High Expectations

There is a high level of expectation and excitement at the beginning of the school year. Students are pumped and you hear things like: “I’m following Jesus, baby! Nothing will slow me down!”

You can feel the energy in the air and it’s quite electric. Girls and guys look their best, act their best, and say their best.

Imagine a diamond ring in a display case. Everything about it sparkles and glimmers. 

I think this is awesome! Students should be excited. In fact, they should come to school expecting great things to happen.

Miraculous events take place all throughout the school year at Rhema and I truly believe it’s because there’s a multiplied level of expectancy.

It would be harder for me to believe that 300+ faith-filled, Spirit-filled Christians are hanging out in one place and God didn’t show up on a daily basis.

However, I am always a bit skeptical for the same reasons I get excited…

Being overly emotional leads many Christians astray. The need to be “spiritual” is dangerous.

rbtc-sealI often wonder how we can be any more spiritual than “I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body.”

So what’s with the need to be more “spiritual”?

I believe it boils down to a misplaced sense of what it means to be significant, yet trying to gain significance by impressing others leads many Christian leaders down a road of empty accolades.

True significance is only found in Christ. No man or woman can meet that need.

As the school year progresses (or you’re preparing to come to Rhema next year), here’s my encouragement to you: 

 Always be excited.

Always be real.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Walk in the reality that you’re approved by God and called into ministry by God.

And know that you’re a vital part of the Rhema family, a part of Brother Hagin’s God-given commission to “Go teach my people faith.” 

 

Advertisements

Just keep asking

“I’m just going to keep asking if I can help. Who knows? One day the answer might be yes.”

After the Boiler Room I was teasing one of my friends–a mom with two young kids–about her not accepting my requests to help ferry things to her car. 

She’s never really needed my help because her husband is great at taking care of that kind of stuff–which is awesome btw. 

It got me to thinking…

There’s nothing wrong with sticking your neck out after being turned down by whoever you’re trying to help. 

Just keep asking. 

Just keep being a friend. 

I truly believe that’s one of the biggest reasons most Christians aren’t making disciples like we should be. 

Most of us give up way too fast on people. 

Most of us have bought into the lie of microwave evangelism when evangelism and discipleship is more akin to a crock pot. 

It takes time. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in different communities where trust is everything. 

You have to show up and keep your word. When you don’t, you better fess up fast because the people can smell a phony a mile away. 

This kind of intentional lifestyle of service is refining; think about it like sand paper that takes off the rough edges. It demands absolute sincerity. 

And it’s truly the most worthwhile way to live. 

I am a better person and Jesus follower because of this demand to slow down, to take off my mask. 

Going back to what I said earlier, never stop asking how you can help. 

Being available to serve is a foundational teaching within the gospel. If Jesus’ mission was to serve and not to be served, then that’s our mission too. 

Be unrelenting in your pursuit to help, to pray, to encourage. 

You might get turned down 9 times out of 10. 

You might get cussed out. 

You might be misunderstood. 

Just keep asking. 

Because your quest to serve will provide opportunities to share the love of Christ in ways you could never orchestrate on your own. 

Why I can’t care

” I can’t care about that…” 

A friend of mine was telling me how someone else perceives me. I appreciated the input because I’m not a sociopath (meaning I’m incapable of feeling one way or the other).

If there’s some kind of weirdo behavior that I’m exhibiting and someone else notices then I want to know. 

The reason I said, “I can’t care about that” is quite simple:

I’m a recovering people pleaser. 

In the situation being discussed, there was absolutely nothing I could do about this person’s perception.

So, I just can’t care. 

The alternative is that I become an obsessive, anxious maniac who can’t function when said person is around.

No thank you. Not interested. Been there, bought the t-shirt. 

We can’t control how others think of us. Even if we could control it, that’s not a healthy way to live.

I don’t want to be a robot, so everyone else has to be a robot? Where’s the health in that situation?

Perception is a double-edged sword.

You’re in denial if you think it’s possible to not have a perception about someone, yet you have to be on guard against faulty perception.

I have learned that a faulty perception is the first step toward a bad judgment.

I’m actually proud of myself today because I spotted a situation that is beyond my control, decided to let it go, and articulated why I was letting it go to someone else (i.e. my friend and now my readers). 

This is a step in the right direction.

 

A Moment of Silence

Since when did complete agreement become the goal? 

I’ve listened to the news quite a bit since the Orlando massacre and the amount of political talk and civil rights talk and gun rights talk is nauseating.

What about just being sad for 5 minutes before we launch into “These are the issues we need to address”?  

Which, by the way, is what everyone says EVERY SINGLE TIME after a tragedy of this magnitude.

Here’s what I want to say: Everyone, shut your mouth. 

This is not the time to start a conversation about gun control.

This is not the time to start a conversation about conservatives vs. liberals.

This is not the time for Christians and the LGBTQ community to stand off nose to nose.

This is not the time to pick a part Islam.

I just want everyone to please be quiet. 

There are 49 families who are mourning. Their son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, lover was killed.

If you can’t think of a kind, compassionate thing to say, please shut up. 

We can riot in the streets later.

We can debate for hours later.

I am sad about this senseless loss of life. None of those victims set out thinking, This is it, my last day on earth.” They were just out having fun (albeit at a later hour than I like to be out) on a Saturday night. 

Please pray for the families. There are some hard days ahead.

Pray for ways you can show kindness and compassion to those around you–no matter how different they are. 

Pray for strength and wisdom on how we should all properly respond to this tragedy.

But for now, I think we all need to take a breath and just sit in this space for a minute. Let’s take a few moments to grieve before responding rashly. 

 

The Blame Game

If a project is your responsibility, wouldn’t the logical conclusion be that if something goes wrong you’re responsible? 

I am a big believer that if the buck stops with you then it’s important to assume complete responsibility for any failures within the project.

Maybe it wasn’t directly your fault, but being a leader requires taking a hit every once in a while. 

This project failed at this point.

I am the leader of this project.

Therefore, I have to step up and say, “This is directly or indirectly my fault.” 

Just say it!

Don’t say, “Well, anything can happen and I did my best and I tried….” 

Be quiet. 

Assume responsibility.

“I assume responsibility for this failure and here is how my team is dealing with it.” 

Playing hot potato with the blame will not move the team forward.

To me, being able to say, “This is my fault” is a good indication that someone is ready to be a leader. 

Leaders don’t only take the credit when things are successful. I call those kind of leaders Glory Hogs.

As a leader, your team is looking at how you handle failure.

If you cannot assume responsibility for mistakes, don’t be surprised when your team hesitates to assume responsibility for their mistakes.

 

 

 

Getting rid of locusts

It’s easy to get sucked into time wasting activities. 

For example, I have to be careful to not let YouTube videos suck me into spending hours doing nothing productive.The struggle is real…

Paul told the Christians at Ephesus to [Be]careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Matthew Henry’s commentary on verse 17 says:

Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment.

Joel 2:25 is a verse Christians love to quote:

The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
    to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.”

I’ve seen grown people cry over this verse…

And it’s truly an awesome verse because God is merciful when we completely miss it.

Most of us, like the children of Israel, waste our time on things that eat up our fields and take away opportunities.

My encouragement to us all is to not wait until the locusts, i.e the time wasters, strip our fields before we start getting serious about managing our time. 

If you see a locust, squash it!

Ask the Lord to help you stay on track. 

This is not about legalism, either.

Don’t get busy doing a bunch of stuff out of obligation, thinking that religious activity is like a can of locust repellent.

When I talk about asking the Lord for help, I mean to ask Him to open your eyes to the people who could benefit from you making the most of every opportunity.

 

 

 

Time to Get Honest

 Let me be the first to say that I’m the queen of Fine-and-Okay Land. When something’s not fine and okay, the LAST thing I want to do is talk about it. 

So I won’t–if I’m not pushed.

Sharing our stories, our struggles, is not always fun or easy. 

But I honestly believe that the reason most of us never move past the past, especially Christians, is because we never allow ourselves to be fully known, we never share our struggles.

Of course, I’m not advocating running around sharing the most intimate details of our lives with complete strangers. I’m assuming (this might be a big leap) that we all are aware that healthy boundaries are vital. 

And here’s the moment I get really honest…

Most Christians destroy any opportunity to keep a conversation going. 

Let me demonstrate:

Me: How are you doing today?

Hat Lady: I’m blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath…

Me: Oh…my day stunk.

The conversation just died right there.

Yes, Christians are all of the things Hat Lady just said. I firmly and fully believe it.

Though, how are we going to encourage an atmosphere of openness in our churches when the conversation dies in less than 5 seconds? 

If the desire of our heart is to have a church overflowing with hurting and broken people, we need to be more honest and become better listeners.

Isn’t this the cry of every church? To be filled with broken hearted people who need Jesus to rock their worlds?

Here’s what I’m not saying: Stay stuck in your past. Always talk about it and never change. 

Jesus Christ can and will redeem and restore you no matter how broken you are.

This doesn’t change the fact that broken hearts take time to heal.

What better place to heal than in a loving family of fellow believers who are committed to listening and helping each other move toward the best God has for us?