Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Miracle of Discovering Your Ministry

God, What do you want me to do? How do I fit?

Are you like me?

Do you want to serve God but cannot figure out your ministry? Have you tried to do many things but it falls apart? Are do you offer to serve in areas and never get called? Do you feel overlooked and underused?

I have for most of my thirty years of my Christian walk. I know what I my talents are, and I even know my spiritual gifts. Still, I have a hard time discovering my specific ministry.

It has been frustrating and depressing. I know whose I am and I have studied His Word. God draws me in and points out so many truths. I feel bursting, overflowing.... yet, in many ways I feel rejected by people... and dare I say even the church.



I feel like serving in church is like being in a pinball machine. You step out to serve as the lever gets pulled back, the spring tightens and then in an instant you are launched into the activity. Only once you start moving you are constantly bumping into things and people. Some move you along quickly into another direction only to have you end up bumping into more things and people. However finally, you just become tired, exhausted, and fall away, leaving the building without even being noticed. Your turn is over. Your serving is done.


Is The Problem Me

"What’s wrong with me?” has been my mantra lately. I have even set up an appointment with my Pastor to ask that precise question! (It takes over a month to get in to see him.) I really have wanted to know if there is something about me that I need to change.



Am I too vocal? Is it that I get excited and interrupt? Is it that I ask a lot of questions? Is it that I think about things too seriously? Do people not trust me, or do they feel uncomfortable around me?

I am certain it is a glaring problem that everyone but me knows. It is like a have lighting bolts crashing around my head yet I am clueless that I am even in a thunderstorm.

However, I know it is God who qualifies a person and ordains them for ministry. Since God has accepted and approved me by His grace, I am worthy and able through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me. Even with my imperfections, God wants to minister through me for His glory.

"By God's grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.” Ephesians 3:7 NLT

Discover by Doing

As long as I can remember I have had pastors tell their congregation that you discover your gifts through serving. They suggest that people should simply jump in and volunteer to find out what they are good at and enjoy. I do think it is good for people to serve and volunteer; particularly if you can’t think of anything specifically that you feel God leading you to do, you should just sign up and get involved in some area of the church. 



But if you have been praying and keep sensing a specific direction God wants you to go, look for opportunities. If you offer to work in those areas of ministry in the church, but never get called to do anything or don’t seem to fit in with the group or structure of the church ministry, don’t give up. 

Think outside of the church and/or ministry box. 

How can you still function in the way you sense God created you and is leading you? 

It may be that God simply wants you to step out on your own. He may not want you to formally serve in the church program and the way the church does the ministry. He may have some little spot that does not have a title, and it might be a ministry that is personal and therefore not sanctioned through the church. Just because it is not a ministry offered by your church, don’t discount it!

I am not encouraging people to not get involved in their local church or to serve in designated areas. I am simply stating that not all work that God wants done is an official position or area of church service. If we stop limiting God and simply live obediently to Him, we may be utterly amazed at how much God actual wants to do in and through each one of us. 

My Simple Miracle

I love prayer! I love writing! I love reading and teaching God’s Word! I love listening to the Holy Spirit and getting to immediately respond to Him! I love to be spontaneous!

I also have learned in my own life that it is very hard for me to make consistent, pre-planned obligations. Because of my health, I am not always able to be available at a set time. I can't really judge several weeks at a time how I will be doing. I have lived with how my mind and body functions long enough to know that it is best for me to be able to go when I can go and to slow down when I need to do this. Of course, this can hold me back from most normal ministry positions. 

However, I have returned to one of my favorite things that I do with God.

I started to go back to pray at my church in the morning. The prayer room is open from 6:30 am to 9. Anyone can come and go during this time. A year ago before I took a full-time teaching job I went very consistently for almost 6 months. I loved it! Going to the prayer room incorporated everything that I love in life. I felt so alive and so used by God. Especially when on occasion someone would enter the prayer room with an urgent need pressing on their heart. 



God would nudge me to ask the person if they needed to pray. And this is where the miracle would happen over and over again. I was able to be used by God to pray for people by relying on the Holy Spirit and to minister to them in their time of need. It blessed the other person but it also blessed me. 

So, here I was, about a year later, feeling like I was spiritually handicap and shriveling up. I was getting pretty depressed because I felt unusable by my local church. It was hard for me to even attend on the weekend because I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was yearning to serve God but never was responded to whenever I offered to serve in various areas of the church. Worse than feeling invisible, I felt discarded....unwanted....defected...damaged....and the list could go on forever. 

Yet, today was my second day in a week to go to morning prayer. After about an hour of praying and reading the Bible, I heard someone enter sniffling back tears. I waited a little bit and then got up and asked the person if he needed prayer. He did, and he was so grateful. The Holy Spirit gave me insight that could have only been known by God. I spoke the words as I heard them and described in prayer the pictures placed in my mind. As this young man, repeatedly confirmed that what I was saying in prayer was exactly what he needed, I sensed being used by God in a mighty way. 

After the man left, I knelt back down to pray... and I was led by God to write these words in my journal in response to what happened: 
I am alive. I have my place in God’s church and in ministry. It is perfect for me. Handpicked by God. Praise God who answers prayers!

You see, I repeatedly felt that I was suppose to pray at my church. So I tried the Monday night ministry, but something was off. I explored praying Sunday morning with people after service, yet that never worked out. I occasionally participated in special times of prayer but that only last an hour maybe once a year. I thought God wanted me to spot like a therapist, and He wanted me to simply be available to offer prayer. This thought kept coming up in my mind but it never seemed to materialize.

But God showed me today... He had already proved for me a way to do what He laid on my heart. No one needed to know I was functioning in this ministry. It was enough for it to be between God and me. He knew. He ordained it. He qualified me. And He would bring the people that needed to be personally prayed for by someone who listened to the Holy Spirit.

I am so joyful! I have finally discovered my ministry! I will listen, and follow, and go, wherever He leads.


(photo credit: deviantart: my watch begins by cobra-roll, blue skies green pasture by Blackstar 707, vintage gift box by lialeslie-d9w, dare by gothic narcissus-d7slhxyg) 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What No One Ever Tells You About False Religions and False Teachers

We have so many different kinds of religions, faiths, beliefs, and even within each of the major faiths there are so many variations. In this post I am not talking about the major religions of the world; I am not talking about the ones that most would attend on a regular Sunday or Saturday. But, I am writing about false religions like Scientology and so many other smaller organizations like these are based off of very similar beliefs.



The major thing no one (especially the leader or organization itself) will never tell you is the leader often has a family background in the Christian faith. Many times their parents or grandparents were pastors or missionaries. Therefore, they frequently know the teachings of the Bible, and even use them, intermingling Biblical principles with their own but never quoting the Scripture or giving the source of the teaching. It is very crafty. Ask questions about leaders. Find out their spiritual background.

Biblical principles are truth. They work. Therefore if followed people can see blessings in their life. If you read through the Book of Proverbs and followed just the ones on finance you would greatly improve your wealth and business. The same holds true for relational principles.


Forgiveness

I listened to a teacher last week that was talking about how to deal with difficult people and those who have hurt you. He explained that you need to realize that the person is not functioning at the spiritual level you are and that he is doing the best they can based on their realization or knowledge. Therefore, you simply rise above and let the issues go, not holding it to them or the offense.

Immediately, I recognized the Biblical wisdom in forgiving the person and how important this is to not let bitterness grow in one’s heart. It is a very freeing teaching that without it can destroy a person from within. However, it played on the person’s pride. It made the person feel they were better than the other person, more evolved, or functioning at a higher spiritual level; therefore, he/she was to have in a sense pity on the person and to not be entangled in the lower level issues.

While the teaching did indeed help the person deal with the offense and to apply in many aspects apply the principle of forgiveness by not holding the person in debt to her for the hurt, it traded one sin for another. Pride is a much craftier sin to see. A person who has false modesty is actually prideful; if you think you are better than others you are prideful.

Reaping What You Sow

Another example of a teaching that is taught by many of these groups is Karma. So the person is so careful not to do wrong, treat people bad, or to say hurtful things because they don’t want to have bad things happen to them, and of course, they want to keep moving up to higher spiritual planes. The Bible teaches that a person reaps what they sow and also God often lets us experience things that we have done to others to give us insight to the other person’s perspective.

However, the major Christian difference is that we DON’T thankfully get what we deserve (the karma) if we confess, repent, and receive God’s grace. False religions will NEVER teach this concept; they would loose enormous amount of control over their followers. Guilt, condemnation, and karma are major ways they keep their followers in-line.

One True God

I was reading Isaiah today that caused me to think about these people who lead these cults or false religions. They are lifted up on a pedestal to often be exalted as god or master -- one who is at the highest possible spiritual level of development.

However, our creator God, Elohim, that is only the one true God has abilities that these leaders can never claim. Read this:

"Thus says God the LORD,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it; "(Is 42:5)
No matter how “good” a person can be, a person can’t claim to have made the earth and to give all people breath and spirit.

This is why God can say,

 "I am the LORD, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,” (Is 42:8)

The Word 

Only a person who reads and knows Scripture could pick out the Biblical concepts from the ones that are not. A person who has only read the Bible casually or heard some passages will have no idea that he is being taught a Biblical teaching. And very sadly they will not know the lies that are being sprinkled in to benefit the leader or organizations. 

One day I want to take a passage of one of these cults and show in detail how truths or mixed with lies; However, what I have currently written will have to do for today. 

If you have a loved one involved in a cult, pray for them. I pray for those I know. I pray that the leader may show their sinfulness, that it will be obvious that he is a mere man, not God. I also pray that those I love will hear the ONE TRUE GOD in quiet times, and that He will have mercy on them and keep drawing each one near to Him.

photo credit: candlelight by svelimiovic96, 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pausing in the Summer - Being Silent

Last year was my first year since homeschooling my children to teach full-time in public schools. Teaching is all consuming. But I want God to be all-consuming in my life.

It took about a two weeks after teaching for my neck and back muscles to stop cramping from being tense. Being “on” for students and administration can be exhausting -- that is what my last, long post was about -- the full-time exhaustion I felt. Now that I have had time to breathe, I am open to God to show me what he wants me to do next. I am placing my life in His hands and giving Him control.



When life (and responsibilities of work) start eating up my time, I struggle to find time for God. I wonder-- Do all people who work outside of the home full-time have this same problem?

And I am so behind with housework. I have so much to clean, so much to go through, and so much to through or give away. Yet, God tugs on my heart, so...

I opened the Bible this morning to Zephaniah 1:7 and read “Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand.” In Zephaniah, the prophet is giving a warning that troubled times are coming, he describes it as: "trouble and distress,” “devastation and desolation,” "darkness and gloominess,” and “clouds and thick darkness” (Z 1:15).

This reminds me of the paradox that while we can we need to be silent before God and seek Him, because we go through seasons of times that will be filled with greater stress.

This verse in Zephaniah reminds me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God...”.

When we think of prayer, we often think of talking. But God asks us to have times of drawing near and being silent, of being aware of His presence, that He is God. We are to bask in awe of Him. And if we are silent, we are in a position to listen.

When Samuel heard God’s voice, his response was “Speak, for Your servant hears” (1 Sam 3:10). It is through listening that we can know God’s heart for us. I often say I want to do God’s will, like I said in the beginning of writing this that “I am placing my life in His hands and giving Him control,” but this requires me to have a mind and heart that is ready, spending silent time in His presence. In doing so, I get to know God more, and by knowing God better, the desires of my heart will be more aligned with His.


Like a child, I need to approach God, not always with a heavy burdened heart, but with childlike dependence saying, “Here I am.” And then, allow myself the time to move into His presence, before I waste the whole day trying to do.

God wants me first to be, and receive from Him.



(photo credit: star childen III/9 by KVirtanen and a silent thought  by sagavision -- both on deviantart)


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Full-Time Exhaustion Teaching

Twenty-four hours are in every day. We each get the same amount of time. Yet, a comparison is meaningless because we are all very different in our personalities, needs, abilities, supports and resources. Still I like everyone else will make decisions how I will allot my time. Sleep is essential. If I allow myself to get overextended, over-committed or exhausted, I make poor decisions and I act or speak in ways that are not characteristic of who I naturally am.



Working Full-time this past year at employment outside of the home is new for me. I have homeschooled my children for the past two decades. While undertaking the enormous responsibility of homeschool, I worked a few times as a tutor, substitute-teacher, writer or a retail position. Yet, I was mostly a full-time mom, wife and homeschool teacher. I had grown accustomed to waking to my natural body clock instead of a dreadful 4:45 am alarm. I also had the luxury--many luxuries--of sipping coffee slowly from a cup, eating when I got hungry and going to bed when I decided I was finished for the day. However, the most extravagant luxury I possessed was getting to plan my own time.

This year I returned to full-time teaching in the public school system and everything changed in my life. Teachers have their own unique set of oddities like not being able to easily go to the bathroom when the need arises, having to gobble down a lunch while basically never leaving work, and having a horrendous amount of work to do outside of the work day. Still, many things are common to most people who work for an employer.

Timing is everything: how we spend our time, when circumstances unfold, the commitment we make, and events that take place. Some things happen that we know are going to be on the calendar every year, like holidays, birthday and anniversaries. Other events are once in a lifetime like weddings, graduations and baby showers. Most of our responsibilities are regular and ongoing such as cooking, laundry, housework, yard work, and self-care. However, we are also continually bombarded with the unexpected occurrences of illness, deadlines, repairs, accidents, and requests (not only at work but from those we love).


I am still seeking the balance in life between having a fulfilled private life, a connected family life, remaining friendships, managed household responsibilities, and a strong work ethic. Keeping these 5 goals has brought on full-time exhaustion and I am not sure I am succeeding at a real balance. Is it even possible? I don’t have solidified answers or solutions. This balancing is all still a work in progress but a story theme in a first grade reader keeps echoing in my mind: quitters never win!

My students were reading this story when I had just struggled with wanting to quit my job. I was beyond exhausted. I had lost my joy to go to work. I was no longer functioning at home. And I was emotionally coming unglued. In this state, I was overly sensitive. Incidents that would have been easily brushed off, were taking hold of me like a fishhook. Little comments and circumstances were deeply hurting me. I knew something had to change.

Often a snowball effect takes place. Minor slights (even simply perceived ones) can take a toll when they add up without a person having the ability to voice his or her view. Without any validation, and worst of all, poor communication, resentment can build up. Everyone has their own tipping point. For me, I reached mine after two months of testing students. All teachers are stressed during this time of the year and the pressure builds to look for reasons outside of one’s self for poor testing performance. And I, being the new person, became an easy target to accuse, pushover, or blame.

For me, making an appointment to talk to my human resource manager was the turning point. I was able to speak to someone not in the school that fortunately was not personal friends with the employees. She was able to hear me out and then validate that I had reasonable thoughts and feelings about some of the incidents that had taken place. She encouraged me to make the decision I needed to make but one that would not negatively impact my personnel record. Simply having someone to speak to diffused the major offenses I had felt.

I decided if possible I would complete my school year and then not take another year at the same school. This way I was fulfilling my commitment but also having an end in sight. While things have not changed on my job, I was able to face it with a new attitude. I was no longer carrying around the baggage of every unkind word or unthoughtful action. I turned my focus on the students and my own responsibility to do my best for them. And at home, my family stepped up on doing some of the housework to help me crash into the bed and get the rest I so desperately needed.



I have seven and a half days left. While I am looking forward to celebrating the completion of the school year, it will be hard to look into the precious eyes of my 42 English As A Second Language students and tell them I am not coming back next year. However, I know I have loved them deeply this year, and my hope is I am leaving them with an impression of positive self-worth--the beautiful sense of knowing that they are lovable. Of course, we have learned a lot of academics but the life lessons are what remains. This is my heart and passion of being a teacher. I must now find a place I will be appreciated.


(Photo Credits: apples by marshmallow-child, walking a balanced life by drPankaj, broken by dove3456, all on deviantart)



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Prayer Isn't Working

When we are out of practice in prayer or just beginning, prayer just does not seem to work. Sure we can pray with others and send up short moment prayers but to be absorbed in the presence of God for extended periods of time takes come work on our part.





We have to be still and allow our mind to clear as we focus upon God.

But we also need to remember that if we have not entered His presence and truly anytime we are newly entering His presence we must follow the way Jesus taught His disciples.

Begin with Reverence, Awe, Praise, Honor, acknowledging that we are coming before the Throne of the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. We enter God's presence with praise, fear (awe/respect) and covered by the blood and name of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is done in spirit and truth, not flesh and deception.

Our Father Who Art In Heaven = Recognize God, Who is in Heaven, Address our attention to Him.

Hallowed Be They Name = Reverence Him, He is Holy, We are only Holy when covered by Jesus.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven = God is Sovereign both in earth and heaven, we are not. We must pray with a humble spirit, a bowing spirit.

Give us this day our daily bread = we need prayer daily, just as we need food daily, but God does recognize our physical needs, though providing for us spiritually is essential.

And forgive us our trespasses = we must repent to enter God's presence, we must confess any known sin but also be totally open for God to point out sin in our life prepared to repent when it is brought to our attention. Also we must forgive ourselves, for if we do not we are being our own god. If God forgives us, who are we to not!

As we forgive those who have trespasses against us = To enter God's presence we must be willing to forgive every other person, we must deal with forgiveness and in obedience lay down before God any hurt, injury or debt we feel another person owes us. If we have been injured and feel another person must pay for what they have done, that they are going to get what is coming, we have not fully given that person over to God and released them by fully and continually forgiving them. Forgiveness is not a one time event; we must newly forgive each time it is needed.


And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil = Our biggest enemy in our prayer life is Satan and his demons. They HATE prayer. So don't be surprised when you are bombarded with interruptions, a mind that will not settle and thoughts that cause you to loose your focus on God, but push through as God opens the way delivering us from evil and temptations.

With praise, a humble posture, an asking of petition/need, a forgiving heart and seeking His protection, we can grow in quiet time with God.

Now what is your purpose for prayer? To be loved by God. Be still and let Him love you. Let Him fill you. Let Him be anchored to your inner core being. Be saturated in His love for you.

God is all we need. We need prayer time - time alone with God - being loved by Him.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Who Is Responsible for Adultery?

If a husband looks online or through apps for a relationship with another woman is this adultery, even if he has never had physical sex?


In Matthew 5:28 Jesus says,

“I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 
So how can a pastor counsel a woman, in this situation, that she is equally to be blamed for her husband’s actions and sin if she has not been having sex regularly with him. Where in the world would a pastor get this counsel.

The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:5,

“ Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourself to prayer. Then come again together, so that Satan will not tempt you through lack of self-control."
This is not a guilt free license for a man or a woman to have an affair. This verse in the Bible assumes that the couple is spiritually sound and making mutual decisions and mature enough to devote themselves to time of prayer.


When the marriage is broken because of lack of love, respect and communication, also because of past adulterous sin and other sins, a woman cannot be expect to comfort her husband in a sexual way. She is not a sex slave-- that is abuse. It is not a drudgery or a duty to be sexually involved with your spouse but a fruit of a mutual love that includes great respect day in an day out in the marriage.

I watched a dear friend nearly in shock hearing that she was responsible for her husband’s adultery online because she had not had sex with him in 6 months. However their marriage is was in shatters already. The pastor was unaware of many of the problems occurring in the marriage. The husband had removed his wife’s name from their joint checking account, cursed and screamed at her regularly, and had a very angry temper that he had not dealt with. What wife is going to want a physical relationship with a husband who treats her unloving?

The spouse who has the affair is being selfish and not thinking about all the damage he is creating to have his pleasure. His wife and children will be heartbroken. They will feel unstable, insecure and doubt their value. It is only God that can heal their hearts and restore their self-worth.

Ultimately, it is the enemy of God that is forever seeking to kill, steal and destroy what God loves. John 10:10 says,

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;"

But Jesus continues and says,

“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

The one who chooses sin -- adultery -- chooses the way of Satan who comes to steal, kill and destroy, but the one who chooses Jesus and his will chooses life and will have life abundantly.

A person first needs to go to God directly in a one on one relationship and allow God to heal their agony. A friend can listen but only God can heal a broken heart.




(Photo Credits: the weeping rose by KoAn72, a failed valentine by mommaphant, touched by a rare rose by Nadavdov on Deviantart)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What Is God’s Joy (Isaiah 66:5)

We have to be careful when reading Scripture that we don’t make one verse only answer to a question. Isaiah 66:5 speaks of joy--God’s joy that we may see. Let’s look to see what the Word is talking about:
Hear the word of the LORD, You who tremble at His word;
“Your brethren who hated you, who cast you out for My name’s sake said,
'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy,'
But they shall be ashamed.” (Isaiah 66:5)


These verses follow a listing that God makes of sacrifices that do not please him, because the people making the sacrifices did not have a relationship with Him. They went through the traditions of animal sacrifices, burnt offerings and incense, but in their daily life they were choosing their own way to live. God says in verse 3 that “their soul delights in their abominations”.

Then he follows to say, “Because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.”

It is so important to read a verse and discern its meaning in context of the chapter and book in which it is written. It is also important to discern the meaning of a verse in light of the entire Scriptures.

So we are building up from what God has not delighted in to know that God is aware when those who truly believe in Him are cast out for His ‘name’s sake’. If you are ever treated poorly for being a Christian or for standing by God’s word, you don’t need to be concerned about the person who is hating you. God is aware and more importantly He knows that they hate you because they first hated Him. (Mark 13:13 says, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”)

Therefore, we are to continue onward with our love and relationship with God. We are to persevere to the end. In continuing in our faith our God, He is glorified. His value and worth is seen through our life, by our actions and words and choices.



The Scripture specifically says, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy’. Titus 2:11-14 can help to clarify this verse:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and gold in the present age,
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

We have salvation. We are shown how to live. We look forward to Jesus return.

In these three, God is brought glory and joy may be seen.

We are saved from eternal death, separation from God, that should always be seen as a source and reason for joy.

Regardless of our circumstances or what sorrows we endure living life, God will supply our needs and heal our hurts. He will carry us even when we can go no further. Joy is not bubbly happiness but a steady sense of knowing God and being known by Him.

And whether before our death or after, we can be sure that Jesus will re-appear and make all that is wrong right.

So what is God’s joy?

God is assuring the believer that Jesus will appear - this is the joy of the believer. In Isaiah Jesus had yet to come, but for us we have Christ. We can experience living with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And moreover, we have the hope of His second coming and eternal heaven.

This does not mean you or I will live perfect, but it does mean we can always be forgiven, receive God’s grace and be right with Him. It also means that we have access to Him and can moment by moment know Him. We can and should hear Him, and obey. By doing this, we can glorify God and make His joy visible. We can also know Him, and thereby we can know joy.

By abiding with God, our joy can be full.




(Photo Credits: It’s A Kind Of Magic part 2 by idaniphotography and excidium III by sorny on DeviantArt)