From Milk to Meat – To Grow or Not to Grow? The Choice Belongs to You

…Because my Heavenly Father Loves me too much to leave me where I am. A collection of thoughts, teachings and other experiences along the pathway into abiding Peace.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
The Word is the barometer by which we measure spiritual maturity. It is quick (alive) and the Life in it (or rather in HIM) is what translated (raised) us from spiritual death and became our everlasting, eternal, endless Life. To the degree that we have entered into the REST that He has provided for us (from all DEAD works, because dead works could not produce, attain nor maintain the Life of Christ in us) we grow.
Eternal Life is a state of being but it is also a state of constant growing in Him. We should never be stagnant…that Life in us produces more Life as well as the Grace that is part and parcel of that Life. That Life is the “Christ IN you – the Mystery that so many of us fail to understand because we have not given ourselves over to the Teacher of our Spirit…the Holy Ghost. We activate our Teacher by spending time praying in other tongues – that is our responsibility, and that is how we grow. It is up to us to know the Mystery and to make the Mystery known. Otherwise we will continue to live with an earthly mindset. Our mindset should be heavenly because that is where we are from and where we will return. Soul transformation by the Spirit brings about permanent change. Don’t try to change your flesh – it is dead. It is about the salvation of our SOUL. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
“Dividing asunder of the SOUL and SPIRIT”: The natural soul and the born-again human spirit. How far apart are they? The more your soul is in agreement with your spirit man, the more mature you will be. The less your mind is in agreement with the things of this “natural” realm, the more you will walk as a son. As many as allow themselves to be led by the spirit of God, they are the SONS of God (Romans 8:14)

Positionally and truthfully we are sons…but are we walking as such? The soul is the place of decision, and the choice is yours.

Be encouraged!
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Find the “Extra” in the Ordinary‏

Dream big! Take a leap of faith! Achieve greatness! 

The motivational slogans are all around us. Success is ours if we embrace it. Strive for an extraordinary life. After all, we’re not only children of the King, we’re doing the King’s work. We are destined for great things.

Or are we?

Greatness – in the way it is generally understood – is not extolled in Scripture. Again and again, Jesus explained the way to greatness is the way of humility. We are to become like little children to enter the kingdom (Matthew 18:4). Great leaders in God’s eyes are those who are servants (Luke 22:26-27). When Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, they returned rejoicing at the great power they experienced over even the demons. But he rebuked them saying, “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Our boasting should not be about what we do, it should be about Who we belong to and what he has done.

Variations of the word humble appear in Scripture more than one hundred times. Even John the Baptist understood “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). There was no room for a celebrity role in John’s life and ministry, not when Jesus was to receive all the glory.

Yet we are bombarded with admonitions, even by other Christians, to achieve greatness. If we fail, we’re told it’s because we didn’t dream big enough, try hard enough, or have enough faith. Don’t settle for ordinary. Pursue extraordinary exploits or get out of the way so others can accomplish what you can’t. Perhaps the problem is found in how we define ordinary. Pastor and author Tim Keller notes, “If Jesus became incarnate to live among the ordinary, then what we call ordinary is really special to God.” God values people. Ordinary people. People who understand they bring nothing of any worth to the table of salvation (Matthew 5:3) and who realize their greatest inheritance comes in response to a humble heart (Matthew 5:5).

C. S. Lewis once said, “Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary.” It’s only when we toil in the ordinary that we discover what God sees as extraordinary.

The pastor who spends a lifetime ministering to his congregation of thirty people in a tiny Appalachian town receives the extraordinary blessing of understanding what it means to pour oneself out for others. The woman toiling in obscurity in one of the thousand leper colonies in India learns the extraordinary blessing of serving those who cannot help themselves, recognizing this is what Christ did for her. The Sunday school teacher who faithfully teaches his class of fifth grade boys, week after week and year after year realizes he has accomplished the extraordinary feat of passing the baton of faith to the next generation.

Our culture has infected us with an insatiable hunger for impressive ministry. We search for significance to validate our life’s work. We observe celebrity pastors, authors, and teachers, and wonder if and when it will be our turn. A broader platform enabling us to have a larger impact for God can only be a good thing, right? Changed lives, incredible growth, influencing our culture – how could God not want us to achieve these extraordinary results?

But maybe – just maybe – God doesn’t want us to accomplish great things, as defined by the world’s standards. Perhaps he wants us to find the “extra” in the ordinary as we toil faithfully where he has planted us, willingly accepting obscurity if that’s what he has called us to do.  Glory will come for every Christian, but it comes by way of suffering. Jesus showed us the way to a crown is by the path of a cross. Faithfulness in the little things now will lead to greatness in God’s perfect time, if not in this life, then in the life to come (Matthew 25:23).

In the meantime, God delights in doing the opposite of what the world expects. Think of the manger. As Pastor Bill Hybels says, “The manger is a symbol of what can happen when Jesus Christ resides in us. The ordinary suddenly becomes extraordinary.” It’s the extraordinary reality of our ordinary earthen vessels containing the indwelling third person of the Trinity.

Does God use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things? Absolutely. Most of the time, however, he uses ordinary people to accomplish ordinary things that become extraordinary when he gets the glory.

Photo(s)/Resource(s): Ava Pennington

 

A Most Pernicious Temptation

It is a rampant problem in many Christian circles that believers learn to use the right words rather than embody the right life. Specifically, they are enticed to communicate about people rather than talk to those people. Perhaps the most pernicious of these temptations comes to us in the form of gossip and slander. If we can simply pinpoint the sins of others — real or imagined — we can elevate ourselves to the righteous role of sage and judge in one fell swoop. If challenged on it, we can simply default to claims of “accountability” or hide behind the “need to pray” for that individual’s struggles. In the process, we retain the mask but ultimately usurp the very meaning of righteousness, accountability, love, and prayer. More so, we violate love and we thus sin. Ironically, we do it all in the name of Jesus.  Left unchallenged, the plagues of gossip and slander will take root within the individual and then quickly spread to those around them, poisoning the minds of others. The treatment for this disease is ultimately found in the very meanings that were usurped. If we wish to embody righteousness, we must be willing to examine our own faults rather than point to the distracting mess that are alleged about others. If we wish to embody accountability, we need to be willing to speak directly to the people we may be concerned about rather than speak about them.

And have an open mind and heart as we do so. We would want no less if someone were talking about us or they were concerned about us. Matthew 7:12 is often preached, but so rarely lived. “Treat others the way you want to be treated, this is the Law and the Prophets.” If we wish to embody prayer, we need to couch that prayer in a relationship with the one for whom we are praying, rather than publicize our misguided perceptions in our prayer request. Above all of these, if we wish to embody love, we must be willing to take up the cross and walk with others rather than choosing to walk over them. Love is defined as treating people the same exact way we would want to be treated in every situation. If all Christians walked in love, then slander, gossip, evil speaking, judgmentalism, jumping to conclusions, judging the motives of others, thinking the worst of them, spreading mistruths about them, etc. would all evaporate and the Church would indeed be that shining light we’re called to be.

As a blogger and a writer, it has been staggering to me how often I am suddenly made privy to gossip about people I’ve never met. Love dictates that we bloggers fiercely moderate defaming comments about others, not approving those comments and even correcting the people would dare to speak ill of other believers. We would want the same if it were us being defamed. It’s both tragic and ironic that Christians are the ones who often the guilty parties in spreading slander about their fellow believers. The internet has the inherent ability to strip people of personal contact and, with it, the sense of accountability. But the body of Christ will hold those who hurt others by evil speaking accountable. Correction will come and so will God’s discipline on those who sin in this way.

If we wish to be voices of hope in a very broken world, we must be cautious that the voices to which we give ear are voices of healing and not destruction. Gossip and slander are things we should have no tolerance for. Rather than wink or blink at these cancers, deeming them less serious than murder, adultery, stealing, etc, we should confront those who traffic in such sins of the mouth and typepad and hold them accountable. In the end, the cure to all of our spiritual plagues was embodied 2000 years ago, as love took on flesh and revealed its depth on a cross.

Photo(s)/Resource(s) T E Hanna