Be a Builder

Ephesians 4:29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. AMPC

In other translations, Ephesians 4:29 says our words should “edify.” To edify means to “build up.”

  • Do our words edify or build up a person’s development or do we side in with their dysfunction?
  • Do our words build up our church, our country, and our leaders or do we side in with negativity and criticism?
  • Do our words build up the people outside of our circles or do we side in with fault-finding and gossip?

Let’s build others up. If someone is a builder, I can put a tool in their hand, like a hammer, and they will build. If someone is a demo person, the same tool can be used to tear down. The tools God has given to us are our words, our attitudes, and our actions.

How can we use our tools to build up?

  • Be positive with our conversations, even our private ones.
  • Be productive with our actions, doing our part to serve one another and to give.
  • Be pleasing to God with attitudes that honor His values.

Why? To restore, establish, increase, and strengthen.

  • Otherwise, we are found negligent in God’s purpose, not doing our part.
  • Or worse, are found rebellious, working against God’s plan and purpose.

How could our tools tear down?

Many times we aren’t even aware how powerful our words, attitudes or actions are. Our conversations can be destructive when we side in with the wrong things others are saying or feeling or doing. Perhaps we just want to make someone feel better about themselves where they are at, when what they really need is to be challenged. Maybe we don’t like confrontation, so instead of correcting someone, we stay complacent and don’t use our tools at all.

Other times people are aware of their influence, and they intentionally sabotage a person, a marriage, a family, a church, a community or a country. Their words could be clever, their attitudes could be cunning, and their actions could be conflicting. These people can be shady, using a slight word to cast doubt on a person or a group of persons.

In our area, we have noticed and had conversations with other pastors about the number of church splits in our region. There have been many Christians who have tried to sway people away from their pastor or their home church, some inviting their friends to change churches or even start their own church using the resources and connections that their own pastor gave them. They often try to justify their divisive behavior by finding fault in their pastor or church, leaving out of conflict.

Jerry and I once left a church to pursue missions. Several families in the church told us that if we started a church in the same area, they would come with us. They would serve, they would tithe, and they would support us. They pointed out the faults in their new pastor and told us how wonderful we were. Such an option was filled with deception and dishonor. Jerry and I compared our situation to that of David’s opportunity to take from King Saul, an imperfect man. David refused to touch God’s anointed. We quickly denounced the idea.

Consider what Paul said in Romans 15:20 “And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” The other man’s foundation was not their church building; that foundation was that pastor’s congregation. You see, a pastor is a shepherd, and the sheep represent those entrusted to the care of that shepherd. For another shepherd to begin their own sheepfold by leading other sheep to leave their shepherd is a thief, a wolf. It is wrong and dishonorable to start a church or grow a church by taking away people or resources from another pastor.

When Jerry and I started Freedom House, we started with people who came to us who did not have a home church, had left their home church, or a church leader from another church sent them to us. As a new church, needed help. When a staff member reached out to a group of their friends to help us, they wanted to then leave their church and make Freedom House their home. Jerry and I contacted the other church. Their leaders knew the group was young and immature, but loved them and counted them as their own. We sent the group back to their home church and helped reestablish them. As a result, we have good standing with this pastor and our community, and even more valuable, we have good standing with God.

The character of a man or woman or group who would take people and resources away from the pastor, without that pastor’s blessing, is someone with poor integrity. Many churches that start on the foundation of another leader will eventually fall. I have seen it time and time again. God cannot bless dishonor. However, I have heard of a church repent of its faulty start, and God has shown mercy and given longevity. I have also seen churches where God removed the rebellious church starter or influencer, bring in someone new with honorable character, and restore and flourish a group of believers. God has tremendous mercy and the ability to undo and repair our mistakes, whether they were intentional or not.

So let’s examine our conversations, our attitudes, and our actions – are they in line with God’s vision and values for that person or that community? Are they honoring God, honoring authority, honoring family and marriage? If so, let’s continue. If not, it’s a matter of our heart, so let’s start with a fresh surrender, then realign our words, our attitudes, and our actions with what God wants. Let’s choose to be that person who can stand before our Father as someone who loves Him and helps Him to build up rather than someone who had their own agenda and tear others down in order to get it.

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8 Things God Produces When We Stay Planted

I was thinking about some of my poor plants that died last year because I moved them around, damaging their root systems. Then I thought of the scripture Psalm 92:13 “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

When we stay planted or committed in a local church, here are 8 things God can produce:

  1.  EFFECTIVENESS. A healthy church is always striving to change and grow. If you don’t like the stage of development, God can help you to work with the leadership to make a positive difference!
  2. CHARACTER. In times of difficulty or even disagreement, when we stay committed, we have the opportunity to surrender our will and allow God to work on our character.
  3. STRENGTH. God can strengthen us in endurance and He can use us to strengthen others when we stay faithful to do our part.
  4. GRACE. Instead of running when we feel we fall short, we can turn to God and allow His grace to overcome any feelings of shame, guilt or fear.
  5. LOVE. Instead of avoiding people that may have offended us, we have the opportunity to walk in God’s love and show mercy to those who may have rubbed us the wrong way.
  6. WHOLENESS. When others disappoint us, we can recognize that only God can complete us. Our expectations for the acceptance, love and value we crave will be in God, freeing others to be who they are in our lives.
  7. FAITH. When God asks me to get out of my comfort zone, I can experience the joy of reliance upon Him.
  8. BLESSING. When I refuse to quit or walk away, I will receive all that God has promised me and my church family.

FAITHFULNESS HAS REWARD

First, know the church God has called you to be a part of. God doesn’t just call you to “go” somewhere; He calls you to “commit” to a home church. The commitment isn’t just about what you receive; it’s also about what you contribute to others.

Second, when you know where the Spirit of God has planted you, get involved and do your part. Be committed to be there, to gather together. Be committed to grow. Be committed to give. Be committed to go and serve one another and your community.

Third, refuse to be uprooted by any of the enemy’s tactics. Don’t be misled by the  comparison of another church or the charisma of another leader. You know where God has planted you, you can trust Him that He has you right where you need to be so He can cause you to flourish and grow!

 

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Christ Followers Give Priority to Church

Whatever your level of commitment at whatever church you call “home,” know that God accepts you right where you are at. Your pastors, if they care about you, love you right where you are at – and they love the other people in your church that way, too. God doesn’t condemn us, so if you are not giving priority to church, don’t take that on you. Then as you grow spiritually, you can take steps to develop in God’s principles for living the life He intends for you.

When it comes to giving church priority, that will mean different things to different people. The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” In the New Testament, the kingdom of God is made up of local churches. Giving priority to church is being committed to a home church, attending it, growing in it, giving to it, and serving in it. The church isn’t the building, the church is a community of people that I’m a part of. Church isn’t just about what we can get out of it; it’s also how we are a part of it to bless other people in and through our church community. We don’t just focus on the people we are, but we welcome others into our church – desiring to reach more people and to grow.

God asks us to commit to one local church. The Bible says that the pastors will be accountable to God for your souls, so acknowledging the spiritual authority of a pastor is important. Those who have experienced a misappropriation of pastoral authority may struggle with commitment. Some withdrawal from attending, growing, giving, and serving. Some will find fault or an excuse and leave that church, go to another church, do the same thing, and go to another church – always uprooting and never getting planted. Some will oppose a pastor by speaking negatively of church leadership. Some will try to pull people away from the pastor’s influence. Some will leave and invite their old friends to leave too. Some will even take a group and split away from that pastor to start their own church.

Thank God, He is merciful. He knows of our struggles and accepts us as we are. He also loves us enough to patiently bring us to another level in His plan for us and for His kingdom. Pastors should share God’s heart, accepting people where they are, understanding their struggles, and loving them to another level.

Here is my personal story:

When I was a little girl, going to church was not something we negotiated. My parents were not preachers – dad was an engineer and mom managed the house and three kids. We went to church three times a week and to special services and events. I enjoyed it the children’s ministry, but I went to church simply because I knew that was part of life (btw, thanks mom and dad, and all my teachers).

In my teenage years, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to experience God in a more intimate relationship. It was a crazy, wild time in my life where I came to realize how REAL God was and how CLOSE God was. He was blowing my mind! I couldn’t wait to get to church, youth meetings, youth events – you name it – I was eager to be there (btw, thanks to Pastor Grimes and youth leaders).

I got married and went to Bible school. Again, going to church because I wanted to. However, responsibilities were now a bit heavier on my shoulders, so there were a few times I would have rather stayed at home, but I went because I knew it was the right thing to do. I picked up my body and made myself go. Once I was there, it was a blessing, but my flesh sure opposed me from time to time.

Jerry and I began to serve in ministry. We served in nearly every service, three times a week. We did special events, we worked through the week, we had kids, and we loved it. However, I experienced a few negative things in the church world. I went through my season of disillusionment, as some people call it. I realized people weren’t as perfect as I once thought. We had some problems in our marriage. It got to a point where I was ready to turn my back on church and ministry all together. All I wanted was to focus on my home, my marriage, and my kids.

Jerry wouldn’t let me. We made a church change and we continued to attend, serve, tithe, give… and to be honest, heal. There were times I didn’t want to be there. I started to second guess people. I struggled with trusting God. My pastors knew of our situation, and my co-pastor asked me to come up to the church once a week to volunteer (I now see she was doing that more for me than for the church). God did something in me. He showed me His grace and He showed me where I struggled with performance. Through those difficult years, staying faithful to church and to the Lord is was brought me through and kept me in ministry.

Today, I continue to give church a priority. It’s not just because I’m a co-pastor; it’s because I love the church! I love God’s plan for His kingdom that we’re a part of. I love to see the people I care about when we get together. I love the ones who are young and growing, I love the ones who are hurting and struggling, I love the ones who are faithful and have my confidence – I love them all!

If someone is gone for awhile for whatever reason, and I see their face again – I am glad to see them! I’m not going to judge or condemn them because they missed a service. I’m going to run up and give them a big ‘ol hug. That’s what God would do. If someone makes a mistake, I’m going to stay true to the Word and my authority, but I’m not going to hold it against them.

Most of all, I love my heavenly Father, and I love what He loves. He loves His church as a whole and He loves the local church that I’m a part of. He loves His pastors and church leaders. He loves all His ministers that serve each week with kids, youth, ushering, greeting, singing, sound – every area! Loving God is seen in committing to a local church, giving priority to Him, His kingdom, and our home church.

Being a Christ follower means that I’m following my Teacher, my Master, My Lord… and it’s because I want to, not because I have to.  I’m praying for you today that you continue to commit and be faithful to your home church. Love your pastor. Love the people you are a part of, and most of all, love God. His plans for us are good!

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A Christ Follower Gives to God from the Top

A Christ follower is someone who puts action to their dependency on the Lord, who is our leader. We are a dependent upon Him as a child is to a loving Father. When we give to God, we are loving God, trusting God, worshipping God, and we are acknowledging our dependency upon God.

The Bible teaches us that the tithe, the first ten percent of our income, is not ours. That top portion belongs to God. The Bible calls the tithe the fruitfruits, the first and the best of the harvest. I was blessed to be taught that I shouldn’t spend any money until God gets His portion first. It’s not a matter of payment; it’s a matter of loving reliance upon God.

As a co-pastor, I can’t help but encounter people who ask me about tithing. Their heart is to obey God, but sometimes they can’t see how tithing could ever work. Numbers are numbers, and their numbers just don’t add up. Their plan is often to wait until the end of the month to see if anything is left over for God, and most of the time, there isn’t. God is looking at the heart, and He cares for people who are struggling. He also has a higher way of living that He wants us to experience. It’s the way of the supernatural.

The math may not make sense when we are challenged to give, but I’ve learned that God isn’t limited by arithmetic. I have over thirty years of personal testimonies where God met our financial needs when the numbers just didn’t add up. God has given me decades of proof that we untie His hands when we depend on Him by giving Him His portion before we take ours.

The Bible says we are robbing God if we don’t give our tithes and offerings. That’s because the first or top portion belongs to Him. God spoke through Malachi and pinpointed the reason why many people were struggling to make it – because they were stealing from Him. God challenged the people to test Him in giving to see if He wouldn’t open the windows of heaven and bless them financially when they added dependency to their trust, action to their belief. He knows He loves us and He knows He has more than enough to meet our needs. He wants us to know it, and not only to know it, but to act on it. That’s faith. Faith is what pleases Him because leaning on God is what will free us up to live supernaturally. It’s how the things of the spirit work. Being self-sufficient is the opposite of faith and it blocks God’s blessings.

God also promised to rebuke the devourer, to keep the enemy from coming in to steal from them. As a church leader, it is difficult to watch people struggle with their jobs, their health, their business, their relationships… often seen as a result of the struggle to be self-sufficient. I pray for them because I see their struggle to step over the threshold of self and abandon themselves to rely on God. Sometimes it’s an issue with obeying God by trusting church leaders, often due to being hurt by some form of leader in their past.

I’m thankful to my parents because it was Mom and Dad that taught me to not only trust God, but to put action to my trust. It’s known as obedience. For me, tithing isn’t about keeping the rules – it’s about looking up, putting my eyes on God, and having confidence that my Father will breakthrough my natural with His supernatural. Sometimes I pray, “I don’t know HOW You will do this, but I know that You will. You will never leave me. You will never forsake me. I put my trust in Your love for me and my belief that by Your power You will change my circumstances.” I’m confidence of His promises. I’m determined that I’m going to obey Him, no matter what I see or hear or experience. I’m not testing Him. I don’t need to. I am confident of His Word and His love.

I’m a Christ follower. My Lord loves me and He leads me. I get to follow.

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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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