What Did I Sign Up For?

WHAT DID I SIGN UP FOR?

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: the one who leads, with zeal.  Romans 12:6,8

         If I am given something to manage and I’ve accepted the responsibility, I should do it well.  The paperwork shouldn’t sit on my desk, hidden under a stack of other things I’d rather do.  When I don’t turn things in on time, return phone calls, and administrate what I’ve agreed to organize, I leave a bad spiritual taste in other’s mouths.  If I don’t care, and I am Jesus’ ambassador, then others conclude that He doesn’t care either.

         When Paul wrote these words, he was writing to people who lived under a different kind of local government.  There were no hospitals, orphanages, or rescue missions.  Extending compassion and mercy to those who needed it advanced the kingdom.  People within the church were given responsibility to take care of people in their villages and cities, even cities like Rome.  When their spiritual enterprise was well ordered, the love of Christ was on beautiful display and the flavor of the Gospel exploded.

         God is not a God of confusion and whatever He does, He does well.  If He redeems just one area of my life, there are always dozens of side-benefits.  He gives even more than He promises because His nature is to bless.

         What is on my plate today?  Have I missed deadlines?  Continue reading “What Did I Sign Up For?”

Leading Through Serving

LEADING THROUGH SERVING

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if service, in our serving.  Romans 12:6-7

         I knew a period of time, four months in all, where Jesus washed my feet when I closed my eyes to pray.  I saw Him stooped in front of me, sitting on a stool, washing my feet.  He was in no hurry.  Time stood still.  He said nothing but just tenderly served me.  The humility of His service and the power of His tenderness changed me profoundly.  It has had ripple effects on my heart over the years; my willingness to forgive others being the biggest change.

         The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.  Matt.20:28  The spiritual gift of serving is one that is so beautifully demonstrated through the acts of Jesus.  He did it – even while silent.

         Most leaders lead by making a lot of noise and standing out in front of others; beckoning them to follow.  Serving as Jesus served doesn’t look like that.  If I’m going to serve as Christ did, I don’t see myself at the top and others beneath me.  I am their servant.  I assess their needs and quietly minister to them.

         William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, told his missionaries on the way to India: “Go to the Indians as a brother, which you are, and show the love which none can doubt you feel.  Eat, drink, and dress and live by his side.  Speak his language, share his sorrow.”

         Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The church is herself only when she exists for humanity.  She must take her part in the social life of the world, not lording it over men, but helping and serving them.”

         I got a lump in my throat recently when I learned that our pastor served an elderly woman in our congregation by taking her sick cat to the vet.  Ah yes, exactly the kind of service that leaves the aroma of Jesus.  Continue reading “Leading Through Serving”

I Speak For Whom?

I SPEAK FOR WHOM?

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.  Romans 12:6

         I can’t believe it.  The implications of being a prophet have washed over me this morning.  A prophet is anyone who speaks the word of God.  That would not be relegated to a few elite but to every child of God.  So, that’s me.  In God’s physical absence here on earth, I stand in for Him and speak on His behalf.  What a sensational calling I enjoy and a sobering one, too.

         The Greek word for prophet means ‘one who stands in front of another person and speaks for him.”  Remember the story of Moses and Aaron?  Moses fainted at the call of standing before Pharaoh and delivering the message God gave him.  So, God allowed Aaron to speak for him.  “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.”  Exodus 7:1

         Really, this could be re-phrased for any of us today who are speaking God’s words into our life’s situations.  We are praying scripture over loved ones, speaking for God in church meetings, proclaiming kingdom principles inside a boardroom, and sharing the Gospel with a neighbor.  “See, I am making you like God to ______________, and you are my prophet.”  Continue reading “I Speak For Whom?”

Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Ignorance

SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.  Romans 12:6

         Every single child of God is given at least one spiritual gift.  I should not be exercising my gifts out of my own wisdom or as a lone ranger.  I am to be part of a community where my gifts contribute to their well being and where their gifts contribute to mine.  We make up the body of Christ.  When one part doesn’t function properly, there is a spiritual limp the whole group experiences.

As I talk with women, I find that so many have no idea what their spiritual gift is.  Why is this?  Because we have not been defined.  We don’t know who we are.  Because of parental voids, we were not told how, and why, we are special.  We have never experienced, as children, hearing how we are ‘bent’ by God’s design.  We grew up without a keen sense of self-awareness, without clear direction.  We floundered into adulthood.  We had no plans for ourselves and ended up following other’s plans.  People are not good taskmasters and we ended up disillusioned and suspicious.

None of us have to live in a parental void when God is our Father.  He can penetrate the deafening silence of our childhoods with the clear direction of His Spirit.  He is willing, and eager, to define us.  The prayer, “Show me who I am and how I’m wired….” is answered with great detail.

Here is a link to a great spiritual gifts test.  http://buildingchurch.net/g2s.htm Continue reading “Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Ignorance”

What Is A Church?

WHAT IS A CHURCH?

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Romans 12:4-5

            “I’m going to church” we say to one another.  What we really mean is, “We’re going to a building, one where a group of people meet.”  The only biblical definition of church is ‘the meeting of a group of people who have put their faith in Christ – a meeting where the Spirit of God rests.’  A church can meet in restaurant, the basement of a school, in a home, or in an institutional building with a steeple.  In the last few years, the resurgence of house churches are becoming more commonplace in the U.S.  That is a good thing since I can easily become close-minded to such an idea in Western culture.

            One disturbing thing though was revealed in a recent USA Today survey.  Of the 56 percent of Americans who attend church, 46 percent do so because “It is good for me”, and 26 percent go because it is where they hope to find “peace of mind and spiritual well-being.” Continue reading “What Is A Church?”

The Mindset Of Humility

THE MINDSET OF HUMILITY

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  Romans 12:3

            When I am good at something and people admire my gift, conceit will most likely be birthed.  Being able to do something that is unique and admirable is a powerful cocktail.  Where is the line of thinking too much of myself?  Am I allowed to be confident in what I do?  Am I allowed to graciously accept a compliment?  What is humility anyway?

            These questions are ever in front of me.  I have a public gift.  I have had my share of standing ovations.  I have seen hundreds of women come forward after teaching for an hour.  I receive many emails from those who read books and devotionals telling me that God used my words to make a difference in their lives.  Am I allowed to enjoy others praise?

            Paul encourages me to think of myself with sober judgment.  In other words, I take stock of my gifts, the ones that cause others to be so generous with their feedback.  If I played the piano at 3 yrs. old, who gave the gift?  If I have long fingers that can play technical passages, who made my hands?  If I have the stamina to sustain a 36-year ministry, who gave me health?  If my teaching is persuasive, who inspired the ideas and anointed my lips to speak?

            To think of myself soberly is to come to a realization of the truth that God gives all things, even my very breath.  To boast in myself is to pretend that I am the one who generates gifts.  I am not.  I will not steal the glory of my God.  As soon as I accept the praise that belongs to God, I have crossed the line.

            However, to defer all glory to God does not mean that I hang my head and live in a state of worthlessness.  Continue reading “The Mindset Of Humility”

Metamorphosis

METAMORPHOSIS

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

            As a good Christian, I may act like I’m not conformed to this world but if people could see everything I’m thinking; they’d know that my actions are only putting on a good show.  My thoughts are still trapping me, tormenting me, and deceiving me.  I live in a constant battle and only because I know how I should think and what I should believe do I do the right thing.  But here’s the thing ~ Christianity, the real thing, is not about just modifying my behavior.  God promises transformation of the mind; total renewal.  No more putting on good behavior out of a need to look good or a need to assuage my guilt.

            If I fail to engage in this renewal process and continue to think like the world thinks, who is in charge?  Paul, himself, revealed the answer in another letter.  .. “In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air.”  Eph.2:2  The author of the world’s thinking is not the world.  May I not be deceived!  The author is Satan himself.  I am allowing the enemy, my enemy and Jesus’ enemy, to infiltrate my mind and dictate how I’m going to process life.  No wonder my mind can be a series of traps, never bringing peace and hope.

            What does God offer each of His children?  Transformation.  The word is the same as metamorphosis.  And that word is the same for what happened to Jesus in the transfiguration.  “And He was transfigured before them and His face shone like the sun.” Matt.17:2  He underwent a physical and spiritual transformation that defied anything human.  This is the kind of spiritual surgery God promises me if I engage Him on a process of mind renewal.

            How does it happen?  How can I stop believing that others should like me?  How can I stop believing that a family situation is hopeless?  How can I stop fearing that I am unforgiven or being punished?  1. By recognizing that such thinking is of Satan, the one who authors the world’s mindset.  2.) Continue reading “Metamorphosis”