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Elisa Morgan

Elisa Morgan

Elisa Morgan (MDiv) was named by Christianity Today as one of the top fifty women influencing today’s church and culture. She has authored more than twenty-five books including The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, When We Pray Like Jesus, You Are Not Alone and Christmas Changes Everything.

For twenty years, Elisa served as CEO of MOPS International and now is President Emerita. She speaks internationally, writes for Our Daily Bread, and co-hosts Discover the Word and God Hears Her for Our Daily Bread Ministries.

You can find out more about Elisa, book her to speak at your event and sign up for her blog, Really, which reaches thousands at www.elisamorgan.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@elisamorganauthor).

With her husband of more than forty years, Evan (Vice President of Online Learning for Our Daily Bread Ministries www.odbu.org), she has two grown children and three grandchildren who live near her in Denver, Colorado. Her constant companion is Mia, a rough-coat Jack Russell Terrier.

Articles by Elisa Morgan

From Holey to Holy

As a child, my daughter loved playing with her Swiss cheese at lunch. She’d place the pastel yellow square on her face like a mask, saying, “Look Mom,” her sparkly green eyes peeking out from two holes in the cheese. As a young mom, that Swiss-cheese mask summed up my feelings about my efforts—genuinely offered, full of love, but so very imperfect. Holey, not holy.

Oh, how we long to live a holy life—a life set apart for God and characterized by being like Jesus. But day after day, holiness seems out of reach. In its place, our “holeyness” remains.

In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to his protégé Timothy, urging him to live up to his holy calling (1:6-7). “[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace,” the apostle wrote (v. 9). This life is possible not because of our character, but because of God’s grace. Paul continued, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (v. 9). Can we accept God’s grace and live from the platform of power it provides?

Whether in parenting, marriage, work, or loving our neighbor, God calls us to a holy life—made possible not because of our efforts to be perfect but because of His grace.

Family Matters

My sister, brother, and I flew from our separate states to our uncle’s funeral and stopped to see our ninety-year-old grandmother. She’d been paralyzed by a stroke, had lost the ability to speak, and had only the use of her right hand. As we stood around her bed, she reached out that hand and took each of our hands, placing one atop another over her heart and patted them in place. With this wordless gesture, my grandmother spoke into what had been our somewhat broken and distant sibling relationship. “Family matters.”

In God’s family, the church, we can grow apart as well. We might allow bitterness to separate us from each other. The writer of Hebrews references the bitterness that separated Esau from his brother (Hebrews 12:16) and challenges us as brothers and sisters to hold on to each other in God’s family. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone” (v. 14). Here the words “every effort” convey a deliberate and decisive investment in peacemaking with our brothers and sisters in God’s family. Every such effort is then applied to everyone. Every. One.

Family matters. Both our earthly families and God’s family of believers. Might we all invest the efforts needed to hold on to each other?

Love God by Loving Others

The Alba family experienced the rare occurrence of birthing two sets of identical twins just thirteen months apart. How did they juggle their parental responsibilities as well as their jobs? Their community of friends and family stepped in. Grandparents on both sides took a set of twins during the day so the parents could work and pay for health insurance. One company gave a year’s supply of diapers. The couple’s coworkers donated their personal sick days. “We couldn’t have done it without our community,” they agreed. In fact, during a live interview, the cohost removed her mic and ran after one renegade toddler, continuing the communal investment!

In Matthew 25:31–46, Jesus tells a parable to make the point that when we serve others, we serve God. After listing acts of service, including providing food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, lodging for the homeless, clothes for the naked and healing for the sick (vv. 35–36), Jesus concludes, “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).

Imagining Jesus as the ultimate recipient of our kindness is true motivation to serve in our neighborhoods, families, churches, and world. When He prompts us to sacrificially invest in the needs of others, we serve Him. When we love others, we love God.

God at the Crossroads

After days of illness and then spiking a high temperature, it was clear my husband needed emergency care. The hospital admitted him immediately. One day folded into the next. He improved, but not enough to be released. I faced the difficult choice to stay with my husband or fulfill an important work trip where many people and projects were involved. My husband assured me he’d be fine. But my heart was torn between him and my work.

God’s people needed His help at the crossroads of life’s decisions. Far too often, they hadn’t adhered to His revealed instructions. So Moses implored the people to “choose life” by following His commands (Deuteronomy 30:19). Later, the prophet Jeremiah offered words of direction to God’s wayward people, wooing them to follow His ways. “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16). The ancient paths of Scripture and God’s past provision can direct us. 

I imagined myself at a physical crossroads and applied Jeremiah’s template of wisdom. My husband needed me. So did my work. Just then, my supervisor called and encouraged me to remain home. I drew a breath and thanked God for His provision at the crossroads. God’s direction doesn’t always come so clearly, but it does come. When we stand at the crossroads, let’s make sure to look for Him.

Be the Church

During the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dave and Carla spent months looking for a church home. Following health guidelines, which limited various in-person experiences, made it even more difficult. They longed for connection to a body of believers. “It’s a hard time to find a church,” Carla emailed me. Within me rose a realization from my own longing to be reunited with my church family, “It’s a hard time to be the church,” I responded. In that season, our church had “pivoted,” offering food in surrounding neighborhoods, creating online services, and phoning every member with support and prayer. My husband and I participated and yet wondered what else we could do to “be the church” in our changed world.

In Hebrews 10:25, the writer exhorts readers not to neglect “meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but [encourage] one another.” Perhaps due to persecution (vv. 32–34) or maybe as a result of simply growing weary (12:3), the struggling early believers needed a nudge to keep being the church.

And today, I need a nudge too. Do you? When circumstances change how we experience church, will we continue to be the church? Let’s creatively encourage one another and build each other up as God guides us. Share our resources. Send a text of support. Gather as we’re able. Pray for one another. Let’s be the church.

Gathering Strength in God

Grainger McKoy is an artist who studies and sculpts birds, capturing their grace, vulnerability, and power. One of the pieces is titled Recovery. It shows the single right wing of a pintail duck, stretched high in a vertical position. Below, a plaque describes the bird’s recovery stroke as “the moment of the bird’s greatest weakness in flight, yet also the moment when it gathers strength for the journey ahead.” Grainger includes this verse: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Corinth. Enduring a season when he was overwhelmed with personal struggle, Paul begged God to remove what he described as a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). His affliction might have been a physical ailment or spiritual opposition. Like Jesus in the Garden the night before His crucifixion (Luke 22:39–44), Paul repeatedly asked God to remove his suffering. The Holy Spirit responded by assuring Paul that He would provide the strength needed. Paul learned, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Oh, the thorns we experience in this life! Like a bird gathering its strength for the journey ahead, we can gather up God’s strength for what we are facing. In His strength, we find our own.

Permission to Rest

We sat atop some beach boulders, my friend Soozi and I, watching the foam send up sea spray in arched curls. Looking at the incoming waves crashing one after another against the rocks, Soozi announced, “I love the ocean. It keeps moving so I don’t have to!”

Isn’t it interesting how some of us feel we need “permission” to pause from our work to rest? Well, that’s just what our good God offers us! For six days, God spun the earth into existence, creating light, land, vegetation, animals, and humans. Then on the seventh day, God rested (Genesis 1:31–2:2). In the Ten Commandments, God listed His rules for healthy living to honor Him, including the command to remember the Sabbath as a day of rest (Exodus 20:8–11). In the New Testament we see Jesus healing all the sick of the town (Mark 1:29–34) and then early the next morning retreating to a solitary place to pray (v. 35). Purposefully, our God both worked and rested.

The rhythm of God’s provision in work and His invitation to rest reverberates around us. Spring’s planting yields growth in summer, harvest in autumn, and rest in winter. Morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night. God orders our lives for both work and rest, offering us permission to do both.

The Pink Coat

Brenda was walking toward the mall exit when a flush of pink from a display window caught her eye. She turned and stood spellbound before a cotton-candy colored coat. Oh, how Holly would love it! Finances had been tight for her coworker friend who was a single mother, and while Brenda knew Holly needed a warm coat, she was also confident that her friend would never lay down cash on such a purchase for herself. After wavering ever so slightly, Brenda smiled, reached for her wallet, and arranged for the coat to be shipped to Holly’s home. She added an anonymous card, “You are so very loved.” Brenda practically danced to her car.

Joy is a byproduct of God-nudged giving. As Paul instructed the Corinthians in the art of generosity, he said, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). He also noted, “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (v. 6).

Sometimes we slip cash into the offering plate. At other times we donate online to a worthy ministry. And then there are moments when God leads us to respond to the need of a friend with a tangible expression of His love. We offer a bag of groceries, a tank of gas . . . or even the gift of a perfectly pink coat.

Fast-Food Encouragement

Maria carried her fast-food lunch to an empty table. As she bit into her burger, her eyes locked on those of a young man seated several tables away. His clothes were soiled, his hair hung limply, and he clutched at an empty paper cup. Clearly, he was hungry. How could she help? A gift of cash seemed unwise. If she bought a meal and presented it to him, might he be embarrassed? 

Just then Maria remembered the story of Ruth where Boaz, a wealthy landowner, invited the impoverished immigrant widow to glean from his fields. He gave orders to his men. “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15). In a culture where women were utterly dependent on their connection to men for survival, Boaz demonstrated God’s loving provision. Eventually, Boaz married Ruth, redeeming her from her serious need (4:9–10). 

As Maria rose to leave, she placed her untouched packet of fries on a nearby table, meeting the man’s eyes as she did so. If he was hungry, he might glean from her “fast-food field.” God’s heart is revealed in the stories of Scripture as they illustrate creative solutions to encourage.