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trials

music monday: cast my cares by tim timmons

Tiffany NicoleComment

Penny had fallen asleep in the car, so we transferred her straight to bed, without changing in to her jammies. When she woke to use the bathroom, she noticed and wanted to change and asked for help. Half way through, she had a change of heart and wanted no help. In her tired state of mind, she decided to do it by herself, putting back on the clothes from the day.

With frustration, she proceeded to put her shirt on upside down, inside out and backwards. As she cried, stating she needed no help and could do it herself, I waited.

And God reminded me of how often we say we will follow him and cast off our old selves, only to be held in bondage by the days past. How we willingly go back to our sin. We go back to trusting ourselves to knowing what is best for us, instead of trusting God; thus make a mess of things as we meander through it all. Instead of putting off the old self and the things that hinder, we hold them tighter and mix them up with things of God. For when we are in that place, we cannot hear wisdom or guidance from God or others. And in some cases, doing whatever we are doing all in the name of Jesus.

Penny proceeded to tell me to go away please, that she did not need me. I asked if she was sure. And she assured me she was, as she laid on the floor with a mess of clothes.

And like that, we tell God we don't need him either. He can go away because we are good. We are good doing our own thing. We don't need anyone to help. But we do. We need God. We need him to come in and show us how to let go. How to transform our old self in for his purposes and take our brokenness and use that for his glory. How to cast our cares to him and trust him. Truly trust him.

Cast Your Cares by Tim Timmons fits here. Have a listen.



I will cast my cares on You the almighty
I will cast my cares on You 'cause You're good
I will cast my cares on You 'cause You love me, You love me

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Praying that you would fully cast your cares God. That you would cast off everything that hinders you and the sin that so easily entangles. Praying that instead of seeking self reliance that you would seek dependence on God. Praying that you would continue to be renewed and revitalized in your walk with Christ and not be held in bondage from the past. That you would seek the things of his kingdom and his teachings above the world.

Here's to casting off the old for new.  

music monday: here i am by downhere

Tiffany NicoleComment
A friend was recently admitted to the hospital due to pregnancy issues. After my immediate shock and sadness for her, my second thought was how exciting that God is moving her family in to a new place to minister. Not a place they chose to be but a special place none the less because God chose it just for them.

So often people consider missionaries only as those who go overseas but we are called to minister to those around us.

Jesus' ministry was organic. It was those around him that he taught and blessed and healed, as he traveled and ate and roamed. He did not first go to the women's ministry meeting and then to the men's and children's and the youth group. He taught to those around him and went where others asked him to go. The woman at the well (John 4). The home of Jairus (Matthew 9). The centurion (Matthew 8).

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.ā€ Acts 1:8

Yes, ministry is important in regards to our culture and church context and God calls us to join certain ones and lead in that aspect for a season but our lives are our ministry. The school your child attends. The office you go to daily. The library you frequent. The parks your child plays at. The coffee shop that supplies your daily pick me up. These are the organic relationships that have potential to change eternity. To give hope. To give a future.

You may never be called overseas to teach about Jesus to another culture but God may call you to a mission field you never imagined or wanted. A new cubicle after being let go from a company. A hospital bed after a diagnosis. A visitors pass to a prison. A frequenter of a cemetery.

These are mission fields. And they need you at the perfect time God calls you to them. Here I am by Downhere, fits accordingly. Have a listen. 




Here I am, 
Lord send me 
All of my life, 
I make an offering


Praying that you will see past the mirage of what a missionary should look like in the present day and instead would see the beauty in the heart of the calling Jesus offers. Praying that the holy spirit would guide and direct and give instruction as to where to stop and what to say and what to do. Praying you would enjoy the leading and following of the relationship and would walk in obedience to follow. Praying that you would follow the prompting to ask the mom at soccer practice if you can pray for her or to pay for the elderly woman's grocery that is behind you or writing an encouraging note and sending it in the mail. Praying you would follow the teeny Spirit inspired thoughts that come up throughout the course of the day that do not make sense at the time. 

Praying that you would trust God to show up in the midst of these promptings that you do not understand because his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Praying you would put your faith on your sleeve and bring glory to God.


Here's to your status as a missionary. Here's to prayers and blessings on the field that you are currently serving. 

And a little 8 x 10 printable as an encouragement in the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8). Click to download. 


music monday: strong enough to save by tenth avenue north

Tiffany NicoleComment

We sat playing inside the house listening to thunder and the patter of rain drops falling on the roof, until we heard the loud taps come. We raced to grab our shoes and rain coats and quickly opened the door. I did not want Penny to miss it. She had never before experienced hail, that I could recall. We walked out the back door and starred just as the last of the hail fell and the rain subsided. We turned our eyes to the ground to pick up some pieces and marvel at God's handiwork. 

Hearing thunder and seeing lightening and watching hail fall from the sky always reminds me of how big God is. The unknown timing of the thunder takes me by surprise and the sheer volume startles from time to time. A lot like God's nature. He's intense and surprises and is something to marvel and stand in awe about.

Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee when they were caught up in a big storm. The waves were sweeping over the boat, which was nearly swamped, all the while Jesus was sleeping. His disciples on the other hand were in panic mode and woke him up saying they are going to drown. Jesus asked why they were afraid and if they still had no faith and immediately got up and rebuked the wind and waves. At once, everything became calm. The disciples then asked:

"What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:27)

This moment is explained in three of the gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke - all of which are very similar. It is interesting that in Mark's gospel, he adds that Jesus was sleeping on a cushion (Mark 4:38). Jesus must have been pretty comfortable sleeping in the boat, despite the circumstances around him. God had provided a place to lay his head and get rest, which he was taking advantage of, whereas the disciples were in caught up in fear and worry, unable to rest or remain calm. But despite their panic, they knew where to run for help during the storm - to Jesus.

The ability to be calm in the store requires faith and trust in God. Truly knowing that nothing will happen outside of God's control.

Strong Enough to Save by Tenth Avenue North is a perfect fit here. Have a listen.



And he'll break
Open the skies to save
Those who cry out his name
The One the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you

Praying that you would run to Jesus with whatever storms you have in life. Praying that you would be so comfortable and firm in your faith that you are able to go through them without the panic. Praying that his guidance would startle your life in a thundering-good-wakeup-call kind of way, and you would marvel at his works throughout it. Praying that you would stand firm in the faith and know that God is for you. 

Praying that your fear and worry would be transformed in to pure, unfailing faith. Praying you would cry out his name knowing full well he will save you. 

Here's to calm during the storms. 



music monday: our god by chris tomlin

Tiffany NicoleComment

While cutting an apple, one summer day, the knife slipped. It was a serrated butter knife, so it was a little sharper than normal but not so sharp as a steak knife. It slipped through the apple down to my little, nine year old, right pinky. I did not know what to do. It hardly bled but it was deep. I walked to my mom in the living room, cradling it in with my left hand and told her I cut my finger. She told me to grab a band aid. I stood there and knew it was more than a band aid kind of fix and repeated I had cut my finger. She took my hand and looked down at my pinky, straight to the bone. We proceeded to the doctors.

As we sat in the little room, I was terrified. I did not want stitches. My mom asked the doctor if there was any way I could forego them, and the doctor agreed - fixing it with simply three small pieces of surgical tape, holding it all together. Stitches were probably the best fix but the doctor's grace gave me another option. It took weeks to heal. The bandage could not get wet, so I spent the summer floating in an inner tube with my hand wrapped in bags, so I could still enjoy our backyard pool. Eventually it healed and but there is still the scar on the bottom of my right pinky to prove it.

When Jesus rose from the grave after three days in the tomb, he had scars to show, too. The holes from the nails that were driven in to his hands and feet were visible for all to see. They told a story. They told his story of defeating death and triumphing over sin for all of humanity. They showed more proof of his status as God's son. Proof to doubting Thomas, who said he would not believe unless he saw the nail marks in his hands and put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand into his side, he would not believe (John 20:25). And of course, Jesus shows up. He shows him his scars and lets him touch his side, so he would stop doubting and believe (John 20:27).

Jesus shows up to everyone differently at different times and places in life - ready to heal wounds and scars. Scars from past hurts - physical or emotional, if you let him. You may be a skeptic or a doubter. And. That. Is. Okay. That is a place to start. Without doubting you may never ask questions or ponder meaning or search for answers. Without skepticism you may never find the truth and be able to dive in to the healing of God.


God is a healer. He is bigger than any scar that you will ever face. There is no one like him. No one like Jesus. The lyrics of Chris Tomlin's Our God ring out these truths. Have a listen.  



Our God is Healer,
Awesome in Power, 
Our God!

Praying that you would show your scars to someone this week and share the healing that you have received. Praying that if you have unhealed scars, that you would share them, as well because in order to start the healing process, you have to recognize that they exist. Praying that you would take the precautions that come with the injury and journey on accordingly, knowing that in due time, you will be fully healed - either in this life or the next. 

Praying that you would seek and question and get answers if you find yourself doubting. Praying that you would find the truth in Jesus and join in the worship of the King of Kings. Praying that nothing would stand against you as you go along your journey. Praying that someone who has shared similar scars would be put in your life to guide you as you travel through it, encouraging you and praising the Lord along the way. 


Here's to scars and sutures. 

music monday: beneath the waters by hillsong

Tiffany NicoleComment
Growing up, my little brothers loved Winnie the Pooh. I spent lots of time reading Winnie the Pooh books and watching the movies that accompanied. In Pooh's Most Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin, Christopher Robin prepares Winnie the Pooh for a tomorrow without him, which is hard for Winnie the Pooh to understand. Christopher tells Pooh to remember that he's braver than he believes, and stronger than he seems, and smarter than he thinks. And of course Winnie the Pooh gets it all mixed up and Christopher tells him again and assures him that even if they are apart that he is always with him. 

Jesus does the same thing for us. He tells us that we are strong in him and that he is with us until the end of the ages (Matthew 28:20) and will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) in good times or in bad. Even when we get it all mixed up with relationships and people and trials. Trials are vital in life. They show us how much braver we are than we think. How much we can really handle. They test our faith and affirm God's presence in it all.
 

Jesus tells Simon Peter that Satan wants to sift him like wheat.

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31

Satan wants to break Peter down. He wants him to turn from following Jesus. He wants him to fall and fail and revel in guilt. Satan also asks to test Job - to see if Job will curse God (Job 1:11). God does not test us or put us through trials but they will happen. If Satan wanted to sift Peter and get Job to curse God, why would anyone be spared? The enemy came to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and wants to sift us like wheat, too. This sifting comes in all forms and sizes and temperaments. It comes in the form of a bad marriage, health issues, a prodigal child, insecurity, self hatred, loneliness and anything else that is not from God.  It comes for days or months or years with more issues piling up as we go.

How long can you handle suffering? At what point do you praise God or throw in the towel?

Jesus reassured Peter that he prayed for him and that his faith would not fail. Jesus prayed for Peter assured him that once he turned back that he would be able to strengthen others. Not only does Peter endure his trail but he goes on to build up others, as well because of it. He is able to rise from what seems like a failure - denying knowing Jesus, not one but three times - to a great leader in the first church because Jesus. Jesus also prayed for us (John 17 20-23) and we are able to rise from our challenges, too.

Beneath the Waters by Hillsong is a great reminder of this. It was written about baptism but fits perfectly on the topic of rising above trials because of the power of Jesus. Have a listen.




I rise as You are risen
Declare Your rule and reign
My life confess Your Lordship
And glorify Your Name

Praying that you would see the benefits of your trials and the little blessings that are found in them. Praying that you stand firm in your trials, whether they last days or years, and that you would truly seek what the Lord is teaching you through it.

Praying that you would understand the importance of trials and the beauty that comes out of them - ever increasing trust in God, better understanding of yourself and others, and learning how to share that information with others. Praying that you would not be sifted like wheat but be like a rock, as was Peter, standing firm in the faith and leading others it to. 

Here's to sifting and rising. 

music monday: forever reign by hillsong

Tiffany NicoleComment
I have always enjoyed running. It is more of an outlet than anything else. Time to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. I am not a treadmill kind of girl. I get a little stir crazy being the same spot.

I started running in high school as a stress relief. Nothing formal, just some shoes and myself . Running gave me freedom and distance from problems. A little bit of my own reality and peace to mix in with the chaos of my home life. 

These days, I find running helps to keep myself in balance and disciplined to know God better, as he is constantly guiding my steps. He has shown me that running to him is always the answer, even though some days it seems so much easier to run away. Run away from the daily grind. From diapers and sippy cups and messes and whining and disciplining. Run away from the biggest blessings God has given me.

I truly believe that your biggest blessings can be your biggest trials, as well. What that looks like to you may be different. Perhaps your dream job has become a nightmare with more hours being logged than you anticipated. Or your knight in shining armor has become more of a frog. Or your much prayed for child has been more than you feel you can handle. Or your lack of a child at this time in life. Whatever it is, I pray that you would run to God with it. He already knows what you need before you ask (Matt 6:8) and wants all of you, even the messy parts.  

I pray that you would seek God to reopen your eyes to the blessings of it all. I pray that you would be transformed by the renewing of your mind in the situation that may seem hopeless (Romans 12:2). I pray that you would learn from your situation the lessons that only God can teach from it.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
I pray that you would see the joy in the midst of the storms and that you would not give up. That you would be able to share your trials with others because that is what community is for (Galations 6:2). I pray that your trial would be an example of your faith to others and encouragement to those going through the same thing.

Forever Reign by Hillsong is constantly playing in my head as I jog, along with prayers for the neighborhood, family and friends and you. Have a listen.


Iā€™m running to Your arms, the riches of Your love will always be enough 
           nothing compares to Your embrace, light of the world, forever reign.

Here's to trials and running to God. Here's to perseverance and incomprehensible joy through it all