys are deeper. One of those deep places, for me, was over ten years ago. I’ll set the scene a bit… In January of 2013, I won the title of Miss Arkansa USA. While the accomplishment itself was a high point, it was mixed with a complicated backdrop. For months leading up to the competition, I had been trying to extricate myself from a years-long abusive relationship. Once I won the title, the grip there only got tighter. I worked hard to disentangle from it though, eventually able to give my full focus to my new job for the year.  So fast forward towards the end of my year as Miss Arkansas. I actually ended up dating a really fun, really good guy. After years in a controlling, toxic relationship, it was a BREATH of fresh air. I went from feeling like I lived under someones thumb to finally feeling like I was in a ‘normal’ happy relationship. Like the kind all my other girlfriends were in! As you can imagine, I was heartbroken when he decided to break it off. Now, mind you, I was also really thankful for his honesty. Like I said, he was a good guy and he did the right thing. In fact, the whole time we were dating, my only prayer had been “I want YOUR WILL GOD, and not my own.” I seriously remember walking or working out daily with that one prayer on repeat as I power walked the trails or lifted at the gym. So, when he ended it, I knew it was right. As sad as I was. I also knew I had peace because I had been asking God’s will over my own. And so it had to be. To this day, I still think of this as one of my loneliest valleys. Single, alone, broken, and totally dependent on God. In fact,  I would walk and pray. I would pour over a handful of promises in psalms. At this point in my life, I read the Bible but I wasn’t in the Word every day except in hard moments. And that same prayer was still in the background on repeat…God, YOUR WILL. Not my own.  It was like I innately knew that the guidepost to my life had shifted because, for the first time ever… I surrendered fully my life to God’s plan for me. I knew He had one. I read the Bible and went to church. But it wasn’t until I had to come to the end of myself and trying my own way..that I finally surrendered it over. That prayer, “I want YOUR WILL, GOD. Not my own.” I meant it with all my heart. I began praying it after that horrible relationship. I began praying it because I knew I was the one who got myself into that mess and moving forward I genuinely wanted God to take the reins. I prayed it through the ‘happy relationship’ even knowing it could end in heartbreak. And it did. But I never let that prayer go. I STILL KNEW. I STILL BELIEVED God’s will for my life was better than one I could achieve on my own.  I feel like y’all probably know the rest of the story… the part where Shay and I meet. I was deeply settled into my single girl, me-and-jesus and nobody else season. I loved it. I didn’t want to leave the peace of living in His will.. But, as it turns out, Shay was part of that good and perfect plan. I’m so thankful I held onto that prayer. I’m so thankful I surrendered my own will for my life in my early 20’s. I’m so glad I didn’t fight it. Or harden my heart. Or search for my value in another relationship. I’m SO glad in those dark days, I surrendered it all to find freedom and worth and identity in just being God’s daughter. God’s will was better than my own and His will is better than yours, too. God’s word is true. Once you surrender it all to Him, you’ll find peace. Peace beyond understanding. As Ephesians so beautifully says: “the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.” And so it will. My story won’t be yours. But I promise, yours will have some mountains and valley’s too. And it will also hold opportunities for surrender.
Episode 78: Face It (Hedging Bets & Wrestling God)
Feb 19 2024
Episode 78: Face It (Hedging Bets & Wrestling God)
Have you ever had something reallllly painful in your past you don’t like to think about? Or maybe its feelings of regret, shame, or guilt? Or maybe, its just a person or situation you’d like to forget about. But whatever it was, it was such a profound moment, you felt the only way to escape it was by running. Whether that be physically, like moving cities or states, OR simply by removing yourself from a certain place or group of people. You just… kind of ran away from it? I’ll be honest, I’ve done both. If there’s anything God has shown me in the last few years it’s that I’m really good at running and disassociating. So today’s topic is one that will take us back to the beginning of the Bible. In an attempt to read the Bible in chronological order this year, I have found myself back in Genesis and I’ve come across a story that made me think of HOW applicable it is to each of us today. This is (part of) the story of Esau and Jacob.  Here are the takeaways I get from this story: As a broken people living in a broken world, we mess up. We make mistakes. Regardless of the size and scope of the pain, we all carry something. And many of us even run. But here’s the truth. God will call us back to the point of pain, fear, or shame to FACE IT. See, God loves us so much, that He will call you back to that very thing that almost broke you. He calls you back, not to hurt you, but to heal you. We must face it in order to walk fully into what God has for our future. It takes courage, discipline, and obedience. But do you know what the reward is? It is healing and freedom. We must face it to receive what is on the other side. The future God has for you. Your inheritance. Your peace. Your healing and your freedom.  Listen, I know I’m talking to someone today. I don’t know how long your journey has been. Maybe you’re even like Jacob, who ran for 20 years! I don’t know who or what you’re running from. But I do know that God is asking you to face it. He is waiting to take your hand and walk with you. Just like Jacob. And it doesn’t have to be a graceful thing. It just needs to be done.  See, just like us, Jacob was human. In his story, you can see how his reaction is all over the place. First, he panics! He panics at the thought of facing his brother. And then… he prays. He literally repeats back to God what He promised him. He acknowledges that God has sent him back. He even reminds God that He promised him a future! (This was the right thing to do)! WE should do the same! But then… what does he do? He takes it back into his own hands. He starts planning what HE can do. He hedges his bets by sending herd after herd of livestock as gifts. In hopes of softening his brother’s heart. As if he didn’t just take the matter to God!! But.. such is our nature. This is where the final showdown happens. Jacob wrestles with God. And in the wrestling, he held on. For a blessing. He held on because he knew God was in it and if God was in it, His word was in it, too. His word for a future. When the wrestling was over, Jacob was given a new name.  Makes me think about us. About how sometimes when we face a thing. When we waffle back and forth, hedge our bets, wrestle with God…and come out the other side.. we are new. We are changed. We may walk with a limp, but we will never forget the path that brought us back. Back into the fullness and freedom God called us to all along. If that is you today, sweet friend, I pray you’ll have the courage this year to face it. It’s okay to feel all the things. It’s okay to panic, to pray, to plan, to wrestle.. just as long as you face it. Remember, God wouldn’t call you to it, if He wouldn’t see you through it. Not just see you through it but see you healed and restored. Just as Jacob was returned to his home land and restored back to his promised inheritance. There’s an inheritance for you. Just on the other side.
Episode 76: Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Feb 5 2024
Episode 76: Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
It’s a common sentiment and an often asked question. It is also the achilles heel of a lot of people who lost faith.  Here’s the short answer. Bad things happen to people, period. Good and bad people. Regardless of status, success, or background. Regardless of religion and despite it. Sickness doesn’t discriminate just like this sinful world doesn’t discriminate. The truth of the matter is, we live in a very broken world.  What once was a perfect garden, a veritable heaven on earth… was lost to humankind when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Adam affectively handed over his rights to darkness. God gave him the opportunity to steward a perfect world. He was actually given dominion over the works of God’s hands. But, because of disobedience, there was a great fall. We call it the fall because man fell from this perfect world into a broken one. His dominion was handed over to the one who deceived him in the first place. Satan. There are so many takeaways here but the thing I want to point to right now is this.. God gave Adam and Eve free will. He didn’t force them to do anything. He set them into a perfect place and gave them boundaries to either keep or break. See, God wants His children to come to Him because they CHOOSE to. Because they choose Him and Love Him and seek Him. It is not a forced relationship. He actually chose us before the foundations of the world. Now, it is for us to choose Him back. Every day. Over and over. By the choices we make. The world is going to hit us with brokenness. What we choose to do about it and how we choose to respond is what really matters.  Here’s the other hard to hear part. Lest we forget. The world is still very broken. Satan still roams about as a lion looking to devour whom he may. He will hit you when and where he can whenever he can. He wants to steal and kill and destroy any goodness God has promised for you. He wants to steal hope, kill dreams, and destroy futures.  I know this may not be the answer so many are looking for today… But, such is the truth. God has a plan for our lives. But we have the freedom to follow Him or not. Not only that, but the enemy is still prowling around, looking to attack. The good news today is that Jesus came to redeem us from satan’s dominion. He came to redeem humanity. To restore us back to the Father. So our spirits are now free from the sting of death. If we have accepted Jesus as our Messiah, His own spirit has replaced the old man. This means we have the same authority as Christ because of the price He paid. We have authority over the enemy. And one day… when He returns, He will also restore the earth. The broken place we live in now. The Bible tells us it will be made new. Until then, this is what we can do.  We can live our lives one step at a time being led by the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit leads us unto ALL Truth. And so… we should follow. Today, I hope you’ll remember this: God is the creator of all. And like a work of art must be imagined before it is created, God knew about you before He even began forming you in your mother’s womb. With careful consideration, He designed you. Not only your physical traits, but the unique touches of humor, creativity, sensitivity, intellect, and passions. He knew it all and He formed you. He also knew (and presently knows) the story arc of your life. In fact, He’s laid out a dotted line map, just for you. If only you have the courage to pursue Him and his leading. If only you are able to surrender the missed turns and wreckage of a sinful world. Theres a one of a kind story waiting to be revealed. A picture of a life well lived. Your map is a testament to the freedom of choosing God. I love y’all. I hope this has been an encouragement today that while storms still arise, we aren’t in them alone. And with every misstep, there is grace for hearts turned back to Him.
Episode 75: Offended, Bitter And Jaded : Where Do We Go From Here?
Jan 29 2024
Episode 75: Offended, Bitter And Jaded : Where Do We Go From Here?
A year or two back, we had this woman come up to the door of our house. She had a notepad, a three ring binder, and a pitch. She had obviously been walking door to door. The general idea was that a certain non-profit was supplying fresh local produce to the underserved communities in the area. The business plan made sense and I was also aware of the great needs of our town in that regard. The way the model worked was by buying produce in bulk. There were three levels of “giving” and the BIG observation for me was the notepad she had that was full of signatures from my neighbors (several of whose names I recognized). I visited with the woman, listening to her story and even got to share about my podcast. It was a lengthy exchange. I bought a package and shared some final words of encouragement before she left.  The following day, there was a post on a local neighborhood app that was alerting folks about this scam. My heart sank as I saw the name and a screenshot of the ‘company’s website’. I had been taken advantage of. My immediate response was embarrassment, but after I called and had the payment cancelled I remember talking to my husband and saying, with all my heart… You know? I would have given her the money. If I had known that she was struggling.. If she had been honest and genuine.. I would have given her that money. It made me sad. She had obviously been working with others who had dropped her and her companion on our street. The need was evident. And it just made me so so sad.  But what if… What if Jesus had hardened His heart? What if, after all the mocking, the ridicule, the rejection… what if after all that He endured, He turned and walked away. Because of a hard heart. You know He had every opportunity. (If you need a reminder, just go back and listen to episode number 26 on Rejection)! You’ve got to step out of yourself and treat that person the way God himself would treat you. With kindness, compassion… and with grace. I’m not going to sugar coat it, its anything but natural. Truly, it is dying to yourself. Dying to the old man. You, as a Child of God and a co-heir with Jesus are made NEW. The price was paid for you. For your sin. For your shame, your mistakes, your failures and all of your iniquities. They were paid for with the blood of Jesus. You are redeemed and made a new man. That new man must then begin to respond according to the SPIRIT of God residing inside rather than responding with the mind or feelings of the old man. This is the act of sanctification. This is a part of the steady transformation to become more like Christ. To bring Heaven to Earth. To make Earth as it is in Heaven!  And I will end with this: because I think it’s a beautiful promise that God attaches, not only to wisdom, but also to acting according to His word: Proverbs 19:11 It means you, in your born again life, are able to display a bright and pure piece of God’s glory. He is made known in the situation… He is made known and that blesses whoever witnesses AND it blesses whoever acted in obedience to His word. Now that is a heck of a promise. Today, I just want to share this encouragement with each of you. Don’t allow the enemy to come in and make you bitter. Don’t allow the enemy to plant seeds of offense. Instead, live out the most shocking and unexpected truths. Love them. Pray for them. And watch, as God transforms your heart and your life because you chose to Honor HIM above your own feelings. When a hard heart is softened, God is able to come in and heal. And the fruit of that will reach far beyond you. I love y’all. I hope this message finds you right where you are today. God will be in it. He’ll work through you and change the lives of all who see..
Episode 74: Are You Your Issue?
Jan 22 2024
Episode 74: Are You Your Issue?
Have you ever noticed that the first thing people ask at a social event is “So, where are you from?” Followed up with a “What do you do?”.  It’s interesting to me because even on social media pages, our Bio’s declare the same. Where we are from. What we do. A few words to sum up our whole existence. But what if… just what if those very descriptions are the ones we’ve been using to identify who we are? Titles. Jobs. Throw in a location for context. But what if we’ve had it all wrong. If that’s the first thing we are saying about ourselves, that must also mean its the FIRST thing we believe about who we are. It must mean that thats our identity! Right? Wrong. The thing is, we are doing ourselves a disservice if that’s the thing we are choosing to stand on. Identity isn’t what you do or even who you are to anyone else. Actually. Our true identity is that which relates us to our creator. It’s foundational. It should be the thing we respond with as we know it deep down. If God Himself asked you who you are, what would you tell Him? Would you say something like, “Well, I’m Sharon and I’m project coordinator at so and so offices…” I mean, I’m laughing but I sure hope you’ve got more in you than that! If we asked our own children…who are you to me? I would hope they’d respond with “I’m your child”. So? Shouldn’t that be our first response, too? God calls us His. And while we may call ourselves ‘God’s children’ Sunday at church, the majority of people aren’t out here living like it. MOST people live by their professional title for the rest of the week. Others of us may not even go by the title we give ourselves but the title given to us by the world. Known by your story. Known by your past. Known by your shame, sickness, sins, or even by your situation. Maybe whatever life you’ve lived has become the thing to defines you.  I believe this is the number one mistake believers make in understanding their identity. Instead of referring to what God’s word says about them, they’ve spent a lifetime listening to OTHERS about who they should or shouldn’t be. And at some point, most of us have come INTO agreement about whatever that is. Think about school? If you didn’t play sports, were you really an outcast? Or did you just start believing that about yourself because thats what the social scene dictated? Maybe God would have liked to remind you that you were actually built different. Built to be set apart. Built with different interests and giftings to reach a purpose God crafted specifically for YOU.  See, I’ve come to realize we can’t walk fully in our God given authority unless we recognize ourselves the way God recognizes us. Not by who WE say we are. Not by who the world says we are. But by who God says we are. We can walk fully in all He desires for us if we understand our identity. If we understand our relationship to the King. If your father is the king, what does that make you? An heir. It makes you an heir. You’re an heir to His kingdom. A daughter who is loved. AND a daughter who is called to a life of more.  Today, I want to read a story to you about a woman who perfectly fits the description of someone who went by her worldly identity. She is a woman in the Bible who is never mentioned by name. She isn’t even mentioned by a title she holds. Rather, she is identified by the issue she has. Mark 5:21-43 TPT Today, I want to challenge you to ask yourself the question: What have I been standing on? What identity have I been living by? Is it an identity given by the world? Is it status based on things I own? Is it the circles I am a part of? Or is it even a condemning name given by circumstances of a broken world? Whatever it is. Whoever you think you are.. I want to remind you you’re none of those things. God calls you His Child first. Hold fast to that and be encouraged that life WILL look different when you understand your born identity. I love you, friends. And God loves you most of all… I’ll see you back here next week!
Episode 72 : A Dummies Guide To Setting Boundaries
Jan 8 2024
Episode 72 : A Dummies Guide To Setting Boundaries
As we begin our trek into the new year, I thought it could be helpful to do an episode on something that is REALLY hard for a lot of people: Boundaries. As a peace-loving 9 on the enneagram, this is actually one of the hardest things for me to practice. If I have any fellow peace-keepers or people-pleasers out there, you’ll understand. Boundaries are a type of discipline that can have the tendency to feel selfish if practiced for your own sake. If you’re like me, you may have NO problem pointing out the need for boundaries - for other people. But struggle for yourself. But. What if I told you God actually gave us something to live by? Because…He did. Today, I wanted to look at the Bible as a guide to healthy boundaries and wise choices. After all, the Bible is the key to all of life’s principles. So, it stands to reason that God would have a few things to say about this.. Now, you may be thinking “I don’t remember a commandment about personal boundaries..” BUT I actually beg to differ. You know why? Because a boundary is just another name for a “Limit”, “Border”, or even a “Perimeter”. They are in place for a reason. They protect our own hearts, they protect the hearts of others, and ultimately, when adhered to, they SHOULD help create a healthy community for all. The ten commandments are actually the FIRST set of such boundaries. I would even consider them the pillars to live by. They are the main guideposts of life and even if they were the only laws or principles to live by, they would be enough. But God is so good and left THE most detailed help-guide (if we so choose to pursue it).  Seriously, Proverbs is chock FULL of the most practical life principles. Some are so simple. Some are deep. And some are really encouraging… and honestly, some are very convicting. It is a collection  inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by the wisest man who ever lived (King Solomon). And while these chapters are generally full of LIFE PRINCIPLES to live by, for the sake of today’s episode, I also want you to consider them boundaries YOU can apply in your own life. Whether these be personal boundaries, relational boundaries, business boundaries, or even boundaries that create strength of character. Each and every line in the book of Proverbs is applicable to life today. That I can promise. One of the things I love most about Proverbs (aside from its practical nature) is the fact that almost every boundary or principle listed is followed up with a promise to go with it. Promises for whichever decision you make. For the good or for the bad. From friendships to neighbors, to business, to marriage, to parenting, and even to legal practices. This book holds boundaries for all of life. A veritable Book For Dummies! I’m not offended. Just thankful God knew we would need a play book for life!  Listen, this may all sound dull to you today. But, as the days and weeks go on, my prayer for you is that you’ll remember today’s episode. Remember WHERE to go when searching for wisdom in life matters. Likely as not, a lot of answers can be found in these 31 chapters. It isn’t a hard read. It doesn’t even take that long. But, I want to encourage you with this. The next time you find yourself in a situation feeling like you don’t know what to do.. comb through the book of Proverbs. It could be an argument with a friend, a business decision, a question about marriage or parenting.. It could even be as simple as how to find true peace. I just bet God has a word in there for you. Be it encouraging or convicting. Chances are good that He left us with a principle or boundary to apply. Today’s episode hasn’t be a firey one by any means, but I do hope it will be the guide you need as you navigate the weeks ahead. May it lead you into wisdom. May you glean reassurance and encouragement from the pages in Proverbs. A Dummies Guide to Setting Boundaries.
Episode 71: It's 2024 - What REALLY Matters To You?
Jan 3 2024
Episode 71: It's 2024 - What REALLY Matters To You?
Happy New Year, friends, and WELCOME to 2024! Well I wanted to do something to kick start us in the right direction. Today, I wanted to give you all a chance to pause and evaluate what really matters to you. It’s a new year so it’s the perfect time to stop and take stock of our lives. The truth is, sometimes we know what’s important to us, but its not really evidenced by our actions…ya know what I mean? It’s one thing to say it but its another to put action behind it. We are going into a new year here so lets fix that. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I value my relationship with God. But. Is it evident in my life? It’s supposed to be the #1 thing above all else, right? But…am I hearing His voice? Do I feel close to Him? Because if not… it’s because I’m missing something on my end. God is always there. He has never left my side.. So, what can I do to go deeper. What can I do going into this year to hear His voice not just more clearly but more often. That’s my goal for the year; and hopefully, yours too! 1. Make time and space for God. 2. Worship music 3. Give thanks 4. Read the Word 5. Unplug Today, I’m praying for each of you to figure out what really matters. Figure it out and then act like it. Make the exchange. Spend your time and energy in pursuit of Him. I’ll end with this sweet reminder. In church last week, our pastor said “Worship directs the adoration of our hearts, and what we love changes us.” So guys. Think about what you really love in this life. As the year begins, I challenge you to pursue THAT. Pursue Him. And watch as He changes not only your life but the lives of everyone around you.. Today, I’m praying for what really matters in your live. And the courage to chase it. I love y’all and I’ll see you next week! 🤍✨
Episode 70: The Christmas Story - Little Details & Great Reminders
Dec 25 2023
Episode 70: The Christmas Story - Little Details & Great Reminders
I think its easy for us to recount the story of Jesus’ birth…kinda like we would any classic movie that the whole world knows about. But, in a way, I feel like so much of the awe and wonder is stripped away BECAUSE OF the familiarity we have with this story. If we take time to really stop and think about the details, it’s all pretty wild. CAN YOU IMAGINE?! Mary was likely a teenager. Engaged to Joseph. She had some serious explaining to do. Thank heavens God sent an angel to Joseph as well to confirm this miracle! Regardless… I think often of Mary’s situation. The fear of the unknown must have been staggering. Yet, this young woman said “yes”. In fact, she said more than just a simple yes. Let me read in Luke 1 vs 26-38 to give you the full picture. (This is the perfect place to pick up, too, since we just talked about John the Baptist and his mother, Elizabeth’s miraculous conception… Mary’s story picks up during the time of Elizabeth’s pregnancy! Remember, she’s Mary’s relative.) So here we go: And here’s the thing. Mary’s yes was just the beginning of the story. Luke 2:1-7 says: Now see? We don’t get all that in the typical Christmas story, do we? I truly believe if we took more time to examine the details, we’d be blown away at all of God’s handiwork. He is SO intentional. He’s so in the details. And I know I know… I didn’t touch on all the parts of the Christmas story today.. parts about King Herod and the Wise men. Parts about the star leading the way. Parts about gifts and dreams and prophecies.. But today, I wanted to take time to point to some of the smaller details. Today, I wanted to say that God see our heart posture. God blesses our obedience. Just like He knew Mary’s heart, He saw her obedience, and he blessed her because of it. He CHOSE HER FOR IT!! And here’s the other reminder: God reveals Himself in ways that are meaningful to US. Uniquely and specifically. Just like He did to the shepherds. Listen. God can reveal Himself to you. In dreams, visions, through other people… God works in unexpected ways. Heck, its the whole message behind this podcast! If he did it for those in the Bible, what makes you think He can’t do it for you, too? Maybe you won’t get an angelic appearance (and maybe you will…who am I to say you won’t?!) But you will always get an answer if you ask Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to you. You’ll always get an answer if you have eyes to see and ears to hear, and a heart that will recognize God’s voice. This whole story may feel a little muddled to you today, but I pray that you’ll walk away remembering that God is looking at your heart posture. God wants your obedience so he can BLESS YOUR LIFE, and God can and will reveal Himself to you in a way that is special to YOU… if you ask Him to. Today, I thank God for sending His precious son. I’m thankful for the courageous “yes” of a teenage girl. The obedient heart of her fiancé to act in good faith. And mostly, I’m thankful for the life Christ came and lived. All so he could die for the sin of the world. All so that we may have hope. And as the angels sang.. “Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” That hope is here now. That peace is available to all today. Let this year’s Christmas story be one of little details and great reminders to say Yes to God…and be listening for His voice. May your Christmas be full of peace and joy and hope… of the goodness ahead. I love y’all. Merry Christmas and I’ll catch you in the new year…
Episode 67: The Truth Of Being Set Apart (The Story of John the Baptist)
Dec 4 2023
Episode 67: The Truth Of Being Set Apart (The Story of John the Baptist)
As we barrel head first into December and all that comes with it, I wanted to backtrack to the moments in the Bible leading up to Jesus’ appearance. I’m talking about John the Baptist. I posted a short clip a week or so back about how underrated the life of John is. I think its important to understand some background of this man and his role in preparing the way for Jesus’ entry into the world! Let me begin by reading in Luke 1 about the miraculous conception of John. So, you see, John and Jesus’ births not only overlap but they are parallel in the fact that both are miraculous! Talk about unexpected!  From the very moments since birth, John was prophesied over and raised KNOWING it was he who would fulfill prophecy as the one to usher in the new Testament. This is significant for many reasons: One, John is the first prophetic voice to rise up in 400 years. His birth is not only the fullfillment of prophecy but it will also become the link between the old and new testament. See, up until this very moment, the people of Israel have been practicing under the old testament law given to Moses after the great exodus out of Egypt. Under this old covenant, the people must make sacrifices and perform rituals, using appointed priests to make atonements to God on their behalf.  First is this: John was set apart. He knew he was set apart since birth. He didn’t run or rebel from the idea of this; indeed, he set the course of his life on a path that HONORED this great commissioning. Guys. He literally chose to live in the wilderness. Many of the gospels document his life and share that not only did he choose to separate himself from the world but he also forsook comforts. Not only was John sure of who he was, not only did John know the role he was to play, but he was the forerunner to the salvation of the world. He laid his own comfort, he laid down opportunities for community and fellowship, and instead he boldly preached against the world. He called out religious hypocrites. And risked looking like an actual crazy person to prepare the way. It’s why he was born! He never wavered from his role.  And he could have. By the time Jesus enters the scene in his adult years, John had built up quite a name and following. He had his own disciples. As Jesus approaches while John is baptizing people in the Jordan River, John’s own disciples point and say who is that? John says, “ Behold, the Lamb of God!!” And his disciples left him to follow Jesus. Do you know what John didn’t do? He didn’t make it about himself. He didn’t ask his disciples to come back and follow him. Why? Because that’s not why he came. He knew his role. He knew his ministry. And his ministry wasn’t about himself, but rather, about pointing the world to the Messiah.  Oh, what a stunning picture of hope. Doesn’t God do fine work using the unexpected? He uses barren women to have prophet sons who live set apart. Wild (and some may even say a bit crazy). But the truth is, John wasn’t crazy. He was a man who knew his role and never strayed from it. He lead the way. He becomes a link in history to the most important moments since or ever again. He users in the hope of the world. As we enter into the holiday season, my prayer is that each of you will remember, too, that God loves to use the unexpected. And in fact, He has always called you. He chose you before the beginning of time to live where you live, in the family you’re in, in the city you reside, with the gifts and skills you have… to live with purpose. You know, deep down, He did. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll all be brave enough to live set apart like John to point the way to Jesus. Lord knows the world needs hope. And the truth is… we have it. In Jesus.  Thank you to our sponsor! ⁠⁠⁠⁠NIV Journal the Word Bible⁠ ⁠⁠⁠published by Zondervan. Visit your local Christian bookstore or⁠⁠ journaltheword.com⁠⁠ to find a beautiful edition!
Episode 66: Are We Living In Biblical Times?
Nov 27 2023
Episode 66: Are We Living In Biblical Times?
As surprising as this may sound to some people, the Bible is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. In some cases, maybe even more so. You have to think - part of the Bible is prophecy, meaning things to come. So a lot of it is geared towards a future time.. but future for them is present-day for us!  Today, I want to share a story that jumped out at me this year while studying the Paul and reading of his journey to spread God’s word to all the nations. Truly after Jesus’ death, a majority of the new testament is the story of the birth of the Church. One day, I’d love to chronicle the life of Paul on his mission to share the Gospel, but until then, I will pull out a piece or two.  I know its a long way around saying it, but this whole scene sounds like a modern day moment to me! Listen to what these guys said: "You know that our prosperous livelihood is being threatened by this Paul, who is persuading crowds of people to turn away from our gods. We make a good living by doing what we do…Our businesses are in danger of being discredited”! Sound familiar? I don’t know about you but this makes me think of a lot of things… the local authorities of the day sound a lot like politicians and the business men sound a lot like the money-men of..you guessed it…present day. I feel like it is becoming increasingly apparent today that the life and values of christianity is being viewed as a threat to those in power positions. I mean.. it may have been thousands of years ago, but the Bible is alive and well. The principles and lessons are timeless. Money is still king in the eyes of the world and idol worship is still alive, too. Though it comes packaged differently.. Today, these idols and (lower case) gods are sold as entertainment, celebrity status, and global ‘causes’. Where agendas are pushed at the expense of what is real and true and good. Global warming. Big pharma. Gender Ideology. Government controlled education… and the list goes on. Sounds to me like a lot of junk being pushed by the people profiting from whatever idol they are pedaling.  And here’s the deal. As powerful as these people are… politicians and big businesses alike — they are all threatened by the INTEGRITY of choices of those lives turning to Christ. You can see it all over cancel culture. Which voices get cancelled? The ones speaking God’s truth… not the ones standing saying “This is my truth”. Because truth isn’t subjective to one person or another. Truth is what God says it is. How many celebrities have been dragged through the mud for sticking to their convictions? How many Christian films and books and shows have been suppressed or deleted? Heck, the day I put up my YouTube channel, it got pulled down. I can only imagine why….  I promise I didn’t come to ruffle feathers today. But.. I did come to encourage. The Bible doesn’t just mention stories casually for no reason. The years have changed but satan’s tactics are still the same. May that be your motivation today. He’s still using his same old trick and yet, the ending will never change. Our God wins. So may we carry on fighting the good fight. Know that, just as in Pauls day, there will be those in power threatened by the very things you stand for. Let it be so. Because we know who’s we are and who we answer to at the end of the day. And it’s not those people. It’s our Father who formed us in his own image. Today, I pray each of you are emboldened to keep standing firm and sharing the good news, its the only news that brings hope and a future to a dark and hopeless world. I love y’all, and I’ll see you back again next week!  Thank you to our sponsor! ⁠⁠⁠NIV Journal the Word Bible⁠ ⁠⁠published by Zondervan. Visit your local Christian bookstore or⁠⁠ journaltheword.com⁠⁠ to find a beautiful edition!
Episode 64: Surface Level
Nov 13 2023
Episode 64: Surface Level
I saw a quote the other day that said, "Jesus died for you in public. Don't live for Him in private." And I'll tell you something... that's powerful. Honestly doubt many people think to themselves "I live a private life for Christ." But do you know what it DOES make me think of? It makes me think of the surface level lives people lead. And the truth is, it's kind of the same thing. Surface level relationships, conversations, and even posts. Sure, they may actually be easier. They may feel safer. They certainly take less time. And they may even cause less stress...But I have to ask? Who is that benefiting? Listen, I didn't come here today to make anyone feel guilty for not standing on the rooftops shouting about Jesus. I just came here to encourage you to take your moment. Take your moment when it presents itself. Be bold in the small things. Share your testimony with your uber driver. Ask how you can pray for the cashier checking you out. Look that homeless person in the eye when you hand them a water or a meal and tell them God sees them and you see them. Tell them they are loved. Just do the thing in front of you. Do it with intention. It's not so big or scary or intimidating. What could you possibly lose by doing any of these things? Jesus being intentional about the needs in front of Him. The brokenness before Him. The people around Him. Can you imagine if Jesus chose to be surface level with people? Can you imagine if Jesus only posted what looked good to His followers? I mean I'm sure turning water into wine would have made for an amazing post. But what about the other stuff? The stuff less worthy of a photograph? The humble moments or the messy ones? What about the times Jesus loved enough to correct? What about the times He confronted the enemy? What about the times He upset the local authorities by following God's principles rather than mans? How affective could he have possible been by living surface level. I know its a lot of what if's today... But just think: What if Jesus had only thanked Martha for hosting rather than telling her that Mary was in the right for sitting at His feet? What if Jesus waved to the fishermen while walking by but never told them to cast their nets on the other side? What if Jesus only allowed people to serve Him rather than serving others? What if Jesus passed up the sick to get to where He was going? What if Jesus had only chatted with the woman at the well about the weather, instead of sharing the depth of who He was and the hope of eternal life? Guys. He was the model for us. In all of it. Why shouldn't WE be sharing who WE are? Brothers and Sisters of Christ. Children of God. And the hope that Jesus brought to the world? Shouldn't we be sharing about how we are who we are because of Who Jesus is and what HE did for us. About how our lives are what they are now because of the hope He offers. That the love, joy, peace... its all fruit of our lives lived honoring Him. I find it such a shame that surface level is SO often what we get today instead of time and intentionality. We live in an instant gratification world where we scroll (on average every 7 seconds per reel) going from one hit of endorphins to the next. Not only is it exhausting, but it's void of depth. Can I tell you a secret? You can't go deep if you don't take time. Roots aren't strong without it. Connection can't happen without it. Faith can't grow without it. Depth. You can't go deep if you don't take the time. Go deeper than surface level. With people. With the world. Yes, it can be intimidating to live outwardly. It opens you up to rejection and hurt. But Jesus did it. And if He did it, shouldn't we? So, today, 'll end, again, with this reminder... "Jesus died for you in public. So don't live for Him in private." Thank you to our sponsor! ⁠⁠NIV Journal the Word Bible⁠ ⁠published by Zondervan. Visit your local Christian bookstore or⁠⁠ journaltheword.com⁠⁠ to find a beautiful edition!
Episode 63: Was Blind But Now...I See
Nov 6 2023
Episode 63: Was Blind But Now...I See
When I was in the second grade, I went to the eye doctor. I remember him telling me I needed glasses. By my best guess I was around 7 or 8 years old. When my glasses arrived, I remember walking outside and looking down... Do you know the kind of sidewalk that’s really just made of like..brown pea-gravel stuck into concrete? Well. That’s what I saw. And it wasn’t just a brown blob. I could see the individual gravels and I just couldn’t believe it. Then I looked up. And I said, “Look mom! Look at the leaves!”. I guess I had never realized you could see individual leaves on a tree from afar. For me, they’d always been big green blobs. The funny part about all of this is that I really had no idea I was so blind! I’ll have to get a confirmation on this but I’m pretty sure my mom teared up because she didn’t know my vision was so bad, either. I’m sure I never complained and, up to that point, I had nothing to complain about. After all, it was all I knew! And that’s the thing about it isn’t it?... We only know what we know! Our only frame of reference for ANYTHING (especially in childhood) is experience. We can only understand the life we have known. It is only as we get older and begin growing that we learn to work from a place of empathy or understanding outside of ourselves. I’m certain I could dig really deep and find a Biblical reference to parallel this story but to be honest with you there’s an obvious one that comes to mind... The story of Jesus healing the blind man. Its such a brief moment in the life of Jesus but we see so much in it..no pun intended! What’s interesting is the word used for eyes here is not the common word for it..instead, the greek word ‘omma’ can refer to both physical and spiritual sight. That’s what Jesus does for us. He covers us so that we may see...both physically AND spiritually. But we must allow Him to. The man in this story (with the help of friends to guide him) sought out Jesus. He asked for His touch. And he asked for healing. He had faith for it. Friends, this is a lesson to us all. God wants to be sought after. God wants to touch us and heal us. But we must come to Him. We must ask. And...we MUST allow his Healing hand over our lives. Both physically and spiritually. Sometimes God does His work little by little. Sometimes, His healing takes more than one pass through. What if that blind man had said, well... I can KIND of see a little now, and that is better than total blindness... He would have missed out on SO much more! Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the FULL! (John 10:10). Not so that we may live partially healed! So here is my reminder today, sweet friends: seek Him. Ask. Allow His touch. And know that, like this blind man.. it may take more than one pass. Know that God works on His own timeline. As we go into this season of thanksgiving I pray we all have this perspective. Clarity doesn’t always come at once. Answers don’t always come immediately. Healing can come little by little. Jesus can open your eyes how He wants to, in His time, and for His reasons. He knows what we couldn’t possibly know. He knows the exact healing process to take us through, painful as it may be. He knows the perspective shift we have to experience. And ultimately, He knows the restoration God has for us. Jesus touched that blind man’s eyes. And Jesus can touch your life, too, to bring healing... After all..that’s why He came. Thank you to our sponsor! ⁠⁠NIV Journal the Word Bible⁠ ⁠published by Zondervan. Visit your local Christian bookstore or⁠⁠ journaltheword.com⁠⁠ to find a beautiful edition!
Episode 62: The Life Of David - Redeemed
Oct 30 2023
Episode 62: The Life Of David - Redeemed
Over the years, I’ve come to realize any lesson we learn from parenting can be viewed through the lens of God. He is, after all, our Heavenly Father, and we are His children. So if we want the best for our children then how much MORE does God love US and want the best for US? The same principles apply. God wants us to come to Him with our mistakes. He wants all of our mess-ups and weaknesses. See, if we take it to Him first, there is redemption. Yes, there will be natural consequences. But when you take it to God first, you take AWAY the world’s ability to turn those moments into shame or guilt or threat of revealing ‘the truth’. You take away the world’s ability to keep feeding lies about who you think you are, now.. a failure. Unworthy. Those are lies. The truth of the world will always be ugly. But the truth, in God’s hands, will be beautiful in the light of redemption. God doesn't speak ill of His children. God already knows the truth. And He has already done the work to free us from it. The truth will set you free. This is where redemption is born. Born from the Grace of God to forgive. His son, Jesus, paid the price to redeeming our stories and ultimately, our lives.  Redemption was what God had for David’s life as well. In the wake of serious sin, he was forgiven. Though there was still a price to be paid. In the last episode we mentioned the curse that “the sword would never depart from David’s house”…And, God said, ”Out of your own household I am going to brink calamity on you”. The many chapters that follow depict a series of events that unfold in the house of David. His sons turn against him and against each other.  There is scheming and corruption. David flees his own son Absalom. There is bloodshed and grief. Eventually, however, David returns to Jerusalem after running from the chaos of his household. This is where we pick up: 1 Kings 1. Not only does God go on to allow David’s son, Solomon to establish and rule a strong kingdom, but He also allows him to be the the one who built God’s temple. Furthermore, it is through Solomon that Jesus comes. The very same Jesus who will return again to establish His kingdom here on earth forever! WHAT a legacy. Isn’t that something? That God can take a man who came from such humble beginnings, who strayed into sin and committed murder and adultery… That God could choose such a man and make him part of the lineage of Jesus? That is such a picture of redemption. Reclaimed, rescued, saved or delivered. Those are all words for one who is redeemed. And that’s exactly what David was. Not only David, but truly, all of mankind. It is through Jesus that we are ALL offered salvation.  David’s life went from being anointed and being prepared, to running and then being appointed! He then fell from grace and ultimately he was redeemed. It’s a story arc that can look a lot like our own lives. In great detail, David’s life is documented. We can learn so much from it. We can see why heart posture is important. But most amazingly, we can see what redemption is offered by our good good Father.  He has that for anyone who asks for it. Today, I pray you’ll be encouraged by the life of David. By the highs and lows. By the twists and turns and the unexpected. Today, I pray you’ll remember God sees your heart. He knows the road you’re on. He offers redemption for the falls, and He offers blessing for the moments you say “yes” to Him.  Thank you to our sponsor! ⁠NIV Journal the Word Bible⁠ published by Zondervan. Visit your local Christian bookstore or⁠⁠ journaltheword.com⁠⁠ to find a beautiful edition!
Episode 60: The Life Of David - Fall From Grace
Oct 16 2023
Episode 60: The Life Of David - Fall From Grace
Have you ever been in a season of life where things seem to be going really well. So well that maybe, ever so subtly, you start to drift? You left the world of contentment and drifted dangerously into a state of…complacency. Maybe you’re leaning less on God because life seems to be pretty GOOD. There are no outstanding needs. No major stressors. No pressing concerns… In theory, that sounds great! But the reality is, if we aren’t careful, this can cause us to lose intimacy with God.  I hate to say it but people have a tendency to stop communicating with God when they feel secure in their circumstances. This has to grieve His heart. After all, a relationship shouldn’t be centered on circumstances..but rather, centered on the heart.. centered on love for one another. BUT since the fall of Adam…human nature tends to be self serving. The moment you take your eyes off of God and start living for self OR just living in complacency… that’s where the enemy slips his foot in the open door of your heart. THIS is what happened to David. This was the moment he fell into complacency and eventually..he fell from grace. Not only did David relegate his duties, but he became very comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that he had time for mid-afternoon naps, and inappropriate observations. Had he been out to war like he was supposed to be, he never would have noticed the beautiful Bathsheba. See? Complacency is a slippery slope. The following series of events lead David to have innocent blood on his hands. His decisions were self-serving rather than God led. Had his heart been on the Lord, the story wouldn’t have lead to such a fall.  There are a few things I want to point out in today’s story. It was a lot to read so I’ll only grab a few for consideration: One: David’s heart posture changed. He became complacent, losing intimacy with God which ultimately resulted in a path of sin and pain.  Two: David had someone in his life, (Nathan), who loved him enough and feared God enough to POINT OUT his own unjust behavior. This is a great reminder to us all to keep friends around us who love us, fear the Lord, and are willing to hold us accountable for poor choices.  Three: David Confesses that he sinned against God and God’s word. This is not to be overlooked. Redemption cannot come without confession and repentance.  And Four: God forgives David. But there is still a price to be paid for sin. Always. Sin can only lead to death. The difference here is that God will turn our mistakes into something Good. But he ONLY does this after repentance, a heart turned back to Him. Remember Romans 8:28 “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”  David was a good man. He was a man after God’s own heart. He was obedient to God and gave Him the glory. But even good men fall. Even good people make bad decisions. Not a single one of us are exempt. But here’s the good news. David repented for what he had done. He took ownership and asked God for forgiveness. He still paid a high price. God said his household would rebel against him.. and indeed.. in the chapters ahead, it does. But, David’s heart came back to God. He received forgiveness. At the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do that God won’t forgive. (Apart from blasphemy). David literally committed adultery and murder. God still forgave him. That’s not to say there wasn’t a price to pay, for that is a principle of sin. However, when handed back to God, there will also be redemption. And that, my friends, is where we will pick up next week on our last episode. As you go out this week, I pray you’ll remember this. God offers grace no matter what offense. No matter what YOUR fall from grace looked like or looks like now. You have only to repent.. invite Him back into it. Let Him turn it for the good. He wants that for you, and for us all.. I love y’all and I’ll catch you next week! Reference : 2 Samuel 11 and 12