Tag Archives: Nicole Nordeman

A Closer Walk: God Never Plays Games With Us

God never plays games with us. He never lies to us. He always shoots straight with us.

I believe that is why Jesus plainly said,

“And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me. But DON’T BEGIN until you count the cost…” Luke 14:27-28Luke 14:27-28
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?

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What could be plainer than that statement?

So, why don’t we believe Him?

God demands everything

Why do we play games?

(Because we do.)

In the Western Church we act like this “discipleship-thing” is some sort of a democratic club. We sing that God is supreme. We say that Jesus is our King. But, if things don’t go well? If we don’t get to have our say, or have our way? We bail out—plain and simple.

The sad truth most church statisticians agree upon.

We hate to be inconvenienced, and because of that, there are as many people going out the back door of our churches as are coming in the front door!

If we don’t get what we want, and by that I mean, the pastor’s length of sermon, the style of music, the style of service, a good parking spot, or our favorite seat—we find a way to say, “Bye-bye.” Suffering—REAL suffering—is definitely not on our agendas.

And that was me!

I was seriously thinking of bailing—and here was God—painting a picture of greater suffering?

I had lost my health, my job, and with it, all of my income, my good credit, my freedom and choice of movement, my church, all my church “friends” and now God was saying, “…things could get worse.”

Worse?

You bet I was re-thinking my discipleship!

I was raised in the democratic Church in the West.

We vote on everything and I wanted a VOTE on this kind of agenda!

All InIt’s all well and good to be sitting on my nice clean cushioned-seat, in my lovely safe air-conditioned church building, singing sweet songs about how much I love Jesus.

BUT, it was quite another to contemplate things getting much worse—while I was occupying my own personal ash pile!

What was I really signing up for?

Did I want this dream I had asked God to give me?

I mean, did I really want it—at any cost?

faith or control?God was using words like “danger” and “hardship” with no apologies for either, you bet I was thinking long and hard.

Did I love Jesus as much as I claimed?

His words, “… don’t begin until you count the cost.” was certainly clear enough.

It was time to decide.

I know it looked crazy, (It probably sounds crazy too.) but my answer was, “Yes.”

I said, “LORD, I don’t have any idea where the two of us are headed, but I’ve come too far to turn back now.”

I was scared.

Life already looked plenty grim.

But regardless—I decided—I was all-in.

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WHY DO YOU WEAR THAT FUNNY LOOK?

So you have chosen. Good. Good!

No turning back.

I AM glad you have chosen to  go on.

It had to be your decision.

You are surprised?

upgrade your faithHave I not chosen to bind Myself by men’s free will? What kind of relationship would choose to hog-tie the other’s free will? That is not friendship, that is slavery!

I AM no slaver!

I AM the Divine Lover.

I never force.

(No, it is not My way.)

I do want you to come away with Me—with all My heart I want this. I AM so jealous when you choose “another love” instead of Me.

I freely admit it  I AM crazy about you!

Why do you wear that funny look?

Had you not figured it out by now?

Did I not tell you?

I would move stars and planets for you!

I would make the sun stand still for you!

I would follow you to the deepest, darkest cave, to win your love!

(This you know is true.)

Let Me shout it, “I LOVE YOU BELOVED!”

Let Me whisper it, “I love you.”

I love you with an intensity you will never understand!

When you choose Me—freely choose Me—no matter the cost? When you lay your life down as you have chosen to do?

My Spirit soars!

You are My passion Sweetheart. I wanted you to know it now, and for all time…

I love you.

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“But we have never turned our backs on God…”

Hebrews 10:39Hebrews 10:39
English: World English Bible - WEB

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.

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A Closer Walk: No Turning Back

This is one of my favorite things about God: He never wastes words. God can pack more punch, in less space, than the finest writers who have ever lived.

“Decide.”

On that one little word hung everything in my future.

I had come to some sort of fork in the road with God… and I knew it.

I remembered reading somewhere once, “The Lion of Judah is a WILD lion. Every time you try to cage Him, He will break loose in your life, and do the unexpected.”

The Lion of Judah

Was that what I had tried to do—cage God?

When I looked the idea square in the eye, it did seem ridiculous, in the extreme.

Did I still want the things I had prayed for?

Those things had sounded so wonderful when I had asked God for them. Healing hearts, encouraging the hopeless, gathering the broken, it had all sounded so good. But this road I found myself on was not the kind of road I had expected we would take to do all of that.

I hated what had happened.

Now there it was, the honest naked truth.

I was feeling like I had been mauled by that Wild Lion.

(That was honest, too.)

No head-faking-bull… that was our deal.

My heart felt frozen staring at my choices… my mind was reeling.

crossroads decisionWe used to sing a song at the church I served at. Every time someone was baptized and they would go down into the water, they would come up to the sounds of the church singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus… no turning back… no turning back.”

No turning back.

Yes, in my heart, I knew I was at a crossroads.

Whichever road I chose there would be no turning back.

From this point forward everything would be different…

(And it terrified me.)

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THE PATH

Child, seeing what you see now? Knowing what you know now? Would you forsake all your shame and suffering, and go back to that place of soft easy pleasure?

You have counted some of the cost to follow Me…

the right pathWould you change course; would you do things differently, if you could?

Before you go forward, these are questions you must honestly ask yourself.

Search your heart.

Think long and hard.

The path you’ve chosen is not an easy one. There are many stones along the way; jagged and cutting. There are briars and thorns. It is a narrow way, too. Many places along this path are wide enough for only two ~ you and I.

difficult paths & higher callings

I have been sifting you. (You already know this.) But, the time is fast approaching when I will begin to sift My Church.

(You will be more alone than ever.)

Can you… will you… still go with Me?

We have to decide this now, together.

What sets your soul on fire?

I have to know that you have looked at the danger and hardship, square in the face, and chosen freely, knowing what is to come.

You know Me well enough now to know that I will never leave you.

(I need to know the same about you.)

Make your choice.

a closer walk“It was by faith that Moses… refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but chose to share ill-treatment with God’s people… he thought it was better to suffer…” Hebrews 11:24-26Hebrews 11:24-26
English: World English Bible - WEB

24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with God’s people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; 26 accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

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He Speaks To Us In Songs of Deliverance

The Psalms have been songs of deliverance for me more than once. And so I go there, whenever I am struggling with anything—because it is there HE SPEAKS to me.

songs of deliverance

In those sweet songs I find comfort, I find healing, I find wisdom, instruction, and redemption. In those one hundred and fifty passages—I find HOPE!

They are the Bible’s most beloved poetical anthems of praise and glory to God!

It was C. S. Lewis who wrote,

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . .

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

― C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms 

So for as long as it takes, let us journey through this Book of Songs, looking for the reasons why we can TRUST God.

I believe we shall find such beauty growing there, that by the time we are finished, we shall have discovered our own Garden of Eden in it’s pages.

you are my hiding place

And, songs.

That, too!

There will be songs of deliverance, that shall bring with them, all manner of good things. We shall find messages that will bolster our strength and courage, as well as the substance and evidence, for our faith and trust in a God who passionately loves us.

As C S. Lewis encouraged us to do, we shall “complete our enjoyment” by consuming all the beauty we shall surely uncover there.

Come, let’s mosey together down ancient paths laid out for us thousands of years ago, gathering wildflowers from the darker vales of sadness and lament, as well as in the highland meadows with their prospects of hopefulness.

As we refresh ourselves here and there, by pools of still waters, we shall find His messages of love for us. Then, like Lewis we shall also be able to say,

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”   

songs of deliverance

A Closer Walk: Who Do You See In Your Mirror?

Who do you see in your mirror because how we see ourselves is crucial to advancing the Kingdom of God.

I struggled for years with the image of “conqueror” or “overcomer” because of my early experiences with abandonment. What my head knew, was frequently at odds, with what my heart felt.

cotton candy comfortIt’s all very well to talk about having boldness and courage to advance God’s Kingdom, but if you’re someone like me and your early years were punctuated with criticism, isolation, and rejection, not to mention a lopsided “fire-and-brimstone” presentation of who God is, it’s easy to fall prey to what I call the “cotton-candy-comfort” offered in many of our churches.

It Goes Something Like This…

If you just DO enough for God, if you just GIVE enough to God, if you just BELIEVE enough in God, or THANK Him enough, or whatever your particular brand of “enough” is, then your life will abound with sweet and painless blessings.

I swallowed that stuff for a good long distance until I discovered that it just isn’t Biblical!

The Bible speaks often of suffering and going through rough seas and dark places, and not just for the unbelieving, or the rebellious.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation.”

Many very Godly people go through very dark stuff.

still I shall followRemember Joseph, alone, accused, and abandoned in a prison?

What about Gideon hiding in a winepress, or David hunted and hiding in a cave, or the Apostle Paul ignominiously hiding at the bottom of a laundry basket?

You can make fine speeches all day long about what you believe, or you can declare yourself silly with positive statements, but it is in the darkness of that winepress or dark cave, or at the bottom of that laundry basket where you meet a God who walks with us THROUGH trouble, not far away from it.

I have wrestled over and over again with the concepts of Godly brokenness versus worldly brokenness, and frankly, I believe The Church as a whole struggles with these images too.

You could talk to me about “Christ-in-me” all day long, but that overcoming-truth seldom made it from what my head heard, to what my heart felt, or my eyes saw in my mirror.

looking into my mirror

The Church’s mandate about loving others and boldly advancing the Kingdom gets preached regularly, and it should, but I believe the core reasons we Christians so often fail to carry this through in our day-to-day lives is because a lot of us still carry the cumbersome baggage from a distorted Kingdom-self-image.

That Guilt Gets Translated To Our Intimacy Issues With Our Heavenly Father

Such had been my case.

I was seven years old when my Mother decided to forsake family in search of her longing to be seen as “a professional woman.” Predominantly raised by a father who had extremely exacting standards (that I often failed to live up to) I believed that my failures were letting him down, and that guilt became deeply engraved in how I saw myself.

I was raised by two very broken people who struggled all of their lives with their own defective self-images which meant I came to the conclusion early in my adulthood that God was impossible to please.

Therefore, why even try?

God was perfect. I was not. End of story.

Seeing myself as “a reject” in my mirror had become normal.

Now, here I was sitting in my own personal ash pile with my life in ruins, thus confirming once again my faulty-self as an utter failure, and an unworthy outcast of His Love.

I suppose that’s why God’s tenderness made me so uncomfortable. A critical demanding God I could deal with, but this “Abba-Father” who wanted to come close and get intimately loving and transparent with me, with all my messy issues? No way! It was way too touchy-feely for me.

And so, I kept pushing God away.

But what about our deal?

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YOU ARE BREAKING MY HEART!

Let’s talk about this mindset of yours.

Yes, mindset, because for reasons that are yours alone you refuse to give it up in spite of what I tell you.

Listen to Me again Mighty One.

To Him I am flawless

You are not rejected by Me.

You are not My outcast.

I will never throw you away!

Why do you dwell on the past deeds of others this way?

Why do you keep returning to this pigsty for just one more roll in the mud?

Jesus robes us

I have dressed you in snow-white robes of My righteousness.

I have covered ALL (Yes, all.) of your sins and failures with the red, pure blood of My Son’s heart.

I want you to stop this now because you are breaking My heart. I know your past. I know what others in your past have said and done to you. But, what about Me? What about what I have done for you?

Enough dearest—it is enough.

You are Mine not theirs. Mine!

I decide what you are to be called.

(I decide.)

I have chosen you

Do you hear Me?

Good!

Then listen again and wrap your heart in this truth.

Wash your mindset with righteous words.

Build a new image for your mirror—one that stands on—My love.

You are not an outcast!

I have chosen you and will not throw you away.

a closer walk“But as for you, …you are mine, my chosen ones; for I have chosen you and will not throw you away.”

Isaiah 41:8-9Isaiah 41:8-9
English: World English Bible - WEB

8 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend, 9 you whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from the corners of it, and said to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you away;

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Be Strong and Courageous

strong and courageous

 Be strong! Be courageous! Do not be afraid of them! For the Lord your God will be with you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.

Then Moses called for Joshua and said to him, as all Israel watched, “Be strong! Be courageous! For you shall lead these people into the land promised by the Lord to their ancestors; see to it that they conquer it.   Don’t be afraid, for the Lord will go before you and will be with you; he will not fail nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6-8Deuteronomy 31:6-8
English: World English Bible - WEB

6 Be strong and of good courage, don’t be afraid, nor be scared of them: for Yahweh your God, he it is who does go with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you. 7 Moses called to Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage: for you shall go with this people into the land which Yahweh has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 Yahweh, he it is who does go before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you: don’t be afraid, neither be dismayed.

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