Let the Journey Begin!

family mattersThere is one reason—and only one reason—that I have this website: It’s to share HOPE with you. Whether you believe in God or not, you’re here on this page right now, and I’m glad about that. 🙂

So, why not grab a beverage of your choice (I’ll have a Diet Coke), and let me tell you a little bit about my source of HOPE: God, the One spoken of in the Bible.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

You see, I love the LORD: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Lydia. I believe at one point in the history of the universe, God gave a part of Himself to become human and walk on planet Earth just like you and me: to experience His creation as One created and to show us how to live.

This God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, lived a perfect life modeling acceptance, love, humility, and strength. He compassionately embraced the humble while passionately confronting a corrupt and misguided religious establishment. He healed the sick and gave hope to the hopeless. (He still does that today, by the way!)

He taught with authority, helping people understand the intent of the Law, and those who heard Jesus were amazed at how He handled Himself. But make no mistake: His presence was divisive. They either loved Him or hated Him. There really wasn’t much space in between. (Kinda like today.)

He lived His life in perfect surrender to a bigger plan. When the time was right, He revealed that He was indeed God in the flesh, and He was condemned to die—first by the religious leaders, then by the Roman government. And while I’ll never understand why it had to be such a cruel death (crucifixion), the eyewitness accounts of the crucifixion make it very clear that He died on that cross. He was all dead.

His followers removed His body from the cross, quickly prepped it for burial (due to the imminent onset of Sabbath and a national holiday), and laid it in a tomb: a tomb sealed shut by a third party. Their plan was to come back after Sabbath to finish the preparations, but when the women arrived, the sealed tomb was already opened, and Jesus’ body was gone. He had risen from the dead! This was the first and only time in HISTORY that ANYONE had risen himself or herself from the dead, and this happened exactly as He predicted (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34).

Some think that’s where the story ends, but it was totally NOT the end. In fact, this was the beginning! Jesus’ death and resurrection created a bridge between humanity and God that had never existed before: a bridge of HOPE.

Not long after His resurrection, Jesus the One and Only—limited by space and time due to being fully human—ascended transformed and sent us a very special gift: the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, limited by neither space nor time, came upon each of Jesus’ followers who had believed the Truth. The Spirit empowered them to spread the Good News throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, throughout the Roman Empire, and beyond. And this exact same Spirit continues to do this exact same work even today!

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The Holy Spirit functions in our lives like an inner compass, a filter, a guide, a giver of inspiration, and a lifelong companion who will guide your feet along the right path. The Holy Spirit is NOT an inner control freak! He won’t make you do something you don’t want to do: You are responsible for your own actions. You are the one with the freedom to choose and the ability to act on that choice. And when you need guidance, comfort, inspiration, creativity, peace in the midst of a storm, an ever-present help in time of trouble, discernment, and so much more, the Holy Spirit is there for you…and is FOR you.

In addition to the Holy Spirit, God gave us another gift: the written Word (the Bible). The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books written over hundreds of years by a variety of writers from all walks of life. The more I study the Bible, the more I am in awe at God’s goodness. He tucked so much of Himself in the words on the page that it’s literally full of LIFE. It’s incredible to me how I can read the same passage of Scripture that I had previously read a number of times, and get something new out of it—completely applicable to my present situation. God is awesome, and His Word is always relevant!

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

When I study the Scriptures, I take my time. I’m not in a hurry. I like to dig deep into the history, languages, and culture to understand what the authors intended to say, and to apply it to my life. And I love sharing what I’ve learned with others. In fact, I’m passionate about empowering individuals to discover and live out their unique purpose in life, to get to know God better, and to follow His will for their lives.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As I stated at the top of this page, I love the LORD. And I think what shocks me more than anything else about Him is that after all I’ve done, He still loves me! He loves me so much that He knows what is going on in my life and where I’m headed. He wants to have a personal relationship with me. You know what? He loves you, too. He wants to have a personal relationship with you, too! He really does.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted;

Anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

(John 3:16-18, The Message)

If you’re ready to take a step of faith—to give God a chance—to change your life, then you need to know that God is ready and waiting for you to take action.

Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” (Romans 10:9-13, The Message)

It’s as simple as that: You call out to God, and He answers—probably not audibly— with a new sense of peace in your heart. For real! The presence of the Holy Spirit is unmistakable! The old has gone. The new has come. And your life will never be the same.

What’s next? Celebration! It’s time to let someone know you’ve made a change, and I’d love to be among the first to celebrate with you! Send me an email & share the good news: info@laurazielke.com. I’d be honored to send you some free resources to help you get started in this new phase of your life. 🙂

Recently, God laid it on my heart to pray every day at Noon EDT for our country’s leaders, and to get as many people as I can to join the cause. So, I launched “Pray at 12™” (www.prayat12.com). Every day, people all over the United States and the world are joining for one purpose: to pray for our country. Please consider joining us, as this upcoming election will have important ramifications for not only our country, but people of faith all over the world.

Follow us at: @prayat12 (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr) and @prayat12usa (Twitter).