Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Quirky Journey

I posted this in another blog; but, thought I would share with you. You may be able to use it with people you speak with on a daily basis.....Hope this is of value to you. This process has been stewing in my mind and spirit for quite some time. So I thought I would share with you a little of how my mind thinks. Be warned. It may be crazy. It may be far fetched; but, I trust it will be worth the read by the end of the story. We go to church; some of us take a Bible, while other’s read along on their iPad, iPhone or some other smart device, listen to the speaker, then head back home. Many don’t pick the Bible up again until the next week when we do church all over again. Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled we take our Bible to church in one form or another. The thing that has my mind stirring, is how often do we read the inspired Word of God for ourselves. Do we tend to push it aside because we believe it is too hard to understand on our own? Maybe we believe it is irrelevant for us; or, hearing our pastor, or some other speaker preach from the Bible once a week is all we need. For these various reasons, the wheels in my mind began to turn. I may be a little different, some may say strange; but, I am giving this a shot and hopefully it will inspire, encourage or challenge someone as they read. So as we begin this quirky journey, we will start with Peter’s thoughts on the pages of 1 Peter. Grab a cup of your favorite coffee, latte’, or soda and allow your imagination to go with me to the thoughts of one of the first disciples of Jesus. Find out who Peter was, by reading what he had to say to each of us, as he was inspired by the Spirit of God Himself. When we open to the book of First Peter it begins with Peter telling us who he is and to whom he is writing. He gives a tad bit of informational background before getting to the main theme of his first letter. For a minute let’s pretend we are Peter and we are writing this letter. What would that look like? Maybe something a little like this… In my case it would read… ******************************************* Just who am I? “Hi, I am Cheryl, a minister of Jesus. I am messaging each one of you who have been chosen by God. We are visitors in this world and scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Europe to Asia, Africa to Australia, and North America to South America. (2) We have been chosen by God, according to what He has known from the beginning of time; to be obedient to Christ and washed clean by His blood on the cross. May you be filled with an overwhelming amount of grace and peace.” ******************************************* Although we have just read what would be two verses of 1 Peter 1, I want to stop here and add a personal commentary. I am not confessing to be a Biblical Scholar, just a person taking verses apart, hoping to help normal, every day peeps understand how to apply the Bible to our lives. It is relevant and very helpful for todays generation. ******************************************* After reading the first paragraph of First Peter, we can see that there are peeps just like you and me all over the world. Each one of us have been chosen by God Himself from the very beginning of time. We have been cleansed by His blood and are expected to be obedient to Christ. Because of this we are encouraged to have an overwhelming amount of grace and peace. Merriam/Webster Dictionary’s definition of grace: a temporary exemption or reprieve, a virtue coming from God, unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification. When I looked up grace in the Urbandictionary I found the only use of the word is describing a girl, beauty, or something feminine. hmmm This generation has no clue. Ok, back to Webster’s definition of grace. The definition uses the words regeneration and sanctification. We may understand regeneration, but, what exactly is sanctification. Let’s touch a little on both. Regeneration is something coming back to life or being restored or renewed after an injury. UrbanDictionary says regeneration can be traumatic. It can be traumatic because our lives are being changed and transformed. Much like a transformor from the movie by the same name. The only difference is as we change from our original “old” self to the new, we need to make a determined effort to continue changing and not go back to the “old” self. That is where sanctification comes into play. Sanctification is the process of growing and developing in the grace given you by God. Alost everytime I hear grace, I remember the scene in “Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring” where Arwen is taking Frodo to her father, after he has been stabbed by a wraith. They get across the river and Frodo begins giving up, soon to be a wraith himself. Arwen helps him from her horse, leans over Frodo, and says, “What grace is given me, let it pass to him.” Arwen knew grace was important. Now, the LOR Trilogy is just a story made into movies; but, it allows us to understand visually, a little of what Peter is talking about in his letter. Grace is important to the health of our life. If we are transformed or regenerated we must not stop there. We must continue to evolve into the new person we are to become through the process of sanctification by the grace God gives. That is it for this post. Check back again for the continued quirky journey through the book of 1 Peter. btw I would love to know what your thoughts are about what you’ve just read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Makes Us "Run" Correctly?

If you have been following me you know we are in the midst of a home reno with many exciting plans ahead for the home. We have completely gutted it and this week contractors are working on the plumbing and electric. I walked in while the plumbers were taking pipes below a wall, underground, from one area to another. My mind began thinking about the process. In order for the flow of water to run properly through the house, pipes had to be rearranged. They were working before; but, in order to function better, work had to be done.

We were born a certain way. Our lives were set on a course to grow, learn and develop into the person God intended for each one of us to be. Our character is shaped by the environment in which we are raised. We learn to respect those around us. At some point most of us take a good look at ourself and do an examination of where we are and what we are doing with our lives. We realize that we are doing ok, but with a little adjustment we could be doing so much better. So the life we have lived up to this point has got us this far, but with our adjustment we are going to go farther.

Part of that adjustment is realizing we have lived our lives according to the way we wanted to live without thinking about asking our Creator, God for His direction. We adjust our way of thinking. Before we make any decision we ask God for clarity:

"Is this a good move?"

"Is this the person I am to spend the rest of my life with?"

"Will this job be best for my future?"

All these questions are great avenues of communication with God. He definitely cares about our lives and the choices and decisions we make. We get to know His direction and build stronger character by reading His Word. It not only gives direction but brings healing to our spirit and comforts our soul. The reality is, it takes the pressure off of us when making decisions. Why? Because we are relying on God's leading us to do the right thing. He speaks to us in a still small voice in our inner most being.

I can hear some say it is a lame way to live because we are not making up our minds ourselves, we are letting someone else tell us what to do. I am sorry, but that is not the case here. It takes a lot of guts, if you will, to allow someone else (God in this instance) to direct our lives. We are completely and totally trusting Him. Just like going on a ropes course. You have to trust your partner with your life. No hesitancy or questioning. Just trust.

Think about this today and ask yourself:

"Do I need to make adjustments in my heart or life?"

"Am I doing life my way or do I ask God what He would like me to do with my life?"

If we are doing life "my way" we are living selfishly and not thinking of others. The first sign of strong character is when we can trust God with our life and not worry about what we want. When we do this we will be surprised to find that God is giving us the very things and allowing us to do exactly what we love to do.

So, just like we had to make adjustments in our home, so water could run throughout the house better; we need to make adjustments in our lives in order to do life better.

Happy adjusting.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Does Your House Say About You?

All of us have enjoyed driving through neighborhoods admiring homes we see and commenting on what we think...

"That yard is beautiful."

"I would love a house like that." You get what I'm saying.

We may do this from time to time; then, there comes a time when we are really looking for a home to purchase. We get in the car and drive through those neighbors we admired. We find homes for sale, call the listing agent and make an appointment to go look at some of them.

The first one we go see has almost all of the criteria we have on our list of wants and needs. We pull up to the drive, get out of the car and meet the agent inside. Once we walk through the front door we are immediately let down because it has not been updated and is in much need of attention. Not only is it not updated but it is not as clean as it should be, especially since it is on the market for sale.

Down the street there is another house for sale and our agent wants to take us there as well. We are hesitant because it does not look very appealing from the outside. Our agent assures us it is within our price range and worth a look. Reluctantly we go.

To our total amazement it is spectacular inside! It is updated in every room. Due to circumstances beyond their control the owners could not afford to do what they needed to the outside. We now want to carefully consider the pros and cons of both homes. It is going to be a tough decision.

Let's think about this for a moment in relation to our own lives...

Scenario One:

We may look really awesome on the outside. Our hair is the latest style. Our clothes are looking good on our body. People come up to us easily to talk and get to know us. Or, we find someone we want to get to know and introduce ourself to them. After chatting we make arrangements to meet again in a couple days at a local coffee shop. After spending time together we begin to realize this person, whom we thought was someone we wanted to spend time with, is not anything like we thought. On the surface, on the outside, they looked good, but once we got to know them we found out their values, their way of life, everything about them was not what we thought. At this point we make a decision whether or not to continue the relationship...

Scenario Two:

One day we are having a bad day. Sitting alone in a coffee shop someone notices the look on our face. They are a regular in the coffee shop as well and notice we are not as cheerful as normal. We have never talked to them before because, in all truthfulness, they just did not look like someone we wanted to get to know. Wouldn't you know? They are the very person we needed all the time...

Remember the two houses we liked and went in, just to realize they were not what we thought? I began thinking of all this when we purchased a home recently that we are renovating.

The home had been on the market for several months. I had driven past it several times and always said I did not want to even consider it because it really was UGLY. I am not joking! We looked at other homes in the area and nothing ever happened with the ones we considered. This "ugly" house finally got our attention and we broke down and walked through the house, just out of curiosity. After walking through it, we saw potential in renovating and making it a place of beauty. We placed an offer and negotiated to where we were comfortable. We are in the midst of that reno and many spiritual correlations come to mind. So bare with me...

We are working on the inside first. The inside had not been updated and it just was not designed properly. In order to bring the home to it's full potential we have to gut it and redesign it. It is going to be beautiful, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the outside.

A few pictures to see the progress:

Kitchen before reno

Kitchen during reno

The Apostle Peter tells us in I Peter 3:3-4 that we should be concerned with our inner beauty, not our outward appearance. He is not telling us to not care about what we look like on the outside; just be more concerned with what is going on inside. If we do this...work on our inner self, which the help of the Holy Spirit, we will not only become beautiful inside, but outside as well. Often we work more on our outer appearance. We want other people to accept us by our looks. It is much more valuable to be beautiful on the inside. Respect, love, concern, thoughtfulness all come from our inner health. Our inner self will reflect what is transforming in our lives.

Let's all take a look at our house. Do we only look good on the outside? What does our heart tell us? When other people look at us what do they see? A lovely "house" which is our body, or a lovely person that comes from the heart, making us beautiful inside and out?

My prayer is we will allow the Holy Spirit to come inside our house and begin renovations. Some of us may need a major overhaul, a total gut, down to the core. Other's just might need to update their house and refresh their spirit. Then there will be those who have never really started the process and will start from the beginning. It doesn't matter where we are, we just need to take the first step and begin the reno. Come on and join me. It will be worth it, I promise.

Thanks for reading and blessings to you.

ps. stay tuned for updates on the progress of the home renovation that will be used in the future for women's retreats once again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

God's Amazing Grace and Guidance

When God is leading our life there is never a dull moment. Maybe frustrating at times, but never dull.

Wow! I cannot believe it has been 8 months since I last posted!

Many things have changed over the past couple of years on this journey of transition. As a teen I knew God had called me into ministry and I was comfortable and confident in that calling. The calling is still in my life, but the direction has changed. It is exciting and scary at the same time. When in the midst of a transition it is somewhat disconcerting; you are leaving the comfort of the known and going into the discomfort of the unknown. I am going to share a little of the journey with you.

A little over a year ago my husband and I moved from the home which I had been using for retreats for women in ministry. I didn't understand why God would take us from a place that was used as ministry for Him. That was where the frustration came in and I just prayed and waited to see what God was doing. That was not easy.

After my husband's mom passed away we moved into her condo, while the family decided whether to sell or keep it. A decision was made. God opened a door for my husband and I to purchase a condo around the corner from where we lived prior to moving to Stan's mom's condo, as well as where I had several women's retreats. Our plan is to use this new condo for ministry purposes once again. We will be totally renovating it and preparing it for what we feel God wants us to do in this next phase of ministry.

During this renovation I will be sharing photos of the process so you, my readers and women interested in the retreats, will be part of what is happening. There are other plans in the process; but that is for later disclosure. God wants to do so many things in and through each of use, we just have to be willing to allow Him. It may be a process that takes us through a path of discouragement, anxiety and even a feeling of abandonment; but He WILL NOT be far away. We have to be patient, trust, and listen carefully. We don't know what He has in store, but in the end know it will be worth everything we have gone through. God's grace and guidance is truly amazing.

Remember...God is willing to go as far with you as you will let Him in 2012. Are you willing to let Him take you into the unknown?

I am excited for 2012 and what God has in store. I so love the relationship I have with Him. I would love to hear what God is doing in your life and where you are heading this year. Let's continue in the calling God has given us together and see where He leads.

The following are pictures of the living area. The stairs you see in the pics are going to be relocated in order to have better use of space on second and third levels. Pray with me that God begins preparing the hearts of the women who are to come together for the first retreat in the new location. Dates to be posted soon!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Taking Time...

We get so caught up in the busy-ness of our lives, we often forget what it is to enjoy life. We get busy with work. We get busy with being the taxi service for our kids. We try our best to stay connected with our church. The list could go on and on. All we have to do is add our own unique circumstance to customized our list.

It is important to take time away and refresh and regroup. Since my husband and I have been in ministry as our "vocation/profession" I am going to speak to those in ministry; especially if you are in a smaller, more traditional church. God calls us to ministry and we give our lives to what we enjoy and are passionate about. When we do this it is so easy to plunge in and give our all. Nothing is wrong with that; but, we have to be careful. If we continue to go non-stop, without a respite, we will loose motivation and passion. Instead of enjoying the ministry God has called us to, it will become something we have to make ourselves get up and do every day. Remember; Jesus took time away to rejuvinate and renew.

I can speak to this issue because I was there. We are all human and there is an evil spirit that is out there to keep us from reaching out and meeting the needs of people. If we get exhausted and loose the passion, that is one less person reaching out to needs of others. Be careful and guard your heart and spirit. You do not want to get to the point of giving up on the ministry to which God called you. In our family, we needed to get away and be refreshed and encouraged. Don't get me wrong, we had our vacations, but we needed more. That is what I will share with you more in the future.

Over the past year I had to take a break from providing a place for ministry families/couples due to assisting with my mother-in-law before she passed away. Our lives have been in transition; but, we are coming to a place in our lives where I can pick up where I left off and go forward with the ministry to pastoral families, which has become a passion in my life.

I will be posting more in the future and giving more details, so be patient and stay tuned...

Until then, may you be blessed and see God's hand directing your every step.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Expect Perfection!

"You are not suppose to dress like that."

"A Christian does not have tattoos."

"You say you're a Christian and that's the way you live?"

How often do we say or think that, as believers? Yet, Christ, never said anything like that to people. He had compassion. Yes, He did get upset with the money changers in the temple. Thank goodness He did show that emotion. It makes Him more human in our eyes.

He didn't condemn people. He loved them. He lived a life of perfection, but we cannot. Our goal is to reach toward perfection in Christ. The reality is, we will never reach perfection as Christ did; so make sure we do not make it our goal in life to try to make others perfect. Our goal is to live life with Christ in us by being compassionate and caring, loving people into the Kingdom of God.

We sometimes forget that concept in our churches. We want to reach out to our communities; yet, when someone that looks different than us walks through our door, we stare at them, we avoid them, or we ridicule them. It is important to ask ourself these questions: "Do I do that because I am uncomfortable?" Then ask God to help you step out of your comfort zone and reach out. "Do I do that because I expect them to look like me?" God help us! Some of us, I dare say, do not need little clones of ourselves running around.

Or, do we just not know how to relate and reach out? If that is the case, I would seek help in this area. The Great Commission is to reach out to those near us first. God understands our struggles and desires to help us. Some of us in leadership in our churches, need to ask God to help us open our eyes and accept people, for who they are; not what they are suppose to be.

I ran across a saying from Martin Luther I had written in my journal about four years ago. (That is why we need to get our journals out from time to time...nuggets of wisdom are in there.)

"This life therefore
is not righteousness
but growth in righteousness
not health but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be
but we are growing toward it,
the process is not yet finished
but is going on,
this is not the end
but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory
but all is being purified."

Martin Luther (emphasis my own)

Remember, we are on a journey...Are we there yet? Not quite.

Friday, November 12, 2010

True Character is Shown by Our Actions

We get up and begin our daily routine...dress, get kids ready for school (if they're still school age), have a quick bite to eat for breakfast, kiss our spouse goodbye, and head off to work. Life seems normal and good. We arrive at our job or ministry and realize the things we asked to get done by today were not done the way we had asked. The people in charge had weeks to prepare. There just isn't an excuse for their lack of commitment to the task. We are clearly upset and let everyone know about it. In fact no one wants to be near us because of our reaction. It doesn't matter that we have talked about being an example to others and setting high expections for others to follow. Those around us cannot hear what we are trying to say because our actions are so offensive and clearly do not represent what we are trying to get across...

Our children cannot listen to what we are saying about life and representing Christ because our lives do not reflect what we are saying. We tell them to be committed to church, volunteer to help the needy; but, they just don't get it. Why? Because we have spent so much time in church and helping the needy that we have neglected our children.

Don't get me wrong. Ministry, participating in church and helping the needy are a must in our society; but, within reason. Make sure what we are doing is a healthy example of how to do ministry, church and helping the needy. When we do this our children and fellow colleagues or employees will have a desire to honor us by doing a good job and representing us well. This leads me to the passage of scripture I want to bring to our attention.

As I opened my Bible to read today, the page fell open to a passage I had underlined previously in Ezekiel. Once again it jumped out at me.

Just that one little passage says so much. I believe if more people would read Ez. 20:22 of The Message, we would all get along so much better, accomplishing so much more in our world that immediately surrounds us.

God was fed up with the Israel. He wanted to let His anger and frustration loose upon them. He had every right to. They had disobeyed. They were doing what they wanted without consulting God. They knew how to live their lives better without God. But God didn't "vent." He said, "I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out." Ez. 20:22 MSG

The next time something doesn't get done the way we wanted; or our kids don't want to do something we have asked of them, remember this passage. God thought better of venting. He ACTED OUT OF WHO HE WAS not by how He felt. For some of us we will have to work a little harder to not act out of how we feel. As we work on it we will find it will be worth it. People will respect and honor us more for acting out of who we are.

May we all be committed to working on our character. Allow God to shape us into someone that is honorable. Don't take the easy road. Becoming a man or woman of character takes work, but it is well worth the effort we put into it. Remember, our lives are being watched. What are our lives saying to others. Let's be challenged today to act out of who we are in Christ, not out of how we are feeling.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"God, what in the world are You doing?"

If you are like me that occurs quite often. We are going along with our lives, just like always, and something comes along to through us a curve ball. We have to be careful to keep focused on Christ and His purpose and plan for our life. In our lives of ministry and family and work we can begin doing things out of routine, not from the heart.

Remember God has brought us through circumstances before and just because we are being a little detained at the time, does not mean He has forgotten you. Keep going. Keep reading His Word. Keep communicating and praying. He knows where you are. You are exactly where He wants you.

Those thoughts came to me today as I was contemplating all you who follow me. Take heart. God IS in control.

Be blessed!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Promise!

We often say "I promise" with good intentions, but fail to follow through with the promise. I am guilty of this very thing...several posts back I wrote I would be posting more on Moses and did not follow through with my promise. Now, if Jack Bauer were to say "I promise" you could count on him to follow through with it. The same goes for Moses at this part of his journey.

I do apologize for not following through with the promise, but I am posting more on Moses now...

Exodus 13:19 (MSG) "Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the Israelites solemnly swear to do it, saying, 'God will surely hold you accountable, so make sure you bring my bones from here with you.'"

The Israelites were heading for the land which God had promised them and Moses made sure the bones of Joseph were in route as well. Moses was not taking the promise made, lightly. He knew how important this promise was...even if the person who made them promise was dead. It was so important that Joseph impressed upon the people that God was going to hold them accountable for the promise.

As I was thinking on this I began to think of where God has taken me over the years, the place He has brought me at this point in my life and where He is taking me. What has God done for you? Where are you right now because of what God has done for you? Where is He taking you? Has He promised you things while in your private prayer time with Him? Are we living expecting those promises to be fulfilled?

I know that 20 years ago, as I was in a hospital chapel praying for my son, Daniel, to be healed and his life spared, God gave me the word restoration for Daniel. That same night I heard a testimony on Kenneth Copeland's program of a woman who had what my son had while pregnant. Her baby had to be born prematurely and not expected to live. That evening on the broadcast they spoke of restoration. Other confirmations happened in the following days. I have stood on that promise for 20 years. Daniel will be 22 years old this year. He has been totally dependant on others for his survival since the age of 15 months old. He cannot walk or talk, but I believe, and stand on the promise God gave me, that Daniel will one day be restored, and walk and talk as a normal man his age. Just when I say, "God I am ready to give up. I am just going to accept Daniel as he is," God reaffirms His promise through some person or something I read.

God's promises are worth remembering and keeping. Joseph never saw the land God promised, but he did believe it was going to happen and made sure those who actually saw it fulfilled carried him in with them. Many years after his death, Joseph was being transported to the fulfillment of the promise God gave. Moses made sure and followed through with the promise given to Joseph.

Promises are worth keeping. Promises are worth believing in year after year. Promises should always be in the forefront of our mind. Promises should always be fulfilled.

God gives us an awesome example to follow. He always comes through with His promise. It may not be when we want or how we expect, but He always fulfills His promise. Remember, don't give up on the promises given to us. Make sure we follow through with the promises we make.

Let's learn from Moses and Joseph and expect the promises in our lives to shine bright and be an example for generations to follow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Tribute to Mothers and Grandmothers

In today’s society it is easy to say a marriage is too hard and move on…even in the church. After you move on you just find another “significant other” and start over. Because of various circumstances that may need to be done. My point is, we need to make sure we have tried to do whatever we could to save the marriage and use divorce only as a last resort. When we live with another person that is our opportunity to allow God to mature and develop us, into the person He desires us to be, by using our differences. So, don’t take lightly the person God has placed in your life. Remember we are leaving a legacy. What kind of legacy are we portraying to those following after us?

That leads me into who I want to admonish this month, since it is Mother’s Day. My mom is a wonderful woman who has lived her life with Christ as her Source. The reason she was able to do this was because of the tremendous heritage from her own mother.

You see, back when it was not the normal way of life, my grandfather left my grandmother and their five young daughters. My grandmother had traveled from Oklahoma, to Virginia, to California, and back to Oklahoma to try and save their marriage. My grandfather just didn’t want the responsibility and decided to leave. In those days families lived close to each other, so my grandmother had her family to help her. She worked and did what she needed to do in order to provide and raise those girls to follow after God.

Her pastor admonished her to remarry. He reassured her it would be alright, but grandma would not even contemplate remarriage. In those days if you divorced you were not suppose to remarry and she stood by that belief. It didn’t matter what the weather was like, Grandma would walk with her five little girls to church for every meeting. They were committed to the house and that commitment would be passed on to her daughters and they would in turn pass it on to their children.

When grandma began to be blessed with grandchildren she was able to see the harvest of seeds she had sown. In our family when the church was holding a service or needed people to help with anything we were there. If, for some reason, we were not able to make it to church we had church at grandmas. My sister was the song leader and I was our preacher. We had a great time and we always had an altar call! As I remember back to that it makes me smile. I also think that is why my sister’s and I do what we do today. As we grew up my mom and dad were very active in our church and encouraged young people. That was important to them and I can see how that has influenced the way I do ministry today. My mom’s faith had an influence on my dad. If she had not learned from her mom, the importance of commitment and faith and passed it on, who knows where our family would be today?

My grandmother is going to be 95 years old this year and has lived a very good and fruitful life. She has dementia and it has been hard on my mom and dad, since grandma has lived next door to them for years. They finally had to put her in a nursing center, where her brother was able to move in with her. The five daughters take turns going and sitting with them. Her short term memory has been affected. She does recognize me when I call, and remembers where I live. It is hard to see someone you love affected in this way, but I will always cherish the heritage she and my parents gave me and my sisters. I thank God for the privilege of having a mother and grandmother who loved God with all their heart, mind and soul and gave that love to me.

I understand some of us did not have the privilege of growing up with this kind of heritage; but, my question to each of us is, “What kind of heritage are we leaving for our children and grandchildren?” Will they be committed to the house in which they worship or more committed to extra-curricular activities? Don’t get me wrong, extra-curricular activities are important; but should never replace the commitment to our local church, as long as that church is thriving and healthy. The commitment to the local church should be seen in our activities. Are we making sure our lives are balanced and healthy? Are we leaving the legacy that Timothy’s mother and grandmother left him as seen in 2 Timothy 1:5?

This month we celebrate Mother’s Day; let’s not forget to celebrate our mom’s and thank them for what they mean to us. We can also take time to remember our spiritual mom’s and the influence they have in our lives. May God bless you as you continue on your journey with Him and be purposeful in influencing others.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"You're not a Janitor, You're a Contractor" Love Happens

I was enjoying watching the movie "Love Happens" and this one line jumped out at me...

"You're not a janitor, you're a contractor."

A man lost everything after his son died on his construction site. He quit building and began working as a janitor. He had not allowed himself to grieve and get on with his life. He was holding onto pain and disappointment.

I immediately thought of people in ministry doing something other than what God called them to because of hurt or resentment. It was just too painful to face and deal with the issue. There are some who were in ministry, but no longer are because of what someone did, said, or didn't do. The saying, "face the pain" comes to mind. We have to face our fears, our hurts, our disappointments,in order to move past them.

Are we guilty of allowing something or someone in our life to trip us up and get us off track? Maybe someone hurt us or didn't like what we were doing so we just gave up. Just because we are hurt or disagreed with doesn't give us the right to quit and do something else, if God called us. We will never be happy doing what we are doing now because it is not what God called us to. What is important is we pray and ask God to give us wisdom and discernment on where we go from here.

It is not too late. We need to allow God to take us to the place and ministry He wants us to be in. We need to stop running and watch the power of God restore and transform us. As we do this God will be able to use us in the way He intended from the beginning. As Jeanne May has said, "Messed up? Learn the lesson but forget the details."

I am glad things "pop" or "jump" out at me when I am having fun. That's God. I am so glad He can do that and I am attentive to listen. It is my desire that this has helped you move on and forward into God's divine calling. As you go throughout your day take this scripture with you...

"You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you." (Jn. 15:16 Msg)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Who is in Your Prayer Journal?

"I'm praying for you."

When we say those words do we actually do what we say? Do we really pray for the person? We may have been honest in saying we would, but get caught up in our day to day lives we don't actually pray. We all have good intentions. I have been guilty of this myself. I have learned to keep a list of people who ask me to pray in my Bible and in my journal, so I will remember to pray.

At Easter each year I read through the account in the Gospels regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus. As I was reading this time in the book of John I noticed a prayer Jesus prayed. In Chapter 16 Jesus is telling the disciples what they would have to deal with in the future and ends with a word of encouragement. They will be "unshakable" because Jesus has "conquered the world." (The Message) We find Jesus in Chapter 17 praying for other people. We read in the other Gospels about Jesus praying "not my will but yours," but here we learn one more lesson.

When we are facing our toughest days, when it seems we are going to go under from all the stress and pressure, when we just want to give up, don't! Look at what Jesus did, knowing they were coming to arrest Him.

He prayed for us!

Take a good long look at John 17. I like reading it in the Message version. Jesus cared so much for us He prayed "not only for them but also for those who will believe in me...the goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind...so they might be one heart and mind with us."

He was on His way to being accused falsely, stripped, beaten, ridiculed and stabbed; yet He thought of you and me and taught us one more lesson...

Do not allow the circumstances in which we live...the hurt from others, the lack of love, the disappointments of our children, the lack of support from those we lead...keep us from our God given destiny. God has a plan for our lives. He will get us there and on the way we are to keep those whom our lives have touched, in the forefront of our minds and prayers. What about those who accepted Christ after hearing us preach or teach? Do we remember them in our prayers, or do we leave that for others? Pray for them daily. Don't get so caught up in ministry and our every day lives we forget the thing that matters the most...prayer. As we pray for them our lives will be touched. God will get us to where we need to be, just keep others first.

As we celebrate Christ's resurrection this year let's thank Him for what He did for us on the cross and through the resurrection, but also for what He did on the way to the cross. I pray this blesses you and I will get back to the lessons learned from Moses. Until next time be blessed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

God's Protection from Failure

It's one of those verses that jumps out at you. The story is one of the most memorable of the Old Testament. For those of us who are in our upper 40's and above, when we think of Moses, the picture that comes to our mind is Charleton Heston.

I was doing my daily reading in the book of Exodus. I had to be careful, because I was temptated to read through the plagues at a fast pace. Why should I take my time on them? I already know the story, right? Yes and no. If I would have sped through that part of the story I may have missed the verse that jumped out at me.

"If the people encounter war, they'll change their minds and go back to Egypt." Ex. 13:17b(MSG). What? I thought God wanted them to learn how to trust Him. That's why He led them through the wilderness and not the shortest route. So I looked in the NIV thinking our friend Eugene Peterson just paraphrased the verse wrong. "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." (NIV) Ok, so what about the New American Standard? "The people might change their minds when they see war." (NAS) Alright, I will take a look at what good ole King James says. "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt." (NKJV)

So what I found was this: God was protecting them from failure. He did not want them to take the shortest route to the land of promise, because He didn't want them to lose heart and turn around; missing out on all He had for them.

How often does this happen in our own lives. We start out on a journey. It has been a difficult decision to make. There have been various obstacles trying to keep us in the place we are right now. Finally, it seems this is the right time. We are ready to step out. We make preparations. Just when we think we are going, something prevents us from stepping out once again. So we put it on hold. Then, it happens, we have to go and we must go now! So we do what we know God is saying.

Now, what seems like the best way seems to be blocked. We don't understand. God is leading us down a path we don't quite understand, but we follow.

There is so much more in this part of scripture, but for now, let's look at just this one verse...

In our lives, it may look like we should take a route that seems good. That route may be faster to get to our destination; but is it the route God wants us to take? There is definitely a reason God is not taking us down that route. We may encounter obstacles that would cause us to let go of our dream and vision. God knows what He is doing. Let's learn this lesson from Moses and the Isralites.

Over the course of the next few days I will be posting more on this passage. For today, let's ask ourselves the question: "Am I taking the route God has for me on my journey; or am I taking the route I think is best?" I would love to hear about some of the journey's many of you are on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is it a Good Thing or is it a Rabbit Trail?

It is easy to get excited about something that really looks good. But, the question is...is it really a good thing?

I thought of this when I recently read Proverbs chapter 4. Verse 25 of the Message says, "Keep your eyes straight ahead, ignore all sideshow distractions." Immediately rabbit trails came to my mind.

Rabbit trails more often than not lead to nowhere...nothing...no good. What starts out looking really good eventually is not what we thought it was going to be. As leaders, as people of influence, as moms, we need to stay focused so those following us get to where God is leading them. If we get off it doesn't mean we no longer influence people, it means we just influence them down the wrong trail.

Now, God can always get us back on the right trail, but it is so much easier if we just stay focused on His wisdom.

In all honesty, there will be some rabbit trails that really look good, as we are developing into what God wants us to become. There may be several. They may even have to do with the dream God placed in our heart, but it may not be what He wants at this point in our lives. We need to make sure we do as Prov. 4:25 says and stay focused. Ask God for discernment. It may be good, but God has better STRAIGHT ahead.

God has vision for us. He is taking us down a trail that may have a few difficult situations. Those difficulties will only make us stronger if we go through them and allow God access to our heart. If we take the rabbit trail that looks better or easier, we just may not learn what God intended for us to learn. This means we have to stay disciplined. We have to stay strong. We have to constantly remind ourselves that God is in charge here, not us. He will conquer.

Take time to think of where you are in your dream, your vision. Are you going down a rabbit trail or is the good thing? Is is the real thing? Is it God?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Dirty Oven Speaks

Use your imagination a bit. Now, work with me on this.

"Why do you wait so long to clean me?" the oven cried out.

"Because I don't like the work it takes to clean you," says me.

Oven's response..."If you wouldn't wait so long it would not be so much work."

"Ouch, that hurts," I replied.

How often do we do that to our own lives; especially as leaders. We love and feel compelled to tell other's what they need to work on in their lives. But, for a long minute let's take a look at our own lives.

What is it that we have let sit around and grow crusty and hard? It may start out small, like a small spill in the oven, but as time goes on it becomes hard and more spills happen. We may think it is not that important or that big, so we let it sit there...a hurt word from a parishoner, a harsh response from our spouse, a neglected attitude, the list could go on. Each person has their own "spill."

It has been said we will not lead past our own spiritual or leadership growth; so my challenge to each of us today is to take a good look at our lives. Where do we want to go in our spiritual and leadership development? Have we come to a stand still? Do we wonder why we're not seeing growth in those we lead?

Maybe it is because we have allowed too many "spills" in our lives. Our lives have become hard to those who truly love us and want us to succeed. It is so very important to make sure the hurts, harsh responses from people and our own neglected attitudes do not build up to the place it seems impossible to clean.

As I was cleaning my oven I realized how much easier it would have been to have cleaned up the spill when it happened. But, there was the excuse, "the oven's too hot, I'll wait." I would then wait and get caught up doing other things. That is so true for our own lives. We think about changing, but put it off until a more convenient time. It would be so much easier to forgive the person that made the hurtful remark when it happened. Instead we would much rather let it sit awhile, as we have a pity party for ourself.

God wants us to realize that this is the time. Now is better than later. Allow the Holy Spirit to come in, saturate us with His presence and speak into our spirit. In order to get my oven clean I had to saturate it with oven cleaner and let it sit. Well, we have a spiritual oven cleaner...the Holy Spirit. Sit in the presence of the Holy Spirit and stay there a while. Let Him show us what has been sitting in our life and getting hard. He can clean us up and make us like new.

Remember, as leaders, it is imperative we do this on a regular basis. Make sure we do not get to the point that we do not think we need this. We cannot do life and ministry alone. We need God to show us where we are weak and vulnerable. He does this as we sit in His presence and often times uses others as well. As He does this and we have allowed Him access we become stronger leaders and more humble leaders.

I trust this has spoken to each of us and we all go away stronger because of it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Challenge of Old Testament vs New Testament Hearing God

Okay, if you ask me it is tough to "hear" God's voice speaking. It's not because I'm not listening. It's because I am human and human inhibitions and reasoning get in the way. We have to be very careful to discern and know God's voice.

That sort of jumped out at me as I read the passage of scripture where God spoke to Abraham about sacrificing Isaac. (Gen. 22:1-19 Msg)

"1 After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, "Abraham!"
"Yes?" answered Abraham. "I'm listening."
2 He said, "Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I'll point out to you." 3-5 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, "Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we'll come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.
7 Isaac said to Abraham his father, "Father?"
"Yes, my son."
"We have flint and wood, but where's the sheep for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham said, "Son, God will see to it that there's a sheep for the burnt offering." And they kept on walking together.
9-10 They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son.
11 Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Yes, I'm listening."
12 "Don't lay a hand on that boy! Don't touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn't hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me."
13 Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That's where we get the saying, "On the mountain of God, he sees to it."
15-18 The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: "I swear—God's sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I'll bless you—oh, how I'll bless you! And I'll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me."
19 Then Abraham went back to his young servants. They got things together and returned to Beersheba. Abraham settled down in Beersheba."

There were several things that stood out. The first being that God audibly spoke to Abraham. In Abraham's day God spoke directly to specific people. Today anyone can hear God's voice because of Christ. When Christ ascended back to heaven the Holy Spirit was sent to guide us. (Jn.6:13-16; I Cor. 2:10-16; Rom 8)

Now, I got to thinking about that a little...is it easier for us today to hear God's voice, or harder? God spoke directly to Abraham and told him to sacrifice his son. Today more often than not God speaks to us through His Spirit, not an audible voice. If He would tell us to do something like that we may weigh both sides of the issue...do I do it or not...am I really hearing God's voice or is it mine? Abraham had a direct line to God...was it easier for him? Maybe. Was it easier for him to obey? Maybe, maybe not.

He was asked to sacrifice his only son... the son God had promised him. His lineage was to be through Isaac...the one that would be more than you could count. How could God ask him to do such a thing. Those questions may have been going over and over in Abrahams mind. We don't know what he was thinking. Scripture doesn't tell us. But be sure, he was a man and he was a father. It was not easy.

The road he took that day to Moriah must have been a long tumultuous rode. Inner battles must have been going on. He was human.

Too often we treat scripture as a fairy tale without really looking at the whole picture. When we read it helps if we put ourselves in the situation in which we are reading. We then can better understand the circumstances of what was taking place. These people in the Bible were just like us, going through struggle after struggle, yet hearing from God.

How much better do we have it? Each one of us has access directly to God. He may tell us to do things we do not understand. It is okay to question, but do not dwell on that question. If God tells you to do something, do it. He will come through. It may be just in the nic of time, but He will come through.

We have the issue of deciding if it is God's idea or our idea; but, if we are truly seeking God and reading His word, He will come through and we will discern what is right.

The important question is not, "Was it easier for people of the Old Testatment to hear God's voice," but "Am I listening to the still small voice of discernment God has given me through His Holy Spirit?"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Loving God with ALL Our Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength

"You cannot listen to just half of what the Holy Spirit has to say. It's a package deal. If you aren't willing to listen to everything He has to say, you won't hear anything He has to say." Mark Batterson.

That quote comes from Mark's new book Primal. (pg 9) Mark challenges the reader to take a journey back to the place when they first sensed God's calling in their life. The place where they were excited about what God was doing in their life and where He was taking them. To many of us that meant nothing was going to get in the way of what we were destined to do.

His observation is that often when we lose our way spiritually, "the way forward is often backward." (pg 8) We are taken on a journey to understand what it truly means to find the heart, mind, soul and strength of Christianity. Each builds upon the other and you can't really love God fully without loving in all four areas.

Mark uses awesome quotes from many great people, bringing out Biblical points he uses throughout the book. When he writes on how we are to love God with all our mind a chapter is given to "Holy Curiosity." A quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes is used, "A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original shape." Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious."

This book is a great book to use as a gift for someone or to yourself. You will find yourself thinking back to the beginning of your spiritual journey; asking yourself questions regarding your journey so far, and where you are headed. It is well worth the purchase. For those who are pastor's with the Assemblies of God you will read a story of a man named Jasper Toe and John Perkins and his wife. As I read this story I was once again reminded of why I appreciate my heritage with the Assemblies of God; and realize we need to be very careful to retain this heritage, using these examples to encourage us to move forward with whatever God places within our hands. Mark points out "faith is not faith until it is acted upon." (pg 142)

I want to end this blog with a quote from the last chapter, "The Next Reformation."

"The next reformation will be led by millions of reformers living compassionately, creatively, and courageously for the cause of Christ. It will be marked by broken hearts and sanctified imaginations. And the driving force will be the love of God. A love that is full of compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy." (pg 167)

"Reformations are born out of rediscovering something ancient, something primal. They are born out of primal truths rediscovered, reimagined, and radically reapplied to our lives." (pg 169)

"Primal" will be released to public December 22. I encourage you to purchase it now by following this link. Read it as you enter into 2010. It will be a great start to a year filled with loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tough Determination

I picked up my Bible and started reading Daniel the other day. What jumped out at me was, "But Daniel was determined not to defile himself..." He had made up his mind before he was challenged.

That is where we often get sidetracked in our belief and convictions...we have not determined what our belief and convictions are. We often believe something just because someone else has told us to believe. It is good for new believers to follow the example of other believers in our churches; but, they have to be determined in their own convictions so they will be strong enough to stand in tough times on their own.

As leaders it is imperative that we have determined convictions in order to stay relevant in how we reach people. If we are only determined in systems that do not work, then we will not be relevant. Be determined to reach people no matter what the cost. If it means stepping out into the unknown, then so be it. If it means changing a routine, then do it. People are what matters to God, not our systems and routines. The only way they matter to Him is if they are working to reach people or not.

Today, I want to challenge us to look closely at what makes us who we are...are we determined about the right things? Do we have the tough determination that is going to change lives by the example we lead? If not then I believe we need to do a very serious introspection, asking God to give us the determined belief system that Daniel had.

Why? Because as Daniel was faithful to what he knew was right and was determined to live those convictions, he found favor in the eyes of God and the King. King Nebuchadnezzar promoted him to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts, and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men. (Dan. 2:48)

Be determined today and see how you find favor in God's eyes and see how He promotes you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanking God...

This is the season in the U.S. to be thankful. It is important to not take what has been given us for granted. If not careful we can become so caught up in life we forget to pause and thank God for everything around us...

Family because they are who God chose to give us to live with on a daily basis to help us grow and mature,

Friends because God knows what we need in order to help us develop in our relationships,

Needy because God wants us to develop a sense of compassion and care for people less fortunate than us,

All of creation because God needs us to appreciate and worship Him for who He is, and

Health because if we do not take care of ourself we will not be able to help all of the above.

As you go throughout your day do not forget to thank God for the privilege of serving Him and serving others. It is an honor to be able to do all.

God bless you during this time of year and may you be blessed abundantly with God's favor.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surprise the One Your Love

When we love someone it shows in everything we do. When we first fall in love there is a constant smile on our face or "skip" in our step. We cannot seem to get enough of the person. We are committed to them. Our thoughts are consumed with this person.

After a while we become comfortable in our relationship and we begin to let the constant smile turn into an occasional smile and our "skip" is not so springy. If we are honest with ourselves we start to allow other things in our lives to take precedence over the one we once could not get enough of.

As believers we need to become aware of this in our personal lives as well as our spiritual lives.

If we are leaders we need to make sure we are leading by example; in our family relationships and spiritual relationship with God.

Is the spring still in our step, as a believer in Christ? Do we have the constant smile shining on our face, making us look a little ridiculous? Where are we in our relationship with God? Have we become settled? Does the daily Bible reading bring tears to our eyes? Tears of appreciation for the One who gave His life for us?

As I was contemplating worship I began thinking about this relationship. When we worship the One who so deserves our worship, are we worshiping from the most intimate place of our heart? Are we giving God our fullest commitment? Our full devotion? Do we stop worshiping before we get to the most important part of our time with God?

It is my desire, in this post, to stir up a desire within us that yearns for a more intimate relationship with God. Remember when you love someone you are committed to that person. You want to spend a lot of time them. Make sure your commitment to God is that devoted. Spend time with Him. Get to know Him and allow Him to get to know you. You will not know God in the most intimate sense, until you stay with Him longer than a few minutes.

If we have busy schedules, then schedule our time with God into our calendars. After a while you will find you will have to lengthen your time with Him. Why? Because the more you get to know Him, the more time you will want to spend with Him.

This month, those of us in the United States, celebrate Thanksgiving. Let's be thankful for what God has given us in His Son. Show our thanks by spending more time with Him. Surprise Him! Everyone loves surprises. When we surprise people they usually surprise us with their response.

Give God the opportunity to surprise us as we spend time with Him.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Roadblocks are Detours to Divine Destination not Disruption to our Destiny

We can be going along in ministry and in our life with everything just great. When a challenge comes across our path we often see it as a disruption to what God is doing in our life and ministry. We may tend to think it has come to keep us from where God wants us. It might just be a detour to the divine destination He has in mind and not our destiny.

We all have heard Jeremiah 29:11 many times, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Msg) The Israelites hit many roadblocks and detours, but God got them to their divine destination.

When we left our last pastorate it seemed as if the detour was a major disruption to our destiny. God had different plans though. It is also how we come out of the detours that have a way of determining our divine destination, as well. If we are not open to what God is doing, we may just miss what He has divinely planned for us. Now, I am not saying I would ever want to go through the detour we encountered again, but, we did allow God to prepare us for what He is doing in our lives right now.

I am so excited to see His plan unfold. Every day new things happen that connects me with more and more possibilities. If I had not been willing and available for God to speak into my heart and spirit, I would not be doing what I am doing, at this point in my life.

I am determined to see the minor or major detours in my life as just that…detours getting me to the divine destination God has planned. The end result may be totally different than what we thought when we first started our journey of ministry and life, but hey, if God is in it, why not accept it and watch His hand at work?

Whatever it is we may be encountering right now, we need to open our spiritual eyes. Ask God to help us discern whether this roadblock is a detour on the road to our divine destination, or a disruption, in which satan is trying to keep us from our divine destination. It is very important how we respond to these detours. It is very critical that we make sure our spirits stay close to God during these roadblocks. We can very easily go down the wrong road without even realizing it at the time.

Remember, God’s plans are for us to prosper and give us a hope and a future, traveling down the road to our divine destination.

I look forward to seeing you as we travel down our roads and maneuver the detours together.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Shaken, Not Stirred...the Life of the Believer."

Many of us know the saying, “Shaken, not stirred,” that James Bond made so famous on the Big Screen. Recently on a twitter update I asked the question, “Are you settled or stirred?” and then admonished those following to, “stir up the gift in you and watch as God does amazing things in and through your life.” Now, that comment “stirred” up some discussion that “stirred” my thoughts into forming this blog article.

Paul exhorts Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:6 (Amplified) “That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. That is what we are to do. We need to “stir up” the gift. We need to rekindle and fan the flame of our gift. Make every effort to not allow our gift to sit on the shelf of our heart and allow dust to settle.

It is so easy in the process of life to let our gifts sit there and not do anything. We get busy with our every day routine. Even pastor’s can allow their gifts to sit on the sidelines, due to demands in ministry. As life happens, we need to make every effort to keep the gift God has given each of us, polished up and in good use. When we allow our gift to sit idle, we can become shaken in minor occurrences that normally, we would have been ok with.

Gifts are meant to be used, not just admired. Our gifts are useful for the building up of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:12 NIV) We are to prepare believers for their works of service. Each person has individual gifts; no one is left out in the gift giving. If we are not using the gift God gave us, we need to do a personal inventory. What has happened to keep us from using our gift from God? Are we busy raising our families? Our families are so important, we better be using our gift, influencing our children and being an example of how we are to live as a believer.

Don’t allow life to happen haphazardly. Allow life to happen on purpose. There are things we can do in our lives to bring order, so that our lives bring glory to God, causing other people to want whatever it is we have. If we are not living life on purpose we are setting ourselves up to be “shaken, not stirred.” That is not the example and life God desires for our lives.

There is a scripture in my Bible that is circled, underlined, and starred. It is Acts 2:25 (NIV) “…Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Emphasis mine) David first said this scripture in Ps. 16: 8, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Emphasis mine) What a promise and exhortation! As we keep God in the forefront of our lives He will be right there with us. WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. That is a promise…but, we have to keep Christ first…not our spouse…not our children…not our ministry…not our job…Christ. As we keep Him first then our spouse, children, ministry and job will come into line with what Christ has for us.

Be careful that we do not get it turned around or we will be shaken from our foundation. Keep the gift God has given stirred to action and see what amazing things will happen in our everyday lives we live.

Take this scripture with you throughout the day and allow life to happen on purpose as the gift is stirred up…Heb. 12:27 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe...” (Emphasis mine)

Monday, August 17, 2009

From Nobody to Somebody

Do we wake up each morning thankful for the life God has given us? Do we thank Him for the calling He has placed on our lives? Do we thank Him for placing us where we are at this point in our lives. If we don't, we need to take a look at Rom. 9:25-28 again. God said, "I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies...God doesn't count us; he calls us by name. Arithmetic is not his focus." Rom. 9:25, 28 Msg

Pastor, leader, mom, student, it doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, God gets personal with us. He doesn't just merely look down on earth and see little dots of people moving on the earth...He sees potential...He sees value...not for what you have done, or for what you will do; but for who you are...a living, breathing child of God. (v26)We mean something to Him. We each have a purpose for living and He desires that we follow Him and allow Him to work it out in our life.

Pastor, I want to talk to you right now. It doesn't matter the size of your church. Forget numbers. When you attend meetings with fellow ministers don't be concerned with how many people other pastors have in their congregations. Be concerned with how many salvations are happening on a weekly basis. Be concerned about what you are doing to add souls to the Kingdom. The main thing is Jesus and how many people have come to know him under your care. How many of these new converts are growing and developing under your ministry?

Do not allow your well planned projects to get in the way of the message of Christ's love for everyone. Don't get me wrong. I am all about planning and providing the best programs available to reach people. In order to succeed we must have well thought out plans and carry them through to the end. My point is to not get so carried away and busy planning we forget to ask for God's opinion. He may have something better planned. "...you'll find me ON the way to your goal not IN the way." Rom. 9:33b Msg (emphasis mine)

What is the main thing? What is the ultimate goal? Salvation of people searching for something. That "something" is what we have to offer. Let's keep the main thing, the main thing. Jesus and advancing His kingdom, not ours.

Let's take a look at the ones searching. Who are they? They are young and old; those who have a lot of material wealth and those who have nothing. Our churches should reflect that. We need them all. God wants them all. I searched the Internet to find demographic stats of ages in the United States. Here is what I found...

Age structure (2009 est.)taken from Demographics of the United States on Wikipedia.org

0-14 years: 20.2% (male 31,639,127/female 30,305,704)
15-64 years: 67% (male 102,665,043/female 103,129,321)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 16,901,232/female 22,571,696

The large percentage is in the middle with an age range of 15-64 years. Other stats show that a large marjority of this population are single adults. My thought as I read this is, "God knows who each one of these individuals are. How are we reaching them?" Our goal as church leaders should be to get to know as many of these individuals as possible. I don't mean each of us personally, but providing the means within our power to reach them through our congregations.

If we are sincerely honest about reaching them, are we doing whatever it takes to reach them? Do our services reflect our efforts, or do our services look like they did 10 years ago...five years ago for that matter. We live in a world that is changing very rapidly. We need to make sure we are not stuck and change with them. Are we challenging the leaders within our congregations to keep up with technology that this generation is so into? Do we use this technology in church, or do we have the mentality that the gospel message will get through no matter how we present it to people?

If that is our thinking we need to get on our knees and ask God for some divine intervention; because God is a God of excellence. Excellence is developed continually. It never stops developing. I don't mean have a "traditional" service and a "contemporary" service. That breeds discention and seperation. Let's work together and expand our ability to live and worship together.

Are we singing the same songs we sang 5, 10, 20 years ago? We all loved "Shout to the Lord," but it is old now. Sure sing it every once in a while, but allow God to grow you past this and learn new ones. Learning new songs keeps our spirit fresh. There are people that spend time in prayer and worship that birth these songs from the heart. Allow our spirits to join them in praising God with the song they created.

Remember, our main responsibility is to reach the lost, get to know the people God knows already. They are not a number. They are individuals searching for love and compassion and that is what we have to offer. We have the challenge to find these people who think they are nobody and allow God to make create in them the somebody He can use for His glory.

We may have to do things that are a little uncomfortable for us; but that is what is so awesome about being a leader used by God, we are in an adventure that stretches and challenges us to grow. When we allow ourselves to be stretched we are giving God the "ok" to spiritually mature us. You may even feel like a nobody right now. You may feel that you cannot live up to this task. But, God has placed within you the abiltiy to do above and beyond what you cannot even imagine. Ephesians 3:20 says, "...according to his power that is at work within us." NIV

It's not about the number in attendence we are to be concerned with; it is the number of salvations taking place in our services and through our people. You know what? When salvations happen, the actual growth of our churches will increase. The key is, it will not happen until we are strategic in how we go about reaching the 67%of the US population. We won't forget the children and senior adults, that will happen as we reach out the way we should.

Remember God's power is at work within you, and you can expect great things to happen, as you allow Him to work within you, changing you into what He desires as a leader.

I trust this has blessed you. I have read Romans 9 several times, but this just stood out again recently. Be blessed and have an awesome day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Churches We Can't Help (Pt 2)

Thanks for all the feedback on the previous post. Here's the second part...

The next church you can't help is the one who expects the pastor to make a greater investment than they are willing to make. As we mature in Christ we should want to invest more and more of ourselves into our church family and advancing the Kingdom of God. Remember when we first accepted Christ? We were all excited. We wanted to be at church all the time and around those God was using to help us grow. As we develop spiritually that should become stronger and not diminish, which so often happens. Our prayer should be, "God help me retain my enthusiasm for the house of God and His people." Be available. Volunteer to help whenever the church has a function going on. You will be blessed as you bless others.

The last point I want to make is this:

You can't help a church who refuses to spend and invest their time in prayer and the Word in order to bring transformation. It is not enough just to go to church and listen to the pastor. Each church member needs to spend time conversing with God, getting to know Him.

You get to know Him by reading the Word regularly. Sure there will be days we skip our reading, but that should not be the norm. Each one of us has a best friend we love to spend time with. We love to talk to them. If this person is a true friend, then you will both talk together, back and forth. The conversation will not be one sided.

Talk to God, then sit quietly and allow Him to speak to your spirit. He may even direct you to a certain scripture to read. He disires for us to get to know Him. Make sure you are spending the time you need in order for your spirit to be transformed and encourage others within your influence to do the same.

I trust we are all part of a church that is seeing God move in awesome ways. If we don't see that happening, ask ourself if we a part of a church that cannot be helped, or am I someone that needs to change my perspective on things? If we find we are part of a church that cannot be helped, maybe it is best that we move on, in order for us to be able to spiritually grow and mature.

Believe me, I understand the thought, "Maybe, I can help them. God can use me here." Those thoughts may be true; but, if you have been in the church a while and it is not going anywhere, it is time for you to move on. You must move on for your own spiritual health.

Maybe you have wanted to move on at one time and your spouse encouraged you to stay in the church. Later, you both changed your position, your spouse was ready to leave and you were the one encouraging to stay. Be very careful with this, because you do not want to stay too long. That is what happened to us. We loved the church and wanted to see it move forward in what God desired for it. The reality was, we needed to move on long before we did, because it affected our spiritual health. It became a situation that caused me to not want to be in ministry ever again. God had a way of bringing about healing, causing His vision and call to resurface; but, it was at a great cost. Please be careful and earnestly seek God's wisdom in this kind of a situation. He definitely wants to lead, so let Him.

Thanks for reading and may this be the start of a fresh, new journey for each of you in your walk with God. May He take you to new levels of leadership in the ministries you are in. Blessings!