Jodie Niznik, Podcaster, Author

“The most important thing we can do is create space for God,” said Jodie Niznik, host of the “So Much More, Creating Space for God” podcast. “I’m inviting people to create space for God in their lives, to slow down and let God’s Word be read over them in a meditative way, so that the Holy Spirit can draw them to what he wants them to notice in God’s Word, then to have a conversation with the Lord about it.” Jodie’s podcast comes in two parts: the meditative, guided reading of Scripture, and a guest’s response to it. “That’s what I’m spending a lot of time doing these days, doing these podcasts, having conversations around how God is showing up in our lives in a real way right now, and what he’s teaching us through the exact same passage that the listeners have experienced as well.”

Jodie was 13 years old when she first encountered God at a summer camp. “I didn’t own a Bible, and it was pre-internet, so I couldn’t even look one up online,” she said, “so I had no context for who God was or for understanding the new faith that I had. I just knew that I wanted to know God. Like many of us do, we start to impose our own ideas on who He is. I started to impose on Him that idea of a big, mean, bossy guy. I never lived up to his standards, so He must have been constantly disappointed with me. I lived by legalism–a legalism I created–a measuring stick that I created, because I still didn’t even know Scripture. When I finally started to get into Christian community in college, I started to study God’s Word, and started to discover God for who He really is, which is not at all who I thought He is.”

Her Bible study leader in college had a gift of being able to remember and connect sections of God’s Word that make it seem cohesive and relevant. “I was jaw-dropped,” Jodie said. “I never knew that God’s Word fit together that way.” After Jodie married and moved to Texas, she and her husband grew spiritually under the leadership of their church’s pastor. “He was such a great Bible teacher. He started to unpacked Scripture in such a way that brought it to life to me. He helped me understand theology and helped me understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He helped me understand law and grace. It cracked open for me beginning to understand what was really true about who God was.”

Jodie recalled, “Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ Truth brings freedom and lies brings bondage. I had lived under bondage because I had lived believing lies about who God was. Truth helped me understand God’s infinite love, His eternal grace. I started to live this life of incredible freedom. I started to really understand how fully loved and accepted I am. I started wanting to serve Him in a different way. I wondered, ‘How come everybody doesn’t know this? We need to tell everybody this!’ This was the spark that God used to propel me into seminary to learn more so that I could turn around and share truths that have been so liberating for me, that led to the abundant life that Jesus said He’d give. I was experiencing that and I wanted everyone else to as well.”

So when Jodie’s youngest child entered school, she did too. She earned her master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, in Christian education, with an emphasis in women’s ministry. “If I was going to teach, I wanted to make sure I was equipped to teach,” she said. “When we are given gifts and opportunities, we are called to steward those things, to not hide our gifts under a rock, but to actually cultivate them. I believe the Lord has given me a gift for teaching, and He has called me to use it and He has given me opportunities to use it.” Jodie served in pastoral ministry for 12 years, and began to write the “Real People, Real Faith” Bible study series. “I see myself as a woman who deeply loves God’s Word. God’s Word has been transformative in my life, and it is important to me to share it with others; to lead them into a very practical understanding of God’s Word. I see myself as a guide into God’s Word. The study of God’s Word is incredibly important.” 

“The compelling message is Jesus and what Jesus has come to do for us. Saying that in a thousand, million different ways,” Jodie said, whether that is teaching, writing, podcasting, or just having conversations with friends over coffee, “is the living and active word. The Spirit has something new for me all the time. You can have studied, studied, studied, and God will reveal something totally new to you. The Spirit has something for me that is going to be a little different for me than He has for you. It’s being open to what the Spirit wants to teach us instead of imposing our own ideas on life, on God’s Word, or what we think He wants. It is always a beautiful experience for me when the Spirit shows up, and He helps me see something, and then He helps me turn a corner. Now I know how to apply this to my life.”

“When I experienced God’s word becoming alive, I wanted others to experience this,” Jodie said of her teaching, writings and podcasts. In the summer of 2021, Jodie aired the first of her two-fold podcast, So Much More. The first part is based on an ancient practice called Lectio Divina, Latin for Word Divine, or the sacred reading of God’s Word. “It’s basically a slow, meditative reading,” Jodie explained. The process invites the listener to hear the same few verses several times. The first time is to hear the text and understand it. The second time is to see if any word or phrase stands out. “The third time invites the listener to begin a conversation with God by asking ‘Lord, take me deeper. Would your Spirit guide me into how You would like me to respond?’ Have a conversation about a sin to confess, a step you need to take, or a promise you need to remember about God,” Jodie suggests. “The fourth and final time is called the resting time, just letting God’s Word rest in who God is, and knowing God made you, and He loves you unconditionally, and resting in his love.” 

Jodie gives a personal example from her quiet reflection on Psalm 37. “‘Trust in the Lord and do good.’ As I have been meditating on that psalm, that’s what kept coming up. There were all these things trying to intersect my life, throw me off course, discourage me, and have me compare myself to other people. As I was sitting and praying about this, I felt like God was saying to me very clearly, ‘You trust Me. You do what I’ve asked you to do. That’s it. Stop looking around. This is about what I’ve asked you to do. Are you going to trust Me and keep doing good?’ I had to do some confession. I had to do some repentance about where I let the enemy weasel his way into my mind, and help me dwell on negative things. I had to recommit myself to trusting God and what He’s doing in my life. In Scripture meditation, I am open to whatever it is God has to say to me through His Word. That’s why I love this process!”

“The #1 thing we can do is carve out space for God. You need to have space, practices in your life, to slow down and meditate in God’s Word, savor God’s Word, let it roll around in your mind in a slower way, so that we’re not just reading for information, but formation,” Jodie said. “Scripture says His Word will not return to Him void. Sometimes when I am teaching God’s Word, my words may fall short, but His never will. My prayer has been for years, ‘Help me to read Your Word well. I want them to hear Your words, Lord. Let me step out of the spotlight, and let Your Word be the spotlight.’” 

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