Leadership, Marriage, Prayer, Small Groups, Training

“God Told Me…”

“But I know I heard God on this.”  “The Holy Spirit revealed to me…”  “God spoke to me.”  You and I have heard those words many times and perhaps said them ourselves.  But what happens when the person saying them is going directly against the word of God or you know their “hearing” is based more upon emotional desire than true insight from God?  Stay with me here.  I am not saying God does not speak today because I know He does.  It is just that we find difficulty in refuting the phrases listed above.  I mean, how do you come against or in direct conflict with the words, “I know I heard God on this?”  It would seem impossible, but then the person could be left with some disastrous outcomes.

Let me give you a few pointers to offer such persons speaking so matter of fact.  First, have they ever been wrong?  I mean, have they ever missed God or have they been 100% correct all the time in hearing from God?  Second, what are their overseers saying on the subject?  Have they found any wisdom in a multitude of counselors?  Are these counselors cautioning them and are they listening to those cautions?  And third, could God change it up even if they did hear Him correctly and they are in the midst of obeying that voice?  Abraham is an example of what I am referring to.  In Genesis 22, Abraham heard the voice of God instruct him to take his son, Isaac, up the mountain to sacrifice him.  Abraham gathers his supplies the next morning along with his son and set out to the place God told him to go.  He bound his son, took out his knife, raised his arms and all of a sudden heard a voice from heaven saying, “Abraham, Abraham…do not lay a hand on the boy.”  What if Abraham insisted on following God’s voice from the first command and resisted the second voice?

Don’t get stuck, cornered, or manipulated by others even when they are confident in their hearing.  We can bring an appropriate challenge to those who use these phrases.  In the end, they are responsible to properly discern in their hearing, but we do not have to always agree.  When we use these phrases, let’s be sure it is God and continue listening because He may change it up.

Leadership, Small Groups, Training

If You Have Time…

 How many times have we been asked the question, “What time is it?”  How many times in the course of the day do you look at your watch, wall clock or cell phone to see what time it is?   We live by time; we work by time; we set meetings by time; we measure life by time.  We go to bed and wake up to a new day by the passing of time.  Every year we celebrate another birthday because twelve months of time have escaped us.  “Where did the time go?” we often hear.  “It’s about time,” is another often repeated expression.  Time is on our mind constantly when we find ourselves thinking, “I just don’t have enough time” or “I’m running out of time.”

 Our life on earth is governed by time, but eternity is not. We as human beings are governed by time, but God is not.  Actually, God and eternity may be partially defined by the lack of time consciousness.  Once in heaven for all eternity, who would possibly care about time?  Galatians 4:4 says that when the time had come God sent His Son.  God came from no time to experience time, to be limited to 33 years of time and then experience death.  God for the first time experienced getting older with the passing of time.  And then Matthew 24:36 says there is a time coming when Jesus will return.  We look forward to His coming, this God appointed time.

 What I find mind boggling is that God, our Father, has a plan in time for everyone of us…amazing.  This is our time and our season and what an exciting time it is.  We have been born for such a time as this.  It is our time to start a family, plant a church, work with  missions, start a business or lead a small group.  This moment you are experiencing right now reading this blog will never occur again.  It will be forever gone in time past.  You will never get this moment back.  Are you sure you want to use your valuable time reading this diatribe?  :)

 Did you ever do the right thing at the wrong time?  Or, the wrong thing at the right time?  Both can be disastrous.  God rules all time and has chosen to enter into time to work with you and me so that we can do the right thing at the right time.  A friend of mine often says that time is our friend.  That said, we do need to be conscious of the hour.  And do this, understanding the present time.  The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over, the day is almost here.”  (Romans 13: 11,12)   Time has past and our salvation is “nearer now than when we first believed.”  Let’s not stop being time conscious, but at the same time, let’s not allow time to rule us.  Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be our time-keeper.

Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles

Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #21

This is the twenty-first and the final in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  It is a list of questions that I have compiled over time from those who were involved in healthy and unhealthy relationships.  Be totally honest with yourself and record your answers.

21. Do I love and respect myself enough to say “yes” to healthy relationships and “no” to unhealthy relationships?  The following are a few questions to ask yourself:

Do I keep finding similar unhealthy patterns in my dating relationships?

Do I try to “fix” those I date?

Do I cling on to those who I date, causing them to feel smothered?

Do I feel valued for who I am within my opposite sex relationships?

What makes this a safe or unsafe relationship?

How is conflict resolved within this relationship?

Do I feel this person really listens to me with respect?

Is there any power struggle within this relationship?

Who is the leader?

Am I 100% honest with this person, why or why not?

Do I feel like a better, more valuable person around this relationship?

Is my unique and individual identity in tact when I am with this person or do I feel that I need to be someone else?

Do I feel pressure to do or say things I am not comfortable with?

Is sexual activity a part of this relationship or do I feel pushed in that direction?

Am I being asked to quit something I enjoy or pull away from any of my same-sex friends?

Am I growing and being challenged in a positive way through this relationship?

Do I feel accepted unconditionally?

Do I have the freedom to think and feel differently than the one I am dating?

Do I feel any form of manipulation in this relationship and if so, why?

Is my spiritual walk encouraged and enhanced by this person?

Do I like who I am when I spend time with this person?

How is this relationship encouraging me to fulfill my dreams and reach my goals?


Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles

Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #20

This is the twentieth in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  While the following sets a high standard, one that perhaps few will initially reach, each area identified is an important character trait to look for and inquire about as you consider a lifelong marriage partner.

20. Can this person forgive and release?  Does this person get offended quickly?  Does he/she hold grudges?  Does conflict help him/her to grow and become better or bitter?  Does he/she avoid others, grow quiet or become angry when those relationships present challenges or confrontation?  (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32)

Do you know the six most challenging, most difficult words to say in a committed relationship like engagement and marriage?  Those six words are, “I am sorry, I was wrong.”  Ask any of your friends that are married how easy those words come.  Ask long-term married persons if they are over their pride so that those six words roll off of their tongue quite easily.  Why are they so tough to speak when we can apologize so quickly to the stranger on the street?  Why are we so full of pride when it comes to admitting that we could be wrong around those we love the most?  That’s just it…those we love the most.  We have the most invested in those relationships.  We just don’t want to disappoint those persons who are closest to us, who really know who we are.  We don’t want to be wrong around them because we don’t want to fail them.  We make it a “right” and a “wrong” issue when it is really an issue of being able to humble ourselves and admit that we do not know it all, we are not always right and we do not always have the best of intentions.  Sometimes we are purely selfish and that is hard to face.

Maturity brings with it a spirit of humility and an ability to quickly ask for forgiveness, as well as, forgiving others.  It is a choice we make.  God is using those persons around you to build Himself in you so that we can also say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”   (Luke 23:34)

Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles

Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #19

This is the nineteenth in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  While the following sets a high standard, one that perhaps few will initially reach, each area identified is an important character trait to look for and inquire about as you consider a lifelong marriage partner.

19. How does this person view finances and is he/she a good steward of personal wealth?  (Continued)  How did your family of origin handle finances?  Were the bills paid on time?  Did your parents incur a lot of debt?  Were your parents generous with their money and incorporate a spirit of giving or were they always “tight” with their finances?  Did they argue a lot or agree on the use of money?  (Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matthew 6:24; I Peter 5:2; Luke 19: 11-27)

Our family of origin helps to mold and to shape who we are.  As you look back at your family and how they viewed money, do you see any personal connections as to how you view money?  Most likely you see some positives and some negatives.  If your family seemed to always struggle with money, your natural reaction will be to look for security from a prospective partner, not wanting them to take unnecessary financial risks.  If your family tithed and helped the less fortunate, you will have a completely different perspective about the use of money.

Agreement in the use of money is far more powerful (not to mention life-giving to marriage) than disagreement.  When we agree on the use of our money, it releases the blessing of unity.  This is illustrated in Luke chapter 19 in the parable of the ten Minas.  The servants were told by their master to “put this money to work…”  Later the master returned …”to find out  what they had gained…”  The trustworthy ones did in fact invest the money and realized a gain and were given greater responsibility and authority.  They reaped what they sowed.  The servant who responded in fear, gained nothing and what he had, was given to the one who gained the most because he acted the most trustworthy.

Is Jesus Lord of your finances?  Does He own it all?  Are you a trustworthy servant?  Do you walk free of the love of money?  Before you merge two incomes into one, search God’s word and gain His perspective on finances.  It will save you a lot of heart ache.