Daily Archives: February 7, 2004

Remembering a Beautiful Flower in God’s Garden

A brother in Christ recently e-mailed me asking for encouragement because a dear friend and woman of God from our local fellowship passed away this week. Here’s my response, I hope it brings words of encouragement to anyone dealing with the pain of loss.

Hi Brother,

Pamela Nuckols was indeed a beautiful flower in God’s garden. The presence of God in her life over flowed into the lives of others bringing blessings of joy to many. From her family and friends to her dental office to the MCC body, she was a woman of the Word who lived the Word.

Hopefully, people will look at her life and take notice and think, ‘She was with Jesus.’ You see, it is the power of Christ in us that makes the difference. Now, she has gone to be with the Lord in paradise.

The Bible says that we are not to fear death. We are to fear the Lord. Take heart because she is no longer suffering pain. Pray for her family and learn from her life. She lived it well. I’ve got a few scriptures for you to reflect on.

Philippians 1:21-26

21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

[Paul said it is better to be in the presence of God than on earth. Thus, we can conclude that Pamela is in a better place. I have no doubt of that.]

I Corinthians 4:6-18

6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[1] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed perplexed, but not in despair 9persecuted, but not abandoned struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13It is written: “I believed therefore I have spoken.”[2] With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

[Pamela shared this Scripture when she spoke a while ago at the Sunday service. I still remember her boldness in believing this Scripture. And she has her healing she has it in heaven, in a better place.]

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (Message Bible paraphrase]

1For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heavenGod-made, not handmade 2-4-and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to moveand so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! 5The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. 6That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. 7It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. 8Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.

[Homecoming will be great. Pamela will be there as well as many other dear Christians. It will be the best worship service in the history of the world. And you’re invited. Boy, I sure hope the Lord raptures His Church very soon.]

It’s OK to be sad about Pamela. Grieving is part of the process, just make sure that you allow God to heal any hurt in your heart.

Walking in the Light, Chaille

The Beast

As I get ready to chomp down on one of the largest candy bars I have ever seen, a 5 oz Butterfinger bar appropriately called the “Beast,” I am reflecting back on how my motives tend to stink. I wish that I could honestly admit that I live every day to the glory of God and don’t do things for ulterior motives, but many times I don’t. Deep down I am selfish. Chances are you are too.

While reading Spencer Burke’s Making Sense of Church, I found myself cut to the quick as the author talked about the difference between being a consumer and a steward. Consumers are out to feed their own desires and needs. They may even do ‘good’ things for wrong motives. Consumers seek easy paths and comfortable accommodations.

Consumers go fishing for compliments because they want recognition. Consumers make sure to be seen wearing the right face at the right time. Consumers want tons of stuff and packed schedules because they just can’t stand to have nothing to do or to be alone. Silence might force them to come face-to-face with the reality they have tried to avoid all of their lives. Consumers do things to make themselves feel better about their own inadequacies. Consumers have deep need for affirmation because they don’t really feel loved by anyone, including God.

But a steward lives a completely different life style. A steward realizes that all things come from God. He only does what will please God in the proper way at the right time. The key difference is the heart. A steward knows that he is loved by God, and that is simply all he needs in life. A steward knows the will of God because he has spent time learning with the Master. He knows the Master’s plans. Some today don’t really care about a person’s motivation as long as the desired results are reached. But on God’s scale, heart motivation is everything.

Many times I find that I do things with mixed motives or don’t really even know why I do what I do. I am tired of living for me, but somehow I tend to always revert back to living for me. Oh sure, I go through periods of sacrifice and proper heart motive. And I may even be better than most others walking the planet. But look who I am comparing myself to, an apathetic people with no fear of the Lord and very little belief in the Bible. How can I say that? Well if they really believed the Bible, wouldn’t they live different? Heck, wouldn’t I live a more God-centered, spirit-led life if I really believed the Bible all the time?

Sometimes I feel like I am staring in Night of the Living Dead and just don’t know how to make the movie stop playing over and over again. This is what Paul wrote about when he said that he had to die daily to the old, sinful nature. This is a constant struggle, which should drive us closer to God. But instead, we tend to run away from Him. God is the only one that can help us kill the flesh. Our spiritual man is quickened by the power of God not man.

When wrong motives are discovered, I must give my heart over to God and let Him work out the impurities. It all starts with being honest and humbling myself before God. As I submit to the power of God in my life and receive His love, I am filled with the capacity to live as God intended.

The other day while reading the Bible, I came face-to-face with my own inner struggle. I read the passage where Jesus denounced the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day for focusing on the outward appearance and forgetting about the inner heart motivation. Jesus criticized them for seeking places of notoriety where their ‘good’ works would be seen by men.

Jesus had some very harsh words for the self-righteous and glory-hogging Pharisees. In the Message Bible paraphrase depicts Jesus’ anger. He said, “You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You love sitting at the head table at church dinners, love preening yourselves in the radiance of public flattery. Frauds! You’re just like unmarked graves: People walk over that nice, grassy surface, never suspecting the rot and corruption that is six feet under” (Luke 11:43-44). Wow, I don’t want to ever be called an unmarked grave.

While reading the passage, I thought, ‘Thank goodness I don’t do that.’ Then I heard the Spirit ask, ‘Oh, you’re beyond that? You don’t ever do that do you?’ Suddenly, all of my pretensions melted like a block of ice when confronted by the fire of the Holy Spirit. I saw how I acted just like the Pharisees at times. I repented and asked God to change my heart.

Sometimes my motives are pure. Other times I do things for mixed motives. I do like to be seen and recognized for the ministry that I do. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the call, there is everything wrong with seeking personal glory. It is nice when people know your name and give you a pat on the back. Although I know that seeking praise from men should not be my motivation, I can honestly say that I sometimes crave it. Just like a junkie getting a fix, I do things just so that I can be one of the good guys.

God is rooting this motivation out of my heart because it reflects a deeper problem. It shows that I fear men more than God and try to find satisfaction in things that will not really satisfy. Even ministry apart from the blessing of God will not produce real joy and fulfillment. God gives everything value.

If you found yourself caught up in the game of self fulfillment, consider that you are only making things worse. God designed us to be complete in Him alone. Stop feeding the Beast (selfish desires) and start living as God intended.

Living for God is the only way to truly live life to the full.

Why Wait?

It always seems like we can come up with good excuses for why we aren’t growing in our passion for God. We find ‘good reasons’ for not reading the Bible. We think that we will have plenty of time to get to God in the future. We plan to wait and get serious about our relationship with God when we have more time. We decide to wait for just the right time or setting. We think the awe-inspiring retreat or missions trip later on in the year will be just what we need to springboard our walk with God. And in the meantime, we put God on hold until we’re good and ready to let Him be God in our lives. But if were to go for more of God now, wouldn’t we be much farther ahead when the retreat or missions trip comes around?

Many think that the setting or mood has something to do with God moving in our lives. The enemy can keep us from really progressing in our relationship with God if we always put it off until sometime in the future. We end up deceiving ourselves and living a joyless life because of it. The time to get on fire for God is in the wilderness not the revival service.

Maybe you are looking toward sometime in the future for your priorities to change. You think, ‘Once I get out of school, I’ll have more time for God.’ Or you think, ‘Once the wedding is over, I can start back by daily prayer time and Bible study.’ Don’t kid yourself. Something will come up if you keep putting off today what you know that you should be doing. Something always comes up. The best time for God to change the heart and in turn re-order priorities is right now.

We can’t change our heart on our own. God does it as we are honest, admit where we are, and ask Him to change us.

Stop and ask yourself, ‘Why not now?’