Category Archives: Parting Words from The WORD

Parting Words From The WORD…Majesty, Majesty

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I have the joy of being at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville again this week. I can’t believe it, but this is our 6th Christian Communicators Conference and when we include our two Advanced conferences, this make our 8th! My goodness, how time has flown!

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has flown by. I often wonder how different my life might be if I had continued fighting with God, never submitting to His plan for a new, unique speaker’s training conference. I’m thankful He stuck with me. It’s been an exciting, scary, life-changing journey for me and for others.

But the more I consider what God has done, the more I realize what a small part I am of it. I have nothing to offer but my flawed, sinful self. If there is any gifting or talent, it came from Him. If there is any good in me, it is Him. On my own, I’m weak and empty-handed. I have nothing to offer. But praise Him, He loves me anyway.

As usually happens, the weeks leading up to the conference have been crazy. Simply too much to do and not enough time to do it. I have to admit that when I walked into the service Sunday morning, my mind wasn’t ready. Instead of calming my spirit and going straight to that place of worship, my heart and mind continued to work on my mental and written To-Do list.

But within minutes, the truth of the words on the screen cut through my fog of too much stuff and spoke to my fretful heart.

Majesty.

Soon my mind was quieted, my heart was at peace, and I was moved to real worship, acknowledging how great He is and how small I am. I may be empty-handed, but in His hand, I’m alive.

Written by Martin Smith and Stuart Garrard, this song says it all. It ministered to me again today as I wrote this post. I hope it touches you as well.

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Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
Psalm 104:1

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

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…The Culture is Out of Control, But the Earth Isn’t

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

It only takes a moment of watching the news, listening to the radio, or reading the headlines to know our culture is out of control. People are out of control.

More than ever, we’re in an “If you think it’s okay, it’s okay” mindset. But we know that’s not what the Bible teaches.

In studying prophesy fulfilled and yet to come, we see–and God’s Word proclaims–that God is in total control. Nothing takes Him by surprise, not even the bad stuff.

In Isaiah 41, Isaiah relays these words of God:

“Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness in his service?
He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.
He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.
Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord–with the first of them and with the last–I am he.” Isaiah 41:2-4

Just as God used Pharaoh by hardening his heart in order to show His greatness to His people through the plagues in Egypt, God used Cyrus the Great, King of Persia to conquer Babylon in 539/538 BC, ultimately freeing the Jews to return to Jerusalem after the exile of 586 BC.

And here’s the really amazing part: This passage of prophesy in Isaiah was written 150 or more years before it happened!

Was the slavery of the Jews under Egyptian rule a horrible experience? Yes. Was the exile to Babylon of the Southern Kingdom of Judah a devastation to them? Of course.

Did any of it take God by surprise? No. In fact, He not only used the leaders of nations to accomplish His perfect will, but He put them in that very place of power in order to orchestrate His perfect plan.

Wow.

So as we watch the news and listen to the radio and read the headlines of the wrong called right and the right called wrong, remember that although the culture may be out of control, the earth isn’t. God is still on the throne, orchestrating His perfect will for His people. His Word has proclaimed it for thousands of years…and it will be done.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Entangled or Established?

Today I’m honored to have Edie Melson as a guest for our Parting Word From The WORD. It’s a lesson I needed to hear, and I think some of you might need it as well. Thank you for joining us, Edie.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Entangled or Established?

By Edie Melson

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

 

I tend to be just a bit ADD when it comes to life. (I’m like the dog in the movie UP…”Squirrel!”) The problem with me isn’t just purely distraction. Instead it stems from several things, not the least of which is the fact that I enjoy doing a lot of things.

I love to write, read, hang out with friends, knit, craft—the list goes on and on and on.

But the fact that I love so many things has often led me astray. I’m easily distracted and confused.

In the past I’ve gotten off-track because I’d mistaken doing something well with being called to do something.

To keep myself out of trouble and focused on what God has called me to do I’ve had to learn to walk closely with Him.

I’ve had to make certain my relationship with God is established, lest I risk getting entangled in something He hasn’t called me to do.

I’ve learned that the evil one loves nothing better than catching me unaware and entangling me in his worldly priorities.

This has proved the case for my spiritual life—whether or not a agree to do something at church or in ministry. It’s been true with my friends and family—I have to guard those relationships that God has given me as a priority. And it’s especially been important in my writing life—I’ve had to learn to say no to the good to make sure I have time for the best.

I’ve learned that the evil one loves nothing better than catching me unaware and entangling me in his worldly priorities.

The phrase that I have taped to the top of my desk is this:

Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

How about you? Am I the only one who’s easily distracted? What do you do to stay established and avoid becoming entangled?

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Parting Words From The WORD…Are We Capable of a Good Work?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

We walk a fine line in this me, me, me world of self esteem. Yes, we must have confidence in who we are and what we’re able to do. After receiving Christ as our Savior, we must not wallow in the guilt of the past, but hold onto the value He placed on us through His death on the cross.

But at the same time, we often see self-absorption and self-proclamation, even among Christians. Where is the line?

After all, in Philippians, Paul tells Timothy (and us) that we are capable of a “good work.” Are we?

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

The key is this: Who we are depending on for that good work? After all, we’re gifted to do certain things. Is that grounds for pride?

I do believe we can have confidence as Christian creatives. But unlike the world who focuses on the power of self, we have a powerful Cornerstone…and it isn’t us.

Our confidence doesn’t come through our abilities to complete our calling. It comes through our recognizing Who has supplied what we need to complete it.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Follow the Light

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

A friend and I were talking recently and she asked my motivation for writing my children’s mystery, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island. It was an easy question to answer.

I had gone to Hilton Head because I was considering setting the 3rd of my Bitsy mysteries on that island. As usual, my research included visiting the local museum. I was immediately drawn to the loggerhead turtles and their innate knowledge as newly-hatched babies to turn toward the light of the moon and walk toward it as it reflects off the ocean…leading the fragile baby turtles to safety.

My mind was racing as my heart considered the many spiritual applications of such a powerful truth. After all, it’s His Light that saves us all! But when the curator saw my eyes light up, he said something like, “Isn’t it amazing that evolution has allowed these creatures to know how to get to safety?”

I smiled and said, “Oh, but it’s not by evolution, it’s by the hand of God. He created them that way!”

The curator gave me “the look.” You know the one. The look that says, “You poor, ignorant child. How can you believe such nonsense? Don’t you read?”

But my confidence wasn’t swayed then and it will never be. After all, I know the Truth. I read the Book. I not only read it, but believe it and hold it securely in my heart.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses…
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
Psalm 33:6-7, 9 (NIV)

The Lord is not only the Creator of the world and all that is in it, but He is the creator of our salvation. Following His Light is the only way to safety.

I had to tell the children.

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Whispers

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(I’m in Texas visiting with friends, but didn’t want to miss an opportunity to encourage you this Friday morning. So I pulled out this oldie but goodie. It encouraged me then, and I hope it encourages you today.)

We all hear them–whispers. God’s word tells us that two sides whisper in our ears:

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts… Psalm 36:1 (NLT)

Then, Jesus says in the New Testament:

What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Matthew 10:27 (NLT)

Two sides. Good and evil.

Which are we listening to today?

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…A Word Fitly Spoken

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I was studying this week, I came across a verse I’d heard since I was a teenager, but had never really meditated on as an adult.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV)

“A word fitly spoken….”

I immediately thought of the many…many…MANY words I’ve spoken that could not be labeled fitly or aptly spoken. And for some of them, I’m still paying for that failure.

Back when God first took me on this journey of obedience with Him, I read and studied a variety of passages that talked about the power of the tongue. I realized then that even though the tongue is a little thing, it can be a tool for good or for evil. It can heal or hurt…build up or tear down…encourage or discourage.

The tongue can carry the power of life, especially in relationships.

I’ve had relationships saved and mended with the use of good words, quality words, aptly spoken words. And I praise God for them.

But I’ve also had relationships damaged–sometimes beyond human repair–all because of my hurtful, unmonitored words. For those, I’ve asked forgiveness and pray God will heal where my words have hurt.

So my challenge to each of us today, especially as speakers and writers, is that we will be committed to spreading The Word, His Word, through aptly spoken words of love.

After all, those are the words He speaks to us day after day–life-giving words.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…It’s Summertime, the Livin’ Isn’t Easy, But Have No Fear

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I remember the carefree childhood days of summer in the ’50s and ’60s. Nothing to do but sleep late, ride bikes, and play in the creek. No deadlines. No schedules. No emails or phone calls or text messages reminding me to do this or plan that or show up for the other.

No worries of life or death or the future. But it’s not the ’50s and ’60s anymore, and what we face today certainly isn’t child’s play.

It’s serious stuff.

It only takes is a quick look at recent headlines to see the current condition of our world. It’s disheartening, to say the least. As a matter of fact, I originally began itemizing the issues here, but quickly realized that the simple act of listing them provided a route of sadness straight to my heart.

The truth is that left unguarded, our hearts can be consumed with fear.

But praise God, just as we had no fears of life or death or the future when we were kids, God’s Word makes it clear that as believers we have no reason to be sad or fearful today.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 (NIV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:39 (NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:14-15 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

I especially love the last verse, spoken by our Savior, Jesus Christ: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In other words, yes, He tells us there will be hardships, struggles, conflicts, and hate, but praise Him, He has already overcome it all! Yes, the the struggles of being a Christian in this world may be difficult and sometimes scary, but we can have confidence that there’s no reason to fear.

Amen and amen!

As Rabbi Jonathan Cahn recently said, “Outside of Him, there is no safety. Inside of Him, there is no fear.”

I pray these words encourage us all to remain inside of Him, where there is NO fear…

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The Words of Jesus: Live Brave, Love Big

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

For many of us, this is a difficult season. In relationships, in the culture, in our families, in our churches, our schools, and throughout the world, we’re experiencing conflict, hardships, frustration, shock, despair, and heartbreak.

We’re told we should think this way or act that way or feel some other way. But regardless of what we think, act, or feel, one thing remains constant: The Truth is always true.

As I searched for Scripture to comfort and strengthen me, I realized many of Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples as He sent them out in Matthew 10, are fitting words for us as His disciples today.

(NOTE: Studies have shown that Christians are notorious for not reading long passages of Scripture printed in text. Once we start reading, we recognize the passage and think we already know it. PLEASE read this passage slowly, take it in, and then apply the verses to your life and our world today. I pray it will bring you the comfort, strength, and insight it gave me.)

Do you see yourself in these words from Jesus?

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!

“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:16-28 and 32-39

How does that sound when compared to the events of our world, relationships, and family today? It certainly reminds me that regardless of how things look, God is still in control.

I think His words for us today would be: “Live brave. Love big. I told you it would be this way.”

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Love Your Enemies

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“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…” Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

(SC State Flag honoring the nine worshipers lost at Emanuel AME Church, created by Gil Shuler Graphic Design, Mount Pleasant, SC. Used by permission.)

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