According to the needs of the people….a lot of church leaders have abandoned this concept…..

One of the unfortunate things that happen in the American church culture is to abandon the needs of the people. A lot of churches are trying to function in such a way as to be on a continuous growth curve, but unfortunately a lot of times it is just for the sake of becoming a bigger church with a bigger name. They want to have internal growth, bigger checking accounts, and the looks of success. The problem with all of this is that a lot of these same churches have had zero growth in their community impact, and reaching the needs of the people. A lot these same churches do not even have true internal growth as the benefits only go to a small percentage of the people.

This is not what we see in the bible. I would venture to say that Jesus did not want big churches that looked like big businesses. The business world revolves around trying to increase personal profit. I think the church world should revolve around profiting others.

The two chapters that I am using today both speak of the group of people, the early church, selling their own belongings in order to distribute the money according to the needs of the people.

How much of this have you seen going on recently? How many of you would sell your own stuff in order to give the money to the church leaders in order for them to distribute it according to the needs of the people? How many of us would have trouble trusting the church leaders to do the right thing? How many of us are selling our stuff so that we ourselves can give the money to people in need? How many of us are selling stuff we value to other people who need it more than we do?

How many leaders, and people are you watching sell their own property to help others? How many leaders, and people are you watching downsize their house to help others? How many are you watching drive older vehicles? How many are you watching share everything they have?

Instead of teaching things like christians should have the biggest, and nicest house to sleep in because of blessings and favor, we taught things like christians should try to make sure everyone has a house to sleep in. Instead of teaching things like the poor you will have with you always means you can’t make everybody “get it”, we taught that there will always be people in need and therefore ministry opportunity.

The final questions: How can we change? Where can we improve? What opportunities do we have to serve the needs of the people?

God is for you, and I am for you!

Scriptures: Acts 2, and Acts 4

 

 

 

Calling and purpose simplified

Everyone wonders about their calling and purpose. I would also say that most people over analyze, and over complicate their calling and purpose. I know I always have; however, things have become much more clear and simplified for me this year. With that being said I would like to share with you what the Lord has shown me in these things.

Remember this is simplified, not exhaustive.

Romans 8:28-28 And we know that [a]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (emphasis mine)

We ARE called, and we are called according to HIS purpose. Your calling does not come out of your own great idea, It comes from a God idea. His purpose for you is your calling. How does that help? I am glad you asked.

I will share a scripture that sums up purpose and calling.

Matthew 28:19-19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

So we all have a purpose and calling to disciple nations (a plurality of people). How does that clarify what you are to do personally? This is what the Lord revealed to me.

God places a desire or you could even call it a burden in us for a place, He places in us things that we are naturally good at because of giftings and abilities, as well as desires to do certain things, and He places in us a connection to certain people that we can’t always explain as well as a desire to help certain groups of people. You could possibly say that we all have the same purpose to disciple groups of people; however, the way we are called to do it, where we are called to do it, and with whom we are called to do it is all personalized by God.

So calling and purpose simplified is to go where He has put in your heart to go, do what He has put in your heart to do, and do it with the People He has put in your heart to do it with.

Now this is where faith comes in, faith is actually doing it. Faith is getting rid of all of the excuses as to why you can’t go, and can’t do.

I’m going to leave it at that. Be encouraged, let your faith rise up, and go do it.

God is for you, and I am for you!

How to live your life kingdom first part 4

If you didn’t get a chance to read part 3 you can read it here.

The fifth practical thing we can do to live our lives kingdom first is to encourage one another.

I think one scripture really sums this up well, and that is Ephesians 4 verse 29. It says 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I will probably come back to Ephesians chapter 4 later in this series; however, for now I will just work with this one verse.

So when we look at this verse we can see that the only thing that should be coming out of our mouths towards, or about others is what will build them up/encourage them. We can also then define what unwholesome talk is, and that is anything that does not build up and encourage. If it tears people down, discourages, judges, ridicules, lies about, gossips about, curses, or anything along these lines then it is unwholesome. This does not mean that you never say anything that challenges someone, or holds them accountable as this will benefit them; however, I will say that for these types of things you should have a solid relationship with someone before you speak to them in such a way. In my opinion, if you do not have a solid established relationship with someone you will have a hard time bringing accountability.

If we are honest with ourselves about these things I would venture to say we all do roughly the same thing when we are on the receiving end of unwholesome talk, we turn those people off, we disregard what they say, or we let their words bring us down. With that we can say that a sure-fire way to NOT reach and connect with people is to speak in ways that discourage, judge, ridicule, etc. This is why preaching anger, fire, and brimstone doesn’t work. It may produce fearful, discouraged, never good enough people, but it will never produce relational, and healthy people.

How we talk to people has a huge impact on how they see us, and how they see God. It could be the difference in a person deciding to always run away, or always run to when they mess up. If they know you will judge them, they will always run away and be discouraged. If they know they can come to you and be encouraged, they will always run to you. It is the same in how they view God, if He is angry judge they will run away, if He is encouraging father they will run to.

It doesn’t matter what the life scenario is you can always encourage someone. You can always encourage someone in the hope that we have in Christ.

Every single one of us talk to people every single day; therefore, we can have an impact on people everyday. Let us do our best to keep unwholesome talk out of our mouths. Let us try to build up and encourage people every chance we get. This series is about living a kingdom first life. This is everyday life stuff, it really isn’t over complicated, you really can live your life kingdom first, and you really can make a kingdom impact everyday.

God is for you, and I am for you!

Vacation is officially over…..so it’s time for How to live your life kingdom first part 3.

If you didn’t get a chance to read part 2 you can read it here.

The fourth practical thing we can do to live our lives kingdom first is to humbly serve one another. This may be the thing that will stand out the most as counter to American culture. American culture is driven by chasing the dream, climbing the ladder, becoming the boss or the buck stops with me person, building bigger houses, creating personal empires, and achieving culture defined success. Furthermore, it’s done at the expense of other people, and getting creative on how you justify it. Humbly serving others goes in the opposite direction, you set aside becoming the ‘man’. Achieving the ‘highest’ rank in the kingdom if you will is to become the greatest servant. It’s not about how high you can climb the ladder or what kind of title you can get people to call you, it’s about how low you can go in order to serve others, and lift them higher. In addition to that, this is not sitting on your perch calling people higher, this is you getting down in the mud with them, and helping them out of the pit without ever asking them how they got their because the truth is it doesn’t matter. You are not their judge, you should be a servant with a heart for people. When you see those people who are struggling, and we all struggle from time to time, your heart shouldn’t be looking at how they got there, but how you can help them get out. This ties in with loving others, and accepting others. I should look at others with the love of Christ, accept them wherever they are at, and serve them wherever they are at.

Christ gives us the ultimate example in John 13:1-17. Furthermore, He commands us to do the same. Here we see the creator of all things, the king of kings, and the lord of lords come down from His position as the most high and wash some dirty stinky feet, and ultimately die for us. He said that if He washed their feet then they should wash each others feet, and He said I gave you this example and you should do as I have done to you. The truth is that you could never be higher than the one who sent you, and we are all sent by Him. To act like you are better than anyone else, or to even think it is a huge statement of pride. Furthermore, you will never be any higher than the one whose feet you are washing, we are a flawed, we are just flawed in different ways.

The word tells us in Galatians 5 to use our new covenant freedom to serve one another, not ourselves. I think Galatians 6 gives us a good picture of how we can do that, here is an excerpt: 6 “Brethren, even if [a]anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” This is a picture of humbly and gently helping someone who has fallen all the while recognizing that you too are flawed and could be tempted yourself. This is recognizing that sometimes things happen to people who cause them to have more of a load than they can carry on their own. This isn’t ‘calling’ people higher in order to sound spiritual when you really just don’t want to get dirty. This is jumping in and helping because you know that you are no better, and you may need help with your own burdens someday. We often carry way more than we could ever make it to the end of the race with, more than we could ever handle. Why do we do that? I would venture to say it is because we have been judged before, we’ve been told we won’t be blessed until we get it right, that we no longer have God’s favor simply because life happened to us.  I would venture to say we don’t want that kind of help. If He was willing to die for me when I was completely lost, then I would think He is willing to continue blessing me while I’m doing my best to live my life for Him. Human faults and stumbles don’t break eternal God promises. We should humbly submit to one another, and serve one another out of deep respect for Christ, not out of what a person has or has not done.

We should use our gifts to serve others. It is through doing this that we show ourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace. We should remain humble, and always carry a servants heart toward others.

I think Philippians 2 sums this up pretty well. Here is an excerpt: 2 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any [a]affection and compassion, make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing [c]from [d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, but [g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Look at others as better than you, look out for their interests first, and don’t do things out of selfish ambition. Sounds like the opposite of what we experience everyday. We’ve been conditioned to think it is ok to use others for our own gain, and profit. However, that is not who we are supposed to be. We should serve others in a way that we make sure they get a higher value from us than what we get from them.

For me, I know that I will always be able to improve in this area. With marriage, fatherhood, family, friends, ministry, strangers, and so on it is hard to always keep the right attitude and be the servant of all. However, I know that this is who I, and who we are supposed to be.

Make it a point to humbly serve others today, and everyday.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

 

 

How to live your life kingdom first part 2.

If you didn’t get a chance to read part 1 you can read it here.

The third practical thing we can do to live our lives kingdom first is to accept one another. This is not the same thing as the current move we see in the world right now where hateful people are demanding others to accept them. This is us deciding that we know other people are flawed just like we are, and we are going to be patient with them.

We should be willing to associate with the “lowly”, and care for those that receive less honor in the body of Christ.

The word of God says that we should be at peace with one another, that we should live in harmony, and accept one another. It says that we should bear with one another being kind, compassionate, sympathetic, and forgiving. It also says that we should be hospitable without grumbling, but with joy.

God even tells us in His word to confess our sins to one another so that we can pray for each other. There is a really good reason why nobody does this, and it’s because we don’t accept each other. For too long we have been doing things the opposite way. Instead of patience, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, we have jumped to conclusions, been hateful, condemned people, and judged people. Furthermore, we have been this way to people based on things as simple as how they look, or dress. So we now have a built-in fear about sharing our struggles with others. We may even want to share our struggle to ease our burden, but we won’t risk the response we might get.

We have to shift in this area not only as the body of Christ, but individually in our own minds. We need to accept others, but we also need to be willing to share our struggles with others. I myself, I struggle with sharing my burdens with others, but I’m getting better about it.

This isn’t a hard thing, it should not be hard for us to be patient, kind, compassionate, and forgiving toward others in their struggles if we are honest with ourselves about our own. When you know you have a log in your own eye, it’s easy to look past the toothpick in someone else’s eye.

Don’t kick people while they are down, choose to accept them, and help them back up. If you live long enough you will need help yourself someday.

Live your life kingdom first!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Scriptures I used for this post:

Matthew 7, Mark 9, Romans 12, Romans 15, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 3, 1 Peter 4, and James 5.

 

How to live your life Kingdom first part 1

This will be the first of many posts on how to live your life kingdom first. This is a journey for all of us, and just like you, I have yet to arrive. Let us be thankful we have a good, loving Father who is full of patience, grace, and favor toward His kids. With so many theological arguments out there, and thoughts about what’s most important, I just want to know God, His ways, and how I should live this life for Him. I believe the Lord revealed this series to me because He knows my Heart for it, and He knows my heart for you.

Most of you that read this blog know that number one we should love God with every part of our being, and seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness. I have already written several things that give us some practical things we can do to put Him first, such as not being autonomous in our life plan, but allowing His plan for us to be our plan.

But outside of this number one thing, how do I live my life kingdom first? What should I be doing in practical terms? Over the next several posts, I am going to present 6 other practical things we can do. In my thoughts, it is out of doing these things that your individual gifts begin to flow out of you.

So much is written and talked about in things such as eschatology, finances, authority, how to interpret, and so on. That is fine, and I like some of those conversations; however, it seems to me that so much of what God is trying to get through to us is our own internal transformation through Christ, and how we treat and deal with other people.

If loving God, and putting Him first is number 1, then the second thing we can do is to love other people.

The commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples in an intimate moment was to love each other as He loved them, and that this love is what would prove to the world that they were His followers. In John chapters 13 and 15, He gave them this command three different times.

In Romans 13:8-10 we see that it is an obligation to love others, that love does no wrong to others, and so it fulfills all requirements. If you love other people you will want to take the gifts that God put in you, and give them to others. This is why I say that your gifts will begin to flow in doing these things.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:12 we see Paul out of his own great love for these people ask the Lord to make their love for each other, and for all people not only grow, but even overflow. In chapter 4 he tells them he really doesn’t even need to tell them to love each other because they already do as the Lord Himself has taught them, but even then he urges them to love even more.

In 1 Peter 3:8 we see that we should love each other like siblings, and be compassionate towards others while at the same time being humble ourselves. Then in chapter 4:8 he tells them that most importantly they should continue to love each other deeply as love covers all.

In 1 John 3:11 we see that the message from the very beginning was that we should love one another. It says this same thing in 2 John verses 5 and 6.

In 1 John 4:7-12 we see that love is from God, that we should love others, and that this is what proves we Know God. If God loves us as much as He does, then we ought to love others. It goes on to say that if we will love others then His love will be perfected in us.

So this not only speaks to how we treat other people, but also our own internal transformation in becoming more like Christ. Loving other people perfects things within ourselves.

It is His command to us, it is evidence that we know Him, it lets the world know that we are His, it fulfills all, and it covers all.

If you want to live a kingdom first life, love others. Even if it is hard. Love covers all including you, for example, if you choose to love rather than hold a grudge, your own soul (mind, will, and emotions) will remain healthy.

Live your life kingdom first!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Maintain your peace, and joy in Christ…A word of encouragement for you.

No matter how well you do in life, no matter how many successes you have, there will be people who say it isn’t good enough. There will people that focus on your failures. There will be people who focus on your mistakes. There will be people who focus on your bad circumstances. There will be people that say you failed in what they deemed the key indicator. There will be people that discredit you, disqualify you, and look down on you. I will say it like apostle Paul said it, this is a trustworthy saying and everyone should accept it.

However, there is another trustworthy saying….people can’t change, or discredit what God says about you. You are His masterpiece, He has created you to do good things, and you will do the good things He has planned for you. People don’t have the authority to disqualify what God has qualified through His son Jesus Christ.

When people try to disqualify you, they disqualify themselves. When they say you are not good enough, they are saying God’s finished work is not good enough. Keep doing what God has called you to do. Do the right things based on your convictions, and let people do what they do, they are going to do it regardless of how you think or feel about it anyway. Maintain your peace, and joy in Christ.

God is for you, and I am for you.

 

This could be controversial in regards to current popular kingdom teachings….

One of the popular kingdom teachings of this day is that we advance the kingdom of Jesus by doing external things. We take territory in order to stake our Christian flag in the ground. We build mini empires in order for Jesus to influence. There may be some truth to this, and I don’t have an issue with there being a this and a that; however, I would at least like to offer a different idea.

I will only use one scripture among many that explain this idea.

Luke 17:20-21. It’s a popular scripture. Here’s the NKJV:

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (my emphasis added)

Now we have to look at a couple things. 1) Jesus is talking to pharisees, and we can safely say the kingdom was not in them. 2) we are dealing with the greek word “entos” in a plural conjunction which gets translated to among, or in your midst.

Here it is in the NASB (the NIV, ESV, NLT, and many others translate it in the same way with slightly different wording):

20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (my emphasis added)

The main reason I am pointing this out is to highlight king Jesus. The kingdom was standing right in front of them. The scripture itself points out that it isn’t about what is seen, or what is external. He was telling the pharisees what the kingdom was, or better yet WHO.

There is no doubt that we are to go and preach the kingdom. We know that the increase of His kingdom, and peace will not end. So then how do we advance the kingdom?

We present the king. We recall what happened to us internally when we found Him. We recall the peace we found when we found Him. We take that and we present Jesus to other people, or even just a person. That person to another person. That person to another person, and so on. Through this His kingdom is always advancing. Through this His peace is always advancing.

It’s never about what you can build on this earth that time will destroy. It is about what you can get inside of someone that is eternal. It is always about Jesus.

You can build whatever you want, and stake a christian flag in it; however, until the people are reflecting the king, until the people are reflecting Jesus and his social norms, it is not His kingdom.

The kingdom can be advanced the next time you are at Walmart. The kingdom can be advanced whether you have a lot, or a little. The kingdom can be advanced whether you are rich or poor.

The kingdom is in Jesus. The kingdom is advanced by presenting Jesus. That’s all you have to do, He will do the rest.

Even one of my taglines for this site, live your life kingdom first, is saying live your life putting Jesus first.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Do you feel like you are suffering-a few scriptures to encourage you

Suffering is certainly not a current buzz word such as prosperity, authority, or abundance etc. However, it is something we will contend with while we live in the flesh on this earth. Be encouraged for God is working things to your good.

1 Peter 4- Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4- 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

1 Peter 5- 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Again be encouraged in your suffering for God himself is perfecting, confirming, strengthening, and establishing you even as I type this!!

 

What are your barns for?

I think that I would be pretty accurate in saying that part of the ‘American dream’ is to work, save, invest, and multiply all you can so that you have enough retirement to kick back, relax, eat, drink, and enjoy the good life. It sounds great, it sounds right, and it’s very easy to get wrapped up in. I know I have been wrapped up in it, and I’m not even close to retirement. However, Jesus called it foolish in Luke chapter 12. (read it here) I think we have to remember that the American dream, or whichever national dream is not the kingdom dream. I will add a disclaimer and say that I don’t think Jesus was calling the act of planning, being prudent, or being a good steward foolish as there are plenty of scriptures that instruct us to act in these ways. I think Jesus was teaching us about mindsets, heart conditions, and motives.

America is very consumeristic, but not everything God gives you is for your consumption. It’s not for your consumption now, or in the future. Not everything given to you is for you to obtain bigger, and better. Not everything given to you is for future retirement, or generational building. Some things are just put in your hands to give to someone else. The things of God are not just given to you, but are meant to move through you. Everything belongs to God, as in God is the owner. You don’t own anything including your own life. You are a steward, or one who looks after the owner’s stuff. There is nothing wrong with storing things up if that’s what the owner asks you to do. However, if the owner asks you to give it all away you have to be willing to do that as well. I love to talk about dreams, and vision for your life, but it is not something that is done through autonomy. You ask the owner what the vision is, and then you do your best to steward that vision.

In the parable, the rich fool says to himself you have plenty stored away to kick back, and take it easy. The problem is that he was talking to himself. He didn’t ask the owner what he should do with all of his extra. He laid up treasures for himself, but he was not rich toward God. The American christian mindset is much the same. We try to store up what we think is ours in order to make sure we can have the easy life we want in the future. Our minds are set on obtaining, and storing. Our hearts are set on ourselves because of greed. So then our motives are completely autonomous, or self driven. We want to make more so that we can get more rather than asking the owner what we should do, or considering that if we can make more we can give more. The only reason to have overflowing barns is so that you can give the overflow.

We have a tendency to want to build our own kingdoms. It goes all the way back to the tower of babel. Many try to disguise it as for the kingdom rather than for self, but disguises are not the true identity. It would probably be wise for us to insert some firewalls against ourselves when building, and filling barns. Here is a thought to consider….when Jesus was walking the earth one of the things that His followers got wrong was that they thought He came to establish His kingdom on the earth at that time. (His kingdom is established, and ever increasing it just didn’t look like they thought it would) It caused a scattering when it didn’t turn out the way they expected. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth. Are we making the same mistake? Are we trying to build earthly kingdoms more than we are trying to impart, and commission? Jesus spent His time building people. Disclaimer again, I’m not saying things should never be built, established, etc.

I have had a couple major fumbles in this area on my journey. The good thing about that is I am able to learn, and I have found that the fumbles cause me to pursue God’s desires for my life even more. It is a great self check when your realize you have forgotten that you don’t own your money, vision, or anything else. Furthermore, the great thing about fumbles and our loving Father is that he lets you carry the ball again. The great coaches in your life will do the same, and you should do the same for your players. A fumble doesn’t mean a person should be moved down on the depth chart, it just means they need another set of downs.

Back to the beginning. I don’t want to build overflowing barns to kick back, and disconnect. I don’t want to drift out of life, and be retired from serving in the kingdom. However, I do want to transition in what I am doing in the future. I want to transition from being the ball carrier to being on the offensive line blocking, and making a way for others. I believe the Lord will allow me to build and fill some barns, but I also believe it is for the purpose of making sure they are emptied out into others before I go. The sooner I can make a way for others to score the better.

Have you asked the owner if you should build some barns, and why?