Listen or watch episode at https://www.15minuteswithchuck.com/experiencing-gods-goodness-interview-with-erica-wiggenhorn
Chuck (host) (00:00):
Do you believe your doubts or doubt your beliefs? This new Bible study may help.
Chuck (host) (00:21):
Hello. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m thrilled to introduce my special guest Erica Wiggin horn. Erica is the founder of every life ministries and a moody publishing author and speaker Erica loves to bring God’s word through Bible teaching conferences, seminars, and retreats. She’s also taught women in the Arizona state prison system and overseas. She joins me today to discuss her new Bible study and unexpected revival experiencing God’s goodness through disappointment and doubt. In this eight week study, Erica shares a unique picture of revival through Ezekiel’s prophecies. Ezekiel reveals that we are not the first people to believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs when circumstances spiral out of control.
Chuck (host) (01:09):
Erica. Thank you so much for joining today. It’s a pleasure to have you here.
Erica Wiggenhorn (01:12):
It’s so great to be here, Chuck, thank you for having me.
Chuck (host) (01:15):
That is definitely my pleasure. Now I think when people first hear about you and your involvement as founder of every life ministries, they probably think that you grew up in a church background and I understand that’s not quite what happened. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about how you began to follow Jesus and how you became passionate about Bible teaching.
Erica Wiggenhorn (01:35):
Yeah, so I did not grow up going to church. My grandparents moved near us when I was in my young teams and they drug me to church and went into a church where they had this big booming preacher in a black robe that stood at this giant wooden pulpit that was sort of suspended from the sky and he would pound the pulpit. And pretty much terrified me to death was understand about this whole thing. I was like, what is happening here? I had enough yelling in my home growing up. I didn’t need to go to church to hear some more yelling. So I was a little like, I don’t know about this church thing. But about a year later my father who had actually struggled a lot with alcoholism, he had just a real turning point in his life and decided that he needed a relationship with God and he needed a relationship with his daughter.
Erica Wiggenhorn (02:47):
And through that process, we started going to a church down the street from our house, and that was a completely different church experience. And as a teenager, I started going to what we call youth group, where we had a special pastor, just for teenagers to try to figure out life and pastor mark was so kind and so patient and put up with all my snarky questions and all my cynicism and just talked about Jesus. Like he talked about his neighbor or his friend or his brother and conversations that he would have with Jesus and things that Jesus said in the Bible. And he talked about him like a real person and that completely intrigued me. And over time he basically said, look, you know, what are you interested in knowing Jesus, the way I know Jesus. And I was like, yeah, I think I am.
Erica Wiggenhorn (03:52):
But the problem was, is when I opened my Bible to try to get to know Jesus, the way that pastor mark knew Jesus, I could not understand a thing Jesus was saying right in the Bible. I grew up in Los Angeles. So I did not know what Jesus meant when he was talking about plow shares and wheat tears and mustard seeds and using all these farming analogies. I was like, I’ve never been on a farm. The only time I’ve seen a farm animal is at the Los Angeles county zoo. I’m so lost. And so I really struggled to grow in my relationship with God. And that compelled me to say, I, I gotta like crack the code on this whole Bible. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. And I think a lot of people feel that way and we feel bad saying that.
Erica Wiggenhorn (04:49):
But the reality is, is the Bible is a really hard book to understand. And most of us are not gonna just pick it up one day and open it up and go, oh, that makes so much sense when Jesus says weird things like the eye is the lack of the body. And so I began to, I called my pastor mark and I said, can you help a girl out here? And he gave me a bunch of resources and I began to study on my own. And I wanted to create tools that I could hand to somebody and say, if you want to grow closer to God and you don’t know how, and you struggle to read the Bible and you don’t understand what it means, and it’s frustrating for you, let me be your guide. Let me be your friend that sits across the table with you with a cup of coffee. We open up this book together and I help break it down for you because I get the frustration of that. And that’s really all about me in a nutshell.
Chuck (host) (05:51):
That is a great nutshell, Eric, by the way, actually, I’m, I’m really impressed too, cuz this is not your first Bible study. I’m holding it up for our viewers out there, but yet the UN and unexpected rival is one of your amazing Bible studies that came out. I just started <laugh> I’m not very far through it. For audience out there, it’s an a week study of the book of Ezekiel from the old Testament. And Ezekiel, I have to be honest with you. I, I hadn’t read Ezekiel until just recently. Very recently I’m stopped through it and I even kind of quizzed some of my, you know, church going friends. I said, what do you guys know about Ezekiel? And a lot of us were well, little bit. So I was just wondering, why did you pick Ezekiel for your book and what was the significance of that?
Erica Wiggenhorn (06:37):
Yeah, so that’s kind of a crazy story. I was in a really dark time in my life. My father was dying of cancer. We had just moved across the country. I had a three year old and a two year old. My husband was starting a very stressful career. I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know anyone. And so I started going to Bible study, which is one of the places that I often would go to meet people. And we were studying a book of the Bible and doing this Bible study and I felt like it was all about how Jesus just makes your life rosy and better. And I was like my life is not rosy and it’s not better. And I’m really struggling. And I began crying out to God in prayer. Like, why are all these things happening in my life?
Erica Wiggenhorn (07:27):
Like why is everything going wrong? Like, I don’t understand. I don’t, I don’t have the strength to get through this. And I sensed God saying to me study the book of Ezekiel. And I was like, Ezekiel, that is a weird book. Like what in the world? But it was one of those things. And if this may sound weird, if you’re, if you don’t have a close relationship with God, but for those of us who do we know, God speaks. And when God has something very specific to say to his child, he will say it over and over and over like a parent, like don’t touch that. Don’t touch that. Don’t touch that you’re gonna get hurt. Yes you will. God does the same thing with us. And he kept saying study the book of Ezekiel. And I was crying out to the Lord and saying to him, gosh, this, this study, I just feel like, you know, it’s all about what we’re gonna get from you God.
Erica Wiggenhorn (08:21):
And not like just getting to know you and understanding how much you love us. And so finally God wouldn’t let it go. And it was everywhere. I went, I kept hearing Ezekiel in fact, to the point that my son threw a temper tantrum in the grocery store and we ran into the end cap at the end of the aisle and a dozen loaves of Ezekiel bread fell on, fell all over us, right. Oh my gosh, I got it. I got it. Got, I’m gonna look up the book of Ezekiel. So I went home and I opened my Bible. And a lot of times in the Bible if you have like a study Bible, there’ll be a page or two in the front that just kind of give you a synopsis and an overall understanding of the book. And I had one of those Bibles and it said that God’s heart was grieved because his people only wanted his blessings, but they didn’t want him. And it was exactly what I had been crying out to God and I just knew God was speaking. And so I started studying that book. And the thing that was so beautiful about that book is over and over God is saying the same thing to all of his people. He’s saying, you know what you think that have it. You think that knowing me is a religion,
Erica Wiggenhorn (09:48):
But it’s not. It’s a relationship. And you think you have to check all these boxes and do all these things and don’t do all these other things in order to know me and for me to bless you, but you have it all wrong. You don’t understand my heart for you. And you don’t understand the fact that no matter what you do or what you have done or what dumb thing you might do tomorrow, I’m God. And I love you. And I want a relationship with you. And he paints all of these beautiful word pictures in the book of Ezekiel to get his people, to understand how incredibly much he loves them. Not because they check all the boxes, not because they do everything right, but simply because he created us and he loves us infinitely. And so it’s an invitation to intimacy with God. And that was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life.
Chuck (host) (10:53):
So that’s a wonderful message too. And what little I know about Zeki, I’m starting to learn that too, but what I thought was fascinating, just, just initially, is that here he was, he was 30 years old and I believe that was when, at that age, that’s when they’re ready, they can enter the priesthood. He was ready to become a priest. He was ready. I’m ready. I’ve been, I, I can’t do it until I’m 30, I’m 30 now I’m ready to do it. But he was imprisoned. He was part of a population. His dream of being a preacher was not able to just, I guess it unfolded the way he didn’t expect. It was like his dream was right there and he reached 30. He’s ready to do it and found himself in a different situation, which is what God is wonderful at doing is he has a plan for us and he puts us in a different place. And I just think that’s an incredible story. So I cannot wait to continue on this Bob a little bit more. I do wanna talk about the, the title itself, just an unexpected revival revival. What does that, what does that mean to you? Cause I, I know people have preconceived notions of it, but when you said an unexpected revival, what do you mean
Erica Wiggenhorn (11:56):
Thin check? So revival is really this place where we long for a closer connection with God. We want to know who he is. We want to understand why he made us what our purpose is in life. Why he put us where he put us when he put us there. And so it’s an invitation to know God more deeply. And as a result, know ourselves more deeply, you know, I, to me, it’s so sad when people are spending so much time and energy, like looking inside of themselves to try to fully understand themselves. When in reality, we can’t ever fully understand ourselves apart from God. And so we can spend, you know, hundreds and hundreds of hours reading all these books and going to all these therapy classes and doing all these things. And not that any of those things are necessarily bad things, but it has to start with God.
Erica Wiggenhorn (12:56):
It has to start with the one who created us. And he is the one who tells us who we are and helps us understand. The Bible says that he formed us in our mother’s wombs womb. And he ordained every single one of our days before we even took our first breath. And the Bible also says that he put us in our community and in our section of the world in our time and in our place for great purpose. And so it has to start with a relationship with God. And so when it comes to people out there just saying, you know, what is my purpose in life? Like, why am I here and why does it even matter? And you know, we have all of these crazy confusing messages right now, out in our world. Like, you know, the things that we thought we could look in the mirror and say definitively that we are, you know, I am a woman like now we’re being told, I can’t even say that.
Erica Wiggenhorn (13:52):
It’s gotta start with God. And he made us and he loves us. And when he formed us, he had a very specific purpose and plan for our life in mind and he longs to review it to us. And that comes through having a relationship with him. And that starts through his son, Jesus, through saying, Jesus, I wanna have a relationship with you. I want to experience what it’s like to know you and to follow you. And I acknowledge that, you know what, I’m messing up this life, trying to do it all by myself and I need you
Chuck (host) (14:31):
See. Absolutely. And, but that, that just brings that hits home for me so much because so my, my biggest prayers all the time are Lord, let me let go of control. I know you’re a control. You, you take the wheel, Jesus, take the wheel. One thing too, you kind of alluded to this as well. When you first started, you thought, oh, Christianity believing in Christ. Everything’s gonna be a rosy. I’m perfect. And I think your subtitle for this book kind of emphasizes the opposite of that, you know, experiencing God’s goodness through disappointment and doubt. What do you mean by that?
Erica Wiggenhorn (15:08):
Yeah, so what’s really interesting in the book of Ezekiel is the people in Ezekiel’s day, they had very specific ideas of what they wanted God to do. So they wanted political reform. They wanted an increase in religious fervor, right? They had they wanted to go home. They wanted their traditions to be kept intact with had very specific ideas about what they wanted God to do. And God’s saying to them essentially, you know what you’re trying to put me in this box that you have created about how I’m supposed to be behave and what I’m supposed to do. And the minute you have put me in that box, you have instantly made me too small because the Bible tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. And so while the people thought that God was punishing them by removing them from the city of Jerusalem and taking them 700 miles away to Babylon, what they thought was punishment was actually their protection.
Erica Wiggenhorn (16:20):
And God purposely took them out of the city because he knew what was going to happen to that city. And he had a plan and he had a purpose for them. And they were being sheltered over here in a circumstance they didn’t wanna be in. And I bet if you, you were to just take a poll of all of your listeners check and you were to say, does anyone have any disappointment in their life? Is there anybody out there who can say one, every single detail in my life is exactly the way I wanted it to be. It was exactly the way I planned it envisioned it, every single thing I ever wanted. I have I have a feeling your phone line would probably be crickets <laugh> cause life has disappointment, right? It does. And our tendency, when life is disappointing, our tendency is to say, either God’s not real or what the people in Ezekiel’s day said is God does not see us.
Erica Wiggenhorn (17:22):
He doesn’t see what we’re going through. And he doesn’t care. Those were the two things that they arrived, the conclusion they arrived at in the disappointment. And God says, I do see, and I do hear, and I am doing something in your day that you would not believe even if I told you. And so it’s really a message of hope that we can’t look at our circumstances and decide whether or not God loves us. Based on our circumstances, we have to open up the Bible and we have to see that God loves us in any and every circumstance. And he is so entirely other that no matter what, the circumstance, he can work in it, he can work through it and he has a plan to fix it and redeem it. And it probably won’t be in the timeline that we want.
Chuck (host) (18:20):
Erica Wiggenhorn (18:21):
But he’s always at work and he will never leave you. And he will never forsake you. Jesus made that promise. He said, listen, when you choose to follow me, I will be with you every step until you make it to heaven, I will never leave you or forsake you. And that is a wonderful promise.
Chuck (host) (18:40):
Yes it is. And Eric, I do want to kind of switch gears a little bit because again you’ve written several Bible studies and, and, and books as well. And one, one topic that I came across I thought was really interesting, cuz it I’ve heard this from several of my listers and I’m a teacher, two, several of my students dealing with imposters syndrome. I’ve dealt with it myself, but one word that I love is you call confidence. God confidence. I was just wondering, can you just tell us a little bit more about that?
Erica Wiggenhorn (19:08):
Yeah. so God confidence. It’s, it’s actually a word it’s in the urban dictionary really <laugh> so it’s like a legit word now. Awesome. and it basically means that God will always make good on his promises and he will be good on our behalf. And so it’s this idea that instead of me having to strive to make every outcome that I so desperately desire to happen, I can release it and I can trust that God has an outcome in mind. That will be good. And so instead of self confidence or self reliance, I can rely on God that he is only good and he is always faithful.
Chuck (host) (19:55):
Okay. This is beautiful. And I do wanna say too, one thing that I think your, your Bible studies will really help with is sometimes it’s hard for people to get started again. They’re like, how do I come up with a plan to, to read this? You know, they might be overwhelmed. Like you say, you first picked up the Bible and you know, you had no plan. You looked to the words, like, I don’t know where to go. What practical steps would you give to someone to, to begin studying the Bible or to use your study?
Erica Wiggenhorn (20:21):
Yeah. Great question. So one of the things that I have done and laid out in all of my studies is they’re laid out day by day by day. So this is the passage of scripture that you read. I walk it through help you understand it, explain it. I put some questions in there to help you reflect and think about, well, what is this? What is this ancient prophecy? How does this apply to my life in 21st century America today help you bridge that gap and make some connections. And then there’s also a section of prayer. Here’s some things to talk to God about. So it’s very scripted in the sense that there’s no question, like where do I start and how much do I read? And when do I stop? I kind of lay that grid out for you. Maybe somebody’s listening today and they’re like, you know what?
Erica Wiggenhorn (21:13):
I don’t have a relationship with God at all. Like I know nothing about Jesus. I would really encourage you to pick up my study, unexplainable Jesus rediscovering, the God you thought you knew it walks through Jesus’ life day by day. Helps you understand why he said the things he said, what he meant why he did the miracles that he did. Why were, why were those miracles important? So if you’re listening today and you’re thinking, you know what, I don’t have a relationship with God. And I feel like maybe this is God saying I wanna get to know you and I want you to get to know me unexplainable. Jesus is a great study to start with. Maybe you are a person and you’re like, you know what? I, I believe in God, but I haven’t really studied the Bible much. I don’t really know exactly what it means to have a relationship. So intimately, like you’re talking about Erica I would pick up an unexpected revival and just ask God to bring that revival to your heart, that desire to be close to God.
Chuck (host) (22:19):
That’s awesome. Erica. My last question is where can people connect with you and find out more?
Erica Wiggenhorn (22:25):
Yeah, so I pretty much hang out on Instagram almost every day. <Laugh> and it’s just my name, Erica Wiggen horn. But you can also connect with me on my website. There’s tons of free resources on there. If you go on the unexpected revival page there is a leader bundle bundle there you can download for free. It’s got some prayers on it. There’s also a busy women’s bundle and there’s three free eBooks on there. One of them is 50 days to intimacy with God. It’s just a da little daily devotional. It also includes the busy woman’s guide to praying for friends and family. So if you wanna grow in your prayer life, there’s another free resource there for you as well. But yeah, go check out. Erica wig, warren.com. There’s tons of free resources available there to download and start growing closer to God.
Chuck (host) (23:21):
Excellent. And for our audience, I’ll put links to all those in the show notes. So just scroll down, you’ll be able to click those links immediately. Erica, I wanna thank you so much for, for sharing your latest Bible study with us and just taking the time for joining say thank you so much, Erica. God bless.
Erica Wiggenhorn (23:35):
Thank you, Chuck. God bless you!
Chuck (host) (23:41):
Well, I really enjoy my conversation with Erica and I’m really enjoying her new Bible Study An unexpected revival. If you’d like to find out more, just go to her website at EricaWigginhorn.com. I wanna thank Erica for joining me. They wanna thank you for joining us as well. Again, if you could do us a small favor and share this episode with a friend or give us a like, we’d certainly appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining us. We’ll see you next time. God bless.