Category Archives: Our Books

Come Follow Me: Stages of Maturity

This post is one of the entries from Jody’s upcoming book, “Come Follow Me,” a year-long devotional based on her popular video podcast of the same name, to be released in the fall of 2016 by Two Worlds Press. 

“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace,who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” ~ I Peter 5:10

Advancing through different stages of maturity is an ongoing theme in the scriptures.  The aged Apostle John, toward the end of his life and ministry, spoke to three distinct categories of believers: little children, young men, and fathers.(I John 2:12-14)  Little children need to know, and grow in the love of the Father.  Their focus needs to rest on all that was accomplished for them at salvation.  Young men, in need of endurance, must focus on overcoming the evil one; growing in all aspects unto Him, by the power of the Word of God abiding in them.  For fathers—it’s about knowing and being known by God.  Intimacy is the result of living  and walking from the life of the Indwelling Spirit.

God’s intention is to grow us through each of these stages as ‘sons’.  When He invites us into relationship, He desires to train us as ‘sons’.  He is also a God of the process, and takes up residence within—bearing His fruit through us.

Question: Do you see evidence of these three stages of believers around you?  Why is having all three around a sign of a spiritually healthy church?

Come Follow Me:  Be fruitful and Multiply

This post is one of the entries from Jody’s upcoming book, “Come Follow Me,” a year-long devotional based on her popular video podcast of the same name, to be released in the fall of 2016 by Two Worlds Press. 

“And the one on whom seed was shown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundred-fold, some sixty, and some thirty.” ~ Matthew 13:23

The DNA of creation is to be fruitful and multiply.  Built into the design of every plant is the ability to both flower and bear fruit. Carried within each seed is the complete replication of itself. Creator God built into the design of all life the ability to reproduce in its own likeness.

“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:27-28)

This command was given two times in the Old Testament.  First, in the creation story, when God entrusted the stewardship of His creation to Adam and Eve.  Then,  God gave it a second time, following the flood, when “God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1)

‘Be fruitful and multiply’ shows up in the New Testament as well.  In the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Minas ( Matthew 25:14-30,Luke 19:11-27), the Lord indicates that faithfulness in stewardship reaps an obedient harvest. In the Parable of the Soils, we are shown the obstacles to fruitfulness and the way to multiplication.  Then, the final words in the Gospel of Matthew: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Question: What talents has the Lord entrusted to you to ‘do business’ with until His return?

Come Follow Me: Deceived

This post is one of the entries from Jody’s upcoming book, “Come Follow Me,” a year-long devotional based on her popular video podcast of the same name, to be released in the fall of 2016 by Two Worlds Press. 

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” ~ James 1:16

There are three significant strategies of the evil one that have impacted the people of God for multiple centuries.  These strategies are so aligned with his wicked nature that his names correspond to each activity.  Satan is the ‘accuser’, and we are usually aware when he is whispering a charge against us.  He is also the ‘tempter, actively pursuing us with bait in hand.  We tend to recognize both of these attempts to war against us.  But with the third strategy, we are consistently oblivious to the manner of infiltration that the ‘deceiver’ has made in our lives.  When you are accused, you know it.  When you are tempted, you know it.  When you are deceived, you don’t see it, or it wouldn’t be a deception.  When we consider the topic of deception, we tend to focus on what comes out of our mouths, rather than what goes into our hearts.  Our focus on deception has been on what goes out rather than what goes in; when we are lying rather than when we are being lied to.

If we acknowledge the potency of deception, we tend to regard it as an INFECTION.  We know that it exists all around us, that we can be personally influenced, but that we can overcome.  Just like germs can introduce a virus into our systems, we believe lies only last for a season and we can easily escape their snare.  The reality is, that deception is much closer to something being IMBEDDED (cancer-like), and built into our very framework.  Deception is designed to lurk like a hidden IED (improvised explosive device), and explode with devastating consequences, at an unforeseen moment.

Jesus came to us as The Way, The Truth, and the Life.  He longs to lead us in these days by a narrow way that leads to Life.

Question: List three deceptions that are influencing the very foundation of our culture (these may not seem evil).

Come Follow Me: Wilderness Journey

This post is one of the entries from Jody’s upcoming book, “Come Follow Me,” a year-long devotional based on her popular video podcast of the same name, to be released in the fall of 2016 by Two Worlds Press. 

“Thy way O God is holy; What God is great like our God?  Thou art the God who workest wonders; Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.  Thou hast by Thy power redeemed Thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.”

~ Psalm 77:13-15

The wilderness was a time of testing and trial for Israel.  Born into slavery in Egypt, they were unaccustomed to the ways of the Lord.  The Father needed to reorient His people to Himself.

The stories of Israel’s forty year sojourn have numerous lessons for us today.  “For I don’t want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.  Now these things happened as examples for us; that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved…” (I Corinthians 10:1-6)

Hidden within the story of deliverance from Egypt, and the journey to the Promised Land, is our own redemption story.  There is a saying that goes:  The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.  When we read them, it is similar to the way we put a large puzzle together…continually looking for places that match.  The wilderness story is when God begins to retrain His people to ‘be led.’

Question: How has the Lord taught you to trust Him in the midst of a trial?

Saved? What’s it to Ya?

In the last few months we’ve been discussing the salvation message that many of us were raised with, namely that it is a very simple thing to “get saved.” I can’t remember how many times in conversation with people I have heard them say that they “said the words” in a prayer and, therefore, were saved and going to heaven. They staked their claim in the few square feet at the foot of the cross and expected to be able to live as they pleased until the trumpet sounded and then, by the strength of those words mumbled in prayer would be good to go.

Really? Is that was is required of the followers of Jesus? A few parroted words and we’re good to go with “the man upstairs”?

I’d like to recommend two resources that may be of help here. First, a sermon by one of our favorite preachers, Major Ian Thomas, and second, a book we published for a friend of ours called The Transforming Power of the Keys of the Kingdom – Rediscovering the Process of New Testament Conversion.

Announcement: Jody is Creating a Devotional

Come Follow MeYou may have been following Jody’s daily podcast in which she has been discussing walking in the Spirit. We’re excited to announce that we are adapting  that same material for a daily devotional, titled Come Follow Me to be published in the fall. We expect it to be a great gift idea for the coming year. We’ll keep you updated on her progress, as well as post random entries from the book so you can get a preview of what to expect from the book. Here’s one:

Living Blessed

“Behold, My servant Whom I have chosen; My Beloved in Whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”  ~ Matthew 12:18

In the Old Testament, at the end of a Patriarch’s life, they would extend a blessing to their children. Wrapped up in the words uttered, was a promise of benefit, an inclusion in the inheritance, and proclamation of identity.  It was a time when resources and role were transferred from one generation to another, and if you were the first-born, a double portion.

We read, in these stories, how sons manipulated in order to receive a better blessing than was their due, and how others received lesser benefit because of previous behavior.  Blessing established future well-being and reward, and sons lived their lives in order to be blessed.

On the day Jesus was baptized, and His public ministry began, the Father gave voice from heaven, and blessed the Son. “ And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Jesus lived from blessing rather than for it. The Father conferred His identity upon His Son, voiced His pleasure, and extended the Holy Spirit as a dove to rest upon Him.

He lived from that blessing into the darkest days of history….into the hours when He experienced the Father’s wrath against sin…right on into the Resurrection and Ascension.

Question: Do you consider it difficult to walk in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord?