Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…Grace to Come Back Home, Part 2

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Last week I shared the first part of Grace to Come Back Home, based on a series of sermons my pastor, Larry Scott, has been bringing to our church body. If you missed it, I hope you’ll check out that post first, titled 4 Causes for Falling Away From God. This week we’re looking at the symptoms associated with becoming separated from God.

5 Symptoms of Falling Away From God

Today we’ll take the next step by evaluating our own lives for the symptoms of falling away. Please note that much of the outline is taken from my pastor’s sermon, but most of today’s commentary is taken from my own experiences of life in evangelical churches.

1.  We stop giving. We take the tithe hostage, using it as leverage to try to get our way. We act as if it’s our money, when in truth, it’s all His. 

2.  We stop spiritual disciplines. Have we stopped seeking His face in prayer and studying His Word? Are we avoiding His answers and turning a deaf hear to His voice? If we can avoid Him on an ongoing basis, we are treading on dangerous ground.

3.  We find fault, we complain about everything, and become dissatisfied with the people, places, and things of God. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to point to others as the reasons for our problems than it is to take responsibility for ourselves. A Christian who is on a continuous fault-finding, disgruntling mission is very likely a person who is falling away from God.

4.  We disconnect. We stop spending time together as part of the church body; we resign from roles and ministries; we avoid Sunday School, choir practice, and ministry opportunities.

5.  We leave. We leave the fellowship. We leave the church. We may even be at risk for leaving Christianity. Yes, sometimes God really does take us in a new direction, at a new church. That’s not what we’re talking about here. In the case of falling away from God, leaving the church can actually mean we’re leaving God. Perhaps we left Him behind long ago.

Yes, I’m the first to admit that many of these things can be evidence of a problem at a specific church, rather than evidence of falling away from God. But the difference is in the heart, it’s the motivation. I’ve had friends in churches who have truly felt led to leave the local church for whatever reason, and they’ve gone on to grow in the Lord and work hard for the Kingdom.

But let’s face it, sometimes we’re deceived by the evil one. He leads us to blame the church, the pastor, the leadership, the programs, and everything else related to the church, when in truth, he’s enticing us to run from God.

And then there are other times when these complaints are simply our excuses, providing culturally-acceptable rationale to withhold our money, stop our study, complain, disconnect from the body, and leave the church…when in reality, our motivations, and perhaps our secret sins, are compelling us to leave God behind.

Do you find yourself struggling in one or more of these areas? If I’m honest, I have to admit that sometimes it’s easy to fall into them, completely unaware that Satan is the one holding the reins.

Living the Christian life means we must continually evaluate our hearts and examine our relationships with the Lord. After all, the first step to receiving His grace is knowing who and where we are. The second is reaching out and taking hold of the grace to come back home.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Parting Words From The WORD…Grace to Come Back Home Part 1

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I think I’ve already mentioned that my pastor, Larry Scott, is leading us in a study of grace. And although I’ve been studying God’s Word for many years, it’s been an eye-opening experience for me. I’ve been reminded how easily we can become deceived.

Week after week Pastor Larry has taught messages that prick my heart, prompting a weekly self-evaluation. I didn’t like what I saw. Over the next few Fridays I’m going to share a few of those points. Then I ask you to look at your own life and heart, and see if He reveals something unexpected to you.

God’s Amazing Grace—Grace to Come Back Home, Part 1 (Based on Pastor Larry Scott’s messages)

4 Causes of Falling Away From God, from Peter’s experience

1.  Overconfidence in our spiritual lives. As Jesus shared with His disciples that they would betray Him, Peter proclaimed even if all betrayed Him, he would not, even if it meant Peter’s death. (Mark 14:27-31)

Overconfidence in our own ability to resist sin is a set-up for falling hard. The very thing that we feel strong about could be the very thing Satan will use to tear us down and ruin our testimony.

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)

2.  Spiritual laziness. Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, stating that His soul was “…overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Jesus left them, went deeper into the garden, and cried out to the Father for the cup to pass from Him. Luke 22:44 says He prayed so desperately that He sweat drops of blood. Then, as you know, Jesus returned to find them asleep more than once. (Mark 14:32-42)

Jesus cried out on our behalf and sacrificed His life for our sin, and yet, we’re often too lazy to study His Word, fellowship with the Body in worship, and gather for Sunday School. We’re essentially pruning away His desires and grafting in our own.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

3.  Fear of Disapproval. After Jesus was arrested, Peter—the one who said he would die for Him—followed at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. Later, he even denies knowing Jesus…just as Jesus had proclaimed hours earlier. (Mark 14:54a and 66-72)

We say we will die for Jesus, and yet, we often are quiet and won’t stand up to be counted for Him before His enemies and/or our peers.

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 (NIV)

4.  We want a convenient faith. Peter not only followed the crowd at a distance into the courtyard of the high priest, but once there, he sat with the Roman guards, warming himself by the fire. Yes, Peter may have been cold, but isn’t that a small inconvenience for one who said he would die for Jesus? (Mark 14:54b)

How often to we turn from the proddings or even the commands of Jesus, simply because it isn’t convenient? We’re too tired, too self-centered, too important to reach out to others in ministry. It’s just too inconvenient to do what He’s commanded us to do: To love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

So, where do you find yourself when you compare yourself to Peter and consider grace? As I said, I didn’t like what I found. I–like Peter–can think too highly of myself, confident in my ability to resist sin. I’m often lazy and weak in the face of disapproval, submitting to a faith of convenience. My prayer today is that each of us will be truly committed to whatever God calls us to…regardless of the cost. After all, it cost Jesus His very life.


Please pray for my cousins, Bobby and Zach

I have two very seriously ill cousins who need your prayers. Bobby has an unbelievably large brain tumor and will be starting chemo and radiation next week. Another cousin, Zach, is only in his 30′s and has an aggressive form of early onset Parkinson’s Disease. We need two miracles in our family. Thank you for your prayers.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Parting Words From The WORD…I Can Do It All By Edie Melson

happy girl free Edie(Thanks to my dear friend, writer and speaker Edie Melson, for stepping in for me today. Knowing my readers, knowing Edie, and knowing myself, I think we all can use this reminder. Thanks, Edie!)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This was one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized. It’s a heady verse for someone like me. Someone who loves to say yes for two reasons— the sheer joy of being involved and the fear others wouldn’t like me if I couldn’t perform. It was a dangerous combination. But I truly believed this verse gave me the ability to say yes to everything, and God would provide a way.

Fast forward several years, and the price of saying yes began to take its toll on my mind and body. I no longer lived a life of joy and victory. Instead I was a slave of over commitment. And I finally broke. It wasn’t pretty. Diagnosed with severe depression and several other mental health challenges it took me months to recover.

It was a painful lesson, and one I had to learn to ever be able to move forward. When forced to give up everything, I thought I’d never get to do anything fun again and that everyone would dislike me. (Stupid I know, but it’s really what I believed.) Slowly I began to realize God’s plan didn’t involve me saying yes to every good activity or need within my community.ton of bricks free Edie

I also discovered that when I said yes to something that wasn’t intended for me, I was in the way. I’d taken a task from someone else and denied them the joy of obedience. I’d become a roadblock in the journey God had for them.

I’ve also learned not to equate a need with a call from God. By that I mean just because I see a hole that needs filling it’s not my job to jump in. God has proven perfectly capable of providing for the needs of those around me.

Now I’m living a much more balanced and joyful life. I’m still not perfect, there are days I just can’t say no. But He’s shown me that the things He’s given me weigh no more than a feather, no matter how labor intensive. But when I pick up a job or a burden on my own, no matter how small the time commitment, it weighs on me like a ton of bricks. That in itself makes me wary about saying yes without hearing from God.

To sum it all up:

I’ve learned that I really can do it all…as long as I’m not trying to do everything. @EdieMelson #blessed (Click to Tweet)

Today I encourage you to look at the balance in your life. Do you need to lay something down that’s intended for someone else? Are you crying out for rest because you’re carrying a load not meant for you? There is rest and peace, all you have to do is let go.

Edie Melson headshot-MaryBio: Edie Melson—author, editor, and blogger—is a leading professional within the writing industry, as well as a popular inspirational speaker and mentor. She writes for military families and veterans. Her first book is Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. Her second, While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military debuts on May 12 2015. She’s also the military family blogger for Guideposts at While They Serve.

Her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, as well as the Senior Editor for Connect on Twitter and Facebook.


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Parting Words From The WORD…Need Joy, Peace, and Hope?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.


Joy, peace, and hope. Three words that can sometimes feel elusive and unattainable. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I love reading Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In Romans, he taught about salvation, grace, righteousness, and how to relate to one another as Christians. I’ve read through and studied this book many times through the years. But today, as I was reading in Romans, I read this verse and saw some things I’d never noticed before.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Here are the new insights I found today:

  1. Paul’s not asking that we’d simply be filled with joy and peace, but that we’d be filled with ALL joy and peace. Every bit of it.
  2. When and how do we get all this joy and peace? As we’re trusting in Him. Not when we’re working hard enough or giving enough money or doing enough for others, but AS we trust in Him.
  3. And when we trust in Him, we not only get ALL joy and peace, but we also get so much hope that it’s overflowing!
  4. That hope comes by the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, not because of any works we’ve done, but only because we’re given it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy and peace…all. Hope…overflowing.

And I receive them AS…not before or after or when, but as…I trust in Him.

I’m trusting Him today for joy, peace, and hope in your life and mine.



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Parting Words From The WORD…Is the World Out of Control?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thursday, as I began working on my Friday post, a friend commented on Facebook about a common feeling that things are out of control. That prompted me to put together this thought-line and combine it with an excerpt from my book, Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe. I pray this message encourages you today.)

Let’s face it, we can wake up feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the day. But all it takes is a quick look at the headlines, Twitter, and Facebook to send us reeling.

This world is out of control.

There have been times when I’ve fretted and worried and made myself sick about a problem, all because I believed a lie of Satan—the lie that says everything is out of control. But in truth, it was simply out of my control.

We know we have the Holy Spirit. But the question is, does the Holy Spirit have us? Have we submitted to His authority and power in our lives? Have we swallowed our pride, exposed our weakness, and handed our mess over to Him?

If we’re truthful, most of us would have to admit we try to handle it on our own. Only after all other options have failed do we call out to God, admitting our frailty and acknowledging our need for help.

We’ve got it backward

One day, my pastor’s two children were playing in the den when the youngest began to cry because he had broken his toy. “Don’t worry,” his older sister said. “We’ll just take it to Daddy. He can fix anything.” You can imagine how Pastor Scott felt when he overheard his children’s conversation. His heart swelled with pride, knowing his children trusted him. They respected and honored him as their father—the one who could fix anything.

That’s how the Father wants us to see Him—as our Daddy who can fix anything. And although there is a limit to what Pastor Scott can do, our Heavenly Father doesn’t have any limits! He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. And He is all love.

That’s not to say our problems will be resolved according to our preferences. But God does promise that everything will work out for His glory, that He is in control, and that He—and we—can handle it. All we have to do is submit ourselves and our messes to Him, and then trust Him with the details of our lives.

He wants only the best for us, and He’s the only One Who knows what the best really is. It may not be the new house we want or the husband we long for. The best for us may not even be our healing. But Romans 8:28 promises us the best is what we’ll get . . . for His glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


Thanks for Tweeting!

Is the world really out of #control? #Peace is available. @VondaSkelton via Parting Words from The WORD (Click to Tweet)


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Parting Words From The WORD…What is unseen is eternal…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Are you struggling today? Overwhelmed? Paul was, too, but he didn’t focus on the hardship.

I pray this encourages you as much as it encouraged me.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Parting Words From The WORD…Reach Out in Ministry and Receive

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Now, before you wonder if I’ve lost my mind and converted to a “prosperity Christianity,” please hear me out. This post is far from it.)

As Christians, one of our responsibilities is to reach out to others and minister in His Great Name. The concepts of ministry and outreach are repeated throughout His word. From Israel’s Old Testament patriarchs to the New Testament teachers, we receive the continuous message to be the hands and feet of Christ, shining His Light into this dark, dark world. We’re instructed to care for widows and children, feed the hungry, visit those in prison, and love the unlovable.

Reaching out is not simply a concept to consider, it’s a command to obey. Jesus Himself said we’re to not only love the Lord with all our being, but to love others as we love ourselves. Bottom line: Christ-followers MUST be in ministry through love and compassion.

On the surface, it’s easy to see the benefits of service. Through our efforts, the poor and rejected receive food, clothing, help, encouragement, and love…all in the Name of Christ. And we feel good when we do what we’re called to do.

But what about when it doesn’t feel good? What about those times when we want to walk away?

Perhaps that’s when the ministry is as much for our benefit as it is for theirs. Perhaps that’s when God plans to teach us something through our serving. Perhaps we’re the ones who need to learn new lessons.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NIV)

So if the time comes when you’re ministering, but just not feeling it…maybe it’s time to ask God what He wants to teach you.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Parting Words From The WORD…Is It Possible to Stop Telling Others?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Don’t you love reading His Word and finding something you’d never noticed–or at least never considered–before? In my reading a few years ago, I found a such a verse.

In Acts 4, Peter and John have been called before the Council by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some Saducees because they were healing and preaching the resurrection of the dead. They were thrown in jail.

The next morning the leaders decided that in order to keep Peter and John from spreading their message, they would warn them not to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus again. And here’s where it gets exciting:

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 NIV

“We cannot stop telling…”

What about me? What about you? Can we say that? Can we say that we can’t stop telling the Good News of Jesus?

I recently heard that we should have our testimony ready in a variety of forms, to be delivered at a moment’s notice. We should have a 30-second “elevator pitch” testimony, a 2-minute testimony, a longer one, and a fully-written, fleshed-out version.

After all, we have the Good News of the mercy, grace, and love of Jesus. We cannot stop telling everyone about it.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Parting Words From THE WORD…Starting Again

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.


How do you feel as we end this first half of January 2015? Did you accomplish what you had hoped? Maybe you’re like me and you can see progress, but also see the things that didn’t get done.

So what do we do now? As for me, I think I’ll simply toss anything that whispers of failure and rest in Him and His great mercy.

And then trust His plan for my life…again.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Welcome to 2015: Pie In the Sky Dreams or Real Goals?

Image courtesy of cuteimage/

Image courtesy of cuteimage/

Wow, can you believe it’s 2015 already?

It seems only a few years ago that we teens of the 60s were dancing to the lyrics of Zager and Evans’ futuristic, pie-in-the-sky song, In the Year 2525. When it released in 1969, it was pure sci-fi, frequently assumed to be the result of a drug-induced bad trip.

But today, as I read their prophetic words of babies coming from test tubes, mind-altering drugs, and technology ruling our lives, I realize the song carried more truth than we ever thought possible. And way ahead of schedule.

But this post isn’t created to generate a discussion about the 60s or the prophetic reality of Evans’ lyrics. Instead, my goal is for us to face the truth and determine our response to this question: Will we look forward to the future with a pie in the sky attitude, dreaming big, then sitting back in our office chairs to watch them come to fruition? Will we make a plan and then whine when things don’t go as planned? Or will we do the work, put in the hours, and take the training needed to see those goals accomplished?

Unmet Goals

I have to admit, for the past few years I’ve backed down from some of my goals. I’ve run into conflicts of time, opportunity, and responsibilities…and sulked in the corner of defeat. I’ve tried and failed and given up, always eager to point to the reasons I didn’t reach that goal–again.

But this year is different. Oh, I still have many responsibilities beyond writing and speaking–responsibilities beyond my control–but this time I’m committed to doing the work, putting in the hours, and taking the training needed to see those goals through. Please understand, that doesn’t mean I’m determining the outcome. After all, only God is in control. But this year, instead of giving up because my schedule was interrupted–again–I’m committing to simply picking up where I left off and moving forward, in whatever time frame God allows.

I’m accepting the fact that I can’t make anything happen. He’s the One in control of day. I’m only in control of my response to it.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 NIV

So, would you join me? Would you stand beside me, raise your right hand, announce your goals, and then say, “I’ll do the work, put in the hours, and take the training needed…and then trust His will for my life.”

Lord willing, we will write that book, get that agent, finish that article, and see our goals achieved. But know this: Publication is not the be-all and end-all of writing. It’s only one of the MANY ways God can use us and our words for His glory.



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