Category Archives: Christianity

Black History in the Bible.

February is Black History Month. Do you know the black history in the Bible?

There are many captivating stories in the Bible. The Word of God is rich with intrigue and full of fascinating, true stories of African queens, kings, and other influential black people who made substantial contributions to our world. Black history in the Bible will amaze and inspire you!

The Queen of Sheba: Queen of Ethiopia

The name of the Queen of Sheba was actually Makeda. She ruled a rich kingdom and was a wise and very beautiful queen. When she heard of the fame of King Solomon concerning the Lord, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. She came with a very great caravan with camels carrying spices, and lots of gold and precious stones. When she met him, she told him all she had on her mind and he answered all her questions. She was amazed at his wisdom, his house, the food on his table, his officials, and all that he had acquired. It took her breath away. In an act of honor, she gave him 120 talents of gold and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again was there such an abundance of spices as those the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. In response, King Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba all that she desired; whatever she asked was given to her. Having richly blessed the king, she returned to her own country, also richly blessed. (1 Kings 10:1-14; NIV)

Zipporah: Ethiopian wife of Moses who saved his life

The Lord told Moses to go back to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of bondage. On the way, Moses, with his wife, Zipporah, and their sons, stopped to lodge for the night. The Lord met Moses there and was about to kill him. Evidently, this was because Moses had failed to circumcise his son. Acting quickly, Zipporah took a flint knife, circumcised her son, and touched Moses feet with the foreskin. So, the Lord let him live. Zipporah, Moses Ethiopian wife, had sensed the reason for God’s displeasure with Moses and reacted quickly to save her husband’s life. He went on to fulfill his destiny, so that Israel could fulfill theirs. Where would we be without Zipporah? (Exodus 4:18-31; NIV) & (Genesis 17:9-14; NIV)

Ebed-Melech: Ethiopian who saved the life of Jeremiah the Prophet

Ebed-Melech was an Ethiopian eunuch and servant of the king. At that time, Jeremiah, a prophet in Israel, had prophesied, “Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live;” and the city would be handed over to the army of the King of Babylon. As Ebed-Melech served in his royal duties, he overhead some men conspiring to kill Jeremiah by putting him in a cistern- a well with no water but plenty of mud. He immediately went to the king and told him what the men had done to Jeremiah. The king told him to take thirty men and lift Jeremiah out of the cistern before he died. Ebed-Melech was responsible for saving the life of Jeremiah the Prophet. The Lord was so pleased with Ebed-Melech’s efforts he told Jeremiah to tell him, “Though Israel will fall, I will rescue him because he trusted in me.” (Jeremiah 38:1-13; ESV) & (Jeremiah 39:15-18; ESV)

Simon of Cyrene: African man who carried the cross of Jesus

On the day of Jesus’ execution, he was brutally beaten, then forced to carry his heavy cross through the streets of Jerusalem to the place where they were going to execute him. On the way, the Roman garrison seized Simon from Cyrene (Cyrene is in Northern Africa) as he was on his way in from the country. They forced the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. On the most important day in history, the Lord inserted Simon in the story. He carried the cross of Christ. (Luke 23:26; NIV)

Ethiopian Eunuch: Came to Jerusalem to worship the Lord

An angel of the Lord told Philip to go to Gaza and he met an Ethiopian eunuch on the way. This man was an important court official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit told Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” When Philip heard him reading Isaiah, he asked if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian Eunuch said he needed someone to explain it to him. Philip told him all about the good news of Jesus. He obviously received Jesus as his savior, because, coming to a body of water, he asked Philip to baptize him. The Ethiopian Eunuch then went on his way rejoicing in the Lord. (Acts 8:27-39; ESV)

(From Breaking Christian News)

God’s Perspective on Politics

Preparing for Revival #4

Selfishness invites the Demonic

Selfishness Invites Demonic Activity

The Wimpy Western Church

JESUS IS COMING!

          Of that we can be sure, yet the urgency of this truth is virtually absent in the church today. Why?

“We have become far too familiar with a God we barely know.”

          Familiarity breeds unbelief. We see that example in the life of Jesus. Even He could do no mighty works in His hometown because of their familiarity with Him. They could not believe that this Jesus, whom they saw grow up as a carpenter’s son could be the Christ, or even a prophet. Their familiarity with His life and history hindered their faith.

Mark 6:4-6 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

          We see very few mighty works in the church nowadays. The fear of God is no longer on His people. We no longer tremble at His word. We treat what is holy as common. We seek for blessings, benefits, and prosperity far more than we seek Him. We have reduced the gospel of Christ to a self-serving message with a free ticket to heaven. We run the church house like a business and measure its success by prosperity and headcount. We emphasize wrong doctrines about tithing and giving, compelling people to give so the “gospel ship” can stay afloat. We are lukewarm and loving it.

          The Lord has much to say about being lukewarm.

Revelation 3:15-19 I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

          The Lords counsels us to buy from Him “Gold tried in the fire.” So, what exactly does that mean? What is the gold tried in fire? It is our faith…and it is expensive! It will require suffering. Its going to cost us everything! We “buy” this precious faith by following the Lord at all costs, by laying down every aspect of our lives and submitting our free will to the will of the King.

          Every great man and woman of faith in the Bible went through tremendous trials and persecution. Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, King David, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, John, Peter, and the list goes on. Yet we pray against the trial. We rebuke the fire. We resist persecution, let alone count it as joy. We get surprised and even upset, questioning God about why this is happening instead of straightening our shoulders, lifting our chins, and shining through the difficulty as a witness to who we are.

1 Peter 4:12-19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

          Make no mistake about it. “IT IS GODS WILL FOR CHRISTIANS TO SUFFER!” We don’t want to hear that though. We like to hear about the blessing, the healing, the prosperity.

          We need to quit being spiritual wimps and READ OUR BIBLES so we know what God expects from us. He who has ears to hear let him hear.

“It is time for Judgment to begin at the house of the Lord.”

Preparing for Revival #2

Preparing For Revival #1

Why is it Hard to Read the Bible?

          Have you noticed that reading the Bible is actually harder than reading a secular book or magazine? I have picked up a good fiction novel and finished it within a day or two many times. In fact, I have read Christian books about the Bible and have been able to cruise through most of them in a short time as well. However, when I pick up the Bible and determine to read say…5 chapters, by the time I am done (if I finish) I am exhausted! Why is that!?

          When asking the Lord about this He gave me some real insight as to why this happens and I want to share.

          First off, the Bible is a LIVING book! God’s Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE, it is full of GRACE and TRUTH!

HEBREWS 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

          Anytime we are exposed to the living Word of God it requires spiritual and physical effort. The impact of truth on the carnal man cause the fallen nature to DIE! Your carnal man does not want to die so the flesh resists even opening the Bible, let alone reading multiple chapters.

Consider this passage of scripture in light of these thoughts:

Exodus 33:20-23 But He (GOD) said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 “So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 “Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.

 Understand that reading God’s Word is your carnal man’s FACE to FACE encounter with God! To truly die to self you MUST have constant exposure to His Word.

GALATIANS 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

          If you maintain a disciplined approach to reading and studying your Bible you will be successful in “Dying to Self.” This is a core message of the Gospel and without the old man dying, you will never experience the fullness of the new man in Christ.

COLOSSIANS 3:10 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

EPHESIANS 4:21-24 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

  • Is the Bible harder to read than other books? YES!
  • Is it more beneficial than any other book? YES!
  • Is it spiritual food and nourishment for us? YES!
  • Is it required to live a successful Christian life? YES!

          So be encouraged! The Bible is just as difficult to read for others as it is for you. So discipline yourself to have DAILY exposure to, and INTAKE of God’s Word and put to death that nasty old flesh so the NEW MAN, CHRIST, may live in and through you in fullness!

JC

How to Deliver Truth

Love is the license to speak truth

            Sharing the truth of God’s word is an important part of the Christian life. At some point we responded to truth and made a decision to follow Christ and now we have a responsibility to share that truth with others so they will have the same opportunity that we had. With that new responsibility we should keep in mind the manner in which we deliver that truth.

           Truth is received in the manner it is delivered. The Word of God is truth. It is also a sword, a double edged one at that. Truth should never be delivered with the intention of “straightening someone out,” or “correcting someone.” Scripture is profitable if it is delivered with the right heart. If it is delivered with wrong motives it can actually drive people away from God instead of drawing them to Him. This is a real problem in our generation.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This passage is repeatedly misused to justify Bible bashing, finger pointing, and a judgmental approach to correcting people in the name of God. A self-righteous assault on people is a reproach on Christ and opens one up to the influence of religious spirits. Not to mention hurting the one we are supposed to be helping.

          Notice that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” God is love according to 1 John 4:8

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Therefore, all scripture is given by the inspiration of Love. When the Word of Truth is shared it should be inspired by Love.

          If the delivery of truth isn’t inspired by Love it is NOT profitable for doctrine, it will NOT reprove, it will NOT correct, it will NOT instruct, it will NOT complete, and it will NOT equip. It just cuts, and it cuts deep. Love is the license to speak truth. If we don’t have genuine love and compassion in our hearts toward the ones we are speaking to, we have lost our license to speak on God’s behalf.

            I really love a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak. It may be my favorite food in the world, but if it is served to me wrapped in a dirty diaper I am not going to eat it. It’s the same with delivering truth. The word of God is so powerful it can change a life, but it must be palatable, seasoned with salt, full of grace, and delivered in sincere love for it to be received.

   If we are not imparting God’s grace, communicating God’s heart, and being a vessel of God’s love, we should remain silent. If we can’t correct that on the spot, we may need to stop and reschedule the conversation for another time, giving us time to pray or seek council from another leader.

“Don’t be pressured into speaking when you know your heart isn’t right.”

            There is a simple rule that will keep us from a myriad of problems if we apply it.

“When you speak, be sure it’s an Improvement on Silence.”

            Following this rule does a few things,

  • It slows down the conversation and keeps us mindful of the power and purpose of our words.
  • It diffuses conflict that arises from elevated emotions.
  • It teaches us the value and power of silence.
  • It gives us greater control over ourselves and the entire situation.
  • It allows us time to hear from our heart what the Holy Spirit is saying in the situation.

   Personally, I believe this is what was happening in John 8:1-11 when Jesus was writing in the sand with His finger while everyone pressed Him for an answer to judge the woman caught in adultery. I think Jesus was simply giving His heart time to tell His mouth what to say.

            Not being willing to speak until He heard from the Father is a lesson that every leader should take to heart. There are few worse feelings than knowing we have hurt one of God’s children with our words.

            As leaders, we think before we speak, selecting words that nurture and build up rather than tear down and destroy. When faced with hostility we speak gently to diffuse anger and emotions rather than feed them. When faced with uncertainty, we are slow to speak, letting silence speak to the person and God speak us.

“Godly communication isn’t merely a skill; it is a discipline.”

Your Evil Little Tongue

Christian Leadership Development #7

The Skill of Delegation

delegate2

          As the ministry grows the necessity of delegation grows as well. The need for delegation arises when we reach our natural and spiritual limitations. When a ministry becomes more complex, a point is reached where the leader is no longer able to cope with every aspect of the ministry on their own, realizing that neither time nor their own efforts are adequate to meet the needs of the people they are leading. Before this point is reached a plan for delegation should already be in place.

          The inability or unwillingness to delegate to others can stall ministry growth and produce burnout in the senior leaders. This is a common mistake that small ministries make and many times it is the reason they stay small.

          A great analogy for delegation is, “the ability to score without touching the ball.” Learning to accomplish things through others involves the skill of delegation and it is an imperative part of effective leadership.

Self-Awareness

self awareness

          The Art of Delegation begins with self-awareness and an honest assessment of our own limitations. Identifying the areas where we are weak will help us target the right people with the right graces and abilities to compliment the ministry. No one likes to admit they have areas of weakness, but the reality is we all have them.

          An honest self-assessment can be difficult and usually requires the input and feedback of other leaders and peers. If you are married, your spouse can be a huge asset in this department. The point is, don’t just trust your own point of view because your perspective can often be filled with blind spots. We all have blind spots and we need others to help us see from a broader point of view. The need for delegation is often a blind spot with many leaders.

          In Exodus 18 we see a powerful example of the need to delegate. When Moses was leading the children of Israel he came to a point where Jethro, his father-in-law, had to point out his need to delegate responsibilities. Moses was sincere, but the need to delegate was his blind spot.

Exodus 18:13-23  And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. 14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. 19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

blind spot

          Bearing the burden of ministry yourself is never God’s plan. As individuals we are not capable, even with God’s help, to fulfill all He has called us to do. We are called to community and relationships. Every part of the body has a role to play, a function and purpose that will help edify the body as a whole.

          Every leader must come to the realization that he needs to surround himself with solid relationships that he can share the load of ministry with. This is the only way to fulfill God’s plan.

          There is a powerful truth in Ephesians 4 that will help us understand this.

Ephesians 4:16 – From whom (Christ) the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Notice in this passage that supply comes from the joints in the body, not the parts of the body.

          A joint is where two parts meet together, like your elbow or knee. It is the RELATIONSHIP between the parts.

          A healthy joint causes both parts to be more effective, more mobile, and increases the ability and strength of both connected parts. It is no coincidence that Jesus used this analogy. If you have ever had an injured joint like an ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist, you know how debilitating and restricting it can be.

          It is the relationships between the parts that bring the needed supply for ministry growth. If relationships are healthy, every part in place effectively working and doing its share, growth and edification in love is the result.

          This is why it is so important to be deliberate and intentional about who you delegate to. Maintaining a healthy relationship with those to whom you delegate is essential for success.

effective-delegation

Some Guidelines for delegation:

  • Delegate early.  

Make an effort to delegate responsibilities early to avoid unnecessary pressure. This avoids undo stress on the leader and sets up the person you are delegating to for success. Waiting until things get to the point of neglect makes it difficult on everyone involved.  

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” ~ John C. Maxwell ~

  • Select the right person.

Ensure that the person has the character to represent the ministry and the time to take on the responsibility. Before sending them out to tackle the new responsibility, make sure the person has all the training and resources needed to succeed.

“Delegate to people who are better than you and let them do the work. Look for people who will aim for excellence and not settle for anything less than the remarkable.” 

  • Set clear goals and expectations.

Be clear and specific on what is expected. Give information on what, why, when, who and where, but leave the “how” to them. Don’t be too concerned about how it gets done, but that it gets done right and on time. Confirm and verify goals and expectations on a regular basis and get updates on progress. This gives you an opportunity to give needed feedback and encouragement.

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” ~ George S. Patton ~

  • Delegate authority with responsibility.

Giving people the authority to make certain decisions, use their own creativity, and even recruit others to help accomplish the task allows the person to take ownership of the responsibility and shows that you value their opinions and trust their judgement. This helps maintain a healthy relationship and grooms them for leadership.

It is frustrating to be given a task and no authority to make decisions on how it gets done. Micro-managing every task you delegate will run people off and prevent you from building a strong leadership team. The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling while they do it.

“When you delegate tasks, you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.” ~ Craig Groeschel ~  Founder of Life Church

  •  Evaluate and recognize performance. 

Evaluate results more than methods. Celebrate the wins and give credit where credit is due. Analyze the cause of any insufficient performance but don’t be too quick to take a project back. Rather, continue to work with the person and ensure they understand the project to be their responsibility. Give advice on ways to improve and be willing to be a resource yourself. This sends a message that you believe in them and that you want them to succeed. This approach inspires people and ensures dependability.

“No Leader will build a great ministry that wants to do it all themselves or take all the credit.” ~ Andrew Carnegie ~

          Delegation is one of the most essential requirements for a successful ministry. It is the key to fulfilling God’s vision with excellence and provides an opportunity for others to de­velop their skills and abilities, gaining enough competence to fill higher positions in case of need.

          Every person we lead has amazing, God given gifts and talents. Delegation is a great way for people to function and develop in their gifts. This promotes growth in the individual and brings healthy challenges that stretch their faith and empowers them for Kingdom use.

“The greatest leaders are those who empower others.”

Question: What are two reasons that delegation is important?

Question: Why is self-awareness important when delegating responsibilities?

Question: What are two areas you are weak in?

Question: Can you name three guidelines for delegation?

Question: What was Moses “blind spot” in Exodus 18?

JC