Monthly Archives: April 2013

Jesus Sweets

I’m privileged to be in India meeting with GMI’s long-time friends and those we serve through mapping and research tools. What a blessing to hear how the Church in India is growing and how ministries are using research to make Spirit-led decisions about how to move forward.

I was sitting with Richard Howell, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and talking about what he is seeing as the Church grows in India. We talked about a variety of trends and big picture items, but one story he shared stuck with me as an example of transformation.

We were talking about the fact that there is little separation between religion and other areas of life in India and Richard shared about a man in a village that came to know Jesus. This man sold sweets for a living. Others selling sweets would label them with names that connected to their faith - Krishna Sweets for example. As the man began to process his faith decision and what God would have him do to live out that faith, the answer was easy. If there could be Krishna Sweets, why can’t there be Jesus Sweets!

So that is exactly what he did. Now all the sweets he sells come bearing the name of Jesus! This man found a way to bring his faith and his life together and see it as one testimony to his Savior. Are we doing the same? Are we integrating our faith, family, work, recreation, relationships and hobbies together in such a way that they represent our Savior?

I would encourage you to ask that question today and then ask God to give you the wisdom as you strive to represent God in every area of your life.

Weighing Our Words

“We need to be freed from the oppressive judgements or expectations of others that limit our ability to hear and respond to God’s voice for us.” Gordon Smith

Sometimes it is the voices of others that keep us from hearing God clearly. Did you ever think that your voice could actually drown out God’s direction in someone’s life, or that others could hamper our ability to hear God?

It is a scary thought to consider, isn’t it? We have a much greater responsibility towards fellow travelers on this Kingdom path than we are usually willing to concede. But in those quiet moments when we think back to the words we have spoken that day, we can be honest with ourselves.

Many times our words do not draw people closer to God’s heart and thus His will for their lives. In those moments, our words are spoken for selfish or thoughtless reasons rather than selfless reasons.

A friend might be trying to pick between a job in town or one half a continent away. As they are seeking God’s will, and turn to us for input, we could easily share from our selfish desires to see them stay close by rather than our desires for God’s will to be done in their lives. Our words could have a huge impact on the next phase of their life.

What words did you speak today? Did any impact the decisions of others? If so, was your impact Kingdom-focused or YOU-focused?

 

A Decision to Trust

As you start this week, you have a very foundational decision to make. On this one decision, the rest will rise or fall. It is not a tactical decision about what you should or should not do. Instead it is a relational decision. It is a decision of orientation.

Solomon spoke of this in his third Proverb. As he sets the stage for how someone should live their life, he states clearly “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Solomon goes on to talk about how we should not be wise in our own eyes but we should focus on God. He is challenging his charge to reorient life around the God of the Universe rather than around his own strength, skills or ideas.

We need this same reminder as we begin another week. We need to orient our lives God and His agenda and trust Him to guide the activities of the week. That decision does not mean we do not plan or be intentional in our work.

Our decision to trust means that all of our plans and intentional actions flow out of waiting expectantly on God and depending wholly on Him. Our pastor said it this way in this weekend’s service, “It is always a bad idea to try and do God’s work for him.”

When we design our plans and rely on our strength, we do the work that only God can do well. We take His job and do a poor job of it!

Why is it so hard for us to hold off on the action and let God lead in our lives? Part of it is that letting others lead is seen as laziness. We look like we are without initiative or drive. Another reason this is a challenge is that when we don’t make the plan, we don’t always get our way.

But what does it look like to make the first decision of our week to trust God with our efforts? I’m not very good at it, but I’m committed to learning as I serve through GMI. So here is a real-life example:

We are going to be hosting an event and we have sent out an initial invitation to gauge interest. Tomorrow we need to send out a full invitation but I am still not sure whether we will have enough people to attend. My natural response is to push through and force the event to work. I have done that many times in the past. This time, I’m going to take a different tact.

  1. I have been praying with the coordinator and asking God to show us the right direction for this event.
  2. I am going to write two emails before we make the decision – one announcing the event with all the details and the other modifying the event.
  3. When I have my meeting in the morning to plan our next steps, I’m going to come to the meeting having prayed asking God to direct our plans and show us His will through the details, pricing, participation and personal input of those planning it.
  4. I am going to listen to my team and to God more than I am going to talk myself.

So will you decide to trust as you start the week? Will you make trusting God your first decision rather than an add-on? If so, how? Share your plans very practically here and ask the GMI community for prayer as you seek to make this important decisions!