I have heard it said somewhere that if we look at our prayers we learn a lot about our view of God. Many times the last thing we want to do is to look at how weak we are in certain areas. We focus on strengths and refuse to expose our deepest vulnerabilities.
The life we were meant to live is in His kingdom. A real life without celebrity, worldly wealth or glamor. A life which starts by our realization of how badly we need a savior, Jesus. Our only reasonable response to this realization is complete surrender and awe to Jesus. A cornerstone in the foundation of a kingdom life is one's ability to learn to live by faith. If you examen the most influential people of the Bible, you will quickly notice they have one thing in common. Theses individuals learned to live by faith.
Take David, not King David, but David before becoming king over Israel. David remembered God's faithfulness in past events and went out to fight Goliath. He was appalled by this man's lack of respect for God. He didn't see this 9 foot giant as the rest of the Israelites did. David saw just one more of these little battles he had been fighting all his life.
The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:37 NIV84)
David realized he had the power of God behind him and that God fights differently than man. God had prepared David through each small battle while watching over sheep. Each seemingly small fight to protect sheep was a faith builder. People only saw a shepherd boy, but God saw a mighty warrior.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV84)
Our actions or inactions cannot make us holy. There is only one who makes us holy and this battle has been won. Jesus makes us holy, we just have to be willing to accept His gift. Our next reasonable response is to wholly surrender to Him. Our lives are not our own.
Being made holy is not about our actions, but the condition of our heart. God is refining us through each small or seemingly large battle. After each battle we come out of the fire a little closer to God. We learn to leave the things of this world behind and pickup our cross.
If you have ever attended a leadership training or a team building event, you have most likely experienced an exercise I like to call Flying Blind. The exercise typically involves pairing up with another person you do not know well. Next one person is assigned to be the eyes for each pair. The other person is blindfolded and is told to allow the verbal instructions from their partner to direct their steps. There are times in following Christ where one might feel like the blindfolded person in the training exercise. I can tell you from experience that your ability to hone in on the Father’s voice is the key to successfully following God. We must intentionally guard against all forms of distraction, mental fog, or disruption in our line of communication with God.
This is a point in our walk where we are extremely vulnerable. We must be extremely diligent in pursuing the things of God. Sometimes we make the mistake of reading too much into what God is showing us. If we do not take intentional steps to remain impartial, there is the potential for us to use what God has shown us to affirm things we want deep in our hearts.
So what do we do to remain impartial? We must seek humility and guard against all forms of pride. We ask our brothers or sisters in Christ to hold us accountable in advance. We regularly meet with them and allow them to speak into our lives. We allow our own assumptions about things God has shown or told us to be tested by God and our brothers or sisters in Christ. If we do not test these assumptions, the consequences can be devastating. Any of our assumptions which are proven wrong we destroy.
We use God’s promises to sustain us and error on the side of humility. This is a time where your prayer life will take a drastic turn. It becomes a place to LISTEN and HEAR from God and not solely a place to voice our wants or desires. One tactic I have found incredibly beneficial is that of taking the perspective of a steward. Pray from this perspective and it will change your life. Go ahead! Try it!
Pray this prayer... God we(I) surrender these gifts and abilities you have blessed us with. We seek to do only YOUR will. Provide us with clarity and help us to remain humble while following you. In Your Hands. -Amen
The human brain is one of the most fascinating creations on planet Earth. One could spend their entire life devoted to studying the brain and not scratch the surface of all it has to offer. What we choose to believe in our lives has the power to raise us up or derail our lives for all eternity. It is no wonder that our Enemy, The Devil, spends vasts amount of time and energy right in the middle of shaping or reshaping our belief system. It is in our belief system where most of the battle is won or lost. If this area is so important to the human condition, why do we as believers not spend more time here? Shaping our childrens’ beliefs should be at the top of our lists as parents. Still we spend time on things like not raising one of “those” types of kids. Largely as parents, I believe we make parenting about ourselves and not about the kids. Yep, I said it, we are selfish.
I do not have to spend much time to show you that humans are selfish, do I? As parents we do not teach our kids to say “mine.” This response is innate, something we come out of the womb with. So why so much hostility when I suggest that parents are selfish? Usually when we fight some type of feedback it is because deep down we know there is truth in it.
It is not that shaping our children into being a well-mannered, productive member of society is such a bad thing. The problem lies in that we are not giving our kids, essential truth (Bible-based), to take with them into adulthood. We fail in teaching our kids about identity in Christ, what it means to live for Christ, finding our Chazown or dream. Why? I believe it is because we, as adults, do not have a good grip on what these things mean for us. We cannot teach what we do not understand.
I am not suggesting nor do I believe that we are doomed as a species. I am saying we need to wake up to what is really important as humans, as parents, and as Believers. This topic is extremely broad, so I will begin by covering the lies which we believe which have such a strong pull on our lives. Being able to discern lies from truth is one of the essentials of living as a believer. If we cannot tell the difference, we will fall for lies every time.
How can I tell we as humans cannot tell the difference between the truth and lies? I am guilty of believing lies and applying those lies to my life. These lies or agreements, are beliefs about life or anything which set themselves up against the knowledge of God(the Bible). As long as these agreements present themselves as truth in our lives, they have the power to prevent us as Believers from living the lives God has planned for us as His children.
God Inspired Visions Lead Back to God not to us. Never Lose Sight of Your Dependence on God.
Do Not Step Out On Your Own Strength.
Be Locked Into Your Source of Strength(God).
Vision Supported By Faith
Our Faith Should Fuel Our Vision
Never Lose Sight of Who Should Get the Credit.
Visionary - Committed to what could be and should be in spite of what is going on around you.
There is DISTINCT value in knowing the entire plan before embarking on a new project. It is commonly held as foolish to start on a project without knowing the entire plan. Certain questions, important questions need to be answered before setting out to complete the plan. Without knowing the whole plan, it is difficult to establish a timeline and to ensure critical milestones are accomplished at the appropriate time to ensure successful completion of the project. Do we have the funds to complete the plan upon starting? Are there enough materials, time and talent to make the plan a success? When do certain milestones need to be completed to hit the project completion date? Do we have the right people involved to insure success?
The concept of knowing and accounting for each part of the plan before embarking on the journey seems Biblical. See Luke 14:28-32.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” Luke 14:28-32 NIV http://bible.com/111/luk.14.28-32.niv
Luke 14 seems to prove the point that we should know all parts of the plan before taking the first step. But just as with many things, we can pick and choose parts of scripture without proper context to fit our situation. Let's allow Jesus to give us some context for Luke 14:28-32.
"In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." Luke 14:33
With the context of verse 33, we can see that Jesus was addressing counting the cost of follow Him, the cost of discipleship. This was not instructions on what one should have before stepping out toward a God-inspired vision.
God never gives out all of the steps at once. How do I come to this conclusion? Open up the Bible, pick any story in the Bible and you will have all of the evidence you need.
Has God given you a God-inspired vision? Are you holding out on the vision because you don't have all the steps? Take a moment to seek God and ask Him where you have been holding out on His vision for you.
What if I told you that your definition of a missionary could be completely off? The view held by the majority of Christians today about missionaries is false. The misconceptions held by the Christian church prevents them from being truly impactful for the Kingdom of God. In this series, I will examen the common perspective about missionaries, define what/who a missionary is, and challenge each of you to embrace the role God has for you in His Kingdom.
3 Common Misconceptions
First, I'd like to take a look at three common perspectives held about missionaries.
To be a missionary you must go to foreign countries.
To be a missionaries one must be sent a Devine revelation.
To be a missionary, you must quit your job and devote your career to the mission field.
The Backstory of Missions
If you can relate to any of the misconceptions, I challenge you to pray God will change your perspective. Growing up in the church, missionaries would come and visit our church maybe once a year or every few years. We would be shown videos or photos of those serving in the missions field. The pastor would make a presentation and strongly encourage the church to give towards funding missions.
During the presentation images of poorly nourished children and poor living conditions would be displayed. Those serving in the field would be shown handing out food, teaching, or playing with children. These photos would stir the hearts of the congregation. When the offering plate came by many would reach for their purses or wallets to see what they could give. Then life went on as usual.
The Reality of Missions
The truth of the matter is each one of us as Christians are missionaries the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ. Confronted with the reality of Christ, our salvation, and if we choose to live for Him, we become missionaries in a foreign land. The foreign land, the mission field just happens to be in our own backyard.
Those dedicated, selfless individuals we see in images are definitely serving in missions. Going to foreign impoverished lands, handing out food, Bibles, and being Jesus is part of missions. It is only one part of missions. The rest of the missionaries are sitting in church, checking their watches. They are wondering where they'll go to eat after church.
You see, we all are called by God in our own way to serve in missions. We may not devote our career to it or go to any 3rd world countries, but we are all missionaries 24/7. Our mission field may be our workplace or neighborhood or our own family.
Where has God called you to be a missionary? What is your mission field?
It is interesting to see how God seems to put together just the right combination of desire, experiences, and talents when selecting someone to fill a need. It is equally as interesting to note that God rarely calls these individuals when they are all ready to go. You will be hard pressed to find an individual who will be fully developed upon receiving their Chazown from God. There are many takes on the subject and I won't dive too deep into it here, but a common phrase comes up regardless of who you speak with. "God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called." -Unknown Origin. Is it the least bit surprising that most of the time God does not reveal His entire dream for His children all at one time. As believers, we seem to want God to lay it all out for us in one nice welcome packet once we become followers of Christ. It is easy to get discouraged when our path does not seem to be so clearly defined. As if the first post in the welcome packet would be, "12 Easy Steps to Fulfilling God's Dream for Your Life."
As followers we usually figure out how it is not God's way to give His children every detail up front with a bow on top. So where do we begin? Is it reasonable to ask God for any direction? Should we expect anything up front? The first step is a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you do not start there, most, if not all of what I said above will sound crazy. Here is a link to a set of Bible reading plans which is a great place to start if you are unsure about this whole following Jesus thing.
If you already know Jesus and feel like you know where your relationship with Jesus stands, I encourage you to check out Chazown.
Stay tuned for our next post in this series as we dive deeper into the idea of being Uniquely Equipped.