Devotion, Fasting, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 13: “Your Leader Needs Prayer.”

pray-for-mePray for your personal leaders today. Your boss, your pastors, your kid’s teachers. You often don’t know the weight they carry. To fulfil the vision for an organisation comes with a high price of sacrifice on the part of those in leadership.

They think about their work day and night. Problems at every level make their way to the top. Misunderstood, tired, and unsure at times, they must forge ahead anyway for the sake of the team they lead. They don’t always do everything perfectly, but they stand before you everyday and do their best.

The Apostle Paul asked for prayer in Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. As strong and fervent as he was in his message and presentation, he still needed people to come around him, support him, believe in him, and mostly PRAY for him. Prayer makes a difference.

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6: 13-18, MSG)

Courage, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Embracing the Grit

cleaningI hate cleaning; not solely because of the time it takes or just because I’m afraid of cancer-causing chemicals. Cleaning toilets with three boys in my house means finding wee in places it doesn’t belong; however, I hate cleaning mostly because once I start, I find out just how dirty things really are. I’ll be dusting the window ledge and then I see that the frames have little tiny black spots of mould on them. Or, I vacuum the carpet and find so many dust bunnies under the couch that I’m afraid a real rabbit might jump out of one of them! Or, what about the bathroom drawers? I am wiping the outside while finding toothpaste and hair covering the inside.

It’s just so much easier to throw in the towel than to keep cleaning. I mean, I didn’t even think about the inside of the drawers until I started cleaning the outside. Maybe I should just leave it all and live in squalor?

My Christian journey is a lot like this: I start out all gung-ho when I first experienced the presence of God. Like putting on a new pair of cleaning gloves and pulling out all the supplies, there’s excitement for what’s to come. How great will my house smell this afternoon? How shiny will the mirrors be? How exciting to dream about God giving me the desires of my heart and multiplying my blessings!

Then, I look closer at the mirror and I see that there’s actually a layer of dust all around the edges. I reach those “up-high” edges and now I glance at the top of the vanity. Uh-oh… I’ve never even seen up there and it’s covered with dust too. I clean that and then decide to look the cabinet and find a dead roach. EEW!

What was supposed to take 2 minutes has now taken 10 and I’m utterly discouraged.

Everyone at my new church was SO FRIENDLY when I first came. I wondered if these people were for real. They seemed so genuine and so kind. Then, I looked closer and realised there were some cliques. The lady who greeted me those first few weeks doesn’t even remember my name. And, the Pastor didn’t talk to me this week.

Now, that feel-good endorphin that was released when my “floral scents all-purpose cleaner” made its way across the kitchen is suddenly overridden by my disappointment that this journey with God requires some work.

Like the blinds on our windows, I find a collection of grit just under the surface. I liked that part of the Bible that told me how much I was loved and forgiven, but I’m not so sure I want to see it from the angle of “sanctification.” I like spraying the counter top and giving it a quick wipe, but don’t make me move the toaster, kettle, and canisters out of the way.

I have bad habits I need to break but I’m not even sure I want to. I hold onto anger and resentment like it’s a high school boyfriend I can’t afford to lose. I have always done it and I’m not sure who I am anymore if I stop. I’m happy to sweep or vacuum, but please don’t ask me to move the furniture or clean behind the toilet.

I’m afraid of what I might find.

I hate looking closer at myself and picking at old wounds that have scarred and crusted on my heart, covering it like soap scum covers my shower door. I like not being able to see inside myself. What I see causes me to feel vulnerable. It causes me to take responsibility for my own actions and feelings. It forces me to have grace for others and I’ve always been able to judge others and point the finger.

I must embrace the grit to experience the gloss.

Only when I put elbow grease into something can I erase what once stood in my way. No one can do it for me. Just like no one is going to come and inspect my house with a white glove and then offer to clean for me, no one is going to inspect my heart and remove the callouses. I’m the only one who can keep my eyes clear enough to see the beauty of Christ and all that he offers me. I must choose each day to not let the sediment fall on my heart, drying it up and losing all tenderness.

Becoming more like Christ is a never-ending journey. Just when I think I’ve have mastered one area, I find myself seeing three more that need work. Kind of like getting all caught up on the washing only to find some dirty PJ’s shoved under my 5 year old’s bed…

The good news is that I have the Holy Spirit on my side, empowering me and cheering me on in my daily detox. And, unlike house chores, there’s actually an inheritance awaiting me when I allow God to purify my life.

But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” (Luke 3:16-17, MSG)

Fasting, government, Leadership, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Six

Romans 13:1-6

We all have leaders in our life. Whether our parents, a boss, a teacher, a pastor, they play important roles in guiding us, educating us, and overseeing our progress and work. Leaders have the ability to influence us greatly. We can all remember the coach who believed in us and pushed us to do something we didn’t think possible on the field. I can remember a teacher who told me I was something special and that I could achieve anything I put my mind to. For years, it was her voice that caused me to push through hard times.

Sometimes, we don’t like to listen to authority figures. They can tell us something we may not want to hear. Our pridefulness can avoid input into our lives for fear of feeling weak, needy or ignorant.

God has established all authority figures in their places. Whether good or bad, right or wrong; decisions we like or ones we deem unfair. The great news is that as Christians, we are ultimately submitted to the most competent and absolutely perfect leader, Jesus Christ. If we truly trust him and totally rely on him, then we can handle whatever comes our way in this life.

As we continue our 21 day fast, let us remember and pray for the leaders in our lives. Their jobs aren’t easy. Sometimes they have very heavy burdens and they aren’t able to share publicly the struggles they face. May we always have compassion and grace towards our leaders, respecting and honouring them while trusting God. He ultimately helps us fulfill the plan and purpose for our lives no matter what life brings us.

Dear God, thank you for placing leaders in my life to help guide me. I pray for each of them to know you and to follow your voice as they lead. Strengthen our governmental leadership, civic leaders, bosses, teachers, and pastors. Give them wisdom to make tough decisions and encourage them through the people they lead. May it be a joy and not a burden to fulfill their roles. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

church, Church planting, Courage, Faith, Inspiration, Lift Church, Social problems, Uncategorized

Call Me a Pioneer

I get one of two main responses when I share our vision for Lift Church:

1) A glazed over look and a patronizing or confused smile that says, “Awe, poor thing.  She doesn’t get it.  That’s nice, but we will see what actually happens.”  You can tell our viewpoint is either so foreign to them that they just can’t relate or understand.  Or, they really DO think we are crazy; or naive; or short-sighted.

2) An excited face and ‘edge-of-her-seat’ body language that screams, “I want THAT!” Some people hear what we have to say and it’s like a breath of fresh air to them.  They get so excited and can’t wait to ask questions and how they can be a part of what we are doing.

It’s not hard to admit that not everyone will see what we see.  Sometimes we are just planting a seed.  For some folks, they will not grasp “it” until the groundwork has been laid- when we have hundreds of people and and comfy chairs, amazing kids’ programs, coffee, flashy lights and amazing bands.  Other people will never  be excited about anything related to Jesus!  Yet others will come alongside us even in this inaugural season where all we have to show the way is our spearheaded conviction and our word.  Seven amazing families have already decided to pioneer alongside us (Praise God)!

I’m reminded of the start of our AdvoCare business in 2000.  All we had was a $50 investment and a vision for how the products and company could change our lives.  People thought we had gone mad!  We lived everyday with negative opinions about network marketing.  However, with hard work and God’s favour on us, we continued to share our vision and ONE BY ONE, we built a team.  That company has paid us over $1 million.

Here we are again, only this time, the stakes are much higher.  We have eternity in mind every time we initiate and instigate.  When we preach and promote the cause of the local church, our own avant-garde family’s legacy is tied to this dream.  All our chips are on the table and no matter the risk, despite the “no’s” we receive or disappointments along the way, we will lead the way.  We are forging a trail so others will have a clear path to find Jesus.

Day after day, we keep pitching our vision and sharing what God has placed in our hearts.  The idea of a church that impacts this city and raises up leaders, disciples Christians and molds the next generation isn’t hard for me to see. Partly, because I experienced it firsthand at Celebration Church.  Secondly, I know people everywhere are hungry for what we will serve.  No one wants his kid to grow up a failure, on drugs or without purpose.  Most people just have no idea that the answers they seek can be found in the church.

The Bible says when people lack vision, they are unrestrained.  One version says, “they go wild!”  Take one look at our Western society and the word “wild” could easily describe our morals, theology, and young people.  Even non-believers will agree with this.  A hunger is raging for a leader who knows where he is going and whom one can trust and follow.  Our desire is that we will continue to press on despite the critics, despite those who don’t see what we see, despite the temptation to settle in and accept the status quo.  We are pathfinders blazing a trail and chartering new territory.  One by one, we know God will draw people to this vision.

No matter what role each of us fill, as Christians, we are called to advance The Church on the earth.  Let us not shy away when the path seems unclear or we get scratched by the underbrush.  We can’t turn around or back down when the climb is steep or the weather changes.  The mission is too important and the eternal rewards are worth it.

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; Psalm 127:1