Tuesday, December 16, 2008

12 16 08 GIVING OF A SAVIOR

“A child will be born to us. A son will be given to us.
He will rule over us. And he will be called
Wonderful Adviser and Mighty God.
He will also be called Father Who Lives Forever
and Prince Who Brings Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NIrV)


As we celebrate the GIVING OF A SAVIOR by our gracious God, it calls to mind how we give at this season of CHRISTmas. Many give for that very reason…because God gave and we in turn are moved to give. Some give because they see a need and simply want to help. Others give out of obligation, guilt, or to repay a debt to society. There are some who give to get back in return. Some give for the mere reason of a year-end tax break. Giving as most of you know is much more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. Your charitable gifts to The Sparrows’ Nest Ministries make an important difference in the lives of children and families who are seeking answers. What we do at TSN is prayerfully attempt to provide those answers based on God’s truths, to bring healing and restoration. We’re simply instruments for the Holy Spirit to do a work, but we need financial support to continue this work.

Whether taxes are an issue for you or not, we’re looking for your partnership as this year comes to a close. I know most of align with the heart of God. Children are hurting. Families are disintegrating. God’s Word is disappearing from society. Children can’t pray in school. Politicians won’t mention Jesus’ name. People are suing to have every mention of God removed from eyesight and ear shot. How will the needy child feel His love? How will a desperate parent receive His grace? How will a neighborhood see Light in such darkness? We’ll go…send us Lord.

Each gift will make a difference in the life of a child or family who’s hurting. Please believe me; there are more hurting people than we have the resources to help. Your partnership is crucial! It pains us to have to turn away a child or parent in need. We have even had to consider shutting down for a while this year. But how can you quit on the face of an eight year-old little girl? How can you turn away a sixteen year old young man who knocks on your door every Monday and Wednesday? How can you not keep doing all you can do when so many are in need?

In the GIVING OF A SAVIOR, God gave all He could give. We pledge to do the same. Until God calls us home or shuts us down, we’ll do whatever we can for as long as we can. Will you pledge to help? Check out our web pages and see the plans: watch the video; view the pictures on the media events page. Then decide how much you will pledge per month to keep God’s work thriving. I realized a while ago that I have nothing of my own. My prayer is that as we work, God will provide our needs. He will…He does. What about you?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Modern-Day Warfare

“I do live in the world. But I don't fight my battles the way the people of the world do. The weapons I fight with are not the weapons the world uses. In fact, it is just the opposite. My weapons have the power of God to destroy the camps of the enemy.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIrV)


As we look back over the ages and study warfare, we see the methods have changed drastically. From swords and flaming spears to nuclear warheads able to travel thousands of miles and hit precise targets, the way nations wage war has changed! Just the threat of a stronger weapon is now a negotiating tool. Though the methods of warfare have changed, the strategy is still similar…we must be on guard and attack the enemy. We must have the strongest weapon and prepared armies.

Spiritual warfare has been going on since before time as we know it. There are powers and principalities and dominions fighting over your souls and mine, undermining the Truth, and attempting to persuade us to believe a lie. As Paul described the battles, he reiterated the power we must side with: God! He alone can cast down strongholds, destroy wicked plans, and release the captives of sin and evil. The weapons of God are not of this world and to defeat the enemy, we need not to use the world’s power, but the weapons God gives to us…His Truth…His Spirit…His Faith.

Though the weapons against evil are timeless, the methods of MODERN-DAY WARFARE can change from generation to generation and from culture to culture. What works for you in Africa may not work for me in an urban U.S. City. What works in your urban neighborhood may not work in my city block. What your youth group responds to may not excite the kids I speak with daily. Just as Paul stated that he walked according to the Spirit and not his flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3), we too must be in tune with God’s Spirit to hear how He wants us to work. We must be sensitive to specific needs of the people we live among, the children we work with, and the families we serve. We are not simply trying to overcome hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and educational challenges; we are trying to tear down walls and boundaries set up by Satan to keep children and families from knowing the Truths of God!

Just as the enemy is subtle and cunning, we must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We have to be prayed up and studied up! We have to know the enemy and the people we are attempting to reach. We cannot be uninformed believers! MODERN-DAY WARFARE requires commitment and dedication. We will be battered and bruised along the way. But we must get up and keep engaging the enemy. Victory won’t come easy, but it will come. God guarantees it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

12 12 08 Got a Snickers?

“I wait for your deliverance, O Lord.” (Genesis 49:18 NET)

A popular commercial tells us to have a particular candy bar as we wait

Jacob said it a little differently as he anticipated problems for Gad and Dan: wait on the Lord. Jeremiah said it is good to wait patiently on the Lord, even in the worst of trials (Lamentations 3:26). Isaiah pledged to wait patiently (Isaiah 8:17), even though the Lord had turned His back to His people. His promises would come to fruition. Paul says it this way in Romans 8:25:

“We hope for what we don't have yet. So we are patient as we wait for it.” (NIrV)

We read Paul encouraging believers to wait patiently, enduring the present hardships knowing God has our best interest in mind. We have a hope anchored in the promises of God. Tough times are meant to test our faith as precious metals are tested in the fire. As we endure, we are refined and sharpened for the work of Christ. We are more useful in His hands and others can more readily see God at work.

These trying times need a witness to the goodness of God. His mercy is all around us. We just have to seek Him out, wait patiently, and trust Him at His word. It may not happen today, or even tomorrow, but He will make good on His promises. Our struggles may indeed be for future generations. Our faith may just cause others to come to faith in Christ. That in itself is enough: that others see the Father at work in us and come to know Him!

So like the prophets of old, we wait patiently on the Lord. Like Paul, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and abandoned at times, we wait patiently for the Lord. Some of the biggest blessings take time to unravel. We have all eternity to see God do His work…let’s be patient.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12 11 08 Make Me An Offer

“My dear brothers and sisters, listen to me. Hasn't God chosen those who are poor in the world's eyes to be rich in faith? Hasn't he chosen them to receive the kingdom? Hasn't he promised it to those who love him?” (James 2:5 NIrV)

Ever want to be a millionaire? Today’s sports news is loaded with the figures of the newest free agent signings: $10 million a year for two years...$80 million for five years…$161 million over eight years…the numbers are ridiculous. Did anyone tell the owners and players that we’re in a recession? Obviously someone has to let them know. I guess they’ll find out when the stadiums are empty come spring.

Many of us normal folks are faced with real life decisions every day: how will we pay the mortgage; how will we afford school expenses; will our family vehicle last the winter without major repairs; what adjustments do we make in utilities, recreation, and food costs? We can’t negotiate our salaries for the next ten years. Some of us are worried about the next ten hours or even the next ten minutes! News like million dollar salaries doesn’t make us feel any better!

So what do we do? We trust God. It sounds simple, but why not? Even our money encourages us to do just that…“In God We Trust”. So why do any of us trust in money or some form of it? We say if we can just get this much, or if we can save this much, or when this much comes in… Better responses would be if the Lord allows, in God’s timing, or Thy will be done, not mine!

The Bible tells us we are rich in graces and have an inheritance in heaven! Is that not enough? I was speaking to a friend last evening at church and we discussed struggles on earth compared to treasures in heaven. Our agreed response was this: Heaven is something to look forward to…something better than this life!

The temporary struggles in life make the promise of eternity with a loving Father something to cherish. Without the struggles, where is the benefit of looking ahead? Where is the incentive to push toward that mark? What if someone said to you or me, “Make me an offer” as to how much money was enough? Would you ask for a million dollars for a year…two million for two years? What would it cost us? God has already made us all an offer. God’s promise is treasure, riches, and eternal peace with Him if we follow after Him. We have to weigh the costs and benefits when we make decisions in life. For me it’s simple. I’d rather be poor here and rich in Christ! How ‘bout you?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12 10 08 Is It Worth It?

“Blessed is the man who keeps on going when times are hard. After he has come through them, he will receive a crown. The crown is life itself.
God has promised it to those who love him.”
(James 1:12 NIrV)



James speaks in very practical terms. He is very short and to the point. Listen more…talk less…Don’t have the answers? Ask God…Are you a Christian? Show me…Think you’re religious? Care for people in need…and so on.

So when dealing with the question IS IT WORTH IT to follow Christ, James has one reply: blessings! God promises abundant life to those who keep the faith and persevere. Heaven is well worth the struggles, sacrifices, and the wait. I realize that at times things seem to go on forever, yet God promises eternity with Him beyond our imagination. Though we won’t experience heaven until we get there, we get a glimpse of it as we honor God and follow His lead here on earth.

A child’s smile when they figure out a homework problem…a mother’s joy in receiving a Thanksgiving meal…the laughter of dozens of kids sharing joys of Christmas they might not have had…joy-filled eyes…innocent hugs…hand-colored pictures and scribbled notes of affection… IS IT WORTH IT?

“All who take part in the games train hard. They do it to get a crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
(1 Corinthians 9:25 NIrV)


We work so hard and sacrifice so much for our jobs to provide for our families. When we were younger, we would practice long hours and go through grueling training to compete in sports. Even as we grow older, we find ourselves competing to look younger, stay stronger, and remain healthy. I don’t have to mention those of us guilty of competing with the Jones’…maybe those days are over! IS IT WORTH IT?

Better yet, why won’t we compete as hard for Christ and His plans for us? Why do we give up so easily? Why do we sell ourselves short? Rewards on this earth are temporary, yet we pursue them with all get-out. Let’s pursue the things of Christ with even more fervor. His crown will not rust or tarnish. Treasures I heaven will await our arrival. The celebration banquet is a feast to beat all feasts! IS IT WORTH IT?

Don’t give up…real life awaits those who believe and live promises of God!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

12 09 08 NO OTHER CHOICE

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit. Put the spirits to the test to see if they belong to God. Many false prophets have gone out into the world. How can you recognize the Spirit of God? Every spirit that agrees that Jesus Christ came in a human body belongs to God. But every spirit that doesn't agree with this does not belong to God. It is the spirit of the great enemy of Christ. You have heard that the enemy is coming. Even now he is already in the world. Dear children, you belong to God. You have not accepted the teachings of the false prophets. That's because the One who is in you is more powerful than the one who is in the world. False prophets belong to the world. So they speak from the world's point of view. The world listens to them. We belong to God. And those who know God listen to us. But those who don't belong to God don't listen to us. That's how we can tell the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of lies.” (1 John 4:1-6 NIrV)


These are tough times indeed. How can we cope? We trust a God who promises to meet our every need, yet we are in dire need. We believe in a God who can do all things but fail, yet we are experiencing failure all around us. We tell others that God is in control, but it seems as though all hell has broken loose and there is no control at all. This is the present world. This is reality. This is how it is in the world today.

But we who believe are not of this world! We belong to God. We trust God to keep His promises. We trust Him for His will for us. We seek His face for peace and tranquility. We rest in knowing He knows the outcome. We live as best as the Spirit of God allows us to witness to His goodness…even in the most trying times. We don’t give up!

I may feel like I am failing, but I am not a failure. I may have no money in the bank and facing serious financial decisions, but I am not bankrupt. I don’t have all the answers for my wife and children when they ask how we’ll make the mortgage, will we have any toys for Christmas, or why is it just a bit cooler in the house today. I am challenged to trust God. I have NO OTHER CHOICE. I belong to God. I am His child. He is my Daddy!

Monday, December 8, 2008

12 08 08 The Journey

“Jesus called the Twelve together. He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to heal sicknesses. Then he sent them out to preach about God's kingdom and to heal those who were sick. He told them, ‘Don't take anything for the journey. Do not take a walking stick or a bag. Do not take any bread, money or extra clothes. When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. Some people may not welcome you. If they don't, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town. This will be a witness against the people living there.’ So the Twelve left. They went from village to village. They preached the good news and healed people everywhere.” (Luke 9:1-6 NIrV)

The Jewish people need to see the power of the Kingdom of God at work. Hurting people needed hope. Families worried about their future. A nation in turmoil needed more than just promises. As Jesus sent the twelve, He sent them with His power, nothing more: No a hefty expense account, no corporate credit card, no clothing allowance, no company car. They didn’t even have any business leads. They were told to go… on THE JOURNEY.

All the twelve had to depend upon was the power of the Living God! Boy did it work! People were healed of disease. Lame folks got up and walked. Blind men would see. People deep in sin were delivered and forgiven by the power of God; no fancy words or power point presentations. Imagine that.

Jesus told His disciples later (John 14:12) that those who believe in Him would do more than even He would do. How could this be? While on their journey, they would have the power of the Holy Spirit alive within them and travel to the ends of the earth preaching the Good News! Jesus had a very limited ministry field in and around His home town and surrounding areas. His disciples, and you and I, have the whole world at our disposal! Whatever THE JOURNEY is for us as individuals or as a Church Body, let’s concentrate on the power we have in Christ, then access the auxiliary power. After all, we have the power of the living God within us. Is that not enough?

There is true joy in THE JOURNEY God gives us. The more we realize it’s through Him that we accomplish everything….the more joy and fellowship we experience. Through Him, in Him, and with Him…enjoy THE JOURNEY!

Friday, December 5, 2008

12 05 08 God’s Calendar

“The plans of godly people are right.
But the advice of sinners will lead you the wrong way.” (Proverbs 12:5 NIrV)


GOD’S CALENDAR is always on time! Today’s date (December 5) just happens to line up with Proverbs 12:5 and the reason we celebrate this day. By the grace of God and the great cloud of witnesses and wise counsel He has placed by our side over the past ten years, the Carrolls and TSN Ministries will celebrate God’s goodness, mercy, and providence over the last ten years. Though God gave us the vision, without the help of countless numbers of friends, family, even strangers, we would never have come this far.

This evening we will launch the virtual video of TSN’s Olde Towne Community to bring children from at-risk to a-home, one family at a time. It is a multi-million dollar project over several years to come alongside the children, their families, and the community to restore the core values of a biblically based family and society. As God is pleased and we build this community many children lost in our communities will be rescued by God’s grace and families strengthened for generations to come to the glory of God.

While it seems rather odd to be doing this in such challenging financial times, GOD’S CALENDAR is always on time! It will be by His grace and by His providence that we pull this off, along with the help of you and many others within the community. We have to stay focused on His time table and be sure to seek and follow the Godly people He places I our path.

We can’t wait to watch our Father at work and to be in partnership with Him! He is still at work, still in control and will be for eternity!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

12 04 08 It is Always Good

“His great love is new every morning.
Lord, how faithful you are!” (Lamentations 3:23 NIrV)


God’s conforming character is a covering for every wrecked office and institution in life. God is full of mercy and His Truth supersedes any present day trouble. Many are experiencing the deep disappointments and devastating losses brought on by today’s challenging economic situation worldwide. We can follow Jeremiah’s example, as he surveyed the gloom and doom of his day (586-580 B.C.). Jerusalem had fallen to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar and many Jews (including Jeremiah) would be forced to leave Jerusalem or even be murdered by the Babylonian armies. Despite the terrible times, there is a glimmer of hope! Every morning there is reason to shout, “Lord, how faithful you are “!

“It is good to sing every morning about your love.
It is good to sing every night about how faithful you are.” (Psalm 92:2 NIrV)



This psalm of praise commemorates the person and work of God. Despite the circumstances, it is always good and right to praise God and to do it without shame or embarrassment. We can’t be embarrassed to praise Him publically and we must be careful not to embarrass Him with our actions. We aren’t trying to be obnoxious or rude, just overflowing with the love and provisions our Father gives us! We can’t let someone tell us we cannot speak the name of Jesus in public when the Word tells us to do so when urged. Do we need the rocks to cry out for us?

In the beginning of the day…He is faithful. In the most challenging of times…in the courtroom…in the hospital…in the unemployment line…in trying to make the bills match the money…in the middle of family challenges…when a spouse faces life threatening illness…in agonizing pain for our children…when an elderly parent’s days are dwindling…He is faithful. In the midnight hour when no one sees or hears us but God…He is faithful.

IT IS ALWAYS GOOD to praise the Lord! Always!!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

12 03 08 Surrender

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1 NIV)

We all thirst for satisfaction. There is a peace that goes beyond our human understanding. We all need a sense of security for our future. We have that refreshing promise in our Savior. He is our safe harbor. Salvation is the free gift of God…priceless to those of who believed yet so costly to our Lord! Money can’t buy it and it can’t be sold. We have our fill with Christ…complete satisfaction…more than the most lavish dinner of wine, cheeses, meat, and dairy. We come with open arms and empty hands to the One who promises all; if we just SURRENDER.

SURRENDER the selfish desires. SURRENDER the dependence upon this world’s institutions and learn of the promises of God. Try Him. Trust Him. No one can have a testimony without being tested and coming through that test knowing it was God who prevailed, not the person. We have heard it said that we don’t know how much we need God until we have nothing at all. When God is all we have, we realize we do have all we need. But do we have to get to that point?

These days are causing many to take drastic measures to make ends meet. Some are even choosing prostitution! Let’s pray for one another and be available for each other. Let’s covenant together and see that we will not allow another brother or sister to suffer if we can help at all. Let’s be willing to SURRENDER our comforts to share Christ’s living water, His merciful warmth, and the richness of being His child. As He is our God, let’s be His children in this hurting and desperate world. May our light shine through our personal SURRENDER to self!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12 02 08 Don’t Forget How to Dance

“Once again you will use your tambourines to celebrate.
You will go out and dance with joy…” (Jeremiah 31:4 NIrV)


The prophet Jeremiah reminds the remnant of Israel that God will be faithful to restore to them what they once had. He will watch over them and provide once again. God had not forgotten His people, though the times were rough at present.

What a message for us today. As bad as things seem, as bad as the immediate future looks, God is still on watch. He is keeping a protective eye over His people. He has not forgotten us: we have lost touch with His heart! We have fallen prey to the enemy, trusting the institutions of this world and forgetting the foundational truths and promises of God! What we need is good old-fashioned celebration. We need more of those Holy Ghost parties I have heard about! We need a party and Jesus needs to be the honored guest!

DON’T FORGER HOW TO DANCE!

“Now David, wearing a linen ephod, was dancing with all his strength before the LORD.” (2 Samuel 6:14 NET)

It’s enough to celebrate God’s goodness for the simple things of life, home, food, and other basic necessities. We need to say “Thank you Jesus” more often throughout the day for the many things we take for granted. David wasn’t afraid to break out in song and dance…even in the middle of the street in the light of day. He didn’t wait to get home and close the doors to shout. He didn’t wait for Sunday morning.

Even though things are very challenging for most of us today…there is a tomorrow! We have a hope. We have a promise. God is still carrying out His plan. So today, DON’T FORGET HOW TO DANCE…even if you are a bit rhythmically challenged like me!

Monday, December 1, 2008




12 01 08 The Price of Freedom

“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIrV)

What a price Christ paid for our freedom from sin! All the suffering, pain, mistreatment, embarrassment and humiliation; not to mention leaving the comforts of heaven to live in a sin-sick world and the give Himself over to such treatment…for His enemies…we sinners! Yes, he did it all for me, for you, and for anyone who will humble oneself and call on Jesus to save them from sin.

In our recent history, many people have also sacrificed much for the freedoms we celebrate and often take for granted. On this day in 1955, a gentle lady by the name of Ms. Rosa Parks was tired and needed to sit down on a bus in Mobile, Alabama.(see photo) She would not give up that seat. The rest is history as Dr. Martin Luther King took up the charge for the freedoms of all citizens and eventually paid the ultimate price for those freedoms: his life. Many lost their lives during the struggles of the late 1960’s in the cities throughout the U.S., including Senator Bobby Kennedy.

These folks did not use their freedoms to sin or the lack of freedoms to inflict harm either. They chose a gentle yet persuasive manner to bring to light the transgressions of our society and were willing to pay whatever price necessary to bring about change. They did not back down to political pressure, verbal threats, or physical harm.

We are challenged by God’s Word to stand firm and unmovable. We are told that He will go with us through the valleys of life and just as He did with Daniel and his friends, He will bring us through fiery trials and the fiercest enemies. We have no liberty to sin, run, or hide. We have the freedom and boldness to stand.

So stand my brothers and sisters in the liberty of God’s grace and mercy. Stand boldly clothed in the full armor of God. Stand by faith. Stand on His promises. Stand together! Will we pay THE PRICE FOR FREEDOM today? Yes, we will!

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...