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. "'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

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, " 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 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 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 give Him the opportunity to do it.

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