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music monday: hold us together by matt maher

Tiffany NicoleComment

When melted butter is needed in baking, it is usually recommended to cut up the stick in to smaller cubes before putting it in to the heat source. This makes it melt faster and who wants to wait when they are in the middle of making some gooey, chocolate brownies? Not this girl. Although while baking the other day, I placed my half stick of butter hastily in to toaster oven without cutting it. As I took it out to cut up because it was taking longer than anticipated, God reminded me that united we stand, divided we fall.

The division of the church and marriage and families and relationships cause the Christian community to falter. It is separation from God  and each other. This is true spiritual warfare. This is the melting of the church.

Dividing makes the church melt faster. Partitions in denominations. Separation of husband and wife. Dissecting economic status. Division is so easy. It is easy to put up walls with a single comment that does not meet your criteria. It is easy to push someone way when they do not meet your standards or leave the church when it does not fit your life style. It is easy to tear down instead of build up.

But ultimately, it is not about who follows Paul or who follows Apollo (1 Corinthians 3:5-9) or whether worship is modern or contemporary or whether your spouse really just did that again. It is about love.

Love makes a shelter. Love brings us together and reunifies. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love means you are never alone. Love makes life worth living and memories worth sharing. There is something so comforting in knowing the gospel and having a relationship with Jesus and seeing the purest form of love (1 John 3:16).

This is the love that Matt Maher is referring to in his song, Hold Us Together. Have a listen. 

And love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm
And I'll be my brother's keeper
So the whole world would know
that we're not alone

It is in this love that unity is made. It is the glue. People from all walks of life are bound together and rooted in the love of Christ.. United we stand. United as the body of Christ. United we are able to change the world for his glory and set the captives free. United we stand in lines at check out and greet the checker with a smile. United we love our neighborhood churches, not decimating because of denomination. United we keep loving our spouse or family or friend not because of anything they have done but because what has been done for us (Titus 3:5). 

Praying that you would be united, first with Christ, and then with you spouse and family and other believers around you. Praying that you would not be divided because of denominations or manmade rituals but would stand united because you know the power of the saving grace that was freely given to you and those around you.

Praying that you would disregard those issues that lead to the separation of Christ and others - malice, anger, gossip - and focus on building up the beautiful, imperfect people who are so intricately placed in your life. Praying that we would be brought to complete unity to let the world know about Jesus (John 17:23).

Here's to grouping and building and growing in unity. Here's to keeping the body together and increasing in the strength and power of Christ. 

music monday: healing begins by tenth avenue north

Tiffany Nicole2 Comments

In our culture, so often when we hear the word neighbor, we think of the person living next to us that we occasionally wave at as our paths cross when we are pulling out of the drive way or grabbing the mail but we usually do not associate the term with family, rather merely as an acquaintance we hardly know. 

Jesus call us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). The word neighbor in the Greek is is plēsion, which is what the New Testament was written in originally. It is referring to those in our  neighborhood but also those who are nearest to us. 

The Blue Letter Bible gives these definitions for plēsion:
·        a friend
·        any other person, and where two are concerned, the other (thy fellow man, thy neighbour), according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth
·        according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet

For most, family is near at one point or another, both physically and/or emotionally. Jesus is calling us to love our family members as ourselves. Relationships are messy. Especially when a lot of people are involved. But there is also a commonality that not found anywhere else. The longevity that has been weaved in and out of memories and years forms a beautiful bond.

God calls us to engage in difficult relationships. To be stretched past what we think we can handle to see how big he really is (Matthew 19:26).  Harboring bitterness, envy, anger is easy. It can be so easy to pit sister against sister and brother against father due to the longevity and history of the relationship. There are a lot of opportunities over the years for bitterness to creep in and frustration to form, whether between a husband and wife or the children. Choosing to forgive and rebuild is harder and is worth more in the end.

It is forgiving those God has put closest to you, who have openly hurt you, whether by choice or indirectly. It is loving them. A sister. Aunt. Mom. Friends. Whomever that may be in your personal community. Loving someone who does not deserve it and perhaps does not want it is what love is all about. That is how God has loved us. That is the change that God puts in us. It is the compassion that God gives towards us towards others, as well as understanding for the opposing view. It is new incite and perspective. It is healing. 

This song, Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North conveys this quite well. Have a listen. 

This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken 
within The light meets the dark

God can do anything, even fix a broken family and all its relationships. I know because he has been mending and shaping and restoring mine. He is still at work and I am excited to see where he will lead us next. 

Praying that God will move in your family and relationships and restore what needs to be restored. Praying for healed hearts and new beginnings. Praying that God will be praised throughout the difficult conversations and each warm embrace. Praying for God to show you what steps to take and guide your heart to truly forgive what or who needs to be forgiven. That you would open your heart and make the choice to make an effort and let God piece your lives back together. 

Here's to healing and new beginnings. Here's to seeing God move in your relationships and choosing to take the harder route.

music monday: hello, my name is by matthew west

Tiffany NicoleComment

There is something almost magical about the day you become a parent.  A certain amount of euphoria mixed with anticipation and joy beyond description. My oldest brother recently had his first baby, which got me thinking about the emotions entailed with this event.

Not knowing when baby will come is all part of the fun, whether via adoption or birth. These days, you get to plan practically neverything. But with babies, most do not get to chose the day of arrival. The excitement builds and the thought, today could be the day, emanates your thoughts. The biggest day of your life. More exciting than Christmas morning as a child. You patiently await the birth of your precious gift that God has graciously lavished on you.

The gift that will change your status to parent and will add family to your description. The gift that changes a room in your home to a nursery and sprinkles it with baby gear.

I cannot imagine how God feels when we turn to him. When we truly turn our hearts to him and become his son or daughter. The bible says that angels celebrate when one sinner turns from his ways (Luke 15:10).

It goes on to say that he has adopted us. We are his children.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1
As I was writing this, Matthew West's song, Hello, My Name is, ran through my head with that verse.  I know, another Matthew West song. He has amazing lyrics, and though he does not frequent my playlist often, the lyrics always stick. Have a listen.

Hello, my name is child of the one true King. I've been saved, I've been changed, and I have been set free. "Amazing Grace" is the song I sing Hello, my name is child of the one true King. What love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called His children. I am a child of the one true King.
The bond between a parent and child is great. How much more so with the creator of the universe who has so intricately made you? Since becoming a parent, my relationship with God has shifted and has allowed me to view him in a different light. Seeing that he really knows best. That he has the best plans there can ever be for my life. Seeing that discipline is necessary and not easy for either party involved. Seeing that my strengths and weaknesses are there for a reason and how to best use them. 

I pray that if you find yourself far from God, that you would see his out stretched hand and his big, warm, fatherly embrace to welcome you back. I pray that if you are a parent, that you would see your children as God views them, as well as yourself. You are unique and your relationship with your child and God is, too. 

Here's to adoption and returning to God the father. And parents and children and loveliness. 

music monday: the stand by hillsong

Tiffany NicoleComment
Learning to stand. Watching a baby learn to stand is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Jude, and his nearly eight month old self, is just about at this point right now. With standing coming, more challenges arise as do the things to get in to. And more ways to attempt to baby proof. Then there is the ever impending fall.

In Matthew, Jesus heals a possessed man. The evil spirits leave him and go in to nearby pigs, which end up jumping off a cliff and drowning in the water below. The man was healed. Pigs were killed. After this happens scripture says:
The whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. Matthew 8:34
The whole town just witnessed a miracle. They met the promised Messiah, yet they pleaded with him to leave. There was no thanking him for healing the man or asking for further teaching or even another miracle. Just a request to leave. The town did now want Jesus among them. They did not care about the healed man. Luke's account of this story goes a bit further stating they wanted him to leave "because they were overcome with fear" (Luke 8:37).

Believing in Jesus can come with a certain amount of fear. What will people think when you start talking about believing in Jesus? What will you have to do? What do you have to give up? What rules do you have to follow? Are you really forgiven? What does this Christianity thing look like?

When everything boils down, Christianity looks like people. It looks like people coming along side one another showing them how to stand. How to stand in the gap for each other and with each other. How to love each other as Jesus taught. How to stand up for what Jesus taught and the things he stood for.

It looks like doing to others as you would have them do to you (Matt 7:12). It looks like you falling and your community being there to catch you when you lose your footing. It looks like them helping you up and showing you where the solid ground is and loving you where you are at. It looks like grace and love and mercy wrapped in a congregation on a Sunday morning. 

I pray that if you have not taken a stand in your faith, that you would ask God to guide you to. To give you the courageousness needed to take the next step. That fear would not have a hold on you but you would cling to hope. I pray you would find a community of believers that you will allow yourself to be just that, yourself - complete with all your messiness and love.

I pray that if you have your community established that you would be in prayer for God to open your eyes for others who do not yet have it. That you would see who God has placed by you, just for the purpose of you coming along side them. That you would give encouragement and answer questions and help build some footing in Christ. 

I think The Stand by Hillsong is fabulous and a great standing anthem. Have a listen. 

I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned in awe of the one who gave it all. I'll stand my soul Lord to you surrendered all I am is yours. 
Here's to standing firm in Christ and in the gap for others. Here's to community and the love and fun that it entails. 

music monday:strangely dim by francesca battistelli

Tiffany NicoleComment

In our modern culture we rush around with phrases like "I am so busy" and "I don't have time," as if we actually are in charge of our short existence on this planet. Everything starts getting complicated from there. Which school to send your child to. Which car will work for your family. Which neighborhood will suit your life style. Which church will meet your needs. The list goes on and on and time is invested in each situation and each decision.

Do not get me wrong, it is wise to consider different factors and weigh out the odds but at the end of the day, if you are truly loving God with all you have, these things fall into place. The decisions unfold and God makes away, even when it seems like it is not possible. If you have spent your time worrying about which house to purchase or focusing on the minute details of the car in question to purchase, you are losing precious time that could have been spent elsewhere. Playing with your toddler. Hanging out with a friend who needs encouragement. Calling your mama. Studying your bible. Maybe even memorizing a verse to help you defer the thoughts.

I recently saw a horrible car crash on the way home. A car flipped and the driver was stuck inside with a police officer standing in front, possibly talking to him. I have no idea if he was okay or not.

The ambulance had not yet arrived on the scene.

 It was at an intersection I frequent almost daily. A crash has never bothered me so much. Prayers are always said in the passing but this time it seemed heavier as we drove past the cars and police and people. Perhaps it was the location. Maybe just a reminder. He could have been on his way home from the store grabbing groceries for dinner or on his way to visit a friend and then crash. I pray he is okay. In a moment everything can change. 

It's funny how simple life really is, yet so sad how much we complicate it. The bible says to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). And there it is. The essence of life summed up in two sentences. Sounds so simple. 

Our days are numbered and our days are so short! Focusing on God allows us to use our time wisely and not worry about the unknown. It keeps our eyes focused on His purpose and






More of Him and less of us and suddenly the things of this world will grow strangely dim and perhaps your busyness will subside, too.

This song by 

Francesca Battistelli sums it up perfectly. Have a listen. 

Perhaps this 8x10 printable of a few of the lyrics will help you keep life in perspective.Click picture to download.