Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Removing the Rubble

By Susan Nichols, Fellowship Bible Church CR sister, October 18th, 2017




After dark, I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble.”—Nehemiah 2:13-14 (NLT)


Then the people of Judah began to complain, ‘The workers are getting tired, and there is so
much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.’”—Nehemiah
4:10 (NLT)

The book of Nehemiah tells the story of a defeated Jerusalem. The holy city has fallen, its walls destroyed and gates burned. Nehemiah, a cupbearer to the King of Persia, hears of the desolate condition of the city and its inhabitants. He is distressed by the news and returns to Israel to begin the work of rebuilding the walls that once protected the children of God.
I imagine that Nehemiah watched the people living in fear, knowing they had no protection
from enemy attacks. They were disgraced, having been crushed by their enemies. I can picture Nehemiah inspecting the walls of Jerusalem at night, guiding his donkey around massive piles of stone and rubble till he could go no further.

What went through his mind? 

Sadness? 
Anger?
Determination?

Lately, God has been asking me to inspect my own damaged walls. I admit there are some areas of my life I’ve refused to deal with despite His persistent ‘nudging,’. I haven’t wanted to look at the rubble, much less do the work of moving it. Yet, I know I won’t be able to assess the damage unless I move those stones out of the way. At times, I’ve tried to build new walls on top of the rubble, usually out of scorched stone and burnt timbers. The process of sorting through my experiences has taught me that there just aren’t any shortcuts. I know that might feel like bad news to those who are battle-weary and discouraged, but press on!

The Israelites met with much opposition during the fifty-two days it took them to close the gaps in the wall. They were mocked and ridiculed, their very lives were threatened. They became weary and were fearful of attack. Yet day by day and stone by stone, with God’s help, they continued the work until it was completed.

I, too, must bend my back (my will) to the task of rebuilding my life. If I continue to ignore my ramshackle walls, then I give the enemy an open invitation to work in my life. It’s only when I acknowledge the debris of painful experiences, shame, anger, and bitterness from my past that I can move forward and have the abundant life that Christ came to give me—the abundant life I want! He helps me to fit the stones together perfectly and stands guard over me as I do the work. It’s during these difficult times that I truly know Him more deeply as my paraclete—the One who comes alongside me to help me (John 15:26, ESV). I may, at times, dread or fear the work I know I must do, but I also know the end result will be well worth it! 

So on October 2, the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.” –Nehemiah 6:15 (NLT)
Father God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my Helper, my Protector, and my
Defender. Come alongside me today as I begin the task of sorting through the rubble of the things in life that have hurt me. Help me to dismantle the walls I’ve built to protect myself and help me to rebuild those walls according to Your plan and design. Amen! 

Many thanks to Anne Resler, author of “Rising from the Ruins: Restoring the Broken Places,” a study of  Nehemiah. Thank you, Anne, for the sacrifices you made to write this study. God is using it to change lives, mine included! 

Click HERE to listen to Glorious Ruins by Hillsong


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Wall

By: LaDwana Whittenberg, Fellowship Bible Church NWA, CR Training Coach  10/11/2017

I opened the curtains to see this:





Yep that is a huge wall. Very disappointing.


I sat down to work on my devotional for the day.
I stopped to think and looked outside. How quickly I had forgotten about the wall.
God gave me a visual of what I've been doing.
I see the Light and want to go to the Light, but there is this huge wall that is in my face and all I can see. I have to look up to see any Light.



So how do I get to the Light from where I am? I have to take action and move. Right now physically I have to get up, go out the door, walk down the hall, down the stairs, through the door and then I'll be outside.

Spiritually, I have to take action as well. I have to look up to see the Son.
Here are some of Gods promises:
Psalm 107:14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. 

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 

Job 12:22 He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light

John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.



So, as for me, I continue walking in the way that He shows me. I am allowing people into my life and letting the walls down as I look to His light.


"..I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light.."
Click HERE to listen to "In the Light" by DC Talk

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

If Only

By: Carl Kimbro, Fellowshp Bible Church CR brother, 10/4/2017


If only I had lived a more Christ-like life as a parent, my child might have avoided addiction and jail. If only I had been more attentive to my spouse, maybe they would not have divorced me. If only I would not have taken that first drink, maybe there would not have been a tenth one for me.

You know the drill. It's called the "if only" drill. When these two words are put together, IF/ONLY becomes the two saddest words in the English language. They signify regret in our lives and become a source of torture for our souls. Instead of focusing on God and the here and now, we focus on our painful past. It's unhealthy for us physically, mentally, and spiritually. But that doesn't stop us from doing it.
God doesn't focus on our past, and he doesn't want us to either. Once forgiven by God, we remain forgiven. 

Romans 8:1 tells us: "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." 

It's simple: we who are born again into the family of God are pronounced NOT GUILTY! We are forgiven. We aren't condemned for our past. We don't have to live in the "if only" world of guilt and regrets. Instead, we are able, without past regrets haunting us, to serve God in the here and now. Serving God faithfully in the here and now doesn't leave us time to live in the world of "what if". Instead, it brings us peace and a closer fellowship with God.
God is the God of the future, a glorious future in eternity where the world of "if only" doesn't exist. 

Philippians 3:13b -14 says "but I focus on one thing: forgetting the past and look forward to what lies ahead. I press on to receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us." 

Our past is past. We can't change it. We need to leave it dead and buried. It's time to look forward to the person God will help us become. It's time to look forward to a more fulfilling life because of our hope in Christ. It’s time to look forward to a life free from the torturous world of "if only".

We have been through so much in our lives that it is easy to live in the world of "if only." But that's a dead world filled with the ghosts of our past. We have a glorious future with Him. That future begins in the here and now. Focus on living for God in the here and now, and look forward to the glorious future He promises us. We may not eliminate those "if only" moments, but it is guaranteed that we will greatly reduce them.

Click HERE to listen to Press On by Building 429

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Chariots of Fire

By Kareena Holloway, Fellowship Bible Church NWA, CR Encourager Coach, September 27, 2017


















"In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. 
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears."
Psalm 18:6



In the first weeks into my recovery, I was having one of many gut-wrenching conversations which needed to be had with my husband.  It was all very raw at that time.  Seeing clearly what I had done and how I had hurt my family was so much to bear and I found myself in one of a series of anxiety attacks.  This wasn't something where I could just say "I'm sorry" and move on with life.  I had broken TRUST in my marriage.  My panic came from the thinking that I had to figure this out..I had to come up with some way in which I could rebuild who I was.  All I could see was the enemy closing in on all sides.  I didn't know what to do.  I was afraid, and more than anything, I just wanted to wake up from this very, very bad dream.  However, that is not what God wanted.  He wanted me to turn everything over to HIM.   I prayed to God to help me through this time, took a deep breath, and felt a calmness flood over me like a warm blanket.  My rescuer had come!  He gave me the strength to hear some tough things that needed to be said, courage to speak the truth, compassion for my husband, wisdom to come to Celebrate Recovery to learn the tools for healing of my hurts, habits, and hangups, and hope in knowing that God was going to be there with me through it all no matter what.
No matter how long we're in recovery, we need to remember this truth:  God is good and loves us with such a deep, deep love that He sent his own son to be crucified in order to save us from eternal death.  The shame and condemnation that brings fear, anxiety, and isolation are the enemy's lies, constructed to steal, kill and destroy.  

Take a minute:
  • Remember where you started.
  • Thank God for hearing your calls to Him.  
  • Reflect on how far He's brought you through Celebrate Recovery.
  • Thank Him and consider how you can share that with the newcomer.
Click HERE to listen to So Good to Me by Cory Asbury




1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; 

he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 

3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. 

Many will see and fear the LORDand put their trust in him.



Psalm 40:1-3

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Am Lazarus

 by Susan Nichols, Fellowship Bible Church CR sister, September 20, 2017

 “A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha.  So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this. (Psalm 11:1, 3-4, NLT)

I’ve heard the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead many, many times over the years: Jesus heard Lazarus was sick. Check!  He waited 2 days to go. Check!  Lazarus came out of the tomb. Check, check!  Recently, when I heard yet another teacher announce this passage for the day’s teaching…well, let’s just say I settled into my chair as comfortably as I could and waited for dismissal.  I was humbled, however, as I listened and began to realize that I am Lazarus.

Scripture doesn’t reveal what kind of life Lazarus lived before he met Jesus, but I can share a little about mine. My parents divorced when I was 8, I was painfully shy and endured molestation at the hands of family members till I was 17. I was rebellious, drinking and becoming promiscuous till I married at 18. I had two abortions by 20 and two suicide attempts in the same number of years. I spent some time in the lockup ward of an inpatient facility for threatening a third suicide attempt. My husband was murdered not long after returning from the Gulf War, leaving me a widow at 20.            I am Lazarus.

Years of pain, shame, and abuse had buried me emotionally and I wanted to die physically as well.  My eyes were covered and my body bound by grave clothes of my own making. I couldn’t see that there was another way. I didn’t believe there was a better life. I felt I couldn’t endure another year, another month, another day of living. If all life could give me was more of the same, why should I continue? What was the point?   I am Lazarus.

Then Jesus, in His good time, called me forth, out of my grave of a life.  He uncovered my eyes and caused me to see that life had been painful, but He was Life itself and could change mine forever.  He took off my grave clothes and unbound my hands and feet, enabling me to live for Him.  He has been setting me free ever since that time.  He has set me free from the effects of physical, mental, and sexual abuse.  He is restoring life to relationships which I thought were beyond help.  He has given me hope and love beyond understanding.
My life, which was futile and hollow, is now a testimony to the greatness and faithfulness of God, to all that He can do with brokenness. I’m most definitely a work in progress. I’m flawed and fail daily, but I rise with each new day to tackle the things He puts before me and to accept the gifts He gives to me.

The name Lazarus means, “Whom God helps.”
I am Lazarus.   So are you!

Click HERE to listen to Who Am I by Casting Crowns

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"What Drives Me?"

By Carol Holmstrom, National Assimilation Coach, September 11, 2017


"So many of our prayers are self-centered grocery lists of personal cravings that have no bigger agenda than to make our lives a little more comfortable... They are motivated more by awe of ourselves and our pleasures than by a heart-rattling, satisfaction-producing awe of the Redeemer to whom we are praying."
  -Paul David Trip     

I read this in a book...and it shook me to my core. How many times have I used God in my prayers for this exact thing? How can I approach the creator of the universe with such apathy, such ungratefulness that all I do is ask for stuff? Why do I lose the awe of who He is and what He's done for me? I get to witness miracles every day in myself and others because of who He is...and yet...

Then I read Psalm 145. It was like these words were speaking directly to me and in a way I've never heard them before. I've read this Psalm, several times actually. But this time...this should be my life's grand agenda. It led me to write out my own personal prayer that has nothing to do with what I want and everything to do with who He is.

You are holy. You are worthy. I declare that You are good and I'll praise You more and more. I stand in awe of Your grace and mercy. Your love has no end. I will praise You ever more.

Ultimately, my worship and awe of Him should drive me every day. It should be the reason I get out of bed. The reason I go to work. The reason I smile or cry or laugh. The reason I love my spouse and my kids and my friends and random strangers. The point is, it should be THE reason I live. Too often I lose sight of that. I get bogged down in the struggles or the tears or the things I don't understand. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed or maybe a little ungrateful, take a look at Psalm 145. It just might change your perspective.
Psalm 145:
Great Is the Lord
[a] A Song of Praise. Of David.
145 I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your[b] mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.][c]
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Please click HERE to listen to "You are Holy" by Michael W. Smith

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Never Lose Sight



When you look at this image, what is the first thing that you notice?  The chaos of twigs and branches in the trees?  The calm, smooth surface of the lake?  The little red/orange kayak sitting on the other side of the lake?  This is a picture I took at our local lake.  What I didn't notice until recently, is the cross.  Look to the left side of the picture.  See how the trees and their branches work together to form a cross?  Once you see it, you will always see it.  Sure, you may still see all of the other details, but you will always know that the cross is there.  (By the way, feel free to save it and use it however you wish.  God is a pretty awesome artist! I just snapped the photo.)

Can you think of the times in your life that things seemed pretty chaotic like the trees and branches going every which way, pretty calm like the smooth surface of the water, or relaxed like the kayak on the other side?  God is and always has been there in the midst of it all.  Be encouraged to know that no matter what you've been through, are going through, or what's up ahead, HE KNOWS and will never leave your side.  May we never lose sight of that!  Want to know something else really cool?  Those trees are not chaotic at all.  No, they are in fact leaning on one another, with roots networked TOGETHER.  Pretty neat!  

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, 
I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; 
those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. 
You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them;
 those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; 
it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:10-13

They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. 
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. 
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
Jeremiah 17:8



Never lose sight of God’s wisdom and knowledge:
    make decisions out of true wisdom, guard your good sense,
And they will be life to your soul
    and fine jewelry around your neck.
Then each one of your steps will land securely on your life journey,
    and you will not trip or fall.

Proverbs 3:21-23


Click HERE to listen to and watch the lyric video to "He Lives" by Chris Tomlin



All for Him,
Kareena Holloway
Fellowship Bible Church
Celebrate Recovery E-Coach​


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Impossible Things


This weeks Fellowship Bible Church Celebrate Recovery Devotional is brought to us by our CR Brother in Christ, Carl K.  Thanks so much Carl!
What are your Impossible Things?
“When I was younger, I did it for a half an hour every day. Sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!” (The Queen from Alice and Wonderland)     

I love this quote from Alice and Wonderland. The movie is strange, the book is strange. Yet it has some quotes and ideas that can easily be applied to life.  Take the quote noted above for example. Believing the impossible is something easily done by a child, but not so much by an adult. Is it because logic takes over and clouds our imagination or our ability to believe? Or is it because we become so jaded by life and its struggles that we can’t see that what seems impossible are really possible?  

During my time visiting prison or mentoring men who have been released from prison, I have heard time and time again them say something like this: “It is impossible for God to love me or change me. My addictions are too strong and my sin too deep. I can’t stop and praying to God won’t help.”  The sad thing for me is I have said this too about myself. Yet, God’s word says it’s not true.  One of the most quoted verses is Matthew 19:26 – “With God, all things are possible”. It’s used anytime someone wants to refute a comment from someone else that their life is in an impossible situation. Yes, it’s true, but what does that verse really mean?

Jesus made this comment to explain to his disciples that while the heart of man made it impossible for them to get to heaven on their own, all was not hopeless. Because, with God, Jesus noted anything and all things are possible. You see, the rich young man had just come to Jesus seeking to justify himself. He wanted to show that he followed the law and was a “good person”. Jesus saw right through this to his heart. He told him in the previous verses to give away his riches, follow Him, and he would have riches in heaven. But this made the young man sad because he was rich and loved the life his money gave him.  So he walked away from Jesus. After he left, Jesus went on to give the analogy that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. I don’t believe He was saying being rich was evil. I think He was saying those who value their wealth above all else would struggle to accept Christ as Savior.

This was the rich young man’s problem – He wanted to be self-justified. He did not want God’s Grace to be his justification.  He could not give up his love of his wealth and put God in first place. His “addiction” to his wealth was the “impossible thing” for him to change in his life. So he turned his back on God’s Grace and walked away to his eternity, a separation from God forever.

For those with any kind of addiction, freedom from them seems like an “impossible thing”.  That is where Celebrate Recovery comes in.  It is a place where people can come together to find fellow strugglers who have come to believe the “impossible things” are possible.
Here, people find hope, love acceptance, and biblically based truths that help them to see that the impossible things are possible! These truths are derived in part from the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) and focus on our spirituality, God’s Mercy, and God’s Compassion. At CR they hear testimonies of life-change brought about by a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is where God’s Grace and God’s love is evident. It is where the seemingly impossible dream of freedom from addiction becomes a reality.

  • What’s your impossible dream?
  • What freedom from hurts and addictions will never come true?

If you have these impossible dreams, it is time to see them come true.

Join a Celebrate Recovery Group and believe in the impossible. For “With God, all things are possible”. Come join CR and “Don’t leave till your miracle happens.”

Thanks again Carl!  Click HERE to listen to Impossible Things by Chris Tomlin, featuring Danny Gokey.

All for Him,
Kareena Holloway
Fellowship Bible Church
Celebrate Recovery E-Coach
In the desert, He was there.  On the mountain, He was there.
In the valley deep He was there.  
Everywhere I look, my God is there.  --"He Was There" --Crowder

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Character


Have you ever been to a sermon or a motivational meeting where you feel like the person who is speaking must have been getting some inside information on YOU to know what to talk about?  No?  Just me?  Okay, well, I'll tell you what happened in my case then!  Last week, at a meeting my husband and I were at, the speaker began talking about the importance of displaying God's Character in every situation.  Did you catch that?  EVERY situation!  The speaker even used examples such as getting frustrated with other drivers on the road, disappointed at a sports game, angry at a bad decision made, etc etc!  




As God's Word says in Colossians 3:17, "Whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  WOW, so there was a reality check I needed!  

In every situation, I need to ask myself: 
  • Am I displaying God's character of grace, patience, truth, mercy, love, kindness, sacrifice,  forgiveness, and generosity..just to name a few?

"..Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

God is so good all of the time.  Being human, I know that I'm going to mess up and not show God's character when I should.  I am so thankful for those characteristics of God that He will show me in those times.  
  • Which characteristics do you think you could show more of?

Click HERE to listen to Jesus This is You --by Chris Tomlin

Have a great week, Forever Family!

All for Him,
Kareena Holloway
Fellowship Bible Church
Celebrate Recovery Encourager Coach