Show Me Your Glory

And gave up His strength to captivity And His glory into the hand of the adversary (Psalm 78:61)

 

Sometimes the Lord will wake you up in the middle of the night with an insight and then the truth that He shows you just keeps circling around and around in your head. This happened to me last week. As I slept the Lord brought to my mind a word that Jesus shared with His disciples that we have recorded in the book of Luke…

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:28-33)

As the Spirit spoke this passage in my heart the Lord reminded me that the coming of Jesus was planned out before the foundation of the world.

“For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you…” (1 Peter 1:20)

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

Jesus was the Builder and the King who counted the cost. Before He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:3, John 1:1-4, Hebrews 1:1-3) and created man in His own image, He had already calculated what creating this world and building this kingdom would cost Him. He already knew that it could cost Him His glory and cost Him His life. He already knew that it would require Him to leave the majesty and honor of heaven and be humbled on this earth. He knew that it would mean humbling Himself to the point of being born of a woman as a child in flesh and blood. A child that would be surrendered into the hands of His own creation who had been made corrupt and cruel by sin and the deceiver of old to be cared for until He grew to be a man who would be humbled to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Jesus in complete faith in the Father laid aside His glory and trusted that He would be restored to it in accordance with the plan that had been purposed before there was a world to save. As the Word of His power said, “Let there be light…” He had already taken into consideration the state of a could be sinful mankind and the wiles of the serpent of old that would do all he could to deceive and destroy so that he could stake his claim as ruler and prince of the world that God had spoken into existence. Yet, even so, Jesus still, “gave up His strength to captivity and His glory into the hand of the adversary” (Psalm 78:61).

He was able to surrender all because He knew that He was not alone and that the Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit would indeed see His mission accomplished. He laid aside His glory with no fear of insurrection or concern of abandonment for He knew they were One in unity and purpose…

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (Isaiah 6:8)

In the book of Exodus Moses is talking with God and crying out to Him to not leave the people of Israel though they were a stiff-necked and rebellious people. In His prayer to God he cries out, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” The Lord replies and lets Moses look upon His back as He passes by in front of him, but that is all that can be seen of God at this time without the glory of His holiness destroying Moses’ sinful self were he stood. For not even the angels around the throne of God crying “Holy, Holy, Holy,” could look upon His face… that is until one day a child was born and His name was Immanuel, God with us.

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Then the glory which was given to the Word made flesh, the Immanuel God with us, the Son of Man and Son of God, He gave to those who believed… that they, who believe, might also be one with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit perfected in unity and purpose.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.  (John 17:22-23)

In Exodus 33 Moses cried show me Your glory and could only see the back of God. Then in John 1 God’s glory comes down and we can now behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Then in John 17 Jesus prays for us that not only will we behold His glory, but He is giving that glory to us so that, as 2 Corinthians 3 declares, we can show His glory to the world as they see us being transformed by it and conformed to the image of the One who came and died and rose again to bestow it upon us.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Now when the Moses’ of the world cry out, “show me Your glory!” Our God looks at us and says, “now is your chance, show them My glory.”

25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.  (Colossians 1:25-28)

So beloved of God as you enter in to this Christmas season and as we remember the day that heaven came down and glory walked this earth and Jesus made the way for glory to fill our soul, how are you showing the world His glory? Are you willing to follow in the footsteps of the King of Glory and count the cost and willingly submit to the purpose of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit and humble yourselves to be obedient to whatever He has called you to even to the point of being obedient to the point of death, even death on your own cross?


 

Do I Really Trust God With My Kids

 We began homeschooling our middle daughter in the 4th grade. I had her tested to see what grade level material we would need to use with her. We ended up starting her on 6th grade material in the 4th grade. She was able to continue on that track through each following year and now she will be graduating high school at 16 years of age.

Now in my “momma-plan” I knew that she would be graduating early. However in MY “momma-plan” she would simply continue to attend one of our local community colleges and live at home while she completed her basic courses toward her degree. What was NOT in my “momma-plan” was for her to be courted by major colleges and universities with scholarship awards once her ACT scores came in. My plan had not considered this possibility. I suppose my Momma heart just would not let my Momma mind go there.

So now here I am taking Senior photos and designing Senior yearbook ads and looking through pictures of her from baby to preteen to young woman and there are times that I feel like I can’t breathe. The day she was born I remember the mini panic attack that would hit my heart every single time she was being held in someone else’s arm… Could I trust them with her? Would they drop her?

Of course those mini panic attacks didn’t last long. From her birth she screamed like a banshee with a cry that could literally be heard for miles and she never slept… and I do mean NEVER.  Two years into this bundle of blue-eyed joy’s life I still had not slept through the night and would be overjoyed if and when I ever got at least four hours of sleep at one time. Therefore, I was readily agreeable to share her with her grandparents and aunts for the night when she was only months old. However, like every other season in life, this season did pass and she did finally learn to sleep. Yet, I think God used this season to teach me from the beginning how to let my babies go and trust Him with them.

Now, sixteen years later I am having to learn this lesson all over again as we plan to not just send her to her grandparents, but hours away to live in a dorm on a college campus. For the past sixteen years we have known at all times where our daughter was,  who she was with, and what she was doing. To this very day she is expected to check in by text when she leaves one location and arrives at another, not because we don’t trust her to be where she said would be, but because we need to know she left, what direction she will be traveling, and that she arrived alive.

All her life we have been right behind her. Teaching, coaching, leading, challenging, and encouraging. We both believed in preparing our kids for life as soon as possible. We both looked at life through lenses that saw that we were not promised tomorrow, so we better do all we can to make sure they have the strength and ability to stand on their own two feet and know how to make decisions and take responsibility in life.  This parenting approach has caused our girls to actually have conflict and tensions with both adults and their peers for varying reasons, but that’s okay with us. What we as their parents know is that if we were to die in some unforeseen tragedy tomorrow, our girls are equipped with Jesus and life skills that will allow them to not just survive in this world, but to thrive.

There is no way that we as parents can prepare our children for everything they might face in life, but we can use everything that they do face along the way to teach them the foundational truths that they can apply toward those things. Their whole lives when a “new thing” presented itself, instead of us doing it for them, we helped them do it themselves. I honestly can’t think of anything that I do in my daily life that my girls do not have the knowledge or ability to do themselves. My husband and I look at our girls and we don’t worry what would happen to them if we were no longer here… we look at them knowing we have done and are doing our job to prepare them for life without us.

We are looking at the beginning of the transitioning from parent zone to best friend zone with our middle and its a beautiful thing. (Noted: we are “looking” we ain’t there, parent zone is still well in effect.) I got to experience this transition with my own parents. If my husband and I were looking for a couple to watch the football game with or to go on vacation with, we always asked one of our parents first because they were our best friends and we genuinely love spending time with them. I hope that all of our girls will feel that way about us as well.

Today my husband is taking our middle and her little sister to the campus that she very well might be calling home this time next year. She will have professors and friends that I might never meet teaching her things that I will not be there at the end of the day to know about. She will no longer be passing by me every day allowing me to see the look in her eyes, the expressions on her face, or the body language movements that her Daddy and I could always recognize as tell tales that she was inwardly struggling with something. We will now have to send her off and we will do so having to believe God.

We say we trust God with our kids. We say we believe His Word, but now is when we really have to put our faith where our trust is. Do I really trust the Lord with my kids? Do I really trust His Holy Spirit to guide her into all truth (John 16:13)? Do I really believe that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and will give her the power that she needs to live a godly life (Titus 2:11-14) when we are not there with our parental fence? Will He really protect her from every evil deed and support her (2 Timothy 4:16-17) like He promised He would ?

I am currently preparing a message to share at a women’s event and I will be asking questions very similar to these of others. God has always been faithful to never allow me to teach or challenge others with something that I am not willing to or have not already walked through myself. He has a way of keeping me real and I’m grateful.  So as He presses these questions on my heart and uses life to demand an answer of me… the best answer that I can give is the same as another parent that stood before Jesus with their child and cried, “Yes Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24).

Those Who Hopefully Wait

“…those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.”
(Isaiah 49:23)

 

When the days seem long and hard.
When the nights appear ever more dark.
When the heart carries wounds that do not want to heal
When the mind is weary from fighting hard to overcome fear
When worries and cares try to tangle and bind the feet
Then lift up eyes and let the Word of God speak
Look to the skies and the heavens great display
Know that on the clouds the Lord will come in holy array
Recall His promises and remember His might
Let grace take over and faith’s power be greater than sight
Hope is the anchor that reaches deep within the veil
Love is the hook that snatches from every worldly hell
God is the victor His Spirit will prevail
The Son the redeemer will rule without fail
Justice and mercy and righteousness soon abound
Life and peace a gift for all who in Christ are found
Until that day when enemies fall under the Savior’s reign
Hopefully wait knowing that none in Him will be ashamed
Do not grow weary of doing good or let times make faint
Persevere, endure, patiently press on in the midst of wait
Greater is He who lives within than he who lives without
Stand firm in the Lord and in His truth never doubt
He is coming and will rescue and will make all wrongs right
Lean into Him and rest knowing His own He holds tight
~ NLHV

Submitted And Committed

This past week as I visited school campuses in Morgan county I stood and listened to a young man share with his classmates about what is required to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. He shared from a familiar passage in the gospels where our Lord is teaching that we must deny ourselves and take up our own cross and follow Him. The point that he made that stuck out to me and has continued to resonate was his statement to follow Jesus we must be submitted and committed.

Jesus allowed many to follow Him and listen to His teaching and to experience His signs and miracles. However, before He opened Himself to sharing the deep things of God He required a true commitment that could only come through submission to death. He would call His followers to a cross and He would show them what it looked like to carry it. Jesus never requires of others what He has not already carried out Himself.

True followers of Christ must be submitted to the will of God and committed to the Word of God. Jesus came to this world as the Word made flesh to show us what this really looked like and how it is lived out in actuality and not just theory. He carried out the will of God and stayed true to the Word of God every where He went, no matter who He was around. He could stand behind a pulpit that morning and dine with prostitutes that night and never deny the Father or grieve the Holy Spirit.

Jesus showed us what it means to be in the world, but not of it. Jesus showed us how to not be friends with the world, and yet still so love the people in it that we go into all the world and make disciples. Jesus taught us how to never speak harshly to a blind lost soul, and also how to never back down from a legalistic judgmental Bible distorter who does… no matter how many they gather to their side.

Jesus could do this and never be stained by it. He could do this because He had no sin within and no sin on Him. He could do this and remain unblemished because He was God in the flesh, full of grace and truth. The only time He carried sin, was when He took on ours to carry it to the grave. He buried it there and He rose from that grave because death could not hold Him because the wages of sin is death and He had no wage of His own to pay. He paid ours; and then He rose fully God, fully man, fully alive from all eternity.

Before His substitutionary death, after His bodily resurrection, and before His heavenly ascension to the Father He commissioned us to go and continue the work He started in the way He demonstrated. However, He knew that while we remained on this earth, we would remain in this flesh. The weight of sin would no longer be on us but the war with sin would continue to be a battle within us. He taught us how to deal with this as He knelt before a know it all Peter and explained to him that although he was clean because of the Word of God, his feet would still get dirty and he needed to know that Jesus would always be there to wash His feet.

When we choose to be brave enough to step out as followers of Christ and be His ambassador in this world, the real world, the one that is all nasty and perverse and crooked, and we choose to actually get close enough to be the Light in it, then it never fails that there will be times when some of it “gets on us”. Jesus knew that it would, that’s why He was willing to sit before us ready to wash it off so that we could get back out there and salt on. It’s easy to appear to stay all nice and clean when you place yourself inside your self-made kingdom and attempt to control everything and everyone inside of it. However, I believe Jesus had rather us be brave enough to take the chance on getting dirty because we have enough faith in Him to get us clean again without us ever destroying our witness for Him before those that it really matters.

Those that are truly suffering in this life and striving with sin can see through a condescending offering of the gospel. They can tell when the Bible verse is being shared with an air of arrogance and superiority. A high horse is always easily spotted from those who are walking on the ground.

Our family has learned that we had rather stay on the ground and do what we can to be the salt and light and have to return again and again and again to our Jesus to get our feet washed than to ride on that high horse keeping our feet all clean in the stirrups. This is what it is for us to die to ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. This is what it is for us to be submitted and committed to Jesus. It means we will get rejected again and again by both those who don’t like our Light and by those who don’t like our sometimes dirty feet. It’s not easy. It’s humbling. It flat out gets our feelings hurt repeatedly… but it’s also rewarding. The Lord is always faithful to remind us why He has us where He does.

Our family is not perfect, but we are indeed perfectly loved and we need no one’s approval but God’s. We are submitted and committed to the will and Word of God and we are brave enough to trust Him to keep us from the evil one as we step into this world that is ruled by the prince of darkness in order to be a laborer in it sowing the seed of the gospel.

We choose to love God and love people, all people. We choose to risk wading through muck and mire in the hopes that we are able to grab a few by the collar and pull them out with us. We are thankful for those that choose to jump in that muck and mire with us. It can get awful messy at times, but it ain’t nothing that Jesus can’t wash off.

No Greater Joy

There is a verse in the Bible that becomes more and more real as I watch my children grow into adulthood. In 3 John 1:4, John writes that he has no greater joy than to see that his children are walking in the truth. As a parent the stages that life takes you through are like a rollercoaster ride with its tunnels, twists, and turns. There are times when you wonder what in the world you are doing and there are times when you feel like everything you did do was in vain. Then there are moments when God lets you see that what He promised remains steadfast and true.

Our sixteen year old is attending college as a dual-enrollment student. Yesterday she shared with us about how one of her class discussion times turned toward the subject of homosexuality and the LGBT movement. Here she is the youngest in the class and she willing stepped up and became the only voice that spoke from a Biblical worldview. However, what she shared that made this Momma’s heart so very full of joy is HOW she shared our worldview. She was shocked that the class was shocked that she could hold the view that she does and yet still be kind.

She had the opportunity to share that she could completely disagree with the choices that someone was making and the lifestyle they were living and yet still choose to love that person and treat them as the human being they indeed remained to be. There is never an excuse to not be kind. As long as there is breath there is hope that the Spirit of God will break through into someone’s heart. How sad it would be for us to be a reason that a wall is built instead of a reason that a wall was weakened.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

Our youngest was sharing with me not long ago about how there was a young girl that was visiting church around her age. Several of the students shared with her that the girl was trouble and was involved with a rough crowd and advised her to stay away from her. Our youngest looked at them and said, “Well then she NEEDS to be here and she needs to make new friends and she won’t do that if she does not feel welcome here.” My daughter then proceeded to grab some more friends that felt the way she did and they went and joined the young girl and chose to sit with her. Our daughter continues to meet her with open arms every time she walks in the door.

This is the kind of children I prayed that I would be faithful to raise. Children that knew how to be IN the world, but NOT OF the world.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Mark 16:15

My husband and I chose to trust that our Father God would do exactly what His Son asked Him to do when He prayed for us in John 17 right before He was arrested and went to the cross for us.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

My husband and I attended a ministry celebration of some dear new friends, Pastor Daryl and Annette Little. As they shared at the end of the dinner Pastor Little made a very profound statement. I wish I had written it down or could recall it word for word, but he shared how this is the time that we have been given, this is the people that we share this time with, and we need to stop and realize that we are all spending this life together.

This is the time that the sovereign hand of God chose to appoint to us. He purposely and specifically chose for us to live in this day of technology, in this day of global marketing, in this day of climate change politics, in this day of division, in this day of sexual perversion, in this day of media manipulation, in this day of false gospel and self promotion. He chose us for today.

God isn’t shocked by the world. Nothing has happened or will happen that He is not fully aware of and has not fully equipped His people to thrive in, so let us thrive.

Let us choose to walk in the truth in love with bold authentic kindness. Let us make eye contact. Let us use our words and our deeds to proclaim the gospel of God (James 2:18). Let us choose to put on Jesus every single day (Colossians 3:1-17). Let us choose to say no to words and actions that do not portray the One who died to give us life.

This is our time. May we make the most of it.

When People Make You Doubt God

I am a forty-one year old woman who has been faithfully serving the Lord for over sixteen years. For over sixteen years I have spent at least five hours a day in the Word of God every day. That’s not counting praying and seeking Him through His Word for wisdom in specific situations throughout the day, and that’s not including church attendance a minimum of three times a week. This is at the very least twenty-nine thousand two hundred hours spent with the Lord one on one.

So here I am in this place of supposed stability in my relationship with the Lord and my surety of His faithfulness and His promises, and yet still people who profess to know Him and claim to love me can still throw me off guard.  In this stunned state,  I find that I will lower my shield of faith just enough to momentarily receive a hit from the serpent of old’s arrow of doubt and all these hours of investment in God and His Word seem in that moment to be in vain.

This is why the song “Come Thou Fount” is my very favorite hymn… that line, “prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love” is my heart crying to God in utter thankfulness that He has indeed sealed my heart. He holds me tightly to His chest while my fist pummel against Him and I can hear His small, still, sweet voice whispering His “sssshhhhhh, it will be okay, just trust Me” through my cries of why. His love holds us to Him because He knows there will always be times this side of eternity that is just to painful for us to hold ourselves to Him.

I am one of those girls that doesn’t let people in easily. I don’t know why, I just know that I have never been someone who trusted the sincerity of others easily. I am usually looking for their angle. I am usually wondering if their words will match the actions… and sadly more often than not in my life the words have not matched the actions.

I suppose the thing that makes it so hard is that I am also a hopeless optimist. I usually give someone the benefit of the doubt in the beginning. I step in cautious but still always hope and expect them to be who they claim to be right at the first. I share little things, I open cracks in windows so I can fully control what goes in and out… then slowly I’ll test the thought of opening the front door. I’ll leave them on the porch, but the door is wide open.

Then if they show themselves to be otherwise, that door shuts, and well, it’s just hard to come back from that reality check.  So I step back inside, close the windows, prop my shield of faith up with a sling of skepticism, and begin to build a wall around the perimeter of the house. I think “building a wall” is the same as the term “Compartmentalize.” According to wikipedia compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.

This conflict within ourselves as believers is often between the command of God to love unconditionally and the reality that it can hurt like hell when we do.

So we step back.

We make distance.

We build a firewall.

We’ve been burned and we have to heal. (Or perhaps, this is just me)

In this repetitive process, I’ve learned to take the time to examine myself. Our God wastes no hurt, no pain, so if I have experienced it I know He needs me to learn from it. My own hurt reminds me of how important it is for Christians to be true and trustworthy. Therefore, I try to get to the place where I can stop and say “God this hurt, please help me to not hurt others the way I have been hurt”, as quickly as I can.

Through my own hurt I am always reminded of how important it is for me to make sure that I am intentional to love others with sincerity (1 Peter 1:22).  It’s so easy to slip into a pattern of flippant answers, quick replies, and fake smiles… and our world needs the sincere. Our world needs the genuine. Our world needs the real.

I realize how important it is to love with sincerity because, whether we like it or not, God has chosen to use PEOPLE as His instruments of the message of His salvation through Christ. This is how He has chosen for His gospel to go forth. He didn’t choose blogs, podcasts, books, tweets, or even online sermons… He chose PEOPLE.  So how we treat people matters.

If how I am treated by others can cause me, sixteen years faithfully walking with God, to be hit by the arrows of doubt by the enemy of our souls, then how much greater is the wound of the heart that is hit by the attack of these arrows that has no shield of faith at all to protect or deflect?

We can choose to be used by the enemy of our souls to wound people over and over and over again or we can choose to take up our own cross and be wounded so that others might live (2 Corinthians 4:11-12). Which means that after you have had time to heal… you must put your heart back out there to be hurt again. One thing that I have learned is that your heart will be hurt again.

I wish that I could get through to all of us who profess to love the Lord and yet condemn their brothers and sisters for things that don’t make a hill of beans of difference in the light of eternity. We often seem to spend more time looking for reasons and ways to destroy each others ministry and witness than the devil does. We too often are concerned with the actions of others that are only wrong because we simply don’t agree with them. We pick our argument and we gather around us our group of opinion agreerers and then we begin to slowly erode, divide, and destroy unity.

This is nothing new in the life of the church. In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and he shares, This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.

When those we expect to make us rejoice cause us sorrow it can seem to wound with an incurable wound. These hits cause arms to go limp in stunned shock and many drop their cross at their feet and walk away dejected and defeated. They expected to take lashes from those who hated their Lord and His Word, but the blindsided wounds of those who were supposed to be their brethren… it’s often too much to take.

Then there usually comes the shallow offering of consolation with the excuse that the ones that hurt them are only human or just sinners too… can we just not. According to Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 4, and more, in Christ we are not only human or just sinners. We are filled with the Spirit of Christ. We are holy priests and saints, and we are to be held to a much higher standard than that… so could we just own it.

Owning it, however, works both ways.

In 2 Corinthians 2 Paul went on to say, But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

Owning it means admitting that how you treat others as a professing believer matters and it also means that how you forgive others as a professing believer matters. Building walls does as much to destroy unity in the body as the ones we are building our walls to protect ourselves from. Jesus came to tear down dividing walls (Ephesians 2:14). When people make you doubt God and that serpent’s arrow hits it’s target, don’t doubt Him… run to Him. Bury your head in His chest and let His Word whisper to the depths of your hurt and heal it… and let us do our very best to not be guilty of trying to build back up what Jesus died to tear down.

The world is watching how believers treat each other. The world is watching how believers treat others period. They are looking to us to see if this Jesus we claim to love and that we claim loves them is real, genuine, sincere. We have to always be ready to ask ourselves, what will they see when they watch me?

Dear Public School Teacher…

Dear Public School Teacher,  I want to let you know that there was a time when I struggled with having respect for you. I struggled because I had chosen to allow a few to define the whole. I struggled because I felt I needed to stand against you in order to validate to the world my right and ability to teach my own children at home. I had a hard line drawn and wore glasses shaded in jade because I disliked school myself as a kid and had a few issues with the system with my own children the short time they were there.

Then the Lord placed some teachers in my life that allowed me to see that there were still LOTS of great teachers out there. There were still lots of teachers that loved teaching and loved their students and recognized the influence they had over the lives of those they taught. They also respected my choice and ability to school my own children at home.

The Lord was also doing a work in my heart in many other areas. Through the course of my own life’s circumstances He was teaching me to “relax” about some things that were really just nothing to get fired up about. He was teaching me how to extract and separate the precious out of things and situations that could be considered worthless. He was teaching me the difference between being right and actually being righteous. He was teaching me about mercy, love, and abundant grace.

Then the Lord called me to ministry through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In this ministry I was allowed to have conversations with many of you about your struggles and I had the opportunity to meet many more of you who truly love the kids you teach and just want to see them excel in life. The Lord also used my own struggles of frustration from feeling like I was “beating dead horses” to help me see that you were quite possibly in that similar place, experiencing that similar feeling, and simply needing to be encouraged.

So dear public school teacher, be encouraged! Please know that I am praying for you. I am praying that you will remember why you wanted to become a teacher. Yes, I know many think it might have been for the summer’s off and because you would have the same schedule as your kids… but I know that deep down you had a hope that you would be used to make a huge difference in someone’s life. Summers off and work schedules simply are not enough internal drive to get someone through college. The desire that your life could make a difference in someone’s world, however, is exactly enough.

You see I believe in you. I believe that you have the ability to look past a child’s behavior and see the heart and the hurt behind the actions. I believe that you are making impact in the hearts and minds of the kids you teach that far supersede their ability to conjugate and calculate. I believe that you have placed before you an opportunity to change a kid’s life and the life of their children and their children’s children. I believe in you and I am praying for you.

I am praying that you remember that you are the “grown up”.

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:34-36)

I am praying that you remember who you were when you were their age and how thankful you are for those who chose to teach you and lead you instead of condemn you and I pray you choose to be like them.

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraidWhat will man do to me?” Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:6-8)

I pray that you remember that you are called to a higher purpose than leading kids to higher education. You are called to lead them to the Most High.

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)

I pray that you remember that today might be the last day in that child’s life. Today might be the only chance that you get to show them that there is a hope and a future in Christ.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14)

While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. (John 12:36)

I pray that you remember the big picture. I am praying that you remember who you are because of Whose you are…

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father… 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.  (Colossians 3:12-17, 23-24)

I pray that you are not swayed from expecting excellence from your students. Raise the bar and demand they reach it. I pray that you won’t allow mediocrity in your class but will command they rise to their very best by showing them how through your own example.

I pray that you will surround yourself with teachers that have a vision for more and you will not be drug down by naysayers or doomsdayers. I pray that when others talk down students you will choose to talk them up. I pray that when labels are placed on kids you will tear them off.

I pray that you will choose to find a group of teachers in your school that are willing to see your school for what it really is… a battlefield and a mission field. You are a warrior for the Light in the midst of the kingdom of darkness and these kids eternity is at stake. You need to gather your army and you need to prepare for battle so that you may wield your sword with efficiency, accuracy, and purpose. I pray that you will not fight alone. Seek out your fellow soldiers and prepare your hearts together. There is power in your prayers and your study of His Word, use it.

I believe in you… and I am praying for you. This is a new day and new year with new students. Today is a new beginning… and I am praying that when “today” grows tired and the last days are in sight that you will still remember today.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

 

Getting Over The Hump

Marriage is a journey. The logistics of this journey are different for every two people that join hearts and hands and choose to take this journey. The journey begins with each person packing their own bags and then they meet up and set out together. She has her baggage. He has his baggage. She has her GPS programmed her way and he has his programmed his way. She has her dreams and expectations of what the future should hold and he has his own dreams and expectations of that very same future. They have discussed these dreams and expectations as best as they can, but what they have not yet learned is that discussion is different from actually walking it out.

In this baggage we carry all the experiences of our lives that we are trying to pack away in order to step into this new future together as well as all the things we want to use to build this new future together. When we both show up to the wedding dragging a 26 foot U-haul behind us… the journey is going to be a lot tougher than if we both show up with a lightweight backpack. Sometimes one person shows up with the U-haul and the other has a backpack and this can make the journey just as hard and just as frustrating.

When we stand up there at the altar and say “I do” and “I will”, we are both so full of adrenaline and bliss that we don’t even care about the baggage, because we are young and strong and fresh on the journey. The baggage doesn’t seem heavy or burdensome. We both are convinced that we can handle it all just fine. However, we are not aware that there will be times when we will have to carry the others baggage nor do we realize that there will be baggage we will also pick up while we walk the journey.

Along the way there will be baggage that is handed to the both of us and in order to carry it we will most likely have to stop and choose to either leave behind the baggage we brought with us, or quite the journey because we refuse to drop the old baggage in order to be able to carry the new. This can be a hard decision, especially when some of the baggage we might have to discard has not been opened in years and most likely never was wanted to be opened again. Perhaps it was  brought on the journey for the simple fact that we wanted to make sure it remained safely tucked away, hidden, and forcedly forgotten. I understand, I really do… and so does God.

Therefore they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?” So the Lord said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.”

(1 Samuel 10:22)

When God called Saul to be the first king of Israel he chose to hide by the baggage. He didn’t want to step out into the unknown and move forward on this journey that God had called him too. He wanted to stay hidden. Yet, in this life we don’t get to remain hidden or stagnant anywhere. We will move, it will either be forward or it will be backward.

Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers.

(1 Samuel 17:22)

In marriage we will either leave our baggage in the care of the baggage keeper or we will hide by it and be drug backwards by the weight of trying to keep hold of it.

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

(Psalm 55:22)

David chose to leave his baggage and ran to the battle line. In doing so he was able to enter into the future that God had for him. David knew that he couldn’t carry all his baggage into this new journey. He couldn’t fight the battles he needed to fight and lend a hand to those who needed a hand if his were already both full, and neither can we.

We come to marriage with our bags packed. We come programmed with the way we think things will be. We come ready to take each other hand in hand and we don’t realize how many twists and turns and detours and hills and mountains will lay before us. Life brings us to the foot of a mountain time and time again and in order to get over the coming hump, you often have to leave baggage behind. If you choose not to, then this is when the hand in hand stops. You either leave the baggage and take old of the hand, or you grab tightly to the baggage and push the hand away.

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

(Hebrews 12:1)

My husband and I entered our marriage both dragging 26 ft u-hauls behind us. We have both had a lot of unpacking and casting away in our nineteen years of this journey. Many times we have come to a mountain that seemed to high and too hard and we held in our hands baggage that we really didn’t want to get into and didn’t want left behind. The baggage of opinions, personality, and habits can be even heavier and harder to leave behind than the baggage of carefully packed away pre-journey sin, but if we want to get over the hump we have to deal with the baggage.

In the beginning we usually just start discarding our own baggage, because we realize it was like our favorite old t-shirt, comfortable but not really that important. We don’t even discuss what we are casting away with the other, we just do it and move on. Then we come to the foot of a mountain when the other looks at us and we literally have to choose the baggage or them. This is where it gets hard. However, if we will just trust the Baggage Keeper and leave our burden with Him… we will realize that what looked like an unclimbable impassable mountain, was really just another hump.

Once we get over this hump the decision of the baggage no longer is a choosing of his or hers. Once we get over this hump when the next mountain comes we have lightened our load and combined our bags. Now we are able to sit down and go through the baggage together and lighten the load by combining and dividing according to each other’s strength at the current moment. Now we do not look at the mountain with fear and anxiety, but with hope and determination.

Beloved, I don’t know where you are on your journey. Perhaps you have not even began the journey of marriage yet, or perhaps you are reading this and you are standing there staring at that mountain that is forcing you to choose your baggage or your partner in the journey. I know it’s scary… but precious one, once you lay that burden down at the foot of the cross and take their hand and turn to face that mountain… you will discover it was just a hump.

Once you get over that hump, yes, there will be more mountains to face, but you face them together… carrying only the baggage you both have decided is needed for the next leg of the journey.

I’m Not Breaking Up With Beth Moore

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And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
(Luke 4:16-20)

And now Jesus sends us… Notice beloved where Jesus closed the book. He closed it at “proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Right here, right now, we are called to preach the gospel, to proclaim release, to give sight, to set free, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

It’s simply our job today to let people know that there is a way with THE WAY. Yes, the day of judgment is coming, but it’s not today. Today we tell of the judgment to come, but we offer hope. It is between people and God whether or not they take hold of the hope that is being offered.

Today we preach and when they believe we teach and we keep teaching and teaching and teaching and we trust the Spirit of God to do the rest. This is why, no, I’m not breaking up with Beth Moore… and you know why? Because Jesus told me to, that’s why.

John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”

Luke 9:49-50

***

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

1 John 2-3

This is the plumb line. Do they preach Jesus as the Son of God coming in the flesh to die on the cross for the sin of mankind, buried and having rose again on the third day defeating death and the grave, making a way so all that call on His name, His name alone, because His name is the ONLY name given to man by that we may be saved, shall receive forgiveness of sins and be justified by God and declared righteous in His sight and therefore have eternal life? If this is what they preach, then they are with me and I am not breaking up with them.

 

Here’s the thing. Judas sat down with Jesus and the rest of the disciples regularly. He ate with them and heard all the truth right from the mouth of THE TRUTH, yet he didn’t believe and betrayed Him.

 

I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 

John 13:18

No one saw the reality of the heart of Judas except for Christ. All the disciples thought Judas was one of them and was with Jesus. Yet in Luke 9 they wanted to condemn and stop a man who wasn’t one of them but was indeed with Jesus. They judged by their momentary encounter and by the flesh, not the heart. Therefore they judged wrong.

 

Here is what I have learned, I can’t judge the heart of Beth or any of the myriads of others that spend their lives proclaiming Christ. I don’t know the motivation behind what they do, and I don’t know what demons they are fighting that are trying to bring them and the name of Jesus to ruin in the process. Therefore as long as they proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, as long as they stand on the foundation of the gospel, I’m not breaking up with them. No, instead, I’m going to pray HARD for them.

We live in the United States of America where Bibles and Bible studies abound. If we are not living our Christian life in right doctrine it’s not on any of these public figures… it’s on us.  If we stop our ears and if we stop seeking the face of God at having our own feel good button hit, that’s on us. Pointing a finger at someone else and saying it’s their fault is not going to work when we stand before God. A true believer isn’t following a man or woman’s voice, they are following the voice of Jesus:

 

But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

John 10:2-5

 

You see, I’m writer and a teacher and a speaker. I understand the fear that comes with every blog post and every book and every lesson and every conference because I understand the responsibility attached to the fact that I am handling the very Word of God. I also know that I am human and sometimes my mouth and fingers works faster than my brain, sometimes auto-correct changes things, sometimes I wasn’t able to explain my tone, my context, my background in that 3 second clip you caught. Sometimes I simply am still growing and haven’t learned it all yet.

 

When all you have is social media blurbs and books and articles that were written in different stages of a believer’s walk with the Lord, believer’s who were sharing what they knew to be true at that particular time in the hope against hope that through what they shared someone might come to know Jesus and be saved, how can anyone stand and judge and condemn them? Especially those who go days, weeks, and years… and have not even led one person to the Lord, and have not preached the gospel or proclaimed the favorable year of the Lord to possibly any one.

 

In the book of 2 John we are given some excellent advice…

The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 

2 John 1:1-11

 

The thing is, so often I see people condemn the Beth Moore’s of the world, but they welcome the Sheldon Cooper’s, Dr Oz’s, and Katy Perry’s right on in to their homes. Are we so deceived that we think someone has to be standing on a stage quoting a Bible verse to be a false teacher or false prophet?

 

Here is the thing, as long as they are declaring that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and that He is the only One that can save. I am with them. I will love them and give them grace and pray. I will not condemn them to the world. I don’t have to agree with them on every point. I just have to agree with them on this one, Jesus is ALL.

 

Now, the moment they start promising blessings for sending them our money, the moment they start exalting themselves (and/or experiences they claim they can give us) above Christ, the moment they start denying that Jesus came in the flesh, died, and rose on the third day, the moment they deny His deity and the fact that He is the ONLY Way to the Father, at that moment– I break up with them.

 

Our Pastor shared a wonderful spirit filled message this past Sunday. In this message he spoke from John 7:37-39 and shared how Jesus is not a little sprinkle but He is a fountain.

 

He is the Living Water, He comes in our life like a gushing river or a flood not a trickling creek. He then shared four ways that you can know if you are Spirit-filled.

  1. There is a cleansing in your life.
  2. There is consistency in your life
  3. There is a power that comes forth from your life.
  4. There is depth to your life.

 

When I first wholly surrendered to the Lord I was full of zeal. I was full of zeal and ignorance. I thought I had experienced life in my massive twenty-four years here on this earth. I thought my daily Bible study time and having read through the entire Bible several times over made me an expert on the things of God. I had no clue what all I still had to learn.

I thought I was an expert on a relationship with God at that time because of what He had healed me of and taught me in my life. I thought that through my experience I now had answers for everyone in every experience. I didn’t realize that I really had no clue how deeply the heart can hurt and how dark the wilderness can get. I had no clue the demons that others had to fight and how sneaky that serpent really is. I’ve learned a lot. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I still have A LOT to learn. So I simply try to keep learning.
So, no I’m not breaking up with Beth. I’m not breaking up with her because I have heard her speak on the fear and reverence of God that she holds for the simple fact that she is a public figure handling His Word. I am not breaking up with her because I have watched her grow and go deeper in the Lord. I’m not breaking up with her, because I see the evidence of changed lives all around her. I’m not breaking up with her because I have seen and heard her publicly repent for wrong things said and done.
I’m not breaking up with her because she is a sister in Christ and she needs my prayers and my support in this fight against the spiritual forces of darkness and the prince of this world.  I’m not breaking up with her because the same Spirit of God that is in her is in me and I trust Him to be victorious in her life and mine.
I’m not breaking up with her because my God is perfectly capable and big enough to bring down and expose anyone who is a fraud. He will not share His glory with another. He will humble the wicked. He will bring down the ministry of those who lead His people astray. He will remove His lampstand and He will diminish their impact on the world. He will do it.  He has always done it. He watches over His Word.
But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
Acts 5:33-39

Hearing The Sound Of Your Own Voice

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That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:12, NASB)

Our family is currently on a music mission tour with our church youth choir. As I have listened to this group of kids sing since the beginning my hope for them has been that one day they would have the confidence to sing loud enough that they could hear the sound of their own voice. There is safety in a choir because you have the sound of all the other voices around you. Those around you can give you the safety net of singing only up to the point that you blend with everyone else.

In life a crowd, like a choir, can allow you to have an invisible sound barrier around your own voice. It can allow you to speak, but only up to the point that you blend in with all the others around you so that your own voice is not really heard. It’s funny how so many of us cringe at the sound of our own voice.

I can tell you thatI have and do still at times struggle with this myself. Just take a moment and thing of the voicemail on your phone. How hard was it for you to simply record that personal message? Have you even recorded that message yet? Do you run from the room while home video’s are playing when you hear your own voice played back to you? Have you ever wondered why?

In the beginning God spoke all things in to existence. When God created mankind the first assignment that He gave Adam required him to use his voice…

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

Genesis 2:18-23

Did you see it?

and whatever Adam called…

The man said…

Through the Scripture we clearly see that God created us to use our voice.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27

The power of our voice is not just in the sound of it. Someone who is mute and yet speaks with their hands still has a voice. Someone who has breathed their last in this life still has a voice. Our voice, our ability to call a thing, our gift to have the authority to say something, goes much deeper than the simple vibrations of vocal cords. Our voice coms from within us. It is an outward manifestation of our inner being. It is a revealing of our very soul.

For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 

Matthew 12:34

When God spoke life came forth because He is life. When God spoke everything was good because He is good. When God speaks it is all true because He is truth. When we receive God’s Word we receive love because God is love. God’s voice pours forth what is in His heart and He created us in His image and in His likeness, therefore what our mouth speaks reveals what is in our heart as well.

This week I had the great joy of being present and watching our student choir break the wall of the safety of the crowd. I had the great privilege of experiencing them sing out to the point of hearing their own voice. They remained in harmony, yet because they made sure the uniqueness of their own sound came forth, their was a fullness in their praise that had not been there before and it was beautiful!

Not only did they find their singing voice, but this week they stepped outside their comfort zones and not only sang of God’s goodness, power, life, and love but they displayed it. They used their voice to pray with strangers and new friends. They used their hands and feet to meet needs. They used their smiles and kindness to brighten the days of those with whom they came in contact… and it has been beautiful!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

May these Messengers always use their voice to pour forth the life of their Creator God and His love and continue to be servants of His who are willing to reach out to a paralyzed world and bring them to the cross through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is a little feedback from those we had the opportunity to serve and be a witness to:

“Thank you to everyone for volunteering… Your group has made a great impact on our agency. We appreciate the team’s huge help organizing the thrift store, sorting clothing, organizing the linen & dish rooms and our mattress warriors in the recycling center!! Your assistance makes a huge difference in the community. We look forward to hosting your group in the near future. Thank you so much.”
-Ingrid at “The Mustard Seed” (furniture warehouse)

“My grocery staff has been talking all week about how wonderful your volunteers were on Monday! Thank you SO much for bringing out such sweet, talented and hardworking volunteers! Our grocery shelves look great and our hearts are full! They have all asked me if you all are planning to come back.”
-Emalee at United Against Poverty (grocery store)

“I personally wanted to send a note of gratitude on behalf of the Springhill Suites Kissimmee by Marriott team here in Orlando, FL regarding Central Baptist’s choir group that was with us recently. As we are an extremely busy hotel, we are always having large groups coming in and out, seeing as we are a Disney neighborhood property. We have had quite some challenges with very large groups and behavioral issues due to lack of exceptional leadership. Upon arrival, Central Baptist Church chaperones and directors were very kind and organized. The kids were probably the best behaved group we’ve had in a long time. Mr. Kimmel & the chaperones were amazing!

Marriott is a melting pot of various cultures, beliefs, and all walks of life, and I wanted to personally reach out to your church to share with your youth group that we thank them for showing what a true reputation of Christianity looks like. Being brought up a Baptist PK (preacher’s kid), your young disciples make more of an impact on the people they come in contact on a daily basis more than you would think. The kindness, the thoughtfulness, the respect towards everyone in the hotel means more than you will ever know to all of us. Please accept my offering to your church website, as I believe in your missions. If you ever find yourselves in Central FL again, we would be more than happy to accommodate. You all were truly a blessing to serve. May God bless your missions through music & chorus. May God bless your Church.”
-Lucas (Springhill Suites Manager)

The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn