Celebrating Freedom on July Fifth

We had so much to celebrate yesterday on the Fourth of July! As I awoke this morning to dishes in the sink, crumbs all over the floor, pieces of water balloons all over the yard, and the remnants of 5 toddlers who partied hard yesterday leaving disasters in their wake, I felt God say, "Nikki, there's a beautiful lesson in cleaning your house after the celebration of freedom yesterday." 

Being obedient to Him, I share my thoughts with you in this short 3 minute video devotional.

Now, I'm off to go chase toddlers with a vacuum.

-Nicole Dickey

Becoming Fearless - Part 8

Becoming fearless takes COURAGE! Courage isn't the absence of fear - Courage is working through your fears, even in the midst of the storm. 

Paul provides us an example of courage in the midst of a storm in his life and even goes the extra mile to impart his courage to others through his encouragement.

As we finish in the book of Acts, we look back and see that it wasn't about the life of Peter or even the life of Paul. The book of Acts is about the early church, how they faced their fears, and propelled the Gospel of Jesus with courage and boldness! 

We hope you have enjoyed Becoming Fearless video devotionals and found applicable tools from the early church to conquer the fears in your own life. We believe that God has beautiful plans for your life!

Becoming Fearless - Part 7

When we run into our fears, the next thing to hit us is doubt. My mama used to say, "Nikki, don't doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light!"

How do we focus on the light in even the dark times? Paul gives us applicable examples as he sits in multiple trials, yet retains peace through it all! 

Join us as we deal with doubt together as we dig into Acts 22-26!

Becoming Fearless - Part 6

So why did the chicken cross the road? What was really there on the other side to make him face that crazy road? Have you ever had to encounter a fear, because you knew that getting to the other side was what was best for you?

We get a great example in Acts 20-21 of Paul having to press forward, even when the world around him was saying, "turn and run." Why? Because Paul knew that God would always be glorified when he was obedient to him. 

Who’s ready to cross the crazy roads with us?

Becoming Fearless - Part 5

When we are sitting in the middle of our worst fear, resting in worship can be the furthest from our minds. More likely our first thoughts are: run for the hills, cry ourselves to sleep, desire others to feel sorry for us, eat chocolate/ice cream/more chocolate, etc.

BUT, what if resting in worship is actually what's best for us when we are in the middle of our fears? Paul and Silas give us a beautiful picture of what this actually looks like when we allow our God to be bigger than our fears. 

So grab a tub of chocolate ice cream, and let's sit together for ten minutes and chat about how we can apply this to life!

Becoming Fearless - Part 4

Today we are digging deep in the "C" word - commitment! If we want to overcome our fears, than our God has to be bigger than our fears. Becoming fearless means committing to God's vision for our lives. 

Join us as we go through Acts 13-14 and walk with Paul & Barnabas on the first missionary journey of the early church. Let's see the commitment and persistence it took to start the spread of the Gospel - and how we can apply it to today!

Becoming Fearless - Part 3

Discussing fear is one thing, but running into our fears is another ball game! Becoming fearless means facing those fears and choosing to not allow them to have control over us. 

Join us as we go through Acts 8-12 and pull out 4 mindset shifts that we can apply when directly going after our fears - in living the life we were created to live for God!

Becoming Fearless - A Study of the Book of Acts - Part 1

We are a tad late in getting this out, but technology was not our friend today. We hope you enjoy these short (10-15 minute) devotionals that will go out every Tuesday & Thursday for the month of June as we walk through the book of Acts to understand the guts it took to start the early church and how to apply it to today!

Without further ado, here is our first vlog posting for Becoming Fearless!

Bearing Fruit

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Today I was making a wonderful new chicken, orzo and fennel soup that requires lemon and dill as the finishing touches. Don’t get all FOOD network on me it was easy peasy. Back to the story, as I finished off the soup with the lemon juice I reflected on the origin of that lemon. Years ago my sister bought me a Meyer lemon tree already growing three baby lemons on the wee little tree. I planted it with ever so much care and when the three ripened I put one literally in the offering plate at church praying for a bumper crop from then on. Silly, I know, but lemons are a big deal to me. I grew up in a farmer’s family and production is paramount. So with that mentality and with great anticipation, each spring I would see the buds and the bees and celebrate what was to come. Each year, five years running, nothing; absolutely nothing. I watered, tended, fertilized, trimmed and seriously was ready by year six to take an ax to the tree and start over. Lost cause! Right? After all I’ve been buying lemons way too long, right?  Disappointment grew by the year. It was a fruit tree, dog gone it, and nothing to prove that was the case except for the greenest leaves you could imagine. Oh, years back I saw and tasted the two remaining lemons but now, zilch, nothing. I expected lemons, not oranges, or plums which incidentally those trees are producing bumper crops on the same plot of land.

I thought of Jesus and the fig tree with all its beautiful leaves and no figs. He cursed it and it withered. I had an ax and I could do the same! Each year I grudgingly gave it “one” more chance with full anticipation it would hand over those yellow beauties. I truly identified with Jesus’ frustration and ultimate judgment over the fig tree and me with my Meyer lemon tree that is seriously negative of lemons. This last year I told my sister I was sadly removing her gift because of its barrenness. She begged me to give it another chance. LOL. Not so LOL. It’s just a tree, right?

Nearly, six years is enough time to measure a tree and its fruit, right? Jesus is God and knew the ultimate production of figs on that tree He cursed. He knew its full or empty potential, I do not. My lesson in this is that I had better not give up so quickly on lemons, or people, or even myself when it takes years to produce. Only God knows the hearts of men, what fruit they will ultimately bear, and the timing of that. Some trees and people tap in early to Jesus and are powerhouses of produce. They share with everyone, ooze Jesus, have “God stories”, and scripture in their hearts. Some are slower yet gain momentum as God infuses life in them. To be perfectly honest, it took some 19 years before I abided in Jesus and I betcha my fruit was puny, if any, to start with! So glad Jesus saw my potential and didn’t curse me but chose instead to bless my life forever. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 The trick is abiding in Jesus and those little blossoms needed to stay abiding on the lemon tree instead of flying off with the first rain or wind. The same is true in my life. If I don’t abide and hang on to the life giving power of Jesus, then I’ll fly off with the many storms in life and sadly there will be no testimony to others of His life-giving power and enduring love. I can only produce when I hang on to Jesus. “This is my command—be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord our God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I know your dying to know the outcome of my Meyer. Year six, Spring came and 6 massive lemons larger than my hand are my produce. And yes, my lemon was the final garnishing of my soup. What if….. I had given up on it, what if I give up on myself or others? I’ll never see the abiding power of God working.  Oh, Jesus help me hang on to You so I can garnish this world for YOU! “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13

-Mary Maggard

Low On Ice

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After 21 years my good old refrigerator took a turn for the worse, taking on daily water that if not soaked up by towels would have damaged my floors.  So, every single day I cleaned it out and became tethered to this fridge keeping me from going anywhere longer than 24 hours.  Finally, the decision was made to purchase a new refrigerator.  Sticker shock!!!!

The new one was installed and running like a top. It was pretty to boot.  All the bells and whistles new smart refrigerators have. And one smart feature I would soon become aware of.  I notice ice production began to slow in the new refrigerator after we returned from vacation.  It was producing maybe 20 small cubes a day, which wasn’t enough, especially, living in Bakersfield’s notorious hot summers. Reading through the manual, which actually is fun and entertaining to me,  I discovered my fridge is really,  really smart.

The few cubes it was producing were still great, however just not enough to fill a glass more than once in a day. After calling the manufacturer’s service line I was directed to place my iPhone next to a microphone on the refrigerator, and then press a program code.  I’m telling the truth.  The next thing I know my refrigerator is sending an audible signal through my iPhone to the service center.  If that weren’t amazing enough in itself, the information it sent was even more crazy.  It identified not just how many times the doors were opened, but how long I held them open, water flow, ice production, temperature, and the over all functions of its multiple systems. A stem to stern checkup, pronto!! If only an annual physical could be this easy!!!  The service department walked me through how to decrease the temperature setting and reset the ice-maker. Voila!  Within 24 hours of the reset we had ice cascading from the door.

This summer, much like my shiny new fridge I’m pretty sure I too dipped in my “Ice Production”.  My days heated up and my production slowed. I was reading the Word, praying, filling time with worship music and attending church wherever we traveled, but to be honest far less productive than I should have been. All the fundamentals of a strong spiritual life were there but a few things, including a very frustrating health issue, heated me up which began to slow me down. My reduced “ice production”  looked like this. I wasn’t as encouraging nor as diligently praying for others.  I wasn’t frequently checking on those I care about, or reaching out to others with much vigor.  To be quite honest, I was willing to produce only a few cubes of spiritual ice a day, and even worse to be satisfied with my decreased production. How was it that some ice, but not much ice became okay with me?  This realization made me think about the scripture in Revelation 3: 15-16 on lukewarm living and the Lord’s not so positive view of that.

My iPhone was sending signals from my refrigerator so as to diagnose and fix my ice production issue, just as does the Holy Spirit diagnosis issues in my life.  John 14:26 says, “The Helper is the Holy Spirit, The Father will send Him in My (Jesus) place.  He will teach you everything and help your remember everything I have told you.”

When I received the service centers “fix” for my slow ice production problem, I had two choices. First, I could do nothing and sweat through a nearly endless iceless hot summer, or two, change the situation by implementing their fix and thereby have a nearly endless supply of ice all summer long.  When the Holy Spirit reveals those area in my life that need to be changed or corrected, like my iPhone did with the refrigerator, I too have choices to make as the Holy Spirit begins to reveal areas needing change, or course correction necessary if I want an abundant life.  I can do nothing, settling for less, or I can admit my need for Spiritual oomph, and then ask for His direction and power for me to move forward in Him. Today, I choose Him.

Romans 8:26 says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We don’t not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

The Holy Spirit translates in groaning to deep for words just like my iPhone did for my fridge,  and the Lord God through the Holy Spirit began to urge me to re-evaluate and reset myself through His leading.  I needed oomph and He gave me Oomph.  I needed redirection and He is redirecting me.

Good checkups through the Holy Spirit are always the best way back from a slow spell. Resets are some of God’s best work in me. It causes me to really look at myself through His eyes. It is impossible for me to live my life alone. If He has indeed come that I might have life and have it abundantly then I must not settle for less than that.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come.” That’s a God directed reset.

Romans 6:4says “We therefore were buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.

Bring on the ice Lord, please!!!!

-Mary Maggard