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Building #10 The Measure of Spiritual Maturity. What does it mean to be “Grown Up” In Christ? And how do we know if we are (and if others are?)

GROWING TREE ROOTS I don’t know about you, but I’d like to have a grown-up for my leader. Many people aspire to be leaders, coaches, teachers, and the like; but they are not always qualified. 

I said, they are not always qualified. 

How do we know if they’re qualified? What do you think would be “God’s measure” of maturity? have you ever thought about that one? (I have). 

We’ve all heard the stories of how someone wasn’t “picked” for the team. I was one that nobody wanted on their baseball, football, or even volley ball team! I was not good at it. I didn’t want to be good at it (bad enough) to practice.

I let go of even trying long ago, because guess what? I didn’t care! (about sports) enough to put my heart into learning, practicing, and becoming great at it. 

I did, at some point, need to stop whining and admit to myselfI don’t want this bad enough to do the hard work.” Step #1 to Growing and Maturity: Admitting the truth about ourselves in the light of God’s Truth! 

I’m sure out there “somewhere” there are ministries that choose their leaders by their maturity level in-Christ, but I don’t think there is many. Sad to say, the mainstream church world often makes their selections based on willingness, an outward appearance of maturity, faithfulness to church services, and attending bible school and colleges. The main goal is often raking in more bodies (to fill the pews) and not growth and maturity for the ones who are in those pews. 

They have board members who look at the resume’, pray about it, and make their choice as to what they think is the best candidate for the (open slot) or job.

So, if you were picking a leader, or a pastor (of a church) what would be your measure for maturity? 

I make that decision every day of my life, when I decide who I will listen to and who I will not (listen to). Ephesians 4 says God gave us Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets and Teachers to help us come to maturity (in Christ). 

I learned a long time ago, a person who is blind will lead me into the ditch. A person who is not mature will not help me get mature. I want a leader who is stronger, wiser and more mature than I am. 

Therefore, if I do not listen to someone’s advice, it doesn’t mean I am rejecting them, personally. I simply learned (a long time ago) That listening to Jesus comes first. To put anyone’s council above His, is a form of idolatry. 

Am I perfect? No! Have I made mistakes? Yes, I have. But my heart and mind are set on the words “Take my yoke upon you” (Words of Jesus) “and be yoked to me.” (Matthew 11:28). 

The Lord is my Shepherd (primarily) and everything else is subject to him. 

Years ago I sat under a minister for a time (online) and hardly anyone understood why. It was because of his Testimony.  A testimony (for me) is the true measure of maturity. Not what school they went to, not how many days they warmed a pew in the church. 

I”ve met many who attended church for 30 years, and like a submarine, nothing seemed to really get INTO their hearts. They are no different today than they were 30 years ago, other than knowing how to speak christianese. 

Like a tree, a testimony is a measure of how much work God has actually done in a person’s life. Are they born again? Filled with God’s spirit? Have they walked in the fruits of the spirit and learned to walk by the spirit of God? Have they cried out for, and received wisdom (from above) and not relied on the wisdom of man (and his ways?). Are they tried and true? 

It’s out of balance to say we don’t need anyone but God and it’s out of whack to say we only need church, and just follow along with whatever supposed “leader” comes our way. It’s unhealthy to gather around someone who just “says what we want to hear” and it’s foolish to assume every person in a leadership position was put there by God. If that were the case, Paul and Jesus would not have wept over flocks being deceived by wolves in sheeps’ clothing and they would not have interceded with tears over those being “led astray.”

Did you know Jesus cried (and wept) for those that would not listen to him? That was more serious to him than starving children or the physical suffering of humanity. Why? 

Because: He knew if he could successfully save the human soul (and we would listen to him) all the rest would be taken care of. God’s wisdom leads to us being “alright” in the Spirit first, and then in the natural. He wants us healthy (Spirit, Mind, and Body!). He wants us mature, which means we have grown up INTO his Headship.

I would dare say this means “We’ve God the mind of Christ” in all things. 

To get the mind of Christ, we have to continually give up our own ways of thinking. We have to push out the voices of the immature, the unsteady, and the godless and faithless, and INCLINE Our ear to the word of God via His Spirit. 

So here’s my standard on whether I will listen to you (or not). What is your Testimony? If you don’t have one to overcome with, how can I follow you? 

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11 NKJV). 

In conclusion, if you have found a church that truly has a loving, parental heart to see you Grow (UP) IN Christ, stick to them like glue! If you can see they love you, and want you to grow, stay put! If they have other agenda’s, face it and pray, and ask God for a church that helps you get where you need to be. This is my advice, and I believe it is sound. LOVE yourself enough to get good spiritual food. 

Put your Spirit and Soul First, and the rest of you (body) as secondary. This is what it means to love not (your physical life) Unto Death. You put it under, and put it second to your growth and development in Christ. Enough said! -Laura Grace 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building in God #4 What is Worship?

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Bob Pittman, a pastor in ND at a church we attended, used to pray every service “Help us Lord to honor you.” Today when I stepped into the church door, that’s what I prayed. That prayer struck me as a simple thing I can pray when I don’t FEEL like worshipping God.

When I have things i feel but shouldn’t say, When I’m hurting, when I am even a bit disappointed in how things are going right now……When I do not know exactly WHAT God is up to or why his answers seem to take so long…….

This is a prayer I can grab onto. “Help Me Father to Honor you.” 
It reminds me of B. Hinn who said he was called, but didn’t want to go and God told him to pray “Pray that you’ll be willing to be willing”

Sometimes the things God asks us to do seem staggering, or imposssible. Sometimes our friends or companions seems to make light of how hard the struggle is. Some days when you have taken many hits from “life in general” it’s a big effort to jut get out of bed, and keep doing the right thing. SOMETIMES we don’t know how to pray.

Some days we are just tired of having hope, and wonder if it would be better to give up, give in and wave the white flag at the devil and say Fine …….’just do me in” There are days I can’t even articulate how I feel-and I wish I DIDN”T HAVE FEELINGS!

But then, I”d be a robot. I would not feel love, or passion, or any of the wonderful things God wants me to feel. So in our grief, even in despair we can still Honor God with our Lips, and pray our heart comes in line with his. ‘Father, help me to Honor you”

It was the very best I could give today, and it led to exuburant an sincere Worship!!! thank you Father! thank you! you are my strength, you are my song. i will praise thee, all day long! And Worship? It’s telling God how much you love him! Right? Pretty simple 

Laura Grace PS. thank you Bob!

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Relationship #2 No Drama “YOU” are you who you want to be?

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Relationships #2 YOU (Is at the core of every relationship.) Are you who you want to be?

“Being Real” is something we hear all the time. You should “be real” (They say). But it’s not defined. What does being real mean to you? Your anger (about social injustice) outrage (over the issues of life) or even grief, pain, sorrow…..(over untold Losses)

That’s not WHO you really are. is it? No. At the core or heart of relationship-is who WE are. If we don’t like ourselves how do we expect others to like us? If we are not at peace with ourselves, how can anyone else be at peace with us?

Can anyone MAKE us happy? (including God?). I am reminded of the story of Jesus and the man at the pool of Bathesda, (in John, chapter 5) where he said “do you want to be made well?”

Mental health is every bit as important (if not more important) than physical health. Many of us were “messed up” in our minds over things that happened throughout our lives. Abuse. Bullying. Social Injustices. And you don’t have to be a minority to experience discrimination, favoritism, and being left out by those ‘Elitists.”

It all hurts, and it all affects us (deeply) in our hearts.

A whole (Healed) Person has a Healed Soul and Mind. Did you notice Jesus dealt with this man’s heart? (and mind?) “Do you want to be well?”

Do you want to be made well? God asked me one time if I wanted Restoration or Compensation! (Wow!) I chose Restoration. Compensation is what you get when you sue someone over what was done to you. Or get “payment” for your loss.

I don’t want compensation. I want restoration! I choose life!

Even in relationships we have to ask this question: “do we want to get along?” (or do we just want to argue?). Do we want to do the work it takes to have a great relationship?

What’s important to us? What matters most? And truly “WHO” do we wish to be? A fighter? Scrapper? Conquerer? Leader of the band? Or do we wish to have our identity forever be “continual victim” because we believe this is our lot in life?

1.Who do you want to be? And why? God really wants to know! Let him know who you would like to be! Then ask “what he wants you to be!” This is relationship at it’s finest. TWO WAY (not one way).

2. Make peace with yourself (However long it takes)

3. Be a friend (to yourself) And receive all God has for you. This will make you a better friend to others…in the long run (and a better spouse, better employeee, and so on and so forth). This means “Being willing to take correction”.

You’d be amazed at the things I’ve said to Jesus. I came to the conclusion years ago…”He already knows” so.I may as well tell him the truth! Trust me, he can handle it. I’ve said things to God that are so shocking I waited for lightning to hit me! But it didn’t! His love enveloped me instead…….(I testify!)

You can’t “offend him” by telling him the truth! I feel like Giving up Father! I have had about enough Father! I need you to show me Father (And let him know what you truly believe you need from him). I will give you a clue however……that when we ask him for what he already wants to give us, it’s likely to happen a lot quicker.

1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (NKJV) Peace! Until Next time, -Laura Grace

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No labor of love is in vain……..but let’s define love again, shall we?

LOVE BLACK AND WHITE.jpgLet’s define love again, Shall we? the 1 Corn way. 

1 Corinthians 13:6
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
I can still hear Margeret Becker, playing on my cassette deck singing, “NO Labor of love is in vain…….precious jewels are changed to jewels in the rain……” (Never for Nothing, by Margaret Becker). I can remember how hard it was to beleive that. My book Grace to the Rescue, is only available on Kindle right now. It was my first attempt at authorship and no…I didn’t go to school for writing, and no publisher approached and me and said “Hey, you should write a book.” 
 
It came about because I could not tell my story without constant interuptions.
I would say what I’d been through, people would quote 1 Corn to me, and tell me I should read it. I read it 1000 times (or more) and, I lived it.
And no I’m not living in the past. I was on auto-pilot, trained to love, by the church and others. I stuck up for my church zealously too, I might add, and for those that advised me poorly. 
When People saw the abuse I was going through I thought standing up for 1 Corn 13, was standing up for Jesus! Nobody, and I mean nobody, was ever going to get me to give up on believing for my marraige to last.
Now that I have been (gasp) divorced, and yes re-married (for 15 years) I have added forgiving all the crazy, inconsiderate, mean-spirited, and even clueless people who tormented me for years with the very passages of scripure I loved. 
I fell in love with God’s word when I became born again 30 years ago. It came alive to me. My family will tell you I would not shut up about Jesus, and I would not stop witnessing and praying for people either. Thousands of times (Thousands) I said “THANK YOU FATHER FOR Healing my marraige!”
You have to remember, Jews were brought up in God with their parents inolved in the marraiges, along with many teachings about marraige. Nobody ran to a court house and got a certificate, back in those days, nor ran to Vegas and woke up saying “what did I just do?” There were serious laws (from God) about how a man treated his wife, and laws for the wife and children as well.
There was not crazed druggies making their spouse’s lives a living hell every day, after they married them in a spur of the moment decision on a court house lawn.
We’ve learned to say things (like little parrots) and it needs to stop. God hates divorce. He hates sin. He hates that you married the wrong person. He hates that you didn’t know him when you were young…….
He hates sin, because it seperates us from him. Living in sin on purpose keeps us apart from him and he loves us so dearly, he sent his son to die for us. Sin is walking in constant error, deeming something to be more important than he is. God told Adam and Eve not to eat from that tree, (of knowledge of good and evil) and they did it anyway.  
If you are abused, God loves you. He wants to help you. He came to make the captives free.  Yes I did 16 years of working on me, changing me, before I ever walked out that door. Yes I learned to love to forgive beyond 70 times 7. And I don’t regret it, but I did need to get out of there. Better to lose your hand or foot (spiritually speaking) than to be dragged to hell with them. 
Maybe you won’t have to get divorced, maybe you will. I don’t know. But God loves you enough to say, “You matter.” I made my laws for you, to protect you, because I love you my dear.” He said these words in his Holy Word: “I made the sabbath for man, not man for the sabbath.” Think about that for a minute, will you? 
I have copies of my book (Paperback) grace to the rescue, published in 2013 if you are interested in one, write me sisterzeal@yahoo.com
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Harmless as Doves…… what does it mean?

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It Means ……..None of that eye for an eye stuff! None of this, get them before they get you! No tit for tat. No retaliating. There is a passage that says: 

Matthew 10:16
 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Words of Jesus. I have left a trail of blessing my enemies and people who hurt me. I had one he tried to take everything, I gave him the rest! 
Now Here is the balance of things: 
 
WE have to walk that balance of resisting the devil and learning to bless our enemies at the same time. This isn’t either or. Not pacifist or warrior for the sake of self. 
 
JESUS Is so smart! you know? Wise as a Serpent. Not being duped. Not believing every con artist that comes along. Checking things out and Watching over the family, the goods and the blessings God has bestowed on you. (Being a good steward!).
Many think this stuff is either or….either you bless OR you resist the devil and he flees. Nope! You pray about each case, and you ask the Lord what to do. I am assuming you believe in being filled with the Spirit daily? Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said “MY SPIRIT” will teach you (to his disciples) No he wasn’t joking around.
He did not say, “Here is my new 220 commandments,” Now, write it all down and post it on the church wall. How do we teach people to walk by the Spirit? 
We really don’t. We can’t! We can only exhort, encourage and TESTIFY! 
We can try to teach and by the way giving knowledge is teaching (breaking things down so we understand it) but we add to our faith Knowledge, Self Control, we do the next thing God asks …………So I’m testifying……
 
God has never led me to retaliate or “Pay someone back” …..He always leads me to bless whether it’s praying for them, giving more somehow or maybe leaving them alone because that’s what they wanted from me.
Gentleness is not for wimps! It takes guts! Courage! Help from GOD to do it! I have great respect for the Holy Spirit. He does what God tells him to do. God said Let there be light, His Spirit went and THERE IT WAS! LIGHT! 
that’s enough for now. Love peace and blessings! Father give us the GUTS to do things your way! Give us the FAITH (even though you already have) Help us find within ourselves the courage to make decisions that glorify you Father! IN Jesus’ name! amen.
Laura Grace, minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace!