Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When it's hard to be Thankful

By Kareena Holloway, Fellowship Bible Church NWA, CR Encourager Coach, 11/22/2017
With Thanksgiving fast upon us, it's a time when there are get-togethers, good food, and lots of reminiscing.  Some of that reminiscing is good and some of it bad..some of it may even be mostly bad right now considering what you're going through.  It's tough times like that when you may catch yourself having trouble feeling very thankful.  Your feelings are valid.  Your anger may even be righteous.  What is important, though, is that we don't set up camp and get "comfortable" with the negativity that comes with not being thankful. 

The enemy would rather have you focus on your hurts and angers rather than focus on anything good ..at all!  It's time right now to quiet those voices and invite God to assure you of a few things.  

Truths to be thankful for:
  • Even in the darkest of times,  HE IS THERE  
  • When all hope seems to be lost, HE IS THERE
  • When fear sets in over a diagnosis, HE IS THERE
  • When we are tempted by addiction,   HE IS THERE
  • When you have been treated unfairly,    HE IS THERE
  • When an elder in the family has dementia, HE IS THERE
The enemy will try and convince you that you are all alone, that you need to isolate, that no one cares, that no one would understand.  But YOU, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are PRECIOUS to God.  He has not left you alone to battle.  Let me share a few scriptures with you to support this:
  • In the darkest times"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." -Isaiah 42:16

  • When all hope seems to be lost:   "
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
    and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 
    who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."
      1 Peter 1:3-5

  • When fear sets in over a diagnosis:  "But I trust in you, LordI say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands.." Psalm 31:14-15a

  • When we are tempted by addiction:  "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13

  • When you have been treated unfairly:  "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

  • When an elder in the family has dementia:  "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."        1 Cor 13:7 NLT
The central focus here is that God is with us in and through it all.  No matter what, He is there.  He is steadfast, and He has given us friends, accountability partners, a sponsor, ministry leaders, Shepherds, and more to walk through life together.  Yes, even on Thanksgiving..especially on Thanksgiving!  
I encourage you to reach out... be it through a text, a call, journaling, an email, but most importantly don't forget to have God be your first go-to!  Have a GREAT week!

Click HERE to listen to In and Through It All by Fellowship Worship


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Never Forgotten, Never Forsaken

By Susan Nichols, Fellowship Bible Church CR sister, November 15, 2017

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ ” (Romans 4:18, NIV)

Forgotten. 
               Forsaken. 
These are the two words I used to describe how I felt during a difficult timeof my life. One hardship followed another until I felt absolutely buried by circumstances. Wherewas God? It seemed as if He had abandoned me. I looked and looked for some sign of Him butsaw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing. Did He even hear my prayers? Why wasn’t He answeringme? I know we all sometimes feel overtaken by troubles. We all have moments when mobilizingour faith is a struggle. Even Abraham at first laughed inwardly at the thought of he and Sarah havinga child (Genesis 17:17), but let’s look more closely at Abraham, whose faith God credited to him as
righteousness.

I think of Abraham and picture a wizened, wrinkled face with a long grey beard. Perhaps his eyesight had dimmed with age and maybe his back was a little stooped. He was aware of his physical decline and knew that fathering a son was impossible. He also recognized that Sarah’s childbearing years had slipped away with her youth. Abraham had “…faced the fact that his body was as good asdead—since he was about 100 years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.” (Romans 4:19). What’s amazing is that Abraham faced the reality of his situation “without weakening in his faith…” (Romans 4:19). His faith wasn’t fragile or frail. He didn’t yield to doubting God or collapse under the pressure of needing an heir. By this time, Abraham had walked with God for many years, so
against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” (Romans 4:18). 
Against…ALL…hope. 
Abraham’s faith had been enlarged through years of shepherding in desolate places while waiting on the fulfillment of God’s promises. He understood that God, being righteous and holy, was bound by His very nature to keep His promises. Psalm 23:4 speaks to such times of waiting and hardship.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” (NLT)
The darkest valleys are places we’re walking through. They are temporary. God will not abandon us there. He walks close beside us even when He seems to have deserted us. He does see. He does hear.

He does know what we are experiencing and has promised to rescue us when we cry out. We know that in life, we will experience dark, dry seasons. We can also be reassured, however, that God will always bring us out. These promises to us are written in Scripture. We can turn to them whenever we find our faith wavering!

Read the following 7 scriptures this week and meditate on the faithfulness of God toward his children.
  • Nehemiah 9
  • Psalm 34:18
  • Psalm 50:15
  • Isaiah 59:1
  • Psalm 107:19
  • Isaiah 43:18-19
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
Be reassured that He is a true Father who takes care of His children. Allow Him to build up your faith and be encouraged that you are not forgotten! 

Click HERE to listen to Never Forsaken by Hillsong Worship

Heavenly Father, you know the trials I’m facing and how I long to be delivered from them. Lord, I’m battle-weary. I know you are allowing this trial, but that doesn’t help me feel better. Help me to persevere and to wait on you, but to wait well—to wait believing in your goodness and faithfulness! I truly love you, Lord, and place myself in your hands this day. Thank you or loving me more than I can ever comprehend and for knowing how to help me. Amen.




Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Planting Seeds

By Kareena Holloway, Fellowship Bible Church NWA, CR Encourager Coach, 11/8/2017



"Train up a child in the way he should go; 
even when he is old he will not depart from it." -Proverbs 22:6

"I love being able to learn about the Bible at Celebration Place. We learn lessons from the Bible which teaches us about Jesus's love, forgiveness, and grace. I  also love to sing songs and help lead worship with Miss Melanie and Miss Madilyn. I LOVE CP!"

That's a direct quote from my 9-year old daughter who has been with CP since she was 2 years old.  My husband and I are so incredibly thankful for  Celebrate Recovery being a family ministry which offers care and helpful, Biblical life-teaching for all ages.  Many men and women can come and freely give their hurts, habits, and hang-ups to God here while knowing that their children of all ages are much more than just cared for.  They are accepted and loved, cherished and taught Biblical truths.  We are blessed to have Sylvia Chesser as our own Celebration Place Ministry Leader here at Fellowship Bible Church.  If you know her, you know how much she loves children and believes in teaching them all about Jesus Christ.  She and her volunteers have had huge impacts on children, teaching these little ones the tools they can use at home, school, or wherever they are which will reflect God's amazing grace for all.  

Here's a video from a sweet CR family who share directly how their family has been impacted by Celebration Place.  


What we do today makes a difference in what we see tomorrow.  

Have a great week, forever family!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rejoicing in all my circumstances

By Carl Kimbro, our brother in Christ at Fellowship Bible Church NWA Celebrate Recovery

“Before I bring my need I will bring my heart and seek you. Before I lift my cares I will lift my arms. Before I speak a word, let me hear your voice. In the midst of pain let me feel your joy.”

I love music because so many songs tell my story. These words from the Lauren Daigle song “First” are very convicting for me. I pray often to God, but almost always seeking something. Very little of my prayers seek a strong relationship with Him. I feel justified to pray in this manner. After all, life can be overwhelming. I didn’t ask to have my life turned upside down with the girls. I had big plans that may never come true. I’m not happy at times and if God wants what’s best for me, then He should be only too happy to fix it for me. But is that what scripture tells me my prayer life should be like?

1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing; give thanks in all
circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. These verses are often read and quickly passed by without much thought. But what do they really mean?


  • Rejoice always – Always is hard. But, I should rejoice in all my circumstances. Not just when things are good, but even when they are bad. Paul set the example. Even in jail he preached the Gospel and praised God. He was unjustly jailed, yet he rejoiced! He was serving God faithfully and his reward was prison? Really? How could he possible rejoice? But rejoice he did! He saw the glorious future with God as worth the trouble. He didn’t let circumstances sour his relationship with God.
  • Pray without ceasing – How often and how long should I rejoice in prayer? Paul says always and without stopping. That means my mind should be constantly seeking Him in prayer in all circumstances. Are things going well? Then pray without ceasing. Do I feel sick, frustrated, alone, or sad? Then pray without ceasing. The bible says all of my circumstances should be seen as an opportunity to pray.
  • Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God – God can’t be serious! First He says I have to rejoice no matter what. Then He says I have to pray all the time no matter what. Now He says I have to give thanks in all circumstances. What if I’m overwhelmed by the task of being a parent again? What if I’m frustrated by a life I dreamed of in my older years disappearing? What if I’m dealing with my son back in jail again and suddenly remembering he has parents because he needs us? What if I’m out of a job? I’m supposed to give thanks for those things? The answer is a resounding YES!

When I slowly read them and think about their meaning, these verses can be daunting. But after reading them and trying to understand them, I have decided to put them into practice in my life. An “attitude adjustment” on my part may be what I need to change my sadness during difficult or frustrating times to a disposition of joy and peace. It may also change my relationship with others and make me a strong witness for Jesus and his kingdom.

Click HERE to listen to "First" by Lauren Daigle


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Does The Father Giggle?

By Tim Kelley: Fellowship Bible Church NWA Celebrate Recovery Training Coach


To me, this is one of the most powerful verses in God’s Word. It speaks to me so loudly of the Father’s love for us.  
First He has “blessed us with every Spiritual blessing” (from the NLT version) because we are in Christ. 

Second, it speaks of the Father’s desire for us.  Before He created anything else you and I were on His mind. Say that to yourself right now “Before anything else was created, I, was on the Father’s mind”.  There is so much weight behind that statement. You and I were not “afterthoughts” or a secondary idea.  No!!  There was intention from the beginning, before there was a beginning, for us by the Father. He wanted you and He wanted me to know, to experience His love you and me.  You and I were the Father’s choice!!  We are not Plan B, were are what He has been focused on before everything began.  

Third, this was done so that we would be “made whole and holy” by the experience of His love.  He desires for us to be a part of His family, to know Him as Father, to know His love for us. And He enjoys and takes great pleasure in the thought of you and I becoming part of His family!!  It makes me think that the Father giggled at the thought of you and I becoming a part of His family. The Father giggling, hmmm now there is a thought in itself!!  But even more so He giggled at the thought of you, He giggled at the thought of me. It was His joy to plan our salvation. I am not trying to make light of what Christ’s work on the cross means or the suffering of it, but in this verse I see an expression of the depths of the Father’s love for you and I, so deep is it, that His love for us causes Him to giggle at the very thought of you and I becoming His beloved children.  

The Father has used these four verses to take me from seeing myself as more than a grateful believer, more than a follower of Christ, they have taken me to a place of seeing myself as a beloved child, a beloved son.  

Father, thank You for the idea, the vision of You giggling over me, Your expression of love and joy for me. How can I respond without anything but love and thankfulness?  Your expression of love for me is making me whole and holy.  May I always hear You giggling over me, it is air to my very soul. 


Click HERE to listen to Steadfast Love by Fellowship Worship

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