Thirsty Thursdays – Knowledge

After 30+ years in the education system, I’ve come across a lot of people with a lot of knowledge. I’ve seen people with doctorate degrees that didn’t seem like they were playing with a full deck (I say that in the most loving way :) ). Many times I have come across people with very high SAT scores and impressive educational degrees but were not successful in their chosen field. I’ve watched Jeopardy in awe at how those people have so many facts stored in their brains. Not only that, they can retrieve that information quick enough to beat some else to the buzzer. They are often called exceptionally smart. I’m a slow processor.

There’s a lot of knowledge in today’s world.  We’re living in a time when we have the greatest access to all the knowledge we need or want. But knowledge isn’t everything. Neither does knowledge equate to intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to perceive and retain knowledge or information  and apply it.  Just knowing doesn’t make you smart. You must apply that knowledge in the correct way.

A lot of people read the bible and have a lot of biblical knowledge and still don’t believe or just don’t get it. How can this be?  Ephesians 1:17-18 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Their problem is not a knowledge or intelligence problem.  It’s a heart problem. We think of the heart as the center of our emotions.  But God tells us it is more than that.  It is the center of our mind, will and emotions. (Thanks to my associate pastor Tim for expressing this from the pulpit) Mark 8:18 Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And do you not remember? They cannot see or hear or understand. They don’t have the Spirit. The Spirit of God from the beginning of all creation. The Spirit of God that gives wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all kinds of skills.  A divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will. 1 Corinthians 2:13 We don’t speak about these things with words taught us by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual things to spiritual people. As a believer, I can understand spiritual things.  It may take a while for me to process, but I can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths to me and He will.

Unbelievers do not have the Spirit and simply cannot understand spiritual things.  The Good News is they have a choice!  Believers that do have the Spirit don’t always walk in the spirit, though. The Message translation of Galatians 5:25 says Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. 

Are you living today as an unbeliever, letting your mind, will or emotions control you?  Trying to live the Christian life instead of drawing on the supernatural, inexhaustible resources of the Holy Spirit?  He is there waiting for us to rely upon His strength, His comfort, His wisdom so that we can fulfill God’s calling for us. We don’t have to be exceptionally smart or quick on the buzzer, we just need to surrender control today. Every day.

Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Criticism

Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting. -Emmet Fox

I tend to be a critical person. When it boils down to it, the root of my criticism is usually because you don’t do things like me.

There are so many subtleties in this area. There’s times when I believe it’s actually wrong, based on truth (not the same as criticism). There’s times when constructive criticism may be needed (with a genuine motive to be constructive), but there’s other times that I judge and get “irritated” just because someone lives, does, looks, etc differently than what I would do.

How prideful. How sinful.

I’ve realized my key word for “I’m getting ready to judge or be critical” is “irritated”. That is, someone irritated ME. I’m the victim here and it’s just my responsibility to share why! :)

No, when I’m “irritated”, most often I’ve not been wronged, I’m doing wrong.

So I’ve been thinking of some practical tips to help stop this behavior. Would love to hear yours as well! Please share if you have a word or a phrase that indicates that what you’re about to say is criticism. (A lot of times I’ll say, I not trying to be critical but . . . )

Good grief.

Here’s a few tips:
- Wait until tomorrow to share it. Criticism has an urgency to it. (At least for me) I want to tell someone about it now. Whether it’s telling the actual person or a second party, wait overnight and give a chance to be removed from the situation to gain perspective and allow the Holy Spirit to give His perspective on it as well.

- When the urge to criticize strikes, imagine someone criticizing me in the same way. How would I feel?

- Find 5 things you love or can be grateful for instead.

- Pray for eyes that see the positives and a heart that is loving and compassionate.

Prayer Monday

PSALM 19

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I learned yesterday at church that the word of God is perfect the way it is!! We don’t need to adjust it to fit our lives.  We need to trust it and live by the truth it teaches.  We need to let the word of God be our passion!! Verse 7 says the law is perfect and trustworthy!!  Allow it to be refreshing to your soul today !!! Please Continue to pray for Deanna and Meredith.  Continue to pray for WLF to have passion to serve Christ and to share Gods truth!  Thank you for praying for this ministry!!

Remember ~~ NO David Bible Study this week!!

 

Thirsty Thursdays -Knowing Why

A well-known, local upstate radio and talk show personality died over this past weekend. Listening to some of the tributes to him, one person said that when you called in to his show you better know what you believe and why you believe it. This radio host had clearly identified his view on issues and had a defense of his position ready. He felt he had the truth on his side and on clear cut issues never felt he had to back down. If you had a differing opinion on something but could cite the reasons for believing it, you were respected. But I have heard him verbally take someone to the woodshed when they could not clearly give credible reasons for what they believed. The caller on the other end would often stutter and basically throw back verbal insults, thinking he had really made his point, when all the while his arguments and assaults were deflated like a balloon. This really caught my attention because it is so applicable to believers.

I think a problem in the universal church today is that there are a lot of people who believe, they just don’t know why. Many have grown up in the church just believing and are around a lot of other people who just believe but they would not be able to tell anyone the basis of their belief.

Ladies, we do have the truth on our side. In a day and age where popular opinion is against Christian principles, we have to not only know the truth but be able to defend it. There is a whole field of Christian theology called Apologetics that helps people understand why they believe what they believe. The Greek word apologia means defense. We must be able to defend our faith.

So how about it? Have you thought about exactly what you believe and why? Does it line up with scripture? Has someone questioned your beliefs and you got defensive or felt like a deer in the headlights?  What do you say when people say you are narrow-minded? Has someone ever asked you about evolution vs. creation? Can you answer the question “why would a good God allow suffering?” or “why does the Old Testament God seem different than the New Testament God?” or “why does the bible seem to contradict itself?” Tough questions, but just a few that come up often. Are there other issues that have come up and you would like to be able to be better prepared to have an answer?

I Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

Tackling Old Issues

Prayer Monday

Do you pray for your kids ??

Lamentations 2:19 says, “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children,  who faint from hunger at every street corner.”

Being a mom is the hardest job but yet the best of jobs! It can be fun and exciting then exhausting and overwhelming.  Parenting can bring you from the lowest emotion to the highest  in a matter of minutes!  Parenting can be tiring and sometimes a struggle.  Would you like to start making a positive influence in your child’s life? It doesn’t matter their age! At any age our children can benefit from our prayers.  It’s good to start by taking one step at a time.  We should start by praying for one detail at a time.  We should pray for details and concerns for the present as well as those for the future. You may want to write a personalized list for each child.  One may have needs that another might not have.  Take quiet time and ask God to show you what you should pray for your children.  HE  reveals things to us when we ask.  Write it down and pray as often as you are led over the next year.  I believe it’s our job as a parent to keep the details of our children’s lives covered in prayer.  John 16:23 “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”  When we pray for our children, we are asking God to make His presence a part of their lives and for Him to work powerfully in their lives.  All that needs to happen in our lives and the lives of our children cannot happen without the presence and power of God.   We just need to be willing to pray for our children!!  Let’s start praying for our children today young and old !!!!

Picture Perfect View

Thirsty Thursdays – Compromise

Although not as bad in these midterm elections, political commercials, yard signs and town hall meetings are plentiful right now. I saw a commercial where a political candidate is bragging about being moderate.  Not too far left or too far right. Able to work together with everyone. Kumbaya. Compromise is a badge honor during political campaigns.

The definition of compromise as a noun: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. As a verb: accepting standards that are lower than is desirable. In order for someone to compromise, they must first have a set of standards. There is a firm set of standards set forth by God.  If our standard, for example is set to “thou shalt not lie”, then a little white lie is a compromise. In many of our relationships there must be a spirit of cooperation. Compromise in certain instances is not always a bad thing. But when it comes to compromising the gospel and God’s standards it is ALWAYS a bad thing.

By nature, compromise weakens a position. We form our positions through the lens by which we view the world. What if everyone had a biblical worldview lens to look through? We as Christians have to be ready to stand firm and not compromise on basic doctrinal issues like these:

  • There is one and only one living and true God, the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal parts of one God.
  • Man is the special creation of God, but Adam’s sin affected all mankind and now we are incapable of regaining a right relationship with God through our own efforts.
  • God provided a means of having a right relationship with him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, born of a virgin. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all men by dying on a cross.
  • The Holy Spirit lives in every believer from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth and guidance in doing what is right.
  • The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, written by men, without error, completely true, and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It reveals the principles by which God judges us and by which we can be saved.

A word of caution though.  In areas of that are not so specific we must ask ourselves “what does God want of me and how can I avoid being legalistic?”  Before we start judging someone else on what we think they have compromised based on our own convictions, read several translations of chapter 14 in Romans.

How do we not compromise the gospel but show love to others when they have differing opinions on topics not specifically commanded or forbidden? How about we make this our campaign slogan?  “I promise to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and to love my neighbor as myself.”  Everything else should fall into place.

 

Prayer Monday

We are spiritual beings, and fasting helps us to acknowledge and feed our spiritual nature. It says that there is more to me than what you see.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul prayed that his readers would be sanctified and preserved in their “spirit and soul and body.” Paul’s order here is purposeful. We are not made up of body, soul, and spirit, but spirit, soul, and body. We are created to live from the inside out, not from the outside in.

You say, “Why is that important?” Because if you look at yourself as a body that happens to house a soul and a spirit, you will live for your body first. But if you understand that you are spirit at the core of your being, you will live for the spirit.

Your spirit is the part of you that enables you to communicate with God. It gives you God-awareness. Your soul enables you to communicate with yourself. It gives you self-awareness. Your body enables you to communicate with your environment. It gives you other-awareness.

We need to live from our spirit out to our bodies. The reason so many people have messed-up bodies is because they have messed-up souls. And the reason they have messed-up souls is because their spirits are not under the control of the Holy Spirit. If we want to really live, the spirit or the inner person must be set free. Our spirits must release the Spirit’s life from within, and fasting helps us do this. It helps us to shift our focus from the temporal and tangible to the eternal and spiritual.

Post written by Dr. Tony Evans

 

The Most Difficult of Seasons for Leaders

For those of you in leadership positions, we want to share with you good resources and articles. Here is one such article we believe can be helpful and encouraging.

The Most Difficult of Seasons
Posted: 28 Sep 2014 11:00 PM PDT
Christian Leadership Alliance: Facing Difficult Seasons
By Cheryl Lee Davis

“Sometimes the challenges are put on us — a boss asks us to do something immoral, a colleague regularly escapes pain through excessive food or alcohol consumption, team members slip into affairs, or a trusted leader gossips. Sometimes, we bring on the difficulty. Insecurity rules our lives and keeps us from leading with confidence. Unhealthy personal or business relationships distract from what is important, or power, control or jealousy cause us to make decisions that hurt the organization. The list is long. You fill in the blanks.

And, every day we face an enemy who wants to destroy us. In the most difficult of seasons, he wants to distract us with menial and certainly temporal temptations. As leaders in the army of God, we must be equipped, strengthened and armored up to address the foul and fiery darts launched our way.

So how can we appreciate the convergence of the difficult issues that face us today with God’s amazing plan for us? How do we view every season as a God-present space and therefore a place for us to grow and help others grow?

No pat answers — just a few thoughts to ponder:

Keep God as your focal point.

Our life, our leadership, our everything, is brought into focus by God. One organization adjusted its once weekly prayer time to three times per week to help staff and donors experience a commitment to prayer. How can we adjust our strategic planning, our daily operations, even the culture of our organization to reflect a reliance upon God?

Remember that God is present.

It’s easy to get discouraged and distracted in the midst of the weirds and crazies. And believe me, I’ve seen a lot of both! But every moment of your life is in perfect view of your Creator. He is near and available. Believe that he entrusted you with these people, plans and your ministry. Believe that he will use all of it for his good. Keep leading. The enemy taunts Christian leaders to question their God-given call. Don’t give up. Don’t resist your current assignment. Don’t deny God’s activity within it. Don’t despise where he placed you. You are in full view of God and you need to lead like he put you there.

Be diligent.

Often we look for a peaceful path as if peace is the evidence of strong leadership. The truth is that leadership is complicated. Be intentional about the plans you lay out. God helped you with those plans, and he will help you carry them out.

Lead humbly.

In my experience, the humble leaders I know traveled a singular path. They experienced humiliation. It’s a difficult path but a God-ordained one. And one that specifically shapes you to serve the people around you. Have you experienced unjust treatment? Have you ever been overlooked or given an assignment that is beneath your skill? Accept it. Embrace this season as one of God’s gifts to you where he shapes you into the woman or man he desires.

Be a surrendered leader.

As leaders, we need to remove garments of entitlement, achievement, ambition and the special cloak of “I waited a long time for this and now it’s my turn.” A surrendered leader is one who knows who she or he serves. Submission is not a dirty word. It’s an understood positioning that God is indeed above all, in all and through all. Clothe yourself with Christ.

So, how are you doing? If I asked your staff what is the primary quality they admire in you, would they say, “My supervisor walks closely with Jesus”?

Today God beckons. God calls his leaders to be world-shapers. But we cannot, we simply will not make a difference if we do not prioritize communion with him.

I am tempted to dismiss some of the most difficult seasons I’ve experienced in leadership. Then, Christ, in his gentle way, reminds me that my hand is in his, and we walk together. He is enough.”

Cheryl Lee Davis serves as vice president of leadership development with Stonecroft — where every day women hear the gospel where they are, as they are. Cheryl is author of Safe Place, a short devotional on Psalm 27. This post is an excerpt from the 2014 Fall edition of Outcomes Magazine.

Outcomes Magazine: Christian Leadership AllianceCLA members receive a subscription to Outcomes Magazine plus access to the digital archive as part of their member benefits. If you are not currently a member, but would still like to subscribe to this quarterly publication, Christian Leadership Alliance makes it easy for you. Find out more HERE.