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.”

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

Discernment: IF LOOKS COULD KILL………………OR GIVE LIFE!*

EYEIf looks could kill, I would have been a master assassin!  Some of you know “the look”, the “sister girl”, the “evil eye”, or “mean mugging”  that you inherited from your culture (translation = generational sin).  It’s not exclusive to my inherited culture but to the cultures of many nations.  Regardless of earthly culture, “the look” is not typically used to spread joy or be hospitable.  It is usually used to show disapproval, disdain, or judgment.  I recall now over a decade ago some stranger asking me “Girl, why don’t you ever smile?”  I either thought or quipped in my best attitudinal “look”: “What is there to smile about?!”  Yikes, that stranger could have been an angel unawares (Hebrews 13:2) and I bombed that hospitality test big time.  The joy of the Eternal Papa had not gotten hold of me yet and would not for many more years.

It wasn’t until five or six years ago that a friend mentor, Pearl, would explain to me what “ the look” really meant.  Pearl knew “the look” very well first hand.  She was the recipient of “the look” for two decades.  She knew the feeling of being shamed and criticized by what I dismissed as an innocent “look” and she explained that “the look” was not walking in Kingdom love.   Yes, one could technically say they were not saying anything harmful but my countenance was effectively shaming and criticizing others without words and pushing others away from the Kingdom I professed to know.  “How could this be?  Generations in my culture have done this and it’s normal.  Right?”  Hmmm….Pearl was lovingly and gently challenging me with God’s Word on countenance.  That seemingly simple “look” or countenance was not walking in the love of the Kingdom but displaying a manifestation of the flesh.

Proverbs 15:13 “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”

IF LOOKS COULD GIVE LIFE

About ten years ago when I began graduate school I met a wonderful lady named Lisa.  Lisa was my school’s leader of the African Diaspora branch of Cru.  She was an incredibly beautiful Believer with this unusual amount of never ending joy and glow.  She was curious to me, as I could only recall a few women in that season of life that had that same beauty that was far beyond the physical.  She never had a scowl and always had these great kind words to draw people out.  She was phenomenal in reaching students for the Kingdom.  When I met her daughters who were not much younger than I, I was even more amazed.  They too along with Lisa’s husband had this inherited beauty that extended far beyond their natural prettiness by human standards.  I was frankly puzzled.  As silly as this sounds, I could not figure out how they could just be so joyful.  It would take me almost a decade to finally figure out where their joyfulness came from: spiritual fruits.  I remember reading over these fruits in Galatians 5 but never had I truly embodied them in my person.  There were hints of them that would be displayed during convenient times for specific situations or people but their display was not consistent.  December 2010, Eternal Papa leveled with me in gigantic proportions.  He unveiled to me my true nature and it was not a Kingdom nature.  I was not like Abba who is not a respecter of persons (I had favorites).  I did not extend grace freely, kept running tallies of others transgressions, and used my countenance to shame and criticize others.

Abba began removing the old feisty flesh and brought forward a new fiercely faithful woman for the Kingdom.  He imparted a joy within me that I could not explain in words.  My heart felt uncontrollably merry and I could not help but smile persistently.  I became a Church greeter and felt for the first time in life like I could share the same joy that Lisa and Pearl knew of.  I even began to enjoy singing songs to the Lord and worshipping Him in my free time…alone.  The joy of Eternal Papa had gotten a hold of me!  What I have learned is that serving others is a tremendous honor and a smiling face is an easy way to bring others to the door of the Kingdom.  There is nothing canned in a Kingdom smile but a purity of the Lord.  It is a smile that lights up the room and warms the environment.  It is a smile that both children and adults are drawn to.  It is a smile that reflects the beauty of our Eternal Papa.  It does not scowl, shame, or criticize.  It is a smile that makes both Believers and the world wonder, “What makes that person so joyful?”  I encourage each of us to consider our countenance and ask two questions.  Do we give the “look that could kill”?  Or do we give the “look of life”?

Abba, please reveal to me anything in my outward temple that does not reflect your joy.  Change my heart so that I can show an unconditional joy and attract others to the Kingdom.  – Amen

*Real names of friends have been changed

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