Did you know that tuberculosis is the single biggest killer of young women worldwide? Over 900 million females, most between 15-45 years old are infected. One million will die and 2.5 million more will get sick this year. In some places, the stigma attached to TB leads to isolation, abandonment and divorce.
Did you know that every eight seconds a child dies from a water-related disease?
Does Jesus have anything to say about this?
For twelve years she had suffered. She had consulted with doctors and spent her entire fortune on their remedies – with no help to show. Now she was reduced to poverty and cut off from friends and family. Then she heard the wonderful news, Jesus had come to town.
“The Bleeding Woman and the Dying Daughter” is Chapter 2 in our new book The Women Jesus Loved. Why does the world neglect women and little girls? The world is desperately in need of a fresh look at Jesus’ treatment of women. The Women Jesus Loved is one such look.
Each chapter is filled with cultural and historical details that make the biblical stories come alive. Reflection and discussion questions will cause you to examine your own life and learn more about Jesus’ deep love for you.
Listen to this story here:
Did you know that 200,000 Nepali women and girls have been kidnapped or sold by destitute parents into India’s brothels and 12-14,000 more are trafficked each year? Why does the world treat women and little girls this way? The world is desperately in need of a fresh look at Jesus’ treatment of women. The Women Jesus Loved is one such look.
Chapter One tells the story of “The Woman Who Wept at His Feet” and it begins this way:
She stood at the edge of the crowd. She had heard about Jesus, his miracles and his teaching, and she desperately wanted to see and hear him. She had so much she needed to say, so much to tell about her life, and so many questions to ask, but what chance did she have of ever getting close enough to talk with him and have him speak personally to her? And if she did, what would she say? More importantly, what would Jesus say to her for the way she had lived?
Listen to Stories of The Master episode “The Women Who Wept at His Feet”
Shame, sin, revulsion, guilt, hopelessness, and mercy. You can read her story in its entirety and other stories in our newest book, The Women Jesus Loved – an imaginative and biblically-based exploration of familiar stories in the New Testament where Jesus interacted with women.
Here is what one reader has said:
The Women Jesus Loved drew on my heart strings like no other. I was drawn into each woman’s struggle, desperation, and plight that in many ways is still being fought today. Each story was told with such detail and emotion, a story of the faith of women and how their faith moved Jesus, the real Jesus, the one who loved and still loves and cherishes women. Jesus’ compassion for women is just as stunning today as it was 2000 years ago! Thank you, Jonathan, for sharing this truth with us!
– Judi Noble Executive Director-Eagle’s Wings
The Women Jesus Loved will be released mid February. Pre-ordered copies are limited, order yours today.
A trendy discussion, and belief, for some people is that Jesus loved and married Mary Magdalene. This has been unfortunate for two reasons.
First, there is no historical evidence for such a marriage. None! Zero! A recent, “spectacular manuscript find” that talked about Jesus’ wife and that received much press turned out to be a modern hoax.
But second, something much more serious is at stake – the revolutionary attitude and actions of Jesus toward women has been obscured. In a world filled with men who have treated and continue to treat women as second-class citizens at best and as objects of pleasure or property at worst, Jesus stands apart. Jesus loved women with the liberating love of God.
This month we are releasing our latest book – The Women Jesus Loved – an imaginative and biblically-based exploration of familiar stories in the New Testament where Jesus interacted with women. The fact that he interacted with them at all was astonishing in his time, but the way in which he spoke with them, the mercy he gave, and the importance he bestowed upon them revealed a message the world needed to hear and still needs to hear – God loves women as much as he loves men, and women are equally valuable in his eyes and must be treated with equal respect and honor.
For those familiar with the stories of Jesus, this will not come as a surprise and hardly seem revolutionary. But if we could time-travel back to the ancient world or even transport ourselves to some parts of our world, we would find Jesus’ attitude toward women a bold departure from many cultural and religious norms.
This is what the world needs to hear because the way the world treats women and little girls is shocking, depressing, and alarming. Here is just one fact: 50,000 little girls are domestic servants in Morocco and some of them are made to work 16 hours a day, sleep on the floor, and eat only scraps. Why does the world treat women and little girls this way?
Many things can and must be done about this and the multitude of other evils that are inflicted upon women and little girls. The most important is that the world must take a fresh look at Jesus. The Women Jesus Loved is one such look. The stories in this book are taken from my larger list of stories that I call Stories of the Master, my retelling of the story of Jesus and the stories he told using historical and cultural details that we modern people often miss, but details which make the stories come alive.
My prayer for all who read is that they would see Jesus with fresh eyes and come to experience his saving love just as the women in these stories did.
My prayer also is that God would use this book to liberate women – and men – from the suffering and slaveries that still exist in the world today.
The book will be released mid February. You can pre-order your copy today.
Kathy and I had no idea in 2005 that God would use us to change a man and his family in Mazatlan, Mexico. We flew to this beautiful seaside city on the Pacific side of Mexico in July of 2005, looking forward to a week of rest and fun as we thanked God for our first year of marriage.
Early in the week, I was sitting under a cabana on the beach reading my Bible when a young Mexican man approached me.
He asked me what I was reading and we began talking about the Word of God. He told me he had just attended church that past Sunday and was seeking to get his life right with God. Drugs and immorality had characterized his life and left him empty. He knew he needed Christ in his life.
That week, Kathy and I met with him on three occasions and on another occasion took his family out to dinner. Our relationship became very deep, very quick. Even after we left, we stayed in touch and marveled as he found a local church, was baptized, and began witnessing to friends and family members. Over the next two years he and his wife grew in Christ and then he felt compelled to be a pastor.
He attended All Nations Seminary in Juarez, Mexico where they lived for three years during the height of the violence in that city. Many times as he would drive to church in the city on a Sunday with his wife and children, he would tell them to close their eyes so they would not see dead bodies on the road. On another occasion the drug violence was headed in the direction of the seminary when the President gathered all the students in the chapel to pray. They prayed until 3:30am. No one ever set foot on seminary grounds to harm anyone. God protected the seminary and Antonio graduated from his class with highest honors.
After graduation, Jesus Antonio returned to his home church in Mazatlan, Mexico. He was officially ordained as a pastor. Now, instead of delivering drugs, he delivers the Word of God!
The first Christmas wasn’t quite so merry. It wasn’t a Hallmark card. Have we really thought about what happened?
It began with old Zacharias and his aged wife Elizabeth. Godly? Yes. Loving God and his people? Yes. But also disappointed. They had no child and their time had passed.
It continued with a young virgin in Nazareth of Galilee. Nazareth? Can any good thing come from Nazareth – a small backward village in the hills of Galilee, never important, never a destination for anyone of note? She received word that she would become the virgin-bearing mother of Messiah, and believed. How wonderful! But not everyone believed.
She told Joseph and his heart broke. How could Mary be unfaithful to him? Discussions with the rabbi, decisions to be made. Should Mary be stoned? His beloved? No, he would quietly send her away, to another Jewish community in the ancient world where she would bear her shame quietly. Mary, helpless, pure, innocent, and completely dependent upon God to vindicate her.
Then, a 75 mile donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for Roman taxes. Why won’t the Romans just leave them alone and leave the land? Their swords and hunger for hard-earned Jewish money were everywhere.
Shepherds watching their flocks at night. Appearances of angels. A baby’s cry in Bethlehem. Presenting Jesus in the temple with a poor man’s sacrifice of doves. Then words of praise. An old man, Simeon saying, “He is the One.” An old prophetess Anna shouting for joy in the Temple and pointing others to him. It was time to leave Jerusalem. They were too close to Herod’s palace for such things to be said out loud.
Finally, peace and quiet. Things settling down. Perhaps it was time to return to Nazareth – a slow, peaceful leisurely journey back home would be welcome. But then strangers from the east with a different language and thick accents stopping in Jerusalem and asking questions about a new king being born, and Herod is very interested.
Cunning, deception, plots, and preparation for murder. Herod schemes and waits as the worshipers of the East present their gifts to the Child. More deception – the Magi take a different route home and do not return to Herod. He is enraged.
“Mary! Joseph! Quickly! Take the Child and flee!” the angel says.
A journey in the middle of the night. Rumors of soldiers approaching. Hiding in the dark. The long road exile in Egypt for holy family begins. But weeping is in Bethlehem. Mothers weeping for their children who are no more.
This was the first Christmas. Not Hallmark cards, not snow angels, not pretty lights. But appearances of angels, miraculous conceptions, scandalous rumors, surprised shepherds, prophecies in the temple, travelers from a foreign land, deranged tyrants, and staying one step ahead of death.
This is the world into which the Savior was born. It is the greatest story ever told. It is still being told. Its story continues through us as we take his word to a world full of evil and darkness and shine his light upon the darkness. Deranged tyrants still fume and plot and murder. Angels still fight. People still doubt. God uses old men and women, and young men and women. He works in obscure villages like Nazareth and mighty cities like Jerusalem. And through it all he brings his kingdom which will prevail over all the kingdoms of the world.
The victory of the gods of Babylon was complete. The Jews were enslaved and the images of Bel, Marduk, Enlil, and Ishtar stared down in mockery at them and their weak god, Yahweh, who could not stand the onslaught of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. The gates to the great city slammed shut and God’s beleaguered people were hurried along for processing.
Then, one Jew broke away from the rest – his name was Seriah. He walked with defiance to the River Euphrates which flowed through the heart of the city, pulled a secret scroll he had been hiding in his satchel, and began reading. He started quietly at first. His words seemed ridiculous and the Babylonians howled at the spectacle. But then he remembered the instructions from the prophet Jeremiah.
When you come to the City, go to the River,
And shout the scroll where people drink.
Tie a rock to the parchment, then throw it in,
Just so shall Babylon not rise again,
Just so shall the Queen of cities sink.
With each sentence, the derision and laughter of the Babylonians grew. This foolish Jew must be mad! Were not his people just conquered? Jerusalem lay in ruins, the temple and the great houses burned to the ground, the city gates and walls demolished. Was not mighty Babylon the queen of the world and the power of all powers?
But Seraiah’s faith held fast. With each word his voice grew firmer and more convincing as he read the words Jeremiah had penned and entrusted to him.
“Declare and proclaim among the nations.
Proclaim it and lift up a standard.
Do not conceal it but say,
‘Babylon has been captured,
Bel has been put to shame, Marduk has been shattered;
Her images have been put to shame, her idols have been shattered.’
“In those days and at that time,” declares the Lord, “the sons of Israel will come,
both they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go,
and it will be the Lord their God they will seek.
They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction;
they will come that they may join themselves to the Lord
in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”
Seriah finished Jeremiah’s words. He rolled up the scroll, tied a rock to it and flung it to the Euphrates, the scroll and rock rising high and far in a perfect arch, then descending toward the water with great speed. Everyone watched as the scroll, for a moment rested on the river, and then the weight of the rock carried it to the depths never to be seen or read from again. Seriah turned and looked at the people of Babylon who had become quiet, and then he returned to his people to await the fulfillment of the word of the Lord.
Against all odds, 47 years later, the Queen of the earth, Babylon, was destroyed, and the little band of people made their way back to Jerusalem, to rebuild and to wait for the Messiah.
Against all odds! Is this not what it means to walk by faith? To trust God’s word when everything around says something else? Is this not what the prophets, the apostles, and our Lord supremely, did – to keep walking forward, trusting in God’s word when everyone and everything else was screaming the opposite?
Against all odds Jesus came when the mightiest empire of them all, Rome, ruled the land. Against all odds he proclaimed God’s empire. Against all odds, he entrusted himself to his Father as he descended into death. Against all odds he rose again from the dead and against all odds he was enthroned at the right hand of God, the rightful ruler of heaven and earth, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus said.
You and I are to walk by faith, just like Jeremiah wrote his scroll by faith and Seriah read it by faith by the banks of the Euphrates River and in the face of its false gods. You and I are called to walk by faith like the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus.
Against all odds you and I are called to write, to read, to live, to love, to serve the kingdom of God in the face of mighty empires and mighty movements that array themselves against the Lord and his Anointed.
Whether your problem is big or small, whether it pertains to reaching people with the Gospel of the Kingdom in countries where it is dangerous to name the name of Jesus or just getting through today’s challenges in our country, you and I are called to walk by faith against all odds.
And if your faith begins to falter, remember Seraiah’s Secret Scroll and the river into which it descended. God’s words do come true.
Word of God, Speak!
The story of Seraiah’s Secret Scroll can be read in Jeremiah 51:59-64. Jeremiah’s words against Babylon can be read in their entirety in Jeremiah 50:1-51:58.
I came home from a storytelling workshop last night not knowing that a play with an important point for God’s people would be enacted right in front of me. The actors in this great play – my cat – Lucy, my dog – Nigel, my wife wife – Kathy, and me!
I had just settled onto the couch by Kathy, expecting a peaceful ending to what had been a pleasant evening. I shared about the workshop and we talked about our day, but the cries, the yelling, of our cat Lucy at the window would not stop.
“Kathy, did you feed Lucy tonight?”
“Yes I fed her. I don’t know what her problem is.”
On and on it went. Finally, our ever vigilant Nigel asked to go outside to investigate and in a few minutes we heard him growling and yelling in the same area. Kathy thought he might be yelling at a possum and ran out to protect him only to discover he was standing at Lucy’s food dish and yelling at the cat who had been yelling at me!
“Nigel, stop that. That’s your sister Lucy. That’s her food.”
She picked him up and brought him in scolding him for his selfishness. But the yelling in my house didn’t stop. Lucy was soon at the window again, yelling. Nigel went to the window and yelled back and this time I decided to investigate.
I looked at Lucy’s dish. Something was wrong. The food pellets were too big. Then I yelled, with laughter. “Kathy, you gave Lucy the wrong food! You gave her Nigel’s food!”
Lucy had been yelling at me because she wanted her food. Nigel had been yelling at Lucy because she had his food. Kathy had been yelling at Nigel for yelling at Lucy but he was protecting his own. And then we yelled with delight and fun at what we had just lived, all because of the wrong food.
The wrong food – it produces yelling – and a lot of other unhealthy practices and consequences in our lives and in our churches. God told Jeremiah, “The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has my word speak my word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain, says the Lord.”
Indeed, what does straw have in common with grain? Man’s words and dreams are straw. God’s word and his vision for the world is wholesome grain. What are we putting in our spiritual food dishes? What are we pastors giving our flocks? What are we consuming each day – straw or grain? Are we eating the wrong food, or the true food that God provides?
Word of God, Speak!
Today is a historic day for the Heaven & Home Hour. We are beginning our first international broadcast in the country of Albania! Several months ago we began our weekly broadcast Stories of the Master in Albania. Today our daily broadcast begins.
Albania is a country of 3.1 million people. The country was ravaged by the policies of communism in the 20th century and is still in recovery. The country is also close to 60% Muslim. Please pray that God would use our broadcast mightily to build up the Church, reach the lost for Christ, and bring healing to this needy land.
None of this would have been possible without partners like you and the generous gifts from listeners around the world. We are humbled and grateful you chose to be part of this exciting project.
Listen for yourself to this amazing expansion for the Heaven & Home Hour.
You can learn more about partnering with us, right here.
A little over a month ago, the government of Pakistan declared a holiday, a day for Muslims to show their love and honor for the prophet Mohammed. Many were surprised that rioting broke out. Seventeen people were killed. But this should not be a surprise. In a culture that highly values honor and abhors shameful acts, it is the right thing to stand up for the honor of a family member, a clan member, or one’s spiritual leader. And, in such a culture, acts of violence are sometimes necessary to exact revenge and to restore the honor or one’s family, clan, or religion.
This would also be an honorable act for a Muslim because he would be following in the footsteps of the prophet who took up the sword and went to war for the honor of Allah. Mohammed did, after all, command that men who left Islam should be killed. And he even ordered that those who wrote poems criticizing him be killed. When he was on his deathbed, because one of his wives poisoned him, Mohammed said, “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians, for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets.”
But I would like to suggest that Muslims have a day to honor and love the prophet Isa (Jesus). And in order to honor him, you must follow in his footsteps. What did Isa do? Well, according to the Bible and the Quran he acted in mercy towards others. We learn that he forgave sinners. He gave sight to the blind. He cured lepers. He released people from evil spirits.
The prophet Isa defined his mission in this way (Injil Luke 4:18-19)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
But the greatest example was when he was on his deathbed. Well, it actually wasn’t a “death bed.” It wasn’t a bed of comfort at all. He was hanging on a Roman cross and he had nails in his hands and in his feet to hold him there. But here is what he said about those who crucified him, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Injil Luke 23:34).
We have had a day to remember Mohammed’s example and many have followed it. Many have remembered his final words. Let’s have a day to remember the example of the prophet Isa and to remember his final words. And the best way to remember him is to follow his example of love.
If you want to learn more about this Jesus, I invite you to listen to Stories of the Master where you can learn about his life, his works, and his words.
To any Muslim friends who may come across these words, I want to encourage you to read the words of the Prophet Isa – the one we call Jesus. You can read his words in the Holy Injil.
Jesus was often insulted and he told his disciples that they would be insulted too. He said in John 15:18-20,
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
So Jesus very plainly and clearly told his followers they should expect insults and persecutions just as he received it. But how were they to respond to the insults? He told them two things:
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
Second, he said,
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36)
My Muslim friends, you say that you believe Isa is a prophet? Then I encourage you to read his words and follow his teaching!