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!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Churches We Can't Help

I heard a sermon on "People You Can't Help" several months back. Over the months the "Churches We Can't Help" has been stirring in my spirit. Being in ministry for 26 years, you see a lot of things. You see churches who are struggling, pastors who are struggling, and both are wondering why. Could it be that both are a little "closed minded" to how God desires to use them?

If we aren't careful we lose our edge because we become so comfortable in our ways. When God brings people across our path we don't recognize what God is doing because we are "set". When concrete sets it is not going to move unless someone uses a sledge hammer or a power tool to break it up. God help me to be a little more flexible than that!

As you read on I hope this speaks to you and challenges you to ask God if you are in one of these categories. My intent is not to condemn anyone, it is simply to try to stir our thinking up a little so we do not become "set" and comfortable in our ways.

We can't help a church who refuses to believe or accept they have a problem. When we look in the first chapters of Revelation we see churches that were doing what they thought best, but God had issues with them.

We can look around the United States and see many churches who were once powerful forces in God's Kingdom. They were alive and helping people get to know Christ and start relationships with Him. If we talk to people who were around during that time, they become excited just talking about all God did; but saddended because it is not happening today.

It is awesome how God moved upon men and women. He is so ready and willing to do that now...but we, the church, put too many guidelines on how we are to reach out to people searching for what we have to offer. What happened to God's grace? Until the church accepts that God's grace looks at the heart of an individual and not the outward appearance; until the church acknowledges that the methods of reaching generations has changed (not the message); until the church realizes and acknowledges it has a problem, the church cannot be helped.

Now, this next point may cause some readers to not read my blog anymore; but this point is so very important for the health of the church. Here it goes...

You can't help a churh that believes the pastor is the problem. Why? Because God gave that pastor to them as a GIFT. Ephesians 4:11 in the Message says, "He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher." God loves the church so much He gives them their leaders. When we give gifts to people we normally don't take the gift back. AND, if the person receiving the gift shows any hint of not liking and appreciating the gift, we get hurt and upset. Let that sink into our spirit for a moment.

God gave these leaders to the church to help the church grow and develop into mature Christians. We read on in Ephesians 4:12 of the Message, "...to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other..."

Now bear with me while I use my imagination. Imagine God looking down at His church here on earth. He sees congregations in North America, South Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada; wherever you live, and say, 'This is the man or woman I want to place in such and such city, town, or village." If God cares for us that much, who are we to try and undermine the pastor? Who are we to think we hear from God more than our pastor? If each church would allow their pastor's to implement the task God is showing he/she, our congregations would be overflowing with people hungry for more of God.

Didn't verse 12 tell us the reason for these leaders was to help the church move rhythmically and easily with each other? I don't know about you; but there are far too many churches not moving rhythmically and easily together. Now, please hear me out. This is not condemning anyone, please do not feel as if I am. I am trying to help us take a good, hard look at ourselves to see if we fit this categary. If we don't that's awesome. If we do and we recognize it, then that is awesome as well; because, that is the first step in change.

When we take a look at our church there could be a couple of reasons why we are not living these verses out. The first may be that the pastor may just be worn out and exhausted from his/her task; and the second could be the church is not trusting and following their pastor's lead. Sure, there have been pastor's who have taken advantage of churches; but they are few and far between.

If you are a member of a church in which that has happened, please remember that not everyone that way. God has a desire for you to forgive, forget and move on in your spiritual development. If you can't do that, then maybe God could use you better somewhere else. That is something to seriously consider and pray about. God may want to use you more elsewhere. Allow Him to grow you in that way.

This has become rather lengthy. I will post the other two points tomorrow. Have an awesome day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Powerful Demeanor/Powerful Word

As I was reading in Mark this morning I was reminded of a message I preached several years back in our church. I had a few teenagers help by getting up and following me when I walked by, motioning for them to follow, saying, "follow me."

Now, catch the power behind the demeanor and words of Jesus in this instance. You can read about it in Mark 1:14-20 and Matthew 4:18-22. What was it about this man that caused people to stop whatever they were doing...that included their livelihood...and follow after Him?

He had confidence in who he was...the Son of God.
He knew what his mission was...salvation of mankind.
He had passion for that mission...everything He did had to do with His mission.
He had determination to see the mission fulfilled...He was willing to give His life.

As believers and leaders (and everyone who is a believer should be a leader) we need to be following Jesus' example. When we walk past people they should take a second look. If we ask them to follow us in what we are doing they should stop whatever they are doing and follow. Why? Because we have Christ in us. John 16 tells about Jesus having to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come. He would teach us all truth (v13) and we would then have power to ask anything in Jesus name (vv 23,24) and receive.

I don't know about you; but, that is a mighty strong promise! Are we living up to those verses? Does the demeanor we protray and the words we say carry that much power? When others look at me or when I walk past others I want them to take a second look...not because I look like some crazy woman, but because I have the power of Jesus inside of me. That is a difficult task. We must do it at home...which can be tough with everyone in our homes having their own will, and spiritually maturing at different stages.

We can have confidence in who we are...a child of God. (1 Jn 3:1)
We can know what our mission is...telling others about Christ. (Mt. 28:18-20)
We can have a passion about our mission...live life worthy of the calling (Eph. 4:1) and live a "more and better life than they ever dreamed of" (Jn 10:10b Msg).
We can have determination to fulfill the mission...we can do everything He has called us to, because He gives us the strength (Phil 4:13 & 1:6).

Make that your challenge. Watch your words. Watch the body language you carry. At home and away from home.

The next time someone looks at you or you walk past someone, don't be surprised if they are following you! Oh, by the way. There are various ways people can follow today...physically is the "old fashioned" way; but, what about facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. Technology has opened up a whole new realm for the Believer. Don't criticize it, get on board with it and allow God to use you in ways you NEVER thought you could be used. Just remember, people do follow you, so watch everything you say and do.

Have fun with people following you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Remember God Loves You!

This past week I had the privilege of hearing some awesome speakers at Wave Conference in Virginia Beach. It was a powerful time in every session. Sunday was an awesome day in church as we were blessed by At Boshoff from South Africa. During the prayer time in the morning service there was an overwhelming sense of God's presence and His love. It was so powerful I felt that God wanted me to share this on my blog. If you are a pastor, wife of pastor, or know a pastor who needs this I pray it encourages you...

"Pastor, God loves you...right where you are. He loves you...you need to believe it, not just know it. Believe it in your spirit. The circumstances around you do not dictate His love for you. He loves you. It does not matter the size of the church or where you pastor. You are loved by God because of who you are to Him...His child, not what you have accomplished. Remember, God loves you."

I thank God daily that I am loved by Him and it doesn't matter if anyone else loves me or appreciates me; it is all about Him and who He is in my life. We can do so much and go so much farther when we allow that to sink into our innermost being.

Blessings in all you do,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where are Your Expectations Born?

Recently I heard someone say, "Your expectation of life is born out of the voices you listen to." I then heard a speaker speak about what we think/speak to ourselves.

What are your thought processes? Do they speak life or death? Sometimes we just have to take a good grip on our thoughts and get them under control. It is too easy for us to sit back and listen to negative voices telling us we are not worth much...that we'll never do this or that...but God said, "We can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength." (Phil. 4:13)

Our thoughts are controlled by us. Are we taking control of them, or they controlling us? Make a conscious effort today to take control and speak healthy scripture into your life. When negative thoughts try to creep in rebuke human nature and start praying if you don't know what else to do. Find scriptures that are encouraging to you, write them on notecards and keep close and easy to read, until they become second nature to you.

We often want to stay in our sad and "woe is me" attitude for attention from someone, or we just want to have a "pitty party." That is not what God wants, and neither do the people around you. So pick youself up today and enjoy what God has blessed you with...His presence!

It's not that I am saying we can never have a down moment, just don't stay there. If it is hard for you to get out have someone help; but, it is ultimately up to you to determine you are going to rise above and conquer.

God has given us so much. He wants us to enjoy what He has given. You are blessed by God and have been called for a specific purpose. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you courage and desire to take an honest look at yourself and see what your thinking process is like.

Remember Romans 8 tells us that God is interceding for us (v34) and we are more than conquerors (v37). Be reminded that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ, (v39). So we have a lot to be thankful for and some great things to think about that can help keep us on the right track.

What are you expecting God to do in you life? Maybe you need to take a good look at what you have been expecting and ask God to help you change up your expectations. What are your expectations of God? God is great and mighty? Are your expectations small compared to what He can do? Give Him a challenge! Expect some mighty things to happen in your life and through you. God desires to do it...so give Him the opportunity to do it.

I trust you will enjoy your day and speak life and health into your mind and spirit.
Blessings!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Change Challenge

In the late 1800's and early 1900's when the Pentecostal movement was being born...or reborn, people did things their churches did not agree with, for the simple fact of experiencing God in ways they had not experienced Him before. When this began happening in the 60's and 70's again the church was not sure they wanted to accept what was happening. It was different...not what they were use to seeing or experiencing.

Today we are experiencing God again. Is it so different from previous years? The only thing different in each of these events is the way in which it was accomplished. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) He is the same, but it is important to look at the circumstances and the ways in which He moved and allowed the Holy Spirit to work. The ways were different, yet the Holy Spirit was the same...gentle and powerful. I believe God is the same as Hebrews says, but He uses the culture of the day to bring His will about and cultures change, so we must change.

God is a God of relevancy. He uses what we are accustomed to in order to reach the generation in which we live. He related to shepherds, fisherman, and tax collectors using what they were comfortable with in order to reach them. My question to the church and ministers today is, "Why is it so hard to allow God to use our culture to reach our culture?" We are not compromising the truth of God's word, we are making it relevant to a generation that needs God's word.

When the hymns, so many people love today were written, they were not the tradition of the day. Many were bar tunes with new words and the people loved them because they were telling the stories of their heart and what God was doing in their lives. This is what is happening today, but people are being inspired to write their own music with lyrics from deep within their spirit. People are using various ways to creatively reach a generation that is desperately in need of Christ, but it is difficult for some churches and pastors to grasp.

Take these thoughts to heart. Ask God to open your spirit to change. How is He wanting to work in you? Is it hard for you to change? Are you comfortable where you are at this point in your life? Maybe it is time to "upset the fruit basket" and allow the Holy Spirit to challenge you with change.

What can you change today that will benefit others tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting More out of LIfe and Changing the World!

"I want, I want, I want," oftentimes is what we hear more than, "what can I do for you?"

As I was doing a study on giving I read the well known verse in Lk 6:38 NIV, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over..." Many times we stop there, but read what else it says, "...will be poured into your lap. For with what measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Like always I looked to see what The Message said, "Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

If everyone would grasp the full intensity of that verse we would be living in a very different world. Not long ago I was riding my bike from my house down to the boardwalk with family. Two of us had gone ahead of the others and a group of people were walking, taking up the entire Oceanfront road. When riding bikes you courteously say, "On your left," or "On your right" when you are going to pass someone. That is what I did and man did I get an earfull.

This group of people just had an attifude that many in our nation have today. That is very sad to say, but truth. We live in a world that believes everyone "owes" them something. It is "their right." This is not the way God intended for us to live. His intension was like the above scripture states, "Give away your life..." Go out of our way to do good and do not "expect" things to happen because of who we are or what we've done.

As believers it is so important that we grasp what the scripture is saying. Take it to heart. Give away our life. Give from our very innermost being. Do good to others. Say a kind word. Go out of our way to speak and give into another person's life. As we do this God will give back into our lives.

Now, we do not give to get. That is not what God meant. He is simply telling us, "Hey, this is what I would like for you to do. And you know what? When you do it look what I will do for you." (Cheryl Turnbull paraphrase) He tells us that He will not only give back, but give back with bonus benefits. As we begin living a life of generosity we will be amazed at the outcome...more people will be generous to us. Don't expect it. Don't look for it. Just let it happen.

If everyone in the world would take hold of that scripture and purposefully be generous, we could change the world!

Live purposefully today and be generous...LET'S CHANGE THE WORLD!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Kind of a Legacy Will You Leave?

When you think of what is important to you, what comes to mind? Your career? Your family? Your relationships? All of these things are important; but, how will people remember you?

I guess I am thinking of this because my husband's father passed away a week ago, on June 22nd. His life was a life well lived. He and his wife were missionaries in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. He taught at Vanguard University (when it was known as Southern California College) and worked as Director of International Ministries at CBN, where he retired. In each one of these rolls he was developing and training leaders in their call of ministry. His children have all followed their father's example in serving Christ and he leaves an awesome legacy of love for God and His work; in addition to a great love, compassion and concern for his family.

He was the epitome of Mt. 22:37-39, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...Love your neighbor as yourself." NIV Bob did this. He loved people. Now, he did embarrass the family, at times, when he was just being friendly. To strike up conversation, he would make a comment about an earring that wasn't in the ear, or a tatoo. Sometimes the comments, made to be comical, could have gotten him into tough situations; but, he wasn't doing it out of meanness, he was doing it to try to connect with the person. He honestly loved people. He made a friend everywhere he went. We all have our ways; but, the majority of his life was loving people and that included his family. He would do anything for his family.

I look at his life...the many travels around the world he took, not only to enjoy, but preach the gospel, the way he loved and provided and took care of his wife, and the way he prayed for his children and grandchildren. That is an awesome legacy.

Looking at his life causes me to take a good look at my own life. Am I showing a love for Christ in all that I do? Am I more concerned about what I am doing and how it is going to turn out, than I am with my relationships with people and even my relationship with Christ? How are people going to remember me? Will I like what they think about me after I am gone?

If we keep those two questions at the forefront of our mind everyday, I believe it would revolutionize the way we do life in general. Sure, set goals and strive to reach them. Enjoy what God has given you. Just don't forget to love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and the people you come in contact with every day as you love yourself. Grasp Mt. 22:37-39, wrap it around mind, plant it in your heart. Live it out daily. Wake up thinking about it. Go to bed thinking about the verses. The last question you should ask yourself before collapsing on your pillow is, "Did I show how much I love God today, by going out of my way to love someone...someone that is hard to love?"

Take that thought with you and change the way you live your life.

Have a Blessed and Loving Day!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Effectively Passing the Baton

As leaders we each have a desire to "pass the baton" to the next generation...or at least we should. I have been thinking on this quite often lately. In order to effectively pass the baton we need to have a passion for ministry...a passion for leadership...but what supersedes it all is a passion for more of Christ. That is the key to being effective at passing on the other two.

We can easily get caught up in our various ministries and trying to lead others, that our passion for those two things overshadow our passion for, just simply, getting more of God. It may seem super simple, but it is so very important to stay on top of this issue. As a minister I like to observe other leaders and how well they are doing at their calling. Now, please do not get me wrong, I am not judging others, I am simply observing how they are representing their calling.

I can speak from experience. A few years ago I was just going through the motions of ministry. It seemed as if everything I was trying to accomplish was being "shot" down by others. Eventually I allowed all that to get to me. Ministry was the last thing I wanted to do. It was too difficult...so I just began living really with no purpose.

We have to be so careful because satan will do whatever he can to discourage us and keep us from the calling God has on our lives. After a year or so I began to feel renewed in my spirit; but, at first I did not want to have anything to do with ministry, or church for that matter. It was hard to pray because I felt as if God had abandoned me. I tell about this in more detail in my self-published book, "Shattering the Glass Walls of the Woman in Ministry."

I thank God continually for the church we were led to attend. The teaching coming out of the church was exactly what my husband and I needed to renew our passion and sense of calling in our lives. Why was this church so different from other churches we attended during the searching period?

To sum it up in one word...PASSION. Everyone was excited about their relationship with God. They were excited about their leadership. They were excited to volunteer. They were excited to be part of the ministry and reaching people. People were accepting Christ in EVERY service and Sunday night services were packed. No cancelling Sunday night service...people wanted to come.

Why? Because the core leadership of the church, not just pastoral leadership, had a passion for what they believed.

Pastor's and leaders can easily become discouraged when it seems as if the people who are following their leadership do not want to get on board with anything they desire. If we are part of a church and we are one of the ones that do not want to get on board with our pastors, we need to ask ourselves the question, "Why?" God has placed this man or woman as our leader and we need to get behind them. They are God's gift to you to lead you.

If we cannot get behind them we are in essence telling God we don't trust His decision for the leader He placed in our midst. We could be adding to the discouragement that could eventually lead to the decision to leave pastoral ministry altogether. (see previous post)

Passion for God is one of the keys to great leadership. When we are excited about what we are doing people will want to get on board.

If we are in a church that cannot get on board and has the attitude, "They're young. Just wait, the excitement will subside," pray for God to give you direction in how to handle the situation. Do not allow this attitude to kill your passion. If you have found yourself in this situation a ministry is being set in place to help you, the minister, so please contact me. We have a desire to help you succeed and continue in your passion for ministry.

It is awesome to serve God! There is no greater fulfillment than to see others grasping hold of the passion of God along with you. God has placed you where you are and will be with you all the way. As ministers we need to "be there" for each other. If you do not have someone in whom you can confide we have resources to help you.

May God bless you as you faithfully serve Him and pass the baton on to generations...a baton of passionate leadership.

Friday, May 29, 2009

How Well are We Doing at Supporting Our Pastors?

In a time when churches are shutting down (4,000 in US last year) and pastors are leaving ministry (1,700 every month last year) we need to rethink this thing we call ministry.

“Last year 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause,” Pastoral Care Inc. We find that many denominations cannot find the pastors they need, to fill pulpits of churches. According to Pastoral Care Inc. the number one reason pastors leave the ministry is because the church is not willing to go in the same direction and goal as the pastor.

As a minister and wife of a pastor for twenty-two years I understand these statistics; but something has got to be done to help turn this around.
When ministers first enter ministry they are all excited, they are passionate about the calling God has placed in their heart, and even stick it out for a few years, before they get totally discouraged. It is now said that 50% of all ministers will not last five years in ministry. (That use to be the number youth pastors would move from one ministry to the next.) We also can say that one out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister in one form or another. That number is astonishing.

These next numbers made me totally break down crying when I was reading them to my husband…”80% of pastors believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents,” and “33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family,” Pastoral Care Inc. Over the past three years we have had the privilege of sitting under a ministry in Virginia Beach that totally changes this statistic. (If you want more info you can contact me personally at the number or email address below.)

As I look at those statistics, I do realize we are becoming more aware of this, due to the teaching of leaving a legacy and passing leadership on to the generations; but how well are we doing this? I believe that, too often, we mean well and have good intentions, but miss out because we are not willing to do what it takes to move us forward.

God is moving and doing some awesome things in churches that are willing to change their outlook of how they see the pastor and his family. As I did an in depth study on the Book of Acts, studying the early church and how they developed, I took a serious look at how we have developed church. Are we following the example of Peter and Paul? Have we taken what they have shown us and developed the way we think it should look; or are we truly laying aside our desires and really seeking God’s direction?

You see, the early church heard what the apostles were saying and followed their lead. Church, are we looking at our pastor and truly listening to what he/she is saying; and doing and living the way they admonish us? Pastors, are we unreservedly seeking God’s wisdom, not our own, and developing the church of Christ the way He wants? We all need to work together, developing a mighty force that satan cannot reckon with. The only way to do this is by trusting our pastors to lead us, and allowing them the freedom to take us where God desires. If we, as a church, can do this, there is no stopping what God can do.

Pastors are sent to us by God to help us, not hurt us. Instead of being on the low end of respect (statistics show pastors to be near the bottom of most-respected professions, just above car salesman according to Pastoral Care Inc.) we need to respect them, just as we would Moses, David, Deborah, Peter, or Paul. No wonder we are in trouble. Pastors have the total health of the church in mind. They do not want to hurt congregations. Why is it that we have such a hard time truly trusting our leader?

I understand there have been those ministers who have taken advantage of congregations, but they are they the exception, not the norm.

I do not know who might be reading this, but I would like to challenge us to look at our heart. What do we think of our pastor and his/her family? Do we honor them? Do we make it easy for them to lead us, or do we make it hard? Your pastor is there because he/she felt a call of God to lead you, now can you trust them to do it and give them your total support?

Jesus came to give us a “more and better life than we ever dreamed,” Jn 10:10 The Msg. Our pastor is there to help us live out that life. Allow them the freedom to motivate and develop you into spiritual powerhouses transforming the world in which we live.

I pray that something I have written will encourage, motivate, and challenge us in how we do life and ministry. For more information on ways we are helping the pastor and family you can contact me at 757-343-7783 or by email at hstrymknwmn@hotmail.com. The statistics in this article are taken from www.pastoralcareinc.com.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What is God Telling You to Do?

"'Peace be with you.' They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, 'Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over.'" Lk. 24:36-38 Msg

I have read that scripture many times, but never had it jump out like this time.

How many times has God called us to do something and we begin second guessing what He is telling us? Maybe we begin to worry about what other's may think. We may not want to step out and take the risk. It may be that we have become comfortable and satisfied with where we are, and what we are doing. We may even think the vision we have seen in our spirit, is just that...a dream that will never happen. We begin questioning the validity of our dream, our vision. It really scares us to look at our dream. We may even say it is for someone else.

Take Jesus' advice; "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over." He may have been talking to the disciples, but it is also for you and me. Jesus is telling us to not listen to the doubt. Don't question what He is telling us to do. Listen to His call, seek His word for direction, and talk to Him about the vision and dream He has placed in our heart.

He encouraged the disciples. He then commissioned them to share what they had been taught. He told them they were not to keep it to themselves. They were to share with others; starting local, then spreading out globally. Lk 24:44-53

Where are you right now in your life? Think about the vision God is giving you. Are you comfortable where you are in life and ministry; not allowing God to empart vision and dreams?

I would like to challenge you to start dreaming again. You may have had a few flashes of a dream, but brushed it aside, thinking it was impossible. It may have even frightened you because it seemed so out of line, with where you are in life right now. Think about that dream. What was it? What did God flash in your spirit?

Take time to spend time meditating on that dream. Ask God to give you wisdom. Read His Word and ask for clear direction, inspiration; and the courage to move forward in the dream He gave you.

Be encouraged! God knew He could entrust this dream with you or He would never have given it to you. You are not alone. There are women, men, and young people around the world He is entrusting with vision and dreams. May we rise up and do what He has called us to; an unstoppable force, advancing His Kingdom.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

God is a Big God: But How Big Do We Allow Him to Be in Our Lives?


I can't believe it is almost the end of May and I haven't written in my blog! The thought: "how big am I allowing God to be in my life," keeps going over and over in my head.

Sure, we all say we serve an awesome God, a big God; but do we really allow Him to be big in us? It is easy to say, but a little harder to do. Jesus, Himself, tells us how big God can be in our lives in John 14:12 of the NIV, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

This scripture has stood out in my mind since I was a teenager, and that's a long time ago. We can do greater things than Jesus because He is going to be with His Father. If Jesus is telling us this, then I think our lives should exhibit the very essence of what God is about.

He is about changing lives from the inside out. He is about compassion. He is about grace. He is about forgiveness. He is about healing, both spiritually and physically.

Too often, I believe we get so caught up in the how of doing things we forget the why. We need to break free of what is holding us down and keeping us from allowing the bigness of God to overflow out of our lives.

In my own life, right now, I am having to daily remind myself of God's bigness in me. That means, allowing Him to work the everyday things of my life out for His glory and honor. I have to remind myself that God is big and He can work in ALL circumstances...as I allow Him the freedom to do just that.

So, how big is God in your life? Is there evidence that He is in control, not you? Is the very essence of God's greatness overflowing from your everyday activities?

Take time to think about how big God is in your life. He is only able to be as big as we allow Him to be.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who's in Your Top Five?

Who do we share vision with while it is still being developed?

Do we keep it to ourselves?

Do we share a little at a time?

Who is in your circle of influence?

Who is in your top five?

These thoughts are important to the development of our dreams. If not thought through wisely, the outcome could hinder the birth and development of the dream itself.

Our dreams and vision are special to us. They mean a lot to us. They are part of our very being. When we share part of our vision we are sharing part of our heart; so we don't want to share it with someone who will take hearing it lightly. As you share from your heart you are taking a risk...

What if the person you are sharing it with laughs at your dream?

What if they think you are being unrealistic?

What if they think you are just out right stupid?

Those questions are what we have to take into consideration when we share. If we are not careful we may lose our dream and vision because of someone's remark. We may even make a remark to someone else about their dream and vision that might discourage them; so make it a point to always think before you respond to others. We do not want to be the one that bursts a dream in someone's life.

Jerimiah 29:11, "...plans to give you the future you hope for." The MSG

God wants us to succeed and be successful. We just have to be careful who we surround ourselves with and who we allow to influence us. There will be times when we have to pull away from people we have been around a long time. We may have to watch the amount of time we spend with family and friends, because they do not understand how we can expect the things we are expecting. They may not understand our dreams, so be careful how much you share. They may be well meaning, but they may hinder your progress because of the words they say to you.

God has a time for everything. Do not be discouraged if the dream or vision you have for your life isn't happening. God is working in ways you cannot always see. He is even working in your own life, preparing you for the fulfillment of those dreams. Don't be anxious. There are times I tell myself that. God knows more than you know about what He is doing. We simply have to trust and let Him do what He wants.

So, where are you in your dream...in your vision of what God has planned for you? If you're living your dream, don't get too comfortable, God is going to develop more dreams in your life. You have to be willing to allow Him free reign, to do as He pleases.

There is so much He has planned for our lives; we just have to be willing to be stretched, in what we allow Him to do in and through us.

Spend your day dreaming and envisioning your future. What is He saying to you? What is He wanting you to stretch and do? Are you ready and willing to see God move in you?

Well, what are you waiting for? Get going!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What are we Reflecting?


Living by the ocean, or any water for that matter, can be quite inspirational. I have enjoyed the walks on the beach, the bike rides, and waking up to the suns reflection on the water. Although, there have been mornings I wish the sun was not so bright so I could sleep a little while longer.

This morning I woke up thinking about that reflection and how it relates to each of us. It doesn't matter if we believe in Christ or not, our lives reflect something. What is it that is reflecting off of us? Is is Christ? If we call ourselves Christians then Christ should be the brightest reflection coming from our lives. Sure we make mistakes, but those mistakes should be opportunites for growth. If we keep making the same mistakes, something is wrong with our lives. We need to do a little introspective of our spirits and ask God to help us move on.

Since leaving a legacy to the generations is prominent right now, our reflection should be even more important. People are watching how we do life. They are watching how we react in difficult situations. What is our attitude when someone cuts us off while driving? Are we allowing the fruit of the spirit to affectively penetrate our spirits and reflect in our lives?

We may preach and teach about this often, but how close to home does it truly hit? I know that I constantly catch myself in situations where I have a chance to let God's reflection shine through or my own. I pray that more often than not, it is God's.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mentoring Women in Ministry Weekend Retreat


It has been an incredibly busy time in my life. We just had the second Mentoring Women in Ministry Weekend Retreat of 2009 and it was awesome. God is so amazing. He is working in the lives of women everywhere and I am excited to see what He has in store for the rest of this year.

Women from different areas came together to be refreshed and challenged by one another. The weekend could not have been better. The weather was so nice we were able to sit on the deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean for the morning sessions, take a walk down the street to eat at Surf Club for lunch overlooking the ocean, then took a walk on the beach. We came back to enjoy the afternoon sessions inside, but still had the relaxing view of the ocean.

We covered many issues directly relating to the woman in ministry, ie her calling, her priorities, her marriage, and much more. The weekend is specifically planned to be relaxed and not rigid on time restraints. It is laid back and open discussion is very important.

If you are a woman in ministry and are able to attend one of the two weekends (July 31-Aug. 1 and Oct. 30 -31) please contact me soon, because space is limited. If you are on Facebook look up Mentoring Women in Ministry for more details.

I wanted to bring one thing to the attention of my readers. There is an awesome opportunity for me to speak to women in ministry and pastors in Ghana. The proceeds of "Shattering the Glass Walls of the Woman in Ministry" and "If the Shoe Fits" will go toward the cost of this trip.

"Shattering the Glass Walls..." takes the woman in ministry through various issues she will face throughout her life in ministry. It is short and easy reading, but meant to be thought provoking and introspective. It is for the veteran woman in ministry or pastor's wife and the woman in ministry just starting on her journey. I honestly believe you will be challenged and encouraged as you read.

"If the Shoe Fits" speaks to every woman and challenges them to allow God to use them in their specific giftings. This book has been used as a tool in my own home. We have a handicapped son that has daily nursing care. I have this book in my son's room for anyone to read. It has been a catalyst for discussion and two of the nurses are now attending church with us regularly.

If you are interested in purchasing the books you can click on the following links to order and have the book shipped directly to you. Remember, all the proceeds of this book go toward the ministry trip I will take to minister to other women in ministry. You may not be able to make a trip such as this, but you can contribute by purchasing the books and assist in reaching people you would not have been able to reach personally. I honestly appreciate whatever you can do. These women are in need of encouragement and support. God has placed this before me and I am grateful for your support through prayers and finances.

Purchase "Shattering the Glass Walls of the Woman in Ministry" here.

Purchase "If the Shoe Fits" here.

Also, if you are in need of a speaker at any of your events I am scheduling for that as well. You can check out my website for more information on me and recommendations, http://www.mentoringwomeninministry.com You may also make a donation through paypal on the website.

Thank you once again for helping to contribute to this ministry. May God bless you richly for your compassion and generosity.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Are We as Intriguing and Intense as "LOST" and "24"?


So...many people are "caught up" in the intrigue of "LOST" and "24" on television. There is nothing wrong with that, because I am "caught up" along with everyone else.

I began thinking about this and several thoughts came to mind in how we can relate the two series to our spiritual life...

Do our lives, as leaders, give people the desire to "tune in" to us weekly? Think about this for a moment. Do we attract people? What do our lives say? What words come from our mouths on a regular basis? I know I like to be around people who can speak into my life positively.

If we are around someone who is constantly negative and draining us, it is not healthy for our spirit. Besides, we usually tend to stay away from them. That is exactly the reason I bring this point up. In order for us to be as intriguing as "Lost" or "24", our lives have to have the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the intensity as these shows.

We just celebrated Easter. Think about what Christ did for us, what opportunities He provided through the cross. That should be all we need to challenge us in our walk with Him and how we represent Him to others. Maybe we provide some of this intrigue in our churches, maybe not; but, if not, we should think about this in light of what we are doing to reach generations.

If we want to attract this generation and generations to come we must develop this intrigue in both our ministries and individual lives. We must be careful to not grow old in our thinking as we mature in our age. Stay young at heart, so you do not miss the opportunity to reach younger people. Besides, by staying young at heart you may just live longer.

Now, there will be some limitations. I would love to learn to kite board, but I remember my age and think it is not a wise thing to do. Plus, my arms aren't that strong! I have gone on a zip line before, but that was about 9 years ago. I still think I could do that, but the adventure hasn't arisen lately.

I say all of that, to challenge you to look at yourself seriously and ask some tough questions. Have you become settled in the way you do life? Are you predictable in how you relate to people, or how you do ministry? Maybe it is time to add a little adventure, a little suspense, to your life...to your ministry. When you do that people will not know what to expect the next time they see you. Hey, they may even start coming around more often, just to see what's going to happen next.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Staying Hydrated in the Race of Life


I woke up this morning with the thought: "Challenges we face are opportunities for us to grow stronger and see the hand of God in our life." Later in the afternoon as I was walking I thought of a lesson I learned from my son when he ran cross country in high school.

When you are training for a race it is important to hydrate the day before, because that is what will sustain you through the race. Now, Christine Caine has written a book called "Run to Win," which is an excellent read for any Christian. It relates running a race to the Christian life. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend the read. She talks about conditioning and all that relates to the runner.

I want to point out something else relating to a race and the Christian life...being prepared for the race by taking in enough fluids. Coaches will tell you to drink plenty of fluids the day before a race. As Christians we need to follow this example by staying spiritally hydrated with the Word of God...with Christ, who is the Living Water.

By staying in the Word and absorbing what God is telling us through Scripture we are preparing for the race of life...the race of a Believer. When the obstacles and challenges come at us, we will have what we need in order to stay in the race; just like a runner needs the fluids to make it to the finish line.

It is very important that we never think we don't need to read the Word or pray: "Oh, I can skip it today. I will do it later." We need to be careful to not take either of them lightly. They are what will sustain us through, to the finish line. When the obstacles and challenges come at us, we will be able to pull from the strength our training has given us.

If we have been slack in our training, it will be evident in the way we deal with difficult circumstances. It will be evident in the way we respond to our family...our friends...our collegues. We cannot lie about how much, or how little we have trained. Our lives will tell the truth.

So...how are we dealing with life? What are we going through right now? Are we running strong, or are we a little weary? Maybe all we need is this blog to remind us to pick up our Bible and read. Maybe this is a reminder to spend more time alone with God worshipping Him for Who He is, not for what He has done. Maybe we need to just be still and listen to the "still small voice."

As we do these things we are going to be replenished. We will be reminded that we can move forward; we do not have to stay discouraged.

The obstacle or challenge we are facing at the moment is just an opportunity for us to grow stronger and see God at work in our life!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crossing into the Promised Land


Be strong and courageous as Joshua chapter one tells us. Don't be afraid to cross over into your promised land. You know, each one of us has a very different promised land. If we were all the same, life would be boring.

What is it God has called you to? Are you still standing on this side of the water just looking at the other side, dreaming? Be strong. Be courageous. Stand in awe of what God has in store for you. If it were an easy task it really would not be worth the effort. Thank God that He has given you the ability to have vision, to dream and set goals.

Ask yourself the following question:

"Am I living in my promised land, or am I settling for life as it is now?"

What is it you need to do to become more bold? Maybe you are in a place where God is telling you to sit still and learn at His feet. Some of the time that is the best place to be. To some that would be a bold move...to sit and be still. God may have you in a place where you are to soak in from others and not "do" anything right now. That is ok. He is preparing you. Believe me, I had to learn to accept that process.

To others, maybe you have sat too long and God is trying to get you to move, because you are ready. It is your time. Now get up and get going. The sky is the limit with you and God. Your imagination is the only thing that is holding you back. Cross over to the other side into your Promised Land and let God be glorified.

I would love to hear some stories of what God is doing in your life. Are you at the sitting still point, or are you crossing over? Share with us so we can learn from you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Does Your Life Say?


Today I saw a status on facebook from the daughter of a friend of mine. It read, "There's so much more at stake here than whether I live or die." It was a quote from the girls aunt, also a friend of mine. She had cancer and fought and overcame it; but it came back and eventually God thought best to take her home with Him.

That so illustrates the point I have made in past posts. What is the legacy that we are leaving to those who follow us? This woman would go and speak to people regarding her fight for life and minister to many who were touched by her ministry. I thought of the passages of 2 Kings about Elijah and Elisha.

What a legacy Elijah left Elisha. 2 Kings 2 tells us in The Messge that Elijah told Elisha three times to "stay here" and Elisha said "not on your life. I'm not letting you out of my sight." Because of this detemination Elisha received the request he had of having a "double portion" of Elijah's anointing.

Do we have the determination of Elisha? When we see other's with God's anointing flowing from their lives do we observe how they do life? Do we ask God to bless us and anoint us in that way or better? I do not believe it is wrong for us to do just that...ask God to anoint us, to bless us with His anointing and presence.

The key is to not use it for personal gain. We should strictly ask in order to advance the kingdom of God. When people look at us what do they see? A person totally captivated by God and His will, or a person totally captivated by selfish ambition and desires?

As we go throughout our day keep this thought in mind, "God give me an anointing so powerful others will see you in me in every decision I make."

Remember, "There's so much more at stake here than whether I live or die." Vicki Qualls. Thanks Jessica for posting that on your status. It brought back great memories.

Friday, March 20, 2009

God's Grace...Like a Man Opening a Door for a Woman

Hmmm...do men still open doors for women? Yes, they do...just not like in the past. In my opinion, it is mostly the woman's fault for this courteousness to have almost been lost. Women had the opinion they could do everything.

Women have the capability to do many things and be great multi-taskers; but, if not careful this ability will cause them to miss out on great relationships and blessings. It can cause them to forget their need to rely upon others for support and strength.As I was thinking about God's grace the picture of the man opening the door for the woman came to mind. The man is being kind and courteous to the woman, not because she is weak and incapable of opening the door, but because he respects her and wants to show her how much she is valued.

God looks at us and sees how valued we are as men and women and opens the door to His heart through His grace. We don't deserve it; but, we need it. He just might be looking at us and saying, "I know you can do this life on your own. You are perfectly capable; but, I want to do this life with you. I want to support you and make it a little less stressful." Too often we try to do everything on our own, when God is calling us to allow Him to help us.

We possibly think we have done too many bad things in the past and God doesn't want to help us. Maybe we regret where we've been and people we associated with. Nothing we have done in our lives will shock God. He is God. He has seen it all. It may hurt Him, but it doesn't shock Him.

If you have been following my blog you know I have been studying leadership in the Old Testament. For the past few months I have been in Kings and Chronicles, as well as Jeremiah. The one thing that has stood out in what I have been reading lately is how God compared the various kings to David. He states several times that because a particular king did not follow the example of David; following after God, obeying His orders with an undivided heart, the kingship would be ripped from him. In some instances the kings family would be destroyed because of their blatant sin.

David was not without sin. That is the point. He purposefully sinned and then tried to cover the one sin by doing another. (2 Sam. 11 & 12) He should have been put to death because of it; BUT GOD. We see those two words often in scripture. God's grace came through.

Why does David stand out so much? Because he had a genuine heart after God. He understood when he was wrong and deeply repented of the wrong. When you read what he wrote you can see the deep relationship he had with God. He spoke from his heart. He learned from his mistakes and allowed God to take him into a deeper relationship with Him.

There are some people reading that have allowed their past to hinder what God wants to do in and through their lives. God's grace is abundant. If you have a heart like David and have truly repented God wants to help you move on. He is opening the door for you now. He is the gentleman that is saying, "I value you. You are special to me. Allow me to show you what I want for your life. I want to do this for you, not because I have to, or I am suppose to, I want to."

So, as you go through your day allow the Holy Spirit to heal your soul and renew your mind. Give God the opportunity to use you in ways you never dreamed or thought possible!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God's Up to Something Bigger Than Me...

Even though the inside is covered up it needs to be just as spectacular as the outside. Solomon was having The Temple built. It took four years to gather all that was needed to just begin building. (I Kings 6) The chapter tells us about the process of building. Everything was the best of the best. Solomon wanted to build a sactuary to God that was spectacular.

We read in First Kings chapter 6 verse 18 that the stones used for building the temple were covered completely by cedar. No stone was to be seen. This did not mean the stone was not important, just the opposite. In I Kings 5:17 we read that men were instructed to get the best stone and dress it for the foundation of The Temple. Solomon was not going to have anything but the best for The Temple he was building to house the presence of God.

As I read that passage I thought of our lives. We are the temple of God; His presence resides in each of us. (1Cor. 3:19, 6:19; 2Cor. 6:16) Usually we have a desire to take care of the outside of our bodies because people actually see us. We have to have the best clothes, the best accessories, the best shoes (of course), the best car...the best everything, because we care about what others see and think of us. But what about our inner lives; the stone of our existance. Have we allowed only the best to enter our heart and spirit?

Because of the busyness of our lives we can often go through the motions of Christianity and leadership. We can act like we are serving; but is our heart really serving, or do we secretly resent what we are doing? This is very easy to do without realizing what we are allowing to happen. We may feel as if things should be done differently, so we harbor hurt feelings. That is not healthy.

Remember only the best for the foundation of our spiritual lives. We can learn this lesson from Solomon. He used the best stone, but then he covered it up with cedar. No stone was exposed. When we have spent time in the presence of God and allowed Him to carve us; to chip away the impurities and roughness of our lives, we will live blessed and fulfilled lives. It will not matter to us what is going on around us because we have been carved by God.

Our appearance on the outside is just as important. We learn that from Solomon as well. He was blessed with the friendship of the King of Tyre, and had all the best cedar and timber he needed for building The Temple. The overall appearance of our lives is so very important, but we do not start from the outside in. We begin from the inside out. This is how we are going to reach generations. Instruct them and influence them to get to know God intimately and develop a strong inner spirit. God will develop them into who He desires them to be.

What is going on in our inner spirit? Is God up to something? Do you feel as if you are going to burst? Maybe you have allowed your spirit to become complacent and settled. Maybe you feel as if God is trying to tell you something. He is wanting to take you to a deeper place in Him, developing strength and courage inside of you. Don't be afraid of change. It may even be chaotic. That is God doing something amazing in you. Allow Him to continue. Ask Him to give you the sensitivity to listen to what He is saying.

Many times people become afraid of that chaotic feeling; they turn away, not allowing their spirit to be quiet and hear what God is saying. I have inserted a video that explains this concept so well. Listen to it with an open heart. God is up to something bigger than you. Are you being still and letting God work on the stone foundation of you spirit? If you are then expect God to do awesome things for you in the very near future.

Whatever You're doing inside of me; it feels like chaos, but I believe.
You're up to something bigger than me; larger than life, something heavenly.
Whatever You're doing inside of me; it feels like chaos, but now I can see.
This is something bigger than me; larger than life, something heavenly.
Sanctus Real

Monday, March 2, 2009

Shut the Door to our Past and Move Forward!


We may be going along in our lives and all of a sudden the direction of our lives change. That is definitely what happened to Noah. He was just living life. Walking with God. Doing what he knew to do.

One day God decides to change the course of his life. He not only changes the course, he shuts the door to his past. Genesis 7:16, "...Then, God shut the door behind him." The Message God knew what the human emotions could do...they feel sorry for people, they hurt, they want to make things better...

God shut the door so tight that no one could get in or out. When the people outside the ark began to cry out and scream the human nature of Noah and his family would have been tempted to open the door to assist those hurting people on the outside. We can be the very same way. God changes the direction of our lives, of our ministries and He wants us to allow Him to shut the door to our past.

Do not listen to those who are crying out saying, "Let me come with you." God desires for you to allow Him to "shut the door" and follow His direction into the future He has for you. Noah had no idea what was going to happen to him and his family. God was destroying all of mankind as Noah knew it...no more human beings, other than he and his family. What was that going to be like?

We may be going in a direction where we are alone for a season, while God trains us in the area to which He is calling us. Simply trust Him as Noah did and allow God to teach you awesome truths about yourself and the work you are going to do. Here is what God did for Noah and his family.

"Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the earth! Every living crature - birds, animals, fish - will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You're responsible for the...You're here to bear fruit, reproduce, lavish life on the earth, live bountifully!" Gen. 9:1-7 The Message

As we follow God's direction he will prosper us in what we are doing. Our lives are to reproduce. What are we learning? What are we reproducing? Are we allowing the things God is teaching us to reproduce in our lives? This is very important for the health of generations to come. If we do not pass on what God has blessed us with we are not living up to our full potential in Christ. Make that a part of our everyday life. When other's look at the way we do life give them reason to say, "I want what she has," "I want to be like her."

Remember to allow God to shut the door to your past, so you will not be distracted and lose focus on His direction for your life. Seek Him with every part of your being and allow the Holy Spirit to mold you and shape you into awesome women of God, called for His purpose.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Say What?

Has anyone ever told you to do something that really you thought was crazy? Maybe you had a desire to do something those closest to you thought was stupid or unrealistic. They may think the profession you have chosen for your life is not the best because you either don't have the ability, or it isn't a good way to bring in an income.

Maybe you have a dream that only you can imagine.What are you doing about it? Have you allowed what others have told you to stop you from proceeding and doing what is in your heart?

As believers God gives us dreams. He gives us vision. That is the way of life for the believer. He gives us purpose.

After God created mankind He became disheartened by what He saw happening to His creation. He was disappointed in what He saw when He looked upon earth, except when it came to Noah. Noah "found favor in the eyes of the Lord." Gen. 6:8 NIV The Messages says, "Noah was different. God liked what He saw in Noah."

When God looks at us does He like what He sees? It doesn't matter what other people see as long as God likes looking at us and sees the potential we have in Him. Noah was righteous and walked with God. (Gen. 6:19) Noah was human, so I know he made mistakes; so when we fail and make mistakes, acknowedge them and move forward. John Maxwell calls that "failing forward."

Noah also listened to God's instruction and did everything He told him to do. Try to imagine what it would be like to be Noah...you are living your life, minding your own business. You are having your quiet time with God and He tells you He is tired and fed up with the human race, so He is going to destroy it. What kind of a reaction would you have? That is hard to imagine, but first off I think I would be speechless and not know how to react. I might think, "Are you serious?" The Bible doesn't really tell us how Noah reacted, it is left for us to use our own imaginations.

So often when we read scripture we read it like it is just words on a page, with no personality. I believe in order to truly understand what we are reading, we need to look at the circumstances surrounding what we are reading, and put ourselves in the situation. When we do that we can understand it so much better. Now, with that being said, how would you react? What would you do or say?

Well, all we read is how Noah listened to God tell him to build a huge boat (an ark) that was to be 450 feet long and 75 feet high and 45 feet wide. Now remember, up until this time there has not been a boat that size, maybe not even a boat. God was asking Noah to build a cruise ship for animal's and a few people! God continues on by telling Noah He is establishing a covenant with him, he and his family will board the boat and will take on board all the animals he tells him to take. Genesis chapter six of The Message ends with, "Noah did everything God commanded Him to do."

Ok, now the Bible again doesn't go into detail on what happens while Noah is building the ark; but, again, use your imagination. It could be that Noah's closest friends came up and questioned him, saying he was being ridiculous, maybe even losing his mind. His sons and their families were more than likely ridiculed as well.

Do those closest to you talk down the dreams you have of doing amazing things and accomplishing awesome goals? DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. GOD HAS CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE AND WANTS TO SEE YOU DO EXACTLY WHAT HE IS TELLING YOU. Do not allow other people's insecurities keep you from accomplishing what God has designed you for.

I did a google search on "They Said I Couldn't" and I found this story of a young girl from Tennessee desiring to be a country singer. Dolly Parton was her idol. She described herself as "dorky." Well, this girl attended a drama summer camp in upstate New York one year. Despite 3 years of singing lessons at the end of the summer camp her coaches told her to forget about singing. They suggested she think of another career. She was an impressionable young girl and took these "professionals" words to heart.

When she arrived home her mother would not let her feel sorry for herself and her dad encouraged her to achieve in school. That is what she did and was accepted at Stanford University. When she was 19 she got a part in a low budget movie Freeway, which led to a role in the movie Pleasantville. She decided that if she couldn't sing she would "play to your strengths" and "focus on what you're good at. Celebrate yourself." That is exactly what she did. This actress, Reese Witherspoon, was cast in the role of June Carter in the movie "Walk the Line;" where she played a country singer.

I know that story is not so spiritual; but, how much more should we do what she did as believers. When those around us tell us we can't do a certain thing and you know it is something God has placed in your heart...GO FOR IT! DO NOT GIVE UP! It may not come about the way you planned; but listen to God, follow His instruction and He will get you where you need to be, in order to fulfill the dream He placed within you.

What are you doing, right now, that is setting you up to do what God is calling you to? It may not look like you will ever get there, but do not stop what you are doing. What you are doing NOW is preparing you for when God brings about His dream in you. Listen to God's instruction. Follow His advise. Do everything He commands, even if it doesn't look like much. Do not lose hope. God is still with you, even though what you are doing may not seem like much. With God behind you it will be amazing.

Remember, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13 NIV

Next post we will learn more from Noah's encounter with God and the ark.

Blessings!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Contentment vs Striving for the Goal

It is a wise person who knows how to be content in their circumstance; yet, striving to reach the goal, to which God has called them.

Our lives can be like a tug of war with contentment on one side pulling for our attention and stiving on the other side pulling for equal time.

Now, there are those who are content with where they are...they are comfortable and don't want to "rock the boat." Things are fine, so don't mess with a good thing.

On the other hand, there are those who can't seem to relax. They are always on the go, but are they doing anything?

I am reminded of a human video our youth did several years back to an Insyderz song. There were several teens on either side of a person in the middle...one side representing evil, negative things in our lives...the other representing good, positive things in our lives...the one in the middle having to make the decision on which way to go.

If we are in ministry, or just a person living the Christian life, we are the person in the middle of contentment of where we are and striving/reaching for the goals we set. They are both tugging at us, vying for our attention, pulling us to their side. In the end we need to make up our mind to balance our lives. it is so important to make sure we are content where God has us at this time in our lives; yet still striving to reach the goals He has given us.

Being content doesn't mean being lazy. Being content means KNOWING WE ARE IN GOD'S WILL and doing what we can, at this point in our life, to position ourself where we need to be, to reach our goals. We need to be taking in all we can to absorb what He is teaching us; doing a little at a time to get to where He is taking us.

Don't rush it. Be available and ready for when He say...NOW.

That is hard to do if you are a doer, or someone who has to be in the midst of the action. Sometimes God just wants us to be on the sidelines, observing and gathering information. During these times we need to do what we can; but soak up as much of what He is showing us as we can. That way when He is ready to "let us loose" with His plan we will be ready.

So, think about our arms being stretched in opposite directions by contentment and striving for the goal. Ask God to help us relax and do what we can, where we are, so we will be ready to do what He has called us to in His time.

Phil. 4:13, "I've learned by now to be quite content..." The Message

Phil. 3:12-14, "...I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ...I've got my eye on the goal...I'm off and running...I'm not turning back." The Message

Paul had learned both...he was content, but look what he did for the church world!