Christian Leadership: Small Stage, Big God.

and he became their commander…(1 Sa 22:2).

David didn’t need to be in the King’s house to be a leader for God and neither do we.

What David had was the fresh anointing of God. There was no denying his leadership gifts. He led even while he was on the run. In fact, any Christian leader who wishes to be faithful to God will always find themselves leading, especially when they are on the move.

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Christian leaders do not need titles to lead. The best kind of Christian leaders are the ones who lead not just inside the church, but outside as well.

They lead in their homes, on the athletic field, in coffee shops, in prisons, homeless shelters, in politics and every area and facet of society.

David, the true King of Israel found himself fleeing from the mentally unstable and fiercely jealous Saul. A band of 400 distressed men joined David in the cave of Adullam and he became their leader. We do not know whom God will place within our path, but for big praise or small He may be asking us to lead them.

Do not seek for yourself to only lead while on center stage or for the praise of man. Lead in those hidden, unseen places for the glory of God.

Lord, sometimes I grow lazy when the stage is small. Sometimes I daydream of a bigger stage where I could really lead for you. Forgive me. Today I want to lead in those hidden, unseen areas for your glory. Thank you for this breathe of life today. I want to honor you with it, in Jesus name, amen.

The Place of Mental Anguish

it is what comes out of a person that defiles them”…. (Mk 7:15–16).

Sometimes I have this problem. I’ll call it, “diarrhea of the mouth.” It stems from a place deep in my heart that lacks the peace of God. It is the area of my heart yet to be sanctified fully by the Lord Jesus. When I live in this place I am quick to give myself over to fear, doubt, and control.

I often have this sense in my Spirit that I am to stay silent, but if I am not fully resting in the place of grace, diarrhea of the mouth rears its ugly head.

Our sinful nature makes it impossible for us not to struggle with such thoughts. However, the Spirit empowers us to overcome our mental anguish for the glory of God. It is His word that transforms our lowly hearts to be fully alive in His mercy. It is the potter’s hands that grow us into new beings for a greater purpose. When the potter gets a hold of our hearts we need only keep our mouth shut and let Him do the work. The potter does not snatch our hearts from within us but waits for us to place our heart upon His wheel.

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The difficulty comes in letting the potter keep our hearts on His wheel. Many Christians have grown uncomfortable with the re-shaping of their hearts, so they grab for the wheel and take their hearts back, locking them in places of false comfort for their own misguided protection. Could it be that God is calling you to a deeper place of trust? Could it be that He wants to challenge your fears and idols?

The potter often takes us to the deepest places of our fears. Not to shame us or leave us there, but to challenge our hearts and minds to see if we will learn to trust Him.

A number of years ago when I was coaching basketball we had a girl who was fearful down in the post position. Instead of moving her to a different position we would spend a good amount of time in practice making her face her fears. We would beat her up a little bit down low to help her grow to be stronger. Eventually, over time, she became more confident in the post position. Had she run from our coaching, not seeing the purpose of it, but placing her thoughts on her present fear she would have never grown to be a better post player.

It could be that our present circumstances have been sent by God to mold and shape us into new people. It could be that what we are currently walking through has everything to do with being made new through the cross of Christ. Do not fear, learn to give over your heart without snatching it back. Avoid the tendency to lock it up in places of false comfort for your own perceived protection.

Jesus, I trust you. I do not always understand why, but I know the one who does. I do not always like the refining process, but I know that you are Lord over it. Abba, I do not want to snatch my heart from your hands. I long to trust you. Jesus, be my joy for your glory, Amen.

Risky Faith

Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you… (Je 1:17).

Fear gripped my entire body. It was as if my jaw became locked and I couldn’t move. The only thing I could think to do was to turn away and walk the other direction. The thought of sharing my faith with someone became overwhelmingly terrifying. All I could say to myself was, “I can’t do this.”

I spun myself around, started to take a step away from the door as something rose up inside of me saying, “But God can!” I spun myself back around, approached the door and had a great conversation with a young lady about Jesus.

Sometimes, actually, more often than not, God will challenge us to to hard things. They are not hard in His mindset, but in our struggle against sin, they seem monumentally difficult.

Imagine with me for a moment a buffet line. The last portion of the line is hidden to the human eye, but the server told you that the best food lies there. You must ask for a helping from the master chef and he serves you a portion. Yet, you never venture to the unseen, because you are uncertain of what will come from the master chef’s hand, so you stick with a hot dog to play it safe. You never experience the grand feast. You would rather be comfortable knowing what you are about to receive, then take a risk to receive from the hand of the master chef.

A great reward awaits those who are willing to stand up and do whatever the master has commanded them. There are hidden joys, unfolding mysteries and a bounty that awaits the faithful.

Faith is something we practice. Practicing risky faith does not come natural. When we practice such faith, we unleash the blessing and the power of God on our life. God’s blessing doesn’t come in the comfort of little smokies and mac and cheese. It comes when we step out in faith to receive from the masters hand. Little did we know, a feast lies there, if we would be willing to trust Him.

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I believe one of the reasons the Christian church lacks power is because it lacks a willingness to do hard things. People don’t take risks with the Lord. Now, don’t run around ahead of God taking your own risks without His hand leading you to do so, that is foolishness wrapped in your own guise of faithfulness.

We can easily remain comfortable with our Christian faith and our ticket to heaven. We never actually practice risky faith. Therefore, never unlocking the power and blessing of God from a realm we have never seen before, because we do not want to leap out into waters out of our control.

Lord, I have not always practiced risky faith. It is because I like my comforts. I like to know what the future holds and I like to be in control. Yet, I want to live differently. I want to live in reckless abandon to your cross. I want to feast at your buffet line and experience the unseen. Lord, show yourself strong and mighty in my life, in Jesus name, amen.

Captured By Worry

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Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David…(1 Sa 19:1).

We spend the majority of our mental energies stewing over the things we cannot control. The Bible calls this worry. I tend to worry a lot.
 
Saul worried too, he was obsessed with the thought of losing his kingship to David. He did everything possible to do away with David, but no amount of worry, or intentional efforts to do away with him could keep God’s anointed from becoming King of Israel.
 
We can stew, obsess, worry and doubt. Whenever our mental energies become captured by these thoughts our hearts have been given over to defeat. We will find no victory there. While in that place our hearts cannot say anything other than, “God I do not trust you, so I must worry.”
 
Israel trusted God in the wilderness for their daily manna. Whenever they would take too much, out of worry that maybe God wouldn’t pull through for the next day, the food would rot.
 
One of the ways the devil gets a Christian stuck and ineffective is to pit their heart and mind with thoughts that either cement them in the past or cause them great anxiety about the future. God says, “Trust me for TODAY.” In each new day we must release the past to His control and surrender our futures to His Lordship.
 
There is a place where God lives. It is the promised land of victory; a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a spacious place. It is a place of rest for the heart often captured by worry. This is the place God wants us to join Him. However, we cannot until we take a deep breathe, surrender our thoughts to the Lord and entrust our whole being to Him.
 
If the devil can steal our faith he can make us ineffective. There are many Christians who are not walking by faith, because they ware walking in fear. They do not sit with God in the promised land of victory, because they do not know what true faith is. They have never actually practiced it, because they have conditioned their minds to worry.
 
Until we learn to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ we will live with fear as our guide and anxiety as our crutch. I think this is what the writer of proverbs means when they say, “Above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23). Guard your heart against worry and entrust your life’s purpose to the Lord Jesus Christ today. Are you willing to trust Him today?
 
Jesus, worry is a condition of the heart that can be cured by you. It is your healing balm that softens our concerns and places them in the promised land of victory. I do not always run to your truth, but I want to. I want to release worry and activate faith. Today, Lord, I surrender my thoughts. I want to walk in radical obedience for what you are asking of me today. In Jesus name, amen.

Feeling Forgotten

Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand…(Psalm 37:24)

 
Have you ever felt forgotten? Yeah, me too. Have you ever felt misunderstood or like you were being thrown out for something or someone better? Yeah, me too. Have you ever felt like maybe you messed up so bad that you should be thrown out and forgotten? Yeah, me too.
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It’s easy to feel disposable, small and insignificant. It’s easy to see our sin as irredeemable. It’s easy to believe ourselves to be of little worth, so much to the extent that we believe our own lives to be disposable.
 
I can recall the many times I felt this way as a teenager. I felt unseen, un-noticed and replaceable. Of course, looking back, I know those things weren’t true. However, my poor image and misunderstanding of who I was being made in the image of God kept me from being able to see clearly who I truly was.
 
Now, as an older adult I still struggle with things like shame, feeling like a failure and living in fear. I still wrestle with wanting to be in control of my situations.
 
Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong….
 
Thankfully, even though we struggle, God never throws us out. Even as Christians, when our sin is great He lifts us back up if we are willing to have hearts of repentance. God will let us wallow in the mud as long as we want. He doesn’t yank us out of the pit, but lovingly pulls us out when we call upon him out of a broken and contrite heart.
 
Whenever we feel as though someone has thrown us out for a better model, or forgotten us we must remember that people will fail us, what really matters is what hand we grab for to pick us back up. We can look to another person to fill our hearts, give us significance or affirm us as valuable. We can turn to a hobby, substance or position to validate us. This, however, changes like the wind. It is futile and fleeting. We’ll spend all our days chasing after the next place or person to find significance. We keep reaching for the wrong hand to pick us back up.
 
We can, however, learn to place all our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. This requires us to let go of control. It means we learn to lean and press into the Lord Jesus with everything we have. We cannot fear man or love their approval more than God’s. There’s nothing we can do to make a human being love us more. Only God can change hearts. The good news is that we never have to manipulate God’s heart to love us more or forgive us freely.
 
…for the Lord upholds his hand.
 
God never lets go. Will we fall, yes. We do not have to carry shame with us, because as God pulls us up, He says, “Drop that shame, let it go, and set it free. It’s done with, now follow me.”
 
Whenever we feel stuck, it could be there’s something in our hearts that does not trust God or that has been deeply wounded. We carry the wound with us, unable to move forward because our pain from it affects how we deal with people in our present situations. We cannot get any traction, because like the Israelites we are stuck.
 
Maybe we have fallen and the shame we cast upon ourselves is to heavy for us to lift on our own and we feel too dirty to cry out to God. Maybe someone told us as a child that we were of little value. Maybe we were abandoned, neglected or abused and the message we tell ourselves as adults is that others will treat us the same way too. To keep ourselves from experiencing the same emotional pain we shut off our hearts, and cover it with control, criticism and anger.
 
Sometimes, in order to find freedom for today, we have to go back many years to the place of our first wound. Jesus, in all HIs mercy can handle it. We need not fear Him, for He loves us. His mercy for us is new every morning. His faithfulness stretches to the skies. He longs to set us free at the deepest parts of our soul. Will you let Him today?
 
Jesus, you do not throw me out. You love me. You do not forget me. You are steadfast and immovable. Your love is so great. I am lost without out. God, today, I look not to man to affirm me or give me comfort, because I have you. Thank you that you hold my hand and lift me back up when I fall. Jesus, I love you. Thank you for loving me with a steadfast love, amen.

Christian Service: An Unseen Platform

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…Mark 10:45

I remember years ago I was mentoring a teenage girl and we were walking on the track at the YMCA. As I was sharing with her some spiritual insight into her life a thought kept racing through my head, “I hope this woman in front of us is impressed with how spiritual I am.” I soon recognized this as a destructive, prideful thought and surrendered it to the Lord before it stole anymore of my heart.

I have often struggled with the desire to serve out of a personal desire to be seen by others. However, this kind of service falls flat on its face in light of God’s purity. The motivations and intentions of our hearts are always revealed before the throne room of God. The motivation of service must come from pure hands and a clean heart.

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Our willingness to serve cannot come from a place of looking at it from the perspective of, “What’s in it for me?” Paul poured himself out like a drink offering and Jesus surrendered His life. We too, should have the same attitude of service; laying down ourselves to pick up the cross of Christ for the sake of those around us.

In the story of the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus responds to the disciples question about how all these people will be fed by asking them a question in return, “What do you have?” Christian service is about coming to God with the little we do have to watch Him multiply it for His kingdom.

Is anyone among you hurting? Is anyone in need? The gospel cause US to help them. The gospel beckons you and I to do something about it. Christians who sit passive on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do something about it miss out on being the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If I am of any worth to my fellow man, it is because I have given myself in service to them. We do not need more people who are superstars, existing only to build their own “Christian” platform and build up their resume for others to be impressed by. We need Christians who are willing to be of little reputation if it means they may make themselves a greater servant for the good of the gospel and the glory of Christ.

Jesus, I’ll be honest, sometimes I make service about me. I like being seen by others, getting a pat on the back and feeling good about how good of a person I am. Father, forgive me for such foolishness. I want to serve you with clean hands and a pure heart. I want the world to see Christ in me. I want to pour myself out like a drink offering, giving you glory for the sake of your gospel and the glory of Christ, amen.

Chosen By God

“Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”(1 Sa 16:12).

When God chooses a man or woman to do His work, it is simply because He has done it. No man or woman has ever risen up to do God’s work because they placed themselves in such service. If they have, their position is without HIs power and anointing. This could be why so many churches, programs and ministries lack the Spirit’s power. Not because of anything God has or hasn’t done, but because those leading it are not of God’s choosing, but of man’s.

Yes, the individual who has prepared themselves well for Gods’ service is of reputable choosing. However, without the anointing of God there efforts will fall short in God’s economy. Any place they put themselves will not prosper with the fresh anointing of God. It is silly to think we can force our way into God’s ministry. It is also foolish to believe that our stature and resume make us more qualified than someone else.

It is a dangerous place to be if we live not with eternity in mind, but what is best for us and our position in ministry. Sometimes we want to be chosen not because we are submissive to the will of God, but because we believe we are better than the rest. We believe we deserve it.

However, Jesus chose 12 men to follow him who were of no reputation. God chooses David, the youngest son of Jesse who was forgotten by most. God raises up Moses, a murderer to do HIs work. It is hard to understand why God chooses some and not others. However, we can be sure of this- we do not need to position ourselves before others and try to convince them that we are God’s chosen. We need only be still, stay humble and let God do the choosing. When God has chosen a man or woman for His service, no extra effort on our part can make it happen. There is no extra convincing we can do. We can argue with God over it all we want. We can try to position ourselves to be His chosen, but God calls out the humble to do HIs work, not the lofty. There is no man or woman with a proud, puffed up heart who has stayed long in ministry for God’s service. At least, not with a Spirit powered anointing.

When we live in light of our gifts, for God’s glory, and not to be noticed by man, the Spirit of the Lord stirs within people to take note. When we put on a show before others with the hopes of being seen, noticed or chosen, God does not honor that.

If you want to be chosen, keep your head low and let your light shine, not for man’s praise, but simply, for God’s glory. The best leaders are not those who care what others think, but, instead, want to honor their King. When we honor Him, we are seen by Him. When God sees us, He is pleased and in His time and for His glory He’ll do the choosing.

Jesus, you know that I long to be one of your chosen. I long to be one of your anointed. I want the fire of God to burn within my heart. Sometimes, in my flesh, it’s for others to see. Lord, forgive me. I want it to be for you alone. Forgive me when I try to convince you that I am your chosen vessel. Forgive me when I believe I am better than someone else. Forgive me when I try to make things happen. Today, I submit myself to your will, in Jesus name, amen.

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