Posts Tagged ‘communication’

The Stubborn Heart

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” (Mk. 9:23-25)

It has been my experience, that literally thousands of people struggle with unbelief. Real barriers stand between their desire and the reality of God’s Will! Like this father they hear the words that Jesus would love to heal, deliver or bring hope; but they are stuck. They know the truth that if they could just believe, nothing would be impossible… but there is no believing, no receiving and no “heart” at all. There is just the nagging reality of hopeless effort, tears and shameful discouragement. And worse yet for many, they construct a new theological platform of resolve… “I will choose to not believe any longer, because it just leaves me hopeless!”

The Spirit of Unbelief:

The inability to obey the instructions of Jesus and trust in the Promises of God, often leads to this frustration. We want to please the Lord and experience all that God has said, but something in us resists faith. We find we “cannot” believe even when we want to. This can be due to a “spirit of unbelief”. Lies, deception, fears or offenses can find their dwelling in the heart and be controlled by a demonic spirit that paralyzes the heart in unbelief. This spirit is real and dangerous, it is pervasive and advancing across the landscape of Christianity and it lives in the midst of the “Church culture”… where all is not fine in paradise!

Authenticity:

I receive many emails and calls about this issue and I find it a bit shocking that the problem is so wide spread and growing. Yet in my opinion there is a root cause that we must uncover and shine the light of truth upon… people are living superficial lifestyles. They rarely stop and contemplate the meaning of their existence. To ask the simple question, “WHY!” is not blasphemy, nor is it going to lead us into deception. Perhaps it would even offer a lot more authenticity to our journey!

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7… “Ask, seek and knock… and the door will be opened!”

Authentic communication with God – opens the door of relational truth. Things that are difficult for us to understand, come into the light of His wisdom and love. God is a “father”, He knows how to take care of His children and He is faithful. He is anticipating our needs to be vocalized and to come streaming into His Presence (Heb. 4:16). The Apostle Peter, who seemed a lot like us; said you and I need to be “casting all our care upon Him, because He cares for us” (1 Pet. 5:7). He cares for us… and He knows all about our issues of faith. This idea that we can avoid our problems and they will just go away… well – that is the greatest deception of all! They do not go away, in fact they produce the fruit of disappointment, which I spoke of earlier. We tend to create and believe a false perception of God’s heart toward our reality.

So – here’s the point…

  • Stop living without meaningful communication with God!

Spend time telling God of the frailty of your faith, the brokenness of your heart and the weakness in your perceptions… ask Him “why?!” and then wait… wait… wait… for the doors to open! They will, my friend they will… they will open wide and the King of Glory will come in. Who is this King of Glory… He is the Lord Strong and Mighty! (Psa. 24:7-10)

God Thoughts

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:13-16)

From childhood we’ve heard, “God said, let there be…” and the world came into existence. We’ve read in the Bible that He “spoke” to people and helped them when they were in trouble. We’ve heard testimonies of how God “spoke” to people concerning certain issues in their lives. These are valid expressions of how God communicates with people. But what if you could hear the “thoughts” of God? Perhaps you become so “tuned in” to God that you can actually sense what He’s thinking! So, if this is were true, it would be possible to navigate your life by sensing His thoughts! Asking, imagining, and dreaming are just the beginning of where God could take us, if we truly knew what He was thinking (Eph. 3:20).

Here are some things to consider:

  • The word “thought” in the Bible literally means “plan, purpose or intention”. In other words, the thoughts of God involve His good intentions for your life (Jer. 29: 11)(Eph. 1:9). The Bible is full of His good intentions (Jn. 10:10).
  • God is constantly aware of you and what’s happening in your life (Ps. 40:5)(Ps. 139:13-17). He has so many good thoughts about you that if He shared them all, you could never count them!
  • God loves you so much that He wants to share His thoughts with you (Jn. 15:15)(1 Cor. 2:9-10). God’s original intention was for you to represent Him and His character on the earth. The only way you can do that is to be able to think like He thinks (1 Jn. 2:20)(1 Jn. 2:27).
  • God doesn’t think the way you think (Isa. 55:7-11). For those who may think that God wants to punish you when you mess up, I’ve got good news! Though God is just, He is also infinitely merciful. He looks for ways to show mercy and forgiveness toward you! (Ps. 103:8-18)

Holy Spirit & Abundant Living:

God’s knows you better than you know yourself. This means He is able to guide you to what’s best for you and guard you from things that could trip you up later in life. God has a wonderful plan that personally fits who you are… and it’s just waiting for you. It is the Abundant Life! This takes the strain out of a trial and error, searching for a career or trying to find some purpose in life. When you trust in God’s Son, Jesus; He gives you the ability to think like He thinks! This is not mental telepathy …it’s the Holy Spirit living inside of you – God living in you!

God is Still Thinking about You!

Pay close attention to the Holy Spirit, He lives inside and speaks to those who place their faith in Christ. As you hear God’s thoughts and draw close to Him in prayer, He will instruct you, teach you and guide you (Jn. 16:13). The audible voice is the communication of the natural man, but the mind of Christ is the voice of the Spirit resinating in the heart. The Bible calls it an unction of the Holy Spirit… like a nudge on the inside. Picking up the still small voice inside is what abundant living is all about. You have the mind of Christ… it was placed in you, when you set your heart to know Him. If you will pay attention… you will discover He is still thinking about you.

“Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5)

Training Leaders

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim. 2:2)

Scripture provides numerous examples of discipleship, because every generation thinks and responds differently to the information handed to them. Yet the key is to entrust God’s truth to reliable men and women who will show themselves to be faithful. Just think for a moment about the process involved in teaching some of God’s most notable leaders how to walk in wisdom and integrity.

  • Adam and Eve walking with God in the Garden of Eden, 
  • Abraham and Lot recovering from Sodom and Gamorah,
  • Jethro and  Moses administrating in the wilderness,
  • Samuel and David processing a leadership shift, 
  • Peter and James receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,
  • Paul and Timothy planting churches across a new frontier.

We find ourselves in good company, pulled in by our convictions about God and our call to the Great Commission. The Bible; however, does not direct us to any certain program of how leaders are to be developed. The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit is more concerned about the process than the structure of our training - as long as it does not violate Scripture. Ministries have the freedom to design a training program that is “most effective” for its leaders. The structure may be different, but training takes place when hearts are united with God’s vision for spiritual growth.

4 Key Leadership Components:

  1. character …who a leader is. 
  2. knowledge …what a leader knows.
  3. skill …what a leader does.
  4. emotion …how a leader responds.

While good leaders are strong in these four areas, all leaders need to grow and develop. The mark of good leadership is a teachable heart, but the challenge is always our ability to measure maturity. If we can break down our experience by these 4 components, we will begin to see where our hearts really are developing and where we are stuck in leadership ruts.

  • 1st Character:

Christ-likeness and integrity of heart best describe what we mean by character. It reflects the heart and soul of the leader and answers the question we all have asked: “Who must leaders be?” In order to lead effectively, God expects us to reflect His heart and mind in all that is done and taught. We need to expose poor character and build quality into our leaders so they reflect the excellence expected from men and women of God. 

I often tell leaders; that although their gifts will make room for them and offer them the opportunity to lead, it is their character that will maintain their platform and give them a people who follow their leadership. I have watched many gifted people come and go, leaving their ministries in frustration over the process of character development. Its important for leaders to face the facts… it is the process that shapes our character – No Pain, No Gain! Here are some good Scripture guidelines that offer general character requirements for leadership.

  1. The Elder - equivalent to today’s 5-fold ministry leaders (Eph. 4:11);(1 Tim. 3:1-7), (Titus 1:6-9), (1 Pet. 5:2).
  2. The Deacon – those who serve tables; (1 Tim. 3:8-13)(Acts 6:1-6).
  3. The Apostle Paul offers the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). 
  4.  The Apostle Peter lists qualities for all Christians (2 Pet. 1:3-9).
  5. Other necessary character qualities are competence, trustworthiness, and teachability (2 Tim. 2:2).
  • 2nd Knowledge:

Leaders know something that not everyone understands. Leaders have “secrets” that open doors and create opportunity for others, as well as themselves. What they know sets them apart as uniquely qualified to instruct and teach. Leaders offer us the ability to see things through new lenses and enjoy the adventure of accomplishing something.

  • 3rd Skill:

Obviously, a leaders’ skills depend a little bit upon the ministry he or she is engaged in, but there are some common realities that help all leaders stay sharp and effective. Vision, decision making, communication and problem solving, are just four of the many common qualities of a leader that every team must see growing in the person they follow. A leader needs to inspire and motivate others so they believe they can achieve their goals.  Support may be as simple as words of encouragement or a specific tool needed to perform a task. Strong listening skills provide a leader with key information that can help break barriers and give appropriate spiritual counsel.

  • 4th Emotion:

Problems come in all shapes and sizes, from those related to the people in your care, to those of a more strategic nature.  A good leader will not be afraid of problems and will carry the emotional stability that earns the trust and respect of their followers. We must not be afraid to discuss problems or potential problems. My father used to always say, “Son, with a positive attitude, problems can become opportunities for promotion”. As with anything in life, things do not always go according to plan and leadership is no exception. The direction a leader takes in order to realize God’s vision is likely to change. Strong leaders embrace change and can adapt quickly and efficiently to new situations since they learn to balance opportunity and risk while being aware of their strengths and weaknesses… as well as that of the team they lead.

Better Caught than Taught!

My final word is simple… the best leaders are those who have served under great leaders, because they have been watching and catching more that they were ever taught through books. Jesus enlisted twelve disciples to walk along side of Him for 3 years - Modeling Ministry and Imparting Leadership!

Life Support

Brings me refreshing

Alone with God

Our devotional life is the substance of our personal relationship with God. As a passionate Christian, I have found my devotional life to be my “life support system”. It includes seeking Him through prayer, Bible reading or study and fellowship in the Holy Spirit. My tendency is to lean on likeminded believers to create a false sense of Christian devotion and substitute their thoughts for true spirituality. God will often remind me to return to my first love.

 Real revival is kept ablaze only in His Presence!

A healthy spiritual life feeds and draws its energy from the intimacy and relational growth enjoyed in fellowship with God (Ps 1:1-3). This kind of life has all sorts of dynamics that stir its effective development. Balanced growth has a lot to do with our personal time reading and prayerfully studying the Bible as our platform of knowledge. It is easy to fake it and live on the thoughts from the last time we read, but Jesus makes it clear that we are to live daily from the words that come from the mouth of God. Yesterday’s manna will actually “ferment” in our mind quicker than we want to believe and when we fake our spirituality we will live in “rotten” counsel and yesterday’s knowledge.

The Elephant in the Room:

In church life, our devotional difficulties can become like the proverbial elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but nobody wants to talk about. This is frequently true of Christian leaders. We find it difficult to openly encourage others in their devotional lives, because we are struggling with our own. Often our lives become too busy doing those things we believe are urgent and lose our devotional time with God. These devotional moments are vital, because they connect us relationally to God. The Apostle Paul said that we must set our minds on the Spirit to be lead by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:5). The prayer life or ”secret place”, is where we learn to hear and know the voice of the Spirit. We discover our hunger for love and relationship needs more than just knowing Christ as our Saviour and Lord. By developing this life support system, He becomes our strength and closest Friend.

Some other thoughts:

  1.  Jesus demonstrated and talked about a devotional life with God.  (Mk 1:35)(Mt 14:23)(Lk 21:37)(Lk 5:16)
  2. It strengthens us in times of temptation. (Mt 26:40-41)(Ps 119:11)
  3. It becomes our guidance in everyday life decisions. (Jn 10:27)
  4. It is the platform for spiritual assignments and fruitfulness. Others around us benefit from our devotional lives. (Jn 15:4-8)
  5. It plugs us into God as our Source of Power. (Jn 7:37-38)(Acts 1:8)

Our spiritual life support is like a well that provides Living Water to all of the growing parts of our being. Our wisdom and understanding must come from His Presence, and it must be current for us to live in Christian maturity. We would never want to willingly restrict the water flow in our home to a trickle; but this is what we do, when we try to live without a healthy devotional life. It is through our devotional supply line that we experience God’s power and hear God personally speak to us about His love, His purposes and His destiny for our lives… It is our life support!

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