Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Hello. My name is Vonda, and I am a procrastinator.

But even though I admit to being a procrastinator, being terribly unorganized, and having difficulty staying focused, that doesn’t mean I’m lazy or that I don’t get anything done.

The truth is I’ve tried goal setting, pep talks, berating myself, making schedules, setting timers, and turning off social media. But still, at the end of the day I often have little to show for all the great plans I had at the beginning of it.

I have to admit, the repeated frustration with all the real life interruptions has now encased me in procrastinator mode. I mean, why should I even try to work on that book-of-my-heart? My plans will just be interrupted anyway.

Besides, I’ve always said I couldn’t write in short segments. I’m a block-out-a-big-chunk-of-focused-time kind of writer.

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As Christians, we are held to a higher standard. After all, we must strive to shine the light of Jesus in every situation for the sake of the gospel, regardless of what happens. It’s often a difficult standard to uphold.

A friend of mine, a Christian speaker and writer, had such an experience this past week. She was attacked publicly for something that occurred through no fault of her own. She was innocent of any wrongdoing.

It would have been easy–and even acceptable–for her to stand her ground. She could have listened to the world as it encouraged her to defend herself and stand up for her rights.

But she didn’t. Instead, she took on the image and mind of Christ, a humble servant willing to suffer loss.

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Let’s face it, there are some special benefits to being a writer, whether published yet or not. One is that we can often get copies of books, signed and personalized to us by the author.

Another plus is that sometimes we have the opportunity to sit down with authors and ask for clarification and enlightenment, receiving wisdom and revelation about our shared love of writing. (And the opportunity is almost guaranteed when we attend writers conferences!)

What a blessing to have these published books, signed by the authors, and the potential opportunity to sit down and actually talk with them, picking their brains and discovering how their lessons might benefit us and make a difference in our own writing lives.

I’ve been fully aware of those benefits for quite some time, but I must admit, I’d never considered the following point about books and authors and autographs and conversations until my pastor, Larry Scott, brought up this point in a recent sermon:

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Last Sunday night I had the joy to sharing a devotion with the AWANA kids at our church. It’s an honor to be able to bring the Word of God to the little children that Jesus instructs us to be like!

I never know what God is going to allow me to share with them. There isn’t a topic list to follow or a calendar of lessons, at least not in our church. Instead, it’s similar to what God does every week with Parting Words From The WORD. I simply share something from what the Lord is doing or has done in my own life. This week’s AWANA message was no different.

As I considered what God has been teaching me through our church-wide Bible study, 40 Days in the Word by Rick Warren, I realized the lesson was something even a child could understand:

We’re not only to love the Word and learn the Word, but we’re to live the Word as well. We’re to apply it to our own lives, giving it permission to change us from the inside out. That’s what scripture has done and continues to do in me.

I remembered–and shared with the children–the first time I found Romans 12:18.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NIV)

God showed me that verse and its application to my life way back in 1982 or so when I truly gave my life to Him. I had been in church all my life, walking an aisle at 9 years old with a Bible that carried no meaning, and walking out the door the same way I came. But about 25 years later, after God truly entered my heart and mind, the Bible had new meaning, and this verse was an integral part of the change.

Simple, straightforward, as if written for a child, this verse showed me the responsibility we all have to work toward peace with others. As one who had a sharp tongue and a judgmental heart, this truth was a new concept to me.

Live at peace? With everyone? Not one-up-man-ship? Not cutting others down? Not proving I can do it better, faster, prettier than the next guy?

Romans 12:18 became my guiding verse for that first year or two as I began to learn the art and heart of gentleness. Notice I say I began to learn it. I’m sorry to say, it will be an ongoing, lifelong process for me.

But the good news is, through that verse, God’s Word made a direct, visible change in my life…just as it should.

I shared Romans 12:18 and several other verses with the AWANA kids, and they got it. They easily grasped the concept of loving, learning, and living the Word by applying it to their lives.

What about you? Can you point to a verse in God’s Word that had a life-changing effect on your heart, mind, and spirit? If so, I’d love for you to share it here. Who knows–it could be a life-changing verse for someone else.

And today, as I ask God to bless the work of your hands and your hearts, I’m also asking Him to bless you with peace…at least as far as it depends on me.

Vonda

(Image art courtesy of Robert Wilson Fine Art)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I love how God shows us stuff from His word and then allows us to encourage others with the very thing He’s just shown to us!

Our church is currently doing Rick Warren’s 40 Days in the Word: Love the Word. Learn the Word. Live the Word. In my quiet time this week, I was reading the miracle of the loaves and fishes again. Each week’s lesson uses a different technique for memorization, understanding, and application of the Word. This week’s technique instructs us to read a specific passage of scripture, insert ourselves in the story as various characters, and then envision the story as a movie we’re in. (I love that part since that’s one of the ways I teach writing!)

Then it asks how the passage applies to our lives, and what are we–what am I–going to do about it.

I envisioned myself as the little boy with the lunch. I had the lunch that day only because my mom had made it for me. Nothing I did created the miracle.

At that point, I realized that even though the little boy was a huge part of the story, he was only a conduit for the delivery of the miracle. He wasn’t responsible for feeding all those people. He was only responsible for giving to Jesus what had been given to him.

The truth is, Jesus could have done that miracle with the lunch or without it. But He chose to use that little boy to make it happen.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Mark 6:41 (NIV)

What a great reminder to all of us as speakers and writers! We all have gifts and talents. Not because of anything we did, but because they were given to us, just as the lunch was given to the little boy.

It’s our responsibility to turn around and give them back to Him to use as He sees fit. And, like with the loaves and fishes, Jesus can use us as conduits for the delivery of miracles.

What miracle might He do with our paltry gift offerings? Those things that were given to us?

We don’t know. All we know is that we’re to be prepared, go, and give…and He’ll take care of the rest!

Now what are we going to do about it?

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

Vonda

(Image art courtesy of Robert Wilson Fine Art)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

In the past few weeks I’ve heard from quite a few writers and speakers who admit that conflict has moved in and taken hold of their lives. These aren’t nominal Christians who don’t know His word, don’t know the power He holds in His hand.

And yet, they’re struggling.

I’ve been there, too.

Maybe today you’re of those friends. Maybe you’re going through a conflict with your significant other. Maybe you have more questions than answers right now about what you’re supposed to do in a situation with your mate, your children, your job, or your ministry. I’m thankful that even in the midst of the conflict, we serve a God of peace.

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

As children of the Most High God, let us claim His peace and receive His wisdom, regardless of what we’re facing this week.

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

Vonda

(Artwork courtesy of Robert Wilson Fine Art)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Ice skate microsoft imagesThe Olympics have just ended, so this is the perfect time to share a special Parting Words From The WORD… blog post with you, written by my friend, Lynn Blackburn. I know it’s much longer than our usual Friday posts, but after reading it, I knew I just had to share her encouraging words here. Thank you, Lynn.

Friends, are you weary? Ready to give up? Or do you know someone who is? Either way, this post is written for you.

Because the Second Half is Exhausting, by Lynn Huggins Blackburn


I love figure skating. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Winter Olympics, right up there with curling, because let’s face it, curling is cool.

Anyway.

Figure skating has seen its share of drama, some of which led to a complete overhaul of the scoring system a few years ago.

Now, the skater sits in the “kiss and cry” section and waits with their coaches for the score. A voice comes over the speaker and says, “The score, for fabulous skater from cool country is, 63.7.”

It really lacks the drama from the old days. You remember how it went, don’t you?

5.8 (dramatic pause)
5.7 (dramatic pause)
6.0 (wild cheers from the crowd)
5.3 (hissing and boos)
5.8 (skater bursts into tears of joy or grief)

Yeah, those were good times.

Anyway.

I have to confess that I don’t understand the new scoring system, but it has one feature I find fascinating.

Skaters can earn bonus points.

Each jump is given a certain number of points, and when they land that jump, they get those points. But if they land that same jump after the halfway mark of their program, they get a bonus.

Because it’s a lot harder to land those jumps when you’re tired.

Oh baby, don’t we know it.

We take the ice and we’re skating our hearts out, but somewhere along the way, everything gets harder. Legs tremble. Breaths spasm through our chest. Arms quiver. We try to maintain our form, our speed, because there’s more to come. More twists and spins. More fancy footwork. More jumps.

It’s exhausting.

If this makes perfect sense to us when we think about an ice skating routine, why do we forget it when it comes to this crazy free skate we call life?

We started out great. We opened our hearts to people in need. We sacrificed—our time, our money, our desires—for the sake of the Gospel. We knew He had a great plan even when it didn’t make sense. Then it got harder, and for some reason, this shocks us.

Every. Single. Time.skate on its side microsoft

We’re struggling to get enough oxygen to our brain to think clearly, and we can’t figure out what happened. When all that happened is we got tired. We’ve been at this for a while, and it’s exhausting.

This idea has been spinning in my brain for the past week as I near the end of an unplanned free skate. After weeks of demolition and construction, we are in the final stretch. When the last pile of sawdust is swept away, my home will be more beautiful than it was before.

But it’s been exhausting, and even though I can tell from the music that it’s almost over, I’m faltering. I’m not sure I’ve got another jump in me.

So when a friend shot me a text this morning, reminding me that this is just a slice of time, that this will end, and that it won’t be like this forever, it came as both a gentle reproof and a much needed boost to my morale.

And it got my mind twisting a little more. Because if you’re reading this, I know you’re in one of two places. Maybe even in both at the same time.

1. You’re exhausted. You’ve been pursuing the dream, the friendship, the child, the spouse, the number on the scale, or the boss you can’t please, and you’ve got nothing left.

If this is you today, can I remind you that Jesus is the one who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Your fatigue doesn’t shock Him, and He’s not looking down on you in disgust, wondering how you could be so weak. He likes weak, because when we recognize our weakness, that’s when His strength can pour through us. In His strength, not our own, the jumps we land near the end of the program will be the ones that glorify Him most.

2. You know someone who is exhausted. The friend who gave up her bedroom to care for an aging parent a year ago. The co-worker who’s wondering if the cancer treatment is going to save her life or just kill her faster. The couple who’ve been waiting a decade to announce a new baby. The family who opened their home to foster or adopt. The people next door who don’t know if they’ll be able to pay the power bill. Or maybe it’s closer to home. Maybe it’s the spouse who dreads leaving for work each day, or the child who withdraws more every week as she navigates high school.

They need someone to remind them that it’s okay to be exhausted. It’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to need help.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that since they’ve been “handling” this situation so well for so long, that they don’t need anything. Recognize that they are operating in bonus point territory. If there’s a way to provide tangible assistance, by all means, do it. Take them a meal or take their kids for an afternoon or invite them to a movie. Call them or text them with a little bit of perspective, even if it scares you to do it, because it may be exactly what they need.

No matter what, pray for them. Better? Pray WITH them.

Maybe you could pray this…

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV, emphasis mine)

Lynn Blackburn headshotBIO: Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about living life at the intersection of fear and faith on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and Cross ‘N Pen Writers. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.

(Skate images courtesy of office.microsoft.com)

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Parting Words From the WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

A few years ago I was introduced to a video that was on a friend’s blog. Even though I had heard “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” many times before, it was the first time I had really listened to the Casting Crowns lyrics. As I watched the words flash across the screen, my heart was broken for my more-often-than-I-want-to-admit failure to be like Christ.

One line in the song, written by Mark Hall and Matthew West, gripped me at my core, stabbing me with the reality of my own sin.

Could it be possible that I’ve tripped up someone who was on his or her way to Jesus?

I immediately envisioned the faces of those who’ve struggled to believe in a loving God because of my actions or my words. Where possible, I’ve asked them for forgiveness. Some have granted it; others, I’m sad to say, have not.

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I love how God’s word is not only a message of love, grace, and mercy, but it’s also applicable to real life. I had another blessed time of applying His word this past week.

As many of you know, we usually open Christian Communicators Conference registration the first week of February. That had been my goal again this year, but between family illness, some medical testing of my own, ministry, computer issues, and other urgent deadlines, it just wasn’t happening.

And then the snow storm came.

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

The Winning Step Awaits, by Cathy Baker


“It took bravery on my part to take the
first step, so tonight is not the winning step. The winning step was the first one.”
David, runner up for The Biggest Loser 2014

Perhaps it was the timing of his statement that caused me to drop my 3 point-worthy Bagel Thins and pick up a pen instead. Thanks to Vonda, author Dave Weiss’ post Your Muse is DEAD had been raising its hand for my constant attention all day long:

“Inspiration is not something to wait for, it’s something to seek. It’s not some wispy goddess who capriciously decides to withhold your creativity. The muse is dead, actually she was never alive. Most of inspiration is work.” Dave Weiss, AMOKArts.com

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