January 2017

The world needs you and I to be fully alive and growing in love, character, and the lifestyle of Jesus! To do that we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Connecting to that power requires practicing spiritual disciplines, which allow the Holy Spirit to work through and empower us. By themselves, these actions are nothing but busy work. When we approach them as spiritual disciplines, when we utilize them as part of our spiritual walk, they become a direct action to help us connect with the the blessings and will of God. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2. Cor. 12:9) and becomes visible through our growth. This means our path to leadership must always be directed by a humble dependence on God. Let me say it this way. You HEART needs to be fully involved in this process of spiritual growth. Open your heart as you come to encounter. Open your heart in each of the sessions, and during the times of prayer and solitude. Approach your spiritual growth plan and Bible study after the Encounter weekend with an open heart. When you open your heart, you invite God in to do AMAZING things in your life! Disciplines of...

Solitude “For God alone, my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from Him.” Psalm 62 Solitude is a discipline of stepping away from dependency on others, to enter into intimacy with God alone. It is like fasting, only from relationships. Silence Have you ever noticed how noisy the world is? We are constantly listening to music, hearing the television, being distracted by the conversations around us, and just filling our lives with distractions. Those noises keep us distracted enough to ignore pain, or tension, or imbalance in our life. Times of silence and solitude give us room to hear better—both our own thoughts and feelings, and the voice of God. Outside Silence To experience silence, first eliminate outside noises. You need to turn off your cell-phone, music player, and any other electronic device. Natural sounds, such as the ocean, can actually enhance a silence and solitude experience. Inside Silence The second, and harder silence is to quiet the voices in your heart and head. Silence and solitude can bring a peaceful, refreshing, restful time in God’s presence. You may also find you are doing battle against tempting or disturbing thoughts, feelings, or desires. You may feel anxious about the list of things you need to do...

Celebrate your womanhood! God loves women and men equally: He does not love males more! God is not biased for men over women. Throughout history, women have been denied the equal rights and freedoms of men. This viewpoint of unequal status has often rested on misinterpretations of the Bible. While the Old Testament does indeed appear in some places to sanction the unequal treatment of women, analysts have repeatedly misinterpreted and misrepresented the implications of the Old Testament provisions for Christians who, through Christ’s grace, are freed from the old law. Furthermore, although early Christians initially embraced the cause of gender equality and reunification through Christ, this cause was abandoned as the growing Christian church confronted the political challenges associated with its own expanding power. Even today, the Christian churches almost all fail to return to the God-ordained principle of gender neutrality through spiritual unity in Christ. Misinterpretations of the Garden of Eden It has been observed, “For two millennia now the Judeo-Christian tradition has placed man a little lower than the angels and woman a little higher than the demons.”1 From early in Christian history, misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the Garden of Eden story in particular have played prominent roles in...

Big Beginnings Have you ever started something and then you didn’t finish it well? I recently cleaned out a big storage box in my garage. There, in a shoebox, I found the embroidery project I had started years ago. I remember wanting to embroider my pillow cases with custom designs. It seemed so easy and fun. I had seen gorgeous samples and I thought it was a good idea. So I purchased the supplies, got the instructions, and started. It was a big beginning, but as the work continued and obstacles started to appear, my progress got slower and slower. The thread was knotted. The design was not right. The needles hurt by fingers. Eventually, I just give up and put that whole embroidery project into a shoebox and stuck in on the shelf. Building a Strong Foundation That’s exactly what Jesus is teaching us with the parable in Luke 14:28-30 (The Message): “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun...