Thursday, February 26, 2015

We've Lost Eleanor

“We’ve lost Eleanor.” Those were the last words Robin and I expected to hear as we raced into the emergency waiting room at Kennestone Hospital Tuesday morning.  “We’ve lost Eleanor”. Three words… inestimable devastation.

And so we have spent the last two days trying to grapple with what that looks like, not only for the ministry, but for us who have worked so closely with her for the last fourteen years. How do we take the next step without her wisdom?  How do we make the next decision without her input?  How do we pray without her confidence? How do we press on without her cheering us on? How to we come to grips with the great hole that has been left in our hearts?

Those are all good questions. I have cried innumerable tears, have asked a thousand questions and have held onto friends who have cried right along with me. We have lost Eleanor.

 For those who are not intimately acquainted with the ministry, you may wonder just who Eleanor  Lewis is. I will try to shine some light on how she impacted the ministry and how valuable she was to it and to all of us who are associated with it.

Eleanor was one of the teachers at Big Dream Ministries, Inc. She taught eighteen books of the Bible in The Amazing Collection. She taught two sections of Invincible Love/Invisible War and she taught four sections of Be Amazing.  Eleanor was a born teacher.  Soon after she came to Christ in 1968 God began to prepare her for that role.  She loved to study and learn and grow. She had a passion for teaching people God’s Word in a way they could understand and relate to it. Her lessons were well thought out, well organized and every word was shaped for the purpose of helping people grow closer to Christ.

Eleanor was not only one of the founding partners at BDM but also a board member serving as treasurer.  She and I shared a great partnership.  I am the big picture person,  but  she handled many of the details. Eight month ago we decided to have the DVDs transcribed so that others could take the lessons and teach them without using the DVDs. Once that was done we began to work on reshaping the “lectures” into readable teachings. As we got started on this project I found that I absolutely hated doing it. Why? There were way too many details. El asked if she could do them all because she LOVED doing it. So for the past eight months she has worked tirelessly reshaping every lecture. We would meet once a week for about four hours to go over the big picture of the lessons…and that was my small part. 

She had an incredible focus on Heaven and the Kingdom of God.  She would often remind us that life was short, time was flying and Jesus could come back at any minute. It kept us motivated to continue to press on toward the goal.

Eleanor prayed. She didn’t just say she would pray for you…she would take up the cause  and do it! Sometimes during our prayer time together she would have to stop to compose herself…she would take on the suffering of those we were praying for and the tears would start to come.  She had a sense that Jesus was “right here” and we could at any moment talk to Him…and she did.

And so we “have lost Eleanor”. On Tuesday Morning, February 24, 2015, she stepped from a peaceful sleep into heaven and the presence if her Lord, Savior and her true Love. We had prayed we would live until we died... that we would live for Christ serving Him passionately until our last breath. Eleanor Lewis did that with excellence.

As I have reflected on those three words “we have lost Eleanor” I have come to understand that we have not, we have not lost Eleanor. We know exactly where she is. We know Who she is with and we know what she is doing and it is all glorious. No, we have not lost Eleanor…she has simply moved to a better neighborhood.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Things looked bad. The nation of Israel had enjoyed a few years of peace and prosperity under King Josiah when his reforms turned the nation back to the worship of God. But that was then (640-609 BC) and this was now (598 BC) and everything had changed. One king after another (four to be exact) had failed miserably both with God and the people. Now the judgment of God was near and one man in Israel knew it – the prophet Jeremiah.

He had not wanted the job and complained to God about His choice. Jeremiah was born into the priesthood and that position held security and honor. But a prophet was often hated and some had even lost their lives.  But God chose Jeremiah to be His mouthpiece and to proclaim to a people who would not listen that soon, because of their rebellion, the nation would be conquered by the Babylonians. It wasn’t going to be pretty…not for the nation nor for Jeremiah.

In the end after 40 years of faithful preaching, much of that time being rejected, mocked and  brutally treated, Jeremiah’s prophesies were fulfilled. Thousands died from famine, pestilence and the sword.  In 586 BC the Babylonians breached the wall and Jerusalem was destroyed. Most of those who were still alive were exiled. God had sent hope through Jeremiah but the people chose their own path to their destruction.

The book of Jeremiah reveals the inner struggles of a prophet of God. Jeremiah wrestled with the burden of his calling, his love for a rebellious people and his devotion to God and yet through it all he remained faithful to God and to his calling.

1.      As Christians we also have a message of life or death. (Roman’s 1:16) What stops you from proclaiming that message with truth and love?

2.      As you read Jeremiah, were there times when his attitude might reflect yours?

3.      Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. Why do you think he deserved that name? How would you have responded if you had been in his situation?

4.      Does your love for people outweigh your fear of telling them about Jesus?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Book of Isaiah by Eleanor Lewis

Prophets were men called by God to ‘foretell’ the future and/or ‘tell forth’ a message from God.  Isaiah is like the entire Bible in miniature!  Its message is salvation.  That word appears 26 times in this book.  Visiting the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem I was moved to hear they found a complete ancient copy of Isaiah and that there are more ancient copies of it than any other book. How gracious of God to provide this message of hope to a lost world!

The first 39 chapters of Isaiah show man’s need of salvation. Like the 39 Old Testament books, these chapters show God’s holiness and how He will judge people who are not holy.   Because Israel brought sacrifices, celebrated feasts and prayed they appeared religious; however, God says they were a sinful nation, rebelling against Him and executing plans, but not His.  They acted corruptly even worshiping idols they made; therefore, God found their religious offerings abominable and did not listen to their prayers.    Like us, they needed a Savior to wash them white as snow. 

The last 27 chapters of Isaiah, like the 27 New Testament books, present God’s provision of salvation.  Isaiah looked forward to the Messiah as Jesus is clearly foretold in chapters 40-66.  Messiah is clearly seen as a shepherd who will tend His flock (40:11), a sovereign ruler sitting above the earth, stretching out the heavens like a curtain and reducing rulers to nothing (40:22-24).  He is our protector when we pass through the waters and flaming fires of life (43:1-3a), and the only God as there is no other (45:20-22).  He is our comfort (51:12), our suffering Savior scourged, pierced and crushed for our iniquities (52:14; 53:3-12).  He is our healer but also the one who proclaims judgment or God’s vengeance (61:1-2).  He is the King of kings (66:1-2, 23).

Isaiah 59:1-2 says this great God can save anyone and hear any prayer but our sins separate us from God so He does not hear.  Therefore, we all need salvation.   What comfort to know it is available in that Savior Isaiah promised, Jesus Christ!

Bible study questions

1.     In Isaiah 2:12-22, what happens on the day of the Lord of hosts reckoning?

2.     In chapter 6, how does Isaiah see God?

3.     What separates us from God (see v59:1-2)? 

4.     How does Isaiah respond for Israel (see v59:9-15)?

5.     Who does God send for those who repent (see v59:20)?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Study of the Song of Solomon by Pat Harley

Song of Solomon

I have to admit I am a sucker for romance. Romance is not just flowers and candy. Romance can be those intimate acts of love that we do for one another that simply shout, “I love you”. On our second date November 17, 1963, Chuck Harley brought me a stuffed moose from a popular cartoon at that time.  I loved it and named it Moots and kept that moose all through high school and into college and marriage. Then in 1972, I baby sat a very young child who had just lost a parent. She loved the moose and wanted to take it home so the moose left the house and I never saw it again.

Last Christmas, 42 years later, I received a moose for Christmas from my Beloved. It was an exact replica of the Moots I had lost so long ago. It wasn’t candy or flowers, it was something better and it was one of the most romantic gifts I have ever received. He had hunted down something that was no longer sold or made and paid a high dollar for it, all for my great pleasure and surprise. It loudly and clearly said “I love you”.

Song of Solomon is God’s great approval on romantic love. It burst through the stoic, solemn, wrinkled brow, frowny view of romance and sexual love in marriage and openly and joyfully applauds it. It is impossible to read that little book, mostly poetry, without learning a few valuable lessons.

First of all it celebrates purity until marriage. In our sex soaked culture this is not even considered possible but God assures us it is and it is worth waiting for.

Secondly, the couple openly expresses beautiful words of love to one another.  There is no holding back, and they use words of beauty and yes even fun. There is no shame or embarrassment…just pure freedom to express the love that is in their hearts.

Third, they fight (I am so glad God put that in the story) but the person who has offended makes haste to heal the relationship and forgiveness is quickly given.

And lastly, they put a high priority on their marriage. So many things can take precedent over the marriage relationship but here God encourages us to take the time to refresh and regroup and restore the passion and intimacy.

The word moose does not appear in the Song of Solomon, but the principle does. Go the second mile, do the work, spend the money, say the words, make your spouse’s happiness a priority, without embarrassment holding nothing back.  And when you do you may even hear an applause right from heaven.

After reading the Song of Solomon, answer the following questions.

1.      Chapters 1 and 2 describe the young couple’s courtship?

2.      In Chapter 3 how did the groom retrieve his bride?

3.      Chapter 4 describes the honeymoon. What makes it special?

4.      Chapter 5 describes a lover’s quarrel. Why did they fight? Did it last long?

5.      How does the couple keep love kindled in chapter 6 and 7?

6.      How can we kindle the romance with our own beloved?

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Amazing Collection 15-Minute Bible Study


by Eleanor Lewis 

A little boy was told Solomon was the wisest man to ever live.  He replied, “But he married 700 wives and 300 porcupines, that doesn’t seem very wise to me.”  He has a point! 

The first commandment God gave was, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Before there was a king in Israel, God warned future kings not to multiply wives for their hearts would turn away from Him to serve other gods. (Deut 17:17)  King Solomon started well asking God for wisdom. When young, he wrote the Song of Solomon giving wisdom for marriage.  In his mid-years he wrote the Proverbs which give wisdom for living a Godly life in an unGodly world.  However, disobeying God, he married many foreign women and, as God predicted, his heart turned after their gods.   (I Kings 11) 

In these later years when he had turned from God’s wisdom, King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes.   Trusting his own mind or human wisdom he tried all the world offers... wine, women, works and wealth.   The result?  He hated life including all he thought would make him happy.  Trusting his own thinking (what seemed right) he found life to be meaningless, empty, like striving after wind.  He was seeking satisfaction, but never finding it.

Looking at all his labor had provided he realized riches can be lost through a bad investment or you will die and leave it all.   Therefore,  “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money...”  

Solomon says:  “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”  (Eccles 12:13-14)

1.  Ecclesiastes is a book of man’s wisdom not God’s.  What have you thought would bring satisfaction that has left you feeling empty?

2.  Solomon disobeyed God by marrying foreign women.  What did he learn the hard way?  See Eccles 7:25-26.

3.  We too can get caught up or trapped by success and the things of this world.  What does Solomon say about those who fear or don’t fear (reverence) God above all? See Eccles 8:12-13.   

4.  What is God saying to you so your life will not feel meaningless, like you are striving after wind?






Thursday, May 29, 2014

God is Real

I was reading Facebook a few weeks ago, and one of the questions on the “feed”  was “How can a parent  help a child become a Christian?”  It is a good question and one that should keep parents awake at night.  The answers were many and for the most part good ones .They  included family devotions, a commitment to a Bible teaching church, home schooling, Christian schools, youth groups and Christian camps. But there is one thing that I think far out weights any of the suggestions. In fact I think it is key and it is simple: Let them see that Christ is real.

The day a child finds out that Santa is not real nor is the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy can be a little startling. These are all stories, made to make life a little more fun. I confess I have yet to meet anyone who was truly traumatized by finding out that Mom and Dad were really the culprits. As a child I was not so interested in WHO delivered those gifts, eggs or money as I was that they WERE delivered. That was all that mattered.

But with God there is a huge difference. He IS real.  We do well to read the Bible stories to our kids. After all they are some of the very best stories in the world!  It is wonderful to have times set apart for the family to come together and pray and discuss what God has to say in the Bible. And an excellent church is a huge blessing. But they cannot show the child on a regular basis that God truly is real and involved in our lives and family. If the child is able to see that God is working and real then he will not be easily persuaded by smooth talking professors or confident friends or Hollywood.  He will KNOW because he has seen the “handiwork of God” and does not doubt His existence.   

When a child sees the parent put God before ANYTHING, he will take note. When a child hears parents talking about the work God has done or the prayer that was answered, they take notice. If church is looked upon as a joyous opportunity to worship a mighty and holy and loving God, then he will take note. When the parents refer to the Scriptures, and are committed to know and study and obey God’s Word  as their source of knowledge, understanding and wisdom,  then the child will take note.

When my daughters were young, a neighbor called me to pray for a friend that was horrifically injured in an accident and didn't expect to live. I spent that afternoon praying fervently for this lady I had never met. That evening we got the call that she had come through the surgery “miraculously” and was going to make it.  We praised God as we saw that God is real and chose to answer our prayers.
 Few years later our car was dying. We had committed to paying cash for everything except our house. It seemed like it would be impossibility, but we prayed and when our car died several months later, there was enough money in the bank to pay cash for a newer model.

But sometimes the answer is no. When our company began to flounder we prayed fervently that God would intercept and save it, but He did not and we lost everything.  But in the midst of sorrow and confusion we knew God had a plan and indeed He did. We tried to walk in faith and God responded with another job and several great blessings we would not have seen had we not first lost everything. In fact we saw God more “real” than ever before and we are grateful for the experience.  So our whole  family was able to see answered prayers, His provision and also  learn that invaluable lesson that  “no” can sometimes be a “yes” to something better. These are just a few small examples that made an impact.

Give children as much Bible knowledge as you can pump into them in the short years that they live at home. Have family devotions. Make sure you attend a Bible teaching church and a have a close group of like-minded friends. But above all, show your children that our God is not a legend, but knows us intimately, loves us dearly and is working for our great good. . 

We as parents cannot “save” our children; that is entirely the work of God. But we can show them that Christ is real as He works in our families and that His Word is true. That is an excellent step toward guiding them on the path to heaven. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Study of Proverbs by Linda Sweeney

As a child I received many “proverbs” from my grandmother.  She had some of the greatest sayings, which didn’t mean a lot to me at the time…sort of wasted on my youth, but as I matured, I realized what a wise woman she was.  The “sayings” she shared with me took on new meaning WHEN I applied them.  I often smile when I remember some of the things she taught me.  One memory I think of often with great fondness is when I was telling her some sad story about a situation I didn’t like or one where I had been hurt, was scared or wondered how I would ever “live through it!”  I had so many dramas in my life, especially as a teenager, that I don’t remember the exact “tragedy” I was relaying, but I do remember her saying “If all of our troubles were hung on a line (clothes line for laundry), you’d take yours and I’d take mine.”  That was her way of telling me that everyone has troubles and that there’s always someone with a harder situation than mine.  I’ve come to realize that this is definitely true!
As an adult, I’ve learned to read God’s Proverbs knowing that there is great wisdom there.  This is wisdom for a life of skillful living!  The book of Proverbs in the Bible was mostly composed by the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon.  God gave him great wisdom because he asked for it instead of all the other choices he could have made.  People came from great distances to hear his wisdom.  Most scholars believe these were written during his middle age years.  This book is really God’s “How to” advice for His children so that we will live a better life and be blessed.  Some of the writings are pretty funny and some show us the comparison between the wise person and the fool by the choices they make.
I would like to challenge you to read one chapter in Proverbs each day for 31 days (there are exactly 31 chapters in this book) and at the end of each chapter jot down one principle of wisdom that God has shown you.  Keeping these in a journal would be a great way to record what God wants you to know.  Be sure you ask The Holy Spirit to guide your thinking and show you what the spiritual meaning is.  It’s easy sometimes to interpret a proverb we hear with worldly wisdom.  For instance, “If the shoe fits, wear it” does not mean I can buy all the shoes I try on that fit!  Sometimes I wish it did!   Why not start by asking God to help you interpret His Proverbs for your particular situation and show you how you can be wise in the role where God has placed you:  Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and/or co-worker.  Here’s a great one to start with if you are desiring to be an amazing woman:  Proverbs 3:5-6 says:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”   Wisdom, or skill for living, comes from God and begins with the fear and knowledge of Him (see Proverbs 9:10).
There are many components of wisdom described in the book of Proverbs, many of which are outlined in the first chapter. Describe all of the aspect of wisdom in each of the following verses:
Proverbs 1:2:
Proverbs 1:3:
Proverbs 1:4:
Proverbs 1:5:
Proverbs 1:6:
Proverbs 1:7: