Saturday, July 19, 2008

Picture Gallery

Even though my life has had many difficult places, I am thankful for where God has brought me. This day we celebrated with my father, Jewel Clough on his 75th birthday. I watched as each of his children, grandchildren and great grand's stood to tell him, they loved him. As I say this, I said Lord help me to live so that my family will someday be thankful that I was a part of their lives.

Week in Review

Sisterhood! It is a wonderful thing. We can share and make each other laugh and we can be there when times are hard. This is not an accident. God calls us to encourage each other. Let us be about our Father's business.

Theme: Women charged by the Spirit
Preached Metropolitan Church of God
Detroit, MI, 2007

What does it mean to be charged? Charged – excited (eager, energized, animated), stimulated (inspired, stirred, moved, motivated, encouraged), electrified (exhilarated, amazed), thrilled (delighted, overjoyed, pleased, ecstatic).

So the day you gave yourself completely to God was the day, he said, I empower you with my Spirit. My Spirit will transform you from the misfit you were, to the mighty vessel of honor I have ordained you to be. I now charge you to go forth. I give you a mandate. I want you to go forth in the excitement of my spirit. I want you to stimulate, inspire, and stir the hearts of men and women. I want you to motive and encourage the people and move them to taking a closer walk with me. I want you to amaze with the transformation that has happened in your life, because no one can heal the brokenness of your heart the way God can. I want you to be overjoyed in me, pleased to do as I say and delighted to be my servant, my child. I charge you.

There are some of you right now that God has given a vision of what he wants to happen in your life, but you have hidden it because you can’t believe it can come to pass. Let me tell you, nothing, I say nothing is impossible with God. I stand here before you, a picture of what God can do. I did not like to talk in front of people and I surely could not image he would want to use me for anything. Yet, next May I’ll be graduating from Mid America Christian University with a 4.0 average. A girl who was told she would never be anything or was stupid, but God said I have the last word on that. A girl who didn’t think she could speak well or could write well, in a few weeks my first book will be available. God said I have another plan. Remember you are never God’s second choice! Whatever the world says you’ll be is not what God says. He has the final word on our lives.

Let’s take a look at one other transformed life, Mary Magdalene. “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him. And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out whom went seven devils. And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.” (Luke 8:1-3)

What do we know about Mary Magdalene? She was a woman sick and possessed. She was not in her right mind, who could be possessed with seven demons? She was infirmed or sick; if not from a physical illness surely from the sin in her life. We know that Jesus healed her of all that possessed her, he set her free from the sin that she was entangled in he released her from her island of misfits.

While we do not know a lot about Mary’s beginnings, we do have more information about her latter part of her life. She was a woman that had met the savior and had felt the beauty of his touch on her life. The ugly life she had before had been transformed into something beautiful. The ashes of her life were now turned into beauty. She was able to come with other women that had been changed by Jesus and minister in his work. Mary also came with others to prepare Jesus’ body after he was crucified (Mark 16). It said they came early in the morning at the rising of the sun. As I thought about this, instead of them coming to the rising of the sun, they came to the find the risen son. They came to be part of the witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Mary had been a witness to his treatment and his crucifixion. Now she would be a witness to his resurrection, she would be able to tell others about the power of Christ to raise lives from sin and to transform them. She would be able because she had been one of those people transformed and now she was united with other transformed women to see what Jesus needed. These women came to prepare the body of Christ for burial, well we, as transformed women today need to band together and be about the service of God and we then become like those women that were preparing the body of Christ for burial. This burial isn’t an actual burial, but as we help others be transformed we become help in the burial of their sinful condition and then the rising of the son in their lives can be witness by us as we walk together. Are we transformed women about the business of the savior are we looking to see how we can serve Jesus?

What is God’s plan for your life? He wants you to know you do not have to be the best of the best to come to him. He doesn’t expect you to be good at anything. He doesn’t choose us based on what we have or what we think or what positions we hold. He simple says come as you are, that means with your brokenness, your hurts, your fears, and your issues. And when you come, he says, I will heal you. I will restore wholeness to you. He takes the brokenness of our lives and creates the beauty inside. He takes those things in us that are pleasing to him and he cultivates them and shapes them. Those things that need to be removed, he removes until we look more and more like his Son.

But he doesn’t do all this so you can keep this transformation to ourselves; he wants us to go find those other misfits that are in need of a savior. The beauty of the body of Christ is we are all a bunch of misfits that God put together and made us work in unity. We become like that band of women in the scripture working together for the purpose of Christ. That can only happen with the power of God.

My question to you then is this; do you want to be a woman charged by the spirit of God? Then come and yield yourself completely to him. Allow him to transform your life from what it is to what he wants. If you have a relationship with Christ then ask God to revive you for the mission he has especially for you. I cannot fill your place, only you are the one. See it was thought that someone else was going to be here today, but I was God’s first choice all the time. We are never second choice for God. We are always the ones he has called to do the work he has called us to do. Today, rededicate yourself to the work of the Lord. You were once a misfit, but God changed you into a vessel of honor. So he says go to the uttermost parts of the world and find those other misfits and bring them into the kingdom. Help someone know that they have a place with God. We have someone that seeks us and ask us to be his disciple. We have been given a great honor, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Are you charged for the journey? What if you are a misfit? Do you know sitting right in your midst is your light? There is another woman sitting here ready to hold you hand through the darkness and help you find the light of Christ. They won’t judge you, but love you as you allow God to heal your hurts and brokenness. You have to first accept the gift of salvation that God offers freely to you today. When you do, he will give you his Spirit so that you can make it in this world, and he bonds you with others so that you no longer have to walk alone, you have a home, a place to belong. You are wanted, and no longer an outcast, a misfit. I leave you with this poem I wrote as God spoke to my heart one early morning.

Week in Review

Research Study By Jewel D. Williams
Titled: The Life of a Healthy Church
Written: 2006

Church leadership requires one to dedicate him or herself to the work of God. To minister in a leadership capacity with success, one must understand what they are being called upon to do. Two web sites, and try to help the leader understand what they are being called upon to do.

The first web site, writes about leadership development. Kenneth Boa, Th.M.; Ph.D., is the writer of the article, Leadership Development. In his article, he uses Jesus as the example to use as a guide for being a successful leader. Boa explains that Jesus picked his disciples and then for the next three and a half years, he taught them and empowered them for ministry (p. 1). He explains that God did not need man as a part of the plan, but it was God’s purpose to use men from the start.

“First, they were well-trained” (p. 2). When Jesus sent out the seventy-two they were given instructions on what to do and how to handle things if there were not received well. Jesus did not leave anything out of their training. Their training was what had the seventy-two rejoicing when they returned with good news of their success. The devil’s powers were stopped because of God’s power working through them. This is important to know and understand that it is through God’s power that all work is done. When one prepares God’s way, the work can be done.

“Second, they had a clear vision: They were impelled by Jesus’ urgent declaration that ‘The harvest is plentiful’” (p. 2). A great leader must take the responsibility to define a clear picture of the mission. “Leadership is not merely a cognitive grasping of concepts…Leadership, like most things, is more caught than taught” (p. 2).

An important fact mentioned is that Jesus took time to prepare for his mission. “Our Lord developed as a servant leader through personal discipline, through ‘reverent submission’…Jesus never invites us to do something he has not done for us first…He doesn’t ask us to love unlovely people without having first loved us in our unlovely state. He does not ask us to serve others without having first served us” (p. 3).

“God has called us into being and is preparing us for a purpose” (p. 3). God is in fact calling us to a purpose but the process is not guaranteed to be an easy one. “The hardships and struggles we endure during the transformation process will eventually provide us the strength we will need to accomplish the tasks our transformed nature will require” (p. 4).

The last point Boa mentions is mentoring is mandatory. “Leadership development should be an ongoing process in our own lives as well as in the lives of those we seek to prepare. We should have multiple mentoring relationships” (p. 5). These relationships consist of the one being mentored, to also reach out and teacher someone else. In these mentoring relationships, the one being mentored will be able to learn from one-on-one contact and experience. This is what Jesus did for his disciples. He took them with him and showed them how to be great leaders.
Those in leadership must develop spiritual disciplines that allow their life to be seen as an example of holy living, and this is mandatory for exampling to those they are training. J. Hampton Keathley, III in his article, Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader states, “Being a godly example is not an option, it is commanded in Scripture.

We need Christian maturity that provides people with real honest-to-God examples of authentic Christ-like living. Effective ministry to others is often equated with such things as dynamic personalities, with talent, giftedness, training, enthusiasm, and with Charisma…Much more is needed. In the Bible, the qualities that lead to effective ministry are found in the elements of spiritual character, in the character of Christ reproduced in us by the ministry of the Spirit” (p. 1-2).

The goal of spiritual disciplines is to be more like Christ. In doing so, the minister (leader) then becomes an example for others to emulate. These disciplines help the minister in personal development, which helps their ministry as well as their home life. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). This scripture gives the minister/leader a clear understanding of their purpose. One is to follow Christ in all their ways, and then the minister becomes an example for others to see Christ. This is the true purpose for developing one’s self for the mission.

What is discipline? The American Heritage College Dictionary defines it as, “the training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior. It is controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control” (p. 402). The web site, states, “Spiritual disciplines help to keep our relationship with God in good working order, and even help develop intimacy…Disciplines and practices are tools that are a part of cooperating with the Spirit on the task of remaking us into what God wants us to be” (p. 2). Spiritual disciplines are necessary to sustain a life in ministry.

Having a healthy prayer life is important for all believers, however it is vital for the minister/leader to dedicate time to prayer. The minister’s prayer life needs to cover prayers for themselves as well as for his or her ministry. James E. Rosscup, one of the writers included in the book, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically states, “We show we are fools, setting ourselves up for mediocrity, emptiness, and disaster unless we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to prayer” (p. 143). If one is to be successful, the time must be taken to hear from God regarding one’s life and ministry. It is necessary to prepare one’s self by praying for God’s wisdom, guidance, and strength.

God is the one that will strengthen the minister when faced with difficult situations or circumstances. Piper states it this way, “But finally, we must ask how a person comes to be willing to spend time with and be open to the Word of God? The answer seems to be that we must acknowledge our helplessness…This means that the beginning of spiritual leadership must be in the acknowledgement that we are sick who need a physician…And as we read the wonderful promises that are there for those of us who trust the doctor, our faith will grow strong and our hope will become solid” (p. 2).

This leads to another important duty one should do in conjunction with their prayer time, and that is the study of the Bible. It is important to seek God’s answers in the pages of the Bible. One can receive direction for living as well as for how one should pray from the pages of the Bible. John Piper, the author of The Marks of a Spiritual Leader writes, “The hardest part of the missionary career, Mr. Taylor found, is to maintain regular, prayerful Bible study. ‘Satan will always find you something to do,’ he would say, ‘when you ought to be occupied about that, if it is only arranging a window blind’” (p. 3).

Cited work / source documents (For entire paper)

Boa, Kenneth, Th.M.; Ph.D. Leadership Development. 2005. 4 April 2006.

Church Growth and Health: Church Growth Principles. 2007. 25 January 2007.

Gildea, Spike, Ph.D., et al. The American Heritage College Dictionary. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002.

Keathley III, J. Hampton. Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader. 2005. 28 March 2006.

Longman, Jr., Robert. Spiritual Disciplines and practices. 2005. 28 March 2006.

MacArthur, John, et. al. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005.

MacArthur, John F., Dr. The Call to Church Leadership. 1986. 4 April 2006.

McGavran, Donald A. Understanding Church Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970.

Piper, John. The Marks of a Spiritual Leader. 2006. 28 March 2006.
Rainer, Thom S. Surprising Insights From The Unchurched. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

Regele, Mike. Death of The Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995.

Rheenen, Gailyn Van. Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Schwarz, Christian A. Natural Church Development. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996.

Simpson, Sandy. The Duties of Christian Leadership. January 11, 2005. 28 March 2006.
Stowell, Joseph M. Shepherding the Church. Chicago, IL: Moody Press. 1997.

Toler, Stan And Nelson, Alan. The Five Star Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books. 1999.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.