I learned a new word – Ecologization. It is a tricky word to say – I needed to say it over and over a few times in order to say it correctly. You might need to say it a few times as well. 😀

Gary and I sat across the table from Milan and Hana Hluchy as Milan passionately shared about the ways his work has impacted the organic wine industry in Europe. God used Milan’s interest in butterflies as a youngster to draw him into a growing relationship with Jesus. This interest led Milan into deeper study with a desire to consider ways to enrich the soil surrounding grape vines. He wanted to use elements in God’s creation to provide optimum conditions for healthy sustainable plant growth.

Milan wanted to steward the vineyard land surrounding him so that grapes grow in the best conditions possible without pesticides. He utilized his study of insects, flowers, soil, and grapes to bring about the flourishing of vineyards throughout Czech and all of Europe. He discovered the flowers which brought rich nutrients into the soil and planted them in between the vineyard rows. These flowers also provided places for bees to gather pollen to contribute to grapevine nutrition and growth.

Ecologization – Participating with nature in order to create the best conditions possible for a flourishing environment for plant growth.

I found myself intrigued by Milan’s expertise which continues to enhance the European organic agricultural industry. His love for God led his longing to maximize God’s creative order to cause grapevines to thrive. I wondered about the conditions necessary for the flourishing of the soul. What contributes to help my soul thrive? What aids your journey with Jesus?

On Monday Gary and I traveled on a 17 hour bus ride from Vienna, Austria to Lviv, Ukraine. Thank you for praying about my “lost” passport! After 14 days bouncing in the US mail system, by God’s grace, my passport arrived to our home, making a way for this trip.

As I pray for the Ukrainian people, I ponder the conditions in which they live: war, instability, crisis, uncertainty. How can I encourage the soil of their souls? Although difficult external conditions press upon the Ukraine people, our living Lord still invites their spiritual lives to flourish. How can they internally thrive with God in the midst of external unrest?

During Jesus time on earth, He too experienced unrest and political tensions. His sacrificial death arose from cultural conflict. Nevertheless, He showed us ways to create the best conditions for our inner being to grow. Just like Milan brought about ecologization for the European organic wine industry, Jesus shows us how to participate with God in living life to the full, even in the midst of surrounding tensions. Let’s look at three ways Jesus modeled how to help the soul flourish.

Jesus took time to be with the Father. He intentionally sought space for prayer. From these prayer times Jesus received direction and consolation. Even with many distractions around Him, Jesus made the effort to connect with the Heavenly Father. Silence, solitude, and stillness enveloped Jesus communion with God, the Father. We too can follow Jesus example and spend time with God during times of both peace and conflict.

Do you have a favorite space to enjoy time with God? How often do you pause for prayer with the Lord? Do you allow time to listen for God; to notice His response to your prayer? Perhaps consider setting aside a portion of time to sit in silence, solitude, and stillness with the One who loves you most?

Jesus spent time with the Scriptures. He often quoted truths found in the Old Testament. His very words testify to deep study and knowledge of God’s activity with Israel and all of humankind. Scripture dripped from Jesus tongue as He allowed it to influence His interactions with others.

In what ways do you allow your soul to soak in the Scriptures? We can spend time in the Word regardless of the tensions surrounding us. Does Scripture drip from your tongue when you interact with others? How can ruminating on the Bible bring rich nutrients to the soil of your soul?

Jesus exemplified walking with God in community. Jesus spent much of the last three years of His life with twelve men and some women who supported them. Jesus lived alongside others. The Son of God modeled the great blessing of spending time with people. These individuals created a community in which they were known and grew to know each other. Spiritual growth and vitality occurred in community.

Consider your community. How connected are you to a community in which you are known and know others? In what ways does your community stimulate the spiritual nutrients of your soul? Or, perhaps it is time to join a community of connectedness?

My prayer for the Ukraine people and for each of us is to experience and know God deeply through intentionally creating a rich spiritual environment within our souls. I hope we all participate with God to create optimal conditions within our souls for lasting growth with Him.

No matter what swirls around us, let us seek time with God in silence, solitude, and stillness where we authentically share the desires of our heart and receive His tender attention. Let’s dig into the Word of God and let it drip from our tongues as we interact with others. And, may we live in community with others offering and receiving the love of God.

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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Mark 1:35, 38 –  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed… Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Luke 8:1-3 – After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Catherine J. Wright. Spiritual Practices of Jesus. Learning Simplicity, Humility, and Prayer with Luke’s Earliest Readers. Westmont, IL. 2020.

Gary Hoag, Jenni Hoag, Linda Maris. Flourish. 2023. https://www.gtp.org/resources/ebooks/flourish/

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Matt Maher. The Lord’s Prayer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36hBlBGVFSs

Vertical Worship. 1000 Tongues.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGhuJ4qf_qE

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

June 23 – July 7 – Lviv, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, Ukraine and Chișinău, Moldova
Speaking, offering soul care, and supporting God’s servants with GTP and their partner, Mission Eurasia. If you would like to partner with the financial needs of this trip; give at: www.gtp.org