But Who Am I And Who Are My People

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgThe summer for the Vaughn family is always packed. Some people experience the “lazy days of summer”, but we are of those that have discovered that summer is our craziest and busiest time of the year. When our kids were younger we enjoyed the lazy days. We would scope out the VBS schedules in our community and hit as many different ones as we could and then spend the rest of the day somewhere in the water or in the shade. However, once our girls got big enough to serve along side of us… the lazy days were left behind us.

This year we will begin the month of June serving as a family for the FCA Youth All Star Baseball Tournament. We will be given the opportunity to share and show the gospel to at least two hundred seven through ten years olds and their coaches, along with whoever is there to support them. Then we will serve with our church as we host a VBS that reaches at least a thousand kids (kindergarten through 8th grade) in our community. The last day of VBS we will all leave that same afternoon for Orlando, where we will serve with the International Children’s Ministry through First Baptist Kissimmee. We will return from Orlando and the first of July, Shelby and Rebekah will be attending Camp at Shocco. Rebekah as a student and Shelby will be serving as a student intern. Then Shelby will be leaving to serve with the Romanian American Missions in Spain. Of course July and August will be filled for me with more opportunities to serve with the FCA with our local camps and community events.

The Vaughn family summer is all about purposely sharing and showing the gospel with as many people as the Lord allows to cross our path. We are thankful to be able to do so. We are also thankful, and give thanks to God, for all those who partner with us through giving and participating in the fundraising opportunities that go toward the cost of serving.

We thank God for them, for those who partner with us in ministry, go with us where ever we go. When we stand before the Lord one day and give an account for our deeds, because of their partnership, who we reach they reach, who we serve they serve. It’s not just about the momentary earthly financial provision, it’s about an eternal heavenly treasure deposit.

As I stepped into mission work with the FCA the Lord gave me many passages in Scripture that I cling to as I raise funds for this ministry. This is hard for me, and we have learned through our Bekah’s first mission trip fundraising opportunity that she has my struggle with this endeavor as well. It took months of prayer and preparation for the Lord to get me ready to step out in faith and seek the needed funds for the ministry of FCA to be able to bring me on staff. One of the passages He gave me was Philippians 4:15-20,

15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Lord had to teach me that when I went out to seek funds for the ministry I was not asking people to give to me, I was simply being used by Him to give people an opportunity to give to HIM.

As I am finishing up my last week of teaching through the life of David, I was reminded of this truth again through 1 Chronicles 29:9-18,

Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly. 10 So David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.

14 “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. 15 For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 16 O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours. 17 Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. 18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You;

So as I think on all those who have chosen to partner with us, and as I think on the God who has called us and chosen us, my heart cries out with David, “but who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You...”

I do not know why the Lord has saw fit to allow our family to serve Him in this way, but I am so very grateful that He has… To see where this Vaughn family began, to know the pit that He pulled us up out of, and to know, that I know, that I know what He can do with any wretch that cries out to be saved from this body of death (Romans 7:24) is why I push through the awkward to ask others to join us on the mission.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

Arise, Therefore, And Build

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I am currently closing out my study on the life of David. We completed the book of Second Samuel and now we are studying his last days through the books of First Chronicles and First Kings. As I read through chapter twenty-two in First Chronicles, David’s command to the leaders of Israel to help his son struck me with depth, and I wanted to share it. Here is David’s charge to them:

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God: arise, therefore and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD.

1 Chronicles 22:19

While reading this particular verse the Holy Spirit quickened my mind to several New Testament passages…

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

1 Corinthians 3:9-17

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But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 

1 Corinthians 4:7

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And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:17-22

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Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

2 Timothy 2:19-21

So beloved, for us here thousands of years later, the command of David remains the same. Except the Son of David we have been called to serve is not Solomon, but Jesus, Son of David and Son of God. The house we have been called to build is not made of wood and stone or even gold, but of every tribe, nation, people, and tongue.

From Genesis to Revelation the heart of God can be seen and His purpose for us remains the same. He created us to know Him, to walk with Him, and He desires that we be a part of the life and light that is eternally Him. He doesn’t have to have us or use us. He is completely self-sufficient and all-powerful, but He chooses us and He wants to include us in His beautiful work of the ages.

Now have you set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God? If you have: arise, therefore, and build. For we must be busy about our Father’s business. There are vessels waiting to be made holy so that they might be brought into the house of God.

Undivided

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgThis past Wednesday I was blessed to have the opportunity to speak at an event that was focused on uniting the body of Christ and reminding us that the Lord has called His disciples to be one. As I prepared for this night I experienced spiritual warfare like I really never had before an event before. I look back now and realize the weight that had been on my shoulders and my mind as I studied… The burdens and concerns that kept being thrown into my mind. The fog that clouded my head as I tried to put all that I had studied in an understandable order of progression so that I might convey what the Lord had been teaching me. The fact that on the day of, I received texts from many letting me know that they were praying for me. My husband and children repeatedly asking me if I was okay and encouraging me and praying for me… all confirm that for some reason the enemy of our souls did not want this message heard.

I believe with all my heart that the very words of Jesus Himself in John 17 reveals to us why the enemy of our souls did not want this message heard…

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.

22 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.

Here is a video of the night:

As we listen to that Remember the Titans clip there were three points I wanted to make through it, but time did not allow it Wednesday night.

In the clip Yoast tried to dismiss Boone’s exuberance in having the players out running at three in the morning by claiming they were a high school football team and not the marines.

Then in another part we see Julius encourage a teammate to not stop running and reminded him that there was no time to rest

Finally as it closes we hear Boone give his Gettysburg speech to hopefully get it through to his players that this challenge before them was about more than football…

(Remember the Titans video clip: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uiqdA1B3_Nc

As I watched this clip I see it as a picture of our challenges today in the body of Christ. We are all supposed to be on the same team. Our allegiance to the same Head Coach, and I believe we can take the three points seen in this clip and apply them to ourselves today… because after all the challenges that we face today in the church is about more than just our “church”. It’s about reaching the people that Christ died for us to reach.

It’s time church. It’s time. So therefore…

  1. No excuses (Luke 14:16-20, Romans 1:20, 2 Corinthians 9:8)
  2. No time to rest (Galatians 6:9, Revelation 2:3, Hebrews 12:1)
  3. No more fighting amongst ourselves (1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Ezekiel 33:6, 30-33)

There is a church sign that I pass almost daily coming to and from my house. It is six simple words, but they speak volumes…

Love God. Love People. Serve both. 

That’s it beloved. That’s it. The two commandments on which hang all the rest. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40).

As I was preparing for this I watched a message by Ravi Zacharias based on the life of Jonah. As he closed out his message he asked these two questions:

What portion of human suffering and the world’s pain has the LORD called you to and are you willing to take it?

Are you bearing your burden for what God is calling you to bear?

So I close this post asking… Are you where I was, just “going to church” but not BEING the church? Do you know your message? Do you know the gospel and the God of the gospel? Do you know your purpose? Are you willing to lay aside the pursuit of your own kingdom in order to proclaim His kingdom?

Our main focus must not be our own kingdoms, our own lives, our own church… but our focus must be on being obedient to Christ and laying down our lives and following Him no matter the cost.

I am not in any way trying to patronize the importance of our denominational views or our personal convictions, compellings, and opinions concerning the Scriptures, but when the world and even non-christianese speaking sporadic church attenders see us debate and quarrel and finger point and name call about things… that are not key to salvation by grace through faith in Christ… then we lose them.

The simple fact of the matter is we can’t all fit into the same building anyway. Besides that, we were called from the beginning to scatter and multiply and cover the whole earth. In the book of Genesis, at Babel, when the people wanted to all stay together instead of going out and covering the earth the Lord came down and confused their languages so that they would scatter. Has it ever occurred to us that the Lord has given us different personalities and needs and thoughts on worship and organization all for the simple purpose of helping us scatter so that we can reach ALL people?

Think about it.

A Never Ending Subtle Attack

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgThe Lord is good. He has a way of meeting us where we are at, always. He has a way of knowing when the spinning starts, and a “Stop, now look Me in the eyes”  is needed to settle our panicked hearts. I awoke yesterday morning after a fitful day before yesterday, my eyes were still unable to focus even after the usual letting the dog out and starting the coffee routine. As I sat down with my fresh brewed coffee and toast, I knew I could not dig in the Word for myself this morning, I needed to be fed. So to RZIM on youtube I went, and there the Lord gave my weary soul a drink.

I have a speaking engagement planned for May 3rd. Since the “yes” to this invitation, the spinning has come. The scatter brained, the lost feeling, the instability of uncertainty, all began clouding my mind. As a woman the enemy of my soul always gets me with things like, “You are a woman, how dare you think you have the right to teach. You don’t have a degree, who will honor your words? No one will come to hear you because you are a woman. You know you will be the ruin of their opportunity to share the gospel. You need to quit. Tell them to find another.

True story: When I was twelve years old is when I first understood the gospel and began going after God with all my heart to the best of my ignorant ability. At this time in my life I would have nightmares that would wake me up and I would be so terrified that I would go and crawl in the bed with my parents. There are two dreams that I have never been able to shake. Here almost thirty years later I still remember them.

In the first I was roller skating in some type of rink that was built in a huge tree. The skating lanes wound all up and down and around in the branches. As I was coming down a lane I was grabbed by the throat and lifted off my feet by a huge Goliath of a man dressed in red, also on skates. He lifted me by my throat up above his head and I couldn’t breath and the weight of the skates kept me from being able to kick my feet. Then I still remember clearly him telling me, “Christians like you should be dead!” and then I woke up.

The second is more foggy, but was more terrifying. This one I was asleep in my dream and the next thing I know I awake and am surrounded by small dark somethings that I can’t make out, but they are everywhere around me. Then they pounce on me, once again grabbing me by my throat and they are choking me. I mean choking me to where in my dream I cannot breathe. In my dream I began to mentally try to pray and ask the Lord to help and somehow I managed enough breath to get out “In the name of Jesus get off me” At that very moment as the words were coming out of my mouth, I passed from dream to awake and sat up in the bed as the words were still coming out of my mouth.  I was out of breath as if I really had been being choked. Needless to say, this one sent me to my parents bedroom and I crawled underneath the covers in between them for safety.

As I write this the Holy Spirit has quickened my heart and mind to the parable of the seed and the sower,

“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 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 8:11-15

For at least twelve years of my life the enemy of my soul did all he could to try and choke the Word out of me. Yet, it was planted in good soil and took root despite his best attempts.

However, I have learned that the sneaky snake still sends his creatures of darkness to creep in and try to grab me by my throat and choke me to silence. He has no couth about him or limits to the tools of deceptions or persons of manipulations that he will use to stop the exaltation of Christ, the Word of God now in flesh appearing. He will twist what he can and distort what he must in his attempts to snuff out the truth. His subtle attacks are sometimes the worst and often work the best because we so many times we are clueless that it is him at work against us.

Last night, as I was picking up the house on my way to bed, after a week of worship, of teaching, of sharing the gospel, of praying, and feeling absolutely distracted and defeated afterwards, I simply could not shake the feeling that somehow I had screwed up royally. The uneasiness, the uncertainty, the spinning… and finally I cried out loud to my God and said, “Father, I cannot shake this feeling! I do not know if it is because I have said the wrong thing or the absolute right thing!” I continued to pray in my heart as I went up the stairs. Then I crawled underneath the covers and rested in the Lord.

Yesterday morning as I went to RZIM’s youtube channel and saw the title of one of the latest uploads, I recalled how earlier this month I had read a portion of a Bible study guide written by male pastor claiming that a woman has no right to be called a teacher… and I realized this was the arrow that the enemy had used to start my spinning.  I had asked the Lord for help… and I believe He gave me this video,

“Isn’t the Bible sexist?”

The video ends with Amy Orr-Ewing sharing this quote from Dorothy L. Sayers:
“Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.”
Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society

I grow weary so often of the battle between myself and the enemy of my soul. With this video, the Lord reminding me again of these dreams from my childhood, and the Holy Spirit’s quickening to the words of Christ recorded in the book of Luke, and the confirmation through a prayer request sent to a friend… I know that this past week has been another subtle attack trying to choke me, trying to silence my voice, trying to keep me from using the tools and gifts that the Lord has given me to serve Him and share His truth. If a door opens for the gospel I’m walking through it. If any opportunity arises for me to use my voice to proclaim the Word of life and scatter its seed then I must. As long as I have breath I will praise the Lord, I will serve the Lord, I will proclaim His excellencies.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

What Are You Doing?

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgThere is a way that seems right to us but it is no where near right. There are times in life when we let our emotions get the best of us and our brains just flat out are not part of the equation.  Oh we claim we are thinking things through, but really we are not… we are thinking of ourselves. When we are only thinking of ourselves, then we definitely are not thinking any thing through.

If we take the time to walk trough the recorded life of David we see this acted out and laid out before us. We can choose to learn from it, or we can choose to ignore it and repeat it in our own lives. That is basically the steps of life. We either learn from the mistakes of others, the warnings of others, the wisdom of others, or we can learn from suffering the consequences of doing things our own way.

I went through a time in my life when I chose to learn everything the hard way… I would give anything to go back and learn from the mistakes, wisdom, and warnings of others. I know with all my heart that the Lord has a way of working all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but I also believe that there are some things He wouldn’t have to “work out” if we were just listening and obeying to begin with. Suffering because life is hard is one thing. Suffering from the consequences of our rebellious heart is quite another.

There are four instances in the life of David that I want us to look at as we examine the thought of “What are you doing?” and learning from the mistakes, wisdom, and warning of others as opposed to learning from the suffering or our choices.

  • The mistakes of others

David was a young man, newly anointed by the Lord, to be the next King of Israel. He was chosen by God because he was a man after God’s own heart. The Lord anointed him and then orchestrated events to get him up close and personal to the current king, Saul (1 Samuel 16 – 31). David was able to see and learn from the mistakes of Saul’s reign. He was able to learn that you do not touch the Lord’s anointed and when the Lord gives you a command in battle… you obey it fully.

  •   The wisdom of others

While David was on the run from King Saul he and his men were close to Carmel. There was a man there named Nabal who had significant means. David sent his men to ask for provisions from Nabal and he not only refused, but did so quite snottingly. David was irate when his men returned with the news and so he gathered his men and was off to kill Nabal and every man associated with him. When Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard of the exchange between Nabal and David’s men, she gathered up provisions and rushed to intercept David. She made it to him before he attacked and she offered great wisdom to him. David chose to listen. (1 Samuel 24). David was acting on tired emotion and utter frustration and not according to the will of God. Abigail stuck her neck out to there and she brought a word of wisdom from the Lord Himself and David received her words as such and he was saved from making a very huge mistake.

  • The warnings of others

While David was in flight from Saul he went to the cave of Abdullah. His family met him there and many others also came to find him and so he was no longer alone in his flight. David went to Moab to ask the king if he would protect his parents and he left them with the and then returned to his hiding place. Then the prophet, Gad, came to him and warned him that he could not stay there any longer and needed to flee into the land of Judah. David heeded this warning and was able to escape Saul’s pursuit (1 Samuel 22).

These are the times that we have seen David choose to learn from the mistakes, wisdom, and warnings of others. Yet there times that he did not… and he had to learn through the sufferings of the consequences of his own choices. Lessons that I have no doubt that he would have given anything to not have to learn this way.

After David was well established as King of all Israel there came a time when he got off course. He was home when he should have been off to battle with his men. During the night he saw a woman bathing and well he wanted her. We see through the scriptures that David’s largest struggle was apparently his sexual appetite. At this point he already had at least seven wives that we know by name and no telling how many concubines.

However, this was not enough. He wanted this woman as well. He sent to inquire of her and the one sent offered a word of wisdom and warning to David, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David would ignore the words of wisdom and warning and the downward spiral of sin would spin to depths that David never imagined he was capable (2 Samuel 11).

After David ignored this man’s warning, committed his sin, and made his best attempt to cover it by murdering her husband, the Lord sent someone else to him with a word. The prophet Nathan comes to David with a problem with two men and a lamb. One man owned a single treasured lamb and the other man had lambs out the wazoo, but the man with the lambs out the wazoo took the one treasured lamb of the other. David hears the scenario and in self-righteous anger pronounces a judgment to only have Nathan turn this judgment on him, for he was the man (2 Samuel 12).

David would spend the rest of his days wishing he had just listened to the warning, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Yes, the Lord would forgive him. Yes, the Lord still loved him. Yes, life would go on… but the consequences would come.

So beloved of God here is the crux of the matter…

When someone comes to us and asks, “What are you doing?” Will we be one who is willing to learn from others mistakes, wisdom, and warnings?

When we see someone and ask ourselves, “What are they doing?” Will we be willing to be used by God to deliver those words of wisdom and warning?

Will we be willing even if the person we are being impressed to address might be in authority over us? Or a stranger to us? Or a friend to us?

And if we do, let us not forget HOW these words of wisdom and warning were delivered… Take the time to really read these accounts in the life of David and let us learn from him, and those associated with him. God gave us His Word so that we don’t have to always learn things the hard way.

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

 

 

 

While We Rant About The Weather Man

New Logo PPMIn my home state of Alabama we recently had a state of emergency weather alert. Schools were canceled all over our area and surrounding counties in order to keep our children safe. As our local meteorologist studied satellite images and made their best predictions as to what dangerous storms appeared to be heading our way, as our state government took the necessary steps needed to not burden our school administrators with  “make-up days” placed on them by other government entities, as businesses, churches, and parents focused on what we needed to do to make sure everyone was as SAFE as possible… a nation across the water was under a chemical attack.

Yesterday as we learned that the storms did NOT hit our area my social media newsfeed became filled with rants of those condemning our meteorologist and condemning those who condemned our meteorologist.

Such outrage over an attempt to keep our children and the people of our area as safe as possible… and no outrage… none over a chemical attack in Syria. Why? Because most were glued to the weather man because we have lost the ability to be able to walk outside and look out of our own windows and discern the signs of danger for ourselves.

But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?

Matthew 16:2-3

If we have become a people that cannot discern the approaching of a storm… how can we even come close to discerning the work of God in our midst? Do we really understand the times in which we live? Are we aware of the day? Are we so concerned with being SAFE that we cannot see those in danger?

Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
Or in his disaster therefore cry out for help?
Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
When I expected good, then evil came;
When I waited for light, then darkness came.
I am seething within and cannot relax;
Days of affliction confront me.
I go about mourning without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.
I have become a brother to jackals
And a companion of ostriches.

Job 30:24-29

We know that Job was in a place of great suffering. In the last verse of this passage he says that he has become a brother to jackals and a companion of ostriches. What could he mean by this?

Jackals mate in pairs and are territorial. Both the female and the male mark and defend the boundaries of their territory. Yipping calls are made when the family gathers. Here is the kicker: members only respond to their own family’s calls and ignore those of other individuals.

Ostriches, when threatened, run although their powerful, long legs can be formidable weapons, capable of killing a human or a potential predator like a lion with a forward kick. At the approach of trouble, ostriches will lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Their plumage blends well with sandy soil and, from a distance, gives the appearance that they have buried their heads in the sand.

So here’s the picture Job is painting for us. He needs help. He is crying out for help. He is in the midst of suffering. He is hurting. He has experienced great loss. He has spent his life helping others and now that he needs help… he finds himself among jackals and ostriches.

He realizes he is surrounded by those who only care if it’s their own and those who run from him and lie low so that they might claim they did not know of his pain or of his trouble.

We have a world full of Job’s…

And we have church buildings full of jackals and ostriches.

Church let us lift up our eyes and see. Let us learn again how to discern the signs of our times. Let us step out and hear the howls of those that are not our own and run to them in their pain and NOT away from them. Stop laying low and playing ignorant… when we know that we know someone needs the grace and mercy of God and the hands and feet and words and love of Jesus.

For the love of Christ and the call of His heart let us be willing to leave the safe ninety-nine and go after the one that is lost.

What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

Luke 15:4

Crawling To Mount Zion

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As I completed my study in 1 Samuel I thought of the main things that I learned through this historical book that contained the end of an era and the beginning of another in the nation of Israel. There were three main topics that the Lord focused in on me as I studied each week:

  1. The character of God
  2. Prayer
  3. Obedience

The three are all related to one another and depend on one another. When we begin to understand the character of God we will see our lives change in the area of prayer and obedience. We will go through seasons in this life that are flat out difficult and we might find it hard to pray… even feel it is a vain pursuit, but that is a lie. When we understand the character of God it makes it a lie easier to defeat.

We might go through times when we are being instructed in a way that doesn’t make sense to us, and God will call us to trust and obey. There will come times in life when we will question our “need” for obedience and what exactly obeying looks like in our present situation. Knowing the character of God will help us make the right decision.

As I thought on all that the Lord has been teaching me and reminding me of through this time in His Word, I wrote this poem:

Crawling To Mount Zion

My God You are good

My soul knows this very well

At times my heart deceives me

Tries to make me doubt that You are there

Yet only so far will You allow the lie to go

You never cease to reach and touch me through Your Word

Your truth never fails to open blinded eyes

Your light penetrates the places where darkness tries to hide

When this world makes us weary

When this life makes us weep

Your grace never fails completely sufficient to be

Your mercies new each morning do renew our strength

Your everlasting lovingkindness help us when we’re deplete

My eyes lift up and look to the glory that I know

If I have to crawl on bloody hands and bleeding knees

To Mount Zion I will go

To Your cross my sweet Jesus

To my Savior and my Lord

You endured great hate and persevered until death

So I shall keep crawling until I breathe my last breathe

Though the world thought it over in truth it just began

For the grave could not hold You, death was not the end

What looked like defeat was victory finally won

Hope is fulfilled for those that trust in the Son

It was finished and begun all in one event

Though this world bring me trouble

Though fallen mankind bring me pain

Though the prince of darkness bid me, come his way

Though this flesh try and tempt me to deny Your sweet name

No weapon formed against me can prosper

For I am hidden in Your grace

My soul in despair might fall from time to time

Yet hope in You my Father will always see I rise

To God be the glory for You are good indeed

I will trust in Your Word and by it let You lead

Not to the left nor to the right shall I ever turn

For Your truth lights my path and I will not be detoured

I am looking for Your promise to my home away from here

And while I travel onward I will trust You through my fear

My prayers I will offer as Your face I do seek

Knowing that You hear me and Your arms are not too short to reach

Whether I stand tall and strong or am crawling small and weak

I know that You are with me and my purpose You will see complete

 

 

Youth Choir and Spain Mission Trips

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Here is a small clip of the Messenger’s Choir singing. This group of kids has been given the open door to sing of the gospel and glory of God at Disney! Thousands from around the world frequent this park, therefore please remember them in prayer that the gospel being proclaimed through music would bear fruit in the lives of those who are there. May all who walk by their way have ears to hear!

Leadership

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgI just finished doing a little Google search on this word, leadership. The word came into use around the mid-19th century and appears to have had its peak around the 1970’s and then began to decline again until at least around 2008 (That’s as far as my Google search would take me.) This information is pulled from the use of the word in books, specifically book titles I believe. Leadership is the combination of the words leader and ship. Ship is a native English suffix that denotes a nouns condition, character, skill, office, etc.

What makes someone a leader? It’s really quite simply. Stop and look around you. Do you have anyone that you lead, guide, or inspire?  Are you a coach? A teacher? A parent? A pastor? An office manager? A supervisor? An upper class-men in your school? An older sibling? An aunt or uncle? Etc. You quite possibly are someone that never considered yourself to be in a position of leadership, but now that you have looked around you… you have just realized that yes, you indeed are one who leads, guides, and/or inspires others.

Now that you have looked around and realized who you are leading and when you are leading them, the next questions are:

  1. What kind of leader do you want to be for them?
  2. How are you leading them?
  3. Why are you leading them?
  4.  Where are you leading them?

The Word of God is filled with examples of leadership. The Lord leaves nothing out. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly of leaders recorded in the Scriptures. As I have just finished a study in 1 Samuel and am currently working through a leadership study with my family in our home, I have discovered that the leader I most aspire to be like is Samuel.

We are given a look into the leadership of this man of God in the first twenty-five chapters of 1 Samuel. I encourage you sit down and read through these chapters and make a list of all that you learn about the condition, character, skill, and office of Samuel. You will indeed be inspired and encouraged by this man’s example. For the purpose of this post we are going to look at one particular chapter to answer our four questions, 1 Samuel 12.

In this chapter Samuel is giving the people the king they asked for and in this he is, in a sense, stepping down as the leader of the people. In the first five verses he asks the people to answer, “How did I lead?”.

And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. Here I am; bear witness against me before the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.”

1 Samuel 12:2-4

In the next five verses (1 Samuel 12:6-11) Samuel reminds the people why he was leading them…

When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 10 They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11 Then the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security.

1 Samuel 12:8-11

Then in 1 Samuel 12-18 he reminds the people where he was leading them.

13 Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

1 Samuel 12:13-15

Finally in the last verses of this chapter (1 Samuel 12:19-25) we see what kind of leader Samuel desired to remain to be whether it be in an official position of leadership or not…

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.

1 Samuel 12:23

Some use their position of leadership as an opportunity to take advantage of others, as an opportunity to lord power over others, as an opportunity to push their own agenda, as an opportunity to do nothing while forcing others to do everything, and as an opportunity for their own personal gain. This is not how Samuel led. The Lord and the people could bear witness to this truth.

Samuel led with integrity. Samuel led in order to lead the people to the Lord. He wasn’t leading so that the people would follow him. No, his leadership was for the sole purpose of leading the people to follow the Lord. Even when those he led rejected him, he remained steadfast in his devotion to be a man of integrity. He would not allow the actions of others to change his character or life’s purpose.

As we walked through our study as a family last night my husband shared a piece of advice that a friend gave him once, “It’s hard to be mad at someone you are praying for...” Our daughter Shelby chimed in and said, “I have never forgotten you telling me that! I couldn’t remember who told you that, but I remembered the advice, and have never forgotten it!” My husband went on to say, “It’s hard to pray for someone your mad at, but it’s also hard to be mad at someone you are praying for… it works both ways.” So the bottom line is, will you choose to pray? Will you choose to take the situation to the Lord or not?

This is the kind of leader that I want to be… one that leads with integrity and one that leads other to follow the Lord… not me. One that takes all things to the Lord in prayer before I step out to lead so that I can make sure that I, myself, am indeed following the Lord and not leaning on my own understanding. When we read the first twenty-five chapters of the book of 1 Samuel we see that Samuel prayed about everything and then he waited for an answer from the Lord before he moved forward in action. His first desire was to be faithful and obedient to the Lord his God. May that be our first desire as well.

…the Lord declares, …for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.

1 Samuel 2:30

Share and Share Alike

Design_PNGThis past week our precept class at Central completed our last week of study in the book of 1 Samuel. It has indeed been a rich study full of truth for the reality of situations that come with life on this earth. As we walk through the recorded history of the events of David’s life we are able to see that being a man or woman after God’s own heart does not exempt us from trouble and it does not exempt us from struggling with doubts and discouragements. However, being a man or woman after God’s own heart means that in the midst of our trouble, our doubts, our discouragements we have a Living God there with us to give us help, hope, encouragement… and wisdom.

As I studied in 1 Samuel 30 I saw where the Lord recorded a very wise call through the mouth of David. Wisdom in dealing with others is vital for those in leadership. When we compare David’s leadership with that of Saul’s through the book of 1 Samuel we see exactly how vital it is, not just for themselves, but for all those they are leading.

In 1 Samuel 30 David has returned to his current home at Ziklag with his 600 men as they were rejected by the commanders of the Philistines and not allowed to fight with them against Israel (that’s a whole other lesson in itself on how God uses what we may think is rejection as our character preservation).  David and his men return to find that the Amalekites have raided their town and taken everything including their wives and children. The men are absolutely distraught and they are flat out exhausted.

The men turn on David and threaten his life, but David turns to the Lord and strengthens himself in the Lord… possibly for the first time in  while. David inquires of the Lord and the Lord tells him to pursue the Amalekites and all will be restored. David and his 600 turn to pursue the raiders, but 200 of them are simply too weary to cross the waters that divided them and those they pursued. These 200 stay and camp while David the other 400 cross over and continue the pursuit.

The Lord gives them victory just as He said He would and not only do David and the 400 men gain their own people and possessions back but also all the other possessions that these raiders have taken from others. Then they turn to return home…

21 When David came to the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow David, who had also been left at the brook Besor, and they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him, then David approached the people and greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away and depart.” 23 Then David said, “You must not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. 24 And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.”

1 Samuel 30:21-24

How does the word of God describe the men who did not want to share the spoil with those who had to stay behind? They are described as wicked and worthless.

What nugget of wisdom does the Lord deliver through the mouth of David? “For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.”

Let this principle sink in beloved. Think on how it applies in our day and think of how many wicked and worthless we have spouting off the same reasoning today.

Dear stay-at-home wife and/or mom yes, when your husband goes to work and you remain to care for the home and children… his wages ARE equally yours.

Dear church member whose current place in life does not allow you to teach, go on mission trips, or freely serve as you so desire, but you faithfully live out the Word of God in your daily life, pray, tithe, and support those who can go… every soul that is saved IS a part of your fruits as well.

We are supposed to all be in this together. If we are indeed in Christ then we are all part of His body. Sometimes the feet rest while the hands work and the hands rest while the eyes work. Yet, they share in the spoil of the battle, in the fruit of the labor, because they are striving together for the same purpose with the same mind united in spirit.

Don’t confuse rest with laziness and those who lead undisciplined lives being busybodies that stir up strife (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13). No, we must also remember where those 200 men had been prior to their rest on the other side of the brook of Besor. They had been right there fighting and traveling and serving alongside all the others. They did not stop because they were lazy, but simply because their bodies could go no further.

This past Sunday our church celebrated its 125th Anniversary as a church body. At the beginning of this celebration service one of our pastors acknowledged everyone who had ever served on ministerial staff (pastor, financial secretary, admin assistant, etc), anyone who had every served as support staff (buildings and ground, library, director, etc), and anyone who was a direct descendent of a charter member. Our church acknowledged that no matter the service, no matter how long the service, they shared in the fruit of all that the Lord has done, is doing, and will do through our church.

Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Deuteronomy 7:9

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The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 33:11

David made clear to his men that the spoil didn’t belong to any of them. It was in their hands only because the Lord gave them victory. David did not just command that these 400 share this victory with the 200 waiting on the other side of the brook, but he took these spoils and he shared them throughout Israel. What the enemy had taken away, the Lord restored, and David was not going to take credit for something that God alone accomplished.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17

The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn