The Challenge: A Personal Story

woman in shadowOnce upon a time,
there lived a young brown girl, captivated by the world of beautiful faces and things. Mirrors, magazines, and friends were a constant reminder of “beauty”. Oh how she loved them.

Then entered FB, the queen of “beauty”. Close up…applause…long shot…applause…side shot…applause.

“I like FB” she thought.

Daughter?” He called.

No answer.

“Daughter?” He called again.

“Yes” she answered.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“What do you mean?” she answered.

“Do you remember this? ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.’” He asked.

“Hmmm” she sighed.

“I challenge you Daughter to die.” He said.

“Die!” She yelled.

“Yes, I challenge you to die to your world of beauty and replace each personal ‘beauty’ shot with a Kingdom shot of Godly content. I further challenge you to truly die to yourself and become nameless.” He declared.

“This is a major sacrifice? What will my friends and family think? They won’t know it’s me. Will they still ‘like’ me?” she thought.

Delete…”what’s going on?”…Delete…”are you okay?”…Delete…no applause.

Weeks Later

“I’m a little sad. This was a huge sacrifice and I get nothing. It’s so quiet around here.“ she thought.

Still Later

“I guess the quiet is not so bad, time to dig in and spend time with the Lord.”

Discernment: The People God Uses

sadDo you feel you know who the “right” persons are to do Kingdom work? Do they have the right credentials, right training, know the right people, live in the right neighborhood, wear the right clothes, and are a part of “right crowd” of “leaders of tomorrow”? Where do these assumptions come from? Are you absolutely sure you know who will do God’s Kingdom work?

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

Are you open to God? Are you open to God using circumstances and people who don’t fit the image you have imagined? What if God chose someone who did not fit “The Checklist”?

Many plans are in a man’s heart, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Recently my dad shared with me an article bringing to light the issue of the people God uses. An inner city student with autism from a single parent home, did what many think is impossible. He became the salutatorian of his high school class, mastered four languages (fluent), and on track to study mechanical engineering at one of the nation’s best science based academic institutions. Man says that “inner city” kids are trouble, are all in gangs, and should be avoided. Man says that children with autism have no hope of academic success and should be prepared for a group home for the rest of their lives. Man says that children from single parent homes don’t even have a chance compared to dual parent home children. However, God in the power that only He can display declared that this inner city student with autism from a single parent home is exactly capable of all things according the Kingdom of God. This child is a walking miracle and a sign post to the Body and the world that we cannot assume we know who God will use for His purposes.

In Acts 5, there is a story of the apostles being placed in jail by the religious leaders and during the course of the night they were released by an angel of the Lord and charged to teach in the temple the next day about the Believer’s life. The following morning the religious leaders and guards checked the prison house and found all the locks secured as they were placed the night before. They were confused as to how the apostles got out and into to the temple where they were teaching. The leaders ordered that the apostles be brought back to them. Upon the apostles arrival, they were immediately chastised for having continued to disobey their human orders to not teach about the Believer’s life. Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus who you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given those who obey Him” (Acts 5:29-32).

Now rather than recognize God’s work in these individuals and surrender to God, the leaders turned to anger and planned to kill the apostles. One of the religious leaders, Gamaliel, could see God’s hand at work in these individuals and could see a disturbing pattern in those who worked against the apostles.

‘But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be over thrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”’ Acts 5:34-39.

In God’s perfect universe, there are no right credentials, right training, right neighborhood, right clothes, right family, or right crowd that can do His Kingdom work. Our God is the God of love and inclusion. He uses even the most tarnished or challenging individuals to do great work. In fact, God believes so much in this principle that more than one of Jesus’ descendents were considered tarnished or challenging by historical and modern day moral standards (Tamar, David, Rahab). Coincidence?

Related Post: God NOT Satan is author of sickness
Related Articles: God Uses Nobodies
Photo Credit: WordPress

Discernment: A Chosen One?

AH But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 1 Peter 3:14-17

Hollywood and professional sports clubs are known for developing and launching the careers of thousands of talents around the world. Here on the left is a picture of Audrey Hepburn, one of America’s most classic actresses of the early 20th century. By many accounts she would be classified as a chosen or favored actress in American culture as she starred in twenty eight classic films. In the same fashion, athletes like recent Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, could be classified as a chosen or favored one. The talented starlet was selected to train year round with world renown Liang Chow for the 2012 Olympics at the young age of fourteen. She sacrified the normalcy of the average teen life for rigorous training and time away from her family. Athletes like Gabby endure possible injuries of fractured limbs and concussions with the hope/purpose of winning the trophy (i.e. superbowl, world series, gold medal). In the same way, Believers must be ready to endure possible sufferings for the Faith with the hope/purpose of receiving the trophy of salvation of souls and eternal life. “Our brothers and sisters in China, Ethiopia, Cuba, and others around the world endure sufferings daily including death in order to inherit the Kingdom” – Pastor David J. Smith.

What does Scripture say about being Blessed, Chosen, and Favored?

Job’s children and servants were killed, and his possessions were destroyed (Job 1).
Abel was murdered by his brother Cain (Genesis 4).
Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and imprisoned for greater than a decade (Genesis 37).
David a man after God’s own heart suffered the rape of his daughter Tamar by son Amnon and eventual deaths of two sons Amnon and Absalom (2 Samuel 13; 2 Samuel 18).
Abraham and Sarah could not bear their promised son until Abraham was in his 10th decade and Sarah was in her 9th decade of life (Genesis 21).
Andrew of the Twelve was stoned to death (Martyr).
Bartholomew of the Twelve was beaten then crucified (Martyr).
James son of Alphaeus of the Twelve was stoned to death (Martyr).
James son of Zebedee of the Twelve was beheaded (Martyr).
John of the Twelve was exiled and died of old age.
Judas (not Iscariot) was stoned to death (Martyr).
Matthew was speared to death (Martyr).
Peter was crucified upside down (Martyr).
Simon was crucified (Martyr).
Thomas was speared to death (Martyr).
Matthias was stoned to death (Martyr).
Jesus Christ the Son of God was murdered by man (Luke 23).

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

The prosperity gospel of today seems to omit God’s truth about what it really means to be a Blessed one, a Chosen one, or a Favored one. It does not mean you own the biggest house, biggest boat, platinum jewelry, have a thousand friends, eat the best dinners, run the local government, or dance in the pulpit on dollars donated to the Kingdom of God. No, it actually means you must be ready to suffer up to and not excluding death. It means you may own the smallest house or live in a hut in the Amazon, you may not own a car at all but walk or bike to your destination, you may own no jewelry at all except your wedding band, you may not be popular and have a handful of friends, and you may have no influence with the local government and in fact you maybe on their watch list. Each of the Blessed ones, Chosen ones, or Favored ones in Scripture sacrificed dearly for the faith. Are you a Blessed, Chosen, or Favored One?

And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

References: World Challenge ; Prayer Foundation ; Excerpt from Pastor David J. Smith on Suffering for Doing What is Right
Photo Credit: Desk Top Betty

Note from The Author – Apologies to the readers of the original version of this post. This post was rewritten to share God’s Biblical truths but keep in line with the Spirit of Unity not Strife. Grace and Peace in the name of Yeshua. – Amen

Spiritual Warfare: Horses and Chariots of Fire

Chariots of FireNow when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

This is one of my most favorite scriptures. It speaks to the infinite invisible army Abba had standing guard for His servant then and has standing guard for His servants now. It speaks to Abba’s adoration and care for us. There is no obstacle too great or troublesome for Abba to move. No need to contend with the the world’s resources, as He is the most connected social resource in the universe. He is lining up the exact divine appointments you need for your season of life. Trust in Him and He will deliver.

Abba is the Alpha and Omega. He makes our paths straight and directs us. No need to strive, just surrender. Abba can do far more with His infinite invisible army than we can do with our finite circle of tangible or virtual friends. Trust in Him alone – not our academic knowledge, not our street smarts, not our business savvy, not our degrees of social connectedness, or any other human efforts.

Thank you Abba for being our eternal papa, for growing us, and for gifting us with the incredible infinite resources to slay every work of the enemy. We confess and repent of our ways that are counter to your Truth. Prune us Lord, mold us Lord so that we may grow full with healthy fruit for your Kingdom. Amen

Photo Credit: Visual Bible Live

Spiritual Warfare: Mark 9:38 – He’s Not One of Us

man_walking_awayEvery few months I receive a client who has had a revision surgery due to some sort of failure in the previous course of treatment. Many of these clients explain they had no idea they were doing too much or too little. They simply had surgery and went home (left to their own devices). Anyone in rehab knows this scenario can go one of three directions.

1. Client goes home and does well with no need for follow up
2. Client goes home and does too little out of fear of reinjury, resulting in need for rehab at 6-12 months later due to excessive stiffness and limited performance in daily tasks or surgerical release of the severely adhered structures.
3. Client goes home and does too much not understanding the newly replaced joint(s) or sutured tendon is not healed, resulting in dislocation or rupture respectively of the structures and need for immediate repair of the post op failure.

In both scenarios two and three, the clients are usually sent to therapy after revision surgery. There is even closer communication and collaboration between the surgeon and rehab on this second course of treatment to ensure post op success. Most clients express regret for not having received the collaborative care on the initial course of treatment but express gratitude for having the collaborative guidance in getting them back to life this time around.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

In many ways the Church operates in the same fashion as the medical scenario above. When the various parts of the Church’s gifts (i.e. helps, administration, prophetic, mercy, teaching, exhortation, giving) communicate closely with one another, positive Kingdom advancing results occur such as more souls being converted and genuine growth in the universal Body. However, when these spiritual gifts works apart from one another, less than ideal results for the Kingdom occur.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8

Imagine a teaching ministry sharing the gospel with the poor but missing the basic needs of a hot meal and warm blanket that could be provided by a service ministry. Would not God’s work be more effective with the two gifts working together? This is the challenge for the modern Church. Entire denominations and in some cases specific gifts ministries within denominations work counter to one another than with one another.

Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and WE TOLD HIM TO STOP, BECAUSE HE WAS NOT ONE OF US.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. Mark 9:38-41

Yesuah himself recognized the good works this unknown man was doing on His behalf. He corrected the Twelve who made the prideful judgment that this unknown man outside of the ministry of the Twelve had no place or authority to do Kingdom work. Yesuah told them to NOT stop this man from doing Kingdom work, as this man was doing good on behalf of the Kingdom of God and he was healing a man from his illness (possession). This story illustrates clearly that though we all are part of the Kingdom, we the Body can be a hindrance to the Kingdom by creating stumbling blocks for other Believers doing Kingdom work. We must not do this.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this– not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:13

The Body of Christ needs to be reminded like the Twelve that Kingdom of God is not ours to judge or determine who is worthy to serve or not. The Kingdom of God is Abba’s and he has given each Believer the charge in the Great Commission to do his works.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mark 28:16-20

Abba we repent of our pride and hindrances to your Kingdom advancing. Examine our hearts Holy Spirit and show us where we have rejected other Believers from your Kingdom works. Cleanse us; purify us so that we can openly welcome your sons and daughters into the universal family of the Body of Christ. Amen

Related Posts: Discernment ; One World Faith ; Hospitality v. Favoritism
Related Resources: Living on the Edge
Photo Credits: Google ; The Truth Won