All posts by Crista Nice

Victorious

Posted on Mar 26, 2021 | Download

Luke 1:37 "For the word of God will never fail." Other translations say, "For nothing is impossible with God." "Nothing is impossible. Every chain is breakable. With you, we are Victorious. -More Than Conquerors, Rend Collective. The truth is simple. God is able. He does not fail. He is faithful, slow to anger, rich in mercy. He is love. He is peace. He is just. He is real. His word, Jesus Christ, triumphed over sin and the grave. In so doing, You broke every chain and yoke of slavery of sin from Adam & Eve til forever.  What must we do in light of this?  Respond.  "Mary responded, 'I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.'" Luke 1:38a God, my heart is the same.  Your way, over mine.  Your plan, over mine.  You, over me.  I see the chains You have broken; help me not pick them up and carry them through my life as useless baggage. For I was bound by sin, shame, and wasting away. You offered me love and freedom. I believed. So, I now walk in Light and Hope with purpose and authority in Christ. Nothing is impossible, You do not fail. With You, I am, victorious. In Jesus name I pray, trust, and rest...selah...Amen  

Time to Multiply & Pass It On

Posted on Mar 11, 2021 | Download

"And the Lord has given both him and Oholiah son of Ahisamach, of the tribe Dan, the ability to teach their skills to others. The Lord has given them special skills as engravers, designers, embroiderer in blue, purple, and scarlet thread on fine linen cloth, and weavers. They excel as craftsman and designers." Exodus 35:34-35 The Lord gives good gifts to His children. He gives talent, skills, and ability. Along with these gifts, He gives His children the ability to teach. They can pass on God's gifting to others! And not like "passing on" so that they are empty handed but teaching it forward to another. Not less for self, but more for all.  That is amazing! Incredible, actually. That God would pass on His blessing/anointing on His people through His people...that gifting was designed by God to multiply & transfer like this is stunning.  How do I live this? What gifting do I have? What are my talents, skills, abilities? Am I even aware that I have gifts from God?  Do I live in such a way that promotes the teaching and passing on of the gifting, talents, and ability God has given me? Not in forced authority, but in the humility of a servant, like Jesus was a servant. Do I multiply God's gifts to me? God, reveal to me what I have shut my eyes to. Reveal what gifts You have given me. Reveal the talent and ability that I have deemed, natural. Help me find new ways to share, to pass on, to teach on. You have created this system of multiplication & transfer, forgive me for not working within it. God may you see a return on the gifts in these upcoming months and years, more than You have ever seen. I want to be a good steward and see others know You more & not lack in anything. In Jesus name I pray and trust, Amen  

Scar Check-Ups

Posted on Mar 4, 2021 | Download

"But if the area grows no larger and does not spread, it is merely a scar from the boil, and the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean...But if the infected area has not changed or spread on the skin, and has faded, it is simply swelling from the burn. The priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean, for it is only the scar from the burn." Lev 13:23 & 28 Have you ever been burned or had a blister? Have you ever scratched a scar? Depending upon on how recent the wound this can really do a number on you. Young scars, fresh scars can be easily reopened. Deep scars, from great wounds, can damage the nerves on the skin and result in loss of feeling in that area. When one of these deep scars are scratched there can be such a lack of awareness, remember you lost your feeling, that you walk around bleeding on everything you touch.  New scar, old, or deep there are big reasons that we need regular scar check ups. God, here are my scars. Have any of them been scratched recently? Are You wanting to restore healing or feeling? Is there something growing under the scar that needs tending to, an infection, perhaps? Is that why I am sensitive there? Is that why I am unconsciously protecting that space from anything that gets close?  Unseen infections may require a reopening & cleaning. Lord, I am going to be real honest; I don't want to do this. I don't want to revisit this wound. I hate the scar. Seeing it makes me feel shame and disgust with myself. Now you want to open and expose it to the air? God, the air hurts open wounds. I will feel everything. Why? You know I can't do this alone. Do I trust You to take care of me here, vulnerable, exposed? I am scared. What if....what if it is unclean-able. I want to be more than "ceremonially" clean.  Okay Lord, You are the High Priest. You are the One who makes me white as snow. Take my scars. You are the Great Physician. I trust You will heal me. You are the only one who speaks, "You are clean!" I receive the healing. I receive the freedom. By Your stripes, I am healed. Help me walk like one who is Clean and look at my scars for their sacrality*. Amen.  *For more on the *Sacrality of Scars listen to Pastor Tony's sermon from April 14th, 2020.

Called Out or Outsider?

Posted on Jan 21, 2021 | Download

The first church I went to as a 7-year-old child, was the one I stayed at for the next 18 years. By the time I was a teenager I walked the building with insight and authority. I even ran through the halls a time or two. I knew where every bathroom was, every "secret" closet and stairwell. I played the grand piano when no one was looking. I even worked there as an intern as soon as I graduated high school; immersing myself more in the church culture and my family. When you know who to get petty cash from and they give it to you...you know you are part of the team. It was one of the times in my life that I felt most valued, most essential, and most included. When we left my childhood church and moved to Texas, an unidentified void grew within me.  Church felt different. I felt like an outsider. Present but not seen. Present but not known. Present but invisible. But why? It must be the church. So we tried a new one. Week after week, month after month, year after year, church after church we tried to fit in. Yet the void didn't lessen. I missed the connection I had felt in my first church. The unity that came from meeting more than on Sundays. I missed being needed. I missed being called out. I missed being seen. I missed being part of a church family.  I remember telling my spouse how lonely I felt in service. I struggled in my desire to go each week. My joy in "church" was dead. No one sees me anyway. I am not on the inner circle. I am an outsider. But the conviction to be in church was too strong. Truth overcomes our momentary feeling if we do what is right even though we don't feel it.  So, I took up my "outsider" role as a call from God. Was He asking me to focus less on myself? There must be purpose in this. God loves me and is good. He does not forsake His people. There must be others who feel like they are unimportant and left to struggle alone. I could seek them out & make sure they feel known and seen. I could reach out, encourage, and uplift others. I could live called out to see people. Slowly my feelings of being an outsider changed. I was willing to be called out of my comfort zone. I started to feel connected. I started to feel seen. I started to be known.  How did I go from struggling alone and outside to believing I was a valuable family member? I did these three things: 1. Show up. Yes, it is that simple. Show up! When you feel like sleeping in, just want a quiet evening, or feel like watching the game... let your feet lead your heart into church. This does not only mean to the main service.  Ugh, you know it is coming...show up to...LifeGroups. It may not feel comfortable but being present in smaller groups is such an important way you will connect with others and it is where you will be seen.  Being a part of a church family allows you the opportunity to serve in the Body of Christ and serve others! We are gifted for acts of service to one another, and this happens when we don’t just show up once a week to ‘be fed.’  2. Speak Up. You are not alone. Look around you when you are in church. Show up a tad early so you have the time to say "hi" to one person*. Listen, let's be real, this is not easy. Looking away from yourself is hard. You will feel uncomfortable. But that is...okay! You may not know what to say, that is okay too. Ask a question. "How was your week?" Yes, it feels awkward to end one of these brief conversations but lean into the awkward. It is not what you say but that you say something that makes a difference. (Heb 10:24-25). 3. Dig In. Dig into your bible. Get on the Bible App. Invite someone to do a study together for fellowship and accountability. Join a Bible study. Spend an hour a week alone listening to worship music & praising God. Take a daily/weekly walk and ask God to speak to you fresh. Obey. You may feel like an outsider because the void inside you is not being filled by God. God still speaks today. Are you making time to hear?  We like to think that the reason we don't fit into a church is because it is the wrong church. That could be true. But when we examine our hearts honestly, often it is because we are too lazy to put forth effort, we are afraid to be vulnerable or uncomfortable, and/or we want to feel like a good Christian without surrendering ourselves fully to God.   God has more for you in 2021.  You are NOT an outsider. You are called out. (John‬ 11:38-44‬). It is time to respond to Him by Showing up, Speaking up, and Digging in!   *NAME MEMORY HACK Say person's name in a sentence right after you learn it. Then, just before you leave, say their name in your farewell, again. When you are back at your seat, whip out your phone or notebook. Write their name down with some description of their person or detail of your convo. Example: Crista, brown hair, two kids. Then, right before service the next week glance at your note. So you are ready in case they are there again. If you don't remember the next time you see them, ask. Remember, it matters when someone knows your name. People are worth this time and effort.  ----- Thank you for reading this original content from SomaChurch of Tyler, TX.  If you are part of another church body, we encourage you to apply these truths and practices wherever you are planted. Rise Up and live Called Out!  

Fight for the Family with Humility

Posted on Nov 18, 2020 | Download

"I think you need to take a walk. Leave your phone and go talk to Jesus!" I didn't say it nicely. It wasn't a suggestion. Standing in the middle of our living room, I faced my husband sitting on the couch. I fumed. I could feel my hands start to shake as I panicked. There was no 'yes' in his body posture or eyes. Just sheer...I don't know...who knows what he is thinking?! I balled my fists. Desperately needing to see that my husband had absorbed the sermon we had both just heard. I needed to see him choose health and wholeness. I looked in his angry eyes and saw my life pool out before me with no changes, no hope. The pool suddenly felt like an ocean and I could only see the wind and waves (Matt 14:31). "I am not going to just go put the groceries away and pretend I am fine. I am going for a walk if you won't. I need Jesus to help me survive this." I am sure I shouted it all, but I don't remember. I was drowning in sorrow and fear (Phil 4:6). I had stepped out in hope. Where was my help (Ps 18:30)? On the blacktop, in my church clothes, I vented to God. "How God? How can I have hope? What am I supposed to do? How can I raise kids if he does not change? How can I be anything You've called me to be, when I don't have support? Why God? Why do I have to fight so hard? Why is it so hard for him to admit what he is thinking? Or see that he directly affects us with his attitudes and reactions? God, I don't know. I can't do it. I feel so...alone. Help me.” (John 16:7,13). I stomped down two streets speaking aloud like a crazy person. I was too angry to care if anyone heard and too stubborn to turn back. As I word vomited my struggle, I started to register a loud barking in my future path. As I walked closer the angrier the bark sounded. How annoying! I walked forward wanting so badly to prove my dominance. He wasn't a threat to me. I get to choose where I walk! But deep down, I felt, fear. I stopped and looked at the dog. He was just protecting his property. I shrugged and turned back, finding another route. My desire to go that way was not worth riling up this dog. The new street brought new thoughts. I started thinking of my sister who is battling to protect her son from the consequences and choices of others. I prayed for her. I hadn't responded to a text earlier in the day, so I did. I turned worship music and prayed for others who I knew were fighting for healing, truth, and hope in their own lives. Turning back toward the house I looked up and saw hope in the sky. Directly above me the sky was dark blue but in the future distance, it was a lighter shade. Isn't that the way it goes, huh? Taking a photo I send it to those whom I'd just been praying. Reminding them, and myself, that though it may look dark now, there is hope for a brighter future (Ps 84:11-12). "Ohhhhh!" I stopped suddenly. "Oh. Okay. This is the answer."  I cannot change my husband. I cannot force him to surrender to God. I cannot control his walk with God. And while the Holy Spirt dwells in me, I am NOT the Holy Spirit. For anyone in my home to change, including myself, it will be because of the Father's forgiveness and grace through Jesus' sacrifice and the power of the Holy Spirit. Not me (Gal 2:20). In the eyes of that defensive dog, I was a trespasser. I might have thought I had claim to the road but who gave me that authority? I do not own the road. I am a trespasser everywhere I go that I have not first surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit. But I am also not rendered ineffective by the choices of my spouse. The people God has placed around me are not by accident. They are my ministry. Uplifting and encouraging others by extending grace, hope, and truth through scripture is available for me to share no matter the what is happening. "Forgive me God. I lost track. You are right. Love people like You loved me…Like You love me." While I wait for growth in another, I can choose to grow myself (Ps 143:8). While I wait for surrender of another, I can surrender myself. My ability, given by God, to be valuable in His kingdom is not disabled by who is around me but by my own lack of humility (1 Peter 5:6). Surrendering the path we are on, even if we think we are strong enough, smart enough, or right enough may be what is exactly needed for the Spirit to move. How can the Holy Spirit be heard if I am yelling? Changing course because of a territorial dog, defensive husband, or stubborn child takes recognition of Authority. Choosing this humility is choosing to be like Jesus. Choosing to make way for the Holy Spirit is choosing to be like Jesus. Choosing to be like Jesus is choosing to trust God is Who He says He is (Num 23:19). --- I opened the front door and saw my husband, guitar in hand, in the same place I left him. I leaned over the back of the couch, kissed him on the cheek, then walked to put away the groceries. No words, He was busy working stuff out with Jesus, the way that works for him. For more teaching from The Fight for The Family  Click Here.

Prescription Perspective

Posted on Jun 12, 2020 | Download

My husband Matt has astigmatism. Loosely, that means the curvature of his eyes are irregular. The front surface of each eye is misshapen, therefore, takes in light at incorrect angles. The issue causes his vision to be blurred and his ability to decipher what he is seeing, especially at night, is greatly minimized. If left untreated, astigmatism can cause severe headaches, eye strain, tiredness, and lessens one's ability to concentrate for long periods of time. It can also be a source of harm. The inability to see correctly can put him, and those with him, in physical danger. So, Matt has glasses. The way that he was born into this world did not afford him the best perception, therefore, he chose to recognize the wrong and desire change. We, as Christians, are born on earth with our vision skewed as well. As we grow, often, we see things that don't feel quite right but how do you argue that what you see is wrong? You ask for help...you go to One who knows what is right. Matt's eye doctor runs tests that measure his eyes in their current state then introduces corrective lenses. He retests both working together until optimal vision is reached. Then we leave armed with a piece of paper covered in scribbles and head to purchase glasses to provide the updated vision. Jesus has pre-paid for our upgraded point of view. He has provided access to the Doctor. Yet that does not mean the day-to-day putting on of our new perception is automatic. Just like Matt has to put on his glasses every day; so do we have to put on eyes that see like Jesus sees. Something interesting that Matt has told me that bares repeating: putting on the new glasses can cause discomfort. Matt says, the longer he waits to go see the doctor the more dramatic the prescription change. Which means when he takes off the old pair and puts on the new... his new point of view, his clearer perception of the world, can actually cause physical discomfort. Pain. Why? Because while his old glasses were working, there was an untreated deterioration of sight. Matt's old vision was so poor that the corrected perception takes time for his brain and body to adjust to. Can he see? Yes. Is the new clarity uncomfortable? Yes. But each and every day he puts on his new glasses, the easier his mind adjusts to the corrected sight. God desires us to look through a new set of spectacles. He wants to keep our prescription current and effective. He has no desire for our vision to be blurry, distorted, or hindered. He does not want us focused on our personal feelings, circumstances, or distracted by bright lights headed in a different direction. Every day God provides us with corrective lenses via the Bible & personal relationship. These allow us to see Jesus' presence and perspective anywhere we go, day or night. They also allow us a clearer sightline that we may follow God's direction. So...how's your vision these days? Are you in need of an updated point of view? Are there things that feel wrong but you can't make heads or tails of them? You have the fulfilled prescription at your fingertips in the way of a Bible, prayer, worship, and friends or pastors. We all need a check-up. We need our attitudes, words, desires, plans, and perspectives to be assessed. It could be your first time putting on corrective lenses or require humbling admitting you need another appointment with the Doctor. No matter how you are seeing, allowing God into your life will result in Him showing you His perfect point of view. Matthew 13:16 "But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear." Psalm 32: 8 "The Lord says, ' I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'"

Don’t Freak Out

Posted on Apr 5, 2017 | Download

Don't freak out. Talk to Me. Don't freak out. Trust Me. Come to Me.  First. Before your spouse, your parents, your friends. Before Facebook. The peace you yearn for is only satisfied when it is from Me. Why trust Me? Because I am the, I AM. I am the Creator. The earth on which you stand, I made that. The trees, flowers, grass, I grew that. Put your hand on your chest, I commission every single beat. Stop looking for answers and comfort from people who did not create each fiber of this universe.  Come to Me first. I am greater. I am bigger. I am more than you will ever know or could imagine, and I Am with you. Running away and hiding does not separate us. You cannot hide in light or darkness from Me. Please stop. Let Me in. Let Me love you how your heart has been longing. I made your heart, I know what it needs. I am what it needs. That "freak out" feeling, your unsatisfied spirit...I, and only I, can sooth it. I AM, trustworthy, bigger, mighty, a loving Father, a just God, a Holy Spirit, and have proven My love. I have a plan. The blueprints, I drew them. The results are already in…and I am good. So, Don’t Freak Out. Talk to Me. Your car stopped working. Will you trust Me? Your bank is empty. Will you trust Me? Your body is sick. Will you trust Me? Your home is broken. Will you trust Me? You lost your job. Will you trust Me? You lost a beloved one. Will you trust Me? Your heart is lonely. Will you trust Me? Your sins are suffocating. Will you trust Me? With your greatest fear. Will you trust Me? With your deepest desire. Will you trust Me? Will you give it all to Me? Will you loosen your grip and give it back? Deep breath. Come to Me. Come, let Me pour out My peace upon you. Let Me lighten your load. Let Me teach you My ways. Let Me share what is on My heart. I love you. I am calling you out of fear. I am calling you INTO trust. Don't freak out. (just a little of the) Proof: Exodus 3:14, Deuteronomy 6:13-19, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:4, Deuteronomy 31:8, Proverbs 3:1-6, Matthew 6:25-33, Psalm 139:7-12, John 14:23-27, Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 139: 13-15, Romans 5:1-11, Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16-17