God, I’m Ready To Get Out of “Just Nazareth”

Road sign city of Nazareth in IsraelDo you ever feel you are in “just Nazareth?

Jesus faithfully served at home in Nazareth for thirty years before being released into the call of God on His life. Nazareth was…”just Nazareth.” It was no special place. The city of Nazareth was a small and insignificant agricultural village in the time of Jesus. It had no trade routes, and was of little economic importance. It is believed that the population never exceeded 500 while Jesus lived there. It was “just Nazareth.”

In “just Nazareth,” Jesus most likely learned to be a carpenter’s helper since his earthy father Joseph was a carpenter. He learned to live in a family, and what it means to care for those in the household.  He learned to submit to parental authority. He learned how to be around regular, every day folks. He learned to do life. It was not wasted time.

When the time came, God said, “You’ve completed this assignment, and now it’s name to move from “just Nazareth.”  Jesus was released, and went about doing the work for which He was born, and fulfilled purpose.

We all have times we feel we are in “just Nazareth,” but rest assured that God uses these places to prepare us for our divine destiny.  Never despise “just Nazareth.”

“The Lord will work out his plans for my life…” – Psalm 138:8

Crushed By Life?

DwonAs I sat this morning, I felt overwhelmed by life, and what it can bring.

I spend a lot of time talking with women, ministering to women, teaching women, mentoring women and counseling women. Over the years that I have been doing this, I have met so many women who have been crushed by life. I am not talking about women with a little problem, but women who have been crushed, pulverized by life.

It can be crushing:
• To have been sexually abused by a father, grandfather or uncle.
• To have been abandoned by a husband who found someone he liked better.
• To not have enough money as a single woman trying to support a family.
• To be hurt deeply by church leaders.
• To suffer miscarriage and infertility.

If you are part of a women’s ministry or a small group, trust me when I say sitting beside you are women who are crushed by life.

Thank God that many churches are now offering groups to help women who have gone through divorce, abuse and other issues.  One friend recently told me of a group she and her husband have begun for people wounded by the church, to help them make a re-entry into the Body of Christ.

Thank God for these things.

As a woman who has known the crushing of life, I’m thankful for every time the Church stepped up to minister to me. Yet, I have learned something along the way. As a woman of God, I personally must learn the Word of God, believe the Word of God and act on the Word of God. The Church can’t do that for me.

Chances are slim that we won’t experience a life-crushing event.  It is part of the rhythm of life.  Yet, never has the intention of God been that we would accept Christ as Savior, sit on church pews for twenty years and remain crushed by life.

We can blame it on our churches. We can blame it on our pastors. We can blame it on our women’s ministries. We can blame our families.  (I have blamed them all, and then some!) It doesn’t really matter from whence came the crushing.

When life comes knocking hard and crushes us, we can cling to God and His Word. We can sing along with our favorite songs of worship. We can confess aloud the promises of God. Like the Psalmist, we can declare that we will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.  Not only can we do those things – we MUST do those things.  When we do this, something supernatural happens. I can’t even explain it because it is SUPERNATURAL. As we sing, as we cry out to God, as we confess His Word, God comes down and touches woes and turns them to wows. It is not always instantaneous, but He does bring healing and hope.

Are you crushed by life? Life will always have seasons where we are hard pressed on every side. Yet in the crushing moments, God’s power will prevail. He is the God who can change water into wine, and He is the God who can change woes into wows.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9


The Applause of Heaven

maxresdefaultAs I got on an airplane in Portland, Maine, I was happy to be headed home. While it was a great, great weekend of ministry, I can still say there is no place like home.

The first leg of my journey was to Baltimore, Maryland, where there would be a brief layover. Just before landing, our flight attendant made an announcement. On board was a young soldier who was returning home after a deployment in the middle east. In honor of his service, he would be allowed to deplane first. After the door of the plane was opened, the soldier was asked to stand and disembark while we kept our seats. None of us knew that the young man was seated in the back of the aircraft.

As he began walking forward, applause broke out on the airplane. The applause continued as he walked all the way down the aisle, with people saying, thank you for your service. Thank you! I will admit a tear welled up in my eye as I watched the young man come by with a tear in his eye.

Then, another tear or two fell, as I recalled that one day I will take such a walk. One day I shall take my final flight, and it will be from earth to heaven. When I do, and as I walk through the portals of glory, I want the applause of heaven. I want to hear, “Well done, Barbara Benton!”

It is my pleasure to serve the Lord Jesus Christ! I am so thankful for the call on my life, and I want to fulfill that call. I love being a wife, mother, grandmother and friend, but my highest calling is that of servant of God.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” – Matthew 25:23

Ho Hum – It’s The Monday After Easter

day-after-easterIs Easter over? I mean it is the day after – it is Monday. We’ve packed our churches, hunted Easter eggs, sliced the ham, eaten Cadbury eggs, dressed in vibrant colors, and hailed the resurrection of the Lord as the greatest day in the history of the Church and the world. For many Easter is now over, and it’s time move to the next thing.

How easy it is to move from Easter Sunday to an ordinary Monday, living life as if the resurrection was just an event! We’ll ask others how their Easter was, and then move on to the weather, politics, work, the latest TV show and how irritated we are with people.
Too often we are unaware of the significance of all that we heard and celebrated the previous day. We celebrated a risen Lord who now resides inside of us, giving us power to walk in this life. Yet, too many will continue to fight sin in their own strength, walk through life as if they walk alone, and battle a nagging fear of death and even a fear of life. The resurrection will fade into the white noise of life, making no noticeable impact.

We are not sure what the disciples did on the Monday after Easter. Perhaps they stayed together celebrating the news of the resurrection. Perhaps they laughed, worshiped and Easter joy flooded their day. Maybe they kept a low profile in case soldiers or other religious leaders were looking for them. Perhaps they sat around having conversations trying to piece together exactly what occurred. We can’t be certain of anything that happened on Monday, but we can be certain of one thing: their lives were never the same. The men who had been so timid and fearful were now brave and courageous. They became emboldened to preach the good news, live the good news and in many cases, die for the good news. Easter changed their lives!

Let it be the same for you and me! Do not allow the day after Easter to take away the power, encouragement, hope and celebration that was experienced yesterday. The tomb is still empty and no matter what Monday brings, Jesus is still alive! As you face today, this week and the future, keep the empty tomb at the forefront of your thoughts. There is still real power, hope, victory and confidence because of a risen Savior.

As I reflected on Easter this morning, I found myself asking God to make me soil for the resurrected life of Christ to begin to germinate, grow, come forth. Oh God, break up the ground of my heart and plow me deep, deeper than I have ever been. I long to let the power of new life work within me. God, I don’t want Easter to be an just an event in life, but an event that changed my life.

Don’t let today be the Monday after Easter. Let today be the day that the empty tomb empowered you to be a victorious child of God. Easter is not over, and never will be.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.” – Romans 8:11 (NLT)


God Sometimes “Good Fridays” Our Lives

 Good Friday is the day we commemorate the day that Jesus laid down His life, finishing the course that God GoodFRidayhad set before Him. At the time His disciples did not fully understand what was happening. To them it seemed like “bad” Friday. Some were disillusioned, others were angry, some were afraid. We have the Bible to explain it to us, but they were living it in real time. It wasn’t until later down the line that they understood why it happened, and how God put it all together.

Such is life for us sometimes. When we are walking with God in real time, we don’t always understand what we are facing in the moment. He clearly brought this back to my memory recently. I was reminded of a disappointing event several years back. It just didn’t work out the way I thought, and my real time made little sense. Recently, events have unfolded that let me know that I was right in the center of His plan – not my plan, but HIS plan.  Thank God that He “Good Fridayed” my life at that point.

Some times God has to “Good Friday” in our lives.  He lets something die, or takes it down a path we did not anticipate. In those times it seems like “bad” Friday. God is at work and when we look back, often we see see that bad Friday was really Good Friday.