The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn 

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Prayers for Wayne Halbrooks

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My Daddy needs the prayers of the saints.

When my Daddy was first diagnosed he was put on big gun chemo. This chemo had a 70% chance of being effective. It was. It worked. However, it was also giving my Daddy neuropathy. My Dad was scheduled for six rounds of chemo, he had received five of those six. The neuropathy had reached the point that the doctors explained one more treatment could put my Dad in a wheelchair. The last PET scan had showed that the cancer was dead in the tailbone and dying everywhere else. So the doctor felt it would be safe to continue with only an Avastin chemotherapy without the drug that caused the neuropathy. Everything seemed to be going well…

My Dad planned to return to work, all seemed hopeful.

Then my Dad received word from his employer that if he could not return to work without his 25lb weight restriction they would have to let him go. The doctors could not lift the restriction because the cancer was in the bones. One wrong lift could break my Dad’s back. Therefore his employer let him go. Yeh… let that sink in.

Now my Dad fights cancer and job loss. My Dad just turned 6o years old in December. Now we wait for my Dad to be able to be “approved” to receive HIS money. HIS money that he has payed in for over the past 40 years of his life. In the meantime… the doctor bills keep coming.

Then my Daddy started feeling worse… the last PET scan results showed that the cancer was “acting up”. It was hopeful that the Avastin would have held it at bay for 6 to 8 months… it didn’t. It didn’t hold even two months. The cancer has proved to be aggressive.

With cancer, my Dad can’t just go back to the treatment that was working before. He has to go to something else. He will begin a new mixture of chemo tomorrow. This mixture has a 50% chance of working. This means, according to the doctor, that it is effective in 5 out of 10 people. My Dad needs to be one of those five.

I just finished writing a devotional in my latest book and in that devotional I studied up a little on the number five in Scripture…

The Number 5

Because man has 5 fingers, 5 toes, and 5 senses the number 5 is significant and thought to be the number of human weakness. He is considered weak and dependant. The number 5 may speak of man’s weakness and inability or God’s strength and ability. Some interesting examples:

  • The 5 loaves were not enough to feed the great multitude.
  • The 5 brothers in Lk 16 could not keep themselves out of hades.
  • The 5 husbands could not satisfy the woman at the well.

~ biblehistory.com

I am well aware of the weakness of man. I am well aware of the weakness and limitations of the greatest among us. However, in this weakness our God is strong!

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

My two specific prayer request for my Daddy is that you would pray that

1) He would be One Of The Five.

2) He would receive 1st time approval of His social security benefits.

With God nothing is impossible…

I believe that… Lord help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)

We have not… because we ask not…

So I’m asking… again.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:7-12

I will be wearing white for my Daddy tomorrow… will you join me?

Will you join me and will you post it with a prayer request from your circle of influence with the hashtag #teamwayne

MY DAD's Battle

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God Didn’t Say He Wouldn’t Put More On You Than You Can Handle

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The misquote of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is massive…

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

This verse of Scripture has been used for years… generations even… in an attempt to comfort those who were going through a trial. You will hear people say, “God never puts more on us than we can handle” and they say this in their attempt to recall 1 Corinthians 10:13. I don’t know who it was that started this… but I would like to punch them in the face with as much Christian love as I can muster.

Claiming that “promise” from this verse is like trying to claim you won the lottery with a food stamp. It’s empty, void, and worthless because it is taking the Word of God out of context and twisting it and putting words in God’s mouth that He never said just because you heard someone else say it and it sounded good.

The context of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is set slap down in a message from Paul to the church in Corinth concerning SIN.

In 1 Corinthians 10:7 he writes,

Do not be idolaters…

In 1 Corinthians 10:14 he writes,

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 

1 Corinthians 10:13 is nestled right in between these two verses. This verse is here to let us know that NO TEMPTATION has overtaken us that is not common to man and God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able and with that temptation He will provide escape.

The word temptation here is peirasmos and in this verse it means specifically, the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, etc.; also an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from outward circumstances, an internal temptation to sin, of the temptation by which the devil sought to divert Jesus the Messiah from his divine errand, of a condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from faith and holiness: in the phrases, adversity, affliction, trouble (cf. our trial), sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s faith, holiness, character.

1 Corinthians 10:13 is simply a will you choose sin or will you choose God. Will you choose to listen to the Word and obey what He has clearly revealed to you or will you choose to listen to the words of others and your own flesh. And if you choose sin, if you choose the words of others over God, or your own desires, know that it WAS NOT because you were powerless against it or because God had left you with no way out… you just ignored Him and chose sin. Thus you proved the condition of your own heart and revealed your own unrighteousness and your own desire for evil… even though you knew the truth.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks…

Romans 1:21

So please… please stop.

Please stop patting someone on the arm who is overwhelmed with circumstances that have come as a result of this sinful fallen world and not their own sinful fallen choices and tell them that God will not put more on them than they can handle.

There are things in this world that we cannot handle. If we could handle them we wouldn’t need Jesus. Instead of patting them on the arm and misquoting a Scripture reference, how about going to your knees right then and there, and storming the throne of God on their behalf. How about calling on the name of the Lord, petitioning Him on their behalf, with words and promises that God DID say and record.

How about praying Philippians 4:13 over them… in context..

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

This verse originally reads, all things I am strong for in the One strengthening me. The phrase I am strong for is the word ischuó in the Greek and it means properly, embodied strength that “gets into the fray” (action), i.e. engaging the resistance. For the believer, refers to the Lord strengthening them with combative, confrontive force to achieve all He gives faith for. That is, facing necessary resistance that brings what the Lord defines is success (His victory, cf. 1 Jn 5:4). 

A believer doesn’t need prayers for circumstances to be removed, but for strength to stand firm in the midst of them. God will not lead us in to temptation but He will however allow us to face a trial so that we might testify in and through these trials to the validity of His Word and power and the hope that we have within us. One way or another this world will come against those who confess to belong to the One True God. Our sacrifice of praise comes in our continuousness to give thanks and praise to God regardless of what we face in this world.

Walking away from sin is NOT a sacrifice or an offering to the Lord. The obvious consequences that come as a result of sinful choices in themselves gives anyone regardless of their faith the common sense to see the need to avoid certain choices. You have not done God any favors by choosing Him over sin. When God asks for a sacrifice from His own, it is to be spotless and without blemish… sin is something you discard and cut away and burn. It is not a gift you lay at the feet of your King.

In Christ we are strong for ALL things. This strength comes from the Lord and this strength is enough to bring us success according to what the Lord defines as success… not what we define as success. The strength is to be a strength that enables us to engage, to confront, to be combative, in whatever battle it is that we face.

Temptation we are to find a way out and flee… but tribulations we are to stand and fight. Even if we have to fight alone… however church, let us not forget what comes after Philippians 4:13

There is a Philippians 4:14,

Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

Yes, all a believer needs is Jesus. All I need is Jesus, but NEVERTHELESS… how dare we see a brother in need and do nothing.

We know His great name… let us lift Him up and pray that our brothers and sisters in His name are strengthened and able to be victorious in Him, through Him, and for Him. This world is more than we can handle and God never said He would not put more on us than we could handle…

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

1 Peter 4:19

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Do The Demons Know You?

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But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Act 19:13-16

Do the demons know you?

This passage of Scripture gets me every time. It causes me to pause and wonder if the demons know me… and if not… why? They knew Jesus. They knew Paul. Yet these men who were trying to do good works, these men who were trying to help this man, on someone else’s relationship with Christ… were unknown to them.

Jesus was who Paul preached… they didn’t preach him.

The results of their attempt was there defeat and utter humiliation. These seven men who came “by Jesus whom Paul preaches” had no power… none… over the demonic forces of evil.

We cannot defeat evil by Jesus… we can only defeat evil IN Jesus.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

John 15:4-6

Beloved are you abiding In Christ or are you still standing by? Are you simply by Jesus and those who preach Him because you see the power in them and you want that “power”, you want that influence, you want that feeling that comes for being recognized for helping others, but you have not surrendered and submitted yourself to Christ?

When we read further into Acts 19 we see that when these seven men returned naked and wounded and shared their story fear fell upon those who had believed and the name of Jesus was magnified. Then those who HAD believed KEPT coming and confessing and disclosing their practices. Those who had believed realized the importance of not just being by Jesus but being all the way IN Him. They needed to be more than mere knowers of Him… they needed to be preachers in Him.

These people had spent much money investing in gathering ideas and practices from men and their ideas of spirituality. Acts 19:19 says that the accumulated price of all the books they brought to be burned were found at fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Have you ever sat down and counted up the price of what you have spent on “magic books”? You know the steps to success, the steps to a better you, the how to get people to do what you want, the easy way to whatever…

How much money have you spent on the latest culture fad… even the latest “christian” craze. How much money have you spent on books and studies that teach you about someone else’s relationship with Christ compared to you simply spending time with Him yourself. You and Him and His Word… not someone else about them and His Word.

How often do you say, I wish I knew God like they do?

Well you can.

For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.

Deuteronomy 10:17

***

For there is no partiality with God.

Romans 2:11

***

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Ephesians 1:13-19

Beloved, you know as much of Him as you want to know…

He’s waiting on you.

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Trusting In The Midst Of Fear

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This coming Wednesday night I will teach my very first lesson at Central Baptist Church. I will be teaching through the first two chapters of Jeremiah. Right there in that very first chapter of Jeremiah is a jewel of a verse…

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you…

Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah was appointed a prophet to the nations. This was what God had created him for and called him to do. Later in the second chapter God tells him something pretty important…

Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:18-19

God encouraged Jeremiah. He made sure that he knew that God had made him as a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze. Jeremiah needed to know this because the attack was going to come. Jeremiah would have to learn to trust in the midst of fear.

Let me ask you… do you turn to trust when fear sends its blazing arrows your way?

I can honestly tell you right now that I am experiencing fear. I am staring fear right in the face and I feel it circling around my head like those devil birds that I cringe at every time I come up on one chowing down on its latest road kill cuisine. I feel it tightening my chest and I feel it trying to suck what little calm I manage to maintain right out of me. Yet… somehow by the grace of God I am still able to trust in the midst of fear.

I trust because He said He is with me… and I believe Him.

I trust because He said He never gives a snake when his children ask for a fish… and I believe Him.

I trust because He said I could… and I believe Him.

I am trying so hard not to be angry… trying so hard not to be angry at the God I love so deeply and trying so hard not to be angry at those who have wounded me and those I love… holding your tongue is hard… holding your fingers at the wide open gate of a keyboard is even harder.

I keep mulling over Jeremiah 1:5 and the word appointed. Jeremiah was appointed for a specific task for a specific time to a specific people. The word appointed in the Hebrew is nathan and it means to give, set, put. God gave Jeremiah to this time, to these people. He set his course. He put him in his purpose. Does God do that for us? Are the words of Jeremiah 1:5 for all of us? 

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

John 15:16

There it is… right there in the New Testament… Jesus speaking to His disciples… the word appointed. They, we, appointed to go and bear fruit.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

The word appointed is not there in Ephesians, but it is clear that beforehand, before we knew Christ, God already had good works planned for us to walk in. We are His workmanship. Before we were born again in Him, before we were in the process of being conformed into His image… God appointed to us, gave us, set before us, our own course.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Hebrews 12:1

At first reading this verse in Hebrews sounds like it could be referring to a group, possibly to the church as a whole, but when we look at the original Greek what we see is that the word used for “us” in this verse is NOT plural… it’s singular. This verse could be read like this…

Therefore, since I have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding me, let me also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles me, and let me run with endurance the race that is set before me.

I have a race.

You have a race.

My Daddy has a race.

My Father-in-Law has a race.

My Sister-in-Law has a race.

For some reason beyond what I can see and understand in this life cancer has become a part of their race.

I DON’T LIKE IT.

Yet it is. It is and I know that in no way could it be apart from God allowing it to be… and here is where the tug of war of trust and fear collide. Here is where Jeremiah stood as a fortified city against all of the land. Standing in the face of great attack yet standing still. Standing seeing those he loved hurting and knowing beyond a shadow of any doubt that the God of everlasting lovingkindness could stop it all. Could stop the attacks against himself. Could stop the attacks against the city. Could stop the spinning of the earth and the flow of the exact amount of trade between oxygen and carbon dioxide that allowed all of creation to even exist.

But He didn’t… because He had a plan. He had a plan for Jeremiah. He had a plan for Jerusalem. He had a plan for not just the salvation of Jeremiah and Jerusalem, but for the world… and that plan is not yet complete… so we who believe step in and we grab the baton for our leg of the race.

God has a plan for us. 

The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand,…”

Isaiah 14:24

It is this plan and the knowledge of this set race that keeps me trusting in the midst of fear. This and the fact that God is greater than cancer. Cancer cannot defeat Christ. Cancer does not decide when your race is over. God does.

My head knows this even when my heart falls apart.

How thankful I am that God is greater than our hearts.

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Last Night I Walked Alone

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I am stepping back in to the world of leading a Precept Bible study. Tonight we will begin a study on the book of Jeremiah with an introductory lesson. Last night I dreamed that I was lost in a crowd and I could not find my room. I walked and walked carrying all my stuff, my backpack, my study book, and my handy dandy white dry erase board but I was just walking in circles. I walked until the pain in my legs became so great I knew I would never make it. I was in a silent-in-my-head panic because I knew that by the time I got there everyone would have thought I was not coming and they would have left and joined another class or no class at all.

Here’s the thing…

I kept seeing familiar faces and strangers and I would ask them for directions. I would ask them how I could get to my room from where I was presently at and every one of them… EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM… smiled at me and welcomed me and they POINTED me in the direction I needed to go.

However…

Not one… NOT ONE… was willing to stop what they were doing and take the time to walk with me. Not one was willing to lay aside there own agenda and make sure I got there. Not one offered to take some of the burden out of my hands or off of shoulders and go the distance with me. Last night I walked alone.

In the church… I walked alone.

No one was mean.

No one was snotty.

No one was self-righteous.

No one was condescending.

No one ignored me.

Yet, no one would walk with me and help me to carry my burden. I walked alone.

Bear one another’s burdens,

and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

I woke up this morning exhausted. The fear of being lost, burdened, and in pain still fresh in my mind. As I began to analyze my dream, because dreams I remember aways come from somewhere, I realized that part of that dream was my nerves and concern that no one is going to show up to be a part of the Bible study I will be leading… but the other part came from the fact… not fear… the proven fact… that so many of us in the church are not as mean, hypocritical, and condemning as so many post on social media… but we are unwilling to actually walk with someone and help them carry their burdens.

We will point them in the right direction all day long, we will gladly hand them the map, we will encourage them and pat them on the back, but we are too busy and too concerned with our own “missions” that we simply do not even see the need to walk with this person. We will smile and wave and watch them walk off… alone.

What if they can’t understand the map?

But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem toGaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Acts 8:26-31

God never intended for any of us to walk alone…

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18

 

Although we who believe can be sure and secure that God never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5), He never leaves us to walk alone, He still chose the church (Matthew 16:18), each of us individually filled by HIM (Romans 12:5), to link arms and be joined together in the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13) to ensure that we do not do this justified redeemed life alone and He never intended for us to have to find the way to this justified redeemed life alone either…

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:1

***

“…as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

John 20:21

Jesus does not let us walk alone… maybe we shouldn’t let each other walk alone either. Maybe we need to stop and take the time to not just point out the right direction, but offer to grab hold of one end of their burden, just enough to make it bearable, and take them by the hand, and be willing to sacrifice our own agenda’s long enough to walk with them… at least part of the way.

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Motivate Your Child Giveaway

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 Motivate:

: to give (someone) a reason for doing something

: to be a reason for (something)

What reasons do you use to get your child to obey? Do you bribe? Do you manipulate? Do you use reverse psychology? Do you intimidate? Do you threaten? Do you yell?

How often do you have to give reasons to get them to do the same thing over and over again?

I am excited to be working once again with the National Center for Biblical Parenting on the release of their latest book… Motivate Your Child. As parents our goal needs to be to raise children who make choices according to an internal motivation of what is right not simply what will bring them, at the moment, the best outward benefit. Our children have to learn to make choices with consideration to the big picture and what the long road will look like according to that choice. If we don’t purposely do this we, will find ourselves with another generation of leaders who vote and lead and live according to their current need and what presently benefits them alone instead of with careful consideration as to what will be the actual long term consequences.

We have to begin to teach this as soon as possible… I mean even before they can talk soon. The NCBP has many tools available to help us do just that. Motivate Your Child is their latest…

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told,  members of the Launch Team are sharing a wonderful giveaway filled with a Go Pro Camera, $50 Mardel Gift Card, $25 Amazon Gift Card, and book bundles from both the National Center for Biblical Parenting and Thomas Nelson Publishing! Three winners will win prizes with a total value of nearly $800!

motivate your child giveaway

Here’s what you could win:

GRAND PRIZE  ($500+ value)

Go Pro HERO3+ Silver Camera ($300 value)

HERO3+ Silver captures gorgeous, professional-quality 1080p60 video and 10MP photos at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Built-in Wi-Fi enables you to use the GoPro App to control the camera remotely, preview shots and share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and more. Compatible with all GoPro mounts, you can wear it or attach it to your gear for immersive POV footage of your favorite activities. It’s waterproof to 131’ (40m) and built tough for all of life’s adventures. Combined with stunning low-light performance, high-performance audio and an ultra wide-angle glass lens, HERO3+ Silver makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide

Parenting is Heart Work

God’s Awesome Story

Hero Training Camp Children’s Curriculum

Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill

The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill

***

FIRST PRIZE ($165 value)

$50 Mardel Gift Card

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide

Parenting is Heart Work

God’s Awesome Story

Hero Training Camp Children’s Curriculum

***

SECOND PRIZE ($115 value)

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill

The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway dates: January 12, 2015 @12:00am ET through January 28, 2015 @ 11:59pm ET

Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer

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Be Prolific

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I had the opportunity to partner with echurch giving and participate in an book project with over 25 other Christian innovators.

The final product is ready and here it is!

 

Be Prolific Cover

Prolific (adj.): producing much fruit, producing many works, high-scoring, plentiful, abundant, creative, productive, inventive.

All the Things we Don’t Have - New Year’s Resolutions are typically the time of year to reflect on the things we don’t have or don’t do. Don’t eat out so much. Do more exercise. Don’t be so negative and depressed, etc. More often than not, these resolutions are woven together with complicated emotions such as guilt, regret, and shame. The result is that, through great self-control, we keep our new promises for 30 days or so, and then go back to our old routines, still carrying along our companions of guilt, shame, and the like.

It was Always Meant to Be Excess - We’re turning the tables for 2015, choosing to emphasize our excess rather than our lack. The best single word we found to describe this perspective is prolific. It’s a word that contains elements of abundance, creativity, productivity, plenty, and just general excess.

Isn’t Excess a Dirty Word? - Excess can be a strange word to accept, as it has been used in a derogatory manner, especially as it relates to our American way of life. However, we’re reclaiming the definition. Our cups were meant to run over, not with material goods necessarily, but with action-values such as generosity, gratitude, compassion, and celebration. Powerful words that prompt a way of life, prompt community engagement, and shift our perspective to our blessings rather than our lack.

It’s Time to Do Success Different! - We gave the above text as a writing prompt to over 25 of our favorite Christian innovators, writers, thinkers, and doers. What you’re about to read are their unfiltered responses. Be inspired!

Wait, Isn’t That a Grammar Mistake? - It’s true, grammatically the sentence should read, “Do Success Differently,” but we were trying to make a subtle and artistic point that we mean business. We’re serious about doing things differently, so much so that we’re willing to break grammar rules to do it.

Get your free download here: Be Prolific

 

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Each of us were to keep our article between 300 and 500 words, and well if you read my blog you realize that is very difficult for me. Therefore I wrote the article and handed it over with free reign to edit as needed, lol :-).

Here’s my full post: Sheep Without a Shepherd.

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There’s Gotta Be More

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And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:2-4

One night, Denise found herself sitting in a cabin with 10 girls immediately after the salvation message. She and the counselor smiled as questions came rapid-fire from the students. “How did Satan come to be?” “What is the Trinity?” “What happens when you die?” and “What does God say about the end of the world?” were among their many queries.

The campers hungered for Truth, and wanted help navigating the depths of the Word of God. Denise realized that if she couldn’t translate the academic theology into the language of an eight-year-old, then she didn’t really understand the truth!

DiscipleLand

After our PromiseLand Preschool Christmas program, one of the young mother’s came up and hugged me and said, “you most definitely have found your calling“. That is not the first time that I have had someone say that to me in relation to teaching small children.

I have always loved children.

I can’t remember a time when I was not lugging around someone else’s children Whether it was my baby cousins, someone’s child at the ball park, my nieces or nephews, someone’s child at church, children I was babysitting, or my own.

I remember once in high school when someone showed me a picture of Aaron Spelling’s house, (you know when the whole 90210 was a thing) and I remember looking at that picture and thinking and saying out loud, What a waste. All that house and money for so few people… I would have every bedroom filled with an adoptive child. 

Loving children comes naturally to me… it has nothing to do with being Spirit filled. After high school I was planning to get a degree in child development and /or psychology and open my own day care or become a counselor for children. Something in me desires for every child I have ever seen to know that they are loved and beautiful and special and wanted… I am the weirdo that will wave at your kids in the check out line and have a ten minute conversation with them in the Target isle about why they must have this particular pair of shoes because they sparkle… because they matter.

Children matter.

I don’t cringe when I see the parents with 5, 6, 7, plus kids… I dream of what it would be like to have a quiver that full. I don’t go into a panic with a room of 10 or more kids… I sit back and smile and watch them interact with one another and me and wonder what amazing plans the Lord has for each of them and what impact will each of them leave in this world.

When the Lord called me to Himself, and I FINALLY began to walk with Him, and I learned that He had gifted me to teach His Word… teaching His Word to “grown-ups” terrified me... and to this day it still does. It takes His Spirit in me to stand up in front of any grown person whether it be two or three of them or over a hundred. That’s my calling. That’s what I can only do if the Lord goes with me.

What my love for children has allowed God to do within me is to show me how to learn His Word and actually be able to break it down in a way that anyone from two years old to ninety-two years old can understand it. What Denise learned at camp God taught me through leading a third and fourth grade Sunday School class and from simply interacting with little ones my whole life.

If we can’t translate our academic theology into something that an eight year old can understand then all we can do is repeat big words and memorize doctrinal statements.

There’s gotta be more.

To truly grasp the Word of God and all the beauty it holds for our everyday life we have to be able to chew it.

Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

Have you ever tried to swallow something without chewing it… simply because you didn’t like the taste? The texture of it being broken down in your mouth where you could experience all the little different aspects and flavors of it made you gag, and so you just choked it down without the discovery… and in the process you almost got strangled and choked as the massive size of the bite cut off your airway?

Yeh, well that’s what it is like to try and survive just off of academic theology without the understanding of how to break it down into bites small enough that a child could consume it without losing all its integrity.

Eating solid food (Hebrews 5:12-14) in a healthy way requires chewing… or it simply just will not come out right.

Eating solid food with a palate that can taste all the little delicious details in each bite requires time and practice… and cleansing the palate.

Would you join me for a tasting?

O taste and see that the Lord is good

Psalm 34:8

Tasting the Lord and seeing that He is good… If you only pick around at Him you will never experience the explosion of flavor that He is. If only pick around at Him and never try parts of Him that seem foreign and strange then your palate will never mature.

If you have ever had children then I can almost bet that you have experienced the spitting out of food before it has ever been chewed, or the snarled nose of refusal to even take a bite, the supper table showdown is a duel almost every parent will face.

Our youngest is still in the showdown stage… but our two older have passed it and their palates have matured because of it. Our youngest will spit and gag and even swallow things whole to keep from having to chew it… and her digestive system pays the consequences. On the contrary our older two will now try anything, and they will chew on it a while before they come to a conclusion on whether or not it is good and if they decide it is not, they have the ability to make a firm and educated reason why… it’s not based on simply its outward appearance.

If we want to mature in the Lord, we have to be willing to taste Him… all of Him… we have to be willing to take little bites of Him and chew on it. This is what studying the Bible through Precept does. It’s a supper table showdown. This January the table is set with the book of Jeremiah for me… would you like to join me supper?

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What About The Curtains

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Then you shall make curtains…

Exodus 26:7

In Exodus 26:7-14 we learn about three more layers of curtains. It would be a curtain of goat hair that would cover the beautiful curtain of fine twisted linen. This curtain of goat hair would be woven in eleven pieces and would be long enough that it would drape all the way to the ground completely covering the inner curtain.

Practically speaking the curtain of fine twisted linen and beautiful colors and designs would not be able to withstand the weather. So the Lord made provisions for three more layers of curtain to cover it, each one more weather resistant that the last. However, true to the inner curtain, these next three hold their own story of the person and work of Christ and His people.

This curtain of goat hair would also be held together with clasps, but these clasps would be made of bronze. It is believed by many that bronze has always represented judgment. This curtain, covering the curtain underneath that represented the glory of Christ, His Kingship, Priesthood, and Deity and even deeper under its layer covering the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, the Table of Showbread, and the Lampstand could it possibly be that this goat hair curtain would represent the humanity of Christ?

It would be Jesus who was fully God who would take on flesh and humble Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8), so that He could receive the full judgment of God on our behalf. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Perhaps the reason this curtain was held together with clasps was because after the judgment, after the resurrection, our Lord would stand before His disciples not in the form of God alone, but also in the form of humanity. He would still bare the scars of His judgment, the wrath of God that should have been on us, on His flesh. He would say “see My hands and put Your hand in My side and know that I AM“. He would still be the One who could wrap us up in His arms and allow us to be able to stand in His presence though we, although forgiven and justified in His sight, still live in this tent of sinful flesh, this weak jar of clay.

The next curtain would be made of ram’s skin and it would be dyed red. In Genesis 22 it would be a ram that would catch the eye of Abraham after the angel stayed his hand before he offered Isaac on the altar. This ram would be sacrificed in place of Isaac and the Lord would teach Abraham and us that He would provide the sacrifice. It would not be Abraham’s son that would be offered for the sin of the world, but His.

There are no measurements given for the size of this curtain. There are no instructions for it to be cut into pieces or held together with clasps. As far as we know it is sewn together to be one solid piece. For it would be one sacrifice, one offering, that would be enough for all people for all time (Hebrews 10:12-14).

The fourth curtain would be that of porpoise skin. There are no measurements given for the porpoise skin curtain either. Its purpose is simply to protect the precious. From a distance, from a stranger passing through, this tabernacle covered in porpoise skin would give no evidence of the glory that rested underneath it’s covering. It could be a shelter, refuge, a place to weather a storm, but someone seeking grandeur and power would pass right on by never taking a second glance.

Yet, for someone who was hurting, someone who was hungry, someone who was weary, to this one it would scream a place of rest. It would shout, “I won’t turn you away because you smell. I won’t reject you because you are broken. I won’t pretend that I did not hear you knocking. I will let you in. Come inside, the door is open.

In Isaiah 53:2 we read,

“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”

Even the curtain of porpoise skin was there to be a foreshadowing of the One who was to come. It was not the charisma or the sweet talk of Jesus that drew people to Him. It was the hidden glory within. It was a pull that no one could explain. They just knew He was real. They just knew that the closer they got to Him the more sinful they would feel, but it was not a feeling of condemnation but of conviction that allowed them to also feel free to cry out for mercy.

And as we draw nearer to Him and pull back the curtains and step even deeper into His nearness He reveals more and more and more of His beauty to us… more and more of His grace… more and more of His glory… more and more of His holiness… and we become ever more amazed that He even considered to come and rescue us.

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2014 the Year of Hurt

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Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

2014 was filled with MANY hurts for our family. MANY moments of confusion. MANY moments of asking why. MANY moments of feeling abandoned. MANY moments of wondering how so few really asked for answers.

I often wonder how God is going to strip us of our flesh, this part of us that struggles with sin and our own ability to forget and to forgive, and yet maintain our individuality and personality within the glory of His kingdom and us all somehow live together in unity. We are supposed to be in unity here. We are supposed to be on the same team here.

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

John 17:23

Yet so often in our western Christianity it seems to be more of a competition than a common confession. 

Last year at this time I wrote, So for 2014… my goal is to slow down and be more here, just here. That happened. I slowed down. We purposely planned family fun days. We chose to just stay home. We slept in. We were reminded how important each day is…

2014 brought some of the biggest changes in our lives. With three loved ones receiving cancer diagnoses this year… on top of one loved already approaching her third year of chemo… with that being on the heals of saying goodbye to a dear childhood friend who received her full healing in glory leaving behind two young children, a husband, parents, sister, and brother, nieces and nephews…  two of my best friends losing their mothers… my own health still has the doctors stumped… it has been sucker punches to the gut and to the nose, one two blows all year.

My husband and I both made “job” changes. He accepting a promotion to a supervisor position and me stepping out of a directors position at our home church and then being asked to serve in a different yet similar ministry at another church.

Then changing churches altogether.

The church change was scary. Very. Scary. Scary because of the step of faith it involved. The fear that is was the wrong choice. The concern of what would happen… the questions that would come (or the fact that they didn’t come, at least not to us). I wondered if our walk with Christ just entailed our relationships right there, was that place our family lifeline or was Christ? Were we really serving the Lord or just serving people? Would we loose our heart for the Lord in our turning from our hurt that was wrapped up in this place? Would we all become pew sitters who eventually become sporadic attenders who would end up not attending at all? Would our kids slip into the crowd and would the new faces overwhelm them? Would we be succumbing to a deceptive divisive attack of the Enemy or was this just another way of God using circumstances to scatter His people where He willed them to be?

The answer… our kids would thrive… and we would all still love the Lord and serve Him and His church… and if the Enemy intended this for evil… God most certainly is meaning it for good.

It has taken us all the way to the end of this year for us to begin to see that the pieces are coming together. The move hurt, but it was right. As I listened to Billy Graham’s daughter share a little inside info on her family I was reminded of something I had already learned before, that sometimes God allows certain people, places, and positions in our life, not because that’s your forever “calling” but because it’s simply preparation for the next thing.

So 2015… here’s to the next thing.

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