Sunday, February 28, 2016
Believe it or not, even the Most Elaborate of Palaces Still Collect Dust and Dirt! So your rubbish doesn’t remove your Royal Status in the Kingdom! SO TAKE A LOAD OFF AND TELL HIM! HE’S YOUR SAFE PLACE! As Leaders, we often times do great damage to our churches when we push people to keep on pressing through instead of sitting down and re-evaluating themselves and their issues!
We want them to constantly scream Victory, Praise, Warrior, Restored, when in actuality, we need them to be honest that when they go home (after the music has stopped, the sermon is over and the anointed atmosphere has lifted) the truthful words they speak are Defeated, Exhausted, Depressed, Scared, Insecure, and Suicidal. We can’t keep slapping Scriptures and Spiritual Words on Everything! People need a “Safe” place to unload their stuff! And sometimes their stuff is not going to sound all that pretty or powerful! The tragedy is we often don’t take advantage of this opportunity for openness with God. Instead we come to Him all wrapped up in some kind of religious prayer talk with all of our thus, ye, thou and saith! We dress up our hurt and skirt the real issues! We refuse to put the right name on what we’re feeling, because it might scare us to call it what it Really is. But you can’t get delivered until you can define your hurt! Only the TRUTH will set them free, so if we keep teaching them how to Masquerade behind church lingo or church activity, they will forever be BELIEVERS IN BONDAGE!
And you don’t have to worry about having it all together before you go to tell Him either! He Already Knows this thing has torn you to pieces! So you can be scared there, you can be wounded with Him, you can be weak, you can be wiped out. You can be vulnerable and unsure of yourself. In His presence, FOR ONCE you don’t have to have it all together! Remember Matthew 6:6, "Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." (MSG) God doesn't need you "In Character" He just needs you to Come to Him in your Closet of Prayer!
You don’t have to look good. You don’t have to be in control. You don’t have to have your tie straight, and your dress pressed. You don’t have to have a smile on your face and eloquent words on your lips. You don’t have to walk confident! You don’t have to wonder if He’s going to turn His back on you. No matter what you say to Him, HE ALREADY KNOWS! Telling Him about your sin doesn’t sever you from being a Son of God, nor does telling Him about your dirt disinherit you as a Daughter of the King! It’s high time we stop coming to God all dressed up! After all, we’ll Always be “…naked and open before Him!…” says the Scripture!
So stop suffering in silence, and go ahead and tell Him! Tell Him about the affair, tell Him what you stole or what was stolen from you, tell Him about your insecurity or deep hurt. Tell Him how you Really feel about what she said or what he did. Tell Him about your loneliness, emptiness and feelings of low self-worth. You can’t shock Him! He Already Knows! You’re not telling Him to INFORM Him, you’re telling Him to FREE YOURSELF! God already knows about every skeleton in your closet and yet He still bids you to come into the closet of prayer: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:6) People may shut you out, but you always have an open door policy with God in prayer!
Friday, February 26, 2016
Jesus spoke the following to a crowd suffering from anxiety attacks: ‘…Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds.” (Matthew 6:25-26 MSG)
You say, ‘Yeah, but what can I learn from looking at a bunch of birds?’ Well, let’s see:
ONE: GEESE FLY UNITED: They don’t fly separately, in random style, because no goose alone can go that distance. They’re designed to fly in their characteristic ‘V’ formation. When a bird flaps its wings the air movement created provides an uplift, easing the workload of the bird behind it. Together, their flight range increases about 71 percent. Even the youngest, weakest and oldest geese can make the trip. They accomplish together what they could never accomplish separately. The first Scripture the birds teach us is (Hebrews 10:25 NIV): ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…‘ it means, ‘Stay in fellowship with one another, and enjoy the uplift it provides.‘ You’re not called to fly solo! ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”‘ (1 Corinthians 12:21 NIV). Birds teach us how to work together and support one another, doing what is always in the best interest of one another. Now, occasionally a goose strays off on its own, but look what happens, it soon becomes exhausted, loses altitude and ultimately pulls wearily back into the formation. LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO WORK TOGETHER AND STAY TOGETHER!
TWO: EVERY FORMATION HAS TO HAVE A ‘POINT GOOSE’ OUT FRONT WHO LEADS AND SETS THE PACE FOR THE OTHERS: It’s a tough position because the point goose cuts the headwinds, meets the changing weather conditions, and is first to feel the rain in his face, the snow in his eyes and the ice on his wings. He keeps the formation on target whatever the situation or circumstance. It’s hard, exhausting and lonely at times because there’s nobody ahead of him to be the wind beneath his wings. The formation depends on him to persevere, stay on track and get the skein safely to its destination. Every church has its point goose: The Pastor. Each department has its point geese: youth, finance, evangelism, care ministries, and so on. They lead, set the pace and give direction to those who follow. There are always two common roles in the church: the under-employed and the over-functioning. Point ministries are the latter, so they tend to burn out frequently. However, just before the point goose is exhausted, a space opens in the formation and he slips back into it while another bird replaces him, seamlessly becoming the next point goose. Standing in for each other preserves the life of the formation. This is what Paul meant by: ‘from whom the whole body, fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.‘ (Ephesians 4:16 NASB). Don’t be content to be a consumer; instead, be a producer! A great church isn’t about paid staff; rather, it’s about volunteers willing to stand in whenever needed. LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO LEAD, FOLLOW AND FILL IN!
THIRD: IN THE WORLD OF GEESE, THE AGED, VERY YOUNG, AND INFIRM ARE KEPT PROTECTED IN THE REAR OF THE FORMATION: But they aren’t isolated, discounted or considered useless; in fact they fulfill a vital role. They become the ‘honking section’ and cheer for the leaders. Inevitably, bad weather threatens the mission. The going gets tough and the tough are struggling. From the rear of the formation a lone honk sounds, initiating a geese chorus honking encouragement to the point goose. Paul understood this: “Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMP). He knew we needed a ‘honking section’ supporting us with uplifting words and prayer. We need those who say, ‘We are behind you. We’ve got your back covered!’ “And as for you, brethren, do not become weary or lose heart in doing right [but continue in well-doing without weakening].” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 AMP). Many a servant of Christ has crossed their deepest valley on a wing, a prayer and a honk from some old-scarred, battle-hardened, straggle-feathered, half-bald honker of encouragement who was too stubborn to let a brother or sister quit on their watch! Occasionally, a strident, out-of-tune goose complains loudly and irritatingly. But within moments, the honking section kicks in, drowning out the grumbler, restoring order and unity. The church’s problem isn’t too many people speaking negatively, it’s too few speaking positively! When someone cries, ‘defeat’, honk back, ‘victory’ When they cry, ‘fear’, honk back, ‘faith’. A few words of encouragement can overpower a storm of complaints. So join the honking section and be known as a Barnabas, whose name means ‘Son of Encouragement‘ (Acts 4:36 NIV). LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO ENCOURAGE AND PROTECT ONE ANOTHER!
FOURTH: WITH GEESE, THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’: They take it seriously. They’re fully committed. At the age of three years, a goose selects a mate for itself. Loyal bird as it is, a goose is known to live with its mate for a long part of its life. Even after the death of any one from the couple, the other one would live several years, alone, without engaging with a new partner. And many a times, they remain single for the rest of their life. There are few birds which do not split from their family after breeding season, geese are one of them (if only we would remember this in regards to marriage and family). When the ravages of time or circumstances make it impossible for a bird to continue the trip and it begins to lose altitude or fails to keep abreast of the formation, the gaggle provides it with comfort, nurture and protection. Two strong geese leave the formation, flying with the ‘patient’ safely between them, find a sheltered location with food and water and make a home for the needy bird. They’ll stay with their ward until it either recovers or dies, before joining another formation. For them, everything goes ‘on hold’ to care for another bird! What an example of Christ-like relationship and self-sacrificing love. ‘…God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.‘ (1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NIV). In today’s culture we discount and marginalize the needy, including those no longer functioning as they once did. But God demands that we ‘have equal concern for each other‘, especially with those suffering. If a gaggle of birds can do it, surely God’s family ought to do it too. ‘Look at the birds in the sky!’ Jesus directs. If they can do it for each other, ‘… Aren’t you worth more than birds?‘ (Matthew 6:26 CEV). One of the two greatest commandments (not suggestions) Christ gave us is, ‘…Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:31 MSG). When word circulates that we love each other in this way, they’ll beat down the doors of our church to get in! LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO KEEP OUR VOWS TO ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE, AND TO REMAIN IN COVENANT WITH ONE ANOTHER. ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’ ISN’T JUST FOR MARRIAGE! JESUS KEPT HIS VOW TO US AND REMAINED IN COVENANT WITH US, BEFORE AND AFTER DEATH!
FIFTH: LOST AND STRAYING GEESE ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED INTO THE FORMATION: It’s not an exclusive club for the elite. Geese separated from other formations, isolated by weather, accident or infirmity, are given full family status. The formation will alter its plans, reschedule its arrival time and inconvenience itself to accommodate any strangers seeking its acceptance. Many newcomers arrive dirty, bedraggled and ill-fed. However, they’re never turned away. In the same way, God’s church isn’t a museum for masterpieces – it’s a hospital for those who have been hurt by life, even self-inflicted hurt. Jesus said, ‘Come to me, ALL of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.‘ (Matthew 11:28 NLT). “ALL” are accepted! He also says: ‘I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.‘ (John 10:16 NIV). Christ has no higher agenda than to recruit, save and adopt the stranger into His flock. You say, ‘But they’re not my kind of people; they don’t look, talk or smell like me!’ So what? We don’t get to choose our biological or spiritual siblings; God does. If they rub us like sandpaper they’re only helping rub off rough edges and polish us up. Want to see the material God builds the church with? Prepare yourself for a shock. ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators… idolaters… adulterers… homosexuals… sodomites, thieves… covetous… drunkards… revilers… extortioners…AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU. BUT YOU WERE SANCTIFIED, BUT YOU WERE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS AND BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD‘ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV). We were taken into the formation we were washed, sanctified, justified and given full family status! How dare we not extend the same grace and mercy to others! LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO ACCEPT “ALL” INTO THE FOLD AND FAMILY!
SIXTH: THEY LIVE TOGETHER AND BRING NEW GOSLING EVERY YEAR: Both of the parent geese take part in upbringing of the goslings (baby geese) which is one of the reasons for high life expectancy in young ones. Geese produce a new generation every year, wouldn’t it be amazing if the church did the same? “Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20 CEV); “But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name” (John 1:12 AMP) Geese teach us the importance of consistent producing. We should not have year after year with the same people, with no new faces filling the sanctuary. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO DO WHAT GOD COMMANDED US TO DO…GO MAKE DISCIPLES!
SEVENTH: THE MALE GEESE ARE EXTREMELY OVER-PROTECTIVE OF THE FEMALE GEESE: The male community of geese display a caring and protective nature towards their female counterparts and will even stand between danger and her. 1 Timothy 5:2 reads, “…Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters.” (MSG). In a day when words like “gentlemen” and “chivalry” are alarmingly becoming extinct, men of God, it should not be so among you. Male geese care for and protect the female geese. Now, does that mean you go around beating up people every time they say something cross to her? Absolutely not. But as men, you should always be a protective hedge to your sisters (and sisters in Christ). Protect them from wolves in sheep’s clothing; protect them from being belittled, overlooked, and bypassed due to their gender. Support your sisters, make them safe and secure and let the world know that you will stand between her and danger if need be. Think about it, if geese have enough sense to do this, what excuse can an intelligent man have for not doing it? LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO CARE FOR, GUARD AND PROTECT THE WOMEN IN OUR FAMILY (BOTH NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL).
EIGHTH: THE FEMALE GOOSE PRODUCES, THE MALE GOOSE PROTECTS: As a part of the reproduction cycle, the female goose lays an egg each day to reach the number to 5 eggs. Once all of the eggs are laid off, she incubates eggs in her nest for 30 days. When she goes far from the eggs, she covers them with sticks to make them feel cozy and protected. Meanwhile, the male parent goose keeps the nest protected from a distance so that predators don’t get a hint of the nest and eggs. As parents, both natural and spiritual, it’s vital that we produce and protect. Geese have enough sense to produce gosling (children) and then to cover and protect them until they’re prepared to go it on their own. As natural and spiritual parents, we need to follow their example. We are called to develop/train/produce disciples/followers for Christ (as well as natural children to carry on the family legacy), and at the same time to protect them. For some reason, in this day and age, children turn 18 and they’re considered “grown” (I beg to differ). In the same way, once someone comes to Christ, we disciple them (briefly) then put them on an auxiliary and move on to the next “to-do” on the agenda, because we consider them "grown". Geese take the time to produce seed, but also to water, feed, nurture, protect, shield, and cover them. How is it possible that we don’t do the same? TODAY, LET US ALLOW THE GEESE TO TEACH US TO BE PATIENT WITH OUR NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL CHILDREN. GIVE THEM TIME TO SIT AND BE STILL, TO LEARN, TO GROW, TO DEVELOP, TO BE PREPARED, TO BE GROOMED. DON’T RUSH THEM PREMATURELY.
NINTH: GEESE ARE GREAT COMMUNICATORS: They use approximately 10 different sounds to communicate, depending on the situation confronting them. Geese have enough sense to know what to communicate, when to communicate and how. Yet, we the intelligent human beings that we are, get this wrong on every possible level. Now, I don’t believe we should walk around with multiple personalities depending on who we’re talking to at the moment. But I do believe that we need to learn to communicate better. Some people can take an ‘in your face method’, while others need more of a ‘can we talk privately to the side?’ Truth is, some of us have so much great wisdom to be shared, however, because we don’t choose our words wisely, the wisdom falls on deaf ears. It’s not always what you say, but more likely how you say it that gets you heard or ignored. If geese possess the wisdom to change up their communication depending on the circumstances, shouldn’t we possess the same? LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO USE APPROPRIATE COMMUNICATION.
TENTH: THE FEMALE GOOSE ALWAYS BUILDS THE NEST: Women, Wives, Mothers, Sisters, Aunties, God-Mommy’s etc…We play a vital role in the home! For the female goose, she literally builds the nest from sticks and branches, but she also includes for comfort, the feathers from her own body. Now that’s sacrifice! And that’s exactly what it takes to build a home. And that goes for both our natural and spiritual homes as well. We need to be the generous givers and nurturers, that we were designed to be both in our homes and in the church. We have children all around our lives, and it’s important that we deposit in them daily. Build them up daily. Encourage them, strengthen them, guide them, pray for them, point them in the right direction, all of this is building a house, building a home and building a generation that will carry on a lasting legacy. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO BUILD OUR CHILDREN, OUR LOVED ONES, OUR HOMES AND THE HOUSE OF GOD DAILY.
ELEVENTH: THERE ARE AROUND 30 SPECIES OF GEESE IN THE WORLD: And yet none of them feels the need to attempt to compare, compete or clone. Wish this was the mentality of the church. People of God, we are all different and that is a good thing. We all bring a different perspective to the team and to the whole of the Body. Let’s not continue the discord of “my way or the highway”. Be open to the varying views of others. And by all means if the church is to grow it will have to come in contact with other people and differing views (none however, that cause us to stray from our faith principles). But be prepared, because 'other' can mean piercings; tattoos; tri-colored hair; unwed mothers; criminal backgrounds; homeless; jobless; divorced etc…the church is to be multi-cultural and multi-faceted, not one-dimensional. We don't service the elite, we service everybody! We don’t need clones, copies, duplicates, and recyclables! There are 30 species of geese, meaning diversity is a good thing. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, LIKE REFUSING TO BE THE SAME.
TWELFTH: GEESE HAVE A STRONG URGE TO RETURN TO THEIR PLACE OF BIRTH: Having good instinct for places, geese return to their general area of living where they lived most after their birth. It has even been observed that geese fly 2,000-3,000 miles to return to the exact place of their dwelling to mate and nest. Foundation is vital to anything you build. And that includes our families and churches. Geese return to their foundation. Which reminds me of many “church kids” who get older and stray. Some of them return and some never do. It’s important from birth to set a firm foundation of faith in our children, that even when they stray and mess up, something on the inside (as the old song goes) will start back to working. Something will remind them of who they are and Whose they are, and they will return back on the road of reconciliation. But that’s difficult to do if they never receive a road map in the first place. Yes, we need to teach our children that God loves them, protects them, sees and hears them. But we must also avoid assuming that our “little angels” will never get into any “devilment”. They are saved, not perfect. And they battle with seduction and temptation just like the next kid, and many of them fall prey. We need to teach them both how to avoid the trap, and also when they get trapped there’s always a way of escape out of it. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.” (GNT); “Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (MSG) LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO LAY A FIRM FOUNDATION OF FAITH, SO EVEN WHEN OUR CHILDREN STUMBLE AND FALL ON THE WRONG PATH, THEIR KNEES WILL RECALL THE PRAYER TO GET THEM BACK UP AND ON THE RIGHT TRACK AGAIN.
THIRTEENTH: THE OLD AND YOUNG GO THROUGH CHANGES TOGETHER: While the gosling (young geese) are Maturing (gaining), the adult geese are Molting (losing). During the maturing time for the goslings, the adult geese do not leave the area. The maturing period of the goslings overlaps with the molting season for the adults. Molting season runs from early June to late July. Adult geese lose wing feathers during this time and are unable to fly. Geese can fly again approximately 6 weeks after molting. The key? Maturing for the Young and Molting for the Older Happen at the Same Time. We need to learn to embrace change, transition, development and growth, for all ages in our families as well as our churches. The young are gaining, while the older are losing. The young are getting stronger while the older are weakening. However, this will not be a problem if it’s understood, acknowledged and embraced by both parties. Which requires a lot of patience and love. The young should never become prideful and the older should never feel discarded or threatened. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO EMBRACE ONE ANOTHER AS WE ALL CHANGE IN DIFFERENT WAYS THAT WILL MAKE US AS A WHOLE BETTER.
Who knew Birds could be one of the Best Bible Study Teachers?! Hope You Learned as Much as I Did!
Thursday, February 18, 2016
YOU CAN TRUST GOD WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING EVERYTHING.
This principle can be seen by what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”To me, the two most important words in that verse are “but God.” Many bad things happened to Joseph, but God turned it around for good. I’m sure there were times when Joseph asked God, “Why?” “Why am in this pit?” “Why am I in this prison? I don’t understand!” Joseph never understood why these things happened; instead he later learned what God was doing–bringing about good. Joseph discovered he didn’t have to figure out why things were happening; instead he learned to trust God. Regardless the topic of what I am speaking on, time after time I find myself sharing and ending the Sunday message with faith and trust. The two go together hand in hand. God didn't ask us to figure out anything but to trust Him.
Trusting God doesn’t ignore the fact that there are bad people and bad things that happen to us. There are hateful people out there who stalk children or strap bombs to themselves and kill innocent citizens. There are harmful diseases that rob our loved ones of their health. There are tragic accidents happening everyday causing pain and suffering. In the midst of this, we want to ask, “WHY?” Why did my spouse die? Why did I get cancer? Why did I have to bury my child? Why did my mate leave me? Why did my parents split up? Why does everyone else seem to prosper while I suffer? Seldom do we ever get answers to those questions in this life.
Instead, these experiences provide the opportunity for us to trust God completely instead of understanding everything. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” When you face trouble, you have a choice of either trying to understand it, or choosing to trust God. If you spend all your emotional energy trying to figure out WHY this is happening, you can’t fully trust God.