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Some feminine wisdom

In the church that meets in our home, we’re studying through the book of Proverbs. We came across some interesting verses last Friday on the topic of wisdom. There was some lively and spirited discussion. At the end, someone commented, “I predict a blog post coming on!” They were right, and here it is.

Here are the points that we noted:

  • Wisdom is personified. The Greek word is Sophia.  I, Wisdom live together with good judgment (Proverbs 8:12). Listen as Wisdom calls out!… She takes her stand at the crossroads (Proverbs 8:1-2)
  • Wisdom is female. She offers you long life in her right hand…Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire compares with her (Proverbs 3: 14-15)
  • We are to seek Wisdom, and in doing so find life.  Those who search will surely find me (Proverbs 8:17) Whoever finds me finds life (Proverbs 8:35)
  • Wisdom helped create the earth. The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past at the very first before the earth began (Proverbs 8:22-23)  I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight,
        rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family! (Proverbs 8: 30-31)
  • Wisdom sounds remarkably like Jesus. In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him,  and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:1-3)  …Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) I am the way, the truth and the life (John 10:10)
  • Wisdom sounds like the Holy Spirit too. She will guide you down delightful paths (Proverbs 3:17) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13)  I know where to discover knowledge and discernment (Proverbs 8:12) Think of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

One can come up with some interesting ideas about the interplay of the feminine with the godhead from this. What do you think?

Stories from the church that meets in our home

I love the church that meets in our home. We are so blessed! How does one communicate the fun that we have just being together–the laughter and warmth as we share a meal? The joy in having visitors with us?

Usually we start the “spiritual” part of our time together by asking a question: “What has God done for anyone this week?”

This last Friday the following happened:

  • The “miracle baby” was with us for the first time and we celebrated God’s goodness to the family again.
  • A businessman shared how he had held a grudge against someone who had cheated him over a year ago. This week he finally forgave the person and his business took a sudden upswing.
  • A young woman shared how God has just set her free from years of incredible darkness with many medications. She’s a completely different person. It all happened following prayer.
  • A lady who was given a Bible at her baptism in December just finished reading the whole book through for the first time.
There were other great things shared too and we spent most of our time in praise and thanksgiving for God’s love and mercy and in prayer for each other.

God is so good!

 

 

It takes both men and women

When women fight for justice for themselves in church circles, they are perceived as militant feminists. If men stand alongside them, shoulder-to-shoulder, then something that looks like “Kingdom” will result.

Where are the men who will champion women, standing up for their rights? Where are the Baraks who recognize women in leadership and refuse to go into battle without them?

What is God about to do?

Leadership: a picture

Photo credit: TheeErin (Creative Commons)

Guest post by “Francis Drake”: Business and fellowship

Sometimes it helps people to get completely “out-of-the-box.”

For a number of years I ran a local fellowship for businessmen and women. Because they never thought of it as a “church” they didn’t come with their church straight-jackets on; consequently we had amazing results. The vision was never intended to be about getting people saved, although that did happen. It was about giving existing believers the confidence to walk in their anointing, as a normal way of everyday life.

The meetings were prophetic,  and everyone participated in a body style of ministry. We met monthly around a large hotel conference table complete with note pads and coffee. We started with open fellowship, words or prophecy as the Lord led. For many who would never have ventured outside their institutional church, hearing this genuine free relationship with the Lord was a complete shock.

Being the organiser (or facilitator), to ensure that everyone participated, I would ask all present to introduce themselves in turn, and give a run down as to where they were at that moment in their business, and what their needs and desires were, and more to the point, what was God saying to them. Whilst this happened, the others were encouraged to listen to the Spirit and make any notes for prayer and ministry later on.

As we grew, the start could often be a little slow, as usually it generated further conversation and questions, particularly when someone was going through the middle of a business crisis.

Next we would ask everyone to move out of their seats and pray for each others’ situations as the Spirit led.

Giving business advice was banned. Our purpose was to eat of the Tree of Life, to pray and to give encouragement through words from God, and to deal with the work of the enemy by deliverance etc.

People were shocked when they saw the Holy Spirit at work. “Why don’t we get this sort of teaching in church?” was a regular, indignant question. What they witnessed was the practise of faith through and through.

We saw amazing things happen in businesses once God was allowed in. A lowly gardener might have a deep prophetic word or vision for an engineer or doctor which would instigate a massive change in the man’s business. A small core group of Spirit filled business men and women were able to encourage the weaker members.

We never advertised, but it just kept growing as excited newcomers would return the next month with two or three others! Word of mouth from enthusiastic believers did all the networking for us. They came because they saw that when God was active in their businesses, He brought blessing. Their lives outside church changed. Passive Christians became enthusiastic believers.

Our times together gave many believers their first experience of seeing that God could actually change things in the real world. Many Christians have never experienced anything outside of Sunday church. This meeting enabled them to grow in personal faith, especially as they watched their brothers progress through business crisis and on to victory under the power of God.

We started with about ten people at the first meeting. We kept having to ask the hotel for a bigger conference room as it rocketed to sometimes 60 people, which was a bit too big to handle. We had in all about 130 members, but thankfully they never came all at once.

When people see the reality of God, their lives will never be the same.

Francis Drake has always been passionate about letting God reign in his everyday life, not just in church. If the word of God didn’t apply successfully in his daily work, then either it, or Francis was a fake! Learning to run manufacturing businesses as a prophetic venture is an excellent way to grow in faith. The effect of God’s involvement in the various projects Francis ran enabled him to overflow into helping other businessmen. The fellowship was one of the results.

Photo Credit: Amoooo (Creative Commons)

A story: Child of Promise

It seems that wherever we turn at present, God is doing amazing things.

Yesterday we held a baby shower: here’s the story behind it.

Shama is a new Christian from a Hindu background. She and her husband had been trying for a baby for several years, but with no success. When they finally consulted an OBGYN, tests showed she would need surgery before conception was possible, but with the various things going on in their lives, they knew they would have to delay.

One evening this last January, when Shama was feeling especially despondent about this, she flipped open her Bible and said., “God, I’ve no idea if you speak into this kind of situation, but will you show me something from your Word?”

Her Bible fell open at a passage in 2 Kings 4–not a passage that a six-month old believer usually reads. In this story, a Shunammite woman has prepared a small “prophet’s chamber” for Elisha. When Elisha asks what he can do for her in return, his servant, Gehazi, suggests that he prays for her to have a child. They call her in, and as she stands in the doorway, Elisha tells her, “Next year at this time, you will be holding your son in your arms!”

This verse was a huge encouragement to Shama, who took it very literally. She brought it to the church that meets in our home, and everyone prayed for her using this verse as the basis.

One Friday in April, Shama came back to church looking very solemn. The only sign that something might be going on was that her husband was holding a video camera. We usually start our times together by asking what the Lord has done in anyone’s life that week. Shama started. “Do you remember how three months ago, I read to you that passage about Elisha?” she said. “I’d like to read it to you again.”

She read the passage, very solemnly. I remember thinking, “Oh no! She’s past the time when that verse could be fulfilled.”

Then all of a sudden, she bursts out with a huge grin, “I’m pregnant!!”

Pandemonium broke out in our group as we realized that the Scripture was going to be fulfilled literally. One year from the Lord giving her that passage, Shama will be holding her son (and yes, it’s a boy!) in her arms.

Praise God.

Photo Credit: Etolane (Creative Commons)

Is your glass half-empty or half-full?

Do you want to be happy or sad?

While there are some people who are unhappy because they need emotional healing from a broken heart, others choose to be pessimistic, to look on the negative side of life.

There are a couple of very interesting verses in Proverbs 15. Verses 13 and 15 say this:

A glad heart makes a happy face;  a broken heart crushes the spirit.

For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

The impression, especially from verse 15, is that we can choose what kind of heart we have. Are we going to choose to be glad, or sad? Some people perceive the same event as a negative; others as a positive.

Do we choose to see the glass half empty or half full. It makes a big difference. In general, people prefer to be around someone who is encouraging and has a joyful outlook on life. Jesus was “anointed with gladness more than his companions” (Hebrews 1:9). If we want to be winsome to those who don’t yet know the Lord, we would do well to have a joyful attitude towards life.

Photo credit: Jim_sama (Creative Commons)

How do we respond when life gets tough?

The part of ourselves that controls our reactions to life has a huge impact on us.

According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we have a spirit, a soul and a body. Our body is physical and receives stimuli through our senses. Our soul is generally thought to consist of our mind, will and emotions. Our spirit is that part of us that is made alive when we become followers of Jesus. We can choose which part of us we live from.

Some people choose to live from their body. They are dominated by their appetites–for food, sex. bodily comfort etc. Others choose to live from their soul. Their emotions dominate their lives, or sometimes their intellect. (I don’t feel like praying. It’s not logical, therefore I don’t believe it.)

We are supposed to live from our spirit. How can we tell if something comes from our spirit? It will be Scriptural, and it will be accompanied by the fruit of peace. The vehicle it comes through is our soul–frequently our thoughts.

A (heartfelt) example: You’ve been on an international trip and you’re suffering from jetlag. Yet you have a busy day ahead. You can decide you need a nap and tune out for a period of the day leaving others to carry your workload (living from the body). You can allow yourself to become crotchety and make sure everyone around you knows you’re suffering from a sleep deficit (living from the soul). Or you can choose to be thankful and trust God to help you through your day (living from the spirit).

As you willingly choose to live according to Scripture, even if you don’t feel like it, you will find your attitude changing. To live from the spirit brings life and peace (Romans 8:5-11)

(If you are interested to read more about this, you can download my e-book on hearing God by subscribing to this blog by email)

Photo Credit: Francois Roche (Creative Commons)

Guest post by Bruce: One line conversation starters with not-yet-believers

I have a job in a very busy, very intense human services setting. I often do not have more than 10-15 seconds to talk to a person. I always have a brief ‘teaser’ line that might elicit interest, and a quick follow up line that gives more info that can lead to a conversation.

Sometimes I say that I am a writer, and that my materials help people understand God a little better. I have a short booklet that I wrote about Jesus that I keep copies of to give out, and people are often interested in something that I wrote myself.

I often get prophetic words for co-workers, and that itself leads to conversations. Or I tell them that a lot of my time is spent helping people get closer to God. Or that I pray for a lot of people, and see God doing exciting things. I offer to pray for anyone, for anything.

My rule of thumb is to have a handful of very short ‘one liners’ and a matching follow up line that an interested person can follow up on later. This has worked well for me.

Sales people are trained to give their ‘elevator speech’.  We should be trained to give, not necessarily the gospel in 15 or 30 seconds (though that has its uses) but a 5 second comment that can give us an indication of who might well be approached later for more specific questions or comments, as a possible person of peace.

My teaser line is a way for almost anyone (even one as naturally timid as me) to ‘safely’ feel out the territory without being (or feeling) overtly or blatantly ‘religious’. The follow up might be a more definite comment or a question about spiritual beliefs.

Long ago, a friend from the South, when asked “How are you?” would often say, quietly and sweetly, “I’m blessed.”  That line, never heard in the region where I live, usually raises an eyebrow when I use it, and can give an indication of interest.I usually save that one for people that i suspect of a spiritual interest.

David Watson once blogged that he would say something like, “I feel like God may have spoken to me in a dream last night.”  or, “I recently realized something really powerful, that i never saw before.” and just let it sit, without another comment. If the other person didn’t say a word, he would not follow up with another word about it.But if they did, he gently followed up with comments to the level of the person’s interest, but never beyond it.

Just saying “God bless you” when finishing a brief conversation and watching reactions can also show who to follow up on.

Offering prayer about a personal situation shared in the workplace often leads to grateful responses, and lots of openings to share the goodness of God later on.

Bruce teaches church planting principles, working in many countries where security is an issue.

Photo Credit: procsilas (Creative Commons)

 

You want to see someone become a Jesus follower? Try spiritual warfare

For the past two months Tony and I have been engaged in some of the most intense spiritual warfare of our lives.

We were in Taiwan when we received a phone call detailing a situation very close to the heart of our family.  God challenged us to be willing to pray and intercede over it, and especially that one of the people concerned would surrender their life to the Lord–something we had been praying about for years. We knew from previous experience what this could mean–every spare minute engaged in intercession and warfare. It would mean that some nights we would be up half the night in prayer–not because we had chosen to but because the Lord would wake us. No more lazy evenings watching TV. Up early in the mornings so we could fit in extra prayer time.

The verses that we sensed we were to pray over particularly come in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

A book by Paul Billheimer, which I highly recommend, called Destined for the Throne: How Spiritual Warfare Prepares the Bride of Christ for Her Eternal Destiny first alerted me many years ago to the fact that these verses apply primarily to non-believers. We are to destroy every proud obstacle that keeps them from knowing God. And the way we do this isn’t through human logic or argument and discussion, but through the spiritual tools Jesus has given us–praise  and thanksgiving (Psalm 149:6-9), the Word (Ephesians 6:17), claiming his promises (Romans 3:4; 2 Corinthians 1:20), binding and loosing (Matthew 16:18-19; 18:18), the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony and the fact that are willing to lay down our lives (Revelation 12:11).

Within two days, we saw our first, very small breakthrough.

Shortly after this at one of our home church gatherings, everyone broke into small groups to pray about the “impossible situations” they were facing in their lives–for example, two families wanted to pray for people with serious drug and alcohol problems. Maybe 5 or 6 people were prayed for.

Within a month, the person Tony and I were praying for had found the Lord due to a remarkable series of circumstances–thank you Jesus, we are so very grateful–and had led someone else to Christ.  Another one of the other “impossible situations” had become a Christian too  And it is very clear that God is working in two more.

Yes, the timing was right in our particular battle, but spiritual warfare will result in people finding Christ.

The end of this story has not been written yet–it is still an ongoing journey. We have won the first battle and that gives us confidence that we can press through to see the war won. We know that Jesus has won the  overall victory.

If anyone would like a list of the verses we use in spiritual warfare, let me know.

I’d love to hear any stories where you have seen something similar.

 

 

Photo Credit: One lucky guy (Creative Commons)

 

 

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