Tag Archives: grace

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,



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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 . . . Set-Backs or Set-Ups?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Our senior pastor at Renovation Church, Jeremy Havlin, said something in a sermon several months ago that has stayed with me. (Actually a lot of things he says stays with me, but this one is always close to my heart.) He said, “Sometimes set-backs are set-ups for greatness.” In other words, sometimes set-backs are set-ups for the next step to something greater than we could possibly imagine.

He went on the say that in living the Christian life, we don’t need to know what’s ahead, we only need to know the next step He wants us to take. Amen.

Now that Gary and I have had the experience of many birthdays, we’re on the other side of life. And even though some people look at that fact with sadness or with a determination to remain young, we both can see the joys associated with living for and trusting in Him over the long haul, in good times and in bad.

Gary’s diagnosis of cancer about 3 months after our wedding; a difficult period in our marriage in which we came close to losing our way; Gary being downsized from his long-term career job just a few years before his planned retirement; a land purchase that fell through after we had already sold our house; rejections of my early writings . . . these were all instances of going through difficulty in order to receive an incredible blessing. In each case, God poured out more blessing than we could have ever imagined!

Please know I’m not supporting a name-it-and-claim-it religion–quite the contrary! After all, John the Baptist was beheaded, many of the disciples were killed, and the martyrs . . . well, they were martyred. Yes, bad things really do happen to good people.

Instead, I’m supporting a believe-in-Him-and-His-Word-regardless-of-what-happens confidence that Our God is in control. Sometimes we don’t live to see the good that comes through our bad circumstances, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good that eventually came from it. We may not even know the good until we reach eternity.

All that to say that we can become so used to His Word that we become underwhelmed by its truth.

For instance, consider Romans 8:28.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

We’ve probably heard or read that verse hundreds of times. Perhaps we’ve read it so much that we’ve lost enthusiasm for its powerful message: God uses all things. Everything. Good and bad. All things work together, and He uses it for our good.

The unpaid bill. The shocking illness. The divorce. The death. All can and will work together for good in some way.

So what set-backs are you facing today? Could they simply be set-ups for something good in the future? Could they be part of the next step He wants you to take?

One thing we can know for sure. Regardless of what happens, it’ll be good in some way.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.




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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Do We Have Instructed Tongues?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Since you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you feel called by God to be a writer or speaker. So when I found this powerful verse in Isaiah, I knew I had to share it with you!

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4

At first glance, this looked like a great verse for us to claim as speakers and writers. But after doing some research, I found that Isaiah 50:4-9 (some commentators say 50:4-11), is the third of four Servant Songs, foreshadowing our Savior, Jesus Christ. And it fits Him so perfectly!

But I must admit I was disappointed that it looked like we couldn’t claim the verse for ourselves.

In the verses prior to verse 4, God is chastising Israel for not recognizing His omnipotence, His power, and His love for Israel. He reminds them that He was not too weak to protect them from their enemies, but that they were the ones who turned away from Him. After generations of rebellion and defiance, God had had enough and had allowed them to suffer the consequences of their choices.

But He also provided the answer to those choices—Jesus, the One who knows the word that sustains the weary. Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name!

And the good news is, as followers of Christ and students of His Word, we are directed to be like Him, which means to shine His light, and to share His saving grace with this lost and dying world. In other words, as we study, as we pray and seek His face, as we confess our sin and meditate on His promises, several things happen:

  • We DO receive an instructed tongue
  • We DO know the Word that sustains the weary
  • We ARE challenged to listen to and follow His words
  • We ARE taught by His Holy Spirit

Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name! So follow, study, shine, pray, confess, and meditate. Then go, write, speak . . . and share the Word that sustains the weary.

It is a verse for us today.

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


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Parting Words From The WORD . . . What I’ll Say To My Children If I’m Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

(Friends, I’m honored to have permission to share this poignant, beautiful post from Cheryl Morgan, a pastor’s wife, mother of six, grandmother of one, and–for eight years–a caregiver for her sweet mama. As a caregiver for several loved ones with Alzheimer’s through the years, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I read her precious writings. Like Cheryl, I’m concerned for my own brain and memory quite often. She wrote this piece for her children and I’m sharing it with mine . . . and with you, sweet friends. Thank you, Cheryl.)

What I’ll Say To My Children If I’m Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

By Cheryl Morgan

I was skimming somCheryl Morgan and her mome other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia. I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy. I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too. And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her. He is developing our tenderness and mercy. God is giving us opportunities to show love to a dear mom who loved us all so well when she was able and strong. He’s sending us smiles and laughter with Mom’s quirky ways and funny words. He’s challenging us to love faithfully when she is angry and difficult.

People with dementia are still people. And God still has a plan for their lives. Even when they are bedridden and can do nothing at all, maybe their very life keeps us clinging to God more. Maybe their very existence draws us closer to God as we seek Him and cry out to Him.

I fear having AD someday myself. (My mind already concerns me too often.) But if that day comes I’m not going to tell my kids, even jokingly, to just shoot me.

What I would say to them is this . . .

Pray and trust God to guide you. Get as much help as you can. I don’t want you to sacrifice your life plans or family for my sake, but I want to always be part of your life.

If you need to find a nursing home for me, I understand. Pray about it and seek wisely. And then visit me often. Even if I don’t seem to know you, believe in your heart that part of me does. Hold my hand and talk to me. Tell me all about your life. Sing to me and read the Bible to me, please. Brush my hair and tell me memories of your childhood.

If I’m still able to chew be sure to bring chocolate. (You know your mom.) And hopefully I’ll have some adorable grandchildren to marvel at.

And don’t forget to take some time to just sit quietly next to me. Hold my wrinkled hand and let God whisper to your soul. I’m so sorry you have to go through this painful journey with me, but God will give you strength and grow you through it all. Hold fast unto Him. Sink deep into His love.

Everything will be better in heaven. Meanwhile, when I can’t talk anymore; just know that I love you forever and that being a mom to you was an honor and the delight of my life.

That’s what I’d say to my children. Oh, and I might throw in a “Be nice to your brother” for old-time’s sake.

Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:21 NIV

Cheryl Morgan headshot

Cheryl Morgan is a Jesus follower, pastor’s wife, mother of six, and a new grandma! She’s also a caregiver to her mom, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for eight years. She writes about this journey at God’s Grace and Mom’s Alzheimer’s because she feels compelled to, and is blessed when she hears from readers that it ministers to them.

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Belated 4th of July Greetings, Call-Outs, & Who Won Felicia Bridges’ Free Book?

American flags

Hello CWD friends! Can you believe it’s already another 1st Tuesday? Let’s start with an oldie but goodie 4th of July tribute to America and offer thanks to our Father for the privilege of living here.


Here is a live official Opry version of Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the USA” at the Grand Ol’ Opry. It still gives me cold chills, even after all these years! Please join me in asking God to continue to bless the USA, but more importantly, that America will turn back to the Father Who has blessed her all these years.

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It’s Time to Share Kudos of YOUR Successes!

Hey there, writing friends. We want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)mogo

PLEASE let me hear from you. We want to celebrate your successes!


Who MoGo’d in June?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in June, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2016 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your June results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in June. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

The year is now half over for this money-winning writing challenge, but don’t worry, the 2016 challenge still has SIX monthly opportunities left for you to enter. Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)


CzechMate Cover Felicia BridgesAnd who won a free copy of Felicia Bridges book, CzechMate?

Random.org selected as the winner…

Judy C. Taylor!

Congrats, Judy! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and preferred email address and the Felicia will get your book right out to you!

And for those friends who didn’t win, I know you’ll want your own copy! Here are the direct Amazon paperback and Kindle links to CzechMate!


Well, that does it for the July installment of 1st Tuesday and Happy Birthday to our beloved America. Please join me in praying that our country would turn back to God so we can continued to be blessed. Thanks for joining me today!

Happy writing, my friends…


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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Jesus Says Some Choice Words About Satan

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Last Sunday, my pastor said something has stayed with me this week. He said, “No matter what the enemy does, our God is faithful.”

That statement was nothing new to me. It’s a known, simple truth among us Christians, and yet, I have to admit that sometimes I act as if my life depends on what the evil one does or says, rather than what our Father promises.

It’s as if I trust the words of the evil one over the words of God.

Satan says we’re unimportant . . . God says we’re so important that He sent His own Son to die in our place.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT


Satan says no one cares . . . God says to give our cares to Him.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. I Peter 5:7 NLT


Satan says we’re not worthy of salvation . . . God says even though we’re not worthy, eternal life is His gift to us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23 NIV


Satan goes to and fro looking for people to devour . . . God says Jesus came to save us.

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. Luke 19:10 NIV


Satan says we have to look out for number one . . . God says we must serve others.

Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 NIV


Jesus shares a few choice words about Satan in the New Testament. He calls him the evil one (Matthew 13:38), the enemy (Matthew 13:39), the prince of this world (John 12:31), and a thief (John 10:10). In John 8:44 Jesus says there is no truth in Satan, that he’s a liar, the father of lies, and a murderer.

But at least seventy-five times throughout those same pages, Jesus Himself says these words: “I tell you the truth . . . ”

Yes, Jesus tells us the truth. And the truth is, Satan is a liar.

Jesus came to seek and to save. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy.

When times are hard and we feel alone, who do we believe? The choice is ours. I pray we choose to know and believe the words of Jesus, because knowing and believing the truth is the only way to recognize a lie.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


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Parting Words From The WORD . . . I Could Sing of His Love Forever

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I love to sing worship. I love the music and the words. But most of all, I love getting to that place where it’s just Jesus and me as I sing my praise to Him.

Sometimes I envision Jesus on the throne and I’m a tiny speck in the throng of worshipers surrounding Him, and yet He makes eye contact with me…and smiles. I see myself and millions of others dancing before Him, celebrating that we’re in His presence.

Other times I’m bowing at His feet with a heart of confession, singing the words of repentance from a contrite heart.

And still other times I can’t sing at all. I’m simply in awe, speechless in the confidence of His presence in my life. Of His grace, mercy, and love…in spite of my sin.

As the song says, “I could sing of Your love forever.”

Quite different from the services I grew up with. Four hymns, three verses each–the first, second, and fourth, of course. We stood for the first three songs, sat for the last.


Nobody dared change or challenge the tradition.

Nobody dared get emotional or feel the words or shutter over conviction. And the service had better end on time, or else. That’s the way it was done. Period.

And yet in John’s vision of the Revelation, he reported:

Day and night they never stop singing: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.” Revelation 4:8b (Good News Translation)

I have a feeling that when we’re there before Him, we’ll be singing more than four songs, three verses. I have a feeling we won’t be standing for three songs and sitting for one.

Instead, I have a feeling we’ll be on our faces one second…and dancing the next, mere specks in the crowd of worshipers. And through it all, Jesus will be making eye contact with each of us…individually…

And smiling.

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


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Parting Words From The WORD . . . God is Greater Than Our Fears

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.


Excuses. As co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, I hear them frequently.

“God can’t use me. I have a terrible past.”

“But I’m not a speaker.”

“Who am I to tell people how to live?”

“When I get my act together, then I’ll be able to speak.”

“I don’t have enough followers.”

“I don’t have a platform.”

“I don’t have anything to talk about.”

“I’ve been a pretty good person. I don’t really have a testimony.”

“I’m scared to speak.”

How many excuses can we give? Well, how many excuses are there? The truth is, for those of us who have given our lives to the Lord and try to live for Him everyday, it doesn’t matter if we’ve been “too good” or “too bad,” there’s not a single “too” that keeps us from ministry.

If we’re honest, we’re probably too fearful. A few weeks ago, my pastor at Renovation Church, Jeremy Havelin, started a teaching series on becoming one. This is his focus because we are in the process of taking two churches and making them one. What an exciting time! It’s a joy to see our Westside building filled with families and men and women and teens and kids and babies as we love and worship our Lord together as one!

Although Pastor Jeremy is teaching on becoming one, his words that day had another application to my heart and mind: Christian Communicators Conference. We’re gearing up for the 7th Christian Communicators Conference and we know from experience that there’ll be ladies there who are fearful.

  • Fearful of speaking
  • Fearful of not measuring up to other women
  • Fearful of being transparent
  • Fearful of stepping out in faith

Pastor Jeremy’s words were perfect for these precious ladies and they’re perfect for you and me: “Know that the greater our God is, the smaller our fears become. Understand that playing it safe is risky.”

Wow. What powerful truth! We know we have a great God, don’t we? Playing it safe is risky when we realize we’re allow fear to keep us from what He has for us to do for His kingdom.

What will you do with your fear? What will I do with mine? Let’s remember how great our God is. We have no reason to fear!

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid. Psalm 56:3-4a (NIV)

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


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Parting Words From The WORD . . . He Precedes Your Every Test

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.
Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Vonda here: I’m thrilled to introduce my friend, Evangelist Aidan McKenzie to you. He’s a dear man of God who has suffered for years from a rare, painful muscle disease that keeps him bedridden much of the time. And yet he sees the medical professionals the Lord has placed in his life as his personal field of ministry. Every time he sends out a testimony of what the Lord is teaching him, Aidan teaches me. If you’d like to receive his encouraging writings, you can reach him at aidanmck [@] aol [dot] com.


“Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” John 6:6

The first man said, “eight months wages . . . is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little,” in order to feed the multitudes (John 6:7). He looked at the situation and concluded that it couldn’t be done because he couldn’t see how; therefore it couldn’t, he wrongly concluded!

The second was a little bit more optimistic. He said there was a lad who had five barley loaves, and two fish, ” . . . but what is that for so many?” He too concluded it couldn’t be done. Why not? Because he couldn’t see how; therefore he wrongly concluded it couldn’t be done.

They both looked at the circumstances logically, and concluded it couldn’t  be done. They excluded Jesus Christ from the circumstance and took the place of the Almighty in their thinking! They failed to relate it to Him who was present. They believed what they saw and not Him who had done so much in their presence previously. They came to the wrong conclusion because they leaned on their own understanding, and when they–and we–do that, they–and we–exclude Him from the scenario . . . and we wrongly conclude, “It can’t be done.” Why not? Because I can’t see how, therefore it can’t be! It is living as though He is not present, able, caring, sufficient. He tested them as He does us and we must remember . . .

In your trial . . .
I may not know how, but I know Whom.

In your trial . . .
He Himself knows what He’s going to do.
That is good news, and meant to bring comfort to our mind and soul.

He precedes your every test . . . He is present in your test . . . He is pre-eminent over your test . . .

He Himself knows what He is going to do!aidan mckenzie headshot 2

Aidan McKenzie
Reconciliation Ministries INC
PO Box 4052
Greenville, SC 29608

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