Pushing a Rope vs. Ministry

When you come up against difficult immoveable people, and they do not want to comply with your request, it is as frustrating and impossible to accomplish your goal as it is to push a rope or herd cats. People who do not wish to change will never ever do so no matter what you say or even do. They are more likely to change some with actions as opposed to words most of the time, but neither will change a hardened mind or heart unless that person wants or decides to do it. So what is the point of ministry? Ah, the very great secret is that ministry actually has nothing to do with us. We can accomplish work but absolutely can not accomplish the point of ministry at all. We are quite helpless in the matter. Futile as pushing a rope or herding cats. The goal of ministry (opposite of much public opinion these days) truly is and forever should be to win souls to the Lord for their eternal salvation and God’s eternal glory. He loves all His created children superbly and perfectly and does not want any of them to perish, so obedient people of His minister to those lost to win them to the Lord and accomplish this. However, we can not do it. We can say the right words and do the right things, which fulfills our contrite obedience to God, but we can not close the deal. We can not push a rope. It is impossible. Like spinning your wheels and not moving. HOWEVER, and here is the part I like, God does that work! He looks into the heart of the man or woman you ministered to and determines if pride in their heart is so pounded into them that they can be moved to repentance or not. He determines if there can be found the necessary dosage of humbleness for salvation to stick. Those who can and will be moved, He does the work of drawing them to Himself. You are still helping set the stage for the Master’s grand performance in the play of salvation but without the Master, there would be no show. This is for 2 reasons I can think of. One reason is that God knows everything about everyone He made and knows if they are willing to be saved and teachable. Secondly, if we could accomplish that task, we would be very tempted to lose our own salvation in our grandiose image of our power it would create and we would have these churches named after people and focused on a particular person rather than God. And we have all seen that and should shudder. So, our goal of ministry is not actually to save the world because only Jesus Christ can do that. Our goal in mind is try is to do the work needed in ourselves (being humble, praying, reading the Bible, obeying our promptings, living the fruits of the Spirit, etc.) to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. So ministry becomes a self sacrifice, much like taking up our crosses and following Him daily. So ministry is not a calling of a person called a “minister” but every Christ follower ever. That means me and that means you. We are responsible for us and our decisions and everything else is God’s work. Stop pushing ropes and start ministering.

Return to Truth

People are bombarded with lies so much all around us, from marketing to entertainment to ungodly church staff to cults to governmental officials to neighbors to pretty much anyone trying to sell you something. It is dark, it is ugly. What is our response? Naivety? Absolutely not. We are knowledgeable as wolves, right? What’s the rest of that? Oh yes, we are to be as innocent as doves. We are to speak truth or not speak at all. We are to say “Yes” for yes and “No” for no without any other words or oaths added. We are to be pure and without reproach, innocent and honorable. We are to be loving and joyful, peaceful and patient, kind and good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. We are to be light and salt to this dark and tasteless world. The answers are always in the Book. How do we accomplish? We as Christ followers individually and then together with our churches must, imperatively and exactingly must stop sinning, repent of our sins humbly, start filling our lives with God’s Word and start one long prayer dialogue with God that only pauses for sleep. We must worship as a lifestyle and praise as a favorite hobby and give God and others more attention than we give ourselves. We must become less and God must become more and be lifted up. Our purity and holiness is in direct proportion to how important God’s holiness is in our lives. If we try to be as like Christ and not better than another sinner, we start living a higher standard of good. If we are reading our Bibles every chance we get, we give God a great way of speaking to us and filling us with His goodness so we will start reflecting Him in our lives. Not that we ever become good ourselves but that God’s goodness is reflected as much as possible. Truth must pour from our lips and lies must not. These are the practical things we all must do. It becomes more vital as we see the day approaching and know that greater trials will com. That way, we can rest in the knowledge and peace that we will have an end to sadness and trouble and persecution on the other side and our hope can be shared with others. It is imperative. You can do it! With God’s help, we can do anything.

Standing Tired

I am tired. I am still standing for truth, justice and the American country God’s way, but I am tired. Those of us in the midst of this spiritual war we are in (whether we realize it or not) are tired. We are only human, after all, right? The war rages on relentlessly and each person seems a tug of was between good and evil in their hearts. I fight it in mine also. The battle is actually not easing down but ramping up. We stand for the Lord but we’re getting so beaten up by evil that we are tired. So, what do we do for that? Give up? Well, people who say we come without a manual are mistaken. We have the Bible, which teaches us everything we ever need to know about life and war. We read in there that we are to wear our Spiritual armor every day, which includes reading the Bible and praying, knowing our salvation and having the fruits of the Spirit evidenced in our lives. It also says to meet together with other people of like faith (which assumes they actually have some of that) and encourage each other in the faith (not put on a show, not join with them in dogmatic rituals, not speak our own minds). We need to be very careful of the churches we are attending in these spiritually disturbing times. Many churches are really not serving the Lord anymore but just themselves, being more worldly than the world and teaching traditional opinion of man rather than Biblical opinion of God. There are still some around where the enemy hasn’t found a way to corrupt, so seek them out. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not encouraging church jumping on a whim. I am only saying that if the church you are attending does not worship the Lord and teach the Bible without adding their own opinion as fact, etc., stand up for God and follow the Biblical protocols for addressing the situation. If independent, you are within the Biblical mandate to shake off the dust from your feet from there and seek out a church home that is in accordance with Scripture. We can study the Bible ourselves and pray and we should eagerly and faithfully do that, but we still need to encourage each other in a way that gives us needed strength but also gives all honor to God and not anyone else. I will refresh my soul in this way and will not stand tired but hopeful that I am doing what I should be doing and can rest peacefully in the hope that Christ gives us when evil will pass away forever! I want to go to heaven if for no other reason than the fact that the Spiritual war will be over and there will not be bad guys ever again! Yay!

Judge Not

Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to judge one another. There are, quite oppositely, many commands not to judge and several references that call Jesus Christ the only Judge. Also, there are numerous commands to love each other. In fact, the Bible makes us very responsible for our own behavior and makes us completely unresponsible for other people’s behavior. However, it should be mentioned that those in a church in authority are doubly responsible for their own behavior and additionally we are all cautioned to not be a cause for anyone else sinning. But we lay people are charged with the job of being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self controlled. That is our calling in life, our priority after salvation. In doing these things, we will never offend and will naturally draw people to Christ. All this judging nonsense needs to stop. I always tell my son, “You do you and let them do them”. Our attributes and purity will do great good and if enough of us focus on that, we can change the world for Christ!

Contrasts

If something is in stark contrast with something, it is the opposite. We Christ followers should be in stark contrast with the darkness of evil. We are lights and you can’t get much more opposite to darkness than that. We also are salt, which brings out the best in people, in contrast to evil bringing out the worst in people. We are also clay, which is moldable and becomes amazingly brilliant under fire, the opposite of imitation material that falls apart under extreme conditions. We are aliens in this world, just passing through to prove we don’t belong here, as opposed to those who do evil and feel right at home in an evil environment. We are sheep, as opposed to goats. It is profound the way Jesus Christ describes his people as these objects that are blatantly opposite evil’s actions in this world. Is that an accident? Nope! One common denominator is that every scenario He gave us, we are never alone and He is always there loving us and taking care of us. We who are His are no better than anyone else except that having Christ’s free gifts of salvation and the Holy Spirit, we sure are a million times better off in the long run and even now. Yes, the world sees us as crazy or ridiculous, but Jesus said that wisdom of the world is foolishness to Him and visa versa. When I am put down for my faith in Christ as my Savior, I feel proud that I did something right, happy that they noticed the difference, pleased that I took the opportunity to be contrasting and different. Maybe someone will want to be my loving, joyful, peaceful, gentle, kind, good, faithful, self-controlled kind of different too and be saved as a result. Who knows what good you can do when you get your contrast on!

Detail Oriented

I am not, by nature, detail oriented. I am naturally a big picture person. I have been called a visionary, but I think that is really saying the same thing. It is easy for me to see the big picture of the world’s current state of seeming chaos and craziness and see God’s plan and prophecies unfolding. It is natural for me to see that as things are coming to a head, we need revival and restoration because we don’t have much time to win lost souls and save as many people as we can for their and our and of course God’ sake and purpose. All of that comes easily to me, as naturally as walking. Let me be clear, that is not bragging, it’s stating facts. And let me be more clear, it is often a great hindrance to clarity. You who are detail oriented, I give the greatest honor because you see things that I just simply don’t. You give certain things their due value and I often overlook it. You can see how to accomplish an event that I see in my head but don’t know how to carry out and I have a lot of respect for that. So, in honor of my husband and some very good friends, I am attempting to delve into your detailed world and be practical on a new level in order to pursue further this idea of revival and restoration and repentance of us followers of Jesus Christ.  So, here are some specific steps we can take to start this right where we are. Please be patient with me… Not used to thinking detailed… 🙂

1. Pray whenever you think of it with specific prayers. If you are out of the habit of praying, write a note and put it on your mirror or computer screen to remind you to pray when you see it. Prayer can be as simple as “Lord, help!” or as long as a politician’s acceptance speech. The key thing is that you remember that God will always hear your prayer and that praying is coming face to face with Him to praise Him or ask Him for your needs. If you are as specific as possible, you will know when He has answered your prayer and there is more power in the prayer.
2. Read at least one chapter a day of your Bible. There are free downloads for your mobile device or free Bible gateway online (or others) or you have a manual Bible at home. If possible, get an easy to read version so it is easier to appreciate and digest and enjoy. The Bible is God’s entire plan for the world, the entire handbook for life, very interesting stories, and very detailed instruction on matters such as prayer, worship, meditation, the life and scope and teachings of Jesus Christ, etc. Without this reading every day, the Word, which is our only offensive weapon against the enemy’s attacks, will be lacking. We will be weak without our Biblical fuel and we will be ignorant and easily duped unless we know our Bible.
3. Be proactive and never lazy. If you see a need, do your best to fill it or find someone who can. Often our best witness to an evil world is being the light of caring and goodness. People see selfishness every day or more often. If we are selfish, we will not stand out in this dark world. I am talking about action and not rhetoric. Faith without works is dead. Let me pray with you is only step one, people. Yes, do pray with them. Then on to step two, what can I do to help? What do you need? If your prayer and devotional (Bible reading) is going strong and you are saved, the Holy Spirit will help you help the other person. Be reachable. Don’t be or look so busy or self absorbed that people don’t want to approach you. Don’t look too busy to keep people away because you are scared or lazy or don’t want to get involved. Christ was very involved, always engaged. His Spirit will guide and strengthen you to want to do the right thing and empower you to do it.
4. Don’t ever assume that people around you are saved or really understand what that should look like. If you are doing the above 3 things, you have a window of opportunity to be a voice of truth to them about their salvation and God’s kingdom of peace and joy. Many people may have never actually opened a Bible themselves and may know some words but not understand them to say them back. Most people think Christ followers look and act like everybody else so much that they don’t see the importance of attending a church service or being a Christ follower at all. “Why should I?” is their question. This is valid because so many of us have become so watered down and lazy and sinful and selfish and proud that we look just like the bad guys and it becomes a game of comparisons to each other rather than to a standard of holiness. So, first we must be holy, then we can open our mouths and talk real salvation to them and how God intended it to be. And please, for the sake of humanity, be joyful and peaceful and try to emulate the fruits of the Spirit. Memorize the fruits of the Spirit list and meditate on it often. A sad, mopey Christ follower is a contradiction in terms. People don’t need to know what you still need help working out with the Lord… They need Jesus. We are to represent Christ to the world and it is high time we take our real and most important job seriously. We can initiate incredible changes with these steps. I challenge you to see if I am right.

God’s Faithfulness

The Lord is faithful.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that when I talk to Him and read His Word, He always reassures my heart.  Sometimes He changes the environment, sometimes He changes the path I’ve been walking down, but always He changes me.  Every time I invest in God, He pours back into me more than I am capable of giving Him.  There is no path you walk down that He cannot alter, direct or protect you from.  It is the same for me.  God is not a respecter of persons.  He does not help me or love me because I am holy.  He does not help you and love you because you are holy.  He helps and loves us because it is His nature.  He is love.  God will always pour into you and I as we give Him the time that is His.  All of it is His.  The more completely we give ourselves to God and His created ones, the more completely we are given peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  It is who He is and we become more like Him as we spend time and energy with Him.  The greatest compliment I could ever hope to be given is that someone no longer sees me in this body but sees Christ in me, the hope of us all.