All posts by Nicole Vaughn

Apologia and Saxon On Sale

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It’s that time again… summer is drawing to a close and as a homeschool parent it is time to start thinking curriculum. One of my favorite curriculums is Apologia.

My girls have worked through Astronomy, Zoology, Oceanography, Anatomy, General Science, Physical Science, and Biology and they loved it. I highly recommend this Apologia for any homeschool family.

This year we will be doing Advanced Biology and Chemistry and Physics. So you better believe I will be taking advantage of the CBD sale that is going on right now through August 4th!

I’ve personally never used Saxon Math, but I have heard a lot of great things about it. Saxon will be on sale as well. Just click the picture below and shop away!

***affiliate links included

In The Rearview

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Life is interesting in the rearview. It’s painful. It’s prideful. It’s critical. It’s confusing. It’s clear. It’s comforting. It’s humbling. It’s healing.

The rearview allows you to look back while still moving forward. It’s not the same as taking a standstill and completely facing backwards and becoming immobilized. The rearview allows us to learn from what is behind us while we press on to what lies ahead. However, we must be careful not to linger too long in our glances or we will end up in a collision with the future and will find ourselves blaming the past instead of our own lack to pay attention to the path that the Lord has presently placed us on.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Philippians 3:10-16

Paul kept a glance on the cross and the resurrection of Christ and because of this it kept him moving forward in order to honor and obey the leading of the One who had sealed him with the Holy Spirit with the promise of his own resurrection. He knew the One in whom He believed and He knew that He held the past, present, and future in His hands.

This past week my family served as missionaries in Boston as we helped put on a VBS week for a small church in the area. I had the privilege of teaching the Kindergarten through 3rd graders… and I poured as much into them as my time could allow. The morning we left a wave of heaviness washed over me. This wave lands on me after every lesson I teach. It’s the wave of doubt. I will begin to examine everything I said, or didn’t say, and fear will hit that I taught too much, not enough, or that taught wrong. Was I really being led by the Spirit? The what if’s come crashing down as I recall James 3:1,

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Trust me, every post I write, every book I publish, every lesson I teach is with fear and trembling with this verse on the forefront of my mind.

As I was glancing back in that rearview, the criticism and confusion hit me and then I remembered the resurrection and I remembered that my Jesus is more than able to take the seed I sowed in imperfection and make it perfect. I think to highly of myself if I think my delivery or my lack there of determines the eternity of anyone. Jesus is fully capable of cultivating the seed of His own Word and seeing it to completion. In the humbling we find healing and the voices of condemnation are cast out and this human heart is comforted.

Of course this rearview looking is not just contained to the teaching and preaching of the Word of God, but also to life in general. When cancer struck my Daddy he looked back in the rearview and wondered if this was God punishing him for not following a call into full time ministry when he and my mother were newly married. When he told me this I reminded him of the impact that he had made for the Lord as he loved us and my mother and his sons-in-law. He might not have ever pastored a formal congregation, but he pastored his family well.

I missed him so much on our trip. I missed my sister in law. Our day at the Old North Church and the Old North Bridge were the hardest.

Here at our day at the Old North Bridge where the “shot heard around the world” took place I was overwhelmed as was my husband… but I was able to hold it together until our next stop where I took the picture of the sign of the first settlement.

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The rearview got me as I snapped this picture. My Daddy would have loved this experience. As I looked back in my rearview I saw all the trips he and my mother took us on growing up. Our vacations always centered around a history lesson. I wanted him to be there beside me so bad on this trip that he had talked about he and my mother going on with us when the new chemo treatments helped him feel better again.

Then here at the Old North Church was a memorial with dog tags representing every soldier that had lost their life in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of these soldiers just might have been one that our Phillis touched in her life. How we would have loved to have her standing there as we took this picture.

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As I glanced back in the rearview and the pain hit me I also saw in that rearview the resurrection of our Lord, and I was reminded that my Daddy and Phillis didn’t need to be in the picture because quite possibility they might be having a first hand conversation with those who were there as they wait for us to join them in their resurrection.

Yes, life is definitely interesting in the rearview. It is indeed painful, prideful, critical, and confusing. Yet it is also clear, comforting, humbling, and healing when we keep it at a glance as we continue to press forward.

The rearview can teach us how to better pay attention in our present as we continue moving into our future. One of the most important lessons my Daddy taught me and my husband also teaches our girls about driving in a vehicle is to constantly glance to see what’s going on in your mirrors but keep your eyes on the road in front of you.

Our life in Christ is similar. Yes, we need to keep a glance in our rearview (the word “remember” is used at least 227 times in Scripture according to the NASB), but we have to keep our eyes fixed on the resurrected Jesus and moving forward so that we might press on to maturity.

It can become overwhelming if we look too long in that rearview. It is only meant for momentary glances. Whether we be looking at our past ministry efforts or our past in general. The rearview can be filled with regrets and if only’s that paralyze us and Jesus came to tell the paralyzed to pick up their pallet and walk.

We Don’t Outrage When It Helps Us Hide Our Sin

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I began this post back in the end of June/first of July. I have a draft folder fuller of titles or of titleless starter posts. Some I hang on to, some I end up deleting, because the reason for beginning the post has calmed or changed or the Lord has simply said, “Nicole, let it go.”

Our nation is in turmoil as are many around the world. The turmoil all boils down to one word, sin. However, much of our modern day has thrown that word out of their vocabulary and replaced it with words and phrases like karma, love wins, whatever, and if it’s what makes them happy.

I always find it interesting what stirs up a “christian”.

The confederate flag and gay marriage has really stirred up the world of social media here in my southern newsfeed. I haven’t jumped on this train of indignation because personally I find them both  almost silly to debate. It’s not that I do not have strong opinions on the matter. It’s not that I have not discussed my strong opinions with my husband and family. I am not the least bit concerned that anyone who really knows me is at all confused over where I would stand on these issues. I find the social media indignant train silly because many will rant and rave and argue behind a computer screen, but few actually will make the sacrifice it takes to act on what they claim to believe. Few will really do something… and that makes me sad.

For example, many are upset that Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner won the ESPN Espy award for “courage” but how many of those ranting will refuse to support ESPN even if that means forsaking the viewing of their favorite college football team?

Many times these issues are simply smoke screens and opportunities designed by Satan to expose the immaturity, carnality, and pride of many who profess the name of Jesus. If Satan and the powers of darkness can make those who claim to be christians look like a bunch of idiots, hypocrites, or ranting jackasses he most certainly will jump on the opportunity. Sadly, in our abundantly supplied day of christian resources the fact that so many who claim Christ are still Biblically illiterate makes his job at doing so quite easy. To have this much supply and yet still be ignorant simply makes the church appear ever so much more backwards and backwoods.

I have also come to notice that many will not get so upset at a movement or a ruling that helps them hide their sin. Why all the outrage on gay marriage? Is it really because of the redefinition and destruction of the family? No, I don’t think so…

If that was the case we would not be so quick to divorce. We would not be so quick to have that affair. We would not be so quick to be promiscuous. We would not be so quick to work twelve hours a day and leave our child in day care all day and just pick them up in enough time to run them through a drive thru on our way to drop them off with the ball coach. Gay marriage has not redefined marriage and family. We did that a long time ago when we, who claim the name of Christ, began to ignore Deuteronomy 6:4-9. If you are a professing Christian parent and you don’t know this passage by heart, then you have just proved my point.

Ravi Zacharias writes, “I think we as Christians need to awaken to the unpleasant reality that we have not taught and proclaimed God’s Word faithfully and demonstrated true holiness.

Where is the outrage over abortion? Why are we so upset over a gay marriage ruling and a confederate flag removal, yet we said nothing when our President stood before Planned Parenthood and praised them? Why have we decided to just accept that and move on? Today in the news there is a news story about a video of Planned Parenthood selling body parts… and we act as though we are shocked… for now anyway.

By the way that’s how the Supreme Court was able to boldly make that ruling. They know that the majority of us will rant and rave for a month or two, but then there will be a new story and we will all just accept it and move on. In other words the sky is not going to fall and people will still vote democrat in 2016 even though they rage against the machine.

What’s the difference between abortion and gay marriage and the outrage or the lack there of… one helps you hide your sin and the sin of loved ones and the other exposes it.

It appears to me that it comes down to that age old belief, just do whatever you want as long as you don’t tell me about it. Let me play the I-didn’t-know card, that way I don’t actually have to DO anything. However, if you do push me into the light of revelation I plan to loudly (from afar) proclaim my outrage so that hopefully you will never notice that I really don’t care enough to actually put deeds behind my mouth, or in this day, my fingers.

Ravi Zacharias reminds us that, “As Christians, we often look outside of ourselves and wonder why the world is so different from us. We seldom pause and ask how the Church of today has become so different from what it was and so indifferent to the world around us. Liberalism is not just a political term. What has happened in our world was foreseen a few decades ago. Changes were underway then and we were taken by a storm from within. Culture at large moved unabashedly towards the mockery of the Christian worldview; Eastern religions were spared that, either because of the cowardice of the Western critic or simply to not be seen as attacking another ethnic group. But the Church is really where the titanic shifts in the culture started. As the liberal church swung to the extreme of religion without absolutes, the evangelical church flirted with emotionalism without intellect, while some of the mass distributors of spirituality peddled a cosmetic version of truth that was hollow and hairstyles became more important than what was going on in the head itself.

It’s a whole lot harder to love in grace and truth than it is to tell others what is right and wrong. The Pharisees had that down pat. They could drag the woman out and point their fingers and loudly proclaim their outrage (John 8:1-11), but when it came to bending down and picking a man up who was beaten down, robbed, and left for dead they just walked on by on the other side (Luke 10:30-37).

One would bring them praise and respect from those they surrounded themselves with and cost them nothing. The other would cause those they surrounded themselves with to snarl their nose and would cost them abundantly.

When the choices of those who refuse truth cause their world to come crashing down around them, I want to be the one who is there to offer them a drink of the Living Water. I want to be the one to pick them up and offer them a bite of the Bread of Life. I want to be the one to tell them that their Redeemer lives. I want to be a branch connected to the Vine that is able to provide them a place of shade and protection from that one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I want my actions and my words to prove that I am His because in my words and in my actions people see Him… the One who has come not to judge the world, but to save it… Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.

Ravi Zacharias also writes, “The third and final bridge of the gospel is that of community: the love of God working through us as a Church where worship brings together all our inclinations, surrendered to God’s sacred call for all of us. That is worked out in love and grace. Our worship will have to have theological integrity, not just in form but in substance; worship that is not just moments of exhilaration but is co-extensive with life itself and sermons that are not merely heard but are also seen. The outreach of love will then be embodied and not be mere talk. The Church must not be a fortress guarded by a constabulary but a home where the Father ever awaits the return of each of us who is in the far country.

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

 

Don’t Tell Me It Doesn’t Matter

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Oh, when we are standing with Jesus you won’t even care why.

After the judgment He’ll wipe all our tears aways and what happened here on earth will all be forgotten.

Oh, when we get to glory that won’t even matter.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. If what happens here on this earth doesn’t matter then what are we doing? I don’t buy it.

I don’t know what we will do for all eternity, but there is more to what we do here on this earth with the life that we have been given than just what we will leave behind us when we are gone.

It matters.

When my sister-in-law was in her last days, I was sitting with her and we were talking and she was telling me about all the people who were coming to see her, and how far they were driving to do it… and she looked at me and smiled and said, “It matters. It matters.”

It matters when we make excuses instead of making moments.

It matters.

The  choices we make matter. The people we choose to invest in matter. The Lord knows when we are loving people and when we are using people to love ourselves. He can tell the difference.

He knows when you do what you do because You love Him and love others and when it’s because it benefits you. He knows.

He knows what is a real sacrifice and what we have made to look like a sacrifice or worse have convinced ourselves is a sacrifice so that we can pat our self-declared selfless selves on the back.

He knows when what we promote is His will or our own idea with a generic Jesus sticker on it.

I don’t want to be fake. I don’t want to DO church. I don’t want to do my vision and call it evangelism. I want to be real. I want to BE church. I want to be the body of my Jesus and continue His mission. I do not want to be guilty of USING His mission to be the provision and promotion of my own.

One thing I do not want to hear from my Lord on that day that I stand before Him, is I hope you enjoyed your earthly applause because you have received your reward in full (Matthew 6).

I’m not yet sure how God wants me to BE church. I’m not sure how He wants me to continue His mission. I just grab every opportunity that He gives me to teach and proclaim His truth. He said follow Me (John 21:22) and I am trying to do just that.

In the everyday and the mundane. In the work of the church and the heart of the home. In the joys and in the sorrows. In social media and in silent meditation.

I just don’t buy that it doesn’t matter. It matters. It ALL matters. What we do here on this earth matters… and I think it matters for more than just that crown we will lay at Jesus’ feet. There is more. I just don’t know what that more will be.

I just know that it matters when we stay silent and it matters when we speak.

It matters when we forgive and it matters when we think we have no reason to need to ask for forgiveness.

It matters when people are second and agendas are first.

It matters when we manipulate instead of communicate.

It matters that there are those I will never see the same again because of what I know.

God has gifted us with the command and ability to forgive by and through His grace not because we need nor have to forget, but because He knows that we never will.

I wish I could forget.

I was reminded Sunday through our Pastor’s message that God has the end. As much as my flesh would like to stand in what I would determine as righteous indignation I can’t trust myself. I can however trust Him. I either believe that He is indeed working all things together for good for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) or I don’t… and I choose to believe.

The enemy has stolen much from my family… but our Redeemer lives.

As I told a dear friend, I just pray that it isn’t wasted. I’ll keep breathing in His grace and breathing out His praise knowing that He was present for it all. His eyes saw what mine saw and what mine did not. I’ll leave it to Him to figure out all the rights and the wrongs and I’ll trust Him to do the healing in my heart and my memories. I’ll trust Him to take me deeper into Him as I walk through this place of hurt and unrest, this fissures of dissonance.

In the mean time I will follow Him.

Even if ,and especially when, I find myself in the valley of the gap…

Yet, what was expected was not experienced. John experienced the terrifying and abysmal emptiness that came in a Jesus who was free from his expectations and of his own assumptions.

Jesus acknowledged that his ministry would be disruptive, and even be misunderstood. In responding to John’s doubts, Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who keeps from stumbling over me” (Matthew 11:6). Like John before us, those who seek to follow Jesus often stumble over him. The gaps between what we believe and what we experience create fissures in faith into which many fall. Yet, as Cairns suggests, might mining those gaps uncover the treasure of encountering Jesus in new ways? Might mining the gaps we experience hold the treasure of new insight and the beauty of a more faithful devotion if we are willing to let go of “comfortable assumptions” and cherished expectations? If so, then might all the faithful dig deep and find that what is precious and most valuable is often found in the fissures of dissonance.

Margaret Manning Shull

Lord Let Me Fall

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Everything sets the stage for the next stage. The work of the Lord is in motion. The process began in Genesis 1:1 and the end result has been in place since before the conception of creation.

Throughout history the Creator has been speaking His truth to the world. He is the One that predetermined that history would repeat itself over and over again because He designed us to learn through repetition. He designed us to learn because He does not want us to be uninformed. He has never been one to sneak around and be crafty. He has always openly displayed who He claimed to be.

Unlike others God has never had to use “smooth words”, He just speaks and we can take it or leave it. He remains who He is regardless of what we choose to believe. He speaks so that we can know Him. He has recorded His words in a book and the truth of them are validated by heaven and earth itself and even printed in secular books of history’s account and told through mouths in mythological stories and folklore all around the world in every nation and in every tongue… even in those nations who have never had His book of His-story to read when they were recording their own.

What’s coming is clear. What’s coming has been told before. What’s coming on a global scale has been seen over and over and over again in individual nations and tribes and peoples… we either see it or we buy it.

By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.

“Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all. But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures. He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price.

Daniel 11:32-39

God is not surprised or shocked by anything that takes place in this world. He also does not expect those who love Him to be surprised or shocked because He has told us what is going to take place. It’s all there, written down, for anyone who wishes to know.

Genesis through Revelation… we either receive the truth or we reject it… but God will only allow us to flirt with it for so long.

Flirting With Truth Part 1

Flirting With Truth Part 2

I just know that as I stand in my day, I pray that I would be one who falls. I pray that I will display strength and take action. That I would reason as Paul and not bow like Daniel and that my integrity would be undeniable as Nehemiah’s even if I stand before pagan kings.

I pray my attitude would be one of trust in the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and that in my words and actions my value of life and the intrinsic worth of every single human soul would be clearly seen. I pray that as my flesh desires to grow frustrated over lack of faith and unbelief and even outright rejection that I would never forget that my enemy is that murderer, that deceiver, that serpent of old who is able to blind and that my battle would take place on my knees instead of through my gritted teeth.

For I too once was blind and deaf and dead. I too once was lost, confused, and floundering in the dark… it’s good to be found. Even if in being found I fall. If that be it, then Lord let me fall.

Super Summer In Billerica, Massachusetts

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Our family will be heading to New England here in less than two weeks with other families in our C-Group at Central Baptist Church in Decatur, AL. We will be headed to Billerica, Massachusetts to join the body of New Colony Baptist Church to serve along side them in their Super Summer program. This church has been putting on a whole month of VBS for their community for twenty-three years. We are excited to be able to be a part of it this year!

We shared our excitement with some dear friends of ours and now Shiloh Baptist Church from Somerville, AL will be heading that way next week to serve during the Super Summer Adventure Week.

Our week is the last week and it is Music Week. The Director of Music, Rev. Angie Harrington, directs Music Week. She will be leading the youth and adult members in teaching the children songs, skits, and dances. The children will end music week by putting on a musical for their parents.

The children will be learning the musical, Simon Says The Rockin Trial of Simon Peter. I’ve watched the musical online and it’s definitely got potential to be a great show. I’m excited to see what we are going to be able to pull off with it in a week. I have no doubt that it will be a stunning success.

The focus of the month’s Super Summer program this year has been the names of God. New Colony wanted the kids in their community to learn the character and qualities of God through His names. They wanted them to get to know the One who came to save them so that they would understand why Jesus said,

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

They want this summer to be a big party in heaven. One party after another and another and another.  I for one am believing that it will be. The seed has been being sown for years and there will indeed be a harvest, because the Word of God never returns void. It will accomplish His purpose.

I have spent the morning listening to several of the sermons posted online by Pastor Phil Wilkes because I wanted to hear the voice of their shepherd. I listened as he preached through the first several chapters of Acts and I heard his heart to reach the lost and the hurting. I heard his plea to the sheep of his pasture to not miss the opportunities that the Lord opens up for them, whether they be in the church or in the parking lot of the grocery store, whether they be repeated opportunities or one fleeting moment. I look forward to meeting him and serving under him during our week at Super Summer.

I, and a new friend of mine, will have the privilege of leading the Bible study time during our week. We are both ecstatic! As I prepare my lessons to coincide with the names of God we have been given and the truths in the musical the kids will be doing, I can’t wait to teach! I see how beautifully God has woven this closing week together because of the fervent prayers of His people and in my spirit I feel His Spirit stirring.

The rest of our team will be serving in music, crafts, recreation, snacks, guides, and our children that are of age will be attending. The opportunity to be able to minister to and with another local body of believers and display in this community the unity of the body of Christ regardless of geographically differences is one we are thankful to take hold of and run with it.

In one of Pastor Wilkes sermons I heard him share about a conversation starter he used with a delivery service driver. During the parking lot small talk the driver asked him what he did for a living. Pastor Wilkes responded that he worked for a global company that had branches all over the world. Then he handed the driver New Colony’s “company” card and shared that he was a Pastor and invited the man to church. I love that. The church is global. One church with many branches. Many branches that should be bearing fruit.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.I pray for boldness.

John 15:5

Therefore, I pray for our team and for Shiloh and for the members of New Colony. I pray that we would abide in the vine and bear much fruit. I pray that we would be His hands and His feet. I pray that His Light and His Life would be seen in us and all who see would give glory to God.

I pray for boldness.

I pray for clarity.

I pray for God to send us disciples.

There is nothing I take more humbling than the opportunity to be used by God to plant seeds of truth in the ears of children. They hear so many lies. They hear so many fictional ideas. They get stereotyped by teachers, family members, neighbors, and other kids. I do not take lightly this opportunity of being able to come in and meet these kids and teach them with absolutely no preconceived identities given to them other than that they have been created in the image of God and He desperately desires them to know Him and be known by Him.

Will you pray with me for New Colony Baptist Church. They are currently in week two, it’s Arts & Crafts Week… and if you live in the Boston area and are looking for something for your kids entering Kindergarten through completed 6th Grade to do this summer, then send them to New Colony!

New Colony

Protect Us From The Evil One

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This July 4th morning as I sat down with my spiral bound notebook and began to pen out my prayer to the Lord, and wrote to Him my remorse for the way this nation, that He has so blessed with His mercy and grace, has turned her back to His commands, I asked that He would protect us from the evil one. As I penned this out the Spirit stirred in me.  He spoke to my heart and brought to my remembrance John 17:14-19...

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. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

Here lately one of the Lord’s favorite message to me seems to be Nicole, what are you really asking? Read My Word again. Is that what I promised? What did I really say?

When Jesus prayed for me, and every other person on this planet that would believe in Him and be kept in His name, and He asked the Father to keep us from the evil one what was He asking? Was He praying that we would never know hurt or pain? Was He asking that we would have comfortable healthy lives? Was He praying that Satan would never be able to touch us the way he touched Job? I am sure that is what many of us would like to believe, but I just don’t think that is what Jesus was asking.

The word keep in the Greek is téreó and the use of this word in the context of John 17 is metaphorical and it means, to keepone in that state in which he is, to keep in i. e. cause one to persevere or stand firm in a thing: by guarding to cause one to escape in safety out of etc, out of the power and assaults of Satan, not to leave, not to throw away, to show oneself to be actually holding a thing fast (Bible Hub). 

The word from in the Greek is ek or ex and in the context of John 17 it means any kind of separation or dissolution of connection with a thing or person, released from, set free from, by severing their connection with, etc. to keep one at a distance from etc., by conquest to free oneself from the power of one, to be so lifted up as to dissolve present relations to the earth (Bible Hub).

So when Jesus prayed that His Father would keep us from the evil one, it really wasn’t that we would never know hurt or pain, but that we would not be deceived by him, controlled by him, backed down by him, or identified with him.

In the world… but not of the world.

How can we be in the world, but not of the world? How can we be kept from the evil one if we live in his world? If we look back at Jesus’ prayer He tells us. His prayer to the Father asking Him to keep us from the evil one is sandwiched in between the how we are to be in the world, but not of it.

I have given them Your word” (John 17:14)

and

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17)

There is only one way that we can be kept from the evil one and that is by the Word of God. The Word of God is in opposition to the word of the evil one. In this world we have the One Way and we have the Evil One. The world contains them both…

One is truth and one is lie.

One is love and one is hate.

One is right and one is wrong.

One is life and one is death.

One is light and one is dark.

One is hope and one is despair.

One is faith and one is fear.

One is righteousness and one is relevance.

One is just and one is corrupt.

One is perfect and one is perverse.

One is in the world and one is of it.

So here we all are with two words, two voices, two “ones”… yet only one sanctifies. The other collects and conglomerates.

So as our nation begins to turn further and further away from being defined as “One Nation Under God” the poignance of the prayer of our Savior in John 17 resounds even louder in my soul. Yes, Lord that I would be in this world and not of it.

I must be in this world so that I might be Your Light shining in the darkness… and the greater the darkness the more brightly Your Light in me shall shine. This is not the time to hide my light in a bushel or to be lazy and found sleeping with not enough oil to keep my light burning bright. It is not time to wring my hands and cry woe is me what is our world coming too?  Nor is it time for me to rise up in unrighteous indignation and point fingers and call names and take earthly stands.

No.

It’s time to shine. It’s time to show myself sanctified. It’s time to rejoice that I might be considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Act 5:41

Our American church has been so caught up in being “relevant”. In making sure the gospel is “relevant”. Yet, most have completely missed what makes the gospel relevant.

There is only one thing that makes the gospel relevant. Living it. That’s it. That is all that is needed to keep the gospel of Jesus Christ relevant in any day and age. Just live it.

So let us live it.

Let us trust that our Father in Heaven will honor the prayer of His Son and will keep us from the evil one. Let us trust that no matter what suffering we may face because of our sanctification in and by His Word, we can know that He will hold fast to us. Believing that He holds us we will persevere and be able to stand firm knowing that He sets guard about us and will deliver us from the assaults of Satan. Trusting that if for some reason we have stumbled along the way in the fight He will not leave us or throw us away, but He will indeed severe any connection or hold that the evil one attempts to get on us by supplying us with the power needed to be set free.

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth

Acts 1:8

Motivate Your Child Action Plan

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At the first of this year I participated in the book launch of Motivate Your Child for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.  The book is another wonderful tool made available for parents who are willing to get down and real to see serious and lasting changes take place in their lives and in the lives of their kids.

The National Center of Biblical Parenting took it a step further and created a companion guide to go along with the book. They call it the Action Plan

Action!

Learn how to develop a parenting plan that takes your child’s unique needs into account. Use the outline of firmness, visioning, teaching, prayer, and coaching to flesh out a strategy to move your child from where he is today, to where he needs to go. The Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN walks you through the process of identifying an area of weakness and then naming the character quality that needs to grow in your child’s heart. Read about the value relationship and learn the building blocks to make relationships strong in your home. From there you’ll have the framework to move through each day with greater direction and confidence.

The Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN will give you the tools to address sibling conflict, poor school performance, disrespect, laziness, procrastination, sloppy work, emotional outbursts, self-centeredness, and so much more.

This approach will equip and empower you to parent any age child, from toddlers to teenagers, and beyond. If you have a problem to address in your child, this book can help you envision the solution and then lay out the steps to get there.

Motivate Your Child AP

I can’t say enough about how much I love the materials that Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller make available to us. God has truly gifted them both with insight and wisdom into todays parenting challenges along with the ability to help anyone who is willing to learn to walk through the process of conquering those challenges.

Click the photo or here to purchase: Action Plan

Click here for more parenting tools: Biblical Parenting

To hear interviews and samples of the audio lessons click here: Learn More

Click the picture below if you would like to purchase the book that goes along with the action plan.

Motivate Book

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.