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5 Way to help grow the membership of your church


INTRO:

One of the most difficult places to minister and build a church is in Rural America. There are varied and complex factors that contribute to this difficulty.

UNIQUE & DIFFICULT FACTORS

Take for example the lack of stable and competent volunteers. The economic difficulties of a small town. The frequent need for members to relocate for a new job. In a small town there is no telling what your congregation is going to look like from Sunday to Sunday. Families come, families move, hopefully for them, to a better job, housing or school.

The membership in most churches in Rural America is aging. These are the folks who despite their age do most of the heavy lifting. If there is community outreach – bake sale, fireworks fundraiser, or movie in the park – these older folks are there. But ‘most’ of them are not necessarily active in sharing their faith or inviting friends to church. The only friends they know are already Christians.

Than there is the chronic problem of church hopping, church skipping for long periods of time (not speaking about those who work on Sundays) and a hesitance to volunteer, get trained or even sign up to do some form of ministry.

On the other hand, some are just content with coming on Sunday getting fed with the Word and enjoy fellowship with the body. There is nothing wrong with that – but growing a church takes more than doing just that.

Other times people expect to find an already functioning children, youth, or young adult ministry – and as they should. In fact when people church hunt to determine what may be a good fit for their families – they want to see a functioning kids and youth ministry.

Unfortunately, in many cases – you will not find any of that. If you live in Rural America, churches come in many sizes from 25 to 50 congregants. Attracting new people to an aging congregation, less younger families with children, a limited paid staff, and non existing ministry to children and youth is tough.

TO CHURCH HUNTERS

So when you visit a church and feel the need to jump back in your family mini van and never return – take a minute to stop, pray and listen. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. You may be the one that pastor has been praying and waiting for. He has been waiting for someone with whom he can partner with, train and release into areas of ministry. Don’t just go for the convenience. Yes its going to take a bit of a sacrifice – but one that will grow the work of the Kingdom, bring glory to God, and produce something truly awesome in your life.

TO CHURCH MEMBERS

If you already find yourself in a small congregation, hear me out – you are a miraculous answer to prayer. You are not there by chance – it is God ordained and God orchestrated. So if you have children and you find yourself attending a church with no children, youth, or young adult ministry, what do you do?

  • Start One! This is for the first timers as well. You came to church but there was nothing planed for your kids. Walk up to the Pastor and tell him – that next Sunday you will be back with your kids and you need space to start regular children’s ministry. Start One! Ask for training and resources.

If you attend a church and the numbers are dwindling – what do you do?

  • Start a vigorous campaign of inviting your friends. Create a culture of inviting people to church. People will come if they are invited. Bring all your friends. Find creative ways to invite people.

If you feel the need to serve and use your gifts and talents to serve the Lord but don’t know how or where to start.

  • Talk to someone in leadership today! Tell them what the Lord has placed on your heart.

If you know that pray can change things things. What do you do?

  • Start a prayer movement in your congregation.

If your church outreach effort is lacking. What do you do?

  • Start an outreach program

I get it, not many people are up for such a challenge. But if you want to see an exponential spiritual growth in your life and the fruit you see in other places – I encourage you with the words of Jim Elliott, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t leave to go somewhere else where those things you value are already in place in your church- create one right where you are.

Nothing useful, fruitful and healthy is uprooted and replanted ever other week. Stay planted where you are.

walter bright

God is counting on you there. Maybe you need to get off the fence. If it’s your desire to go somewhere else where you can find everything in place for your family, that’s not terrible. But let me ask you to stop and pray for a minute and consider how you can effect change right where you are today.

Thanks for seriously considering this challenge!

Allow me to leave you with one final thought. Just like every family – church family can experience misunderstandings, hurt feelings and difference of opinions. Let’s follow the example of Pastor Dwight Scott who told us when a brother felt hurt in his congregation – he invited him to come to the altar with him. And there, the two embraced the love of God and the re-conciliating power of the Holy Spirit. So, let us not let our differences separate us in these confusing times. Let’s meet each other at the foot of the cross where Jesus bled and died for us.

Stay blessed!

Walter

Destiny


There is a buzzword in the church today.

DESTINY!

Everybody’s talking about it and running after it. It is interesting, however what exactly people mean when they talk about destiny. In many cases, it’s about personal success. There is nothing wrong with that! But destiny runs deeper than that.

Destiny is not about

success

status

self aggrandizement .

It’s is about servanthood.

Joseph was a young man who at the age of 16 misunderstood a revelation given to him by God. In his immaturity he developed an air of self importance that drove his brothers to despise him. His interpretation of a God given destiny or dream was all about him, and he paid dearly for it.

But after a series of life lessons, Joseph began to understand that though one day he would be elevated to become Prince of Egypt, God was not interested in his status, but his servanthood. God was not interested in his prosperity, but the preservation of his family. God was not interested in his destiny, but the destiny and formation of an entire nation.

That’s why he could say, “God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.” Genesis 45:7

Let us keep this truth in the back of our minds – we are simply just regular people with an extraordinary call to servanthood.

“The greatest among you must be a servant.”

Matthew 23:11

Reflections on John 4:10


All of history, prophesy and promise, is completed in Jesus. Your whole life is completed in Jesus. Every part of your life: your work, family, relationships, friends, memories and dreams are completed in Jesus.

Nicky & Pippa Gumbel

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””

John 4:10 ESV

If you knew the gift of God, you would throw yourself in the arms of Jesus:

That gift is a gift of eternal life

That gift is a gift of unconditional love

That gift is a gift of forgiveness

That gift is a gift of peace with God and peace of God

That gift is a gift of freedom

If you understood the value and worth of the gift:

You would run through fire to obtain it

You would scale a wall to get it

You would search diligently for it until you found it

You would sell everything you own to possess it

You would travel mile away to experience it

You would pay any prize to have it

But it’s absolutely free. You cannot earn it or but it. It is more valuable than gold, rubies and diamonds.

And it is all yours simply by grace through faith.

If you truly understand the gift of God , you would fall into the loving arms of Jesus.

Because that gift is Jesus Christ Himself, in whom the fullness of God dwells.

10 Quotes from Max Lucado’s ‘Before Amen’


When Prayer Flows

If you want to take you prayer life to another level of simplicity and ease, “Before Amen” is for you. It is inviting and inspiring. The focus remains on the Father all through the book. In essence, that is exactly what prayer is all about.

Enjoy a few quotes that jumped off the pages:

“Before you face your world, face you Father.”

“Prayer is conversation with God while driving to work or awaiting an appointment or before interacting with a client. Prayer can be the internal voice that directs the external action.”

“Guilt leaves a tattooed heart.”

Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray”

“Prayer is the hand of faith on the door handle of your heart; the willing pull; the happy welcome to Jesus.”

“Prayers are not graded according to style.”

“You are never more like Jesus than when you pray for others.”

“An un-prayed for problem is an embedded thorn.”

“Life is a gift, albeit unassembled. It comes in pieces, and sometimes it falls into pieces.”

“God’s goal for you is wholeness.”

An Illustration that will preach

This was a gentle, smooth read. Max’s illustration of the prayers of a 10 year old girl in Helen Roseveare’s orphanage is a powerful testament of what it really means that the “Father knows what you need even before you ask” (Matthew 6:8). How would you like to receive a timely gift, the same day you prayed, only to find out that the gift was mailed 5 months earlier?. I highly recommend Max Lucado’s ‘Before Amen.’

#brightsummerbooks

Ignite my Soul: Consume these idle sticks


“God consume these idle sticks in my life that may burn for thee.” Jim Elliot

What does the word idle mean?

It means – not active or in use.
synonyms: inactive, unused, unoccupied, unemployed, disused. It speaks of a person – not working; unemployed. Synonyms: unemployed, jobless, out-of-work, redundant, between jobs, work less, unwaged, unoccupied. It also speaks of a person avoiding work; lazy. Synonyms: lazy, indolent, slothful, work-shy, shiftless, inactive, sluggish, lethargic, listless

It means to lack or be without purpose or effect; pointless.
Synonyms: frivolous, trivial, trifling, vain, minor, petty, lightweight, shallow, superficial, insignificant, unimportant, worthless, paltry, niggling, peripheral, inane, fatuous

It defines a person who spends their time doing nothing; be idle.
Synonyms: do nothing, be inactive, vegetate, take it easy, mark time, twiddle one’s thumbs, kill time, languish, laze, lounge, loll, loaf, loiter.

The Scripture warns about it

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4

And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace. Matthew 20:3

But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Matthew 25:26

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. Titus 1:10

And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. Titus 3:14

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

I understand that some times, depending on where you are in life, a lack of clarity or opportunity can easily turn you into a couch potato. But that is a very dangerous place to park. If you didn’t already know, you are in big trouble if you find yourself sitting around doing nothing. Your life has become the devil’s workshop.

A slothful life can easily become a life of Spiritual Apathy. You soon find yourself slipping into a subtle love for worldly things. All of a sudden you, your life, your vision becomes dull – nothing moves you.

At this point, life is reduced to easy choices, and mediocrity. You begin to make the bed with false comforts. You are easily carried away by worldly distractions and fleshly attractions. And the things of the world are now more important than God’s mission.

What you need at this time is a dose of purpose; a watershed of passion and an explosion of persistence.

Mary O’Connor said, “It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” What’s your purpose in life?

Shannon O’Dell said, “God has so made man, that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.” What are you passionate about?

The Apostle Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward toward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” How persistent are you?

Before I close, I urge you to find those idle sticks that are slowing you down from living life persistently and passionately on purpose. My idle sticks are different from yours and yours from mine. What’s important is that we can find them and ask God – the God who answers by fire – to consume them and set us on fire.

These prayers I will pray:

Lord, consume my longing and lack of discipline for:
Too much Entertainment

Lord, consume my:
Laissez Allez Mentality

Lord, consume my:
Indifferent & Care free Attitude

Lord, consume my:
Propensity to Settle for second best

Lord consume my
Spiritual Apathy

Lord consume my
Passivity

Light a passionate fire in my soul and make me “the fuel oh flame of God.”

Recourse: Online Etymology Dictionary for idle

Too painful for words


Isn’t it extraordinary that pain does not rank with “love, battle, and jealousy” among the most important themes in literature? Every schoolgirl who falls in love “has Shakespeare, Donne, Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” Virginia Woolf

I seek today, to bring not just a word of encouragement, but a message that would bring healing to the sufferer. My goal is that by some miraculous means, the words I write will become the very words of God speaking personally and directly to you today.
First of all, let it be known that I do not presume to understand anyone’s pain. I do not pretend to understand the extent and nature of that pain. All I know is that there is a lot of pain in our world and I can only speak as a fellow struggler. From the loss of loved ones, loss of employment, the dissolution of a covenant relationship, to excruciating and agonizing physical pain that is experienced through illness, each and everyone of us struggle with something.
This worldwide pandemic has claimed the lives of many, but has shattered economies around the world. As of today (numbers are changing everyday), there are over 3,917,564 Coronavirus cases worldwide. Though we are thankful for the over 1,344,120 souls that have recovered from the virus, our hearts are broken over the loss of 270,720 souls.

Often the question is asked, “where is God in all this pain?” To answer that question, allow me to be emphatic and clear:

I believe with all my heart that God not only is acquainted with your pain, He feels and sympathizes with you. I believe God is right in the middle – suffering with you.
God the Father understands how you fell because like you – He also lost a Son when that Son was hung on an angry and cruel tree.
God, in the person of Jesus identifies with our pain cause He Himself experienced pain.
Scripture calls Him a man of many sorrows. He being 100 percent God and 100 % man at the same time understands your pain. He was rejected and abused, stricken, and the punishment for our iniquity was upon Him. He was tempted and tried in every way, therefore, he is able to sympathize with all our weaknesses.

Another question I often hear asked whenever there is suffering, is – “well, if He cares about my pain and suffering, why doesn’t He do something about it?” I have to be emphatic as well, in response to this one in three parts:

God did something about it!
He is doing something about it!
He will do something about it!
What do I mean by this? Well, let’s take a closer look.
God did something about your pain

A God who is willing to die to alleviate pain cannot at the same time be inflicting it.

First of all – God is not the instigator of our pain. On the contrary, He has demonstrated to the world how far He would go to deliver us from pain. In the same way He look down from heaven and saw the affliction of His enslaved people in Egypt, He looked down and saw the affliction of a painful and dying world.
He, in both cases, was moved with compassion to heal and deliver them. And that’s exactly what He did. In the case of His enslaved people in Egypt, He raised up Moses to bring Israel out of Egypt. In our case, He sent Jesus to rescue us.
The scripture says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The death of Jesus on the cross is God expression of love for each and everyone of us.
Jesus’s death for humanity is not only the solution to deal with pain in this life, but it has also paved the way for God to ultimately end pain.
God is doing something about pain
Right now – He weeps with us
Right now – He walks with us
Right now – He is helping us
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave us a promise. At that very moment, He warned us about the pain and suffering we would experience in this world. He also told us to take courage and look to Him for strength. He encouraged us to come to Him when we are heavy laden.
He told us that He will never forsake us, never leave us. He told us that nothing will be able to separate us from Him – not even sickness or death. He empowered us with hope. He invited us to see that our light and momentary suffering was creating and preparing for us a weight of eternal glory.
The glorious and beautiful exchange which we have with God through a relationship with Jesus is that we get to experience “the God of all comfort… who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” Oh isn’t that wonderful?
God is going to do something about our pain
We are precious in the sight of God. He has set His affection upon us. We were created for this one thing – to be with God forever – enjoying Him as He enjoys us. There is coming a day when heartaches, pain, sorrow, depression, sickness, and every form of anxiety and fear will be no more.
It may not be today- but that day is coming when you will look back on all your struggles and say to yourself – Wow! On that day you will see how your light and momentary afflictions pale in light of your eternal weight of glory. So, cheer up… get your hope up… and rejoice! Though you see dimly now, when you come face to face with Him – you will see fully!
Everything is moving toward God’s expected end. He’s got the whole in His hands. All of history, the ups and downs – the rise and fall of Kings and kingdoms – in His hands. The power of His irresistible love, the riches of His infinite goodness and the unsearchable  greatness of His knowledge – are all working together to bring us into rest.
It is my prayer that you would experience the first installment of that rest today – as we together await the full installment on the day of His return.

10 blessings of Repentance


Word sometimes cannot adequately convey or describe the love of God. Scripture calls it everlasting, the greatest of all, perfect love,  greater love, abounding love, enduring love, covenant love, etc. The song writer says,  “O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints’ and angels’ song.”

The prophet Hosea managed to unveil it even in the midst of a sinful time in the nation of Israel. Come to think about it – that’s exactly where His love shines the brightest.

The Description of sin:

The prophet Hosea describes the unfaithfulness of Israel in a very creative and telling way. Israel is like:

A promiscuous wife

An indifferent mother

An illegitimate child

An ungrateful son

A stubborn heifer

A silly dove

A luxuriant vine

And grapes in the wilderness

Amidst this horrible ordeal of Israel’s sin – Hosea makes it clear that no sinful act in the world can exhaust the redeeming love of God. His love simply goes beyond reason.

  • We deserved judgment – yet He gives mercy
  • We deserve punishment – yet He forgives
  • We deserve to die – yet He heals and gives life

Hosea 14
Hosea 14 is an expression of God’s deepest desire and longing for a sinful and broken world. His love compels Him in the deepest way possible to reach out to heal and deliver.

Take a look at the following verses:

1. To heal

“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.” Hosea 14:4

2. To love

“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.”

3. To forgive

“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.”

4. To refresh

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon…” Hosea 14:5

5. To grow

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon…” Hosea 14:5

6. To establish

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon…” Hosea 14:5

7. To increase their sphere of influence

“His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. ” Hosea 14:6

8. To make productive

“They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.” Hosea 14:7

9. To make them an aroma of worship

“His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Hosea 14:6

10. To restore life and strength

“It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.”

Conclusion:

Every day of our lives the enemy of our soul works hard – using every opportunity he gets to sever our connectedness to the amazing love of God.  Whatever you do – don’t allow him to even come near. Keep yourself wrapped tightly in the Love of God” because His love is unrelenting – even when we feel unworthy of it. Allow that love to pull you back to his heart today – waste no time! He is still in love with you.

The Gift of Discernment


My post today is on the subject of Discernment. I am persuaded that the days we are living in has called for an optimized level of discernment. This has always been the way God wanted us to do life. Walking by the Spirit. So this is God saying to us – this has to be you new normal.

Psalm 119:66 – Teach me good judgment and knowledge

Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hosea 14:9 – Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? Prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the Lord are right, And the just shall walk in them:

Main text:

Philippians 1:9, 10

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;  That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Discerning in verse 10 means to distinguish, decide and render or from the root word – to pass judgement on… passing sentence.

Romans 14:1

Discernment is the ability to judge well…

The ability to see beyond the obvious…

The ability to read environments…

The ability to understand motivations…

It’s the ability to distinguish between spirits…

Let me clarify – I am not talking about a hunch, a gut feeling or an intuition. There is place for those in the human experience. But they are subject error.

Discernment is a gift from God… and it is accurate 100 percent of the time. If God is speaking – He will be heard. If the Holy Spirit is leading you will know – God has a way of making His intentions clear. He doesn’t leave it up to guess and take so-called risks… if God is speaking/leading – He will be heard, He will be seen.

Discernment is the tone of spiritual harmony… it is the beat of heaven.

Discernment cuts through the noise – settles and soothes the troubled mind…

Discernment is a constant and steady companion…

The scripture says, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up.”

Here we have a tension – a dilemma – if you will.

It is discernment that allows you to judge well or act appropriately within that tension.

You have the right, but should you use it?

You have the power… it is within you reach – should you take… discernment walks you through it.

The ability to judge well… the ability to judge between good and evil – right or wrong is discernment…

Discernment brings color to the gray areas of life.

We find Jesus on the pages of the New Testament walking daily in discernment.

Scriptures says:

John 2:25 – He knew what was in man

Matthew 9:4 – Jesus knowing their thoughts

Mark 2:8 – Jesus perceived in His spirit what they were reasoning in their hearts.

Luke 5:22 – Jesus perceived their thoughts…

How did he do it? Certainly not by intuition or gut feeling or mind reading. His discernment was a gift of of the Holy Spirit.

There are 5 areas in our lives where Discernment needs to shine the brightest

The list is not exhaustive…

1. The Area of Temptation

In order to live in victory over temptation – discernment has to be optimized. Galatians 5:17 – tells us to – “Walk in the Spirit – for when we do, we can have victory over temptations.

Here’s is how that works:

The Holy Spirit helps us to understand:

1. Ourselves

2. Our weaknesses

3. Any area or moments where there might be demonic influences

4. How God helps us to overcome the temptation

Paul speaks to this in Romans 7:19-23 – He says, I want to do what’s good – but I don’t … I don’t to do what’s wrong – but I do! You got to know who you are and what your weaknesses are.

You say, I don’t have any weaknesses… haha – yes you do! We are all prune to wander… there is inside of all of us a bend toward sin.

Ephesians 4:22 talks about putting off the old self. talking about temptation – James 1:14-16 says each of us are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires. Entice = lure by a bait… carries a certain additional sense of demonic activity –

1 John 2:15-17. They are 1. Lust of the flesh 2. Lust of the eyes 3. Pride of life.

Hebrews 12:1 says to throw off the sin that so easily entangles. 2 Corinthians 10:13 says to pay attention to the way of escape that God provides when tempted.

There is always an off ramp on the highway to temptation.

2. The Area of Discovering God’s will

This is an invitation to live open and sensitive to the leading and promptings of the Holy Spirit. This can happen through a variety of ways: The word of God – the will of God will never contradict the word of God. The Holy Spirit comes to give us that unmistakable voice. Prayer and wise counsel. But there is one other way. I think it is effective because it helps us discern what is in alignment or out of alignment with the character of God, the word of God and the spirit of truth.

Look with me at Romans 12:2

I want to read it out of the outstanding and memorable translation of JB Phillips

“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the Plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”

What is your worldview about God, work, dating, retirement, parenting, marriage, money, plans about life? Every about you and your worldview must be transformed (metamophoo… transfigured)

Since we’re talking about discovering the will of God… what is you worldview about life and plans?

For some – they say things like… It’s my life, I will do whatever I feel like doing with it. I will marry whoever I want, I will go wherever I want, etc…

The problem with that you never discover the purpose, callings and gifting that God has for you.

James 4:15 says, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills us to, we will live and do this or that.”

A who allows his mind to be renewed by sovereignty, preeminence of God will learn how to acknowledge in all his way. Cause when you do – than you’ll be able to discern what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God for you life. Discernment begins to overflow from the inside out!

3. Areas of spiritual attacks

Discernment helps you understand the where – the when and the why of spiritual attacks.

When are you most susceptible to spiritual attacks… for some – it right after you’ve done an exploit for God. For others – it comes when you’re tired – discouraged – everybody else is making it but you.

Where are you most susceptible to spiritual attacks… there is always a where… could be a certain place… a certain atmosphere… a vulnerable place… a lonely place… a broke place… a fearful place… a complicated place

Why – For some – you’re right on the edge of a breakthrough. You next level is around the corner – and he’s trying to stop it. There is a great work before… a harvest is coming… you know… After Jesus is tempted in Luke 4, the bible says in verse 13 that the devil left him for an opportune time. See, that devil is always stalking you… scripture says, he’s going to and fro – throughout the earth seeking whom he may devour. He’s stalking, softening your resolve, your guard… chipping away at your defense… little compromises here and there… just waiting for the right time to pounce… you see, you just don’t suddenly fall into sin – you slide into it!

He knows what buttons to push… do you know what those buttons are?

4. Areas of false doctrines and pseudo prophecy

Discernment in this area is so important. Why? Because it keeps us ground in our the truth.

A. The origin of false teaching is twofold

1. Demonic Inspiration – 1 Tim. 4:1-2

2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Revelation 16:13-14

2. Human Error fueled by greed and self deception

2 Peter 2:3; Colossians 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20-21

B. The word pseudo means having the resemblance of… there is a lot of prophecy out there right now that is not of God. I think a lot of people are going to regret after    COVID-19 is over. Because they have taken the liberty to speak where God has not spoken.

And the reason why false doctrines and pseudo prophecy are dangerous and deceptive… is that these people are persuaded that they are speaking on behalf of God – but in reality – they are speaking from their heart. To speak from the heart does not necessarily mean you have a lying spirit… in many cases there is a lying spirit, but it means you have a certain feeling about things. And that’s the problem – Have you ever had a very strong feeling about something only to find out later – you were dead wrong?

Listen, there is rule of thumb when it comes to false doctrines – they need to be scrutinized… we need to call the church back to being the Christians in Acts 17:11 – who took what they were taught and put to the test by studying it. Christians now a days are a little too gullible.

As a rule of thumb – prophecies need to be tested. It doesn’t matter who spoke it.

And as a rule of thumb – when somebody speak a word over you… it is usual confirmation of something God has already hinted you on:

Example: My Call.

A couple of weeks after my salvation experience and being fill with the Holy Spirit – my spiritual father called me and spoke a word from God to me. He told me that the Lord told him to tell that He was calling me into the ministry. I was delighted to hear that – but that was not the first time I heard it. God had spoken to me about – so this was just a confirmation.

5. Areas of Spiritual Identity.

A lack of discernment into who you have become in Christ can lead to an identify crisis.

Discernment brings you into a greater understanding of who you have become in Christ.

This discernment comes through a revelation of the of the word of God. Scripture says,

Psalm 119:130 – The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

This happens when falsehood, half truths, deceptions are exposed by the unveiling of truth.

Scripture says, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

You see – it is the truth you know that will set you free… In other words –

it’s not sufficient to recite – I’m fearfully and wonderfully made – you have to know it by experience – those words must affect you to the core…

that you are loved, you are enough, you’re special, you’re wanted – even if you’re rejected. You have to settle in who you are in Christ.

Conclusion:

Discernment is a gift from God.  He reveal the deep and secret things: Daniel 2:22 – The scripture says, 1 Corinthians 2:12-15 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

It’s a gift and God wants everyone of us to walk in it. But He wants us to not only receive this gift – but also develop the skills to walk in it. Because in many instances, discernment emerges from hard work and paying close attention.

Here’s how:

1 Yearn for it!

To discern you have to yearn.

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Earnestly desire spiritual gifts… be consumed with a desire to get it…

2 Pay attention to it!

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

the word dwell/ think – means to be a book keeper, an accountant – one who properly reconciles their bank account.

these are the building blocks of discernment

these are the things that will enrich and nourish your mind, heart and spirit

Dwell – if you dwell on these

3 Ask for it!

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Wisdom – comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God…

Prudence – practical wisdom, that endowment of heart and mind which is needed for the right conduct of life.

4 feed it!

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow, and able to judge the reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden in the sight of him, but all things are naked and laid bare to the eyes of him to whom we must give our account.”

psalm 1… delight… meditate… desire… muse

5 Practice it!

Hebrews 5:14

But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

It is important to look to the context of this verse…

they were sluggish in hearing

they were supposed to be teachers by now

they are still drinking milk because they are unskilled in the message of righteousness…

this message of righteousness is the solid food that some are very familiar with… because of constant use…

practice make perfect… that constant use has propelled and advanced some in the area of discernment… their spiritual senses have been optimized… they have a razor sharp clarity

6 Fight with it!

Discernment is a spiritual weapon

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalt itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Strongholds – speaking of the learning, and eloquence, and philosophical subtleties on which we unknowingly pride ourselves.

Imaginations – speaking of our reasoning, justifications and excuses for our actions and our pride… all the things that seek to exalt themselves over the know of Christ.

The Word of God – The Spirit of God through prayer fires up your discernment to not only understand but pull down every thought and reasoning and make them obedient to Christ.

7 Steward it!

Oswald chambers has an unforgettable quote about stewarding the gift of discernment. he says,

“God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.”

Discernment to not a spiritual excuse to render judgment.

Steward it with compassion, love… by lifting not tearing down.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-23

“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.”

10 Scriptures for Gloomy Days of Depression


Depression is an issue that impacts everyone. Christians and unbelievers alike suffer from fear, anxiety, and overwhelming stress. If you are not depressed than you know somebody who is or has been. In any event, depression is not fun. In time past the Church have in many ways sidestepped the issue and was dismissive of it.
For most Christians, even admitting that they suffer from depression is something you just don’t do because others see you as a defeated, demon possessed Christian. But no matter where you are in your struggle, you can always find solace in Jesus, Hope and courage from scripture and practical advice and counseling to lift you out of your gloomy days of depression. Or at least help you walk through it. Allow me to share a few:

He’s got gold in mind

Job 23:1; 9, 10My hand is heavy on account of my groaning.Oh, that I knew where I might find him, thatI might come even to his seat! on the left handwhen he is working, I do not behold him; heturns to the right hand, but I do not see him.But he knows the way that I take; when he hastried me, I shall come out as gold. 

The first thing you need to understand is that God understands

You may not see him, find him, understand what you are going through or how to come out of it. You may not even know of what good or use you will be, after all is said and done. But:

  1. He knows what You are going through
  2. He know where You are
  3. He has a plan, a purpose for you in this thing
  4. He’s bringing out GOLD in you

He’s there in the every day and the mundane 

Ecclesiastes 2:24So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat  or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom,  knowledge, and joy to those who please him. 


Depression says all is vanity  Depression says there is no purpose in life. Depression says everything is meaningless.
The second thing you need to understand is that he is with you every day and in everything. Even and in the menial mundane things.
  1. God says, not everything is vanity
  2. God says, there is purpose for your life
  3. God says you can find satisfaction, purpose, and meaning in your work. No matter how menial you might think it is. He says, you can actually find enjoyment in the things that are important: work, family, friends
  4. He has given us everything for our enjoyment – 1 Timothy 6:17

Out of the mouths of infants

Psalm 8:2Out of the mouths of babes and unweaned infantsYou have established strength because of Your foes, that You might silence the enemy and the avenger.[Matt. 21:15, 16.] 
The third thing you need to understand is that no matter how small you feel, He has chosen the weak things to nullify the strong.
Sometimes on your gloomy days you feel:
  1. Small
  2. Like nothing
  3. Powerless
  4. Fearful 
In these times God reminds us about the power of small things. How big things come in small packages. Hence, the illustration of infants. If God can silence the might and power of the enemy and the avenger, by mere infants, how much more can he do through you? It doesn’t matter how strong you are, it matters how strong He is. For his power is made perfect in your weakness. 

Paradigm Shift

Psalm 77:8, 9Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promisesat an end for all time?  Has God forgotten to be gracious?Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” 
 When I focus on my troubles
  • My soul refuses to be comforted
  • my spirit faints
  • I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

The fourth thing you need to understand is when you focus on Him – possibilities are endless. You gain heavenly perspective in your earthly dilemmas.The Psalmist says, “I will bring to remembrance your great deeds. I will remember the deeds of the Lord . I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work and meditate on your mighty deeds.” What he’s saying is – I’ve seen you do this before, so I will remain confident that you who brought me in will be faithful to bring me out:

  • When the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled
  • Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters
  • yet your footprints were unseen… I may not see you, but I know you are at work
  • You led your people like a flock – I am confident you will do the same for me!

Find the answer in the sanctuary

Psalm 73:16, 17But when I thought how to understand this,  it seemed to me a wearisome task,  until I went into the sanctuary of God.

The fifth thing you need to understand is the power of coming into his house for:

  • inspiration/ instruction/ revelation/ Meditation/ Prayer/ worship/ fellowship

To carry a weight of inner conflict and depression is painful and burdensome. Walking around with a cloud of gloom and doom is not the will of the father for anyone. When God’s people gather for worship and an opportunity to pray for one another and listen to God’s word, He usually shows up. In his house we can find the power to break free from depression.

A Multitude of Counselors
Proverbs 11:14Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but inan abundance of counselors there is safety. 
The sixth thing you need to understand is that it is okay to seek help.  Because depression causes and cures can be very mysterious. 
It is okay to seek counseling from your pastor or from a profession Christian counselor. It is also good to find support in closed friends and loved ones. I would counsel you to see a doctor and get some extra help in addition to everything said in this post. For some, seeing a Christian counselor, meeting in support groups and relying on friends and loved ones is just not enough. Finding the courage to seek help will speak out and find help is very critical. 

Nothing else and no one else can help the way Jesus can

Matthew 11:28-30Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The seventh thing you need to understand is that Jesus bring something to the table that no one else can. 
In your search to overcome depression and find fulfillment and meaning, the greatest remedy you will ever find is in Jesus and pursuing a relationship with him. The things of this world will not do. Money, cars, fame, fortune, self effort and self-help will not do. Even with the best counselors and the greatest medical cure, Jesus bring not only temporal, but also eternal healing and satisfaction. 

To medicate or not to medicate

Luke 5:31And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. The Lord's play on words here speaks of Himself as a healer and his acknowledgment of medicine and doctors. 
The eighth thing you need to understand is that depression has the power to create another world on which you will be tempted to rely on. 
According to Ed Welch, depression is always a spiritual matter. It is something we must always go to The Lord for power, mercy, and grace.” Therefore, it is okay to medicate depression, but we should never allow antidepressants to take the place of God’s power and grace. We must never lose sight of his constant grace. But always use wisdom to balance the two. 

A Journey, not a quick fix

Romans 8:15
"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Psalm 61:2
"From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is overwhelmed with anxiety, Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
Philippians 4:6, 7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The ninth thing we need to understand is that prayer and meditation work, but they are not quick fixes, they are part of the healing process. 
We must never wait for our lives to be perfect before we think about living it to its fullest. There are thousands of godly men and women of God who struggled with depression all their lives yet went on to do great things for God. So seek God, spend time in prayer and his word. Learn how to overcome and find joy every day even in the midst of depression. 
The following are habits that just don’t help. Seek God’s help and power to stop doing them:
  • Stop “Walking with the Dead” before you go to sleep. Yes, I talking about TV shows and movies like that
  • Stop getting wasted just to numb your pain – Yes I am talking about drugs and alcohol
  • Stop going to la la land to escape your sorrows – Yes, I am talking about day dreaming and fantasy
  • Stop doing nothing – Yes, I am talking about just sitting around doing nothing. Try some exercise

These things just don’t help. Invest your time in prayer, worship, meditation and community.

Momentary struggles vs. Eternal Glory

2 Corinthians 4:17, 18

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing

 for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
The tenth thing you need to understand is that one of these days, you are going to look back on all you afflictions and say, “wow, that was nothing.” 
Every pain, depression and dark suffering you’ve ever been through, you are going to look back  and they will all be dim in the light of His glory. In the main time fix your eyes on him, put your trust in Him and walk with Him. 
 

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace


If you are not familiar with who Brian Doerksen is, I urge you to look him up. Brian is a Christian singer/songwriter, recording artist, author, conference speaker and pastor. Born and raised on the west coast of Canada in Abbotsford B.C., he now lives with his family (wife of 25 years Joyce and their 4 youngest children) in the same home that he spent his childhood in. He has notable songs like: “Refiner’s Fire” (1990), “Faithful One”, “Hope of the Nations,” (2003), “Holy God”, “Today (As For Me and My House)” and “Come Now is the Time to Worship” (1998).

Brian is a phenomenal song writer. Even in some of his simplest lyrics, he hits you with something when you least expect it. I bought a few songs from his album “Level Ground” when it came out a few months ago but never really took the time to listen to all the songs. But I was listening to “Enter the rest of God” the other day and boom – it hit me like a drone. A simple phrase tucked away in the song – “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace… Live the unforced rhythms of grace.”

How do you live the unforced rhythms of grace? How do you lay aside all your striving to find rest through his precious grace? First, let’s look at the Bible verse and then the lyrics of the song. He bases the lyrics of the song on Matthew 11:28, 29, 30. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” To this he writes:

Are you tired Worn out and empty Is your soul weary Have you tried Releasing your burdens Do you feel the weight Of worry? I am the rest you need I am the Prince of Peace Enter the rest of God. Come to Me Burdens will fly away Walk with Me Learn the unforced rhythms of grace… Live the unforced rhythms of grace…

When training a new animal (such as an ox) to plow, ancient farmers would often yoke it to an older, stronger, more experienced animal who would bear the burden and guide the young animal through his learning process. The point here is we are the new, younger, not strong, and inexperienced. He is wiser, stronger, and more experienced. It is in our coming, taking, learning, finding, and yoking ourselves to Him that we can begin to “live the unforced rhythms of grace. That is when we cease striving, that’s when we find rest. Rest for our souls.

If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, then it isn’t His yoke or burden, and you aren’t letting Him bear it with you. Jesus said it plainly: My yoke is easy and My burden is light. This is how we discover the rhythm of grace.

There are three areas in which God wants you to find rest:

Rest is Harmony in your relationship with the Father.

“For we who have believed enter that rest. For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works” Hebrews 4:3

This is what Jesus calls rest for your soul. When we cease being enemies of God, when we come into fellowship with Him, when we repent of our sins and disobedience – we enter into a profound relationship with our Father – that is when our joy is complete.

Rest is Happiness with ourselves

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28,29

Sometimes life can be burdensome. We can carry around a load of care. At these times we worry about things and stress over setbacks disappointments and tribulations. But He invites us to lay our burdens at His feet. When we do, a certain kind of peace and contentment comes over our soul and we are able to live and breathe again.

Rest is Holiday Everyday

Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12

Holiday is a period of cessation from work or one of recreation; vacation. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be at the end of the year. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the week. It can be everyday. If we would just divert daily from work, withdraw week and abandon yearly – we can find rest. If we would just turn off the TV and go to bed early so you can get your eight hours of sleep we will find rest.

The Black Dot!


“One day our headmaster walked into the classroom and put up a broad white sheet of paper with a small black dot in the corner. ‘Boys,’ he asked, ‘what do you see?’ All of us shouted in unison, ‘A black dot!’ Then he said, ‘So not a single one of you saw the broad white sheet of paper? Don’t go through life with that attitude.” -Kofi Annan Kofi Annan au OYW

A Black Dot!

Sometimes as Christians all we do is focus on what disagree on and not sufficiently on all the other things we agree on. Let us not go through life with that attitude. Talk more about the thinks you agree on.

Sometimes in relationships, all a husband or wife thinks about is that character flaw or that thing that your partner does that so irritates you. Don’t go through life with that attitude. Think  about and celebrate the good things about your spouse.

Sometimes in churches all we seem to think about is that one black dot. The music is too loud, the pastor’s sermon is too long, there are no paper towels in the ladies rest room, there is no parking. Don’t go through life like that. Find something to like about your church. Talk about them every time you are tempted to focus on the black dot.

Sometimes life can be difficult, if that’s all you focus on, you are missing out on some of the  other awesome stuff the Lord may be doing in your life. Don’t go through life like that, give thanks, and develop an attitude of thanksgiving and a spirit of contentment.

It has been said that in every family there is a black sheep. One that is bad and different than the rest. I don’t necessarily agree with that kind of stigmatization, but those parents have managed to Zoom in on a bad thing in a child and label him/her for the rest of their life a black sheep.

The question is – is that all they see?

You get the drift…

There is a world of unlimited possibilities…Don’t let just one little dot steal your joy, stop you from seeing the big picture. Don’t let the little black dot rob you of the importance of understanding context, seeing cultures, people, possibilities, and problem solving. Notice the big white space!