All posts by Nicole Vaughn

Are We Ready To Cry Out Yet

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Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.”
Ecclesiastes 3:16-18

Are we ready to cry out yet?

Not are we ready to spew our venom in the world of social media, but are we ready to cry out to our God in repentance for forgiveness? I don’t mean those that are advocating and celebrating the latest American news story of the nationwide forced recognition of same-sex couples as legally married, nor do I mean those who are vehemently outraged and letting us all know it.

No.

I mean those who are NOT celebrating, those who are NOT angry, but instead are weeping. Weeping for the fact that the light we were supposed to be shining has become so dull that God has allowed the darkness to grow just so the light might be seen by those who are seeking Him.

But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

John 3:21

We have plenty of examples as how we, as the people of God, are to respond to ungodly leadership. We have plenty of examples as to how we are to love in an ungodly nation.

Daniel prayed and remained a man of high esteem.

Jeremiah wept and continued to stand firm.

Isaiah spoke and continued to prophesy.

Jesus longed to forgive, restore, and comfort and died so that He could.

I don’t want to “take my country back“.

No.

I want to see His Kingdom come.

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131

This is the Scripture that came to my heart the moment I heard the news of the turn in our nation. This matter is too great for me. It is too difficult for me. There is no platform on which I have to stand to make anyone listen. What I do have is the peace that God is still on the throne. What I do have is the opportunity to rest in the Lord and to make certain that I am not deceived, but choose to believe the Word of God.

My heart grieved when I opened my email to see this message from whitehouse.gov in my inbox.

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It was the picture of the rainbow White House that made my heart flip. Our entire nation before a watching world has just been defined by sexual preferences… as though this is all our nation is about. A nation that once was defined by her fervor to throw off the bands of tyranny has appeared to become a tyrant to her own. A government that was designed to be ruled by the people now ruling the people.

And we use the term “freedom” to validate it all. Now I wonder where will this stop?

Will this cause His people to become serious about their Father’s business?

Will this cause His people to cry out?

It’s a sad day. I am not even sure how to put into words the depths of the sorrow I feel, but at the same time I also feel this angst of anticipation that perhaps His coming is drawing nigh. Yet, I think we are simply seeing the beginning of what is to come.

My heart breaks in regard to our President, especially when I hear him slinging the word grace around as if he actually knows what it means. I hope that he is clueless of the blood that is on his hands. I hope that he does what he does because of the depth of the depravity of his soul and not because he purposes the destruction of the nation that he leads. The seduced one seduces others and the deceived ones deceive many.

But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.

2 Kings 21:9

***

Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the Lord brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

2 Chronicles 33:9-13

The political, educational, and spiritual choices of Manasseh carried on long past his reign. Even though Manasseh was brought to individual repentance and received the grace and mercy of God, his past actions would be the destruction of his nation. Yes, years would pass, and even times of revival would come, but God’s promise of judgment would not be forgotten.

I will make them an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 15:4

I pray for my children and my children’s children. I pray because even though revival might come to our nation our past choices consequences will run their course. What grips my soul is that these consequences will ripple not just through our nation, but through the world.

Manasseh did not have a camera on him that made his actions visible to an entire watching world. President Obama does. I don’t believe he realizes… for the sake of his eternal soul… I hope he does this out of ignorance and delusion. (However, it appears to me that he quotes, or misquotes, way too much Scripture to play the ignorant card, yet I suppose so did Saul of Tarsus before he saw the Light.)

Obama’s sphere of influence stretches far beyond our nation, thus so does his accountability before a holy God. He has much more to be concerned about than poll results.

If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” 

John 12:47-50

The popular phrase “only God can judge me” is a terrifying thing to me. He can indeed judge and He will. Sadly those that use this as their motto seem to not understand that Jesus came so that we didn’t have to be judged by God… because apart from Christ there is no way we can be saved from His judgment which will come with the full extent of the law, that law being His Law not our own, and not our interpretation of His Law. 

However, until that time when He judges the earth how shall we who love Him respond?

It is really quite simple…

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

Philippians 2:12-16

Hold fast the word of life beloved.

Hold fast.

But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

Luke 8:15

Don’t allow this to cause you to live out the deeds of the flesh, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,  because we have been advised and warned that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Maintain self-control.

Remain gentle.

Remain faithful.

Remain good.

Remain kind.

Remain patient.

Keep peace.

Keep joy.

Live love.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 5:3

Be faithful in your own marriage. Be the spiritual heads of your own family. Be consistently involved in your own church and community. Be encouragers to your own children and to other children. Be diligent to pay your own bills. Hold fast your integrity and be men and women of high esteem. Do not be the reason that your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors mock Jesus and His Church.

In The Power of the Holy Spirit

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…for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

1 Thessalonians 1:5

There was a time in my Christian walk that I was overwhelmed with the Spirit of God. I was so intimate with my Savior and obedient to the will of His Spirit that I have no doubt in my mind that when I asked Him where He was in the days of the Holocaust that day in Poland, as I prayed on my knees before the ashes of millions who had lost their lives in the gas chambers of Majdanek at the hands of Natzi Germany, that He sent hail and thunder to remind me that He was there and He had not forgotten what had happened in that place and He would indeed bring His wrath one day.

I was so close to Him and so sensitive to His Spirit that when He told me to leave the choir that Sunday morning in mid song and kneel and lay my hands on a dear friend and pray that her womb would be blessed and she would indeed have a child, that I did, and she did… not once but twice.

I know what it feels like to hear His voice and know His touch. I know what it is to walk in obedience to His Spirit even when it makes no sense. I know what it is to sound like a crazy woman and call someone and tell them that God has a message for them… and then to discover that God would use it to restore them to Himself and grow them like never before.

I know what it is to go and share my testimony at a church and have someone who I had never met and have never seen since speak “a word” over me that was a direct and specific prayer of my heart that I had only shared with God alone and too see that “word” come to fruition.

I know.

I know what it is to have God give you a vision of His calling on your life and then to stay in a place around those whose words and actions lead you to suppress that vision as silly dreams.

It leads to joy stealing and prayer killing and going through the motions living. It’s a miserable place. I have been trying to find my way out of this place… but as I continue through the book “Come and See” I am beginning to realize that it is not that I am needing to find my way out, but that I need to trust that God is bringing me through this place for a purpose.

The vision that I thought had died is being revived. The Lord is teaching me in and through this time. I was reminded of that as I read these words in chapter five…

So gun-shy were we of anything that smacked of Pentecostalism, with its emphasis upon the reality of the Holy Spirit- the living presence of The Lord Jesus continuing in His Church- that those who taught us passed quickly over the “foretelling” aspect of the gift to make certain we knew that “forthtelling” was probably the best understanding of the prophetic task as affects the Church today.

While there is most assuredly the element of “forthtelling” in the understanding of prophesy, such as, “speaking out for Jesus” or “preaching the Gospel,” within the power of the Holy Spirit, one must not overlook the element of “foretelling.” Those who prophesy have the ability when, under the influence of the Spirit of God, to address the future in ways that bring encouragement to the downhearted, hope for a better tomorrow, and a promise of God’s Presence shaping everything up ahead for good to those who love Him.

Such edification causes the believer experiencing broken heartlessness, disappointment, defeat, and hopelessness, to catch a renewed spiritual breath, determined to go forward to fight the good fight of faith and thereby to expect victory. Even to celebrate it in advance!

~ Robert (Bob) H Jackson & Rob Jackson from Come and See: Jesus is Alive

Truth. I have both experienced the receiving of the prophetic word and the giving of it. God once used me in this way to edify and encourage. I have no doubt that He will again.

My husband has a word picture that he lives by, one he learned through some classes that he had taken, one he has taught me, and that he teaches our girls. He tells us that whenever someone asks a question like, “who is interested in going?” or “would someone like to pray?” or “who would like to go first?” He puts his fist in the air and pretends to be knocking on an invisible door and he will ask our girls, “what’s that I hear?” and they will respond, “that’s opportunity knocking.

Every time He does this my mind goes straight to the book of Revelation…

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:20

This word was to the churches. We use it to illustrate the Lord’s call to salvation many times, but the context of this is a specific word to the Lord’s church and we can’t be His church if we are not of His body and we cannot be of His body apart from salvation.

The Lord knows our deeds. He knows the motive of our deeds. He knows when we are using His gifts to sell ourselves instead of buying from Him… and if we refuse to heed His internal warnings and rebukes He will expose our nakedness to all if that is what it takes to get our attention and repentance.

I don’t know about you, but I simply prefer to keep my nakedness private. So if He is standing at the door and knocking then I would answer. I would recommend letting Him come in and dine with you and straighten it all out “in the house” so that He doesn’t have to do it outside for all to see.

This word to us in the book of Revelation from our Lord is relevant to both our individual lives and our congregations, but personally I believe, due to its context, it is specific to our congregations.

So Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Beloved of God… is Jesus standing at the door knocking?

The gospel did not come to us in word only and the Lord does not expect us to deliver the gospel to others in word only, but in power and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. If our deeds are not with full conviction and they are not being carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit… they are fruitless. Let us not be those who waste the opportunities given us simply because our deeds are dead.

I Called God A Liar

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There are days that I think I am good. I am ready to accept that God chose to heal my Daddy and Sister-in-Law fully in and for all eternity and I know, that I know, that I know that they are with our Lord and I am going to smile in my heart and once again lift my face to my Heavenly Father in reckless abandon with arms outstretched and I am going to show the world my faith through my ability to not be rocked by their absence in our life… but then something happens and the pain hits like a brick in my chest.

I miss them.

I never saw my Daddy that I did not hug him. I miss his hugs. I miss feeling him hold me tight while having my head buried in his arms and hearing him talk and laugh through his chest. His words came from his heart always.

This morning I got up after a sleepless night and walked downstairs to the coffee pot and flipped my little Scripture calendar while I waited for my cup to fill and that’s when I did it. I read the verse of the day and then I called God a liar.

The verse:

I, the Lord, am your healer.

Exodus 15:26

I grabbed my cup and like a stubborn child I muttered, “I’m not saying I’m sorry” even though I knew I was… and then immediately the Holy Spirit said to me… “it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18)”

I found a book by Charles Stanley in my pool bag that my Daddy had given me to read after he had finished it. He began reading it during his chemo treatments. As I picked it up to read as I waited in the doctors office for tests I read,

“You may have spent the last year wondering  if you will ever  be able to live a normal  life again. The answer is yes and also no. If we allow God to carry us through times of adversity, we will be changed in ways we never thought possible. A new depth and dimension will be added to our lives. What we once viewed as being normal will be replaced by something that bears a greater value because it comes to us in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. This changes us and makes us more sensitive to God and to those around us who are hurting… While it is hard to leave the memory of a loved one behind, we realize that life is worth living, and we must live so that Christ can live through us. 

No one who has ever loved deeply and then lost that love wants to move on immediately.  But in time, and with God’s help, that person understands that God’s plan for his or her life is not over; it is just taking a different path than the one he or she thought would be traveled. When we realize that God is healing and restoring our hearts, we want to move on and even farther than we have gone before.

There is no need to doubt the goodness of God. He is ever faithful, and we can trust Him…”

Sometimes I just want God to let me throw a tantrum, but He just simply won’t. He keeps supplying my every need… even when that need is my sanity or a gentle rebuke that He is NOT a liar. I know He is not. I know. He knows that I know. He also knows I am hurting. I am thankful that the GOD who lovingly handled the accusations from frustrations of Elijah and Job also lovingly handles mine.

As I was cleaning out my office last week I came across my journal that I filled with the account of my trip to the concentration camps in Poland. In 2006 I spent a week with men and women who had been prisoners in Auschwitz, Majdanek, and others.  I spent a week with a man who had watched his father, mother, and sister be turned to a gas chamber while he and his brother were turned to work. I couldn’t feel so sorry for myself after re-reading the account of this experience.

This life is hard. This world is dying. Sin is having its effect. If not for the grace and mercy of God restraining the evil that He does we would all be destroyed. And we wouldn’t need His wrath to do it. Our own choices and being the victims of others choices would be completely sufficient for cataclysmic world decimation.

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

That statement of fact from the mouth of our Lord and Savior is just as true today as it was two thousand years ago.

You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father…

John 14:28

These were the words that my Jesus spoke to His disciples right before he would suffer death… and I know that one day God will heal my heart and I will be able rest in the rejoicing because I know that my Daddy and Phillis have gone to the Father and because I love my Jesus, my Heavenly Father, my Daddy and Phillis… I WILL ONE DAY ONCE AGAIN really rejoice.

I have faith that it will come.

My God IS NOT a liar.

A believers grief is a funny thing… joy and sadness all at the same time. This afternoon as I sat outside for a few minutes before I began supper I decided to have another cup of coffee as I read through my Sunday school lesson… this is where the Lord met me once again,

“If we do not grieve when tragedy comes, we become less like God.
Grief is not sin. It is not wrong to feel pain, and it is not wrong to feel grief when we experience pain.

When grief pressed Job to the ground he turned the ground into a shrine and worshiped there. When tragedy strikes us, we can turn our circumstances into a shrine and worship God in them. We can make a shrine in the depths of our darkness and worship God there. We can fall on our faces in submission and adoration. We can adore Him wherever we are and in whatever emotional state we find ourselves. That is the lesson we learn from Job in this scene (Job 1:20-22).

When our hearts are pressed down, we can cry out to God in our pain and He will hear us.

Job 1:21 is one of the most meaningful expressions found anywhere in literature. Spoken from the depths of a broken heart, it reveals one man’s ready acceptance of the will of God.”
~ James T Draper Jr

No. He simply will not ever leave us and He simply will not ever forsake us… even when we call Him a liar.

His love is loyal.

The Quiet Fight Between Women

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So what is this post about?

This post is about Angie Tolpin’s new course that is entitled The Quiet Fight Between Women, which exposes the problem we have today. And the heading, Redeeming the Division reveals the solution. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. The definition of redeem is powerful: to reclaim and to take back.

I have personally worked through the first three units and am already trying to figure out how I could lead this study in my own church. So far Angie’s material is biblically sound and calls for those who are participating within the study to go deeper and seek true healing and spiritual growth.

Angie writes, “I truly believe that God is broken hearted over the division among women in His family. It breaks His fatherly heart just as it would break your heart or mine if our children were divided. And the Redeemer I know and love, would deeply desire to redeem your relationships, too.

It is Jesus who heals relationships. It is in Him that we should find our identity and, it is by the power of His Holy Spirit that hearts are transformed and relationships can grow. But we have a responsibility to partner with Him. To recognize our sin, our nature, and how we have contributed to this division among women and partner with Him through repentance and cultivating unity, love, and acceptance.”

Quiet Fight

About the Course

Most women live in a bondage that is culturally and self-imposed due to entrapment in a comparison game. Redeeming the Division, the ecourse, seeks to begin the process of restoring a sisterhood that is currently scarred with judgmentalism, competition, and division, by bringing into light the “pink elephant” topics which create division, and exhorting both spiritual growth as well as maturity past this high school drama that distracts us from our greatest call, The Great Commission.

This is for women who want to be set free.

Click here for a free preview: FREE PREVIEW

This would be a really good small group women’s ministry study. It would also be great for a home study course. I would especially recommend it for any church that is trying to start a women’s ministry or heal a broken one.

The journal entry pages are filled with pointed questions that will require the one answering to really examine themselves. They would also be great for opening up the floor for group discussion opportunities.

In celebration of the launch of this course we are hosting a giveaway of one course AND AN Apple iWatch!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other posts related to the quiet fight among women: AccountabilitySignificant In ChristSecure In ChristAccepted In ChristWoman to Woman

Jesus Grew Weary Too

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As I was preparing to teach from John 4 our VBS at Central Baptist Church I saw something in this chapter that somehow I had seemed to miss all the other times I had read this chapter… and I have read John 4 more times than I can count. It’s amazing really how the Word of God works… we see what He allows us to see when He allows us to see it. Jesus meets us always right were we are and true to the story of John 4 His living water is a well within those who ask Him for a drink.

What the Lord caused to jump out to me this past week was John 4:6,

So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well…

What? Jesus grew weary from the journey?

Yes, He did.

The word wearied in this verse is kopiaó and it means to labor until worn-out, depleted (exhausted). He was not just a little tired He was kaput. He was exhausted, and He was hungry, and He was thirsty. When the Samaritan woman came to the well and He asked her for a drink… He really needed a drink.

But the Redeemer must participate in that from which He redeems; and the condition of His strength being ‘made perfect in our weakness’ is that our weakness shall have cast a shadow upon the glory of His strength.

The measure of His love is seen in that, long before Calvary, He entered into the humiliation and sufferings and sorrows of humanity; a condition of His power is seen in that, forasmuch as the ‘children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same,’ not only that ‘through death He might deliver’ from death, but that in life He might redeem from the ills and sorrows of life.

Nor does that exhausted Figure, reclining on Jacob’s Well, preach to us only what He was. It proclaims to us likewise what we should be. For if His work was carried on to the edge of His capacity, and if He shrank not from service because it involved toil, what about the professing followers of Jesus Christ, who think that they are exempted from any form of service because they can plead that it will weary them?

What about those who say that they tread in His footsteps, and have never known what it was to yield up one comfort, one moment of leisure, one thrill of enjoyment, or to encounter one sacrifice, one act of self-denial, one aching of weariness for the sake of the Lord who bore all for them?

The wearied Christ proclaims His manhood, proclaims His divinity and His love, and rebukes us who consent to ‘walk in the way of His commandments’ only on condition that it can be done without dust or heat; and who are ready to run the race that is set before us, only if we can come to the goal without perspiration or turning a hair. ‘Jesus, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well.’

MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture

As exhausted as He was, when an opportunity to give a drink of the Living Water to another thirsty soul walked up He didn’t say, not now, not today, I’m too tired. No, He seized the moment and took full advantage. He preached the gospel. He was revived and strengthened through the will of the Father that this woman and those whom she would run to and share her testimony with might be saved…

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

John 4:39-42

When Jesus was weary from His journey His Father gave Him more than a drink. The Father gave Him a reminder of why He was on the journey to begin with…

Honey, Does This Make Me Look Fat?

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The other day in Sunday School, the topic of the lesson was the 9th Commandment, “thou shall not bear false witness” or “thou shall not lie” (Exodus 20:16), and of course when the topic of lying comes up in a couples class so does this question every time…

What about when your wife asks “does this make me look fat?” 

Does This Make Me Look Fat

To have addressed this question fully would have detoured the point of the lesson… but I will do my best to address it now.

There are two view points to this question. The woman asking and the man answering. To the woman asking, as a woman, I say this question is an attempt to fish a compliment out of the husband. To the man answering, as a man, my husband says this question is an attempt to start a fight. Either way their is nothing edifying or encouraging coming from this question.

So to all the wives out there… DON’T ASK IT.

I don’t ask my husband this question. If I put an outfit on and I FEEL like it makes me look “fat”, then I state MY feelings, “I can’t wear this, today I feel like it makes me look fat.” I own my own feelings and my own perception of myself. Besides, as a female, whether or not you feel fat is simply a perception anyway, it really has nothing to with your size.

A grown woman who barely weighs 100 lbs soaking wet will have days when she feels “fat”. It’s really not about fat, its deeper than that.  It’s simply a day, a moment, when you can’t see clearly and the enemy of our souls has found a crack to sneak in his lies of insecurity and imaginary comparisons.

Not long ago I had one of these days. In reality due to my own health issues and the stress of our last year I have added some pounds to the scale and the clothes in my closet simply don’t fit right at this time. As I was in the midst of a meltdown and almost in tears as I searched for clothes to put on, through misting eyes of frustration I angrily said, “I’ve gotten too fat to fit into any of my clothes!

My husband responded to my heart not my words.

He immediately went and grabbed a picture off of our dresser. It was the first family picture we had made as husband and wife. I, at that time, was in the best physical shape of my life. He grabbed that picture and brought it to me and said, “I want you to look at this woman. She was skinny as a rail, but she was miserable. You are more beautiful to me today than ever because you are happy and it shows in your eyes

I wasn’t walking with the Lord in that picture and neither was my husband. Skinny doesn’t make happy. Skinny doesn’t make beautiful. The joy of the Lord does.

My husband, at that moment (as at many other moments) in our marriage, did a wonderful job of causing me to see myself through the mirror of his eyes instead of my own. My own mirror is always a skewed. My own mirror can be like those “fun” houses at the county fair. My own mirror changes according to hormones, comments, fads, and fiction.

So husbands if your wife makes the mistake of asking that dreaded deadly question. It’s really not about the 9th commandment and whether to lie or to tell the truth, because if all you see when you look at her is “fat” or “skinny” then that’s a whole separate huge issue. Just answer her heart and not her words. She doesn’t really need to know if she looks fat, she just needs to be reminded that to you she is beautiful and she is loved. She still might change that outfit, but it’s because you helped to change her heart.

And wives just don’t go there. Don’t put your husband in a position to say or do the wrong thing according to you. He’s not a mind reader and he most likely feels like he can’t answer that question in a way that you won’t be offended or snap back. To answer, “No” he expects to be accused of lying or not paying attention. To answer, “Yes” he expects to be accused of being insensitive and no longer attracted to you. If we as wives are going to ask questions like these, we better be prepared to accept the answer.

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

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On April 13th our entire family along with our church began a forty day fast. That fast has now ended. I have been quite upset with my God. Yesterday morning as I wrote in my old spiral notebook journal and I made my complaint to my God. Forty days of fasting and You take… 

As I attempted to prepare myself for my sister-in-law’s life celebration service I knew it was the 23rd of the month and I turned to Psalm 23 and I read,

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:4-6

but I was not comforted I was hurt.

As the tears fell and I once again asked God Why?, to my heart He said, What day did you receive her news? On the 27th… so I turned to Psalm 27 and I read.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.

Psalm 27:4

In the margin of my Bible beside this verse I now have written, Daddy and Phillis have received their “one thing”. They now have received the greatest gift that any believer can hope for… they both dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

However, we who loved them so very much are left here on earth. We are troubled in our hearts and in our souls, but in our trouble He will conceal us in His tabernacle.

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!

Psalm 27:5-9

In His tent we will worship Him and offer sacrifices with shouts of joy. Our sacrifice being our broken contrite hearts that cause our insides to churn within us but our lips to still sing His praise as we surrender to this new reality and wait with even more eager anticipation for the day of His coming. Oh come quickly Lord Jesus, come quickly.

As I cried out for the coming of our Lord, as I wrote in my journal His words to Seek Him and reminded Him that I was seeking Him, but He seemed to be hiding from me still. As I cried out for Him to help me, to not abandon me, to not forsake me, to help me understand, He sent me to seek Him in His Word and He landed me here…

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Therefore comfort one another with these words…

Last night as I did devotions with our girls Bekah’s devotion was based on John 14:1 on the importance of believing and trusting in the Lord in all things and at all times and then Shelby’s was based on Job 1:21 and suffering and God’s sovereignty…

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Job 1:20-22

So today… this Pentecost Sunday… we are going to try to arise and worship in this tent as those we love so very much worship in His temple. We are going to try and arise and walk in this new season of life, with hearts that feel empty from this new reality that is absent of two of the people that filled them with their smiles, laughter, and constant encouragement… and trust that His Holy Spirit is enough and He will fill our empty hearts with more of Himself.

When You Take Up A Cross

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Our church is in the midst of a forty day fast. During this fast our Pastor has been preaching through a book that his father wrote, Come and See: Jesus is Alive

We have missed the last several weeks of services so I have been watching the services online at our church’s website. As I listened to our last Sunday’s service (May 17th) our Pastor made the statement that “when you take up a cross, you take up a curse.” This resonated with me deeply…

When you listen to our modern day preaching, especially from our American “mega” churches and many of our televised proclaimers, so many of them seem to focus on the blessings of a believer. I don’t think I have ever heard too many of them preach on the curse of a believer. No, they lean more to the preaching that Jesus became the curse so that we could have the blessing, but they claim that blessing to be “our best life now” and that’s just not biblical.

The blessing of God is not the best life here on earth. The book of Acts makes that perfectly clear as does the other sixty-five books preserved and protected by God Himself through the ages.

But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 3:18-26

The blessing of Abraham promised to us was the blessing of being turned from our wicked ways. It was the blessing of repentance, of the forgiveness of our sin… and with that blessing comes suffering.

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…

Philippians 1:29

When the apostles made disciples they did not promise them earthly blessings and worldly prosperity.

After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:21-22

How those tribulations come will vary, but they will indeed come. It is through these tribulations that we discover if we indeed truly do believe.

In the beginning of the days of the nation of Israel the Lord left the Philistines and other nations to test and teach His children. They had to learn war and they had to learn conviction.

Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.

Judges 3:1-4

It’s no different for us today, we too must learn war and we must learn conviction. Our war is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-13) and the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3-6), but it is indeed war all the same. Our need to learn obedience to our God through deep stable conviction is just as important today in this New Covenant as it was in the Old. We are too easily deceived (2 Corinthians 11: 3, Colossians 3:6-8, 2 Timothy 4:1-5) and therefore we must be tested to be strengthened.

The devil has been trying to convince us that our God is a liar, that our God is holding out on us, that our God is not really for us since the beginning. When tribulations come that old serpent is right there with his demons of darkness to whisper into our ears, “See. I told you so. If He really cared, if He was really there, this would not have happened.

Either we will choose to live our lives as if this world is all we get or we will choose to live our lives as if this world is simply preparation for the greater world to come. The decisions we make in life, especially in times of tribulation, tell the truth of which choice we are living.

When Jesus took up His cross, He also took up a curse.

If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God)

Deuteronomy 21:22-23

He took up our curse. We were the ones worthy of death. We were the ones who were accursed of God, but He took it and redeemed us from it… and because of it the world hates Him. He set us free from the things that the prince of this world uses to control us. When we take our stand with Jesus we also take our stand against the world and all that it entails… culture, politics, religion, fear, death, love of self, etc and just as He was, we too will be persecuted.

When we take up our cross, we take up a curse. We are redeemed from the curse of God, but we exchange it for the curse of the world.

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…

John 15:18-20

Ravi Zacharias states in his book Why Jesus?, “If there is any passage of Scripture that accurately describes our modern day contempt for truth, our attachment to power, and our voluntary surrender to culture, it is this (Luke 23). It is not accidental that religious authorities, political appointees, and cultural symbols have come together to crucify Him once again in our day.

Barabbas was released… a cultural practice was fulfilled.

“We have a law”… political correctness was enjoined.

“He claims to be the Son of God… kill Him”… all at the behest and with the blessing of religion.

The irony is that he wanted to be owned by none of the three: culture, politics, or religion.

When times of tribulation hit me and I begin to find myself questioning my God… He always takes me back to the book of Job. He always takes me back to the words of my Jesus and to the words of the apostles and the sufferings that come with salvation. It just comes with the territory.

Job suffered through personal tribulation to his family, his finances, his health and words of accusation from those who he called friends. Jesus suffered through hate coming from culture, politics, religion, and yes, words of accusations from those who He called friends.

Who are we to think that in our salvation we too shall not face suffering?

Who are we to think that we can take up a cross that is without a curse?

Who are we to think that we can be saved out of this world and remain of it and be praised and loved by it?

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…

1 Peter 2:21

As sinners saved by grace through faith our sufferings come from many different avenues and for many different reasons. Sometimes they are the result of our sin, sometimes they are seemingly undeserved, sometimes they appear to come out of nowhere… but regardless of where, why, or how they come they are purposed or at the very least allowed by our very Good God and they will bear fruits of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11) in us if we are His.

A Good Name

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A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

On this day two weeks ago I was praying for my Daddy and Momma and the radiologist that they would be meeting with concerning the beginning of radiation treatments on a tumor on my Daddy’s adrenal gland. A tumor that had somehow managed to evade the chemotherapy that was actually shrinking the tumors in his lung and lymph nodes. Shrinking them to the point that his CEA markers were dropping abundantly every week, giving us the appearance that we were headed in a positive direction.

At least at the discovery of this tumor things finally made sense. My Daddy was getting weaker and weaker, but we couldn’t understand why. We wondered if he was just hitting the point of depression in the process, so we surrounded him with posters and encouragement and schedules and exercises trying to keep his spirits up. We spoke of light things and made plans for the future… you know, for when he was feeling better.

He was not depressed. He was not giving up. He had kept his word to us and to the doctors to the best of his ability just as he always had his whole life. He was, as a matter of fact, fighting so hard for us that his white blood cell count had risen to over 114,000 by that Saturday, and it was for us he was fighting. My Daddy was ready and willing to go home to be with his Lord, but he fought the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), knowing that to live was Christ and to die was gain (Philippians 1:21). My Daddy kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

The appointment on Tuesday, in our minds, was to remove the drain tube. We just knew that since we had not been able to drain any fluid for several weeks now that the reason he still felt like he couldn’t breathe was due to the catheter in his chest cavity. However, that would not be the case. Although the tumor in his lung and lymph node was smaller… there was another issue that had been hiding. The drain tube would stay.

We knew it was bad.

Thursday’s appointment confirmed it.

However we never expected that Saturday would be the last day that we shared together. It’s crazy how quickly life can change and throw you.

Tonight I told his story for the first time without crying. I left some things out. Like how very hard it was to let him go. How very hard it was to make that call… to honor Daddy and to honor God.

On the way home tonight as I listened to a song on the radio I couldn’t help but begin to once again ask God why… Why now?

As crazy as it may sound while sitting at a red light, at that moment, God gave me the vision and the feeling of my Daddy’s spirit being finally freed from this body of death. It was just a moment. I wanted to hang on to it and go further, but God took it as quickly as He gave it.

Here’s the thing, the same Holy Spirit that raised my Jesus, that raised my Daddy, lives in me. We are eternally woven together by the Grand Weaver by grace though faith in the Christ and not even death can change that truth. We did not believe the gospel in vain. We still serve and worship the same God, the One True Living God.

…then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Oh my I miss him. I just want to hug him. I want to bury my head in his chest and see his eyes light up when I tell him what God is doing in the life of his grandkids. I want to talk with him about the church and about the things we could do to reach more people for the Kingdom of Light.

My Daddy left this earth with a good name. His good name is a testimony to his Good God.

Some people he knew through work, a group of people who only saw him when he came though town to deliver items to them came to his funeral. They sent flowers. The florist asked what Daddy was “in to” in order to personalize the flowers. They asked if he was a huge Bama fan, or NASCAR fan, or something of that nature. One of the co-workers said no, all Daddy ever talked about was Jesus and his family. So she told the florist he was a super Christian and that was the best way to describe him. So she told the florist to use the biggest cross she had to represent him in that arrangement.

A good name points others to the gospel and to the only name that saves, the name of Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given to man by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

If it takes my Daddy’s death, my sister-in-law Phillis’ death, or my own to get the living to take this truth to heart… then my Daddy and my Phillis, would willingly accept that cost and so will I.

What I know, that I know, I know, is that God doesn’t waste anything. He will not waste my Daddy’s sufferings and He will not waste my sister-in-law’s sufferings either,  just like He did not waste His Son’s

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

As my husband reminded us tonight. There are others who have it worse. There are those who do not have the hope and assurance that we have. We know exactly where our loved ones are at and will be and with Who… and we know one day we will be reunited.

My husband also shared how we have to remember that the devil wants us to feel sorry for ourselves. He wants us to sit around and say “woe is me” instead of “glory to God” and well we just are not going to give him what he wants.

We will indeed continue to praise the name of Jesus and give glory to our God.