Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…Making an Idol Out of Hardship

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I spend time with the Lord, there are days when He whispers words of encouragement in my ear, when His love is comforting and validating and full of grace. And then there are the other times.

This week, as I read about idols and the warnings of what they are in our contemporary life, I heard a new definition. As a follower of Christ, I’ve been taught about idols, I’ve been taught not to put my confidence in a thing, position, or person, but to put all hope and rest in Christ alone. But in my study a few days ago, God whispered something new, something I’d never heard before.

Sometimes a conflict is an idol. Sometimes we put our hardships of life on a pedestal, visiting and revisiting it often, making sure we hold it up high for all to see.

The moment I heard it, my heart pounded in reply, “But God, You know what he…”

I can’t even tell you the story because if I’m honest, I know my motivation would be to–again–raise up the conflict and gain sympathy in your eyes.

Father, forgive me.

All that to say, could there be something in your life–something that isn’t a blessing, isn’t money or position or talent–that has become an idol? Has something bad been a way to gain something the world says is good?

Do you have a hardship, a conflict, a relationship on the pedestal?

If so, would join me in knocking it down?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48

Create in me a clean heart, O God…

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…How to Stay Connected in Scuba Diving and in Life

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I used to love scuba and cave diving in the Ichetucknee Springs in Florida. As my body numbed at the frigid spring water, my senses warmed at the brilliant schools of colorful fish. I could see forever! But then we would enter the caves.

Guided only by our flashlights, we floated single file into the deep cavern. Then, as planned, we’d turn out the lights. I remember catching my breath as the blackness enveloped me. But even though I couldn’t see, and felt as if I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t panic.

With my hand tightly wound around the guide rope, I had nothing to fear. I had the lifeline, the communication to the outside world. At the other end of that rope was light and freedom. However, if I failed to hold on to that source of communication, I could be consumed by the darkness. I could even die.

Communicating with God saves us from darkness as well. It leads us to eternal light and freedom…the light and freedom that can only be found in Him.

Communicating with God saves us from the darkness of eternal death.

…my God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

May we walk in the Light today…and everyday.

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…It Is Done or It Is Finished?

jesus holding cross lost seed dot com

I think I’ve mentioned that Gary and I are in the middle of a 18-24 month study of Revelation. It has been an amazing journey, digging deep and learning the details of John’s vision of the Tribulation. Prior to beginning this study, I knew about the Great Day of the Lord, but had no idea of the depth of the horror of it.

Every week has been eye-opening, but none so much as this week’s study of Chapter 16 covering the last seven judgements, the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath. From boils, to blood-filled seas, to blood-filled rivers, to people scorched with fire by the sun, to darkness, and to a dried up Euphrates.

Finally, the seventh angel pours his bowl into the air and:

…out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning , rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed…Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
Revelation 16:17b-19a, 20-21 NIV

A loud voice from the throne shouts, “It is done!” and the earth shakes…And the price is paid for sin.

The power of those words immediately took me back to a similar scene. But at the cross, God’s Son shouts, “It is finished!” and the earth shakes…And the price is paid for sin.

Two three-word sentences that change the course of history. One gives life. One takes it away.

After studying Revelation for almost a year, it appears that the signs are clear and time is drawing near. God is serious. We must be, too.

I love Him because He loved me first, and gave His life for me.

Vonda

(I don’t think I’ve ever specifically asked you to share a post, but would you share this one? Somebody’s eternal life could depend on it.)

Image courtesy of LostSeed.com

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Parting Words From the WORD…We Remember…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As Christians, we know we have been set free. From the moment we truly give our hearts to Christ and seek to live for Him, we know our sins are as far as the east is from the west, hidden beneath the deepest ocean, and no longer remembered by God.

But we aren’t God. We remember. And we hold tight to those memories, giving an ear to Satan and his condemnation. Perhaps you’re like me and have a relative or acquaintance who never lets you forget how miserably you fail at being perfect, like Christ.

Sometimes believers even wallow in the failures themselves, convinced that they are worthless to God because of those failures.

But God has a different plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The scriptures are clear that through Him we truly can be set free.

I once read this short verse about freedom and was surprised that I’d never really considered the power and profound truth it proclaims.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Christ died, was buried, and arose for our freedom from the slavery of sin. Paul instructs us to deny and refuse to carry the burden anymore.

We are new creations, freed from the old, delighting in the new. Praise Him!

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…My Sin Washed Pink?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Some of you may have seen my Facebook post Sunday afternoon. I was praising God for Who He is and what He did in our service Sunday morning at Westside Church in Simpsonville, SC. The Lord moved so powerfully that we simply worshiped and gave testimony to His greatness for the entire service. Pastor Larry Scott had a message, but as God sometimes does, plans were changed.

Our youth had come home from beach camp, on fire for Jesus and sharing that fire with us. The Truth of His Word came through song and the message through praise. The words of one song, At the Cross by Chris Tomlin, spoke so tenderly to my heart. I can’t write the words out here because I don’t want to dishonor copyright law, but here are the words that broke me.

“…where Your love ran red and my sin washed white…”

Did you get that? His love ran RED and my sin was washed WHITE! My sin was washed white, not pink! Not a mixture of red and white, but all white. No guilt. No shame. His red blood didn’t partially cover my sin. I’m not partially clean, but completely, totally, forever washed clean and white! No trying to measure up. No missing the mark and starting over. No disgrace. No fear.

My sin is washed white! Hallelujah!

It’s been over 24 hours since that service, and I still can’t get that song, those words, and that picture out of my mind. My sin…all washed white by His red blood…forever. Thank you, Jesus.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool…” Isaiah 1:18 NIV

Glory to His Name!

Here’s the official video from the Passion Conference 2014. Listen with your heart and your spirit. And then listen again. I can’t imagine anyone not being moved at the reality of our Lord’s grace. We owe it all to Him.

YouTube Preview Image

Glory to His Name!

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…How Good is My Sacrifice?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As we’ve discussed before, I’ve been competitive all my life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leg-wrestling or a game of Pigtail, I WANT TO WIN!

We’ve also discussed in the past how easy it is to get lulled into the lie of a works-grace, especially if we’re naturally competitive and struggle with a check-off mentality. Oh, we know that salvation is only through grace and not something we have earned, and yet, when we least expect it, Satan can ratchet up the pressure and insinuate his lies into His truth.

Yesterday, as I continued my Bible study of Planted: Sit, Stand, and Walk with Jesus , Annie Pajcic addressed the subject of obedience. As I reflected on the topic of obedience, I remembered the story of Saul and how the Lord commanded him to destroy King Agag, all the Amalekites, all their families, and all their possessions.

But Saul had a better idea. Yes, he destroyed all the people, but he captured King Agag. He killed all the Amalekites and their families, but kept the best sheep and cattle. Bottom line, he disobeyed God.

Although Saul defended his actions by saying he did it for the Lord and saved the best animals to offer as sacrifices to God, Samuel responded with these powerful words:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”
I Samuel 15:22-23

Samuel’s words reminded me that all the great things we may do for God don’t count for much if we aren’t sincerely following His commands. Are we following the letter of the law, but ignoring the spirit of it? Are we proclaiming Christ and Him crucified, but finding fault with everyone around us? Are we writing books to change hearts, but hardening our own hearts to the concept of grace for all?

Friends, we can write books and articles, create great programs, visit prisoners, go on mission trips, and give back more than the tithe, but if it’s done with a works mentality and a judgmental heart, if we’re not following the Lord’s commands found in His Word, our sacrifices of talent, time, and money are nothing more than going through the motions.

After all, obedience to His Word is greater than any sacrifice we may offer.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…You Wouldn’t Ask Me To Do That, Would You?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s Parting Words From The WORD is a rerun from March, 2012. I ran across it as I was searching to see if I had addressed a specific verse in a prior post. But when I found this one and read it, I was almost moved to tears…again.

I vividly remember writing the post, and even though more than two years have passed since writing it, it still stirs me from the deepest part of me.

On a day when we remember our freedoms and rights in America, are we willing to give up what we want for what He has for us to do?

What will He ask me to lay down? Will I be faithful to do it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

In Sunday School that morning we studied 1 John 2 and I was reminded again that God called John and Paul and Peter and James to be writers and communicators, just as He has called you and me. Of course, I’m NOT saying our words are the inspired Word of God, but I am saying He put in us everything we need to be able to spread His Great Name through the written and spoken word.

Praise and worship time brought me to that place where I want nothing more than to be in His presence, seeking Him and His will. Then during Sunday morning worship, our visiting pastor, Russ Chambers of Hingepoint Church in CA, challenged us with a powerful message about the cross.

I had had a great morning, starting with Edie’s vivid poem about writing, straight to Sunday School and the reminder that God had called me to write and speak, just as He called the scribes of His Word, right on to anointed worship before the Lord, and then to Russ’ message, to which I could nod my head and my heart in agreement.

But then Russ said, “Our personal preferences have to die.”

In that very moment, my writing and speaking and teaching and singing and acting flashed before me. A catch gripped my heart and mind. Surely He would never ask me to lay THAT down on the altar…would He? After all, He’s called me, gifted me, ordained me if you will, to be a communicator of the Truth of His Great Name!

But…what if…my goodness, I can hardly say it…what if He asked me to lay it all down?

I admit, I’ve had fleeting thoughts along those lines through the years, but it’s usually just that–a fleeting thought. After all, why would God choose us…only to later UNchoose us to be writers and speakers? But this time the possibility was real, more urgent, more in the moment.

Even as I write this, I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept. But as one who loves the Creator and all it means to call Him Lord, I have to accept that the day could come when He says,”It’s over.”

It scares me how much that thought scares me.

Oh, I can speak in my spiritual voice and say yes, we must be willing to lay everything down for Him and His sake. And I believe it with as much belief as my heart can muster. But if I’m honest–which I’m trying to be here–I hope He doesn’t ask that of me. The truth is, I don’t want to lay it down.

After all, as Edie so brilliantly wrote, “I write because I must.”

But as God clearly showed me this weekend, I cannot let my preference for and my joy in writing or speaking or acting or singing or teaching determine what I will or won’t do with my life.

I have to remember I’m merely a sinner, saved by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The time He has given me to be a writer or speaker or anything else could very well come to an end. But that wouldn’t mean my life as a useful tool of God would be over.

It would simply be the beginning of another new thing.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts…regardless of what He has for you–and me–to do,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Amazing

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I’ve mentioned recently that I’m doing the Bible study, Planted, by Annie Pajcic and I’m really enjoying it. Lots of insight into Psalm 1:1-3 and how we’re to sit, stand, and walk with Jesus.

And although every day’s lesson is great, yesterday’s was especially tender. I knew immediately I wanted to share it with you!

Annie shares how Robert McGee’s book, The Search for Significance, changed her life by helping her see who she was in Christ, that appearances and approval of others have no bearing on her worth. And they don’t determine our worth, either.

Then she quoted Romans 5:8 from The Message:

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8 (MSG)

“God put his love on the line…sacrificial death…while we were of no use whatever to him.”

I’ve heard that verse all my life. Memorized it as a young girl in GAs. Proclaimed it as a speaker and teacher. But never have I grasped the concept as completely as I did when I read it this week.

I was of no more use to God than a clump of South Carolina red clay, but it was at that very moment…in all my filthy uselessness…that He sacrificed His precious Son for me.

Amazing.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Thanking God for You

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I write this, it’s been another busy day…week…month…and year. And yet, I’m encouraged every day by your kind words and comments. I know there are those who wonder why we work so hard for so little.

But it’s just not something we can explain, is it? We work together to grow each other as writers and speakers. We work together to grow in faith. And we work together to grow in love.

(I hope you don’t mind my taking the liberty to add the word, sisters, to the verse below. I know that’s Paul’s intent.)

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers [and sisters], and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

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Parting Words From The WORD…Words Encourage Others

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As you read this, I’m on a personal writing retreat with my friend and fellow writer, Robin Bryce. We’ve been working on a co-authored book for at least three years now, but between our own illnesses, caregiving, unexpected family responsibilities, busy schedules, and interruptions, we still haven’t finished.

And it won’t be completed this week.

But praise God, His written Word is complete. He spoke it and men transcribed it thousands of years ago, in order to give us hope and encouragement today.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

And praise Him that our written words, transcribed today, may give hope and encouragement to others in the future.

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

Vonda

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