The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn 

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Parenting Unchained Giveaway


and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.

Acts 16:26

Let me introduce to you one of my new favorite parenting books…

In Parenting Unchained – Overcoming the Ten Deceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible’s powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids’ character–character that lasts when they leave home. 
The last chapters focus on the most important adjustments parents must make with teenagers to prepare them for independence. Weaving humor into strong warnings, Parenting Unchained points out the hazards that derail the parenting journey. 

Here was Dr Dempsey’s motivation for writing this book:

I felt that the Bible has much more to say about parenting than the few verses that speak specifically to parents. I saw in God’s interaction with the nation of Israel, and in Jesus’s interaction with the disciples, many great lessons on how to parent, so those lessons are explained. But most of all, I want Christian parents to avoid the parenting mistakes I made so that Christ becomes real to the next generation.

I don’t know about you, but I have learned that it is much better to learn from the mistakes of others, than to go through making the same one’s myself. I have plenty of them to make on my own as I face new unexpected territory every day, and so any help I can gather from someone else who has already gained some wisdom from walking the path before me… I have learned it is wise to listen and learn. 

I will be sharing my review of Parenting Unchained after Thanksgiving… but until then, here is an opportunity to enter to win your own free copy of the book and also some other awesome prizes!


Parenting Unchained Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Parenting Unchained: Overcoming the Ten Deceptions That Shackle Christian Parents, we are joining other memebers of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with a Kindle Paperwhite, $25 Amazon Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of more than $300!

Here’s what you could win:

Kindle Paperwhite 6″ eReader ($119 value)

Unlike tablets, Kindle Paperwhite is designed to deliver a superior reading experience:

  • No screen glare in bright sunlight
  • Read with one hand—over 30% lighter than iPad mini
  • Battery lasts weeks, not hours
  • Built-in light—read without eyestrain

Your Kindle comes loaded with 2 biblical parenting books right at the start:

Parenting Unchained Kindle Edition ($4.99 value)

In Parenting Unchained – Overcoming the Ten Deceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible’s powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids’ character–character that lasts when they leave home.

Home Improvement Kindle Edition ($4.99 value)

This book contains eight principles every family needs written by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. You’ll learn practical, handon ideas for helping your kids deal with their anger, constructive ways to end discipline times, and keys that will help children change their hearts, not just their behavior. Turansky and Miller offer tried and true strategies in a refreshingly new family-friendly format. This is the parenting book you can read to your kids.

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Buy even more books for your new Kindle!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($39.85 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

The Family Toolbox ($99.95 value)

The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.

As your family works through the lessons, teens learn 16 Life Success Principles and parents learn valuable tools.

Philippians in 28 Weeks Digital ($18.95 value)

It is easier to share the Word of God when it is etched upon your heart. Philippians in 28 Weeks™ is a delightful and painless way to commit the entire book of Philippians to memory. This streamlined approach uses memory cards carefully constructed to present Philippians thought-by-thought, copywork versesjournal questionsweekly reflections,recitation charts to test your retention, and an optional tracking tool called “The Log.”

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents, age 18 and older. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join us for the Parenting Unchained Facebook Release Party. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the author of Parenting Unchained will be present to answer your questions!

RSVP today so you won’t forget!

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Wake Up! It’s Summer!


He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Proverbs 10:5

As I right this the temperature outside is a balmy 25 degrees. It definitely does not appear to be “summer” at all… however it indeed is the season of summer. We’ll get to that point in a moment. First let’s take a look at Proverbs 10:4

Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

The Hebrew word for negligent here in this verse can also be translated as deceitful. As I pondered Proverbs 10:4-5 together, my mind went to our present day. We live in a day where the goal is to look as busy as possible with as little work and effort as possible. You can see this in our current ad campaigns all over television and the internet. It reminds me a lot of a scene in Tom Sawyer…

Tom is able to use deceit to get everyone else to do the work for him, yet he is going to take all the credit. He is taking advantage of others. As I continued to ponder this verse it reminded me of a commercial where a mother walks out of the kitchen holding a pie or some type of dessert, before she walks out, she throws flour all over her face and then walks out the door breathless, putting on the air that she has been slaving away in the kitchen, when in fact it was prepared for her, she just heated it up. When her family applauded her “hard work” she willingly took credit. We also have these commercials, where a certain company attempts to convince us that we don’t actually have to clean our house, or car, or belongings, we just need to sprit and spray their aromatic product on it and it will give off the impression that it is clean and fresh.

Yeh, right.

As little of work as possible, yet making it appear as though we have done much.


Sadly not only is this sentiment prevalent in our current American society… it is prevalent in our American churches… and in our everyday lives. Satan has done a wonderful job of keeping us very busy doing lots of things that have absolutely no eternal value. Just like Tom Sawyer above, he has us doing his work and we don’t even realize it… yet in the end he will get the credit.

How many times have you found yourself running around crazy doing things that appear so important, but in light of eternity it’s just busy work. There was one thing in public school that I despised, busy work, it was meant to do nothing but keep you in that room and to keep you quiet. It held no educational value, was not even relevant to the subject of the class, it was not adding to your knowledge, it was not equipping you for anything. It was just keeping you there. It was designed to consume your time. That’s it. My favorite part was when you handed it in to the teacher as you exited the class, they didn’t even look at it, just tossed it straight into the trash.

What breaks my heart, is that I fear Satan has a lot of believers… and blinded unbelievers… consumed with “busy work”.

each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:13-14

We can be busy little worker bees for Satan himself and just like the line of kids painting Tom Sawyer’s fence we have been deceived into thinking this is the right, good, and profitable thing to do… but it’s nothing but wood, hay and straw. It makes it look like we have been slaving away to others, and we gladly put out to the world how “hard” we are working, and how much we are doing, but in reality we have missed the opportunity to do the real work, because it would require more of us than we are really willing to give. It is easier to look busy doing our idea of God’s work. It’s easier to make the Father’s house a place of business than it is to actually submit to the will of God and be busy about the Father’s business.

I fear we have forgotten that it is summer. I fear that we have found ourselves asleep, worn out from work we were never meant to do, and the harvest is suffering because of it.

He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Proverbs 10:5

I fear that we have forgotten that God is not impressed by the sweat of our brow, but by the submission of our hearts.

We need to wake up… for it is summer. Why do I say that when it’s currently this “chilly” outside? Let’s take a look at the calendar that God laid out for us when He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Feasts of Israel have always represented God’s plan of the ages… representing the death of Christ, His resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the day our Lord returns. As you look at the chart below notice that these feasts occur in two seasons, Spring and Fall…


and what season occurs between Spring and Fall? Summer. As we look at this chart, we know that Pentecost has come (Acts 2:1-4). Spring has come and gone. Yet, that trumpet (Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16) has yet to sound that Fall has arrived. Therefore beloved, that means it is indeed Summer.

It is the day to be gathering!

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Matthew 9:35-38

Do you even see the people?

In this electronic age, have we forgotten how to see?

not seeing not seeing 3 not seeing 2 not seeing 1

There are times I have looked around my own living room and taken a picture just like one of these… oh we look so busy, busy, busy…

About a month ago I went to a restaurant to pick up a to go order. As I was driving off with my food there was an older woman with a cardboard sign that said something about being hungry and needing money… I never have cash on me, never. Therefore, I drove on past, but as I did, the Spirit quickened me to the food that I had in the passenger seat beside me… so I turned around at the light and drove back to where the woman was and rolled down my window. I told her I did not have any money but I had some food and I handed her one of the to go meals out of my window. As I looked her in the eye, and she reached for my food, she said, “I am not doing this because I want to” I just looked her in the eyes again and told her, Ma’am I know…

Jesus didn’t just help the people that he thought really deserved it and would amount to something if they just had a hand… he just saw the people and had compassion on them. He didn’t wonder if they were working the circuit or taking advantage of Him… my goodness think about it, WE ALL ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF HIM.

Now granted Jesus had the upper hand of seeing into the hearts of others… we don’t have that… but what we do have is the gospel and the example of our Lord and the knowledge that He sees into our hearts.

How often do we not give, do we choose not to see, because we have come to our own conclusions of what they are “really up to”.

How many times do you find yourself rolling your eyes and saying, “ugh, I hate people”

Take a moment and evaluate the “ministries” of your church and your own personal ministries… (yes, if you are believer, if you are saved and redeemed, then you are filled with the Spirit, and you are supposed to be in the business of ministry). My husband’s job doesn’t allow him to teach a Sunday school class or to be over the men’s ministry, or even to volunteer often at an off campus ministry, but you would not believe the men he has the opportunity to “minister” to at work because he doesn’t hide or downplay his faith and he prays daily for God to open up doors for him to do just that… and when the opportunity presents itself, he takes it. Preaching the gospel is more than just leading someone in the ABC’s… it’s leading other to the Light by being the light. My husband, no doubt, is a minister of the gospel, though his past would never allow that official title inside the church building.

Do you just play it safe and stay busy, busy, busy, “ministering” to your private little comfortable circle? It’s easy to be busy and appear to be working hard while keeping it in your own pre-selected holy huddle… but what happens when a stranger tries to step in?

Beloved, let us wake up. It’s Summer. It’s time to gather. Let us not miss the opportunity to be a part of the harvest because we are sleeping, because we don’t want to see, or because it looks like work… Don’t let us fall prey to the Tom Sawyer’s. Let us not allow Satan to convince us that we are working hard for God, when in fact we are just consumed with busy work, aka dead works (Hebrews 6:1-2).

It’s something I am always having to ask myself…

I find myself every several years having to step back and say, Okay, God am I working to build my kingdom or Yours?


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I hate adoption



A Repost from Those Sweet Bare Feet

We hear all about the adoptive parents side– how challenging it is, how difficult it is to raise traumatized children, but we never hear from the adoptive siblings point of view.  All my life I have heard of what incredible parents I have (and I do), but never once has someone told me what an “incredible job” I have done or what my thoughts were on having adopted siblings.  Mainly, because I was just a kid when it all begin.  I understand that, and that’s okay.  But I’d like to share my honest opinion on adoption.


When I was seven my parents started down the road of adoption, I was elated, so overwhelmed with excitement at the fact that I was going to have a new sister or brother.  I remember meeting them for the first time, and they felt like family.  We got along and we were happy.  Until the baby boy started screaming in the car and the little girl was cussing me out at bedtime.  I lost part of my parents the day my two new siblings got in the car and made the long journey home with us.  I lost a part of myself that I’ll never have back again- and although that’s hard, I am thankful for it.

Over a 12 year period my parents adopted 10 children– every single one of them unexpected and so worth it.

But over the years I have struggled. Struggles that girls with only biological siblings will never know and friends will never truly understand.  I have been lied to, lied about, stolen from, spit on, cussed out, hit, bit, and accused.  I have heard “Well, Kristianna gets whatever she wants…” “Kristianna is perfect…” and each time it crumbles my heart a little more.  I have heard that I’ll never understand the backgrounds these children have had to suffer through and to give them grace because I have always had what I needed.  In some ways that’s true, and in some ways my heart can’t bear the pain.

It’s hard being an adoptive sister.   The harder you pretend all is well, the further you get from the truth. Because all is not well. Adoption isn’t a fun way to gain siblings, it involves restoration and rebuilding a life that has been torn to the ground and trampled upon. All is not okay and it never will be.  Adoption is a fight. I’ve had days when I am so weary I don’t want to get out of bed. I have had days when I cussed out God and told Him to rewind it all and give me my life back.  I have had days when I ignored my sister because of how much her words cut into my very soul“we all hate you.”. Sure, she has faced her fair share of suffering, but day after endless day I face my own heartaches because of their pasts.

I will be completely honest, I hate people who abuse and abandon children. I hate women who desire drugs and men over their own children.  I hate men who cannot own up to the fact that they have children to be raised. I hate laws that make children orphans.  I hate poverty that rips families apart.  And I hate adoption.  Because adoption means there is pain and suffering behind the adopted, it means years and years of recovery. It means losing a part of who you are and who your parents are because of it.  We will never be carefree again, because carefree doesn’t exist when there is a child who has threatened to kill foster siblings in the past.

I think God hates adoption too.

Because adoption means brokenness.

Adoption means that the Garden of Eden has been destroyed and Adam and Eve have been engulfed in sin. Adoption means that the world He created in those few glorious days, the world that knew no sin, is forever lost.  It means the human made in His own image ruined their purpose. It means failure and emptiness.  Adoption is shattered pieces that will never fit properly together again, yet, at the same time, adoption is what holds those pieces together.   Adoption means perfection will never exist again, because there will always be scars and pasts that we cannot change. It means God sacrificing to bring light into a dark and hopeless world.

Hallelujah, redemption lives.

Jesus hung upon that cross in humility to suffer for the world of imperfection because He knew adoption was the only option.  His blood would not be our own, His flesh would have no biological relation to ours.  But He would rescue and redeem. His blood would be poured out for lost children He was choosing to call His very own. When all the heavens would see us as unworthy, there was One who became small enough to redeem.  He bent low, and didn’t demand us to change our ways, but told us we were wanted. We were worth all the suffering, all the nights of tears and nightmares.  He reached into the darkness to bring us into the light.  He didn’t care where we had been or what we had endured, He only whispered “you are not alone anymore”. 

Adoption is not beautiful.

Adoption is messy and terrifying.

Adoption is bridging the gap between darkness and light.

Adoption means children who walk through hell and endure what no child should.

Adoption means broken pasts and hearts full of scars.

But adoption is worth it.

Because adoption is redemption.

And I watch as their distress and heartaches pour over into my life and I cling to grace.  Because grace is the only thing saving us all. I cling to the One who has chosen me as a child when my own heart was only sin.  He calls me “child”, and I call them brother and sister. Adoption doesn’t always make sense- that He would love us as His children, or that we should love them as our own.  But love doesn’t ask questions. It’s not easy, but it’s good.

She walks around with a shirt that says “Family rocks”, she’s the one who was literally kicked to the curb.  The one who is terrified that family is not forever, that we are only temporary. That maybe she is not worthy of a family.  It’s a real fear, and it’s not only one she is carrying but so many children who are facing life with nobody to say you are not alone anymore.  One hundred and forty-three million– it’s a statistic that will make no sense to those who have never held an orphan in their arms. But they are walking around with their hearts beating, but they feel they have nothing worth beating for.  They will grow into adults always questioning why they weren’t worthy of a family.

We are called to adopt because adoption is reflecting the Father’s love and grace upon us. As Christian’s, Christ requires only that we believe and follow Him, but as Christ followers, we should long to be like our Father. You have the ability to show a child that we’re all unworthy, but there’s a Father’s love that gives us a new identity and there’s redemption that creates a new beginning. It won’t be easy, but it’ll worth all the hard days, and the times when you feel like you are drowning.  It will be worth the rages and the stealing and the heartbreaks and headaches. It will be worth the sorrow and the pain and the long days of recovery. Because once upon a time, we were that beautiful mess of wounds and tears and emptiness.

I hate adoption because adoption means my siblings have walked through hell and back again. But I love redemption because it’s making broken things into glorious ones.  It’s taking pieces that are shattered and piece by piece redesigning them into the masterpiece they were meant to be. We are all being changed and made new in this love we cannot understand, this grace that is drowning us all.

Hallelujah, brokenness cannot survive when redemption lives. 

adoption family


See original post at Those Sweet Bare Feet here: I hate adoption


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Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (wrapping it up)


Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying,“Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”

Numbers 13:1-2

In the last post, Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 4), we looked at the second part of that beautiful verse in Isaiah that instructs us how to help others…

Encourage the exhausted,

and strengthen the feeble.

Isaiah 35:3

We have dug deeper into what it means to encourage and strengthen others. We have seen that we encourage from the front and we strengthen from the back. We have learned that we must encourage with conviction, to comfort, with passion, and we must do it in person. We have learned we must strengthen from behind, even from our failures, and with patience. We have been reminded that we live in a world where people are hurting, where people are falling, where people are discouraged, and weary. There is much rubbish around… and we have a choice to make.


We can listen to wisdom.

Or we can listen to folly.

We can speak wisdom.

Or we can speak folly.

Let’s rewind to the day that the children of Israel stood on the brink of the promise land. There they were. Two years have passed since the Lord brought them out of Egypt. In these two years they have faced many testings to prepare their hearts for the promise land. The Lord has revealed Himself in great judgements, in a pillar of fire, in a cloud of glory, in the thunder of His voice, in the presenting of His covenant. He has delivered them from Pharaoh, had mercy in their unfaithfulness, been patient with their grumblings, supplied their every need, defeated attacking enemies, He has been with them every step of the way. There have been ups and downs, squabbles and rebellion, shouts of anger and shouts of praise. Yet, here they stand staring in the face of the fulfilled promise of God.

The Lord tells Moses to send out spies, one from every tribe, every one a leader among them. Every. One. A. Leader. Among. Them. Theses were men of influence. These men were chosen because they had the ability to influence their tribe. Here’s the thing ladies… YOU ARE A WOMAN OF INFLUENCE.

If Momma

There is a reason this quote is so popular. Whether or not you influence is not the question. The question is how are you influencing? We women have the ability to control the thermostat of the home and not just the home, but the place of business, and the church. Gossipy busy bodies in the church, in a place of business, or even in our homes cause as much havoc and destruction as false teachers.

Ladies, let us not be deceived into believing that what we do or say does not natter. It matters. We don’t have to have a platform or a stage to influence others for the kingdom of God. We are given the opportunity to give birth to and raise and train up future kingdom warriors.

Your mission might be one child.

Your mission might be a whole nation of children.

Both are equally important.

Several months ago my husband and I took our two youngest daughters to Helen Keller’s birthplace. We walked through the home and listened to the guide share about Helen and her trials and triumphs. She was a young girl who lost her sight, her hearing, her ability to communicate. She was lost in the prison of herself… until one woman showed up at her door, Anne Sullivan.

As we walked around the grounds of the property we stopped at a display where they were playing a recording of a speech that Helen made to the Lion’s Club. Anne Sullivan introduced Helen. As Helen walked up and touched Anne on the face, my husband turned around and looked at me and said, “Anne came to help Helen when she was twenty years old, Helen was her life’s work. She spent a lifetime focused on helping one person, and look what came from it.”

One woman who chose to invest her life in a child, one specific child.

Here these men were, sent out spies, all leaders expected to influence their tribe… all seeing the same thing. Yet, how different their perspectives were when they returned to report.

Ten of the twelve could not get past the circumstances. Ten of the twelve put the eyes of others on the greatness of the challenge before them. Ten of the twelve said no we can’t. Ten of the twelve influenced fear.

Two of the twelve saw past the circumstances because they knew their God. Two of the twelve tried to put the eyes of the others on the promises of their God. Two of the twelve said yes we can. Two of the twelve influenced faith.

There would be only two of the twelve that would take up resident in the promised land. The two that used their influence to encourage.

The world is attempting to do a very good job at convincing we women that raising our children is a waste of our time and ability. We shouldn’t have to make the choice to be the ones that encourage and influence our children. Let’s leave that up to the professionals… high quality educated people who know best… lets lower the compulsory age and lets lengthen the school days and hours of attendance. This will, after all help you to get back into what you were really called to do, and in turn it will build our economy… because that’s what is really important. The economy.


Ladies, you have no higher calling than to love the Lord your God and to love others as yourself, those others begin with our husband and our children, and then the other women that God has placed in your path. Older women are to encourage the younger how to love their husbands and how to love their children (Titus 2:3-5). I am not saying a woman shouldn’t work outside the home, but that career outside the home should never take priority over the calling within it… and we need to encourage one another and strengthen one another, and help each other keep our eyes off the rubbish and on our Refuge, so that it doesn’t.

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)
  • You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)

You are first to proclaim the excellencies of Him within the walls of your own home. You are first to be salt and light to your own house.

What if your life’s work is one?

Oh beloved then let it be so for the glory of the One!

Be a woman of encouragement and influence for the glory of the gospel and the glory of God.


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Have You Heard of Lottie Moon


I am currently working on my third book, Devotions From Exodus Part Two, and as I began my prayer to close out one of the devotions, the Lord took me to 2 Corinthians 9. If you are a member of a Southern Baptist church you probably, hopefully, have begun to hear a name bouncing around… Lottie Moon.

Our nation is right on the brink of the season of Christmas. As a matter of fact I have already noticed some Christmas trees in windows of houses, and Santa most definitely has already showed up in the stores.

Tis the season…

Tis the season for thanksgiving and tis the season for gift giving. Tis also the season for IMB Lottie Moon fundraising. Our church has a donation goal of $110,000. Now just in case your wondering why…

Why should we give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?

Southern Baptists send missionaries from their churches, through IMB, to go into the world making disciples in the name of Jesus. In that partnership, Southern Baptists provide the funding to send and support these missionaries and their ministries. The more resources they provide, the more missionaries can be sent.

“As the body of Christ, we’re like an orchestra … each member is so vital, is so important for making beautiful music. So just like your giving is so important in us coming to Sweden, we can work together … through sharing his love with others,” church planter/musician Anissa Haney says.

Your giving has a place in God’s story!

As I read through 2 Corinthians 9 my heart was stirred to write this post to hopefully be used by God to stir the hearts of others to make a goal to give. It doesn’t matter the size of the gift as long as it the gift that the Lord moved your heart to give.

So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written,

He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,
His righteousness endures forever.”

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.

2 Corinthians 9:5-14

Here is some of the proof of the ministry of the IMB…


We can do so much more together. 

As we prepare to give thanks and give gifts let us remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9:15

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Beloved of God, your contribution to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering allows more to go out and tell the world about the indescribable gift of our God.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

The Lord will not ask you to give what He will not provide. Would you commit today to begin to pray and see if the Lord moves your heart to make a contribution, a bountiful gift not affected by covetous, not given grudgingly or under compulsion, but simply whatever your heart moves you to give cheerfully?



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Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 4)


Encourage the exhausted,

and strengthen the feeble.

Isaiah 35:3

In Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 3) we looked at who, when, why, and how we are to encourage. Today we will do the same for strengthen.

How do we strengthen?

When do we strengthen?

Who do we strengthen?

Why do we strengthen?

The first time the word strengthen is used in the NASB is in Deuteronomy 3:28

But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.

The word strengthen in the Hebrew is amets and it means

  • confirm, be courageous of good courage, steadfastly minded, strong, stronger, establish, fortify, harden,
  • to be alert, physically (on foot) or mentally (in courage)

The first time this word is used in Scripture is in Genesis 25:23

  • The one who scatters has come up against you. Man the fortress, watch the road; strengthen your back, summon all your strength. (Nahum 2:1)

I read this verse and something hit me… the thing is ladies, we are to encourage from the front, but we are to strengthen from the back. Just think of when you were teaching your child to walk. You would grab hold of the hands of your child and walk behind them as they tightly gripped your fingers and you supported them as they learned to put one foot in front of the other, but once you knew they could do it, you moved to the front and would call out to them to come to you as you encouraged and cheered them on with every step, and if they faltered, if they hesitated, if they began to doubt, you were right there to snatch and seize and get them steady and moving again. Encourage from the front and strengthen from the back, because when you know that you know that someone has your back… that in itself strengthens.

Behind Her

Strengthen from Behind

From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah.

Nehemiah 4:16

When we go back to the book of Nehemiah and the scriptures that we poured over in part 2 of this series, let us remember the discouragement of the people. They could not move forward because they had no one strengthening them from behind and no one encouraging them from the front. They were stuck in the rut of their rubbish. The only words they could hear were the mockings of the nations around them. The people were paralyzed by their circumstances. They couldn’t even look up to remember their God. They were demoralized. They were caught in the trap of their false reality.

They needed someone to step into their false reality and wake them up and strengthen them. Nehemiah was that someone. Nehemiah could be that someone. Nehemiah could face whatever was in front of him, because he knew someone had his back. When Nehemiah first heard of what was going on in Jerusalem he too was discouraged and downcast, but when King Artaxerxes told Nehemiah to go and let him know that he had his full support. Nehemiah was able to walk into Jerusalem ready to encourage and strengthen others.

And now here in Jerusalem, once the people knew that someone had their back, once they knew that the captains were behind the whole house of Judah, the people got refocused, recharged, and were ready to work.

Ladies, who needs to know that you have their back? Does your husband need to know that you have his back? Do your children need to know that you have their back? What about in the ministry? What about at work? What about school?

If you are leader in a position of authority, do those serving under you know that you have their back?

Do you need to know that someone has your back?

Perhaps you are sitting here reading this and you feel stranded and alone and their appears to be no one who has your back… oh precious one, never forget that God has you back!

You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:5


At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:16-18

The Greek word used for strengthened in 2 Timothy 4:17 is endunamoó and it means properly, to impart ability (make able); empowered, fill with power, strengthen, make strong.

When no one else is there, God is. If you know that you know that you know that God has called you to the task, He is sufficient to empower you, to support you, to strengthen you. He is enough. This word for strengthen is only used seven times in the New Testament. This strength can only come from God. Endunamoó is used in Act 9:22, Romans 4:20, Ephesians 6:10, Philippians 4:13, 1 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 2:1, and the above verse 2 Timothy 4:17. Do you need strengthened beloved, take these verses and write them down, learn them, and cry out to the Lord with them.

Now let’s get back to woman to woman, to woman to husband, to woman to child, to woman to anyone you see that needs strengthened…

The first time the word strengthen is used in the New Testament in the NASB is in Luke 22:32. This word in the Greek is stérizó and this is the word for strengthen that relates to us strengthening one another, this is the word that relates to us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. 

It’s definition:

(from stēringks, “a support that fixes, plants down”; akin to hístēmi, “to stand,” having a duplication of the primitive Gk root/sta, “to make stand”)

  • properly, set fast (fix); give support to secure (firmly establish); solidly plant (which eliminates vacillation).
  • I fix firmly, direct myself towards, generally met: I buttress, prop, support; I strengthen, establish.

The first time this Greek word is used in the New Testament is in Luke 9:51, where it is translated as determined. In Luke 9:51 we see that even Jesus had to set His face toward what God called Him to do. This is where we have to step in faith in what we know. This is our responsibility… either within ourselves or to offer to others. As we look at the context of the use of this word strengthen, in Luke 22:32 we learn we are to…

Strengthen from Failures

but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Luke 22:32

Peter is about to epically fail. He is about to deny Christ. He is about to turn his back on the one he just swore to defend to his own death… and Jesus, in full knowledge of this failure, says “when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

In other words beloved, whether you are the one who failed or you see someone who has failed, God is not through with you. It doesn’t matter the failure, God can use it, and God can use you to strengthen others. Not even our worst mistakes, our most grotesque sin, our deepest pit is wasted by our Redeemer. He can and will redeem anything and anyone.

The last time this word for strengthen is used is in the book of Revelation

I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God

Revelation 2:3

Beloved, where ever you are, what ever you have, if you have breathe in your body, God is not through with you. When you see that someone else, where ever they are, what ever they have done, if they have breathe in their body, God is not through with them yet… strengthen what remains.

I don’t care how far you have strayed. I don’t care how far they have strayed. I don’t care what you have done. As long as there is light, there is life. Wake up. Rise from the dead. For you have been created and called for a purpose that is bigger than you.

Set your face. Direct yourself to the face of Christ. Put one foot in front of the other… and never forget that if no one else is there to strengthen you from behind… God is.

Lastly we need to know that we are to

Strengthen from Patience

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:7-9

Be patient beloved. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with others. Stop gripping and complaining because someone isn’t “getting it” or you are not “getting it”. I know the frustration that comes when you can clearly see the choices someone needs to make, but they don’t. I know the irritation and even fear that can come when you see someone you care about repeatedly turning down the wrong path, though you know that they know the narrow way… be patient… and pray.

Someone may not be getting some where as quickly as you want them to, or even in the way that you think they should, but that doesn’t mean that God is not at work. Strengthen from patience. Love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4).


How do we strengthen?

We strengthen with patience.

When do we strengthen?

We strengthen anytime we see someone who needs it.

Who do we strengthen?

We strengthen those who have failed, those who are failing, those who have fallen, those who are getting back up.

Why do we strengthen?

We strengthen because we are at war. In war there are wounds. There are times of victory and their are times of defeat. We all grow weary. We all need an Aaron and Hur to hold up our arms. We all need to know that someone has our back. The battle wages on beloved, but the God of angel armies is by our side. He goes before and behind. He is the One who strengthens and encourages… and if we are to be imitators of Him, then we too are to be women who encourage and strengthen.


Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (wrapping it up)


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Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 3)


In Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 2) our last words were…

These women were not to fight against each other… but for each other. They needed a hand stretched out to pull them up… not push them further down. They didn’t need anyone to pick sides. They needed someone to bridge the gap. Beloved of God, we whose names are recorded in the book of life have been called to stand in the gap… we have been called to help.


I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land…

Ezekiel 22:30


The Lord is for me among those who help me…

Psalm 118:7

Now the question is… how do we help?

When I think of where so many of us are… in that place of feeling overwhelmed… in that place of just flat out exhaustion… in that place of discouragement… with our knees buckling right there on that brink of despair, my mind goes to a perfect little verse that is safely tucked away in the book of Isaiah.

Encourage the exhausted,

and strengthen the feeble.

Isaiah 35:3 (NASB)

So, the question again, how do we help?

We encourage and we strengthen. Now we must ask, how do we encourage? When do we encourage? Who do we encourage? Because wrong encouragement can be just as deadly as no encouragement at all… I think of Brittany Maynard when I say that… and the countless and faceless others who will now be “encouraged” by her choice.

As I attempted to dig a little deeper in this verse I began where I always begin, with a word search and digging into the Hebrew translation while keeping the scripture within context. I love word studies and cross-referencing the Word of God, letting God tell us what He said, by what He said, is the best way to interpret His book.

The first time the word encourage is used in the NASB is in Deuteronomy 1:38

Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.

The Hebrew translation of the word encourage is

chazaq and it means

  • be or grow firm or strong, strengthen, aid, amend, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain
  • to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong
  • figuratively, courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify

The first time this word for encourage is used in Scripture is in Genesis 19:16

But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.

As I read this passage of Scripture in Genesis my mind went to the book of Jude…

And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Jude 1:22-23

…and I wondered if maybe the word used for snatching also meant to seize… I literally clapped with excitement in the middle of my living room floor when I discovered that it indeed did! 

The Greek word used for snatching in this verse is harpazo and it means

catch, seize, take by force

I find this to be absolutely wonderful! Stay with me, and hopefully I will be able to explain why :-)

Now after I learned this connection with Lot and Jude, I wondered when was the first time the word encourage was used in the New Testament. When I went to my word search, I discovered that according to the NASB the first time the word encourage is used is in Acts 11:23. The next thing I needed to do was find out what Greek word was used…

The Greek word used for encourage in Acts 11:23 is parakaleo and it means

to call to one’s side, call for, summon to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc. to admonish, exhort to beg, entreat, beseech to strive to appease by entreaty to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort to receive consolation, be comforted to encourage, strengthen exhorting and comforting and encouraging, to instruct, teach

My next move was to do a word search on this Greek word and I discovered the first time it was used was in Matthew 2:18. It was also used in Matthew 5:4, Luke 15:28, Jude 1:3, and many more. Now as I put this word search, this Hebrew and Greek defining, and cross-referencing all together as I prayed and asked God to help me answer the how, why, when, and who’s of encouragement… this is what He taught me…

My dear sisters in Christ we are to:

Encourage with conviction:

  • Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; (Act 11:23)

The Greek word Parakaléō (“personally make a call”) refers to believers offering up evidence that stands up in God’s court. When we encourage we are not offering up empty meaningless words. We are to encourage with truth and fact and conviction. We are not to encourage when we don’t mean it, when we don’t believe it, when we have nothing to back it up or stand on.

I think of these poor people that try out for singing and talent shows and over in the wings are their parents and friends who have convinced them that they can sing and encouraged them to try out, and they are less than musically inclined and are humiliated before the world. That’s not encouragement. Real encouragement comes with proof in the pudding. Real encouragement repairs, it doesn’t destroy.

Let’s take a moment to go back to the Hebrew word chazaqand what we know about the context of it’s use. In Genesis 19 God has sent word by angels that Lot needs to exit the city… but he hesitates. Now did the angels just stand there and say, “ahhhh come on Lot, you really should come“, no, they didn’t. They seized him by the hand. They encouraged with conviction. Look back at Jude 1:22-23, sisters we are to snatch. Sometimes encouragement is taking the bull by the horns and saying get up and come on!

You’ve got the teenager that all of a sudden doesn’t want to come to church anymore, oh Momma, it’s time to seize and snatch. You’ve got that friend that is fighting is depression and doesn’t want to leave the house, it’s time to seize and snatch. Oh sister, notice that it was the COMPASSION and MERCY of God that seized and snatched. We are not to look at those that we know God has placed in our path and give a little kind word, and shrug our shoulders, and say, oh well I tried…

You have not tried nothing.

SEIZE AND SNATCH! If you believe in the wrath of God and the eternal damnation of hell, and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God, encourage with conviction and do so with compassion and mercy.

Encourage to comfort:

The world is hurting. People are hurting. Our encouragement should bring comfort. When we find someone who is weighed down with the things of this life, we are to do what we can to comfort them… even when they appear to refuse it.

  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

We never know when what we have said or what we have done will sink in. Our words and our actions towards others should always be with grace (Colossians 4:6). We serve a God who gives perseverance and encouragement and His Word is meant to bring hope (Romans 15:4) and hope doesn’t disappoint and if it doesn’t disappoint then it doesn’t discourage and it doesn’t hurt… it instead comforts.

Encourage with passion:

  • Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (Jude 1:3)
  • But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. (Luke 15:28)

I love this. Women of God we must encourage with passion. Look at these two verses. Here are two men who are making every effort, who are appealing, who are pleading… who are encouraging with passion. They are not concerned with whether or not they are loosing their dignity or their position of authority, they just want to see these before them encouraged so that they can continue to honor their God and walk out what God has called them to do and be.

Beloved, when was the last time you were willing to beg someone to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)? When have you wanted to see someone come out of their discouragement, their exhaustion, their false sense of reality, that you were willing to plead with them? When was the last time you were willing to make a fool of yourself in order to bring hope to another.

Sometimes, we just need somebody to take us by the hands and look us in our eyes and speak to our souls. The world is screaming lies into our hearts… we need more people who will speak the truth, and speak it in love (1 Corinthians 13:1). The roar of that woman of folly is loud and wisdom does not use a noisy gong or clanging cymbal that just deafens us even more… wisdom speaks up close and personal with a strong still small voice that calls to the deep within us to rise up and know hope, to be encouraged. To encourage with passion is not to scream in ears. No, to encourage with passion is to speak intently and intensely into a soul.

Encourage in person:

Lastly, and probably most importantly… we are to encourage in person. When we look at the Greek word for encourage we see that it comes

  • (from pará, “from close-beside” and kaléō, “to call”) – properly, “make a call” from being “close-up and personal.”

which means

  • I send for, summon, invite, I beseech, entreat, beg, I exhort, admonish, I comfort, encourage, console.

Did you get that?

Go back and look through all these cross-references on the word for encouragement, whether its use be in the Old Testament or the New… they all involved someone up close and personal.

I encourage

Not I added them to the prayer list. Not I sent word to the pastor or the women’s director.


I saw the need and I did something.

I was up close and personal. I was there to grab hold of their hands and drag them along because they hesitated, because they were blinded due to the fact that they were so close to the pits of hell that even their garments reeked of it. I was close enough to look them in the eyes and speak to their heart.

In Acts 4:36 we meet a man named Joseph, a man who was a Levite by birth, and yet the apostles named him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. In Acts 9:27 we learn that it was Barnabas that took hold of Paul. He took hold of him. Barnabas did not cheer from the sidelines. Encouragement isn’t simply cheerleading from the stands. No encouragement is when you pull someone up along side you, it’s when you get up in front of someone, you get down in the trenches with them and pull them with you if need be… encouraging them all the way to the finish line.



So who do we encourage?

We encourage the hesitating, we encourage the doubting, we encourage the hurting, we encourage the pouting, we encourage the stubborn, we encourage the weary.

And why do we encourage?

Because our God is a God of encouragement and we ALL need encouraged. We encourage to repair and to fortify. Our encouragement should always repair not destroy.

And when do we encourage?

At all times.

And how do we encourage?

We encourage with conviction, to comfort, with passion, and in person.

Next time we will look at the next part of that beautiful verse in Isaiah… we look at how, when, where, who we strengthen.

Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 4)


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Let Me Be Your Queen Bee


Last week in my chapel time with my preschoolers we looked at Deborah. I have been taking our preschoolers through Hebrews 11 and teaching them about each of the heroes of the faith that God has listed for us in that chapter. As I taught through the list we came to Barak… and even though Deborah is not listed in Hebrews, you simply can’t share about Barak without sharing about Deborah, the woman that God had judging Israel, and the woman that God used to call out Barak.

As I was digging into the life of Deborah we learned that her name means “bee”. I learned that, and I thought, how fitting! So of course this led me into a little bit of research about bees… particularly the queen bee.

Sorry, I couldn’t help it ;-)

Okay back to Scripture and real queen bees.

As I was doing a little internet research I read that the queen bee is “the heart and soul of the honey bee colony. She is the reason for nearly everything the rest of the colony does. The queen is the only bee without which the rest of the colony cannot survive. A good quality queen means a strong and productive hive.

Deborah was like that queen bee in a hive as she strongly served God. I believe she also is a pretty good picture of our own little hives. The heart and soul of the home is so often determined by the wife and mother… and a good quality wife and mother means a strong and productive home.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 12:4


House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 19:14


An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Proverbs 31:10


Another interesting thought on the queen bee is that, “although the name might imply it, a queen bee does not directly control the hive. Her sole function is to serve as the reproducer” Deborah was so great because she was not trying to control, she was instead allowing herself to be controlled by her God. She was a woman who was submitted to the will of God and stood confident in who He had created her to be. She had been called and she rose to the occasion and encouraged others to rise to theirs.

Oh what a difference it makes when we women are willing to submit our lives to the sovereign hand of our Savior!

As I shared with the kids about Deborah and Barak, I shared that they were super heroes to God because they were doing what God created them and called them to do. As we were still connecting Deborah with a queen bee, I showed the kids a little snippet of “The Bee Movie” and they saw what happens when we don’t do what God created us to do.

When the bees decided that they were done making honey and there was no queen bee to judge them, or leader to lead them, they all laid down and did nothing. When they did nothing, everything began to die… death reigns when those who have the ability to give and share life do nothing.

God created us to bring Him glory. When we choose to do what God created us to do then we bring glory to God and He uses us to bring life to the world.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

I find it so very sad that we live in a world that is trying to convince us that being that queen bee in our hive is belittling to our womanhood. There is no greater responsibility and privilege in life than to be a woman who is willing to be the heart and soul of her home. A woman who is willing to validate her husband and unconditionally love and encourage her children. A woman who is willing to lay down her own life to give life to others.


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Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 2)


In Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 1) we took a look into Proverbs 9 and dug into the characteristics and homes of two different women, one called wisdom and the other folly… We talked a little about how this woman folly is boisterous. How this woman folly desires to keep our souls in a state of discouragement… and because she is who she is… I am so very thankful for the woman of wisdom.

We live in a world of folly. We live in a world that is telling us we will never be enough. We will never be pretty enough. We will never have enough. We will never be smart enough. And if you are a wife and/or a mother, you live in a world where nothing is ever just done. The laundry is never done. The dishes are never done. The house is never clean… As soon as we think we have accomplished a task it seems like we turn around and there it is again. I am sure, if your life is like mine, you can say as the people in Judah said,

Thus in Judah it was said,

“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,

Yet there is much rubbish;

And we ourselves are unable

To rebuild the wall.”

Nehemiah 4:10

We can easily find ourselves not being able to see past the rubbish, not being able to see past our current circumstances. We can easily find ourselves overwhelmed, flat out exhausted, and discouraged.


That is why it is vital that we become women of encouragement and influence. When we read on in Nehemiah 4 we learn something pretty special. We learn what God showed Nehemiah to do for the people of Judah,

and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows. When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”

Nehemiah 4:13-14

Nehemiah stationed the people in families and pointed them back to their God. The people needed to take their eyes off the rubbish, off their current circumstances and put them back on their great and awesome Lord. They needed to remember that they had no reason to fear because their God was with them. Instead of sinking in fear and discouragement, they needed to stand in faith, and defend their family, and fight for them and their houses.

Did you notice what the first thing was that Nehemiah did?

He stationed them by families.

Precious ones, God desires to station us by families. I believe that is why He gave us the church. A local church is built up of families. Families that are supposed to be watching each others backs. Families that are fighting for each other not against each other.

In the book of Philippians we meet a couple of ladies who were having a problem getting along…

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Philippians 4:2-3

These two ladies were believers. They were faithful believers. They had struggled with Paul in the cause of the gospel. They loved God, they loved His Son, and they loved His church… but for some reason they were having a hard time loving one another. Paul’s charge to the church was to help these women.


These women were not to fight against each other… but for each other. They needed a hand stretched out to pull them up… not push them further down. They didn’t need anyone to pick sides. They needed someone to bridge the gap. Beloved of God, we whose names are recorded in the book of life have been called to stand in the gap… we have been called to help.

I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land…

Ezekiel 22:30


The Lord is for me among those who help me…

Psalm 118:7

Now the question is… how do we help?

We will dig into that next time.

 Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 3)


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Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 1)


A few weeks ago I shared a message at a ladies event. The message was Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence. Verbally I managed to share it within the forty-five minute time slot, but writing it, now that would exceed even my normal word count. Therefore, we’ll look at it in parts. We begin with Proverbs 9

In Proverbs 9 we meet two women that represent two different houses, two different paths. As we read through Proverbs 9 I believe it is divided into three sections. The first section, Proverbs 9:1-6 introduces us to one woman, one house, and one path. The third section, Proverbs 9:13-18 introduces us to another woman, another house, and another path. The second section, Proverbs 9:7-12, I believe represents the fork in the road between the two, and how we receive Proverbs 9:7-12 determines the path we will walk, the house we will enter, and the woman to whom we will listen.


Let’s meet the first woman… her name is Wisdom.

Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table;
She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the heights of the city:
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks understanding she says,
“Come, eat of my food
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
“Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.”

Proverbs 9:1-6

What I want you to see is that this woman wisdom has her stuff together. Notice that she has built her house. Notice that she has hewn out her seven pillars. Think with me for a moment… what is the purpose of pillars?


Pillars provide stability and strength. If we look at the ruins of ancient societies, even if the house has fallen, the pillars remain. This woman wisdom has built a strong, stable home.

Let’s keep looking.

Notice the work of this woman wisdom, she has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine, she has set her table, she has sent out her maidens. She calls out. This woman is able. This woman is strong. This woman is prepared. This woman is saying, Hey whatever you need, come and see me. Bring your tired, weary, hungry, thirsty self in here to my house and let me help you. I have everything that you need and I have the ability to teach you to have this for yourself. See here are my maidens, I provided for them, and they were fully equipped to be sent out, and to find you… I will fully equip you so that you might go and do likewise… become a maiden of mine and become a woman of wisdom. Let me teach you. Listen to me. 


Now let’s take a look see at our other woman… her name is Folly.

The woman of folly is boisterous,
She is naive and knows nothing.
She sits at the doorway of her house,
On a seat by the high places of the city,
Calling to those who pass by,
Who are making their paths straight:
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,”
And to him who lacks understanding she says,
“Stolen water is sweet;
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Proverbs 9:13-18

The first thing we learn about this woman of folly is that she is boisterous. Now this word boisterous in the original language is pretty darn interesting. In the Hebrew this word is hamah and it means,

  • To murmur, growl, roar
  • To murmur a soul into discouragement
  • To growl like a dog
  • To roar as in to keep a city in an uproar

This woman folly is not there to encourage or strengthen anyone. As a matter of fact she is what I like to call a pot-stirrer. She is here to murmur and growl and roar and to keep everyone around her in turmoil. She has no desire to calm a soul, to encourage a soul, to strengthen a soul… no… she simply desires to murmur that soul into discouragement. She has no desire to share peace and hope and stability. No, she wants us off-guard, off kilter, confused, confounded, bewildered, stressed out beyond the ability to reason for ourselves.

(Hmmm…. does this sound anything like our current media and/or political strategies)

Notice what we learn next. This woman is naive and knows nothing. Notice that this woman sits. She sits at her doorway on a seat by the high places of the city. She sits and is calling out to those who are passing by… she sits. She is NOT building her house. She is NOT hewing out pillars. She is NOT preparing food, mixing wine, or setting a table. She has NO maidens to send out. She doesn’t even get up to go and seek… she sits like a spider waiting for those who pass her by so that she can catch them in her web of destruction.

Here is the kicker. Let’s look side by side what these two woman call out…


Both of these woman call out the same words.

“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,”
And to him who lacks understanding she says,

Proverbs 9:4,16

Yet the heart, and the purpose, behind the words are completely opposite. The woman wisdom calls out to the naive and to those who lack understanding to come into her house so that she might provide them with what she herself has prepared. She calls out to them to strengthen and encourage and feed and equip so that she might give them the tools to become someone of wisdom and stability themselves in order to seek and help others. The woman wisdom seeks those who need her. She sends out for those who are naive and lack understanding so that she might teach them and give them wisdom.

On the other hand, this woman folly, she has nothing to give. She is looking for the naive and those who lack understanding so that she can bring them into her house and take from them whatever they have for herself. She seeks the naive so that she might devour them in their naiveté.

She is an Ursala…


The woman wisdom cries out for us to forsake folly and live… she wants to give us life.

The woman folly, has stolen all she has, and has nothing to offer us but death.

The question we have to ask ourselves… if they are calling out the same words… both offering food and drink… how are we to know who is Folly and who is Wisdom?


Here is where Proverbs 9:7-12 comes in. The fork in the road.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

Precious one, are you willing to take rebuke?

Are you willing to hear that you are wrong?

Are you willing to receive correction?

Are you willing to submit your will to the Word of God?

This and this alone will determine whose doorway we willingly turn into… this alone will determine what path we will take… this alone will determine whether we ourselves become a woman of wisdom or a woman of folly. Beloved, let us turn to wisdom.

 Becoming a Woman of Encouragement and Influence (part 2)


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