About Marcia Lebhar, Author

The wife of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese's bishop, Neil Lebhar, Marcia has been actively involved in lay ministry since her college years. Neil and Marcia met and came to faith through the secondary school ministry of FOCUS. As a FOCUS leader, an associate staff member for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a Bible teacher in both churches and secondary schools, a ministry director and frequent speaker... but first as a discipler of the saints under her own roof, Marcia’s passion has always been to share the treasure of the Scriptures. Her column, Discipleship Journal, can be found in five different blogs: Face to Face, Threads, Fine Fire - Passing the Faith to the Next Generation, Wilderness Series, and Bare Branch, which is also available on Amazon in ebook and paperback versions. 

In 1981, the Lebhars traveled to Israel on a study tour associated with CMJ (Church’s Ministry among Jewish people), based at Christ Church in Jerusalem. They have since led countless study trips to Israel and both say that few things have had a more profound impact on their own lives as disciples or a greater impact on their church. Marcia served as the Executive Director of CMJ USA during a period of rapid expansion.

Married for 50 years, the Lebhars have four children and twelve grandchildren. They consider the friendship and mutual ministry they share as a family to be their life's greatest treasure. 

About Fine Fire: Passing the Faith to the Next Generation

What Christian parent of a newborn, or a teenager for that matter, hasn't trembled at their responsibility to help their child onto the path of a faithful life? From the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures to the apostles of the New Testament, the call to raise godly children is unequivocal ... and, to most of us, pretty overwhelming.  How does the faith actually take root in the next generation?

When the apostles are instructing those they are training in the faith, it is striking how often they reach for the language of parenting. Whether we are called to make disciples of our own children, or of the new believers who are the next generation in the Body of Christ, the same principles apply.

This series explores seven principles for calling the next generation to discipleship. Here they are in bookmark form.

They come from our hard-won lessons as new Christians and new parents with few role models, and from the wonder of seeing grown children apply those principles in their own lives as disciplers of adults. These ideas were sovereign gifts to us as a young family, like a spring in a desert, and, many years later, they continue to refresh us in our various callings.

Posts by Marcia Lebhar

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A Parting Blessing

A parting blessing. My mother used to say it as we said goodbye for any length of time, like when I was returning to boarding school or college. “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are apart, one from the other” (Genesis 31:49-50). It sounds so affectionate, lovely. I only learned later, and I wonder if she ever knew, that it was actually spoken between La...

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Heavenly Food


I once had a quirky unemotional vision. A waking dream. I wondered for years if it was a function of an overactive imagination or a spicy lunch. I’ve always said that since God made me, he knows how low he has to aim to get me right between the eyes. Still, if this was a message from God it somehow missed me....

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Ditch the Scolding Bias?

An identity grounded in God would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as someone who is deeply loved by God.(David Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced h...

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Confidential Conversation

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Moses met the Lord in the tent of meeting in the wilderness. God arranged it for private conversation. Can you imagine it? Friendly conversation with the Creator, Redeemer, God of Israel? While the word of the Lord comes to various prophets in various ways, Moses is the only one in the Hebrew Scriptures whom we are told has this kind of intimate conversation with ...

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Slow Learners in Advent


My whimsical dad was known for his tongue-in-cheek pithy sayings. Growing up, I would have said he repeated them ad nauseum. Now I'd give just about anything to hear him repeat one, just one more time. Upon learning something new: "Why, if you're not careful, you learn something new every day!" Upon being told by a grandchild that she was 6: "Why, (name) I'm ashamed of y...

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Remembrance and Recovery: A Thanksgiving Exercise

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The fall holiday season is here. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Charlie Brown specials! Are they even on network TV anymore? To me, the most endearing and memorable feature of those shows was the unintelligible voice of every adult. Teacher and parent alike were heard only as a blurry, slow, muted trumpet sort of sound. Waaah-wah-wa-wa-waaah. Remember it?...

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The Big Lie

There is a Big Lie out there, one that is both ancient and contemporary, and it eclipses all the “big lies” we are so accustomed to hearing about in the media. This is the Big Lie: God cannot be trusted, so you’d better do something, and fast! We’re spending the year considering the cohesive story of the Scriptures, seeing it as a narrative tapestry with threads...

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Summer Gardens

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The ecstasy. The agony. Toiling in the Florida heat, ignited by hope and visions of glorious produce, I, along with my tribe of grandchildren gardeners, put in the labor. We clear the plot, dig it up and enrich the soil. Once we’ve planted, we weed, water, and watch it. After much waiting comes the mystery of harvest: big warm tomatoes, perfectly round and sweet, crunchy...

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Perfect Timing

“Perfect timing.” We’ve all said it. We’ve all seen it. When a friend calls just a moment after they have come to mind. When you’re not ready for guests or a meeting, and they turn out to be late too. Then there’s perfect timing in things more consequential, like the seemingly serendipitous meeting that leads to a marriage. Beyond that are those stunning timing...

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Unfinished Stories

Some of the threads in the tapestry of our redemptive history from Genesis to Revelation are bright and clear. Others are subtle, weaving in and out, seeming to disappear and then reappear. All of them inspire awe in us when we see them. They give us deep reassurance that God is directing the drama, including the parts each of us play in his grand design....

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Hidden in the History

Dominoes - Marcia Lebhar - Medium

You’ve probably seen them…videos of dominoes cascading through multiple rooms, over and under furniture, setting in motion all sorts of events that eventually arrive at a fantastic finale. The narrative story of the Bible is a bit like that. After Adam and Eve’s reach for control in the opening chapters of Genesis, God promises that one day their descendant will deal...

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The Big Story

Gail Karson. Jacksonville, FL. Rainbow warp

“He told me the Bible!” Our girls’ car was incredulous. “He what? How long did it take him?” “About five minutes.” That was it. The girls spent the rest of the way home, and our family spent the rest of the year, trying to figure out how to tell the story of the Bible to a five-year-old in five minutes. A disciple of Jesus for almost thirty years th...

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Snakes, Spiders and Bible Fear

Reflections on Teaching the Scriptures "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:7 I only cried once on Christmas day, and whether it was from joy or sorrow I am still not certain. After sunset, Neil and I found ourselves ...

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Hospitality and Heartbreak

Neil likes to say that for many people, their living and dining rooms are designed solely for when the president stops by unexpectedly for dinner. Our western notion of hospitality is drawn more from gourmet columns than it is from any biblical notion of hospitality. Biblical hospitality is entirely different. It requires vulnerability and it can inconvenience, even hurt ...

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Growth by Imitation

Is everyone out there brimming with confidence, or, like me, do you find the following exhortations of Paul hard to imagine saying to another disciple yourself? I urge you to imitate me. (1 Cor. 4:16 NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. (Phi. 3:17) Our adventures in discipling the young believ...

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Risking Obedience

Risking Obedience The 'OH-NO!' Principle For parents, and anyone who disciples others: What's one, sure-fire thing you can do to help root the faith in those you are leading . . . to protect them from falling away later in life? I learned the oddest statistic a few years ago. Research was conducted over several decades to discover which factors led kids who grew up in C...

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Dear Friend...On Anxiety

As a frequent retreat speaker, I often find the conversations that follow a gathering to be the most fruitful. This month I'm taking a break from the Fine Fire topic to share a bit of post-conference correspondence which seems particularly relevant to our current stressful cultural climate. Dear Friend...On Anxiety, It was great to see your name pop up in my inbox again,...

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Pray Scary Prayers - Part 2 (The Prayer Lab)

The picture of Jesus surrounded by children is in all our Sunday school books. It's a tableau so familiar and so tame. Yet somehow in its tenderness, we have lost the sense of what a radical point Jesus was making by welcoming such young ones. Why were the disciples so disturbed by the presence of children? The Gospels record that they rebuked people for giving children a...

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Pray Scary Prayers - Part 1 (God's Got This)

You think you've learned something. You think you know something . . . only to discover that you'll be schooled in the same truth, over and over, all your life. Our lessons in praying scary prayers began when our family was new, yet the power of this one truth still surprises us, and the Lord often reminds us that we still haven't learned it sufficiently. The icy Februar...

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One Warning and Two Anti-Virals

I'm constantly intrigued with the threads of plot or character that run through the whole of the Scriptures. Like repeating melody lines in a symphony, or themes in a novel, they speak to the unity of the text and the sovereignty of its Author. One of those threads feels particularly pertinent to me as we endure this traumatic Covid-19 season. God frequently renders his p...

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Let Them See!

Psalm 78 voices the strangest declaration. The people of Israel are rehearsing the wonders the Lord accomplished in the Red Sea parting, and in their sojourn through the wilderness. Yet they begin with such an unlikely resolve: "We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mi...

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Now Watch

When the car door closes, anxiety rises. The experience of being sent home from the hospital after the birth of a baby is practically universal, at least in the West where most babies are born in hospitals. And to new parents, it all seems perilously close to criminal negligence. The time comes for the new family to take their baby home, and the staff is so concerned to ke...

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Wait For It Vision. We want it. We need it. In a way, the God of the Bible promises it. God declares, "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying,'My counsel shall stand,and I will accomplish all my purpose . . .'" (Isaiah 46:9b-10). The whole biblical story begins with a promise that the e...

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Signpost #10 - Rehearsing Helplessness!

It's almost over. Moses has died, and so has the generation of Israel who failed to take the land of Canaan when God wanted to give it. This time for sure! Joshua sends in spies again, just two, secretly this time, seemingly hoping to avoid an instant replay of the first disastrous community panic attack and refusal enter the promised land. What do the spies learn? Rahab,...

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Signpost #9 - Almost Home!

In his important book, Being Mortal, Atul Gawande unpacks some unexpected results of research about what makes for peace and stability at the end of life. He first reports on a study which found that "far from growing unhappier, people reported more positive emotions as they aged . . . they found living to be a more emotionally satisfying and stable experience as time pass...

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Signpost #8 - Fear Lies

We are hearing the wordliesevery day now in the news. Charges and counter charges. Are certain political leaders lying to us? Or is it the media? Most of us, if we're honest, have a gnawing sense of uncertainty about what's really going on. But the issue of lying itself is not news at all, rather it is a sign of our fallen state, and the presence of the "father of lies" i...

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Signpost #7 - Identity Idolatry

Do you ever wish, as I do, that God would hand you His personality inventory assessment of you, kind of like a divine Myers-Briggs report? King David cries out for it in Psalm 139:Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (v. 23-24 NLT)I feel this espe...

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Signpost #6 - Remember!

Eleven troubling habits of chronically unhappy people. Five ways to spice up your marriage. Seven reasons to stay single. Eight steps to managing stress. Ten reasons twenty-somethings are returning to traditional worship ... Is anyone else weary of endless lists in the blogosphere or social media? Yes? So why would I offer you another one? Give me credit for this: the lis...

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Signpost #5 - Vent Rightly!

There's an almost comical sameness to the way God's people respond to the difficulties God allows them to experience in the Wilderness. They wail. They rail. They rage and accuse. For some reason this reminds me of old TV comedies. I picture Jackie Gleason or Archie Bunker bellowing at their wives. Then there's Lucille Ball, often unable to wheedle what she wants from husb...

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Signpost #4 - Just In Case!

When our three daughters were small, they invited a neighborhood boy to our church's Friday night children's program. Jay came, and loved it. The next day he appeared at our back door, face alight, eager to return the kindness. He invited the girls across the street to his house, "to meetmy god!" Jay's family was from India, and he led the girls to his family room where hi...

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Signpost #3 - Just Do It!

It's over! The deliverance has been accomplished! The people God has chosen and made his own have walked through the sea, with walls of water standing back for them on both sides (Exodus 14:22, 29). All through the night the people crossed the dry seabed. And just before dawn the last incredulous Israelite climbed up on the far bank of the Red Sea, the soles of his sandals...

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Signpost #2 - Assume Deliverance

So here are the people of Israel, a million strong. Having experienced the miraculous deliverance of Passover and hurriedly left their homes in Egypt, they have been driven in to a desolate and fearful dead end by the God who has pledged his love to them. Now they are caught in a chasm where there is an idol to a demon god. They are in full view of an enemy watchtower at M...

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Signpost #1 - Helplessness is Helpful!

THE FIRST SIGNPOST The first signpost to catch my attention is the one our Zin Canyon hike underscored. It might read:HELPLESSNESS IS HELPFUL! Saved from the final plague of the angel of death by the blood of the sacrificial lamb over their doorposts, the people of Israel set out in haste to finally escape their slavery in Egypt. God himself leads them on their way by me...

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Faces (Invisibility)

We say he is the image of the invisible God, (Col. 1:15) but even in his coming to us and taking on flesh, Jesus is still invisible. Willing to be invisible... unrecognized... unacknowledged. You can hear the incredulity in his young friend, John's, voice, can't you? "He came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him." (John 1:10) I try to imagine...

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Know That I Know

A year of grieving loss is about to close for our family. We sat beside two dying loved ones a year ago this summer. First was my husband's mother, and then my sister. Both times we wondered what each woman knew, or remembered, of spiritual realities. Every death serves as a reminder of our own mortality. As we watched and waited, twice, I thought of the teasing request I...

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Do...Then See

One of the most oft repeated principles taught at the recent ACNA conference at Ridgecrest was Bishop Todd Hunter's reminder: obedience precedes understanding. The phrase is variously attributed to the church fathers, George McDonald, and a host of others. And I thought I discovered it! In the years when a large group of young adults met weekly at our house, the question ...

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I make lists. To-do lists. And then I feel so much better, even before I have actually done a thing. I make lists with paper and pen. Then I can see the progress of items crossed out. Neil makes lists in cyberspace, but I think it must be far less satisfying to have the accomplished task simply disappear from the screen. It vanishes without a trace to remind him of the mis...

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There's something about having to wait that challenges each of us, and the way we wait tends to be pretty revealing. Neil seems to wait patiently for elevators. Why not? We can't make them come any faster. I tap my foot, turn in circles, and punch the button again and again. I multi-task in the kitchen. Why not? It is possible to do three things at once. Just watching Neil...

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White Hot Faith

Canon Jim Hobby prayed such a radical prayer on our recent clergy day. Referring to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego facing the furnace to which obedience in Babylon took them, Jim prayed, "Lord, would you give us that white hot faith that, without calculation and without hesitation, we would be bound and thrown into the furnace rather than displease You?" My friends know t...

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Supernatural Specs

Can those of you who are near-sighted like me recall the first time you ever put on a pair of prescription eyeglasses? I will never forget the shock of discovery, at age six, that the rest of the world could actually see individual leaves on a tree across the street from where they were standing! Other people have been seeing like this all along??? Perhaps because of this...

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What's Your Empty Stable?

OK. A little glimpse of Lebhar family history. Neil's fastidious mother and I were once working side by side in the kitchen of his childhood home. Neil was looking on. I was apparently being extra particular about whatever I was doing, because his mother suddenly teased me, "Marcia, you are so neurotic!" Neil howled at the irony and immediately broke into the chorus of tha...

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This summer Neil and I had the decidedly unhappy task of admitting to ourselves that the shrubs to one side of our front door were dead and must be removed. A small team of people with hatchets and shovels made relatively quick work of the removal. Then we had a lovely, empty patch of dirt, all raked and ready to be replanted. But we were interrupted by the daily afternoon...

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Bike Riding...Bible Reading

We spilled into our last sabbatical tired and out of shape in every way, physically, emotionally and spiritually. "There are bikes in the shed," they told us. "Help yourselves". Hmmm. Maybe. One day we ventured out, deciding to ride to another town, but, carelessly, not calculating the distance. I remember how grueling it was... on how many hills I had to dismount and push...

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