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.”

Prayer: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Complaining “God’s Ignoring Me!”

God's Ignoring Me!

Question: “Why aren’t you answering me God?!”

In order for God to move and answer our petition prayers, a proper prayer foundation must be made. God isn’t simply a magic genie answering prayers upon command. No, He is a loving Father who takes our requests and graciously answers them in His timing and according to what is best for us. Often we think we know what is best for ourselves, even deceiving ourselves and others into thinking we know better than anyone else in the universe including the Creator. The following are eight questions every Believer should ask themselves, if they find themselves asking “Why aren’t you answering me God?!”

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Prayer: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Complaining “God’s Ignoring Me!”

why_me_godQuestion: “Why aren’t you answering me God?!”

In order for God to move and answer our petition prayers, a proper prayer foundation must be made. God isn’t simply a magic genie answering prayers upon command. No, He is a loving Father who takes our requests and graciously answers them in His timing and according to what is best for us. Often we think we know what is best for ourselves, even deceiving ourselves and others into thinking we know better than anyone else in the universe including the Creator. The following are eight questions every Believer should ask themselves, if they find themselves saying “Why aren’t you answering me God?!”

• Do you believe and accept Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the only path to eternal life?
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” John 14:6
You may have heard the story of the world religions sharing a “belief” in Jesus with Christians. The Quran states Jesus was born of a virgin, was a revered prophet, was a miracle worker, who ascended to heaven, and will return to earth but is not the son of God. Hinduism states Jesus is a God, was a Holy Man, and was a Wise Teacher. Buddhism states Jesus was an enlightened man, was a wise teacher, was a Holy man, and was a moral teacher. Baha’i states Jesus came from God, was born of a virgin, spoke for God, had a divine and human nature, and was crucified for the atonement of humanity. Yet the difference between the world religions and the Christians is that the Believers in Christ Jesus firmly believe and rightly know that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, part of the triune God, is the only deity that leads to the eternal life. There are no other paths or gods that will lead to heaven.

• Are you born again?
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22-23
Jesus shared a prophetic vision in Matthew 25 of “Believers” in Christ meeting Him at the end of the age and being shockingly turned away from the Kingdom of God. Jesus clearly spelled out it was not belief alone that granted eternal life, it was the ongoing demonstration of His character to others in need. The man and woman turned away were the ones who did not feed the hungry, did not give drink to the thirsty, did not give clothes to the naked, did not care for the sick, and did not visit the imprisoned. Their apathy to the needy was also apathy towards God. Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

• Have you received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He (Holy Spirit) had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. They began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17

Paul said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism”. Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him (Jesus) who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they (acknowledged) were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. Acts 19:2-6

And I remembered the Word of the Lord, how He used to say, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 11:16

“For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5

Might you wonder why scripture references Baptisms in the plural and not singular (see Baptism of Repentance, Baptism of Water, Baptism of the Holy Spirit). There are many who have performed the act of the Baptism of Water but do not know Christ Jesus. They have performed the physical declaration of faith but have not followed through in the daily transformational process of sanctification. The Believer in Christ Jesus must have the Holy Spirit living within them. When the Holy Spirit lives inside of the Believer, you will see manifestations of God’s Fruit or Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not complicated and only requires a simple prayer between two Believers in Christ Jesus such as “Leah, I declare in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that you receive the Baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit work within her and transform her daily into being your daughter. Amen.

• Do you have any unconfessed/unrepented sin?
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Johns 1:9

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

• Do you hold any bitterness or unforgiveness towards anyone?
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:24-25

• Do you believe in God’s will for your perfect health (or other request)?
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” Luke 10:19

“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:1-5

• Do you agree with your prayer partner for healing (or other request)?
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:24-25

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:19-20

• Are you praying for God’s will or your own?
There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30

Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand. Proverbs 19:21

The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:1

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. Psalm 33:10

Lord, thank you for the universal Body of Christ and your revelations. Help us to examine ourselves closely, show us personal roadblocks, and help us to move into your perfect will of obedience. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen

Resources: IAHR; The Name of Jesus; World Religions
Related Posts: Answered Prayers
Photo Credit: Bing

Discernment: What do you Treasure?

Treasure ChartQuestion: What do you treasure?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Social media is an excellent tool for exchanging ideas, promoting projects, or promoting self. It very clearly magnifies what is most important to us. For some, its business and culture that are core values, for others its politics, for others it is God and His statues, and yet for others its family and friends.

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37

Part of the Christ centered life is the ongoing evaluation of what matters to us…the most. God wants to ensure that He has our complete heart. He wants no competing idols. Though we may not be worshipping a golden calf like the Israelites (Exodus 32), we may be unknowingly worshipping the various idols of life.

In college and/or professional school many of us learned about the benefits of time management. Some of us even received presentations on the Time Management Pie Chart or what I call the Treasure Chart. The purpose of the chart is to help us identify where our time goes or Biblically speaking what we treasure. It’s a simple visual tool to help us identify what really is number one in our daily lives. For example, if our Treasure Chart shows that 50% of our pie is allocated to social media, 25% is allocated to school, 10% is allocated to sleep, 10% is allocated to socializing with Christian friends sans Abba focused, and 5% is allocated to God (i.e. worship, accountability groups/Bible study, discipleship, service, prayer), we could clearly see that despite our strong feelings that God is number one in our lives, our Treasure Chart hints that our time may actually be skewed towards other things and not God.

Question: How do you identify what you Treasure the most?

Take an inventory of how you spend your time using the Treasure Chart
For instance, in one 48 hour period you spent 8 hours watching television, 4 hours gardening, 4 hours on social media, 16 hours sleeping, 3 hours eating, 8 hours clubbing, 2 hours cleaning, 2 hours working out, and 1 hour honoring God (i.e. worship, accountability/Bible study, discipleship, service, prayer). Then simply divide the number of hours you spent on a particular task by 48 hours. That will be the percentage of time you spent on that particular task. The task(s) with the highest percentages suggest these are the tasks you value or Treasure the most.
Examine your use of Social Media
Look back at your postings over the last one to six months and examine if the majority of your picture and/or article postings on Social Media promote the Gospel of Christ Jesus, your “smokin” hot abs of steel, your incredible lifestyle, or political happenings.
Ask a Biblical friend and/or mentor
These individuals know you the best and live a lifestyle that is a walking billboard for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are the Biblical counsel referenced in Proverbs 15:22. They will be honest and help steer you towards the Cross.
Ask God
You cannot underestimate the value of prayer and Bible study with God. Daily ask God for wisdom and He will answer as James 1:5 declares.

There are many more ways you can examine if God is the number one Treasure of your heart. The key is that you take steps to identify where God lies. Some of you are thinking, “We all spend more time sleeping, eating, and working in a day than we do Bible study or prayer. Does that mean sleeping, eating, and working are number one in our hearts?” NO! God actually values work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Proverbs 31), as it is necessary for earning fruit to maintain the home and supporting the Kingdom. God also values sleep as it is another opportunity for Him to communicate to us (see Psalm 16:7). God is simply asking us to be aware of how we use our time and take the necessary steps to bring Him to the top of our Treasure list. One can work while demonstrating the Believer’s lifestyle of service and love. One can clean the home while meditating on God’s scripture or silently praying to God about the days ahead. One can use social media to share the Gospel of Christ Jesus via words of strengthening, encouraging, and comforting others (1 Corinthians 14:3).

God repeatedly declares that Believers should treasure nothing above Him, not even parents or children (Matthew 10:37). So the challenge to each Believer in Yeshua is to ask yourself, “What do I treasure?” and then the take all the necessary steps to make God number one. AMEN

Abba, we confess and repent of all the idols of the world we have placed before you. We lay the idols of work, of self, of husbands/wives, of friends, of children, and of materialism on the altar and thank you Jesus Christ of Nazareth for sacrificing yourself for us. Holy Spirit come and transform us from the inside out. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. AMEN

Photo Credit: FE
Related Post: Pastor Joe

Discernment: Local v. Third World Missions

QuestionQuestion: Why is it so much easier finding Believers willing to serve the poor across the globe than finding Believers willing to serve the poor within 15-30 minute local driving distance?

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

The above question was posed by a local missions’ coordinator trying to develop ways to encourage the congregation to passionately and equally serve the poor locally and abroad. Every year thousands of students and professional adults leave the shores of their Western homeland to serve in the third world. “I think the Lord wants me to serve the poor…in Mali. So help me raise $10K to get there.” We’ve all either personally had this experience or know someone dear that has had this experience. Many of these individuals have come to understand that there is more to this world than the status driven, materialistic society we live in and in turn devote their lives to serving others as God commands. It is praiseworthy to leave the safety of a Western community and serve often unreached third world communities stricken with illness, extreme poverty, and crime. On the other hand, don’t you ever wonder why just as many Believers in Christ Jesus do not seem to receive the same volume of life changing revelations to serve the poor communities locally? It takes not even a 1/4 of tank of gas and anywhere from one to twenty hours per month to reach a local inner city, rural, or reservation community. On the other hand, it takes several months pay and work leave to reach the third world communities across the pond. Yet even with all these factors, international missions seems to outpace local missions for volunteers in outreach of the poor. Body of Christ, maybe you were never aware of the needs locally or see yourself as a Nations evangelist. Here’s a challenge, let’s see if we can balance the scales in local and international missions. The world is becoming more global by the minute and opportunities already exists to serve the Nations in the Western world and third world. There are many poor communities in the Western nations that are driven around daily that could use some Jesus TLC. Cancel the “I’m afraid”, “I might get robbed”, “I can’t relate” or the many hosts of fear based excuses we use to justify ignoring the poor placed around us. Take a leap of faith, get out there, and serve the poor…locally.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Holy Spirit come and reveal to us what hinders us from obeying your commands to serve without partiality. We ask all of this in the name and blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen.

Photo Credit: Bing

Discernment: What’s your Sign?

zodiacWhat’s your sign? It’s the pop culture question often asked when one is looking to classify individuals into personality categories. It is steeped in the traditions of man’s astrology most noteably of the Babylonian period. Society often uses it as the source of figuring out the quirks and traits of others. Have you heard of that other question? What’s your gift? It is steeped in the tradition of Yeshua and highlights the unique character of individuals that make up The Body. Here’s a pretty cool story that describes The Gifts.

There is a dinner party with the seven guests. Each guest has a different gifting. At the end of the meal you begin clearing the dinner plates and begin to serve desert. As you are bringing out a tray with the desert plates on it, you accidentally trip, sending the deserts flying and crashing to the floor. The story of the dinner guests helps exemplify the seven spiritual gifting of Romans 12:5-8.

The guest with the gift of prophecy proclaims, “I could see this coming. You can’t clear plates and bring desert at the same time.” (The motivation is to correct the life of the waiter.) The guest with the gift of mercy quickly follows, “Don’t worry; it could have happened to anyone.” (The motivation is to relieve embarrassment.) The one with the gift of serving jumps up and begins cleaning the mess. (The motivation is to fulfill a need.) The one with the gift of teaching analyzes the situation and responds with, “The real reason the tray fell was due to the equilibrium. See, of the seven deserts, five were on one side and only two on the other.” (The teacher’s motivation is to discover why it happened.) The guest with the gift of exhortation gift pipes up, “It’ll be alright, next time serve desert with the meal.” (The motivation is to correct for the future.) The one with the gift of giving thinks a moment. Noticing the carpet needs to be professionally cleaned and the plates are shattered, responds with “Here is $100 to cover the cost of the dishes and carpet cleaning.” (The motivation is to give to relieve a need.) Finally, the gift of leadership begins calling out directions. “Kris, could you go grab some paper towels? Sally, would you mind getting some more deserts put together. Molly, get the vacuum!” (The motivation is to keep things moving in the right direction.)

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 12:5-8

Chip Ingrim, Pastor and Founder of the Living on the Edge radio programming highlights the spiritual gifts a bit further.

Prophecy – identifies what went wrong, has a sense of the culture, opinionated, corrective, works well in large groups but may be prone to pride and being insensitive to feelings
Mercy – cheerful to towards those who are suffering especially those who deserve punishment, can detect feelings, wants to relieve the embarrassment experienced by others but has a tendency to not be firm and be misunderstood by the opposite sex
Service – meets the practical needs, often asks “what can I do to help?”, behind the scenes worker, detects personal needs, more neglected in the Body and tends to overemphasize the practical needs and may become bitter when acts are not recognized
Teaching – presents the truth of God’s Word, loves to study, doctrine oriented, often says “Show me the meat?” but may overemphasize content rather than application and be boastful in knowledge
Exhortation – reassures, stimulates faith of others, often thinks “How can we move to wholeness?”, comes along side others, challenges others to grow, emphasizes practical application, described as a “fix it” person that may be discouraged if no change occurs and focused on temporary fixes
Giving – earns, saves, and gives money/resources to the Lord cheerfully, often thinks “What can I give to meet the need?”, sees opportunities but may be prone to pride and judging others by their bank account or use of resources
Leadership – sees what needs to be done, how things fit together in the big picture and coordinates it, mobilizes others, delegates, often asks “What are the results?” but may be prone to pride and forgetting the purpose of the project

So, what’s your gifting?

Abba, we thank you for the wonderful message received today. Reveal to us our primary spiritual gifting and help us to operate in the fullness of you for the Kingdom of God. – Amen

Related Resources: The Dinner Party ; Sober Self Assessment
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

God’s Finger Print II

Laminin - Trinity within

DNA Laminin – Trinity

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:26-27

Photo Credit: Five Doves