Disciplined Disciples – Part One***UPDATED

Can we talk about the “D” word? – DISCIPLINE.

Good, I was hoping that you would say that. We as a people stand in need of discipline. As Christians, our need is even more urgent. Why? We must deal with our flesh. We must learn to control it such that we can be of greater use for the Kingdom of God.

Our flesh is demanding. This skin that we are in wants to do things its own way. It is insistent and stubborn. It is demanding and unrelenting. Yes, I’m still talking about our flesh.

Undisciplined flesh never leads to anything good for the Kingdom of God. Sure, it may lead you to purchase French fries in the middle of your fast or lead you to get some ice cream while you are on your diet. Those things taste good but they inhibit the work that you were trying to accomplish. Our flesh wants what it wants. Period. End of story. But, our spirit-man wants to be obedient to God. Who do you listen to? Flesh or spirit?

If you cannot say that you listen to your spirit over your flesh, then these next series of posts are for you.

Take some time now and write out areas where you struggle with your flesh. Then, take that full list to God in prayer. Then, join me back here tomorrow as we begin to tackle the “D” word and our flesh.

***UPDATE*** – Also, note that you can read more on the disciplines at this post by Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile on the Pure Church blog, found here.

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Crisis Christians – Part Two

Now that you’ve prayed (see yesterday’s post), you have that peace that only God can give.

Peace, I leave with you, my peace, I give unto you: not as the world giveth,
give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27.

Now, you are able to look at that problem with a fresh set of eyes and a renewed mind.

If not, go back and repeat step one.

Now, that we are calm, we are more able to receive/hear from God.

The best place to start is the the instruction manual. You may think that sounds crazy, but when I purchased my first car, I read the instruction manual. You can never learn too much about a multi-ton vehicle that can save you in the time of need. I know how to operate my car more efficiently in inclement weather – for example. And, that knowledge came in extremely handy when we had an icestorm a few years back. So, if reading a manual for a car helps me, then surely reading the Bible – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth will definately help and not hurt.
When you read your Word, be sure that you are reading for comprehension and not just glossing over words getting only a shallow understanding. When I read, I like to ask myself three things that I picked up from a former Sunday School teacher.

1. What did the passage SAY?
2. What does the passage MEAN?
3. How can I APPLY that to my life?

If you will take the time to read and understand your Bible and the instructions being given to you, then you are well on your way to overcoming any problems that may attempt to come your way. When you know the Word of God and know how to apply it to your situation, you have a valuable tool in combatting obstacles.
Our post next week will pick up on Disciplined Disciples, the third component of our Faith and the Long Haul Series.

And remember, I would love to hear from you and I do understand that some do not like posting, so feel free to email me here.

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Crisis Christians – Part One

It amazes me how my level of prayer and walking with the Lord affects my reaction to things that occur in my life. When I am “prayed up” and feel super close to the Lord, it seems as though the fiery darts from the enemy don’t burn me. It feels like I can say “is that all you’ve got – humph!” My shield of faith is in place extinguishing the flames.

But, at other times, when I have been spiritually lazy and slack in my studies, I seem to get burned even as I try to assess my situation. It is like standing too close to a flame and feeling the heart – or at times, getting your hair or eyebrow cinched. YIKES! Too close for comfort.

Knowing that these are the results of prayerfulness and study or laziness and slack does not seem to always motivate me towards the positive situation. At times, my flesh struggles against discipline and glorifies in the freedom to do absolutely nothing.

Have you been there?

So, what’s a girl to do when a crisis comes along when we’re in lazy-mode?

The next few posts will talk about Crisis Christians and our response, but, just know that the first step should be prayer.

I don’t think that God is not looking for some eloquent prayer when we are in crisis. In my mind, that would be like calling 9-1-1 and saying some flowery speech which, that at some point in the middle, gets at the problem that you are having. In your crisis, get before the Lord, tell Him what’s going on in your words (He already knows anyway) and then wait for a response. It’s like waiting for instructions from the 9-1-1 operator. You called them, now what to see what they will tell you. You went to God in prayer, now wait to see what He will tell you.

Sometimes, He may send the fire trucks and the ambulances and other times He may not. Sometimes the answer is quick and other times the answer is not as quick as we would prefer it to be. No matter how He chooses to address the problem, know that He will address it. He will not ignore your call. You just need to be willing to hear the answer and/or resolution to the issue. So, we wait and we listen.

The next post will deal with what to do while we wait in the state of our crisis – moving from lazy mode to resting in the safety of the Savior.

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P3 Devious Devils: Stay Steadfast

In our last post, Part 2 of Devious Devils, we spoke about the sneaky ways of the enemy. He is so very slick. But, we don’t have to fear. We have an answer to deal with his tactics.

The second part of that passage of Scripture tells us:

“You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” – 1Peter 5:8-11 (The Message Bible)

Or, once again from the King James Version:

[9]Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. [10] But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. [11] To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Let’s examine this briefly (you can do a more thorough investigation in your study time).
1 – You are not alone
2 – Fainting is not an option – hold on!
3 – Suffering is universal to the Christian experience
4 – God will mature you and establish you – strengthen and settle you. You will be on your feet!

So, don’t fall out when the going gets rough. As a Christian, you are in this for the long haul and the rewards are worth the effort.

My pastor sings a song that I think was originally performed by Douglas Miller. The words are something like this …. “though the storms keep on raging in my life…and sometimes it’s hard to tell the night from day… the hope I have within is reassured…as I lift my eyes upon that distant shore…I know that He will lead me to that blessed place He has prepared…but if the storms don’t cease…and if the winds keep on blowing in my life…my soul has been anchored in the Lord!” Now, don’t get on my inability to get all the words right – just catch the point behind the lyrics. (smile)

Just like the passage of Scripture, this song tells us that we must remain stedfast in our faith. Our suffering or going through is not a surprise to our Father in Heaven and He can use these things that are going on in our lives to do something positive for us. He will make us more mature and stronger in our faith.

When I think of this passage, I also think about a plant or a tree. As the plant grows from a seed into a real plant with roots and leaves, maturing and establishing takes place. And before long, that seed has turned into a healthy plant, strong and mighty. The same with us – we must go through to get to the place where God wants us to be. Most times, our adversaries will throw things in our way – as sneaky as they are – but praise be to God, we are already victorious! God has the last say-so! So, kick those devious devils to the curb!

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P2 Devious Devils: Poised to Pounce

Today, I want to start off with a biblical paraphrase from The Message Bible:

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” – 1Peter 5:8-11

You may also recognize the intent of this passage from the King James Version which reads:

[8]“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: [9]Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. [10] But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. [11] To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Therefore, we have a glimpse into what that tricky enemy of ours will try to do and how we are to respond. Notice that fainting is not an option.

First, we are to be on the lookout for the enemy’s approach. This is something that we must do. It is not option. If we treat it as optional, then the enemy will have us for lunch – or dinner – or a snack – you see where I’m going. We have to stay alert.

We cannot be alert if we are always spending time with the television or our caller on the cell phone. We cannot be alert if we do not STUDY the Bible. Sure you can read it for pleasure, but to be alert, you need to STUDY your Bible and hide the truths of it in your heart so that you can reference them in the time of need.

Have you ever seen a lion searching for prey? Every lion I’ve ever see (you know this is limited to the Discovery channel right?) So, anyway, every lion I have ever seen approaches his prey calm, cool and collected. That lion seems to really size up that prey and then it gets into position to pounce. And, once that pounce has taken place – well, that poor little prey better had prayed that day because the intervention of the Almighty is the only thing that will save it!

My point – your enemy sizes you up and knows just when to pounce. He knows when you have not prayed or when you have not studied. He knows when you are not concerned about Kingdom business and he makes his plan to attack you when you are the weakest. Weak in prayer – weak in study – weak in praise – weak in worship.

Notice the King James Version says seeking whom he MAY devour. Our lack of discipline in prayer, study, praise and worship is likened to telling the enemy, come on and get me! Get your snack on!

In the next post, we will discuss the remainder of this passage of Scripture. In the meantime,
PRAY
STUDY
PRAISE
WORSHIP!

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P1 Devious Devils: Recognition

I was watching the intro to a movie yesterday that had an interesting quote.

“Hell is empty,
And all the devils are here.”

from The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Then, I turned the channel.

However, that quote from Shakespeare leads us into the topic today. We are discussing “Devious Devils” as promised in the kick-off post from last week.

The first thing that we must recognize is that we all have an adversary – the devil. He uses those in his company to accomplish his purposes. That is why the Scripture tells us that we don’t wrestle against people (flesh and blood) – instead, it’s the rulers of the darkness – the evil one.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 KJV

So, our first step is to recognize that we are not fighting our neighbor or our family member or coworker – you get me, right. Instead, we are fighting with the forces of Hell. And, at times, when things are really going crazy in our lives, it may just seem like Hell is empty. It may even seem like all of Hell is now intimately involved in YOUR life – following you around and not paying any attention to anyone else. Sometimes you may feel like Hell has you and you alone on their radar – everybody else gets a free pass. But, I can assure you this is not the case. It’s just another trick of the enemy. The enemy’s time is too short to just stay focused on you. He’s after the big grab and wants to take as many into his eternal sentence as possible.

So, change your perspective.

You are not fighting the person you see – you are fighting against determined spiritual wickedness.

This realization should bring about more intense prayer in your lives.

While some Christians are fainting when the enemy roars, others are digging in their heels saying that we will not be moved! The battle has already been won and the Saints of God are victorious. Which side are you on? Team Fainters or Team Faithful.

When we recognize the seriousness of it, and we love the Lord, then fainting no longer seems like a good thing to do, right? Because we recognize that fainting means joining up with those evil forces.

We will dig more into the activity of those evil ones in the next post.

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Faith and the Long Haul

[Series – Part 1]

When I think about the work of Jesus on the cross, I think about “for the long haul.” Everything He did for us was “for the long haul.” We have a right to eternal life now because of His work – that’s “for the long haul.” We have examples of what our ministry should be like and what it should produce. We have it recorded very carefully in the Bible. We have it to reference “for the long haul.” We have been surrounded by those who have walked with God and have experienced trials and tribulations but have come through it stronger in their faith. We have their testimony – and our own – to refer to “for the long haul.” We have been given everything that we need to endure “for the long haul.”

So, why are so many Christians fainting?

This is the question that I am pondering. Why do we faint? Why is it far easier to give up than to press on? Why is it that we have such a hard time with our faith when things take such a long period of time to come to pass? In this next series of posts, we will examine:
(1) Devious Devils
(2) Crisis Christians
(3) Disciplined Disciplines

I hope that you will join me as we take embark on this journey. The posts will be spread out over a period of time to give time for each of you to read and digest the contents and prayerfully, to post a comment or send an email to me with your thoughts and even your concerns. I promise you that if you post a prayer concern, I will partner with you in prayer for that item – and you may feel free to post anonymously. God knows who you are – the rest of cyberspace does not have to know. 🙂

Pray with me as I move in this direction. I’m expecting a great move from the Lord as we begin this examination together.

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Rahab’s Ultimate Choice – and Yours

You know, I have always liked Rahab. Despite her occupation, she was a smart woman. As soon as she found out what God was doing for His people, she cast her lot with them even though she was putting herself at risk. You just have to admire that. She forsook all for allegiance to the One true God.

The question before us today is what are we willing to forsake or forgo to align ourselves with God? It seems a really easy question, but if we look introspectively, it is not an easy question to answer. If it were, then fasting would be easier, prayer would be ceaseless and life despite the wrinkles would be smoother.

But the reality is that despite our best efforts, we do not always find it easy nor do we always find it a joy to align ourselves up with the Lord. This is simply because we are warring with our flesh. Our flesh is interested in pleasing itself and our spirit is interested in pleasing God. The two, the flesh and the spirit, occupy the same body, so when they are not in alignment, we have chaos.

So, what can we do? We can beat our flesh into submission by training it in godliness. This will take dedication and effort on our part (hence the word “beat”) to be diligent in studying the Word of God, to pray and to fast – to seek God in all our ways. And, while this may prove difficult in the beginning, the reward far outweighs the sacrifice. For Rahab and for us, it’s a matter of life and death.

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Bathing Bathsheba – Seductress or Innocent Lamb?

It is so hot now in North Carolina. We have had four days of record-setting heat. I thank God for air-conditioning. Whoever invented the concept, God bless you! While I was soaking in the air-conditioning last evening to get some relief from this heat, I began thinking back to the Biblical days – pre-A/C, and I landed on Bathsheba.

I wonder what Bathsheba was thinking on the evening that she was spotted bathing on the rooftop. It was a normal occurrence for her following her monthly period – she was engaging in ritual cleansing . Was she able to relax and enjoy the cool breeze or the soothing water as it flowed across her body, or was her mind on her valiant and seasoned husband who was now at war? What was on Bathsheba’s mind that evening when King David caught a glimpse of her?

I wonder what Bathsheba was thinking when, ruled by his lustful desires, King David sent for her? She was a married woman who now, must obey the commands of a King who had no intention of honoring her marriage, but instead focused on satisfying his own flesh. I wonder what Bathsheba was thinking the very moment she found out that she was now carrying the seed of King David.

I wonder what Bathsheba was thinking when the news that her husband had been killed reached her. Did she suspect the King as she grieved? Did she desire to marry King David? After Uriah had been murdered, King David claimed Bathsheba as his wife and her child as his very own – of course.

It seems to me, that although the facts relating to this incident are clear, what is not as clear is what Bathsheba was thinking. Some see her as a seductress and some see her as an innocent victim – an innocent lamb as in the story given by Nathan, the prophet.

I do not believe that Bathsheba was in any position to stand up for herself. I do not believe that she could have denied the King. But, I do wonder what she was thinking as a very simple act of cleansing turned into infidelity and death – tragedy for both her husband and her first-born son. What do you think?

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Barnabas’ PMA

I ran into one of my co-workers in the hallway today that spoke briefly with me about having PMA. To that, I replied, “What’s PMA?” It was a guy so my first thought was that he meant to say PMS. But, after listening to him, he really meant PMA. It stands for “positive mental attitude.”

On my way back to my desk, I pondered this PMA. My co-worker was talking about PMA as it related to my drink choice not being available in the drink machine. (that serves me right because I am supposed to only be drinking water right now). Anyway, as I was saying, having a positive mental attitude is essential to having a positive day. I am re-reading Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind, and I am sure that Joyce would agree that having a positive mental attitude is important.

Back to my point – I was on my way back to my desk when none other than BARNABAS popped up in my mind. Do you know Barnabas?

Barnabas was an early church leader and did evangelism ministry with the Apostle Paul for a season. His name means “Son of Encouragement.” He spent much time encouraging others. In fact, Barnabas was instrumental in getting others to accept/trust Paul after his conversion. And even after Paul and Barnabas split ways, after a disagreement over John Mark**, Barnabas still loved those around him and he was faithful to his given assignments. Because their relationship “ended” well and they responded to each other in a mature way, Paul and Barnabas worked together in ministry later.

It is always good to keep a positive PMA. Barnabas kept a positive mental attitude throughout this ministry work – even during the difficult times. And, that’s the challenge to us today. As believers, a PMA is required. So, I challenge you today to be an encourager like Barnabas and get your PMA-on!

Sanya

**John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on a missionary trip and later John Mark deserted them/failed to continue on with them. As Paul and Barnabas prepared for another journey, John Mark wanted to go. Paul did not want him to go with them and Barnabas, always eager to grant another chance, wanted John Mark to be allowed to accompany them. The disagreement was settled by Paul and Barnabas agreeing on a compromise. They split the work with Paul taking Silas with him to Syria and Barnabas taking John Mark with him to Cyprus.

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