Laura Zielke

JESUS. That man got a hold of my heart when I was a little girl and changed my life forever. He set a path before me which I have followed for more than forty years. His purpose has been my compass, and the journey? Well, it’s been a challenge for me. I have vacillated between bravery and cowardice, certainty and indecision, victory and defeat. But God? He’s been faithful. Never changing. Always with me. Ever for me. And He continues to work all things out for my good. #amazing

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28, NKJV

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I’m a Bible nerd. 🙂 

Whether it’s historical narrative, Hebrew poetry, prophecy, gospel, or pastoral letters, I’m passionate about studying the Scriptures in context and sharing what I’ve learned with others. I like to prepare my lessons from scratch, because I enjoy digging into the meaning behind the words, as well as the cultural and historical context in which the words were written. In-depth, exegetical study is part of my spiritual DNA. Over the years, I’ve learned to rely on the Holy Spirit for spiritual insight, understanding, and application both during my research and while I am teaching, because it’s HIS word! He is faithful to accomplish exceedingly abundantly more with my lesson than I can fathom on my own.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire 
and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

The following section contains a lot of background information from my life. The reason I share all of this is not to impress you with my accomplishments, because it’s all filthy rags. I’m sharing this with you so you can see that God can use anyone to do anything. It’s all for HIS glory, not mine.

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CHILDHOOD: My parents instilled in me a love God and His Word. Together, they faithfully served the Lord in full-time pastoral ministry for 48 years before “retiring” in 2012. (They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.) I was the oldest of their four children (including a set of twins), and we were at the church every time the door was open. Mom was my Sunday School teacher for the first ten years of my life (at least), and Dad was my pastor from until I moved away to college and when I moved home from seminary. We talked about God a lot, and when we would go for long drives, we’d play “20 Questions”—but it had to be something from the Bible. This game increased my interest in lesser-known people, places, and events—anything to stump my dad!

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EDUCATION: Educated in public school all the way through, I was blessed to have a variety of teachers who fostered in me a love of learning. After high school, I attended California Baptist College (now University) where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with almost a minor in Philosophy. Honors & Awards: Outstanding Female Religion Major (first recipient); American Bible Society Award for Excellence in Greek; Excellence in Writing.

Upon graduation from college, I moved to Kansas City, Missouri where I earned my Master of Divinity degree (magna cum laude) from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in their “Correlated Program.” This was an honors program set-up for students who had majored in Religion in college; it allowed me to completely customize my graduate program to focus on Biblical Studies, Greek, and Archaeology. During my last year at MBTS, I was able to travel to the Holy Land and see firsthand the places I’d studied all my life. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Honors & Awards: Wanda J. Keetly Award (presented to one outstanding graduate); Theological Field Education Award for Excellence in Ministry under Supervision; Certificate of Appreciation for service as Student Body President.

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MARRIAGE & FAMILY: Twenty years ago, I met the love of my life on the internet (America Online). We were both “older” and neither of us had ever been married before, so we individually decided to try an online forum for Christian singles and found each other. We chatted online and then on the phone, met in person, long-distance dated, and were married all within three months. After struggling with infertility, we were blessed with our one and only son: the joy of our lives.

Although we never intended to homeschool, a unique set of circumstances collided, and we brought our son home for the second grade. Then, one year at a time, God increased our enjoyment of and clarified our vision for home education. This year, we start homeschooling high school. Yikes!

My husband is an I.T. systems analyst and has a great eye for photography. (Click here to see his latest project: Churches.) John is my biggest encourager, strongest supporter, and closest friend. He’s also the main reason I have a podcast! Our “little boy” is now taller than both of us with a deep voice and hairy legs! When did that happen? He loves God, reading, modding (Minecraft), acting, and playing the piano.

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MINISTRY: Throughout my adult life, I’ve been blessed to serve people of all ages and ethnicities as a youth minister, Bible Study leader, Sunday School teacher, and small group lay pastor. One of my favorite positions was teaching high school level classes for a couple years at a private Christian school in Nevada. My goal has always been to remain open to whatever the Lord has in store for me to do, because I know that whatever it is, He will help me through it. It’s all about Him.

While in seminary, I was extremely blessed to have the opportunity to create and establish the Complementary Education Program (CEP), an introductory theological education program for student spouses. I taught some of the classes, scheduled guest speakers, and recruited, trained and supervised other ministerial students who would teach the classes moving forward. This program was eventually replicated at each of the Southern Baptist seminaries, and continues to this day (somewhat revised from its original purpose) under a different name: W.I.S.D.O.M.

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BUSINESS EXPERIENCE: I’ve been self-employed as a graphics and website designer since 1997. Being self-employed has allowed me to stay home with our son, and for that benefit alone, I am eternally grateful.

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HOBBIES: I enjoy traveling across America with my family, reading non-fiction books, scrapbooking, making DVD slideshows for family events, and penguins. Penguins make me happy! Also, if it weren’t for Diet Coke®, I don’t think I would have made it this far in life. (I’ve been drinking it since it was invented.) #notacoffeeperson #dietcokeismycaffeine

SURRENDER: I am in awe at God’s ability to coordinate my life according to His plan. It seems that wherever He places me—and whatever it is He is asking me to do—everything I’ve ever done up to that point in my life has prepared me for that particular opportunity. I never know what God’s got in store for me next, but I don’t need to know. His surprises always exceed my expectations.

When I’m being “pruned” for personal growth, He still blesses me. When life “sucker-punches” me in the gut, kicking me when I’m down, He stands me back up, dusts me off, and gives me strength for another day. When everything’s moving along quite swimmingly, He keeps me humble.

Here’s what I know for sure: God placed a calling on my life when I was nine years old at church camp. He called me into full-time service, and although it’s never looked like I thought it would, one thing remains crystal clear to me: When you’re called, you’re called. You can’t be un-called. It’s in your bones.

But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
(Jeremiah 20:9)

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