The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn 

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So What’s Your Problem

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Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”

Exodus 16:8

I am in the midst of new study. This is my first Priscilla Shirer study. I’m a Precept girl so topical studies are usually not my choice, but my sister-in-law invited me to attend this new study that was starting at her church, which just so happened to be the church we felt the Lord leading us to… and well there is no “just so happeneds” with God. Since the first class the Lord has been drawing me out of myself… And each Sunday and Wednesday that we visited the Lord spoke directly to a place in our hearts and minds that needed desperately to hear from Him.

Just this past Sunday the Lord woke me up from my self proclaimed victim pity party… I was at my pinnacle of my pity party this past Saturday as I wrote, His Thoughts Are Not Our Thoughts. I mean there were tears and downcast of soul and I was done… again. The depression of oppression had fallen and settled in and as I just wanted Jesus. Just Jesus.

My joy cup was empty. So Sunday as I was getting ready for church I sat that morning before the Lord and I prayed… really prayed. In the shower I prayed… really prayed. I didn’t just go through the motions of prayer… I prayed.

I surrendered.

That morning the Lord spoke to me clearly in the Sunday School class we attended and then again clearly in the morning service… he spoke to every hurt of my heart. He reminded me that He knew and that He cared and that He forgave me.

In my study this week I read:

How can we make it successfully through our dry and dusty journey? We are covered by a cloud of God’s presence as we learned yesterday and we must also keep in mind that God will refresh us by a river of His provision. He will provide healing places and oases for us too. We will not always be engulfed with fatigue as we travel from one day to the next.
~ Priscilla Shirer 

You see the final straw for me had came when BCBS had denied my Daddy’s PET scan the Thursday before, placing a financial burden and cloud of doubt upon my Daddy who was already fighting for his life. I didn’t understand how God could allow these people in a building somewhere to overrule my Dad’s doctor. I could have personally choked President Obama and any other “political genius” who is behind all this “free” healthcare hoopla. You see the sovereignty of God is a double edged sword. You know God is in control so you know that God allowed it and you also know that God didn’t have to allow it. Sovereignty is hard to swallow sometimes… and this was one of those times.

However, Sunday morning I swallowed.

Sunday morning through the teaching and preaching of His Word I was washed, renewed, and my joy cup once again was beginning to fill… it was a good day.

Then Monday my Daddy went to the oncologist to have his chemo treatment. The oncologist told him that day that his numbers looked so good that he should only have to have one more chemo treatment. He will have that PET scan to confirm the numbers and then take only a thirty minute maintenance injection once every three weeks.

As this news sank into my heart I realized that had my Daddy had that PET scan the week before and that scan missed one single cancer cell he might not have had these last two chemo treatments and there just might have been that one cell that God could see that the PET scan would miss…

How easily we forget that God is in control when things are not going the way we think they should go. Yep, sovereignty is hard to swallow.

This past Monday night I wrote this on my Proven Path FB page

There are those that have the ability to bring the sour out in me… and well the Lord has been too good to me and given me far too much for which to be thankful for me to be sour. 

My Daddy received the most amazing news ever today and a phone call that began as a praise session, I found myself turning it into a “gripe” session. My Daddy didn’t need my sour dump and my God most certainly deserved better in that moment.

It’s no secret I have been in an uncertain place… and yesterday in the midst of our Sunday School lesson I realized that I had taken on a mentality that grates my own nerves in others… the victim mentality. As I sat in class and the teacher discussed the victim mentality I heard my God clear as day speak to my heart and remind me that those in Christ are not victims, we are VICTORS. It was time for me to pick up my pallet and walk.

Yesterday was a good day…
Today was an even better day.
Tomorrow isn’t to be worried about.

Everything happens for a reason. Everything. People come and go out of our lives for a reason. There is a time for every season under the sun… every season. We will learn in summer to look forward to fall and in fall to prepare for winter and in winter to hope for spring… yet in each season we see the beauty of our Creator God and the ever present glory of His sustaining mercy and grace.

God is good. I am not so good… the only thing good about me is what He has brought to life in and through me. The more I get to know me… the less I like me and the more I sit in awe that He even tolerates me… much less loves me enough to reach down from the throne of the KIngdom of Heaven to lift me up out the depths of the pits of hell and then to actually take up residence within this decaying flesh… I mean… really?

When I begin to think that I have “put up” with a lot… I remember that God has put up with me. Twenty-four seven. No break. No time-outs. No vacations. I mean day and night, inside and out. When I think and speak sour words that are so foul they should be rotting my bones… He gently whispers sweet words flowing with milk and honey that brings healing to my soul.

Oh precious ones… do you know HIM? Oh, how I hope that you do! The God of do-overs is my God. His name is Jesus. Jehovah Saves. Just say His name… that sweet, sweet name.

God had just poured out glory on me and in a second I was complaining and grumbling again about things that no longer even concern me personally anymore. Then tonight in the class as Priscilla shared I was reminded of the verse in Exodus that begins this post…

Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”

Exodus 16:8

How quickly I find that I forget the goodness of God. How easily that I find that I forget that in the knowledge of His sovereignty the complaints that I make about or against others are really against my faithful sovereign Savior who is working all things for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

Tonight I was reminded that I am to be silent and let the Lord fight for me.

Tonight I was reminded that I am on a journey and the Lord will finish what He started in me.

Tonight I was reminded that neither cancer nor insurance companies are greater than my God.

Tonight I was reminded that God has me… and God has my Dad… and God has my Daddy-in-Law… and God has my Sis-in-Law… and God has our family right where He wants us.

When we know that we are not deliberately running away from God then the only other possibility is that we are on our way to where He is taking us… it just might not be the route we had planned. There are times that it seems we have the very cloud of His glory going before us clearly showing the way, but there are also times where the light has blinded us and darkness is all we can see, yet it’s still God’s will and way.

I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.

Psalm 145:1-3

 
So what’s your problem?

Beloved of God be reminded that He is faithful… and He hears your cry… and He’s got you.

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His Thoughts Are Not Our Thoughts

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“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

I am glad that His thoughts are not our thoughts… 

My thoughts are hard to carry at this time in my life. My thoughts tell me that I am inadequate, incompetent, incapacitated, insufficient, and proven unworthy. My thoughts tell me that I will never be enough, or do enough, and that failure is the end result of the visions and dreams of the future I once had and that I am and have been a waste of others resources.

There is nothing like the pain of knowing that you have invested years of your life into others and your thoughts tell you that you are not even thought of enough to have one simple request met. The “praying for you’s” fall flat when there are no actions behind them. The only words that hold power in themselves are those of God… ours are of no value when there is no deed behind them. They are empty, futile, and worthless… except for the pain that their emptiness brings. Words unmet with concrete validation always leave pain in their wake.

But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 

James 2:20

It is better to be silent than to speak empty words.

I do not know what God is doing. I watch the support of some and in this all I can see is the lack of support given to others. The lack. The walking on by with a pat on the arm, and the how are you doing, and the empty trained we are praying, as they keep on moving to something and someone else… apparently completely oblivious to the numbing blow they have just landed to the soul. It’s hard not to ask, “but why?”

There is place that seems so numb and so dark that the thought of there ever being life there again seems impossible. The thoughts. The tug-of-war. The doubts and fears and disappointments tugging against the promises of God… His thoughts… His ways… His words… and those few who have actually backed words with actions… those. very. few.

It has nothing to do with doubting the love and ability of my God…

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…

2 Timothy 4:16-17

It’s just that the reminder that all we ever really have is Christ Himself sometimes comes painfully. We will never be enough for other people and other people will never be enough for us… but Jesus will always be enough.

Jesus is enough.

Just give me Jesus.

If the Lord had not been my help,
My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.

Psalm 94:17-19

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The Program

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As I sat one morning digging into John 12 and cross-referencing related passages of Scripture I found myself in Luke 10. In Luke 10 we enter the house of Martha. In this chapter we meet both Martha and her sister Mary.

Now whenever there are women mentioned in Scripture I always first see where I am at in relation to them, since I too am a woman, and then I see if or how they might be a representative of the church, for we believers are the bride of Christ, and God often uses the woman to illustrate truth to us concerning our relationship with Him.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 

Luke 10:38-42

The literal translation of Luke 10:40 is actually Martha was distracted with much service. In my Bible study class this past Wednesday night one of the topics of discussion was the many distraction that the enemy of our soul puts in front of us to keep us from experiencing the fullness of God in our lives. As we discussed this we shared saw how it is very easy even for children to sit down and come up with distraction after distraction in our American culture.

I mean, really, think about it.

We even use distraction as a form of “discipline” with our children. You know instead of dealing with their temper tantrum or whining we “distract” them with something that we hope they will find more appealing than what ever they are throwing a fit over. How many of us have actually trained our children into having ADD?

Satan doesn’t have to use sinful things to distract us from focusing on God.

It seems we have created a culture of distraction even within the walls of our church… and we call it service, and we call it appealing to the lost to get them in the doors. We load our kids plates full of soccer, softball, volleyball, football, theatre, music, etc (guilty mom right here, learned to allow one sport at a time, and must be a break in between) outside the church and then inside the church we have movies, camps, bowling, bouncy nights, pizza parties, etc because we are told that if we keep them busy-busy-busy they will stay out of trouble. After all having the family run around like chickens with their heads cut off with a list of deadlines and schedules is a much better way to keep our kids in line and trouble free than actually having time to be still as a family and teach, and train, and love them, according to God’s way in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

We have even convinced ourselves that they will only invite their lost friends to church if they have something non-threatening and fun to offer… because the free and beautiful grace of God and His free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son just simply isn’t appealing enough. We train our children to use manipulation and entrapment to present the most profound simple honest truth that ever existed.

Martha was distracted with much service… but Mary had sat down. I believe Martha and Mary had both been serving… but when Jesus started talking Mary started sitting… but Martha kept going.

Here’s what I have learned.

There is a difference between serving the body of Christ and enabling laziness.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-11

I would be so bold to say that we would have less murmurings, grumblings, and gripings within our churches if we required everyone to work. More often then not, the ones doing the most gossiping are doing nothing but sitting on a pew and making a tithe and because they tithe, they feel they are entitled to gripe and do nothing. There are tithers and their are servers… right?

Mary sat down, but Martha kept going. Martha kept serving. We do not know how many came with Christ that day… but this was early in His ministry, so He was bringing a crowd of curious listeners wherever He went. I am sure Martha could not get her eyes off all the people long enough to put her eyes on Christ. Finally overwhelmed and realizing that she could not do this ALL alone she finally finds Jesus to tell Him to tell Mary to get up and help her… because obviously no one was going to volunteer.

I am sure everyone was being polite and was telling Martha thank you and how nice it was that she was serving everyone like that… but not one offered to help. Yes, people will pat you on the back for your service and say how much they admire the work that you do. They might smile and say, you poor thing you just never get to sit down  or come to service do you, but they usually do not care enough to actually do something to help… even if that help is simply spending one hour a year with 5 0r 6 preschoolers. Hmmmm, and we wonder why the world sees the American church as full of cold hypocrisy?

Let the little children come to Jesus… just don’t ask me to be there when they do… I might have to change a diaper or wipe a nose or deal with crying and my nerves just can’t handle that today.

If you are the one that every Sunday and every Wednesday you are frustrated and flustered because more and more is being piled on you and you wipe your sweating brow as people walk by and smile and wave and yet never say, what can I do to help so that you can go and sit at the Lord’s feet for a change. If every Sunday and Wednesday night you are looking up to God and crying out, God do they not see that I need help here, how could they just not show up, how can they expect me to do all this by myself, how can they ask me to do this on top of everything else… then take the advice of Christ:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her”

Just drop it all. Hands in the air. Kill the program before it kills you. Christ didn’t call you to a program He called you to Himself.

Jesus didn’t say what Martha had expected to hear. I believe Martha felt she was doing the right thing. I believe that she thought she was serving Christ as she worked her butt off that day… but just as Jesus said concerning the poor…

For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.

Mark 14:7

If your family is running around so crazy that you don’t have time to sit at the feet of Jesus yourself, and you don’t have time to teach your own kids to love the Lord their God by diligently teaching them His commandments within the walls that they sleep and rise in every day… then you, precious one, need to make some changes.

Stop and be still and breathe and ask the Lord to show you what to do… and obey when He does.

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What You Might Not Know

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And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Acts 15:39

The Greek word for sharp disagreement in this verse is paroksysmós and it means a provocation which literally jabs (cuts) someone so they “must” respond.

Barnabas and Paul had been serving together for years. Barnabas was the first one to stand up on behalf of Paul and say, hey this guy has been called of Christ, let him in and let him serve…

 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 

Acts 13:2

Paul and Barnabas served well together. They no doubt were quite comfortable with one another. They had known great success in their ministry together. As the book of Acts continues to share…

All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

Acts 15:12

These two were unstoppable. Together they reached out to the Jew and the Gentile. Together they watched many be saved and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Together they testified to the beautiful grace of God. They stayed in Antioch for many days… but there came a time for things to change. Paul’s heart began to stir and Paul said to Barnabas let’s go back over our old route and see how everyone is doing. 

Then came the change. Then came the paroksysmós, the provocation which literally jabs (cuts) someone so they “must” respond. 

As I sat last night entering into a committed study in a new church one of the facilitators of the study closed the lesson with the separation of Paul and Barnabas… supposedly caused by a conflict. Here is what I know, sometimes God creates a conflict to get us moving in a different direction.

My family begins the journey of leaving the place we have called home for over 14 years. The place where all of our girls were baptized. The place where we learned to study and proclaim the Word of God. The places where we have spent the majority of our days the past decade. The place that allowed us to teach and to learn and grow. The place where we met others who helped us through rebellious kids, sick kids, financial strain, and hard moments of marriage.

If I knew what divorce felt like… I would say this is pretty stinkin’ close.

The months and weeks and days that have brought us to this place have been beyond painful. The paroksysmós started coming and before we could recover from one another would hit harder and deeper and sting even longer. The confusion that comes in the midst of this is something that is hard to put into words. As you sit and lay it all out trying to decipher if this Satan trying to prevent a move of God or God allowing Satan to torment and sift so that you WILL MOVE with God is mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining.

As you begin to slowly loosen your grip on all that you have ever known you find yourself deciding to just keep clinging on to this one small part… but then comes the moments where it is like you are holding on with one hand and something like a sledge hammer slams down upon that hand and you can no longer hold on to anything at all… and you have to let go… because the pain is simply too great to be able to hang on.

In the letting go there comes the thought that you must justify to everyone all your legitimate reasons for letting go… we could make a list of the paroksysmós that we have experienced… but we don’t want anyone keeping a record of wrongs against us so we shall not do it to another. Our family is not in the business of tearing down the work of God… we have always tried to be those who built up and encouraged and helped bear the burdens of others.

So a new journey begins for our family. A new journey that we believe God Himself always had planned we just were not going to go easily… because who likes to leave the comfort of home and step into new seas that you have never swum… especially when you know that so many waters are infested with sharks and you know you could easily be devoured.

What if you step out of that boat and you all sink to destruction? What if the giants of the land defeat you?

But what if you step out and are able to walk on that water and find once again life and that sweet taste of honey?

For the first time in a long time my family came home from a service with peace… leaving better than we arrived.

The Lord will give strength to His people;

The Lord will bless His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11

What you might not know doesn’t matter. Because we can’t put it behind us and press forward to what lies ahead if we don’t forgive it and forget it, and we can’t forget it if we hold on to it to make a list of it to justify what we now clearly see as God’s leading. God knows we would have never went easy.

As Priscilla Shirer said in the video message last night… sometimes it is just time to walk down a different street. Each of us must decide if we want to go where God is leading.

There is song by Sidewalk Prophets that has been ringing in my ears for almost a year… as I struggled with so many questions and hurts… and I have sang it as a prayer and a cry… it still brings tears to my eyes and hope to my heart all at the same time.  Whatever His will. I lift my empty hands to Him. I need my King to have His way in me and in our family.

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Romans Study For Kids (Romans 14:13-23)

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We continue in our Romans Study For Kids as we finish up Romans 14. Reminder, this study is written with the New American Standard Bible translation.

 

Read Romans 14:13. With what word does this verse begin?

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Now remember when we see a “therefore” we need to ask what the “therefore” is there for. The “therefore” in Romans 14:13 is the closing of what Paul was teaching us in verse 1 through verse 12. 

Read Romans 14:13 again. Had the church been judging one another? 

Yes            No           I don’t know

What word Romans 14:13 gives us a clue that this was something that they were doing?

__ __ __ __ __ __ __

To not do something “anymore” means we had to have already been doing it.

In Romans 14:13 we have another key word. Do you remember the word from the Finding Nemo video? 

__ __ __

What does Paul instruct us to do instead of judging or despising one another?

tripping

          

Yes! That’s right! Not to put a stumbling a block in another Christian’s way. God does not want us to judge or despise one another and he does not want us to cause another believer to sin against their own conscience.

Read Romans 14:14. What is Paul convinced of in Christ Jesus?

__ __ __ __ __ __ __   is unclean in itself

Read Romans 14:14 again. We have that very important word again. What makes something that is clean in Christ, become unclean to a Christian? 

if he __ __ __ __ __ __ it is unclean, then to him it is

Read Romans 14:15-17. If you hurt another Christian over what food they eat or what holiday’s they celebrate or what genre of music they listen to are you walking according to love?

Yes          No         I don’t know

Type this link in your URL search bar and watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuEJ_NQzFaU

That was a clip from one of the songs from the Disney movie Let It Shine. Right after this girl stops singing the song, the Pastor gets up to preach about how wrong rap music is and he humiliates the young girl who is indeed a famous rap artist and singer. He then learns that his son writes rap songs and he is very angry about it.

Later in the movie he takes the time to actually read the lyrics and he apologizes to both the girl and his son. He almost destroyed the work of God over something that God does not call a sin. 

Read Romans 14:15 again. What command does Paul give us in this verse.

Do __ __ __  destroy with __ __ __ __ food him for whom __ __ __ __ __ __  died.

Read Romans 14:16. If something is not called a sin by God should we call it evil?

Yes          No         I don’t know

Read Romans 14:17. Cross out the things that this verse says are not the kingdom of God and circle the the things that this verse says is the kingdom of God.

joy      eating      righteousness      drinking     peace   

Read Romans 14:18-19. If we serve Christ in righteousness, peace, and joy according to what God says is right and we do not destroy one another over things that God does not call sin what does this verse say we will be?

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __    to  God

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __   by men

What are we to pursue according to Romans 14:19.

the things that make for __ __ __ __ __

Read Romans 14:19-20. What are we to do in order to be pleasing to God and walk according to love? Circle your answer.

build one another up         

tear down the work of God for the sake of food

Read Romans 14:21. If we are spending time with someone who believes something is evil even if we don’t believe it, should we try to get them to do it in order to prove it’s not evil?

Yes              No            I don’t know

THINK ABOUT IT…

Let’s say you have a friend over to play. Let’s say you and the friend go inside to watch a movie or a tv show and that friend tells you they are not allowed to watch a show that you watch all the time. Your parents see nothing wrong with this particular show, but their parents do. Should you tell the friend that their parents are crazy and their is nothing wrong with that show and turn it on anyway. Or should you simply say, okay, and find something that you both are allowed to watch?

What should you do in order to walk according to love?

Read Romans 14:21 again. Are we ever to be the reason why one of our brothers or sisters in Christ stumbles?

Yes          No         I don’t know

Read Romans 14:22. Who does this verse say is happy?

someone who does not __ __ __ __ __ __ __ himself in what He approves.

Read Romans 14:23. What do we learn is sin from this verse?

anything that is not from __ __ __ __ __

THINK ABOUT IT…

Let’s reverse the rolls with the example used just a moment ago. Let’s say that you are over at a friend’s house and they want to watch a tv show that you are not allowed to watch. Let’s say that this is a tv show that almost all the kids at school get to watch, it’s even on the  Disney channel, but you have been told by your parents that you are not to watch it. If you keep silent and watch this program knowing in your heart that it is wrong for you to watch it… does this make your heart happy?

I bet it doesn’t.

If you are not watching this program in the faith that it is okay to watch, you are condemning yourself and sinning against your own conscience because you are doing something that you believe is wrong. 

This is what Paul means in Romans 14:22, “The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God.”

Have you been guilty of making a friend feel bad for watching something that you are not allowed to watch or have you made yourself feel bad for watching something you know you are not supposed to watch? 

If you have, talk to God about that… and your parents.

That’s enough for today! Tomorrow we dig into Romans 15.

 

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What God Will Not Do

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I am currently working on the 2014 Judgment Seat script. I have made it to the Judgement scene. This one is always the most terrifying to write because I am, in a way, putting words in God’s mouth. That makes me want to throw up just typing that. With that in mind, I desperately try to use direct Scripture that is not taken out of context. So as I opened up the Word this morning as I began specifically praying and pondering over the content of this scene I opened the Bible to Psalm 89…

Amazingly it fit the heart of the message that has been attempted to be conveyed through the life of one of the characters…

If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,
If they violate My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
Then I will punish their transgression with the rod
And their iniquity with stripes.
“But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him,
Nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.
“My covenant I will not violate,
Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
“Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie…

Psalm 89:30-35

All things are possible with God and nothing is too difficult for Him, yet there are things that God will not do.

God will not lie.

God will not alter the words of His mouth.

God will not violate His covenants.

God will not be unfaithful to us.

God will not stop loving us.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to some things with God. There are things that are non-negotiable and not up for discussion. There are some things that no matter what we do, and no matter what we say, God just simply will not do.

Once God has sworn by His holiness it’s a done deal.

He might take us to the woodshed. He might be silent while we live out the consequences of our choices, but once we are His… We. Are. His.

Beloved have you actually believed the lie that God has forsaken you because of the choices you have made? Do not be deceived and do not be afraid… come boldly to the throne of His grace and seek His mercy… and know that He will never, never, never, never ever forsake His own.

 

 

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Things That Don’t Matter

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This morning I sit and I am thinking of all the people I am praying for and situations I am praying over… my newsfeed is filled with people who need prayer.

War rages in the middle east and war rages in my heart as I sit hear and ponder the matters of life.

Yesterday my Dad, who is currently fighting stage 4 lung cancer, called me to make sure that I knew that my friend Brenda had just been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer… as I sat talking to my Dad the questions came out…

Daddy, I don’t get it? Is this Satan upping the attack on us… or is this God trying to remind us all to focus on what’s important and live each day like it’s your last because it very well could be?

I keep asking… but I don’t know… I just know God is good and I trust Him.

I went to bed crying and I woke up crying. I went to bed praying and I dreamed last night that I was trying desperately to catch up to the ones I loved without leaving any of the ones I love behind and the whole time there was this person yelling at me, trying to distract me from both, by telling me things that I “needed” to do or get. It was one of those nights where you feel like you are doing all you can to run but somehow you can’t get out of slow motion… but in my dream I kept pressing on…

…and so likewise, here in reality, I will keep pressing on.

I will keep encouraging others to press on.

I woke up exhausted.

I started this post this past Tuesday, but my website has been acting goofy, so it was put aside… and I attempt again this morning to write and pour out my thoughts. Today is August 8th. As I opened the Word and thought of the day, the Spirit led me to Psalm 88…

O Lord, the God of my salvation,
I have cried out by day and in the night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry!
For my soul has had enough troubles…

My eye has wasted away because of affliction;
I have called upon You every day, O Lord;
I have spread out my hands to You…
Psalm 88:1-3, 9

 

August 8th… the eighth day of the eighth month… Psalm 88. The Word of God has never failed to meet me where I am. My God, He is faithful… even when it hurts… He is good. Even when you feel alone… you are not… but I love the fact that our God is not afraid of our feelings, even when those feelings lead us to question Him.

There are things that I find very important in life… and there are things that I have come to realize more and more that simply don’t matter.

In my dream last night… the person shouting at me as I tried to catch up to those I love without leaving behind the ones I love… that person, they were trying to tell me I was forgetting stuff… literal stuff. They were shouting at me and trying to pile cheap worthless things in my already full arms. No matter how many times I politely said no thank you… they pursued in their pressuring me to not forget this stuff.

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?

Psalm 4:2

Beloved, are your arms full of the things that matter… or are they so full of worthless things that you have no hands to grab on to those behind you and reach forward for those ahead of you? Are you able to run the race or are you entangled and weighed down with stuff?

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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

 

 

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Anchored

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I am sitting here watching the Blind Side with my youngest daughter and looking across the room at the sign she brought home from the last day of camp that reads, “our purpose we will find when deep friendship with God is yours and mine” This was the day one truth of the week long camp that my youngest attended.

I started out this week at camp with a sprained ankle and I ended it with a migraine. I bailed on clean up as I went to the vehicle to find a quiet place and close my eyes and try to keep from throwing up as I waited on the Motrin I got from the camp nurse to kick in. I usually spend camp jumping up and dancing and playing the games with the kids, along with helping the other leaders to make lunches and getting the snacks out… but this year I spent it sticking to lunches and snacks and slowly walking around and sitting. However, I still got my hugs, my high fives, my waves, and my big smiles.

Working with these kids does two things…  

One: it reminds me of how much I LOVE these kids and how much I love teaching them the Word of God and just flat out talking with them. I adore hearing Hey, Miss Nicole while two dirty arms wrap around me and one sweaty face buries in my side… and before I can get turned around here comes another and then before you know it, kids whom you have never met, have watched these others receive genuine affection from you, and so they come running up and taking their turn hoping to receive some for themselves… and I am thrilled to give it.

Two: it reminds me of how frustrating it is to know the lack of priority the majority of our churches put on reaching the kids in our community and serving them within the walls of our church. In the majority of churches this is the least paid staff member and usually the least time and effort has been put into choosing them. The majority of churches see this as problem that needs to be dealt with instead of a vital part of the ministry of the church that will be laying the foundations of the worldview of the ones who will in less than 20 years be their own leaders in the church and community. 

When I began as the Children’s Director at Shiloh, I also started working with a team of children’s ministry leaders and for the past several years our summer undertaking has been this Winshape Camp. This was actually the last Winshape camp that I will attend as the Children’s Ministry Director at Shiloh Baptist. I have to admit that not only has Winshape been great for the kids in our community, but having the opportunity to serve in the Children’s Ministry Exchange has been a blessing in itself. I have been honored to work with some of the most genuine and sincere ministry leaders that I have ever met. None trying to push their own agenda, all just seeking the best for the sake of the children in our community. I am thankful that in my resignation from Shiloh, they didn’t make me resign from the Children’s Ministry Exchange.

We are also working on beginning the ministry of FP Kids in our local schools. This is a ministry that will allow us to take the Word of God into the schools once a week in the early morning before school officially starts. We already have the high school program established in several of our local schools… however we want to begin equipping them earlier than high school and even earlier than junior high. FP Kids is set up to reach older elementary kids. 

FP KIds 1

If you are in the Morgan County area and you want FP Kids at your elementary school let us know! Larry Franks is the Children’s Pastor at Decatur Baptist, the current President of the Children’s Ministry Exchange. and he is the contact for Morgan County’s First Priority clubs. However, don’t just contact wanting FPKids to come, but contact ready to be a part of this ministry.

FP Kids 2

We need parents and teachers to step up and get involved because you will be able to not just share the love of Christ twenty minutes once a week, but you will be setting the stage to be a witness for the gospel, salt and light in the life of these kids, every day of the week for years to come. You will be the one dropping off and picking up every day. You will be the ones at the sporting events, working the concession stands, attending the robotics competitions… cheering these kids on in life.

I sit and I listen to these kids stories and if we who are in the church, we who are grounded in the faith, anchored in the hope of Christ, don’t make an effort to grab hold of these kids… I have no doubt that we will stand ashamed before our Savior one day.

We live in a day like one that has never been before. The majority of the kids in our schools have no security, no foundation, no authority, no safe place. They are neglected or abused at home, labeled at school, and kicked out of the church because they offend others by their mere existence and/or behavior.

Just yesterday I talked with a woman who works specifically with abused kids. Her and her husband were brought two boys, ages 7 and 11, from lower Alabama who were found living in a house with no front door, no glass in the windows, and no food in the fridge except some ketchup. Their mother was strung out on drugs and of course dad was no where to be found. These kids came to live with this family. The woman was telling the boys about going to church, and she asked if the boys had ever been, the youngest said, “Oh yeh, we went once and Bubba cussed out the preacher so they kicked us out and wouldn’t let us come back

Kicked out. Two kids who desperately needed to know safety, security, and unconditional love… kicked out because they showed they were desperate sinners in need of a Savior. Two kids who desperately needed someone to throw an anchor of hope in their hearts and grab on to them and let their friendship sink deep in their souls so that they could see the grace and mercy and love of Christ and see that He is love and life and their future and hope. That there is someone who wouldn’t kick them out, abandon them, or despise them…

But it’s so much easier to just ignore them, or kick them out, or shield your own from them, rather than to try and reach, teach, and love them. It’s so much easier to live out our “Christianity” in the safety of our own determined conditions than to step out and actually apply our Sunday morning truths and walk in the power of the Spirit and extend grace and the gospel to the unknown in the great unknown.

I actually had a teacher tell me once that they like the idea of being a missionary in the schools, but they couldn’t share their faith in the school or they would lose their job. Yep, eternal souls verses your monthly paycheck… decisions, decisions.

Like I said in an earlier post… I have spent the last several years with my mouth dropped open and my mind saying, “What? Really?!?!?

Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood. They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you. You have despised My holy things and profaned My sabbaths.

Ezekiel 22:6-8

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Romans Study For Kids (Romans 14:1-12)

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Here is the study guide for Romans 14:1-9…

Remember this study is written to go along with the NASB translation.

 

Today we begin digging into Romans 14. In this chapter Paul goes back and begins teaching us again about how we are to treat other believers. In Romans 12:1-13 Paul began teaching us how we are to live out our faith with each other and then in Romans 12:14 – 13:14 he showed us how we are to practice our Christianity before everyone every where. Now here in Romans 14 he brings us back to how we are to treat each other in the church. The church, being the body of Christ.  

Read Romans 14:1 and answer the questions below.

Who are we to accept?

the one who is __ __ __ __  in __ __ __ __ __

What are we NOT to do with the one who is weak in faith?

pass judgment on his __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Is being weak in faith a sin?

Yes              No              I don’t know

Does this verse sound like it is talking about sin?

Yes               No              I don’t know

THINK ABOUT IT…

What makes an opinion and what makes a sin? The word for “opinion” used in Romans 14:1 in the Greek means a thought, inward reasoning; the reasoning of those who think themselves to be wise. 

What is your favorite color?

Why is it your favorite color? 

What about brushing your teeth? Do you like brushing your teeth?

Do your parents tell you what has to be your favorite color or do they let you pick it? I bet they let you pick it. It doesn’t matter whether your favorite color is pink or green. That is your opinion and you are free to choose it.

What about brushing your teeth? Do your parents tell you that you have to brush your teeth or do they just let you choose whether or not you do? Brushing your teeth is probably an instruction or command that is given to you by your parents and if you do not obey, there are consequences. These consequences can come from your parents, but there are also natural consequences that come from disobeying this… like cavities.

There are things that God allows His children to have different opinions on and if that opinion is different from ours it doesn’t mean they are sinning. It just means they might be weaker than us in their faith or stronger than us in their faith. This is what Romans 14 is all about.

Let’s keep digging!

Read Romans 14:2 We are about to compare and contrast two different types of believers. Look at the pictures below. Which picture best shows who Romans 14:2 says is weak in faith? Circle it.

Romans 14 popyeye Rom 14 garfield eating   

So does this mean that we don’t have to eat our veggies!

Unfortunately, no. That’s not what Paul is talking about. This is where historical context comes in.

Paul is writing this letter to the church in Rome, and remember we have already learned that this church was filled with both Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Jewish believers were raised under the Law of God and Jewish traditions. Gentiles were raised making sacrifices to false gods. Many times Jewish people would only eat vegetables because they were afraid they would eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. 

When these Jews and Gentiles became believers some were strong in their new freedom in Christ, others were not. 

Read Romans 14:3. If we are the one who eats what are we not to do?

regard with __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ the one who does not eat

The word contempt here means to make of no account, to despise utterly. If you have access to internet type this  in the url bar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xrw0gbnNuU

Did you see that look on Daffy’s face? 

Rom 14 daffy despise

                         

He’s decided that Bugs Bunny is of no value to him and is of no account. He is regarding him with contempt. If we are not careful we will look at other believers who are weaker than us in the same way. 

Now how does this relate today?

We are going to divide some things into three different categories. I am going to make a list and I want you to decide whether it is Biblical, unbiblical,  or non-biblical. 

(B) Biblical means that God has told us that it is okay. 

(U) Unbiblical means that God has told us it is sin. 

(N) Non-biblical means that God doesn’t tell us what we have to believe about it.

Let’s begin.

____     Wearing blue jeans to church

____     Using drums in Sunday morning worship

____     The color of the carpet in the Sanctuary

____     Jesus is not the only way to be saved

____     Teaching the Bible to children

____     Only some of us are born sinners

____     Telling lies to keep from hurting feelings

____     Honoring our parents

Now let’s take it a step farther. If you marked a statement as Biblical or Unbiblical look up the Bible verse that proves it and write it to the side of the statement.

Good job! 

Read Romans 14:3 again. We have learned that the one who does eat is not to regard with contempt the one does not eat, but what is the one who does not eat NOT supposed to do.

__ __ __ __ __ the one who eats

What does it mean to judge someone? Let’s say you are the person who believes it is wrong to wear blue jeans to church. If you believed it was wrong how should you respond to the person who comes to church in blue jeans?

Should you respond like the picture below? Circle your answer.

Romans 14 judgeYes               No

Read Romans 14:3 one more time. Does God accept the one who eats and the one who does not eat? 

Yes            No      

Does God accept the one who wears blue jeans and the one who doesn’t?

                               Yes             No

If God accepts them, then should we?

Romans 14 accept one another

Yes             No 

                    

Read Romans 14:4. If you believe in Jesus are you God’s servant? 

Yes             No

If someone else believes in Jesus are they God’s servant?

Yes             No

According to Romans 14:4 who is the only person who is allowed to judge God’s servant?

___ ___ ___ 

Read Romans 14:5. Look at the pictures below. Shout it out if you know what days the pictures represent.

Romans 14 special days Romans 14 special days 2 Romans 14 special days 1

                     

If you were to ask 20 different people how they felt about these days you would probably get several different opinions about them. Each person would probably be fully convinced that their opinion was the right one. 

Read Romans 14:6. Regardless of how we feel about the day or how we choose to celebrate it or not celebrate what should be our reason behind it?

we do it for the __ __ __ __ 

and we give __ __ __ __ __ __  to  __ __ __

Read Romans 14:7. According to this verse how many of us lives for ourselves or dies for ourselves? Circle your answer.

not one of us        some of us         all of us

Read Romans 14:8. If we live or if we die, who is it for?

the  __ __ __ __

Read Romans 14:9. Why did Christ die and live again? 

so that He might be __ __ __ __ both of the __ __ __ __ and of the __ __ __ __ __ __  

THINK ABOUT IT…

We all come to Jesus at different times and from different backgrounds. Some kids grow up in homes where they go to church and their parents are teaching them the Bible at home just like yours, but some kids have never been to church and their parents do not even know about Jesus. They may even believe wrong things about him, worship a different god, or may believe that there is no God at all.

Some kids grow up in churches where it is wrong to wear make-up and for girls to wear pants and some kids grow up in churches where drums and other musical instruments are not allowed. However God does not want us to look down on others who have more rules and He doesn’t want us to judge others who have less rules.

Jesus died for both and Jesus lives for both and both love Jesus and doing what they truly believe will please Him. What matters most is that Jesus is their Lord. 

If He is their Lord and He is our Lord then that makes us family and on the same team. If God doesn’t call it a sin, then we shouldn’t either. It is simply an opinion.  

Read Romans 14:10. Paul asks us two questions. What verse does he remind us of again with these two questions. Circle your answer.

Romans 14:6       Romans 13:10        Romans 14:3

 

According to Romans 14:10 who will stand before the judgment seat of Christ?

__ __  will  ___ __ __

 

Look up and read the following verses:

Romans 2:16 

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 

1 Corinthians 4:5 

2 Corinthians 5:10

What are these verses teaching us about?

the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __  seat of  __ __ __ __ __ __

 

Now look and read Revelation 20:11-15. Is this verse talking about the judgment seat of Christ?

Yes            No          I don’t know

 

No, it’s not! These are two different judgments. All believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and our work for Jesus will be graded. This is why it does matter how you live as a believer. This life is like a test, and you are going to be graded. I want you to pass the test and so does God! That’s why He gave us all the answers in the Bible and even gave us real life examples to study and learn from. He wants us all to make A+++!

The second judgment is known as the Great White Throne judgment. This judgment is only for those who never believed in Jesus. This is the judgment where people who would choose to believe the lie instead of the truth are sent to the lake of fire. We do not want any one to face this judgment and neither does God. That’s why He sent Jesus and that’s why He wants us to tell others that He sent Jesus. 

Read Romans 14:11. How many knees will bow and how many tongues will give praise to God?

everybody’s       nobody’s       only those who believe

 

Read Romans 14:12. Who all will give an account of themselves to God?

__ __ __ __   __ __ __ of  __ __

 

That’s right. Each one of us will give an account of ourselves to God. We will either be found believers and go stand before the judgement seat of Christ and get graded or our names will not be found in the book of life and we will be found guilty of sin and sent to the lake of fire… but even those who go to the lake of fire will bow their knee before God and praise Him as God.

That’s enough for today! Tomorrow we will start digging again :-)

 

 

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