Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Word From The WORD . . . How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

For most of us, we’re thankful to have the recent season of braggadocio, self-focus, and pride behind us. And for those of us who follow Christ, that season has left us even more aware of the condition of American culture and the depth to which we’ve fallen. It’s been a painful realization.

But the song, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” sung by Nichole Nordeman, provided a tender balm to my heart yesterday. As I sat alone listening to the clearly-rendered words, I was reminded that regardless of the culture, my Heavenly Father loves me, His Son took my sin, and I can boast in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

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Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV)

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

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The Words . . . We Want Peace

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

Peace. Oh, how we want it. We want it in our homes, our families, in our relationships, in our churches, our communities. We want peace in our country.

Broken lives, lost jobs, illness, and death surround us.

Will we ever truly have peace? The Bible is clear that worldly peace will not be possible until Jesus, our Prince of Peace, returns.

Does that mean until His return, we must simply endure the strife and unrest of this world?

No. We simply have to look to the Source of peace. Peace will never be found in our government or our money or our family relationships. True peace can only be found in the hearts and minds of those who know the One who establishes peace.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Regardless of what’s going on in our world, regardless what is going on in American politics, we can have peace. All we have to do is trust in Him Who supplies peace that truly does pass all earthly understanding.

After all, we really do know how the story ends.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . I Was Wrong

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I was wrong.

For the past few months I’ve considered the condition of our world and have been praying for Jesus to return and end the struggle.

I reflected on these words of Isaiah–words that could have been written about contemporary America–and cried out to the Father for the evil to end.

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)

However, the more I cried out to the Father for the hardship to end, the more I realized how self-centered my prayer had been. I know beyond a doubt that if God had answered my prayer as requested, my personal struggle would have been over. I would have been in the presence of my Father, face-to-face with the One who died for me and paid the ransom for my sin.

But what about the others?

What about those who haven’t heard? What about my family and friends who haven’t yet accepted the gift of salvation that is offered to them?

What about yours?

That’s when God showed me that my prayer was wrong. My prayer was all about me and how I wanted to escape the world’s troubles.

I was praying for escape, but what He wants is revival.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

His desire is that we experience revival in our hearts, our families, our churches, our country, and our world. He will return on His timetable, not mine.

And we can be sure the timing of His return will be perfect, not one minute early or one minute late.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)

We should be praying for repentance and revival, not for escape from the world.

Who are you praying for?

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . The Same Jesus

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

Let’s face it, things change, and statistics show that things are changing faster than ever before. Technology has brought an entirely new timetable for the word, new. In many cases, it’s the favorite word of the younger generations.

Nobody wants the same anymore. I admit, I like getting new things, too. But I sometimes miss the dependability and consistency of the same.

A few weeks ago, my pastor at Renovation Church, Jeremy Havlin, was continuing his series, “You Are the Light.” As a church on mission “to build disciples to go make disciples,” we must not only have a real relationship with Jesus, but we must have a heart for the lost. Here are some quotable quotes that I just can’t get out of my mind:

  • Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable; He came to make us whole.
  • The foundation of our belief isn’t a teaching; it’s an encounter with Jesus.
  • We want the God who loves and forgives, but not the God who expects something from us.
  • Follow Jesus, not tradition.
  • Faith must be placed in who Jesus is, not who we expect Him to be.
  • We want our circumstances changed, but He came to change our hearts.
  • How we receive people reveals how we receive the Lord.

And the most powerful one of all:

  • The same Jesus who changed me wants to change others.

The same Jesus. Not the new and improved Jesus or the disposable, throw away one. Not the one who sways with the culture. But our Savior, Jesus, who was and is and is to come.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

” . . . Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

 

Go, and make disciples.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . My Time, My Way, & My Best Interest

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

If everybody would just do things my way, life would be perfect. Right? It’s my way or the highway–or so I thought. I get stuff done in my time, my way, and with my best interest by figuring out just when is my time when now doesn’t seem to be working; what is my way when all paths seem foggy; and what is my best interest when I can’t see the future.

With all the clamor, noise, and jockeying for stuff, I easily lose my bearings. The center of who I am and the focus of what I’m about becomes distorted. Discouragement lurks in the shadows to claim all that I am. When things aren’t working out my way or in my time or even in my best interests, maybe I’ve lost the meaning of the word “my” and to whom it refers.

In Old Testament times, Moses experienced times like these and God sent him into the wilderness to be with the sheep. The clamor of Egypt, gone. The noise of people, diminished. The stuff related to position, eradicated. One day Moses went even further into the wilderness. “He led the flock far into the wilderness” (Ex. 3:1). Silence. Hoof step. Occasional bleat. His mind quiet, focused on one thing—find grazing land.

In the quietness, God called. Maybe Moses’ thoughts weren’t as stilled as they needed to be. God used a spectacular display to catch his attention and speak to him—a burning bush that wouldn’t burn up. In amazement, Moses heard God say what his time, his way, and his best interest was. It wasn’t about Moses at all. It was about God’s plan, God’s time, way and glory.

How often I get wrapped up in thinking my life is about me. Like Moses, if I take time to quiet myself in the presence of God, I learn his plan, his way, and his time. It’s then that I can sync my life with his grand purpose for me, for others, and for God’s glory.

The word “my” refers to God, not me. He knows better than I about time, ways, and what’s best.

Now, where can I find some quiet sheep-grazing land?

Bio: Robin Bryce is a speaker and author. She founded iGETitLIFE to inspire, empower, and challenge Robin Bryce Headshotpeople to grow close to God and develop into the creation God intended. In her twenty-five plus years of ministry, she has held many positions from a spiritual emphasis director, ministry leader, women’s ministry developer, church leadership trainer, and event speaker to a weekly Bible teacher and pastor’s wife. She develops events and programs with humor, wisdom and insight for various venues including businesses, communities and churches. Robin inspires growth and encouragement for leaders, couples and women with her conversational, down-home style. Robin developed the iGETitLIFE Capture Me! programs for small churches and communities that they might have a quality event on their home turf. She is a favorite for business seminars, training events, conferences, church leadership conferences, women’s events, ministry wives seminars, marriage conferences, MOPS, and home school workshops. Her appearances include a Blog Talk Radio Interview, a feature in the Community News local newspaper, and a Caribbean cruise where among other topics, she and her pastor-husband presented a humorous message on marriage.

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Well Done, Woody

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Like many of you, I grew up in church. As a child, Saturday nights were set aside to polish my shoes, wash my hair, and make sure I knew what to wear on Sunday. As a teenager, I carried my Bible into Sunday School and filled out my registration form. As a young adult, I learned all the churchy words.

Yes, on Sundays, I looked like a Christian, talked like a Christian, and dressed like a Christian. Yes, I looked good, smelled good, and was in church every time the doors were open.

But the truth is, if I had died as a young adult, I would have gone to hell. I wasn’t a Christian, I was simply a good Pharisee.

I was the person Jesus was talking about when He said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (NIV)

The will of the Father is not that we wear polished shoes and Sunday clothes and carry a Bible into church when we haven’t opened it all week. His will is not that we walk an aisle, sign a card, and learn a bunch of churchy words.

Without a changed heart, mind, and spirit; without a desire to have the mind of Christ and be like Him; without trusting in His blood and not our good deeds, we’re nothing but Pharisees . . . pious religious leaders who looked good, smelled good, and were in church every time the door was open.

They’re the people Jesus was talking about when He said:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27 (NIV)

Our friend, Woody Brown, died last week after a long, courageous battle. He was a kind, gentle man, a tender husband, loving father, and doting grandpa.

He coached all kinds of ball teams, helped anyone who needed help, and taught middle school boys in Sunday School. No question about it, he was a good man. He looked good, smelled good, and knew all the churchy words. But that’s not all. Woody Brown

He knew Jesus. And Jesus IS all.

Woody’s life was dedicated to sharing the hope, grace, mercy, and love of our Lord. He wanted more than anything to have the mind of Christ, to be the hands and feet of Christ, to spend eternity with Christ and to take others with him.

Woody is the one Jesus was talking about last Thursday when He said:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

Well done, Woody. Great is your reward.

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Lord, I Need You

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

Illness . . . violence . . . death . . . demands . . . Sometimes it seems more than we can bear. And, without Him, it very well could be. But we don’t have to face these hardships alone.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

 

Yes, He cares for all of us, but we can only access His peace and strength when we know Him as Lord and Savior. He is available to us, but are we allowing Him to work through our trials and weaknesses?

As we continue this difficult road with my mother, I’ve found Christian music to be the best way for me to prepare for worship and searching His heart through His Word. This song ministered to me this morning. I hope it ministers to you as well as you listen to the words, take them into your heart, and sing them to Jesus.

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Oh, how I need Him!

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance.

Vonda

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Parting Words From The Word . . . I’m in Over My Head

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As some of you know, my mother had a horrible fall 19 days ago that resulted in days in ICU, then on the trauma floor, then surgery, and eventually discharged to a rehab center to begin her long road to recovery. As is always the case with difficult situations, satan sees this as an opportunity to confuse and confound God’s people. And for a while, he was able to confuse and confound me. But not any more.

Most mornings, I listen to three or four worship songs on Pandora to prepare me for worship before I open His word, listen for His voice, and spend time in prayer. I had already listened to four songs and was ready to turn off the music when I saw the title of the next song, “In Over My Head.”

That was exactly how I felt at that moment: In over my head. I decided I’d listen to one more song. I’m glad I did.

The version I listened to was an 8-minute worship set and I listened to it for almost an hour, drawing closer to the Father with each repeat, claiming the words as my own.

What about you? Have you felt lately like you’re in over your head? Deadlines or debt got you down? Rejections and responsibilities weighing heavy on your heart? Or perhaps you’re like me and watching your parents or children struggle in life. It’s almost more than you can bear.

Would you join me and prayerfully listen to the words of the 5-minute version of this song by Jenn Johnson, offering them as a gift to Jesus, the Healer of all broken hearts?

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After worshiping for quite a while–playing it over and over again–I felt the warmth and healing begin deep inside and work its way to my heart, mind, and spirit.

I realized that the evil one wanted me to dwell on the broken heart and the shock of all that had happened, but Jesus wants me to dwell only on Him, regardless of the circumstances. I gave it all to Him that morning. And every time that snake started replaying the what-ifs, I replayed the song for him . . . and praised God that He alone is in control.

I had to decide I was going to believe our Father who seeks and saves the lost rather than believe the father of lies who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our lives. Powerful revelation!

Then the Lord took me to Isaiah 43:1b-3a.

“. . . Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . .” Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NLT)

Powerful, powerful passage! The “a” and “b” are because He’s speaking to Israel, but since I’m adopted into the family, He’s speaking it to me–and you–when we fully trust Him, let go of the pain, and give it wholly to Him. I could not allow the evil one to win or confuse my heart and my mind any longer.

It’s a beautiful thing to be in over our heads, to lose control. That’s where, no matter whether we sink or swim, it makes no difference. Either way, when we allow Jesus to take over, we’re finally free.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Writing Books is Endless

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s scripture is one of those that has stayed with me as a writer. It’s from the last chapter of Ecclesiastes. Solomon says:

But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

As I read that passage, I was struck by the words, “Be careful, for writing books is endless . . . ”

Uh, can I get an AMEN on that one?

It seems our work is never done, doesn’t it? There’s always another book to write, another article to submit, another devotion to share. Let’s face it, we never finish. As a matter of fact, I told someone today that unless I have something specifically planned, if I’m awake, I’m working . . . because writing books and articles and blog posts and devotions is endless.

Is he saying we’re not supposed to write?

Of course not. Further study helped me see that Solomon was most likely saying something like, “Don’t add to this book. Somebody’s always got another idea. Don’t study a bunch of other people’s opinions. Books are a dime a dozen and everybody thinks he’s got the answer. Instead of wasting your time chasing after every new concept, remember that everything comes back to this: Fear God and obey His commands.”

So even though we often know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has given us something to say, we must always remember that the truth is still the truth. The whole story is this:

            Jesus is God’s Son.

            We are sinners.

            We can’t be good enough to get to heaven on our own.

            We need a Savior.

            That Savior is Jesus.

            He is the sacrifice for our sin.

            He took the punishment we deserve.

Studying and chasing after anything beyond His truth will only wear us out.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Music to Work By

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As you may know, we’re in the homestretch of preparations for the 2016 Christian Communicators Conference, which begins next Wednesday, August 24 and goes through Sunday, August 28 at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. And even though it’s a week of little sleep and lots of heart work, it truly is the highlight of my year. It’s the week I look forward to more than anything . . . once I get there.

I must say, I don’t look forward to the weeks leading up to the conference. They’re hard, long, and involve multiple, endless To-Do lists. Needless to say, some things that aren’t related to CCC just don’t get done. You may have noticed that the past couple of weeks.  :-(

These are the weeks I’m reminded how thankful I am that God created music and gave me ears to hear it. (Well, actually He gave me a solitary ear to hear it with, but He did allow that one ear to hear it very well!) Throughout the day, whether I’m working on emails or appointment schedules or novels or teaching plans, beautiful music, His music helps me stay focused, calms my spirit, and keeps the fiery darts away.

But it can’t be just any Christian music.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to music with words when I’m creating. It doesn’t matter if it’s an email, an appointment schedule, a novel, or a teaching plan, my creativity is stifled by words in music. It’s as though I can’t create words when I’m listening to words others have created.

Which bring me to the topic of today’s post: Music to work by.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you like to have beautiful music–without words–playing in the background while you work. But perhaps you’ve had trouble finding it. Here are my two favorite sources for tender, soothing, music to work by. I hope their music blesses you as much as it does me.

Soaking.net

(Scroll down to Streaming Music Players)

and

 

Bethel Music – Without Words: Synesthesia 2015

 

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Psalm 108:1 NIV

Now go. Create.

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

Vonda

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