The Christ Follower STARTS the Day in Worship

Jesus called His disciples to FOLLOW Him. When we position ourselves as a follower, we also give recognition to Jesus as our leader. We become dependent, surrendered, obedient. If I’m serving Jesus, then I’m going to go to Him in prayer; and in prayer, hopefully there is love, relationship, and intimacy that creates worship. To know Him is to eagerly want to be in His presence and express the revelation we have of His greatness and His mercy.

Not everyone follows Christ from a heart of worship. Some follow Christ out of duty. A true follower enjoys the nearness of their loving Lord, waiting for the morning to awake to see Him and know His embrace.

Psalm 17:15 “…I will be fully satisfied when I awake to find myself seeing Your likeness.”

One of the best ways to start a day is to play worship music, sing, or even just soak in an atmosphere of worship. We’re not following a boss or a dictator; we’re following the One we love and the One who loves us.

Psalm 143:8 “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust…”

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The Christ Follower STARTS the Day in Prayer

It’s the beginning of a new year, and I’m being challenged… I mean, WHOA, am I being challenged!

I was recently in Israel. When I was at the Sea of Galilee, I thought about Jesus calling the disciples to follow Him. I thought about what it means to be a Christ follower; not just a believer, but a follower, someone who puts action to their dependency on Jesus.

Psalm 5:3 “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”

I am a praying woman. I also am a hard-working woman. I see what needs to be done and I do it. Throughout my day I do look to God for His direction and help, and He gives it.

However, I believe the Lord is challenging me to come up a level. To truly be following Christ, then to Christ I will go at the beginning of my day for His instruction and His plan for the day. His instruction may differ than my plan that I have written in my planner. How do I know that that unless I submit myself to Him from the get-go?

If this speaks to you too, I encourage you to put out the effort to join me in making room for morning prayer. We’re all busy, but busy keeps us limited to a self-sufficient life. Getting up a few minutes earlier is worth inviting God to do what we can’t do on our own. It’s the supernatural life we are all meant to live, a life of following and walking with God!

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Living Life to the Fullest

 

God wants each of us to live our life to the fullest, open to love, and free from any weights. The way to get the most out of life is to live it as close in relationship with God that we can, by grace, through faith. God wants us to receive a position of being saved, and then He wants us to live in His salvation everyday. He wants us to grow in knowing Him, and from His presence, we find the source of all that makes us whole in spirit, soul, and body.

Just like any other relationship, when we give ourselves to knowing God, the relationship can grow, get stronger, open wider, and flourish. If we neglect our relationship with God, it can become stagnant, cold, closed, and lifeless. God wants us to experience Him and the life He offers.

Not only can we know God, but we can also mature in our relationship Him. As we grow spiritually and in relationship with our Father, we can increase our capacity to receive. We can also become more effective in working together with the Holy Spirit in our ministry to others. We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to know God more fully.

There is no greater fulfillment a human being can have than to enter into an interactive relationship with God while encountering His tangible presence. Think about it. God, the Creator of everything and everyone, is in a close relationship with you. You are fully satisfied in being one with your Maker. Completed in every sense of wholeness. Confident of the person you are, where you came from, and where you are going. The more you mature, the more wonders of God’s person are unfolded for your discovery. The more you grow, the more you marvel at the swelling beauty of His grace and truth. The more you develop, the more rooted and established you become in His love. Nothing can move you from the place God has given you in Christ.

Not only do you experience being enveloped by the majesty of His power and love, but you also encounter the deluge of His anointing flowing through you, knowing God is supernaturally accomplishing His miraculous purpose together with you. Whatever age you are, with each new day comes a new opportunity for God to take you higher in Him.

The book OPEN is available on our website at www.growchurches.com

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If Mama Ain’t Happy…

I truly despise this saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Women who aren’t happy are women who want to get their way in the home through fault-finding, criticizing, whining…nagging. It’s the behavior of someone in a subordinate position who wants to rule the roost by making the rooster very, very unhappy.

King Solomon had a lot of women in his life. Perhaps he experienced and learned from some of his experiences. Maybe this is why Proverbs has several verses on being with an unhappy wife:

Proverbs 19:13 “…the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.”

Proverbs 21:9 “Better to dwell in the corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

Proverbs 21:19 “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” 

Proverbs 25:24 “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

Proverbs 27:15-16 “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.”

To be contentious means to be argumentative, quarrelsome, controversial, contending and generating strife.

I believe God’s word that the husband is the authority over the wife, and I believe the order was established when God told Eve after her rebellion, “Your husband will rule over you.” Some struggle with the idea of authority given in a marriage based on gender, but the truth is, anytime you get two people together, at some point there will be a disagreement. In order to avoid chaos, one of those partners will need to have the final decision. I understand there are many dysfunctional relationships, even abusive ones, but in God’s plan, the marriage relationship is a partnership of two leaders, the husband being the head leader and the wife being the assistant leader. Submission is a beautiful thing when there is respect for each other, trust in each other, and crazy love for each other.

I’ve been married over 30 years, and as a strong woman, God has worked hard and long to see His characteristic of meekness, or controlled strength, be developed in me. When the nature is transformed, the behavior, the conversation, and the attitudes will follow. Every day is a choice to follow God’s heart. Sometimes I miss it, but the Holy Spirit is working in me and my husband. It is part of the journey of life, and with God, life gets better and better as we become more like Him.

There are reasons why some struggle with submission, whether a wife to a husband, a husband to the Lord, and employee to an employer, a team member to a leader, a citizen to a country, etc. Why some women want control over their husband:

  1. They have a desire to be successful, but instead of trusting and yielding to their husband, they want to run things, change things, control things. The desire to succeed isn’t what is unhealthy; it’s the refusal to bring herself under the authority of her husband. She can attempt to control with a quiet, passive aggressive behavior or she might try to power over her spouse with a strong, bold, large and in change mannerism.
  2. She wants to control what her husband controls. If she can’t have direct influence in something outside of her position, then she will nag her husband until he becomes her puppet in his position. She tells him what to say, what to do, what to think, what to feel. He might be the head, but she sees herself as the neck, turning her husband this way and that.
  3. She has been hurt by her husband’s choices and she wants to prevent further hurt, so she keeps him under her thumb. Unforgiveness isn’t always as simple as holding someone to their offense; it can also be a form of self-preservation. If you don’t expect change, then you won’t be disappointed again.
  4. She struggles with her self-worth. Feelings of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment are familiar to her, so she works hard to prove herself, gain approval, and get results by pushing her way through. She is more than competitive with herself to be her best, she is competitive with others to be the best, or at least to be part of what she considers better than something else.
  5. She is familiar with shame, guilt and fear. She works hard to overcome these feelings in her own insufficiency by proving herself or paying a price to compensate for her failure or the failure of those near to her.
  6. She is carnal or immature spiritually. Humility is a God-like quality that often needs to be developed as we become more like Christ. Humility is a heart issue, a characteristic that comes from knowing God.

Let me add, if controlling the husband isn’t enough, a nagging wife will also extend that control to her children. The result will most likely either be children who resent her, resist her, or comply with her. Some will adopt and carry on her behavior into their own lives, marriages, and families.

Control and manipulation is an authority issue. Before going any farther, I want to mention that I understand there can also be an unhealthy dominance of the husband over the wife. I’m not advocating unhealthy submission to an unhealthy or abusive husband.

To overcome the unhappiness that comes from control issues, whether a wife or anyone else, here are a few Bible answers:

  1. Admit it. See the problem.
  2. Go to God and ask Him to reveal the why. Is it one of the reasons mentioned above?
  3. Ask God to make you whole, align and fill those spaces that are lacking or misaligned.
  4. Repent to God and to your husband and/or family.
  5. The Bible says to humble yourself. You make the choice to position yourself under your husband’s authority.
  6. Begin a journey of transformation. Each day spend time with God and allow Him to correct and strengthen. If you stumble, go to God again as part of the process of change. If there is a cycle of behavior between the husband failing and then the wife controlling and then the husband failing, and then the wife controlling, ask God to help that pattern to stop. It may take awhile.
  7. Do something to demonstrate humility and love. Assist him. Help him. Build your husband up with your words and in your actions. Helping one another should go both ways because of trust and love, not control or manipulation. We don’t withhold household responsibilities to motivate one another to do what we want. We don’t secretly spend or make money to get what we want. We don’t try to pull our children in on our side to get what we want. Proverbs 31 says the heart of her husband trusts in her. He is confident she is on his side.
  8. Similarly, make love with your husband, and do it often. Don’t withhold sex to manipulate and don’t give it to reward. Sex is often an indicator of the health of a marriage relationship. When you are healthy, you will enjoy and love each other.

The opposite of a nagging, contentious wife is a wife who will:

  • Compliment instead of compete or criticize
  • Show kindness instead of meanness
  • Show temperance instead of control
  • Show trust instead of manipulation
  • Be happy

In conclusion, this is a quality that God finds precious in a wife or a subordinate – a gentle and quiet (peaceable) spirit (see I Peter 3:1-7). If you are a leader, having a partner who will work with you instead of against you is a quality you will cherish, nurture and respect. God’s ways are higher! God’s ways are better! Let’s all yield to Him and allow His peace to rule our hearts and our relationships.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

 

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There is a saying “bloom where you are planted.” The definition of the verb “plant” is, “To intentionally establish in a healthy environment so that growth can occur and life is reproduced.”

Just like a tree that has been planted, the longer it remains in place, the more developed the root system becomes. The better the root system, the stronger the tree and the more fruit it can produce.

Psalm 92:13 “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

A local church isn’t just a place you decide to go; it’s a place God plants you.  When you are planted, you are firmly established, committed, and loyal. The same is true of any commitment – marriage, friendships, family, business, community service, and the like.

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3

How often do you see a tree uproot itself and move from one location to another location? What would the health of that tree be like? The root system would be severely damaged. So it is with Christians that have a history of going from church to church. Even for those with a traveling ministry, it is important to have a home church to base out of.

When someone decides not to commit (it is a decision), he or she struggles with being rooted or grounded with a home church, submitting to church authority, and sticking around to find solutions to problems with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

There can be several reasons for someone’s unfaithfulness. It is often the sinful condition of the human nature that leans towards self-sufficiency and pride. A religious spirit is often connected with the desire to be in control instead of submitted.

Other reasons include a fear of being hurt, failing, or being exposed. It could also be withdrawal due to feelings of guilt or shame. It could be a dysfunctional trigger to distance or leave due to damage from the past. It could be because someone has taken up an offense or feels restless. Some find themselves bound in addictive behavior that controls them.

No person is perfect, no church is perfect, no leader is perfect, and you are not perfect. The Bible is filled with scriptures on faithfulness, endurance, and patience. The Word repeatedly mentions loyalty, honor, and integrity. These are principles that apply to all areas of our lives, including our commitment to a church home.

Unfaithfulness is opposite of the character of God.
Unfaithfulness is starting something, but not following through.
Unfaithfulness is holding back, not surrendering the whole heart.
Unfaithfulness is quitting, betraying, abandoning.

God doesn’t leave you.
God doesn’t reject you based on your faults, mistakes or wrong decisions.
God doesn’t change His mind about you.
God doesn’t quit on you or leave you for another.

God is faithful because God is complete in Himself. He is whole. God is also faithful because God is love. God wants to work those things in us.

A committed, planted believer will cherish the leading of the Lord, the love of a church family, and the care of a pastor. If a person is led to leave their home church, he or she will focus on the good of the people they are leaving behind, rather than on themselves. They will leave in a way where they don’t influence others to leave or invite them away from their home church. They don’t start a new church of their own in the same community and take away from the church family they were once a part of. Also, they know the value of a church home, so they don’t stay out of church all together.

Ezekiel 17:8 “It was planted in good soil by many waters to bring forth branches, bear fruit…”

Jeremiah 17:8 “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”[1]

So be humble. Let God heal and make whole, and be planted in a home church. Get into covenant relationships. Weather a few storms. Ride out a few decisions. Be led by the Holy Spirit and be faithful to the house God has planted you in. Then you will flourish – you will be healthy through teaching, strong through some challenges, upright with some correction, and you will bear fruit – in other words, you will see the results of maturity, humility, and growth in favor, in anointing, and in the development of gifting. Stay on the wheel, and let the Potter reveal the design for you that He has in mind.

[1] II Samuel 7:10; Numbers 24:5-7; Psalm 80:15; Ezekiel 17:5; Ezekiel 36:36; I Corinthians 3:6

 

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