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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Healing Hand

I had been given a significant leadership role at a certain church I attended and over time, felt like God was asking me to move on from there. My role at this church was an administrative/ logistical position which involved overseeing setup and teardown for Sunday services and special events and making sure volunteers got plugged into the right ministry area. It was great.  However, as time went on, I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to take steps toward the dream God had put in my heart, which was communicating the challenges God has brought me through to help set His people free.  This desire would not leave me, but kept growing.  Then this Bible passage jumped off the pages at me,

Acts 6:1-4 (New International Version) “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’”

The apostles started getting bogged down with the day to day needs of the people, which in turn, interrupted sharing the word of God. To keep this from happening they chose other qualified leaders to meet the hospitality needs so they could spend their time and energy teaching. God showed me that He wanted me to share the Word of God with people and let go of my current responsibilities because they were keeping me from doing God’s will for my life. I approached the pastor and told him what I believed God was asking me to do and he didn’t agree with how I was handling the situation. Misunderstanding happened and both the pastor and I were hurt as well as many people from the church. It was a difficult situation. I ended up moving in the direction I believed God asked me to go and many great doors of opportunity started to open. It was neat to see the hand of God working. The whole next year, I experience a couple circumstances that resembled the situation I went through from my previous church, except I was in the same position that my old pastor was in. I experienced such hurt and pain from some individuals that left my current church. They once were really involved and then for some reason disagreed with the way we did things and the next thing you know they left the church and tried to take many people with them. They talked behind our backs and said nasty things that were not completely true…half truths. For the first time, I realized that I was not the only one that was hurt when I left my previous church. My old pastor and many people from his church were hurt too, but I failed to see they were hurting because I saw through my own lens. It was not an accurate depiction of the truth. It was distorted and I only saw from my vantage point. God allowed me to experience a similar situation from my old pastor’s perspective so that I could understand how he felt when I left his church. I told my side of the story to others and it was not completely accurate. I am thankful that God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to go through these trials so that I could have compassion on hurting people and learn to show mercy. After all, God extended it to me! The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8 (Amplified Bible), “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and [a]disregards the offenses of others]. I no longer was upset with him, but actually wanted him to succeed and be all that God wanted him to be. I extended a hand of mercy because I realized he was not perfect just like I was not perfect. God put on my heart to write my old pastor a letter apologizing for how I handled the situation. Admitting I was wrong and accepting personal responsibility for my actions brought a bridge of reconciliation for the future. If we can look beyond offenses and see the good in people just think of how different our world would look. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt and not be so judgmental or critical of them. Give them room to make some mistakes! The Bible is filled with imperfect people doing extraordinary things for God.

Can you admit when you are wrong? Do you find yourself upset with a loved one, a coworker, spouse or a friend for a suffered wrong? Ask God to help you see from His perspective instead of yours. Your point of view just might need some tweaking!  I am grateful He brought balance to my viewpoint because I can now offer a healing hand of wisdom and show compassion for others who face similar circumstances. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can You Submit And Let God Promote You?

Several years ago, I was asked to lead a post-college singles ministry at a church I attended.  I was so grateful for the opportunity because it had been in my heart for several years prior to this, but God had not opened the door until the perfect time.  It was also in my heart to lead the college age ministry, but I was not asked to do this.  So, I led the post-college singles ministry with all my might.  It was going great.  People were getting involved and several individuals connected with the vision I had for the ministry.  One particular person and I really gelled together.  We had met many times and he embraced this ministry and wanted to pour his life into it.  I was so excited.  In one of the discussions we had, he told me how old he was and it surprised me because he was actually college age and not post-college age.  This meant he should really be in the collage age ministry and not the post college ministry even though he believed in what I was doing.  Well, I felt a conviction from God to tell the college age pastor about this.  I really wrestled with it because I felt like I had invested so much time and energy into this person and I knew I risked losing him to another ministry.  However, I could not shake this inner conviction from God.  I eventually went to the college pastor and discussed the situation and he told me that this person could come to my stuff as long as he came to all the college age functions.  I was upset, but I knew that real submission to authority happens when I disagreed with something, but come under the authority structure of that particular church.  In humility and real faith, I gave the situation to God and I told my buddy the scoop.  He didn’t take it the way I thought he would and for some reason left the church and I never heard from him again.  I was disappointed on one level, but grateful I obeyed God and did the right thing.  One week later, the college pastor told me to come into the church office and he basically said he had too much on his plate.  He was leading youth, the worship team and the college ministry at church and it began to overwhelm him.  He asked if I wanted to take over the college ministry and combine the two ministries into one.  I totally was blown away at how God gave me the desires in my heart when I submitted to the way He wanted me to do it.  I learned a huge lesson that day.  Obedience to God and learning to come under authority is key to helping me step into my destiny! 

David was anointed to be king of Israel by the Prophet Samuel, but served for many years under the current King Saul, who was jealous of him.  Saul’s jealousy caused him to want to bring great harm to David and eventually David fled from Saul into the wilderness for many years.  On two different occasions, David could have killed Saul but said this:

“He (David) said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD” (1 Samuel 24:6).

David knew that authority came from God and that God would ultimately vindicate him from Saul.  David did not try and take things into his own hands, but entrusted the situation to God and allowed God to work on his behalf.  Ultimately, God dealt with Saul and David became King.  It was in God’s timing and God’s way.  How often do we try and get what we want when life does not go the way we think it should.  It happens all the time in church life and relationships.  We try to manipulate others to get our way or we try to override authority that God has put in place and justify our actions.  Do you find yourself in a situation like this?  Learn from David.  He did not go around criticizing Saul, but spoke well of him, even when Saul was mistreating him.  When Saul was killed in battle, David was grieved over him.  The Bible says in 2 Samuel 1:11-12 (NIV), “Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”  David’s response showed that he did not have any ill will toward Saul, but chose to forgive him.  He did not let offense or unforgiveness creep in and poison his heart and lead him to do wrong things in God’s sight.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  The Bible says, “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it” Ephesians 4:29 (Amplified Bible).  When we learn to entrust people to God and live in obedience to God’s ways, we can get promoted into all the good things God has for us.  But, if we take matters into our own hands and refuse to learn to do things God’s way, we will live far below God’s best.  I had to learn to not gossip about the way I thought things should be when I came into disagreement with leadership or others.  I learned that God is big enough to change the hearts of men in my favor if that is really His plan.  And He did!  Can you trust Him too?  Can you submit and let God promote you? 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

White As Snow

A couple of weeks ago, it was my responsibility to put out direction signs for my church’s Sunday morning service.  It had just snowed the night before and I was driving to put the signs in the correct locations when God dropped something into my heart.  I happened to be admiring all the freshly fallen snow that had completely covered the ground and God whispered in the silence of the moment, “I have covered all your mistakes and failures and see you as white as snow.”  The Bible says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. In essence, God was saying, because I had placed my trust and confidence in Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross, God sees me as if I had never sinned.  God has covered my mistakes with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Jesus lived a sinless life on earth and died a horrible death on a cross to take the place of the consequences of my sin.  Then He rose from the dead conquering the power sin had over my life.  The Bible says, “Well then, as one man's trespass [one man's false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man's act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.  For just as by one man's disobedience (failing to hear, [a]heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him).  But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God's unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded, so that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord” Romans 5:18-21 (Amplified Bible).  I cannot earn a right relationship with God nor can I be good enough.  I simply need to believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the price for my sin and allowed me to come near a Holy God and experience His presence, love and acceptance! 
Again the Bible says, “For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]” Hebrews 4:15-16 (Amplified Bible). 

Do you find yourself struggling to forgive yourself for past mistakes?  Or are you having trouble letting go of an offense of someone that has hurt you?  Maybe you believe that God could forgive someone else, but you have made one too many mistakes to enter into God’s presence and feel His loving arms of acceptance.  When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God takes away your sin as far as the east is from the west and looks at you as if you were white as snow!  You can come boldly to Him in prayer because of what He did for you.  Receive His forgiveness.  As you experience His unconditional love, extend it to others who do not deserve it either.  I pray that God will give you the strength and power to overcome any obstacle in the way of His best for your life and that you truly understand your worth and value to God.  He paid a huge price to set you free.  Will you invite Jesus into your life and experience freedom from sin and a right relationship with God?  Will you BELIEVE that what He did for you is enough?  Will you walk it out?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Should This Be Allowed?

I was at Starbucks the other day going through the drive thru and the lady at the window asked if I wanted to give my dog Max a PUPPY LATTE.  I didn't even know they had such things.  Today my brother Tyler and I were getting a Starbucks and Max was so excited to receive another Puppy Latte.  Should this be allowed?  Well my dog sure loves them!  Starbucks - you have yourself a marketing icon.  Watch out Geico lizard you have some competition on television now. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Are You A Channel Or A Dam?

Joseph was a man that had a dream from God to one day lead and rule over people. He had no idea how this dream was going to come to pass, but he believed that God was well able to make it happen. Shortly after God gave Joseph the dream several unfortunate circumstances befell Joseph: he was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, he was wrongly accused of trying to rape his master’s wife and then was put in prison. I am sure Joseph struggled with understanding why he went through all these events and what purpose they could possibly have in his life. But deep on the inside, he learned to trust God by faith regardless of what things looked like in the natural. Then all of a sudden, the king of Egypt had a dream from God, but could not interpret it. He asked for all his wise men to interpret the dream, but none could. Then the butler remembered that Joseph had interpreted his dream correctly when the butler was in prison and he told the king that Joseph could reveal the meaning of his dream. The king called for Joseph and shared his dream with him. Joseph, by the divine hand of God, revealed the meaning of the king’s dream and was instantly promoted to second in command of all of Egypt and went on to save Egypt and his own family from a horrible famine.

Joseph used his God-given talents, spiritual gifts and abilities to help encourage the butler while he was in prison. He did not let his difficult circumstances keep him from being a blessing wherever he found himself. In other words, he was an open channel that God could use to bring blessing to someone in need. Many times, instead of being an open channel for God to flow through, we let the difficulties of life, offenses, failure, and disappointments clog our channel and we become a dam stopping God’s ability to work through us. Joseph had an opportunity to get bitter, but instead, he allowed God to build character in his life through those challenges and trusted God to vindicate him at the end of the day. This trust kept his channel open to hear from God and dispense God’s love and goodness to people. Just think, Joseph’s one act of kindness caused the butler to remember Joseph when the king of Egypt could not comprehend his own dream and ultimately helped Joseph fulfill God’s divine destiny for his life!

Within the last year, I heard about a pastor in Haiti that had believed God for 13 years to build a church building for his congregation so that they could really minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the Les Cayes community. I was so moved and inspired by his story that I wanted to do something to help him fulfill his God-given dream! Unfortunately, I had been experiencing the worst financial difficulty of my life and did not see how I could possibly help this man. None the less, I kept sensing the stirring of the Holy Spirit to take on this challenge. With no previous international missions experience and with no money, I began to lead a team from Envision Life Center to help make this pastor’s dream come true. We asked everyday people to partner with us and they responded with open arms. Enough money was raised for the first phase of the construction project and it was completed this past July. Even though I was facing my own financial struggles, God was asking me to trust Him to meet my needs and allow Him to use me as a channel to help fulfill someone else’s dream. I know that there will be a day when I need people to help me fulfill what God has put in my heart and God was asking me to sow good seed in the ground.

Is there something obstructing you from being a channel of God’s love and mercy or putting wings on someone else's dreams? I encourage you to step out in faith and allow God to flow through you. You never know where that one act of kindness might lead. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My First Published Article for The Good News

Check out my first published article with The Good News, a newspaper company in south Florida.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to share the love of God with a wider audience.