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

Dear God, I’m Stressed!

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgThe Word of God truly is a beautiful and amazing tool at our fingertips if we are willing to learn it and apply it. This past week as I studied and taught through 1 Samuel 21-23 the focus of the week was, how do we live as men and women after God’s own heart when we are under unrelenting stress. Some Christians will claim that if you have enough faith you won’t be stressed… and well I am here to tell you that is a load of crock. If David, a young man who had enough faith to stand before Goliath with just a sling and a stone, lived under unrelenting stress… then why on earth would I expect to go through this life stress free? No, instead of denying the reality of stress let us rather acknowledge it so that we can gain the knowledge to persevere and overcome.

There are many things in our day that can cause us to be stressed and the reality is, stress effects our health: Stress Effects. Sometimes stress is put on us by others and by circumstances out of our control. We have not caused it or asked for it. However sometimes stress is a result of dealing with our own choices and the consequences that come with them. When we follow the life of David through the Scriptures we see him walk through all these various causes of stress.

In 1 Samuel 21-23 the focus is on stress that is not of our making, so today, that’s what this post will be focusing on.

A little background: In 1 Samuel 15 King Saul disobeys God for the last time that the Lord is going to allow him to remain king. In this chapter the Lord tells King Saul through the prophet Samuel that his kingdom will be ripped from his hands. Then in 1 Samuel 16 the Lord sends the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the next king of Israel. David was the youngest son of his father and was out with the sheep playing his harp for the Lord. This anointing was not something he was seeking, it was placed upon him by God.

The Lord then orchestrates events so that David ends up in King Saul’s presence playing his harp for him in order to calm his disobedient selfish self down, and David does so with great honor and respect. He would go back and forth between playing for Saul and tending sheep for his father. Then in 1 Samuel 17 Goliath shows up and David slays the giant and becomes quite popular with the ladies and everyone else in Israel.

This leads to King Saul becoming pretty darn jealous of this young handsome harp playing warrior. He becomes so jealous that in 1 Samuel 18 he actually tries to spear David to the wall TWICE while David is playing the harp for him. Then he sends David out as a soldier hoping he will get killed in battle, but David just succeeds. King Saul gives his daughter to David to be his wife, in the hopes that she will be a distraction when he is in battle, but that doesn’t work either. King Saul, now David’s father-in-law, grows even more jealous of this young man, to the point that David has to run for his life. I would say this is a stressful situation. Now the question is, how does David handle it?

In 1 Samuel 21 David flees for his life and he stops to visit with Ahimelech the priest in order to inquire of the Lord and get some food and a sword. While there, one of Saul’s servants sees him, but at this time no one but Jonathan (Saul’s son) knows that David has fled. David with his bread and sword now heads into Philistine territory hoping to hide from Saul. He was, however, unaware of his popularity in the land and is quickly seized and taken before the king of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10-14).

Stress #1: I’ve done nothing wrong and yet those that I call family and have faithfully served want to kill me. I have just decided to leave and run for my life and just when I think I am safe I am now captured by enemies of my people. I mean this is a Hatfield and McCoy’s moment. This is an, I grew up a Hindu and my family disowned me because I became a Christian and I had to leave and now I just got kidnapped by ISIS moment. Hello! MAJOR stress!

What does David do?

He takes it to the Lord: Psalm 56

For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

Psalm 56:2-4

As David cries out to the Lord in his fear and recalls who his God is and commands himself not to be afraid even in the midst of his fear the Lord gives him an idea of deliverance. David acts like a madman before the king of Gath and the king sends him out of his presence (1 Samuel 21:15) and then David praises the Lord. We are privileged to his praise in Psalm 34.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:1-4

Oh beloved, read through Psalm 34, all of it. As you read pay attention to the word ALL. David praised the Lord for his deliverance from the king of Gath, but as he did he recalled ALL that the Lord had delivered him from. He went back to the lion, the bear, Goliath, Saul’s spear, and the countless times on the battlefield. The Lord gave David this Psalm to remember all that He had done so that he could remember all that He could do because the stresses in David’s life were not over, there were many more to come.

Stress #2: I’m thankful that the Lord has delivered me and protected me thus far, but I am alone and I am afraid. I need some Jesus with skin on. God, is there anyone out there on our side that will help me and walk through this pain, this time, this trial with me?

When David escapes the Philistines he hides in a cave in Adullam. We see the emotional roller coaster that David is on during this time through the words of  Psalm 142.

We see him go from praising the Lord in Psalm 34 to once again crying out to God for help as he is alone and hiding in cave and fearing for his life. So guess what the Lord does… He sends his family to him and he begins building him an army (1 Samuel 22:1-2, 1 Chronicles 12:8-18).  When we need Jesus with skin on, when we need the fellowship and friendship of other believers, the Lord has a way of sending them to us.

Stress #3: I simply did what I believed to be the right thing and now innocent people have been hurt and it’s my fault. Someone took my words and my actions and twisted them and used them to hurt someone else. My actions, whatever they were, have caused even the death of someone else.

Do you remember that servant of Saul that saw David talking with the priest? Well this little tattle tail hears Saul offering land and vineyards to anyone who will turn in David. You see Saul’s soldiers love David and they are not to quick to offer up any knowledge of his whereabouts, but this servant, Doeg the Edomite, he is more than willing. He tells Saul about the meeting with the priest and Saul calls not just that priest, but all in the town, to him for questioning. Then he wants them killed. None of Saul’s soldiers will move, but Doeg kills eighty-five of them. One escapes to tell David what has happened.

22 Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household. 23 Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life, for you are safe with me.” (1 Samuel 22:20-23)

Can you even imagine?

What does David do? Does he fall apart under the weight of the guilt? No he doesn’t. Once again he takes it to the Lord. We see this in Psalm 52.

I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.

Psalm 52:8-9

Lovingkindness is a covenant term. David recalls that He serves a good God. He serves a sovereign God. He may not understand why God allowed this to happen. He might feel that evil is winning, but he knows that somehow God is going to make it right. He has to choose to trust Him. He has to choose to wait one His name. He has to choose to remember that the Lord is good. The Lord acts in love always. The Lord is kind in all His ways. The Lord will not allow the wicked to prosper.

Stress #4: I did everything in my power to help them. I protected them. I cared for them. I fought for them. I have never in any way hurt them or been a burden to them, and yet they betray me. When I need their help they leave me stranded and do not help me. They even have gone so far as to purposely cause me pain.

While David and his men are hiding from Saul a band of Philistines attacks the area he is in. David asks the Lord if he should help the people and fight the Philistines and the Lord tells him yes. So David and his men defeat the Philistines and deliver the people of Keilah from their hands. The people of Keilah repay him by telling Saul they know where he is so David flees to Ziph and well the people of Ziph do the same thing. (1 Samuel 23).

So what does David do? He leans into the Lord. Through Psalm 54 we see how David cried out to the Lord.

People have a way of using their tongues to try and bring destruction, but as David has also says in Psalm 27:3,

Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

David begins crying out to the Lord in Psalm 54 as Saul and his army are closing in on him, and the Lord sends in the Philistines as a diversion. Saul’s army has to retract their attack on David and go and defend the nation of Israel from this Philistine army and David and his men flee to a new hiding place from Saul. Once again the Lord proves Psalm 34 and delivers David.

Yes, there is this thought that passes through christian circles claiming that if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and are living righteously and keeping His Word then your life will be stress free… but through the life of David we see that is simply not true, nope, not so much. We live in a fallen world with fallen people that is filled with spiritual forces of darkness that hate the Light. How on earth would we think that in the midst of this we could ever be completely stress free?

We can’t.

However,

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

When we cry, “Dear God, I’m stressed!” Let us do as David did and lean into the Lord we cry to. He will sustain us if we will just trust Him. Beloved there is nothing that we will walk through that is new and the Lord has recorded through the lives of His people how we can make it day by day through whatever this life might throw at us. We can remain to be women and men after God’s own heart even while living under unrelenting stress, if we will keep ourselves humble under His hand knowing who our God is and remembering that He is for us, not against us, and He is with us,.. ALWAYS.

 

The Problem Wasn’t Obama And It Isn’t Trump Today

cropped-New-Logo-PPM.jpgI am currently teaching through the book of 1 Samuel and as I was digging into the treasures it contained the Lord highlighted a particular verse. This verse caught my attention, but I wasn’t clear why as to why as I was looking for particular key words at the time. Then as I read through this particular chapter again I felt His Spirit teach me.

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.

1 Samuel 12:14

At this point in time in Israel’s history they are in the midst of a major transition as a nation.  The children of Israel were led out of Egypt by Moses and carried into the promise land by Joshua and then after the death of Joshua and the elders that ruled under him, the people went through a time known as the Judges. Sadly, even though the people had been led by faithful men of God for hundreds of years, it did not take long for them to fall away from their devotion to God without them.  By the time of the birth of Samuel Israel was really in an idolatrous mess.

From what I can gather the book of Judges and Ruth coincides in time with the first twelve chapters of the book of 1 Samuel. When you read through the book of 1 Samuel with this in mind you get a much clearer picture of how far away the people and priests had strayed from their foot of the mountain devotion to the Lord their God. The covenant they had made to the Lord at Sinai and their promises for undivided devotion to Him had long since been forgotten, however they still expected Him to keep His end when they needed Him too.

We see this when in battle with the Philistines in 1 Samuel 4, the people have the  serving priests Hophni and Phineas grab the Ark of the Covenant and bring it on the battlefield expecting its presence to deliver them from their enemies. However, the god of Gods, the Lord of lords, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and our every breath will not be used as a good luck charm. He instead allows the Ark to be captured by the enemy, Hophni and Phineas are killed, and Israel is defeated in the battle.

The Lord allows the Ark to remain in enemy hands for seven months (at the enemies expense of course, just read 1 Samuel 5-6 to see what I mean), but the Lord our God is faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). The Philistines place the Ark of God on a cart pulled by some milch cows to see if these cows will be led away from their nursing calf in order to be led by God to return the Ark to Israel, and well them two momma cows carry the Ark straight back to Israel and never check up on their bellowing calves. At this point and time Israel is hit in the face with their depravity and they realize their sin against their God who loves them and is willing to return to them to keep His covenant with them. The children of Israel put away all their false gods and they turn their hearts back to God as they are led by Samuel, the prophet and judge.

However, years pass… and now Samuel is getting a little gray in his hair and they are not to happy with his two sons and so the elders come to Samuel and ask him to ask God for a king to rule them. They wanted a king like all the other nations. They wanted someone else to fight their battles for them.  Samuel is crushed and takes their request to the Lord, and the Lord tells him that they have not rejected Samuel, but they have in fact rejected God who has been their king and has been the One who has fought for them since the day He brought them out of Egypt. Nevertheless, if they wanted a king, they could have one… and all that comes with him (1 Samuel 8:10-22).

Not much has changed about the nature of people since the days of the Judges… or from the day of the fall really. We think we are in a new day with new thinking and new revelation and new wisdom and ideas… all people ever do is repeat history over and over again. It’s actually quite exhausting when you sit back and watch and see it for what it is… there is NOTHING new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). This is why the children of God should not wring our hands in worry and get distraught over politics and policy and laws, we just need to be obedient to the Lord and trust Him with the consequences of that obedience.

Let’s look at 1 Samuel 12:14 again,

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.

Judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). If we, as the church, will simply be obedient to our God then He will cause the one who rules over us to be obedient as well. However, when we loose focus, He will use the heart of our earthly ruler to redirect us back to Him and His purpose for us.

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1

You see we can blame Obama and we can protest Trump, but it’s not about them… it’s about us church. God commanded Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply and when they chose instead to build a tower and city for their own name He came down and scattered them Himself (Genesis 11). Jesus commanded the church to preach the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, and when they wanted to stay holed up in Jerusalem, He allowed persecution to run them out to do what He had commanded them to do (Acts 8:1). When our churches become community country clubs, entertainment centers, prisons of judgment and condemnation, or places of promoted licentiousness that mock the grace of God then our Lord will do what He has to do to tear down these walls.

He summons the heavens above, And the earth, to judge His people…

Psalm 50:4

He has called us to seek and save the lost. He called us to make known the magnificent promise and to glorify the name above all names, Jesus Christ our Lord. He expects us to do it. It’s kind of hard to see the Light when it’s locked in behind closed doors. It’s kind of hard to sow seed into concrete parking lots. Scattering more salt on already salted food simply begins to make it inedible and unpalatable… and well you just can’t help but want to snarl your nose at it, and spit it out, and trample it underfoot.

Perhaps it’s time that we stop blaming our elected officials and we simply begin by choosing to submit ourselves under the authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let the church be reminded that we are ambassadors for Christ in a foreign land. Israel asked for a king and the Lord gave them one… because what they really needed to know was that it didn’t matter what earthly form of government they were under. It didn’t matter whether they were led by a judge, a prophet, or a king as long as their hearts and wills were submitted to the One who ruled over the heavens and the earth.

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

Acts 17:24

So You Say You’re Not A Racist

New Logo PPMThere has been much debate within our country in the last few years about whether or not racism is a real issue in 2017 or whether it is pot stirred political agenda hype. In all honesty sitting here in my southern born, light freckled skin, red-headed self… I say it is still an issue.

Many will claim they are not racist. They will talk about how they have friends, co-workers, team mates, etc of different races and make their stand, but there is always one thing that seems to change that… when their child comes home dating someone of a different race. Here is where the stammering starts and the truth of the heart is revealed.

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This is a picture that I snuck last year in church as a Momma who caught her fifteen year old daughter holding hands for the first time with a boy who was not her Daddy or a boy that just happened to be standing next to her in a prayer circle. It was a moment that as a proud Momma I couldn’t help but capture. This was one of those times when I looked and thanked God and in my heart said “for this moment I prayed.”

My husband and I have been praying for our daughters and their choices in relationships since we knew they were coming into this world. We knew that a young man’s family was important and how he interacted and treated his family would be how he treated our girls when the “best behavior” of dating wore off. So when our daughter expressed interest in this young man, we started watching him.

We saw that he faithfully served in several area of our church. He attended a Bible study on his own every Sunday morning BEFORE Sunday school and in addition too. We watched how he treated his parents and his sister. We listened to how others in the church spoke of him. We paid attention to how he honored our present rules with our daughter within the area of the friend zone, rules that  were the same whether they were male friends or female friends. We actually began watching before she knew that we were, because well when you talk with your kids and study them… you can always tell when they are beginning to “favor” someone.

One night, after she had admitted her liking of this young man, we were discussing boys and futures during our bedtime devo. I asked her questions about what it was that she saw in him that caught her interest and I shared with her what I, as her mother was praying concerning her future husband. The look on her face was priceless as she realized that I was praying for specific things that she had never told me that she herself had also committed to prayer. However, here is the thing, as I shared my list of the qualities, gifts, talents, character, and spiritual maturity that I was praying for the Lord to develop in her future spouse, never once was one of those that he must be fully caucasian. Thank God! For if it was we would have missed a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness, provision, and specifically answered prayers.

Our daughter’s first serious relationship began at the age of fifteen after when twelve years old she realized that she did not want to join the jump from crush to crush but let’s call it love bandwagon. She chose friendship. She decided that if they could not survive in the friend zone then they were never worthy of even consideration of the next zone… and she saw no need to open the next zone until marriage could be considered the next step. She chose to share who she thought was cute and caught her eye with me and her Daddy and then when that moment passed… it simply passed. No weirdness included.

Then she met the young man she is holding hands with in the picture above.  They served together in children’s and music ministry and she finally shared with me that the way she felt about him was different and it was NOT going away. She for the first time realized what it was to really want to allow someone into the next zone. She had met someone who checked off everything she was praying for as she prayed for her future husband. She saw ’til death do us part in this young man… and yes we are also of that weird set of parents who have no problem with young marriage. We are old school and believe you can do life, learn life, and grow up in life together (and that includes college).

Had we have said NO, you can’t date him because he is from a different culture and race we would have missed:

  • a young man who was eighteen years old and like our daughter had never allowed any one out of the friend zone
  • a young man who said I have to talk to my parents still but I would very much like to pursue a relationship with your daughter
  • a young man whose parents met with us and we discussed what we expected in the relationship, what boundaries we expected to be respected when at the others house, and then a prayer as parents over their hearts and their relationship with each other and the Lord as they both stepped into unknown territory
  • dinner all together as both parents clearly expressed to the young couple that we knew what was expected from each of them
  • a mother who points at her young son and tells him that it is his responsibility to honor our daughter’s commitment to have her first “real” kiss at the altar on her wedding day

This is just a few of the things we would have closed the door on had we stuck the race stipulation on our daughters.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

Revelation 7:9

My husband and I and our girls are a part of an unusual race; the race of Christ. We are a part of a chosen race…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Peter 2:9

This is the only race and cultural expectation that we place on any one they date while under our roof. This is the one that is eternal. Our prayer is that they enter into the covenant of marriage with someone who has a family legacy of belonging to THIS race even if it is only one generation back. We just want them to partner in life with someone who is hard at work in their Father’s business (Luke 2:9, KJV). The color of their skin and the cultural background they come from is all God and His plans for a  future and a hope for them (Jeremiah 29:11).

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,

Act 17:24-26

Racism is alive and well in our nation… and it will remain so until the church of Jesus Christ chooses to truly see past the flesh and judge all people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. There is one certain place where the color of one’s skin should never matter and that is the church! It shouldn’t just be the athletic arena or field but the church of our Lord and Savior! His bride is made up of every nation, tribe, and tongue and His church should boldly express and proclaim it.

My favorite time every year in our church is VBS. During VBS our church is filled with at least a 1000 kids, youth, and adults from what appears like every race and social and economic background. It is a beautiful site to behold. One day we hope too see that same beautiful site on every Sunday morning…

I Choose Hannah

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This past week in my newsfeed there have been many comments and posts relating to the protests and women’s march. I simply read one article containing the transcript of one of the women who spoke and it was enough to break my heart. If you do not think ministry to women, youth, and children is important then watch just a little of this and you will hopefully understand exactly how important it is.

I could cringe at these women and say how disgusting their words are, but the truth is I used to speak just like them. It’s a good thing that the Lord captured my heart before I was introduced to the world of social media or followed through on that journalism degree. I felt the sting of second class citizenry to the point that when I found out the child I was carrying within my womb was a girl, I left the ultrasound room in tears. My husband was dumbfounded.

Why was I in tears? All I could see was the statistics that 1 in 3 women would be raped or molested in their lifetime. All I could see was years of condemnation that she would endure due to the size of her waistline and the label on her clothes. All I could see was the fear on her face when she once again had to walk through the school and call her parents to come and get her because her menstrual cycle had ruined her clothes. All I could see was her not being strong enough to fight off an attacker. All I could see was the hurt she would endure simply because she was a girl. I wanted a chance to raise a boy that would protect girls… not a girl that would be hurt by them. Yet, God gave me girls.

If you have read my book Devotions From Genesis It’s Not Just Ancient History then you have heard me share how as I was reading through the Bible for the very first time I grew quite angry with this God I was trying to get to know. I struggled through Lot’s decision to throw his virgin daughters to an angry horny mob of men but when I read of the concubine in the book of Judges I closed my Bible and told God that if this is really how He viewed me as a woman I wanted nothing more to do with Him. Yet God is quite stubborn and His Spirit quite persistent and so I picked up the Bible again after a week or so and I am so glad that I did… because I found my life in Him.

As I continued to read, the Spirit of God taught me and wrapped up my heart and bound my wounds. The Word of God held me as He worked me through the Psalms and taught me of my intrinsic value and worth. He spoke words of love and adoring favor in my heart as my eyes read of His true feelings and devotion for me.  He began to teach me of the great gift of womanhood. I went from believing that being born a woman was a curse to knowing instead that it was indeed a blessing with great honor and privilege. One so much so that the serpent of old had a target on my back just because I was a woman. I began to learn that men were not the enemy… Satan was.

Today as a woman we can listen to the women shouting in the microphone of the world or we can choose instead to listen to the women praying in the Word… Today, as a woman, I choose Hannah.

“My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are shattered, but the feeble gird on strength.”
~ Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-2, NASB)

Hannah felt the sting of second class citizenry. She knew it well. She also felt the sting of bitterness and oppression from other women. Even here as a mature believer I have watched the words of women sting other women. I have seen posts of Christian women demeaning and calling for the crucifixion of other Christian women and the stepping down of pastors of a church simply because they allowed a godly woman to share the Word of God in their pulpit when men were in the room… GASP!

I myself have taught the Word of God before and have had boys older than twelve told to leave the room because I had no right or authority to teach them as a woman. To this very day I step into a pulpit to teach with great caution because I know that the hearts of many, women included, think I have no right to stand there simply because God in His sovereign will chose to knit me, His servant, His beloved, in the womb as a woman.  I can’t help but find it quite sad that God shows in His Word that a man can be taught by a donkey… but so many think a man can’t be taught by a woman. I am thankful that I was raised by a man who saw my value, my worth, and yes, my Holy Spirit given gift of teaching the Word.

So as a woman, I could grab a microphone and shout and spew venom or I can take a knee. I can bow before the One who created me woman and I can humble myself and trust Him.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him…

Philippians 2:5-9

Hannah humbled herself and it was God who exalted her. She didn’t look to man to exalt her. She didn’t look to other women to exalt her. She didn’t look to the world to exalt her. No, she humbled herself under the mighty hand of her God and she poured her complaint to Him and then she trusted Him with the results. She remained humble and kind. The words of her mouth and the mediation of her heart were pleasing to God. Hannah didn’t get nasty… she got holy.

Ladies, having gone from a hard core feminist mindset to a sold out biblical womanhood advocate let me tell you that Jesus is the real deal. He is the One, the only One, that truly sets you free. In and through Him I have learned what it means to be a woman. I have learned that the prayers of a godly woman move mountains. I have learned that He is my strength, my defender, my voice, my Lord and my God.

Therefore, let us become women of God whose hearts exult in Him and whose mouths declare His praise. May the words of our mouth be filled with the knowledge of God and flow out from a humble heart so that the weak may be made strong in the Lord and the hurting might find hope in Him. May God be able to use our prayers, our words, and our actions to show others the way to Jesus.

Sittin’ In The Dark

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The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 19:7-8, NASB

 

These two verses are a couple of my favorite. They make my favorite list because wrapped up in them is this beautiful pathway to life. At first glance or just a regular read through we might miss it, but if we take the time to look a little deeper the pathway is right there and actually was always there all along. 

The first part of verse seven tells us that the law of the Lord is perfect. The Hebrew translation of “perfect” in this verse is tamim and it means complete. Then we see what the law does… it restores the soul. The Hebrew word for restoring is shub and it means to return, to turn back, convert, to refresh.  Here lies the first step on to the path; the recognition that our soul needs restored.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh and it means a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion. The soul encompasses all that we are on the inside. The part of us that we might be able to decorate and disguise for others in intermediate intervals, but no matter how hard we try it’s brokenness reveals itself in our struggles to keep the thing under control.  May it be the kids that won’t stop fighting, the referee that can’t seem to make right the call, the traffic on the way to work, or the person that finally answers the phone at the help desk after you have pressed one at least six times and been on hold for thirty-eight minutes and forty-two seconds. The reality of our broken soul reveals itself time and time again. 

As the brokenness of our soul and our inability to control its appetite, desire, and emotions reveals itself to us we really only have three choices before us. So here lies our choices:

1) We blame others, our circumstances, and particular situations claiming that if they would change we would be fine.

2) We accept it as who we are, embrace it, feed it, and use it to get what we want regardless of who it hurts.

3) We acknowledge it, refuse to accept it, take responsibility for it and turn to the Lord, the One whose law is perfect and is able to restore our soul.

As I shared this particular verse with a group of young ladies yesterday I explained that usually when the Word of God uses “perfect” it means completes. It doesn’t mean perfect in the way that we use it as in a not-a-hair-out-of-place kind of way. I then used the illustration of a vase.

When God created us we were like a beautifully crafted vase, but then sin shattered us. Now we are fallen, broken, and scattered in pieces. However our God is able to take us and all our broken pieces and put them back together again. He is able to complete the vase. Now the once broken vase is complete, not perfect, but complete. The cracks and lines of the once broken vase remain, but it is once again complete.

We don’t yet stand before Him perfect as in not-a-hair-out-of-place as if we were never broken. One day we will, but not today beloved. Today others need to see that we once were broken but are now restored. We once were shattered and scattered but now we are complete. Others need to see this because the cracks allow the light to shine through.

When we skip ahead and we look at the last part of verse eight in Psalm 19 we see that the commandment of the Lord is pure and the result of it is that it enlightens the eyes. In Matthew 6:22-23 Jesus teaches us,

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

My husband just walked down the stairs and entered the room where one of our daughters is doing her school work. The first words out of his mouth was, “Do you like sittin’ in the dark?”  Then he switches on the light. She hadn’t realized she was sitting in the dark until the light entered the room.

I’m sure you have experienced this as well. Possibly it’s a day when you did not have an overhead light on because the light from the sun streaming through the windows was more than enough for the room you were in. However, as the day went on and the sun went down your eyes began to acclimate to the darkness. It never even occurs to you to get up and turn on the light because you have slowly adjusted for the darkness. However, once you get up and walk into a lit room or someone else walks into the room and turns on the light, all of a sudden your eyes are flooded with light and you realize that you were sitting in the dark.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;  we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death works in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:6-12

Yes, Psalm 19:7-8 gives us a beautiful pathway to life. It introduces us to the law, testimony, precepts, and commandment of the Lord. Through them and in Him we both realize our brokenness and receive our restoration. We both discover we are sittin’ in the dark and have the light flipped on.

We also come to realize that if we didn’t know we were sitting in the dark until the light came through, then others do not either. Jesus tells us that if our eyes our clear then we will be filled with light, but if our eyes are bad we will be filled with darkness, and if the light that you do have is actually darkness then how great is that darkness.

If we are looking through darkness then what we see is distorted versions of reality, but it IS our reality and it will remain our reality until the light allows us to see clearly. Sometimes that light flips on and it blinds us and we close and cover our eyes and blink like crazy until we can see and quickly adjust, but sometimes it takes just as long for our eyes to adjust to the light as it did for them to adjust to the dark.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:12-16

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To learn more about God’s Word and how it restores our soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, and enlightens our eyes, order your own copy of Finding True Joy Through a Study of Psalm 119…

You Don’t Know The Whole Story

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The last several years my family has learned some hard lessons. One is that before you express your opinion on a matter it is best to learn the whole story from the mouths of those actually involved. Before you accuse someone of doing wrong it is probably best to actually know what really happened. Simply accepting one persons perspective of the event is not wise. Even Jesus gave us His three years of ministry from four different perspectives. It takes gathering the information from all four to gain the best understanding  of His teachings while here in the flesh.

We seem to have a tendency to receive information, process it through our own experiences, and come to a firm conclusion that we are willing to take to the mattresses with no other considerations as an option. In doing so we hurt friendships. We might even ruin them, simply because we accepted our first hearing of the matter as the truth instead of a reason to simply search for the truth. We come to the defense of the perceived victim before we take the time to discover that perhaps the perceived victim is actually the one who is causing the most pain. My husband has a saying, “There are always two sides to a story and the truth is usually somewhere in between the two.”

I have been burned because I was only listening to one side of a story and I have also been deeply wounded by others who chose to only listen to one side of a story. We live in a day where the availability and opportunity for communication is limitless yet our ability to actually communicate seems to be worse than it has ever been. I believe it is mainly because we have quit listening. We speak, but we refuse to hear. We throw our two cents in on the lives of people we have never even met, much less walked a day in their shoes.

I’ll be the first to admit that in the privacy of my own home my husband and I will try to hash out what we are hearing and seeing and what our initial responses are at the information we currently have, but we have learned that there is ALWAYS more to the story. We know this because we both are the type that are not afraid to send a private message, make a private phone call, or plan a private meeting to find out what is really going on. If we do not know them well enough to do this, then no matter what it is, it is NOT OUR BUSINESS to publicly share our two cents.

In 1 Samuel 1:1-18 we learn of a man named Elkanah who had two wives. One was named Peninnah and the other Hannah. Peninnah had given Elkanah children, but Hannah remained childless.

Hannah lived every day of her life being ridiculed and mocked by Peninnah along with the internal struggle of inadequacy and most likely fear that she was not loved by God, with her barrenness as her confirmation that her fear was true.  In 1 Samuel 1:10 she goes to the temple of the Lord and there she is weeping and pouring her heart out before HIm. There we meet Eli, the current priest and judge of Israel, who sees her and from his perspective she looks like a crazy drunk woman.

Eli sees her and approaches her accusing her of being that crazy drunk woman.  She quickly addresses him to let him know that she is not a crazy drunk woman. She is broken, and oppressed, and is pouring her heart out to the only One who can help her. When Eli recognizes his initial perspective was way off he blesses Hannah and sends her on her way. When she leaves the scripture reads…

“and her face was no longer sad.”

1 Samuel 1:18

What if Eli had accepted his initial perspective as fact and shunned Hannah? What if he would of had her thrown out without finding out her side of the story? Do you think she would have left with a face that was no longer sad? Or would she have received that as even more confirmation that God did not love her and did not even want her in His house?

To Eli’s credit, even with the wrong perspective, at least he approached HER, and he was willing to LISTEN to her. By doing so he gave her the opportunity to change his initial reaction. Then he chose to believe her. Thus she left that day, affirmed in God’s love instead of confirmed in her fear that He loved her not.

Oh church when the world chooses to jump on the first perspective and react as fact to the initial information, let us be willing to step back and pause before we respond. Let us instead choose to practice wisdom…

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

Proverbs 18:17

Writer’s Block

2017 has come with a big ole dose of writer’s block. I’ve started and deleted at least half a dozen blog post. I have struggled over what I wanted to write about and if I wanted to actually put into black and white the wrestlings of my heart… especially when the wrestling continues.

That is probably the root of the writer’s block.

I wrestle with hurtful words and accusations from those I called friend.

I wrestle with hopeful expectation that I could probably help a lot of other hurting hearts if I chose to share how mine has been wounded over and over again and yet I keep stepping back into the ring for more.

I wrestle with my God as to why He has allowed those hurts to pass through His sovereign hands and I wonder what in the world He is trying to toughen me up for in the future.

I wrestle with the fear that instead of becoming wise and strong I will instead become critical and hard.

I wrestle and the writer’s block is the result…

 

From Year to Year and Psalm to Psalm

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This time last year I wrote a post entitled “The 39th Year” where I shared how since I began walking with the Lord faithfully and purposely at His calling through Psalm 25 (just shy of the age of 25) the Lord has some how seemed to line my life up with the Psalm of my current age or at least it appears that way. However, the truth is the Lord is faithful to meet us where we are when we call to Him. I seek Him in the Psalms usually daily and He has never failed to meet me there.

I celebrated the beginning of my 40th year on the 12th of this month. Therefore, I turned to what I expected to be my new Psalm for the year, Psalm 40…

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.

Patience is something I struggle with in many ways. There are these meme’s

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Yeh, I’m probably the one getting looked at like that, but sorry, it’s not a race to the red light for me. It’s just this inward sense of urgency that when I have a destination I must get there… like yesterday.  I might procrastinate starting a thing, but once I start it I’m not stopping until it’s done. I don’t want any dilly dallying or poking around. This is not the time for window shopping or Sunday driving. It’s time to move!

I stepped out in obedience of faith last January and committed to the Lord that I would resign at my then position. I knew that God was moving me, although I did not know where, if any where. Then a new door appeared to open, but in May it was slammed shut. So in June my position ended and the journey of learning began.

I spent the month of June sending my husband a half a dozen different possibilities of future rolls for me in life. He finally told me, Nicole please just wait at least until August. So, I stopped, and I prayed, and I waited, and I wrestled with God. I wrestled and considered a thousand different possibilities it seemed, but my heart kept going back to that slammed door. I just couldn’t shake it.

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

I just couldn’t not see how or why God would shut that door, so I just kept knocking on it. I kept sending messages asking if there had been any changes, yet every reply came back as no changes. From June until September I sought the Lord in my roller coaster emotional up and down what is going on and what do You want me to do kinda way and I just kept serving Him where ever and how ever He opened the door.

During this time I began to notice a consistent theme to the passages in Scripture that the Lord kept putting before me. Then when I made my regular door knocking call in September expecting another “no change” answer, I realized WHY the Lord had me in His Word in the places that He did when He did. This time the answer to my knocking was, “Yes. Are you available to meet next week? There has been some changes in the hiring process that we need to discuss.”

The Lord had spent the summer preparing my heart for these changes so that I would be able to receive them with excitement instead of discouragement or fear. Stepping into this new door under the terms required of me was a whole new ballgame for me. It was a complete leap of faith out of my comfort zone. It has taken me several deep breathes and Scripture recalls to make the phone calls and send the letters that I needed to send in order to walk through this door. Yet the Lord has been faithful!

I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.

When ministry gets hard or scary, the Lord always takes me back to a day 15 years ago when I stood before a room full of hundreds of other women in Chattanooga, TN and declared to God that I would offer my body as a living sacrifice to Him. I wanted my life to tell His story and I would do that in any and every way that He allowed me. I would be faithful and obedient to Him and His Word no matter the cost.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

Yes, at the age of forty years old the Lord once again met me in the Psalms. Through Psalm 40 He showed me how it was indeed His plan for me to serve Him. He was and is with me. He has blessed me with an open door for His Word in forty-five middle school and high school campuses and one college within four counties. I serve the Lord in North Alabama through the ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Walking through this door required me to step out in faith and trust the Lord to help me raise my own support. This is one of the hardest things that I have EVER done. It is a humbling experience. How very thankful I am for what the Lord is teaching me through this process and how very grateful I am for all those who say, “Yes, we are with you.”

“You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”
(3 John 1:6-8)

My current home team is made up of nineteen individuals, businesses, and churches. As I was delivering Christmas gifts to my ministry partners I sat down to share with one of them. I was telling him how excited I was of the success of the partnership between a particular church and school that the Lord had allowed me to establish and how I wished I could have gotten more churches and coaches to do what they were doing… And he just looked at me and smiled and reminded me that I needed to just be patient because I had only been at this for a couple of months. I was just getting started.

And He is right. This is just the beginning of what the Lord has in store.

But there it still remains… that sense of urgency. That stirring in my gut that says today is the day of salvation — the day of the Lord is near — be ready — make the most of your time for the days are evil — be about your Father’s business — the fields are white for harvest but the laborers are few — it’s appointed a man once to die and then the judgment — man is but a mere breathe — do not delay to enter the rest — had the owner of the house known what hour the thief was coming — today if you hear His voice…

So if today He is calling you to partner with me in this ministry know that I need you! I can only reach as far as my support allows me to reach. Within the past two months the Lord has allowed me to share His Word with over 240 female athletes and coaches. Yet, there are so very many more.

I have been able to be a part of Campus Huddles where in just those I have been able to visit I have seen over 400 students be reached with the gospel and loved on. I was also able to participate in our Decatur area Prayer Breakfast where almost 400 more students and coaches once again heard the gospel and where 45 prayed to receive Christ. I have also been able to meet with two other schools about starting Huddles on their campuses…

All because of nineteen individuals, businesses, and churches that said Yes, we want to be a part of your team.

I rejoice over all that the Lord has allowed me to reach in such a short amount of time. Yet there are so many more. There is so much to be done and to do and the time is indeed now.

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Join Nicole’s team: Be A Ministry Partner

See what’s going on in all eight counties through all of our FCA staff here: December 2016 NWNAL FCA Newsletter

Are you looking for a church home? Check out one of my ministry partners!

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When Love Languages Collide

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In the early years of our marriage my husband and I went through Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages study. We watched the videos, read the book, and took the test. We discovered that his love languages were small gifts and quality time and mine were words of affirmation and physical touch. Then several years ago we took the online Myers-Briggs personality tests just for fun and we learned that I’m an introvert and he’s an extrovert. I’m also ADD and he’s more OCD. Our love languages and personalities are complete opposite. This makes for an interesting life together.

Over the last seventeen years we have learned a few things that were a cause of tension in our marriage and we have learned some simple solutions that have helped tremendously. My husbands extrovert self comes into a gathering immediately connecting. Then when his extrovert cup runneth over, he is ready to leave the gathering and go decompress from it all. My introvert self takes a while to get comfortable enough in a gathering to start connecting.

Before we realized this about ourselves we would end up in a “discussion” over the time to leave a gathering. The issue being that by the time I was actually comfortable enough to stay, he had done had all he could stand and was ready to leave.  After seventeen years we have discovered that the best way to handle this is to drive separately or if that is not possible we now better understand the “Are you ready to go?” question.

Marriage is such an unraveling of mystery… and not just of the person you are married to, but of yourself as well.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33

Sometimes in the unraveling of this mystery love languages and personalities collide. We have a joke between us on the hard days, my husband will look at me and say, “my OCD and your ADD are not playing well together today.” On those days we know we need to add a little personal space and grace and the day goes much better. Usually these days come as a result of added stresses and lack of sleep… they are not caused by a lack of love for one another.

When love languages collide it can FEEL worse. We are very involved in life. We actually had to get a family calendar app so that we all could keep up with what was going on where and when. When life gets busy the quality time and small gifts love tank starts to get empty. This can lead to a lack of affirming words that cause the words of affirmation love tank to get empty or even feel attacked which causes a withdrawal which leads to lack of physical touch which causes an even emptier tank. This collision can lead to a downward spiral of doubt and despair.

This spiral will continue until someone is willing to make a deposit in the others tank even though they do not FEEL like it.

My husband and I were in a funk a few weeks ago. Then out of the blue he sends me a text with words of affirmation. DEPOSIT! Then a few days later I brought home a few small gifts for him. DEPOSIT! Then I got the grand idea to skip Wednesday night church and have a date night. I took the kids to youth group and came home and we went out alone. Quality time (check).  Physical Touch (check). DOUBLE DEPOSIT!

Sometimes life’s circumstances makes these deposits hard. My words of affirmation and physical touch tank lost three depositors this past year and so did my husband’s quality time and small gifts. You see these tanks are not just filled by each other. Our parents, grandparents, siblings, and children also make deposits into our tanks. One of the things of marriage is that we are so close in proximity and bond we experience the most “reality” of the love tank emptiness. However, we are also the most easily available to refill the supply.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2:18

When our tanks start to get empty it’s like they become an empty well that echoes back to you. What happens so often is that the enemy of our souls recognizes when they are getting empty and he begins speaking his lies into that emptiness and his lies echo back to us and we think they are our own thoughts. He knows what lies to use to have the most effect in the shortest amount of time. He knows what your struggles and weaknesses are and he is just waiting for an opportunity to exploit them. This is why a relationship with Christ is vital.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

Apart from Christ people will never be able to keep our love tanks filled, no matter how hard they try. When our well begins to run dry, it is the Living Water that springs up. It is the Word of our Creator God and the presence of His Holy Spirit that will fill us so that the lies of the enemy can do no more than just echo for a brief moment. It His love being poured out on us and springing up within us that will fill us to the level that we can step out in obedience of faith and make a deposit in another’s tank even when and especially when we don’t feel like it.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

The enemy of our souls wants our love tanks empty so that his lies will echo all the louder. He wants it so void that he echoes so loudly that he drowns out our own thoughts and replaces them with his own. He wants us completely dependent on people to keep our tank filled because he knows people will fail us. The love of God however will not… It is in fact the love of God that gives us the strength to love others.

God wants to use us to be His vessels to pour His love into others. I believe that He wants that pouring to start at home. It only takes one person who is willing to drop their bucket into the well of Living Water and allow the love of God within to stop the downward spiral.

Do you need to be that one today?

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Discover your love language: Love Language Test

Take the personality test: MBTI online

 

The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn