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About Kirsten Holmberg

Kirsten Holmberg is a speaker, author, and coach based in Colorado. She speaks regularly at business, church, and community events, encouraging others to step closer to Jesus and better know His love for them through the Scriptures. When she's not immersed in studying the Bible or crafting a message of her own, Kirsten enjoys helping others learn to communicate effectively as a public speaking coach and trainer. Find her online at www.kirstenholmberg.com or Facebook and Instagram (@kirholmberg).

Joy and Wisdom

By |2024-05-14T02:33:06-04:00May 14th, 2024|

Sweetly fragrant cherry tree blossoms flood Japan with exquisite pale and vibrant pinks every spring, delighting the senses of residents and tourists alike. The short-lived nature of the blossoms cultivates a keen awareness in the Japanese to savor the beauty and scent while they linger: the very brevity of the experience heightens the poignancy of it. They call this deliberate enjoyment of something that will change quickly “mono-no-aware.”

As humans, it’s understandable that we’d want to seek and prolong feelings of joy. Yet the reality that life is riddled with hardship means we must cultivate the ability to view both pain and pleasure through a lens of faith in a loving God. We needn’t be overly pessimistic, nor should we fashion ourselves an unrealistically sunny outlook on life.

The book of Ecclesiastes offers a helpful model for us. Though this book is sometimes thought to be a catalog of negative statements, the same King Solomon who wrote that “everything is meaningless” (1:2) also encouraged his readers to find joy in the simple things in life saying, “There is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad” (8:15).

Joy comes when we ask God to help us “know wisdom” and learn to observe “all that [He] has done” (vv. 16–17) in both beautiful seasons and in difficult ones, knowing that neither is permanent on this side of heaven.

Singing Meadows

By |2024-04-11T02:33:05-04:00April 11th, 2024|

I’ve often affectionately joked with my mother-in-law about her ability to talk to her dogs. She responds to their barks with loving understanding. Perhaps now she and dog owners everywhere will also listen for their canine pals to laugh. Scientists have discovered that many animals, including dogs, cows, foxes, seals, and parakeets all have “vocal play signals”—otherwise known as laughter. Identifying these accompanying sounds helps distinguish an animal’s play behaviors from what might otherwise look like fighting to a human observer.

That animals express laughter and joy gives us a delightful glimmer of what it might look like for other parts of creation to praise God in their own way. As King David looked over his surroundings, it seemed to him “the hills [were] clothed with gladness” and the meadows and valleys were “[shouting] for joy” (Psalm 65:12-13). David recognized that God had cared for and enriched the land, providing both beauty and sustenance.

Even though our physical surroundings don’t “sing” in a literal way, they bear witness to God’s active work in His creation and, in turn, invite us to give praise to Him with our voices. May we—as part of the “whole earth”—be “filled with awe at [His] wonders” and respond to Him with “songs of joy” (v. 8). We can trust that He’ll hear and understand them.

The Right Focus

By |2024-01-22T01:33:05-05:00January 22nd, 2024|

We’d known Kha for more than a year. He was part of our small group from church who met weekly to discuss what we’d been learning about God. One evening during our regular meeting, he made a reference to having competed at the Olympics. The mention was so casual that it almost escaped my notice. Almost. Lo and behold, I learned I knew an Olympian who had competed in the bronze medal match! I couldn’t fathom that he’d not mentioned it before, but, for Kha, while his athletic achievement was a special part of his story, more important things were central to his identity: his family, his community, and his faith.

wThe story in Luke 10:1–23 describes what should be central to our identity. When the seventy-two people Jesus sent out to tell others about the kingdom of God returned from their journeys, they reported to Him that “even the demons submit to us in your name” (v. 17). While Jesus acknowledged that He’d equipped them with tremendous power and protection, He said they were focused on the wrong thing. He insisted that their cause for rejoicing should be because their “names are written in heaven” (v. 20).

Whatever achievements or abilities God has granted us, our greatest cause for rejoicing is that if we’ve entrusted ourselves to Jesus our names are written in heaven and we enjoy His daily presence in our lives.

Meeting the Needs of Others

By |2023-12-28T01:33:21-05:00December 28th, 2023|

Phillip’s father suffered from severe mental illness and had left home to live on the streets. After Cyndi and her young son Phillip spent a day searching for him, Phillip was rightly concerned for his well-being. He asked his mother whether his father and other people without homes were warm. In response, they launched an effort to collect and distribute blankets and cold-weather gear to homeless people in the area. For more than a decade, Cyndi has considered it her life’s work, crediting her son and her deep faith in God for awakening her to the hardship of being without a warm place to sleep.

The Bible has long taught us to respond to the needs of others. In the book of Exodus, Moses records a set of principles to guide our interaction with those who lack plentiful resources. When we’re moved to supply the needs of another, we’re to “not treat it like a business deal” and should make no gain or profit from it (Exodus 22:25). If a person’s cloak was taken as collateral, it was to be returned by sunset “because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in?” (v. 27).

Let’s ask God to open our eyes and hearts to see how we can ease the pain of those who are suffering. Whether we seek to meet the needs of many—as Cyndi and Phillip have—or those of a single person, we honor Him by treating them with dignity and care.  

Who Am I?

By |2023-11-26T01:33:28-05:00November 26th, 2023|

As a member of the leadership team for a local ministry, part of my job was to invite others to join us as group discussion leaders. My invitations described the time commitment required and outlined the ways leaders would need to engage with their small group participants, both in meetings and during regular phone calls. I was often reluctant to impose on other people, being aware of the sacrifice they’d be making to become a leader. And yet sometimes their reply would completely overwhelm me: “I’d be honored.” Instead of citing legitimate reasons to decline, they described their gratitude to God for all He’d done in their lives as their reason for being eager to give back.

When the time came to give resources toward building a temple for the Lord, David had a similar response: “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?” (1 Chronicles 29:14) David’s generosity was driven by gratitude for God’s involvement in his life and that of the people of Israel. His response speaks of his humility and his acknowledgment of God’s goodness toward “foreigners and strangers” (v. 15).

Our giving to God’s work—whether in time, talent, or treasure—reflects our gratitude to the One who gave to us to begin with. All that we have comes from His hand (v. 14); in response we can give gratefully to Him.

An Impossible Gift

By |2023-10-14T02:33:15-04:00October 14th, 2023|

I was elated to find the “perfect” gift for my mother-in-law’s birthday: the bracelet even contained her birthstone! Finding that perfect gift for someone is always an utter delight. But what if the gift the individual needs is beyond our power to give. Many of us wish we could give someone peace of mind, rest, or even patience. If only those could be purchased and wrapped with a bow!

These types of gifts are impossible for one person to give to another. Yet Jesus—God in human flesh—does give those who believe in Him one such “impossible” gift: the gift of peace. Before ascending to heaven and leaving the disciples, Jesus comforted them with the promise of the Holy Spirit who would “remind [them] of everything [He had] said to them” (John 14:26). He offered them peace—His peace—as an enduring, unfailing gift for when their hearts were troubled or when they were experiencing fear. He, Himself, is our peace with God, with others, and within.

We may not have the ability to give our loved ones the extra measure of patience or improved health they desire. Nor is it within our power to give them the peace we all desperately need to bear up under the struggles of life. But we can be led by the Spirit to speak to them about Jesus, the giver and embodiment of true and lasting peace.

The Red Dress Project

By |2023-09-18T02:33:11-04:00September 18th, 2023|

The Red Dress project was conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod and has become an exhibit in museums and galleries around the world. For thirteen years, eighty-four pieces of burgundy silk traveled across the globe to be embroidered upon by more than three hundred women (and a handful of men). The pieces were then constructed into a gown, telling the stories of each contributing artist—many of whom are marginalized and impoverished.

Like the Red Dress, the garments worn by Aaron and his descendants were made by many “skilled workers” (Exodus 28:3). God’s instructions for the priestly attire included details that told the collective story of Israel, including engraving the names of the tribes on onyx stones that would sit on the priests’ shoulders “as a memorial before the Lord” (v. 12). The tunics, embroidered sashes, and caps gave the priests “dignity and honor” as they served God and led the people in worship (v. 40).

As New Covenant believers in Jesus, we—together—are a priesthood of believers, serving God and leading one another in worship (1 Peter 2:4–5, 9); Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 4:14). Though we don’t wear any particular clothing to identify ourselves as priests, with His help, we “clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

Festivals of Worship

By |2023-08-18T02:33:16-04:00August 18th, 2023|

Attending a large event might change you in a surprising way. After interacting with more than 1,200 people at multi-day gatherings in the UK and US, researcher Daniel Yudkin and his colleagues learned that large festivals can impact our moral compass and even affect our willingness to share resources with others. Their research found that sixty-three percent of attendees had a “transformative” experience at the festival that also left them feeling more connected to humanity and more generous toward friends, family, and even complete strangers.

When we gather with others to worship God, however, we can experience more than merely the social “transformation” of a secular festival; we commune with God Himself. God’s people undoubtedly experienced that  connection to Him when they gathered in Jerusalem in ancient times for their sacred festivals throughout the year. They traveled—without modern conveniences—to be present at the temple three times a year for “the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16). These gatherings were times of solemn remembrance, worship, and “rejoic[ing] before the Lord” with family, servants, foreigners, and others (v. 11).

Let’s gather with others for worship to help one another to continue to enjoy Him and trust in His faithfulness.

Chocolate Snowflakes

By |2023-07-07T02:33:26-04:00July 7th, 2023|

Residents of Olten, Switzerland, were surprised by a shower of chocolate shavings covering the entire town. The ventilation system at a nearby chocolate factory had malfunctioned, sending cocoa into the air and dusting the area with confectionary goodness. The chocolate coating, harmless to both people and environment, sounds like a dream come true for chocoholics!

While chocolate (sadly) doesn’t adequately provide for one’s nutritional needs, God supplied the Israelites with heavenly showers that did. As they traveled through the desert, they began to grumble about the variety of food they’d left behind in Egypt. In response, God said He would “rain down bread from heaven” to sustain them (Exodus 16:4). When the morning dew dried up each day, a thin flake of food remained. The Israelites—approximately two million of them!—were instructed to gather as much as they needed that day. For the years of their desert wanderings, they were nourished by God’s supernatural provision in manna.

We know little about manna except that it was “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (v. 31). Though manna may not sound as appealing as a steady diet of chocolate, the sweetness of God’s provision for His people is clear. Manna points us to Jesus who described Himself as the “bread of life” that sustains us daily and assures us of life eternal (John 6:48, 51).

In God’s Hands

By |2023-06-01T02:33:05-04:00June 1st, 2023|

Turning eighteen ushered in a new era in my daughter’s life: legally an adult, she now has the right to vote in future elections and will soon embark on life after graduating from high school. This shift has instilled in me a sense of urgency—I have precious little time with her under my roof to impart to her the wisdom she needs to face the world on her own: how to manage finances, stay alert to world issues, and make sound decisions.

My sense of duty to equip my daughter to handle her life is understandable. After all, I love her and desire for her to flourish. But I realized that while I have an important role, it’s not solely—or even primarily—my job. In Paul’s words to the Thessalonians—a group of people he considered his children in the faith because he’d taught them about Jesus—we see him urge them to help one another but ultimately he trusts their growth to God. He acknowledges that God will “sanctify [them] through and through” (1 Thessalonians 5:14–15, 23).

Paul trusts God to do what he cannot: prepare them—“spirit, soul and body”—for the eventual return of Jesus (v. 23). Though his letters to the Thessalonians contained instructions, Paul’s trust in God for their well-being and preparedness teaches us that growth in the lives of those we care for is ultimately in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6).

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