Tag Archives: ministry

Whose Praise Do You Want?

Man Praise

It is a daily task to remind myself that I can’t think like the world or get praise from the world and call myself a child of God at the same time. The two cannot coexist in any peaceful manner within me. One or the other is going to get the short end of the stick.

I was reading John 12 the other day. It is a familiar part of scripture where Jesus is teaching and performing miracles. The time frame was right before the crucifixion. Many people in the land were starting to believe and to follow Christ. The many included some Jewish leaders too. However, they were afraid to openly confess that they were following Christ. They were afraid of being put out of the synagogue.

The scripture says: for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:43

Have you ever been in that situation? Afraid to speak up for God, afraid to publicly say you follow Christ. I recall a friend saying once, “I believe in Jesus but I’m not some Jesus freak.” I chuckled at that. I never explored fully what the friend meant. My guess is that the friend was worried about what people would say about him. He was more interested in the praise of people.

In my mind, to be totally sold out, wholeheartedly following Jesus, you would be seen as a freak. To live wholeheartedly for Christ means you aren’t following the world. That alone makes you the odd man out. It is an every day, every moment commitment to follow Him wholeheartedly. I don’t know about you but the things of the world have a strong and familiar attraction to them. And as creatures of habit, aren’t we comforted by the things that are familiar? Stepping outside our comfort zone takes work and effort. I have to work at it and I don’t always get it right. But I try.

I have faced the challenge of how I am viewed among friends and acquaintances. I believe right now those who have known me for years – friends and family included – are probably thinking I’ve gone off the deep end. But I have seen and I have experienced His love first hand like no other kind of love. Not even the love from my parents – and I know they loved me. They put up with a bull-headed (my mother’s term for me) child.

So whose praise would you rather have – man’s praise or God’s praise?

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When You Ask God For Direction . . . You Have to Listen For His Answer

proverbs-3-5-trust-the-lord

When I look back over my life and think about the number of time I asked God about his direction for me, I find that He’s been talking to me all along. I just haven’t been listening.

I can remember the first time I knew that God – without a doubt – was speaking to me. It was a long time ago and I had been dating a guy for nearly three years. I was ready to settle down. When we first started dating, we were not in the same city. But the opportunity arose where we could be closer, and the guy did not encourage me to move to be near him and he wasn’t making any moves to be nearer to me. I wasn’t playing coy. I clearly let my feelings be known. I didn’t believe in playing games. He asked me about two years into the relationship where I thought it was going. And I told him. I wanted to be married and start a family. You could hear the crickets. Exactly, he didn’t have much to say to that. But we continued to date. That was my own selfishness. I was thinking he would come around to seeing things my way.

So later in the relationship another opportunity arose. But this one would have taken me farther away from him. Again, he didn’t ask me to stay. He was pretty indifferent to where I moved. Finally, the Lord placed it so clearly on my heart that this young man was never going to commit to me. It took me another six months to finally listen and end the relationship.

Did I mention that I’m a little hard-headed?

Jump forward 24 years and I was still struggling to hear from God. I had the one experience under my belt of hearing from Him so I knew He would speak to me – but why wasn’t I hearing anything.

Again, I had some big questions about my career and moving. I started praying and asking God’s direction. And at first I didn’t think He was speaking to me. Confusion arose and frustration set in. But what I discovered is that I wasn’t listening. I was blaming God and I was convinced that He wasn’t speaking clearly to me. I even told Him that He needed to speak loud and clear because I was a little hard of hearing. But what I finally realized I wasn’t hearing him because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Again, I was feeding my own selfishness.

Jumping to the present time, I find myself asking God for direction on many given topics and choices. But I finally learned that I need to sit and listen. Sometimes it still isn’t the answer I want, but I have to remember it’s not my will but His will.

Just this week, I prayed about joining a new study at my church. It was one of the new community groups. And the books were going to be $50. I asked the Lord to show me where I was going to get $50 on my tight, tight budget. I listened and He showed me where I would find that $50.

I want to be obedient to Him. My biggest challenge these days is remove my own opinion about something and leave my mind open to hearing from the Lord. I remind myself to remove my desire and to accept His will.

There are many examples in the Bible about people not listening to God. Each one had many challenges until they submitted to God’s will.

I encourage you to listen for Him. He can speak in many different ways. It can come through scripture or it can be a small quiet knowing in your being.

Yes, ask Him but you have to be willing listen to Him.

Five Ways to Connect in Your Church

I’ve been thinking about my church membership and connections lately. I changed churches three years ago because I moved. The church I previously attended was about 35 minutes away. I didn’t want to drive across town to get there. I used the excuse that it was too far to be very involved. When in reality, my heart just wasn’t in it. I was having a hard time making meaningful connections in the church. I felt as if I could be gone for a month of Sunday’s and no one would notice.

I have been a member of four churches in my lifetime. The church I grew up in as a child was mostly family – connections were built in. But I have been a member at three churches as an adult. Each time I look around at who is in my new member’s class – provided the church offers one. A year later I look to see who is still there. Oftentimes some of the people are no longer around.

The thought occurred to me that people can find it hard making connections in church. But when you understand about church membership and the great commission, and you take that to heart that you should get involved in your church’s missions and programs to show God’s love. Whether it’s feeding the hungry with a soup kitchen, providing clothes in a clothing bank, offering a listening ear through a Stephen’s Ministry program you are the hands and feet of God’s love.

So how do you make connections at church?

  1. First and foremost, understand that church membership is unlike any other kind of membership. As a Christian you are called to service.
  2. Find a ministry interests you. Typically churches have lots of different ministries. Finding something that interests you and get involved. If you see there is a ministry need in the church, talk to the pastor about starting that ministry. Create a ministry to fill a need.
  3. Take a class at the church. Many churches offer classes. Leadership training classes, Bible study classes, or spiritual gifts class. People connect with each other when they are learning and growing together.
  4. Attend your church’s prayer service. Nothing binds hearts together like praying together. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable and talk about your prayer needs and learn the needs of others, you begin to develop bonds.
  5. Join a Sunday School class. Adult Sunday School classes are mostly discussion around a book or scriptures. It is a great way to learn about new people.

Ephesians 4:16 “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.