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Archive for the category “Christian Growth”

My Take On The Recent Arrest Of Actor Stephen Baldwin —–> DISCIPLESHIP

Born again, Christian again Stephen Baldwin was recently arrested for not filing three years of New York State tax returns.  Various reason have been speculated as to why.  Many have stated it is because of his political views.

I have a different take.  I pray God gives me the words to share His perspective on this situation.

Many don’t recall or know that last summer, Stephen was also arrested in New York City for driving with a suspended license.

This seems more than persecution for being a Christian.  Stephen needs more discipline in his walk with Christ.  Too many basic things have occurred to Stephen that should not happen to Christians – driving with a suspended license and not filing tax return for 3 years.

Stephen needs to be away from the public eye for a while so he can concentrate on his personal walk with Christ.  Being in the public eye too often definitely will be an easy distraction for any Christian.  That’s why Stephen needs to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  That includes training & discipline.

For those who remember, the same thing happened to former baseball player Darryl Strawberry after he became a born again Christian.  Darryl was quickly put on the Christian speaking and book circuit.  Shortly afterwards, he backslid – wife divorced, jail time, sexual behavior, & drug addiction to name a few.

Darryl has recovered wonderfully today.  Praise God.  Reflecting on what occurred, Darryl specifically says back then HE NEEDED TO BE DISCIPLINED – needed to grow as a disciple of Christ first.  He needed to learn how to and begin to read the Bible more on a daily basis.

All the more reasons that Christians in the public eye need our prayers.

Please join me in prayer for Stephen Baldwin that this situation be resolved as soon as possible.  Pray with me that Stephen learn to take a step back away from the public and concentrate on growing in Christ.  Pray with me that God place Stephen under godly leaders who know the importance of growing as a disciple of Christ first.

When a Christian can set his/her priorities of growing in Christ, many of these basic things will not cause the Christian problems.  Christ then becomes the greater witness in the Christian life.

Thank you.  Glory to Christ in you.

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God’s Priority & Perspective For A Hurting World

As Christians, we MUST never forget Jesus’ specific directions for us – THE GREAT COMMISSION.  There are many who have not heard the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are people of this world, but first we are children of God, ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus in us Who desires to live His life through us.

Our identity in this world must be secondary to our citizenship in heaven.  It’s easy to make politics, careers, family, & even church a form of idolatry and mix it with the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are always called to be servants of God, even using the resources provided for us through legal, worldly institutions to preach the gospel.

We must also be aware and fight for social justice, feed the poor, visit those in prison, comfort the comfortless.  In other words, give them Jesus Christ in all our actions.

The challenge becomes to daily keep Christ first – especially our vibrant, intimate relationship with Jesus.  Otherwise, we get off track and make Christ second.

The bottom line, like I always say, is “It is Jesus in you living His life through you.”

As a child of God, people MUST see Jesus in our every actions – NO EXCEPTIONS.

If people do not see Jesus in us, then we have failed in that particular area.

All the more reasons to prioritize Jesus first in our hearts in our every actions.  The Father only see Jesus in us.  He wants us to prioritize the same.  Then only the love of God will be our motivation for every action.  People then will be guaranteed to see Christ in you.

Remember we belong to Jesus first and our desire is to please Him.  His Great Commission is the following “Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – Matthew 28:19.

Remember many do not know the intimate love of Jesus and are walking down a road of destruction that Satan has laid out.  We know because we first walked that same road.  They need to see the love of Jesus in us.  Jesus trusts you to share His love with people.  Will you prioritize your walk?  Will you embrace this love?  Will you simply let Jesus live His life through you?

The Only Way For Mature Growth

One you know the convincing proof of  new identity in Christ – convinced that you are a child of God, you must grow in maturity toward the fullness of this identity.

II Peter 3:18 tell us “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

This growth is spiritual in nature and can only be done daily.  It involves the same choices that all Christians must make.  You either choose spiritual death or spiritual life in your daily walk decisions.

Death is the way of Satan and your flesh; life is the way of Christ and His Holy Spirit.  The way of Christ is Calvary, the narrow road.  Few go this way because of the deep pains along the way.

Jesus wants to (1) reveal, (2) remove, and (3) heal these pains and hurts.  His way of Calvary is so healing, loving, and gentle even though at times it may be very painful.  The pain will only be temporary as you consistently keep your heart open to His love.

However, you must go through His Calvary cross daily so you can die daily to your flesh.  Calvary is where your flesh is put to death.  Otherwise, your daily resurrection experiences of the love of Jesus within you will often be just beyond your grasp.

Is not Calvary a symbol of death?  Of course it is.  Fortunately, it is the necessary death of our flesh, not our spirit.  This is what Jesus refers to in Matthew 10:38-39 “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” 

It is only our daily opportunities to crucify our flesh so the life and love of God can be rooted in us more deeply.  He desensitizes us to our flesh desires more and more.  (Just remember not to carry your cross alone.  Jesus is with you and in you carrying it.  Let Him carry your burdens.  Just rest in His love.) 

This is how you grow daily in maturity and character.  You have the frequent opportunities to die daily to your already dead flesh.  Therefore, the life and love of Jesus in you will grow and flourish.  His love will flow from you naturally.

This is the love the fearful, hurting world so desperately needs to hear and experience.  God wants to share this love to the world through you.  But, first, you must grow in His love – to grow in maturity and character.  As you die more to your flesh, God trusts you more to share His love to the world.

Think About It:  For you to share the love of God to the world, God must first trust you to handle it properly, to not abuse it.

This is why you are given opportunities daily to die to your flesh desires.  After you die to them, you easily become increasingly more dependent on Christ in more areas of your life.  Therefore, God can trust you more to share His love to hurting and needing people.  Only His love will motivate you to.

As I look back 25-30 years ago when I was a young Christian, I persistently prayed for an increase of spiritual gifts.  I sure wanted them to help the body of Christ.  My desire and prayers were very sincere.  However, I was immature (not in a selfish way); I was not ripe to be used (to fly) in this area.  (One can be very sincere, but sincerely wrong.)  I did not know it then, but what I really needed was a deeper, intimate walk with Jesus.  After all, I was “masking” my severe depression during this time. 

Because I was covering up my depression (and all my flesh), God could not trust me to share His love to a hurting world.  Why would He?  I needed His love for myself first, to heal my own heart and hurts.  Otherwise, I definitely would have abused His love.

Basically, my prayer for spiritual gifts was very ego-driven.  My flesh would have been so puffed up; I would have bragged and shown off my spiritual gifts.  I would always be looking out the corner of my eye to see who noticed “how spiritual I was.”

What an abuse of the love and grace of God!  It is now so easy to understand why God never gave me more spiritual gifts.  He surely answered my prayer, but in His way.  I definitely needed a deeper, intimate love relationship with Him.  I am so grateful.  He quickly reminded me often of Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 

It posibly may be the same for you.  How many of your prayers and motives are driven by your flesh?  How often do you peer out the corner of your eyes to see who notices “how very spiritual you are”?  Only you can answer that.

Be very honest with yourself.  Do you not desire the love of Jesus to root deeper into your heart and life?  Spend intimate, silent time with Jesus often, especially in His Word.  Keep your heart open to His love.  The Holy Spirit will reveal your true motives.  Do not run away when He reveals more of your flesh desires.  Acknowledge them and face them.  It is only Jesus permitting you opportunities to die to them.

God is looking for which of His children He can trust more to share His very intimate love with to a hurting world.  Do you agree?  Do you think you can easily abuse His love and grace?  Do you believe you need a deepening awareness of your intimate love with Jesus?  You do this as you die daily to your flesh desires for power and popularity in the Christian world, especially the world of spiritual gifts.  Only the Lord will show your own specific answers.

Then, I assure you – He will elevate Himself in you and through you because He can trust you more to share His love and grace to people.  People will most definitely see the love of God flowing from you very clearly and very easily.  You will be ready to fly only as God intends you to fly.

Making Disciples (A Charles Stanley Devotional)

Matthew 28:18-20 –

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Scripture teaches us to tell others about Jesus Christ. And while sharing the gospel is awesome, it is simply not enough. We should continue to encourage and invest in new believers. Many don’t know where to begin reading in the Bible or how to spend time with their heavenly Father.

Of course, God takes each person’s spiritual journey seriously, and He won’t leave a seeking heart unsatisfied. At the same time, we have a responsibility to invest in the lives of spiritual brothers and sisters by sharing our understanding and experience.

This type of teaching is called discipleship, and it is both an honor and a great responsibility. As you commence this type of relationship, consider the following points.

First, make sure to continually spend time with the Lord so that you are growing and in tune with His Spirit. Second, be prepared with a plan. Your friend needs to understand the basics, such as how to read the Bible, what prayer is, and where to find fellowship. New believers will have questions–answers are important, as is your ability to find resources when you are unsure of how to reply. Third, help the individual understand generally what to expect as he embarks on his Christian walk. Tomorrow, we will explore the stages of a believer’s journey.

Most of us learned, struggled, and learned some more till we began to understand the basics of life in Christ. Godly mentors can be a tremendous help. And remember, no matter how long we’ve believed, we never stop needing advice and encouragement from those farther along in the journey.

Our Growth as Christians (A Charles Stanley Devotional)

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

There’s a goal to the Christian life, which God expresses this way: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). This refining process is called sanctification. And there are several identifiable stages en route to this goal, but sadly, most believers are unfamiliar with them. Let me offer some definitions so you can identify where you are on the journey and understand what to expect.

Salvation is the first stage of the Christian life. This describes our redemption from sinfulness through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. What results is forgiveness of sin, which lets us have a relationship with Almighty God.

Next, God gives us opportunity to serve (Ephesians 2:10). We were created to do good works in Jesus’ name.

But at some point, we notice something isn’t working. This is the start to stage three: frustrated inadequacy. This unpleasant but necessary part of the journey can last varying amounts of time. Without it, we’d undoubtedly experience self-sufficiency and pride. But we should recognize this difficult phase as beautiful because it leads us into the best part of our spiritual lives: total dependency upon Jesus as Lord of our life. And we will be fulfilling our ultimate goal: becoming a reflection of Christ.

Sadly, many Christians don’t reach a point of complete reliance on the Lord. Pride, discouragement, and distraction can ruin focus and perseverance. Paul reminds us to fix our eyes on the goal of maturity in Christ (Phil. 3:14). Learning to die to self is painful, but ironically, it’s the only true way to life.

Avoiding Compromise (A Charles Stanley Devotional)

Read | Proverbs 2:1-22

Although the temptation to compromise threatens every believer, we don’t have to give in. If we’re aware of the danger and understand the downward progression and ultimate consequences, we can determine to be vigilant in obedience to the Lord.

The first step in learning how to avoid compromise is understanding why it is so tempting. When others pressure us to take part in in what we know God has forbidden, it’s easy to give in because we don’t want to feel rejected. But anyone who’s committed to living a godly life must be willing to stand alone and face ridicule or even persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). At other times, we consent to activities that violate our conscience just to avoid conflict, but peace at any price means we have to sacrifice obedience to God.

However, the temptation to compromise doesn’t always originate with others. In fact, James 1:14 says we are tempted when we’re carried away by our own lusts. How many Christians have fallen into sexual immorality or pornography by desiring a second look? Greed is another motivation that drives us to compromise. If you fudge on your income tax or take a few things home from the office, you’ve stepped over the line of obedience to God. Our choices should be based on scriptural truth, not on our feelings and desires.

In order to stand firm against compromise, we must make God’s Word the standard for our conduct. If you begin each day with the Lord in His Word, He will guide your way. Then when the Spirit gives a warning, obey immediately, because giving consideration to the temptation opens a door for Satan.

Join Me In Prayer – for the completed USA Presidential Election

Join me in prayer:
Lord Jesus, we thank You for the opportunity that we in the USA can vote.
We thank You for two candidates who wanted to lead our country.
We pray for both of them right now.
Lead President Obama to your heart at He leads us in the years ahead.
Bless Governor Romney with a deeper revelation of the true You.

Most importantly, heal the deep wounds that so divide & polarize this country.
Bring unity in this house for the evil one just wants to pounce on every opportunity.
Show both Republicans and Democrats the necessity to work together.
Remove the pride that keeps this from occurring.

May all come closer to a revelation & experience of the true genuine You.
May those Who need to – see their need for You in the midst of their life & accept You as personal Lord & Savior.
In Your Glorious Name, AMEN.

Apostasy Of The Worst Kind (by Sonya Hamilton)

Below is my response to someone’s post about apostasy rising up in regards to one’s personal conviction and how they will vote on election day; I wanted to share my response on my page as well.
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Apostasy of the worst kind is not esteeming the FULL counsel of the word of God, while esteeming/cherry picking certain biblical issues (while not regarding other issues) that give preference or slant to one’s own ‘prioritized’ personal convictions and opinions, and thusly passing it off as the full holy writ/counsel/determinate will of God.

Apostasy of the worst kind is when we have cloaked our personal convictions and opinions as an inspired word from God/prophecy and declare that we are His oracles declaring His will for an entire nation.

Apostasy of the worst kind is the perpetuation of our own truth in a tyrannical/dictatorship manner that seeks to manipulate and control and bend the will of another to our own truth; that’s a spirit of witchcraft and abuse. Thy will should bend to that of the Holy Spirit-at its leading and unction only.

We have shamed, condemned, demonized, vilified, damned to hell, questioned the salvation of others, called people fools, called them evil, called them traitors, cursed them, called them goats and not sheep (indicating that they are not of the fold of the Father) and we have guilted beloved brethren simply because they are voting opposite of how we are voting (symptomatic of a cult mentality and tyranical spirit). Apostasy of the worst kind is when we have bowed to the Kingdom of this world to perpetuate partisan politics in a manner unbefitting with all manners of vile rancor against each other; that which has been a stumbling block to those inside the Kingdom and an even greater stumbling block to those who have yet to accept Christ as Savior. We have polluted the altar of God with our carnal ideologies, arrogance, bigotry, preferences, and biases- in the manner in how partisan politics has been perpetuated.

Apostasy of the worst kind is when we have allowed a spirit of partisan politics to invade the Kingdom, and we have taken on the mentality of the world, which has come to divide and devour us; from the inside out; a needless wounding and severe laceration to the body of Christ.

And after November 6, how will the body of Christ begin to heal that which has been wounded and severely lacerated? Less we have become an impotent church and of no threat to the real enemy. We’re praying for the Nation, but there is an urgent need to pray against a venomous antagonistic spirit (contrary to that of the Holy Spirit) which has arisen within the Kingdom; we need to pray for the evil that has arisen among us and within us- for indeed, it has been exposed for all to see.

Say what ye may…
Regardless of how I am led to vote-
I serve a KING that is STILL on the THRONE.
I have a KING and He has a KINGDOM-
and it includes me….
and I am my Father’s Beloved and indeed accepted in the Beloved;
the Called Out; the Remnant.

In our Father’s agape,
S. Hamilton

#What bonds us – should be greater than that which has come to divide us, and should certainly transcend the rancid/vile beast of partisan politics#

 

– by Sonya Hamilton – used by permisson

Growing Into Leadership – 2

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15

When you are under pressure you can fail to hear what’s being communicated, and the results can be fatal.

Therefore:

(1)  In order to lead people you must first understand them.

You must have insight into the human heart. Sensitivity toward the hopes and dreams of people is essential for connecting with people and motivating them.

(2)  Listening can keep problems from escalating.

Good leaders are attentive to small issues. They pay attention to their intuition. Not only do they listen to what’s being said, they also hear what’s not being said. They are secure enough to ask for honest feedback, and not become defensive when they receive it.

(3)  Listening establishes trust.

Dr. David Burns, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said, “The biggest mistake you can make in trying to talk convincingly, is to put your highest priority in expressing your own ideas and feelings. What people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood. The moment they are, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.

– from a daily devotional

Growing Into Leadership – 3

Listen…and I will give you some advice.” Exodus 18:19

As a leader, it’s your job to see that things get done.

However, as the workload grows you will have to find people with talents equal to the task.  Otherwise, you will stop growing.

So what keeps us from seeking out the right people and delegating the right tasks to them?

(1)  Past hurts

Somebody let us down so we’re reluctant to trust anybody.

(2)  Pride

We don’t want to share the credit with others.

(3)  Perfectionism

We are not willing to be put at risk while people with potential learn on the job, so our vision bottlenecks and everything bogs down.

Moses had this problem with Israel. Here’s how he solved it:

Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice…You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him…But select capable men from all the people…and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this…you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’ Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said” (vv.17-24 NIV).

If you want to be a good leader, follow his example!

– from a daily devotional

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