fbpx
mm

About Kirsten Holmberg

Kirsten Holmberg is a speaker, author, and coach based in the Pacific Northwest. She’s the author of Advent with the Word: Approaching Christmas Through the Inspired Language of God and several Bible studies. She speaks regularly at business, church, and community events, encouraging others to step closer to Jesus and better know His love for them through His Word. Find her online at www.kirstenholmberg.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@kirholmberg).

Both Are True

By |2022-11-12T01:33:02-05:00November 12th, 2022|

After three decades, Feng Lulu was reunited with her birth family. As a toddler, she was kidnapped while playing outside her house, but through the help of All-China Women’s Federation, she was finally located. Because she was so young when she was abducted, Feng Lulu doesn’t remember it. She grew up believing she’d been sold because her parents couldn’t afford to keep her, so learning the truth surfaced many questions and emotions.

When Joseph was unexpectedly reunited with his brothers, it’s likely he experienced some complex emotions. He’d been sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt as a young man. Despite a series of painful twists and turns, God propelled Joseph to a position of authority. When his brothers came to Egypt to buy food during a famine, they—unwittingly—sought it from him.

Joseph acknowledged to his brothers that God redeemed their wrongdoing, saying He used it to “save [their] lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7). Yet Joseph doesn’t mince words or redefine their hurtful actions toward him—he described them accurately as “selling [him]” (v. 5).

We sometimes try to put an overly positive spin on difficult situations, focusing on the good God brings from them without acknowledging the emotional struggle. Let’s take care not to redefine a wrong as being good simply because God redeemed it: we can look for Him to bring good from it while still recognizing the hardship and pain wrongdoing causes. Both are true.

Self-Control in God’s Strength

By |2022-10-08T02:33:03-04:00October 8th, 2022|

A 1972 study known as the “marshmallow test” was developed to gauge children’s ability to delay gratification of their desires. The kids were offered a single marshmallow to enjoy but were told if they could refrain from eating it for ten minutes, they’d be given a second one. About a third of the children were able to hold out for the larger reward (another third gobbled it up within thirty seconds!).

We might struggle to show self-control when offered something we desire, even if we know it would benefit us more in the future to wait. Yet Peter urges us to “add to [our] faith” many important virtues, including self-control (2 Peter 1:5–6). Having laid hold of faith in Jesus, Peter encourages his readers—and us—to continue to grow in goodness, knowledge, perseverance, godliness, affection, and love “in increasing measure” as evidence of that faith (v. 8).

While these virtues don’t earn us God’s favor nor secure our place in heaven, they demonstrate—to ourselves as well as to all those with whom we interact—our need to exercise self-control as God provides the wisdom and strength to do so. And, best of all, He’s “given us everything we need [to live] a godly life,” one that pleases Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 3).

Choose Wisely

By |2022-09-25T02:33:16-04:00September 25th, 2022|

Astronaut Chris Ferguson made a difficult decision as the commander of the flight crew scheduled for a journey to the International Space Station. But that decision didn’t have anything to do with the mechanics of flight or the safety of his fellow astronauts. Instead, it pertained to what he considers his most important work: his family. Ferguson opted to keep his feet planted firmly on Earth in order to be present for his daughter’s wedding.

We all face difficult decisions at times—decisions that cause us to evaluate what matters most to us in life, because one option comes at the expense of the other. Jesus aimed to communicate this truth to His disciples and a crowd of onlookers regarding life’s most important decision—to follow Him. To be a disciple, He said, would require them to “deny themselves” in order to walk with Him (Mark 8:34). They might have been tempted to spare themselves the sacrifices required of following Christ and instead seek their own desires, but He reminded them it would come at the price of that which matters much more. 

We’re often tempted to pursue things that seem of great value, yet they distract us from following Jesus. Let’s ask God to guide us in the choices we face each day so we’ll choose wisely and honor Him.

When We Gather Together

By |2022-09-01T02:33:11-04:00September 1st, 2022|

Denmark is among the happiest countries in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. The Danes weather their lengthy, dark winters by gathering with friends to share a warm drink or a gracious meal. The word they use for the feelings associated with those moments is hygge (hoo-gah). Hygge helps them offset the impact of enjoying less sunlight than their counterparts at lower latitudes. By circling around a simple table with loved ones, their hearts are nourished and rejuvenated.

The writer of Hebrews encourages this idea of gathering together as a community. He acknowledges that there will be difficult days—with challenges far more significant than the weather—requiring those who follow Christ to persevere in faith. Though Jesus has made certain our acceptance by God, through our faith in the Savior, we may struggle against shame or doubt or real opposition. By gathering together, we have the opportunity—the privilege—of encouraging one another through those moments in our faith. When we’re sharing company, we’re able to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” which bolsters our faith (Hebrews 10:24).

Gathering with friends doesn’t assure us of a ranking on a “happiness report.” It is, however, something the Bible offers as a means to bear up in faith under the common frustrations of life. What a wonderful reason to seek out the community of a church! Or to open our homes—with an attitude of Danish simplicity—to nourish one another’s hearts.

Transmitting Truth

By |2022-08-22T02:33:14-04:00August 22nd, 2022|

Without the ability to see their grandchildren in person due to risk of infection, many grandparents sought new ways of connecting during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey showed that many grandparents adopted texting and social media as a means to maintain their precious bond with their grandchildren. Some even worshiped with their extended families by video call.

One of the most wonderful ways parents and grandparents can influence their children is by passing down the truths of Scripture. In Deuteronomy 4, Moses charged God’s people to “not forget the things” they’d seen about God “or let them fade from [their] heart[s]” (v. 9). He went on to say that sharing these things with their children and their children’s children would enable them to learn to “revere [Him]” (v. 10) and to live according to His truth in the land He was giving them.

The relationships God gives us with our families and friends are certainly meant to be enjoyed. By God’s design, they’re also intended to be a conduit to convey His wisdom from one generation to another, “training [them] in righteousness” and “equipping them for “every good work” (1 Timothy 3:16–17). When we share God’s truth and work in our lives with the next generation—whether by text, call, video, or in-person conversation—we equip them to see and enjoy His work in their own lives.

The Dream Team

By |2022-07-09T02:33:05-04:00July 9th, 2022|

Together, friends Melanie and Trevor have hiked miles of mountain trails. Yet neither would be able to do so without the other. Melanie, born with spina bifida, uses a wheelchair. Trevor lost his sight to glaucoma. The duo realized they were one another’s perfect complement for enjoying the Colorado wilderness: As he walks the trails, Trevor carries Melanie on his back; meanwhile, she gives him verbal directions. They describe themselves as a “dream team.”

Paul describes believers in Jesus—the body of Christ—as a similar kind of “dream team.” He urged the Romans to recognize how their individual giftings benefitted the larger group. Just as our physical bodies are made up of many parts, each with different functions, together we “form one [spiritual] body” and our gifts are meant to be given in service for the collective benefit of the church (Romans 12:5). Whether in the form of giving, encouraging, or teaching, or any of the other spiritual gifts, Paul instructs us to view ourselves and our gifts as belonging to all the others (v. 5).

Melanie and Trevor aren’t focused on what they lack, nor are they prideful of what they do have in comparison to the other. Rather they cheerfully give of their “gifts” in service to the other, recognizing how much they’re both bettered by their collaboration. May we too freely combine the gifts God has given us with those of our fellow members—for the sake of Christ. 

Abundance Meets Need

By |2022-06-22T09:06:04-04:00June 22nd, 2022|

School cafeterias, like large catering businesses, often prepare more food than is consumed simply because they can’t perfectly predict the need, and leftover food goes to waste. Yet there are many students who don’t have enough food to eat at home and who go hungry on weekends. One US school district partnered with a local non-profit to find a solution. They packaged leftovers to send home with students, and simultaneously addressed the problems of both food waste and hunger.

While most people wouldn’t look at an abundance of money as a problem the way we do with wasted food, the principle behind the school project is the same as what Paul suggests in his letter to the Corinthians. He knew the churches in Macedonia were experiencing hardship so he asked the church in Corinth to use their “plenty” to “supply what they need[ed]” (2 Corinthians 8:14). His objective was to bring equality among the churches so none had too much while others were suffering.

Paul didn’t want the Corinthian believers to be impoverished by their giving, but to empathize with and be generous to the Macedonians, recognizing that at some point in the future they too were likely to need similar help. When we see others in need, let’s evaluate whether we might have something to share. Our giving—however large or small—will never be a waste!

New DNA in Jesus

By |2022-06-16T09:06:04-04:00June 16th, 2022|

Chris had his blood retested four years after his lifesaving bone marrow transplant. The donor’s marrow had provided what was needed to cure him but had left a surprise: the DNA in Chris’ blood was that of his donor, not his own. It makes sense, really: the goal of the procedure was to replace the weakened blood with a donor’s healthy blood. Yet even swabs of Chris’ cheeks, lips, and tongue showed the donor’s DNA. In some ways, he’d become someone else—though he retained his own memories, outward appearance, and some of his original DNA.

Chris’ experience bears a striking resemblance to what happens in the life of a person who receives salvation in Jesus. At the point of our spiritual transformation—when we trust in Jesus—we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus encouraged them to reveal that inward transformation, to “put off [their] old self” with its way of living and to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). To be set apart for Christ.

We don’t need DNA swabs or blood tests to show that the transforming power of Jesus is alive within us. Rather that inward reality should be evident in the way we engage with the world around us, revealing how we’re “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave [us]” (v. 32).

Giving Out of Love

By |2022-06-01T09:06:02-04:00June 1st, 2022|

Every day, Glen purchases his morning coffee at a nearby drive-through. And every day he also pays for the order of the person in the car behind him, asking the cashier to wish that person a good day. Glen has no connection to them. He’s not privy to their reaction, nor, it seems, is this his motivation: he simply believes this small gesture is “the least he can do.” On one occasion, however, he learned of the impact of his actions when he read an anonymous letter to the editor of his local newspaper. He discovered that the kindness of his gift on July 18, 2017, caused the person in the car behind him to reconsider their plans to take their own life later that day.

Glen gives daily to the people in the car behind him without receiving credit for it. Only on this single occasion did he get a glimpse of the impact of his small gift. When Jesus says we should “not let [our] left hand know what [our] right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3), He’s urging us to give—as Glen does—without need for recognition.

When we give out of our love for God, without concern for receiving the praise of others, we can trust that our gifts—large or small—will be used by Him to help meet the needs of those receiving them.

Let There Be Light

By |2022-05-01T09:06:03-04:00May 1st, 2022|

In my daughter’s earliest days, I often named for her the things she encountered. I’d identify objects or allow her to touch something unfamiliar and say the word for her, bringing understanding—and vocabulary—to the vast world she was exploring. Though my husband and I might naturally have expected (or hoped) her first word would be Mama or Daddy, she surprised us with an entirely different first word: her small mouth murmured dight one day—a sweet, mispronounced echo of the word light I’d just shared with her.

Light is one of God’s first words recorded for us in the Bible. As the Spirit of God hovered over a dark, formless, and empty Earth, God introduced light into His creation, saying “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). He said the light was good, which the rest of Scripture bears out: the psalmist explains that God’s words illuminate our understanding (Psalm 119:130), and Jesus refers to Himself as the light of the world, the giver of the light of life (John 8:12).

God’s first utterance in the work of creation was to give light. That wasn’t because He needed light to do His work; no, the light was for us. Light enables us to see Him and to identify His fingerprints on the creation around us, to discern what is good from what is not, and to follow Jesus one step at a time in this vast world.

Go to Top