I have a new website! You will be redirected to my brand new blog. Cory Nickols: January 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When You Fall Down, Get Back Up

When I think of a pregnant woman who is carrying an unborn child, that child has all the instructions to become an adult man or woman one day.  It will take many years for this to happen, but non-the-less, over time that baby will grow to full maturity - an adult human being that can contribute to society.  Can you imagine all the stumbling and falling that child would experience in the next few years of his life.  No one questions whether or not he will make mistakes or miscalculate decisions.  It is part of the learning process.  In the same way, when a person becomes a Christian, he has experienced what the Bible says “Born Again,” or born into the family of God.  He has been given a new nature that is responsive to God’s heart, he has been given eternal life and the spiritual and physical tools necessary to live out his God given destiny.  Even though he has received everything necessary to live out the Christian life from God, he enters a process called sanctification or being set a part.  A new Christian has to learn what it means to walk with God and live in obedience to God’s will for his life.  Just like a new born child can’t drive a car the moment he enters into this world, over the next 15 or 16 years of his life, he will grow and mature to become a responsible young man who can handle this privilege.  There are no shortcuts in growing to maturity in Christ and being a yielded vessel that God can fill with His Spirit to accomplish His will on the earth.  It takes time…period! 

Even a mature Christian and one who continues to mature through the years, will make mistakes.  We never arrive.  Be weary of people who claim they are without sin or are so full of pride they can’t let people see their flaws. 

The bible says,”For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked are overthrown by calamity” (Proverbs 24:16.)

In other words, a person who loves God will make mistakes along this Christian journey, but he gets back up and keeps moving forward.  Just this week, I was working on a promotional piece for a worship event our church is sponsoring and I had to get some images off a well known stock photo website online.  I searched under the keyword “worship” and as I scrolled down through the great worship photos I noticed a picture of a naked woman in the middle of all of them.  I had the choice to immediately click to another page or continue to admire God’s creation.  Well, in a moment of weakness, I chose to look at the picture a few seconds longer than I should have.  I felt convicted for the poor choice and asked God to forgive me.  God in His great love for me said, “Cory get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.  You are forgiven!”  I received His forgiveness and went on with the rest of my day making a difference in other people’s lives.  God reminded me that I am a work in progress and that I have come so far in this area of my life.  I used to struggle with pornography on a regular basis several years ago, but God truly has delivered me and rarely do I feel the urge to succumb to it.  The devil was doing his best to try to heap condemnation on me for hours, but I have learned to receive God’s forgiveness and really believe I am forgiven!  Remember we are a work in progress and though we are maturing, we still mess up!   Even the greatest of Saints, if they are honest, will tell you they need God’s mercy and forgiveness on a regular basis. 

Here are a couple of key points to remember. 
One – the Christian life is a journey and it takes time to become mature.  Just like the little baby that falls a lot, you will fall and make mistakes along the way, but get back up and keep moving forward.  Those mistakes actually become nuggets of wisdom to help others as you learn from them.

Two – Don’t try and make excuses for the wrong choices you make.  Just admit it and let God forgive you.  He resists the proud person, but gives grace to the humble.  Those who freely admit they were wrong and look to God for help are met with God’s loving embrace.  

Three – Receive God’s forgiveness, NOT condemnation.  God convicts us of sin, but the devil condemns us.  Once you ask for forgiveness and you still feel heaviness and condemned for the mistakes you made, don’t receive them.  You need to fight back against the lies of the enemy by saying, I am forgiven by God.  He paid the price at the cross so that I could be in right relationship with Him. 

When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you begin this amazing journey with God.  I pray that you continue to mature and become all that God intended you to be.  Don’t let your past mistakes keep you feeling less than or not good enough.  Jesus paid an enormous price so that you could experience His very best and be free from condemnation and a life of regret.  Remember, a righteous man falls seven times, but he gets back up!  Get up, dust yourself off and keep heading into all the good things God has for you.  Life is worth living. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are You Stuck In The Mud?

Do you find yourself frustrated with life, going through the motions, or just feeling like you are stuck in the mud?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone.  Everyone has moments where life becomes routine.  Instead of a sense of excitement, there is the dread of getting up in the morning to face another day.  Though we all face these thoughts and feelings, the key is to push past the way we “FEEL” and continue to move forward in the direction we believe God has asked us to go.

 I had to learn this lesson.  Over the past two years, I faced the worst financial collapse of my life.  Every decision I made in an effort to do the right thing threw me into a worse predicament.  I was so broke, I could no longer live on my own and after 11 years of doing so, I had to move in with my parents again.  In this trial, I believed God spoke to me and said “Set my people free.”  In my mind, I was like what does that mean?  How can I set God’s people free when I have no money and have no car to get around?  I have always been fascinated with new modes of internet technology like Youtube and Facebook because these are free vehicles to let ordinary people get ideas and experiences out to the masses.  People have literally become famous over night because of them.  I found a free blogging website that I could start sharing experiences that God has taken me through over the last 12 years to help people grow in their relationship with God and experience His very best.  Within weeks, people from all over the world started viewing my blog and were benefitting from it.  I was so excited.  After a couple of months of writing this blog, I found myself wondering if people were really getting something out of it because I was not receiving as many encouraging comments as I did when I first started.  I even took this to God in prayer.  He said to me, “Continue writing…Set my people free.”  I wanted to be obedient to God so I just continued to do what I knew God had asked me to do, even when it was hard to keep moving forward.  I didn’t see the results I wanted to see, but in faith I kept pressing forward.  Within a week or two of all these thoughts, I received an email from the editor-in-chief of a Christian newspaper company in south Florida.  She had read several of my blogs and wanted me to start writing for the newspaper.  I communicated with her several times and I am now a columnist writer for this newspaper company with a reading audience of over 250,000 readers.  God is amazing! 

I learned some big lessons through this event.  One – if you are going through a difficult season and can’t figure out what God is up to, He might be repositioning you like He did me.  God repositioned me to live at home and cut all my expenses down to almost nothing so that I could spend my time and energy communicating the truths I learned over the last several years.  Don’t fight against God, let Him guide you and trust by faith He has a good plan even if it is uncomfortable. 

Two- When God asks you to do something, keep on course until He asks you to do something else.   Many times we quit before our blood, sweat and tears produce good fruit.  The bible says, “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (Galatians 6:9 Amplified Bible).  In other words, we will see the good things God has in store for us if we continue until the appointed time for us to receive them.  I had to press through the way I felt at times and do what God asked me to do.  The end result was a promotion and the ability to influence so many more people!  If we get whatever we want when we want it, we become spoiled.  God allows us to go through seasons of pushing forward with little or no results to teach us to trust Him by faith and not give up because the journey is difficult.  This difficulty and trust in God teaches us to be grateful when we do see the fruit of our labor. 

Three – When these negative feelings come into our minds, we need to cast them down and replace them with the truth of God’s Word.  I had to make a decision regardless if I received positive feedback from others or not and trust that God would not lead me in this direction if He didn’t equip me to minister to His people.  He will not lead you into something He has not already given you the grace and ability to do it.  People were being ministered to.  I just didn’t hear about it.  One day, I ran into a buddy of mine and he told me he reads all my blogs and I should continue to write because it is good stuff!

The next time you find yourself in a season of frustration or you are just going through the motions, I want to encourage you to take some time and ask yourself if you are doing what God has asked you to do? Or, have you stopped?  Real joy comes from walking in obedience to God and His plan for your life.  You were destined for great things and the key to walking it out is obedience to God.  It might be hard, but God will give you the strength to endure and live an overcoming life.  I pray you will allow God to pull you up out of the mud and lead you into your destiny.    

Thursday, January 13, 2011

True Words From A Real Friend

I love singing.  I grew up singing in my bedroom, the shower and pretty much anywhere for that matter.  I even thought that God was asking me to sing for Him and use this amazing gift for His glory!  I could see it in my mind, touring the world for Jesus.  However, there was one small problem.  I was not as gifted as I thought I was.  Whenever I actually got in front of people to perform, I was so nervous that I went flat frequently.  Not to mention, it was a real struggle for me to sing correctly.  I never felt comfortable in my own shoes while singing, nor did I sense the grace of God on this particular ability.  I tried to get inspiration from my younger brother who was an excellent singer/ song writer and I thought I could do what he was doing because I liked what he was doing!  My first clue that I was not a gifted singer should have been the fact that NO ONE came up to me and said I did a good job, unless it was family of course.  They would tell me I sounded great even if I was a broken record.  Then one day, I went to dinner with a friend who straight up told me that I could not sing.  He went on to say that I was not gifted at singing and that my talents were in another area.  “Cory, Explore what those are,” he said.  Well, let me just say that I was devastated by our conversation and I couldn’t sleep the whole night because I was convinced that I was supposed to sing.  Over the next several months and even years, I realized that I was not gifted to sing, even if I practiced every day and took singing lessons…the whole nine yards.  I would have been a very very low average singer…if that! 

The bible says “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6 New Living Translation).  Sometimes, we are so convinced we are right about the direction in life we need to take or about an important decision that we fail to see clearly.  We really like the gifts and talents of someone else, and try to claim them for ourselves.  We might not say it out loud, but we say it secretly in our hearts and take steps to see them function in our lives.  That happened to me.  I saw my younger brother was a great singer and song writer and I wanted to be too.  It was cool!  What came very natural for him was extremely burdensome for me, but I would not have admitted it.  I just tried harder and it became very frustrating.  God had to work through a friend of mine that was very close to me because I was not listening to Him directly.  My friend’s words hurt me, but they REALLY HELPED me in the end.  I was so grateful for his honesty, because it helped me discover and go after what I was really good at in life.  Instead of pursuing something I was average at, I am know running after what God has called me to do.  I love speaking and sharing what God has done in my life with others.  It is something I do naturally and when I am speaking in front of people, it motivates me.  When I get done, people tell me that I really helped them grow closer to God.  I finally started running in my lane and life couldn’t be better. 

Are you going through a rough patch and need someone to be honest with you?  Or maybe you see someone in your world going through a very difficult season and you know you should say something to him because you LOVE and VALUE him as a person.  It might hurt his feelings because you could say something that he doesn’t want to hear, but in the end, it will help him down the right path.  I was so thankful for my friend who was willing to tell me the truth even though it hurt.  I look back and see how much happier I am now knowing that I am using the real gifts and talents God has given me to further His kingdom.  The next time you find yourself in a situation where you hear words you might not want to hear from a true friend, prayerfully consider what he is saying.  Those words just might be true riches that leads you into your destiny or brings real healing into your life.  It did for me. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Show A Little Respect

I grew up with three brothers and eventually had two amazing sisters added to the mix in my late teen years.  My twin brother and I happened to be the middle children, so we knew what it was like to have older siblings and a younger brother.  In the hierarchy of siblings, it was my older brother’s right to sit in the front passenger seat of the family car whenever mom or dad went somewhere.  This older sibling right-of-passage was supposed to be passed down to me, but for some reason was never enforced.  In fact, my younger brother many times would make some quick maneuver to sit in the front passenger seat and my parents would let him get away with it.  I felt extremely aggravated and ripped off that they would let him sit in “MY SPOT.”  After all, I waited years to be able to claim the rights to the front passenger seat.  Well my animosity toward my younger brother continued to grow.  He became the center of attention at family gatherings and I was secretly jealous of him because he took the attention away from me.  So like a nice older brother I made comments that ate away his confidence and brought his ego down a couple of notches.  Needless to say, our relationship was not very good.  I continually thought in my mind, if he would only respect me, then I would treat him different.  On several occasions I told him that I hated him.  This was said in love of course…not really…who was I kidding? 
            Several years ago, God took me through a series of events that broke my self-reliance and caused me to surrender control of my life to God.  In the months and years to follow, God began chipping away areas of my life that did not reflect his character and heart towards others.  One day He began to deal with me about how I had been treating my younger brother.  As I was spending time with God, this scene played out in my mind.  There was a huge royal feast with Christians seated along this rectangular table having a great time.  As far as the eye could see people were seated eating and carrying on conversation.  Jesus was at the head of the table and I noticed that He got up and came over to where I was seated and He said this to me, “You take my seat and I will take yours.”  I told Him that I could NOT take His seat because it was reserved for Him.  Then He said to me, “He who wants to be greatest in my kingdom will be a servant of all.”  I did not understand what this mental scene meant at first, but little by little, I began to understand.  Jesus was at the seat of honor and rightly so.  He deserved to sit in the highest seat at the feast.  He was God!  But, He gave up His right and took my place instead.  I knew God was asking me to give up my right to the front passenger seat of the family car and let my younger brother have it.  Not only that, but I was to ask if he wanted to sit up there!  The first time I did that, my brother looked at me as if I had lost my mind?  He could not believe that he was talking with the same Cory that terrorized him days and weeks earlier.  Over time, I looked for ways that I could show him that I loved and valued him because I was experiencing the same love and value from my Savior Jesus Christ.  The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV).  For many years, I sowed disrespect toward my brother and was expecting respect in return!  God began to teach me that if I wanted respect from my brother, I needed to humble myself and show respect to him.  I will reap what I sow into the ground only.  Over the course of several months of sowing respect, I saw a real change start to take place in him and he began to treat me with kindness.  To this day, we have an amazing relationship and it is all because I humbled myself and started sowing what I wanted out of the relationship…RESPECT.

Maybe you are having trouble in a relationship with a loved one, friend or coworker.  I encourage you to let go of pride and stop waiting for them to make the first move.  Humble yourself and let God teach you how to show love and respect toward them and you will see God transform those broken relationships into meaningful ones.  It might be tough, but with God’s help you can be more than a conqueror.  You might want to quit because they are not showing you love in return for the changes you made.  Remember, you are starting to sow good seed.  It takes time for it to germinate and produce a crop. 

“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (Galatians 6:9 Amplified Bible).