Category: GOD

Written by Teresa Goodnight

It’s such an invigorating time of year. It’s crisp outside. Things feel new as the year breaks through. We start on our new path. We buy a new journal. Maybe set new goals. Then life rolls around. It doesn’t hit all at once. However, very slowly we ease back into our old ways. They’re comfortable. They feel less stressful. Truthfully, they feel just easier than these new goals. Most of us simply slide into failure. It just feels like home. Mmmm. Cozy. Not really though.

Familiar? It’s just easier to stay in patterns of thought and behavior than to turn over any kind of a new leaf. Is it any wonder, when we try to walk with God why we slip back into old sins? Find ourselves becoming less and less offended at our offenses? We dull and lull ourselves back into what feels the easiest. Same old same old.

Can we Change our Core?

As a reigning queen of the #EPICfail New Year, I know the pattern all too well. However, last year—I decided to do something about it. I made one big change. Just one. Funny enough, it wasn’t even at the New Year. It was at the end of November.

I’m sure it’s not a big deal to most of you. I hesitate to write it. But, my fellow Sodaholics will know my plight. I went from a few sodas per day to zero. Anyone who knows me knew that was just not ever going to be possible. Dr. Pepper was my end all be all crutch for a stressful day for over 30 years. I knew which states didn’t serve it and consistently offered a root beer when I asked (as if it were even close to the same!). I knew where to get it overseas in France, Italy, China—you name it. I could find it. I could easily distinguish between a Mr. Pibb and a Dr. Pepper for those who tried to pass it off as the same. I’m not proud. I’m just saying—it wasn’t an easy break-up.

I called it “When my Daddy took away my last Dr. Pepper.” (not intentionally but it became an extra funny part of my goal!) He literally held it for me at the hospital one day and I could not figure out where he put it. I kept asking everyone if they knew. It was funny. He didn’t intentionally hide it but it popped into my head as a fun way to stop drinking it. Why? Because I liked saying it. It makes me laugh. I also love to see him crack a smile in the corner of his mouth when I say he took my last one. I actually partnered him with me on the journey not really realizing what I was doing. It worked!

So, I’m sitting here a year later quite proud of myself. It’s certainly not a game changer, but it did prove to me I could do it. I can make changes. I can break difficult habits. My keys to success?

  1. Pick it. Pick one thing or just very few (2!). 2020 is about focus and we can’t focus with 15 goals in 15 directions. It just doesn’t work. Get laser-focused on a goal and stay on it.
  2. Plant it. Be really specific and plant that seed in your heart and mind. Don’t just decide “I’m going to be a better person in 2020.” Decide “I’m going to be a more financially generous person.” Or, maybe, “I’m going to read my Bible daily even if it’s just a verse.” General goals are nice, but they don’t give you specific plans for success. Plant the specific seed you want to grow.
  3. Present it to God. Get yourself what you need to grow the seed. Bring it before God. Pray. Ask for His help. Read what His word has to say about your issue.
  4. Partner Up. Ask Him for accountability partners (or a fun unintentional partner like my dad!). God uses others following Christ to help us get where we want to go. The “following Christ” part isn’t really optional. You need people who are lined up with God’s word to speak truth to you straight from the Bible. They pray with us and for us. They keep us challenged. They make sure we are staying focused. They nudge (or jerk) us back onto our path as needed. They are on board with keeping the seed growing with you.

Whatever you do, be realistic. Many make a list of resolutions as likely to happen as trying to get the Democratic and Republican parties to agree on their political agendas. Instead of making a list even the mightiest of willpower giants couldn’t accomplish, think a bit smaller. Few people can handle massive amounts of change. (Woohoo for those who can!) But if you find yourself reigning in my “#EPICfail” kingdom with your very own crown—why don’t you try a different approach?

Narrow down your list to a few things that simply must change. To reference Kristen Marie’s mantra “Choose Life.” Select YOUR one thing you want to change. Then, decide THIS thing will become a thing of your past (or these 3 THINGS for our overachievers who just can’t live within a limit (but please don’t overdo it if you want to have success).

Maybe this is the year that you want to “Choose Life” by becoming a giver. Write it down. Be specific as to what that would look like for you. Pray about it. Pray for a gardener, an accountability partner, to help you keep the seed growing. I told people I gave up soda. I made sure people around me knew my plan so they could watch me. I even brought my dad in on it, because I enjoyed the proud smirky smile on his face that he had been part of my little journey. Partners to keep you growing strong are absolutely a big factor in your success.

Then, start immediately. Set out to answer all situations you enter as the giver you want to become. Maybe you defined that as when you see a charity making a difference, you will pick an amount of money or time and just give it. Write it down. When the next one comes along—do it again. Write it down. Maybe challenge yourself with the number of times you want to accomplish your giving goal for the year. Then, take the opportunities in front of you (or seek some out!). When you look back at your list at the end of the year, you will find a sense of accomplishment along with the joy you received each time you succeeded. Somewhere along the way, your seed becomes your heart. It brings forth a beautiful change transforming you more into who God made you to be. It just becomes who you are. Then, you have a journal to remind you of the journey.

I know Dr. Pepper isn’t a big problem. Maybe for you it’s something a little more life impacting. Maybe you have a sin that has been kicking you and possibly your family, that you need to kick back. Maybe you have lost your patience with your family and need to find some grace again. Maybe your relationship with your spouse has been strained and it might be your fault. Maybe it’s a substance abuse situation. Maybe you have found yourself wrapped up in a porn addiction. The list could go on and on. Whatever it is—the solution isn’t THAT much different for a serious problem. You have to “Choose Life.”

Do you want to make a change?
Do you want to choose life? 

Some bigger problems have very specific accountability groups that can offer the exact kind of support you need—groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, for example. You can march yourself into an AA meeting and find a system proven to work. If it’s something like porn addiction, download a software system like covenanteyes.com and then find some accountability partners. Whatever you do “Choose Life” and get God involved in your decision.

These bigger items are better tackled with a team, but rest assured, you CAN beat them. You do need a team in your corner. God’s got the foundation. Build on it with Godly men and women who can help hold you accountable. Get real with them. (Check out Accountability Partners in this issue!). Trust me, you are not alone. You are NOT the only one facing that kind of problem. You just aren’t.

What you can’t do this year is try it the same ways you’ve tried before and fail.

Once you know how to be successful, the question really comes down to do you want to make a change? do you want to choose life? If you do, pick it, plant it, present it to God and get on down that road with some partners in your corner. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow to get it right. We are guaranteed that God will never leave us and never forsake us in Hebrews 13:5. He’s right there to take this journey with you—to kick the soda or to kick the habit before you kick the proverbial can. Just kidding. (Kinda). Seriously, not kidding at all. Some of these problems are very big deals and if you have one afflicting you, it’s absolutely time to make a change.

#GoDoBe

Written by R.A. Goodnight

MAN—LIFE IS OVER­WHELM­ING! Really. With the pace of life these days, is it any wonder that we find it more and more difficult to keep up with our careers, our family, and oh yeah, our relationship with God? As we feel more and more like a failure, our decisions can become easier and easier to make in the wrong direction. Thoughts like “I didn’t make dinner last week and it was ok. I’m sure it’s fine if I work through it this week.” or “I’m travelling to support my family. What’s this break to watch this show? I’m married. I’ve seen it all anyway.”

We’ve all heard about the slippery slopes. We know we’re supposed to keep our guard up. We also know we’re charged with being the leaders of our family. We know. We know. We know. It gets a little old hearing it quite frankly. When it comes to a thought like “Choose Life,” that abundantly fruitful life that Jesus offers, as appealing as it sounds, it’s actually pretty easy to choose differently. Truth is, Satan knows it.

Satan is a slithering monster waiting in the darkness to spring just the right trap on us to take us down. He watches our weaknesses. He knows where he’s hooked us before. It’s no different than going to your favorite hunting spot, where you’ve sprinkled out the zestiest corn for the longest time. Your prey comes in cautious. Then, they get used to coming into the haven of their favorite food. Their walls go down. They move slowly and comfortably into the space. Then, when they least expect it? You show up and take them down. Hard. Game over.

If you think saying yes to the little things won’t lower your guard, you’re just wrong. I’ve been wrong. I have heard story after story of men who absolutely love their wives ending up in an affair at work. They never intended it to go that way. They grew comfortable. The friendship blossomed. If you think Satan wasn’t working right in the middle of that mess—you are just kidding yourself.

If Satan can take down the leader—He’s got open game day on the rest of the family. The wife becomes emotionally off her game. The children wonder what was real in their family. Everyone is left hanging in the balance. Satan had a playbook. He knew. He wasn’t surprised at all. You played right into His hands.

Maybe you’re in the middle of one of His nasty traps. Get out. Maybe you are standing on the edge just about to tiptoe lightly into the ring. Run. FAST. Do not look back.

God can restore us. He can rescue our wives. He can teach your children great lessons through your mistakes as you show them how to walk back to God. Don’t let past or current failures be an excuse. They are an opportunity for everyone to grow. Lead them through that growth with God.

Choosing Christ and leading our family requires discipline. There is actually quite a hefty load placed upon our plate by our Heavenly Father. It’s one He’s willing to carry with us and for us if we let Him. He says His load is easy and His burden is light. However, when we aren’t really making “Choose Life” choices to choose Him, we are blocking the power God has for us. That power enables us to have that abundant life He has created for us. As the spiritual leaders of our households, we are also blocking that power from our family. We have quite a burden of responsibility. When we stray from God’s path, we take a lot of victims with us.

One area plaguing Christian men like the black plague is pornography. It’s attacking men everywhere honestly and it’s winning. It’s just so easy to access. Our tv’s brought It into our home. Our VCR’s/DVD’s and then computers brought it further and further into our daily lives. Then our pone gave us a private access point with the internet. It has become as easy as typo to land on a site full of pictures we can’t get out of our minds. It can start that easily if we entertain the temptation.

The thing about porn? It has so many victims. Porn is really a gateway drug. Once people are fully addicted, they might never have imagined themselves facing child pornography charges. However, it happens. It just went across the screen during the impeachment proceedings. There was a man, George Nader, accused of transporting a 14-year old Russian boy for sex along with his own child pornography. These are men who have respected roles and positions in our society. This isn’t just in the dive bar scene.

One topic we are going to address next in 2020 will be sex trafficking. It’s big and it’s everywhere. This threat is real. We see people like Jeffrey Epstein in the headlines. We hear of the complete travesty that was his life and his choices. We hear all sorts of very high-level, affluent male names being associated to this man and his island of debauchery. These are men of power and influence. Leaders in our nation and in other nations. Financial men we expect more of. Granted, there’s not a court case on the news, since the head of this ring was found dead in his jail cell, but there’s still a question plaguing everyone as to who was involved.

Those stories feel a bit far off. However, the stories in Oklahoma are right here. They are very real. Recently the number of cases being closed in the Tulsa area alone has our eyes wide open. There are customers driving the industry. People wouldn’t be selling children for sex slaves unless we had buyers—bug buyers. You can bet that pornography had a part in creating that sickening addiction. It’s not just for fun. It carries potential consequences of life and death for all involved—but especially the innocent victims. Don’t be fooled. If you partake, you are supporting the evil. It’s gotta stop. Let it stop with you. Get help. You don’t have to fight it alone. In fact, maybe you can’t.

In the 90’s, I heard Stephen Curtis Chapman share an accountability partner story. He was travelling quite a bit on tour. Back then, one of the most tempting places to pursue pornography secretly was in hotel rooms while away on business. It was such a known threat to men that Stephen had set up an accountability partner he could call if he felt tempted. One night . . . he made that call. He felt himself tempted. He picked up the phone and called his person. He told the person about his temptation. He and the person agreed that when Stephen returned home, he would ask Stephen if he had watched anything inappropriate. It worked. Crisis averted. Temptation didn’t win out. Can you imagine the road where it did win?

We don’t think of the big guys leading people in worship or leading churches as having the same kinds of temptations the rest of us have, but they do. We all do. Temptation is not saved for the weak. In fact, I would argue that it attacks the strong even more strongly sometimes. We are all in its path. Satan has his eye on each of us. He just needs us to crack the door to get his foot in it. Once in? He makes Himself at home.

Men. We are the leaders. We’re it. We have got to change our thinking and our priorities. We’ve got to do better. God won’t give us more than we can bear, but it is more than we can bear alone. He wants to be in the trenches with us. He is right there waiting on you to invite him in. Do it.

Start now for 2020 and “Choose Life.” Ask yourself every time a temptation pops up trying to steer you away from Christ, as the head of your household, is this a “Choose Life” choice? If that answer is no, and let’s be honest, you know when it’s no—then choose differently. Run away. Run towards that abundant life in Christ. You will be taking your family along for the ride with you. It will likely be the greatest choice you have ever made.

#GoDoBe #ChooseLife


I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 
@omegaleagueman


Heart2Heart January-February 2020

Written by Andrea Stephens

The idea of having a word for the year was first presented to me by my associate pastor’s wife several years ago when I was living in Florida. She was a very intentional and purposeful type of woman, so it made sense that having a special word, and a scripture to go with it, was something she grabbed hold of. But it wasn’t enough that she had a word, she insisted that everyone had a word.

I passed her enthusiasm (and persistence) onto those in my immediate circle. Each of my family members now select a word for the year. I record their word next to their name on my prayer list so that I’m sure to include it when I am lifting them up to the Lord. As the months go by, I’m sure to check-in to see how they are applying and experiencing the use of their word. We talk about whether or not it is making a difference in the way they are living, whether they are remembering to consider their word as they make decisions about the use of their time and how they choose to conduct themselves.

After all, that is the purpose of having a word. It serves as a guide. It serves as a motivator. It serves as a goal. It serves as a reminder of one thing a person wants to change or become or do as they live their life throughout the year. This is why much thought and prayer are put into the selection of a word. In fact, it can become a partnership—something you and the Lord are working on together.

Last year my sister’s word was outreach. As she analyzed her jam-packed schedule, she realized this was missing from her to-do list. Her job, as regional director for a popular cruise line, kept her traveling, planning presentations, and tracking sales numbers. And usually one of her three kids were in mini-meltdown mode, requiring her attention. And then there was the investment she and her husband made in a beach house that needed updating and some basic TLC before it could be offered as a vacation getaway for families. Of course, none of these things were wrong, she just felt the stirring to focus on being more outward than inward; to support a cause by volunteering her time and abilities.

So that is exactly what she did. She chose the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Mental health was near and dear to her heart since one of her kids struggles with anxiety. They welcomed her energy and her host of new ideas for fundraising. Over the course of the year, she served on the Board, participated in the annual NAMI Walks for awareness, helped deliver Christmas bags to area group homes for NAMI families, and through her community connections was able to raise a significant amount for the organization. In return, she was blessed with new friendships and the satisfaction of knowing she was helping others.

In September she came to Tulsa to celebrate my birthday. Knowing her word was outreach, I made arrangements for us to volunteer at Turning Point Thrift Store located next to Loaves and Fishes. We sorted clothes, tagged and priced items, and welcomed shoppers. We even found of few treasures to take home. I loved spending part of my birthday guided by her word outreach.

With the arrival of 2020, now is the time to select a word for the year. Are you ready to join in?

I have chosen the word kindness. I’m challenging myself to stop and ask: What is the kindness thing to do in this situation? What kindness can I offer a hurting person? How can I become a kinder person? Where can I speak a word, provide a meal, or offer a hug? Who needs me to watch their kids, run an errand or simply sit and listen to their story? What scripture can I focus on that relates to kindness?

To help develop myself in this area, I picked up The Kindness Effect by Jill Donovan. Jill is the mastermind behind the Rustic Cuff craze. This attorney and law professor at the University of Tulsa has become a wildly successful entrepreneur. Jill uses her profits to bless others. As the book subtitle claims, Jill has discovered the power of irrational giving, encouraging her readers to do the same. In other words, spread kindness whenever and wherever possible—and give credit to God.

Now, what about you? What will your word be? What are you missing? What do you want to add? Is there an activity or even an attitude you want to incorporate into your life? Give it some thought and prayer, then commit it to the Lord. Get ready for Him to open opportunities for you to put your word into action. What a great 2020 ahead!

Andrea Stephens

If you would like to know more about Jill and her adventures with kindness, you are invited to the Asbury Women’s Gathering on Friday, February 21 at 7:00 pm. Asbury Church is located at 6767 S. Mingo Road, Tulsa. No charge, refreshments provided. Register online at asburytulsa.org or call 918-492-1771.


Turning Point Thrift Store

Put On Your "God Goggles"

Holiday seasons are funny. For some, they bring such a wonderful time of gratitude for all that they have. Not things, but people really. Family. For others, they highlight things that are missing. Not just things, but people as well. People who are missed. People who may never have been there, like parents or spouses prayed for but not yet met. For all the joy of the season, there can be a real space for sadness and even a bit of despair. Goodness, I remember vividly as a child when we first had a chimney. Finally, Santa had a way in! Crisis averted!

For Christians, this is a season where we turn to traditional giving outlets to share some Christmas joy. It’s a great plan. Keep it up.

However, for 2019, we want to toss out a challenge to think bigger. We want to think even beyond the gift trees at the mall needing a requested present. (Again, still do those OF COURSE!)

Do you have a family in your church? Your neighborhood? Your work? A family who cares for children in foster care? A single parent? Friends without family in town? Friends from other countries? Elderly neighbors missing family and friends? I bet you could find at least one in one of these categories just on your street alone.

So, open your eyes. Put your “God Goggles” on to catch His vision.

Foster care parents take in children who need love during the holidays. Reach out to them. Find out how you can help around the house. Maybe it’s babysitting? Maybe it’s gifts? Maybe it’s wrapping presents? Maybe it’s something special that you can provide that I can’t even imagine not knowing your talents!

And guess what?

Single parents need those things too! My husband traveled excessively for work this year. He was gone for back to back full weeks month over month. Ay-ay-ay. It was beyond trying to parent alone—to not have that person to run to the CVS for cough medicine in the middle of the night. I have an amazing support group in Tulsa with my family. My parents don’t know they’re too old to dance and play in the floor, while they entertain my highly energetic and sometimes slightly high maintenance daughter. Goodness. They help so much!

Not everybody has those kinds of life savers to throw a rope. Single parents could use a break. Offer them one. An evening where they could go shopping without spying little eyes could be invaluable. Tossing in a Visa gift card could make that event a bit more enjoyable!

Stop to invite a single friend or an elderly person over for the whole “magic in the eyes of a child” kind of thing. Invite them to join your family for Christmas lights at Rhema. Put them between the car seat and the door for a crazy night of Christmas light touring they won’t soon forget. There’s just so much fun to be shared!

People aren’t connected in the way we used to be. It used to be that everyone sort of just knew what was going on in others’ lives. Maybe it was the party line my grandparents had back in the day. I don’t know. I just know there are a lot of people who will never ask you for help. They might even be afraid that if they asked, you might ask for something from them later. Right? You know that thought process. These kinds of people will answer “Fine.” when asked how they are. They will smile to keep your attention off of their coffee stained shirt. Sure. They will make it without you, but I bet they could make it SO MUCH BETTER with you.

So grab your “God Goggles” and #GoDoBe in the ways you always do and in ways you had never thought of before.

MAN2MAN-“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” Part 1—Liberty

Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“ . . . that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into this freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Romans 8:21 NLT

Liberty has been a topic of importance since the earliest days of this country. Quotes such as “Give me liberty or give me death,” as well as the quote in our title have garnered much attention through the years. I would wager the true source of life, liberty and happiness have become misunderstood, especially with our current generations. Or maybe, less misunderstood and more misappropriated.

This month liberty will be our focus. As Christians, how much importance should we place upon liberty? Does the Bible give any direction in relation to this topic? In our next issue, we will focus on happiness. Everyone wants to be happy, but how can we truly be happy? In the final piece in the series, we will focus on life and how liberty and happiness, as we’ve defined them, play a pivotal role.

What is Liberty?

We start our discussion with a secular definition of liberty. Oxford dictionary defines liberty as “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” As implied in the definition, liberty would be synonymous with freedom and antonymous with oppression.

Although I agree with this definition, I believe it is fatally incomplete. This definition leaves out the spiritual requirements necessary to becoming a truly liberated soul. Examples of spiritual liberty would include liberation from sin and death, oppressions that none of us can free another from except through Christ. Due to this additional element, it would be important for us to introduce the biblical narrative into our discussion as it addresses both the secular aspects of liberty along with the spiritual aspects.

Is Liberty in the Bible?

The idea of liberty is central to the entire narrative of the Bible. In a previous article, I asked the question, “What was the theme of the Bible?” We answered with, “The King and His Kingdom.” It helps us to understand the Bible better if we read it in the context of its theme. Accordingly, it is of equal importance if we answered two related questions: Have you ever asked yourself ‘why was the Bible written,’ or even better, ‘to whom was it written’?

Many people answer these two questions with a simple response, “It was written for us so we know what God wants.” This is true (even though I would respond to you with “What does God want?”), but this answer is also incomplete. A more accurate answer is:

  • The Bible was written for the oppressed—the whom.
  • The Bible was written to explain to the oppressed how their liberation would come—the why.
  • Combining these ideas together at a higher level, the oppressed (the whom) will be liberated (the why) by The King and His Kingdom (the overall theme of the Bible).

And as a bonus, we also answered “What does God want?” He wants you to be free, to be liberated. To help you see how that can happen, He wrote you twenty-seven letters collectively referred to as the Bible.

Now we begin to understand the Bible in its “symphonic harmony,” if you will—from Genesis to Revelation—and its meaning for us as a whole: We are oppressed and God has a plan to liberate us.

From Oppression to Liberation

The creation account (Genesis 1-2) tells us that, in the beginning, all of creation existed in a state of liberty. Everything God created was good and all creation worked in harmony with each other for the benefit of the other, but we then see the fall occur. The serpent, through a lie, introduces oppression into human existence. And, as we move through biblical history, we see oppression compound as the human family grows. Examples of such oppression would be the Israelites as slaves to Egypt, their exile in Babylon, and their existence under Roman dominion and pharisaic rule.

More important to our conversation is how we see God react to that oppression with provisions to liberate His people. In the beginning, immediately after the fall, He issues the first Messianic Prophecy—the coming liberation from sin and death. (Genesis 3:15) Later, we see him use Moses and Aaron to free the nation from slavery. He uses Cyrus to free them from Babylonian captivity. Eventually, He sends His son in fulfillment of that first prophecy.

Beyond the liberation of his chosen nation, God shows his desire for the liberation of individuals as well. After God forms Israel into a nation, He gave them laws to help suppress individual oppression from occurring in Israelite society. For example, He commanded the provision for the jubilee year. Through this provision, everyone’s debts were forgiven them every 50th year or upon the death of the high priest (foreshadowing Christ). What a wise provision to help maintain a level of equality throughout the nation. Other examples of such laws were:

  • The provision of gleaning (leaving some crops for the poor) (Leviticus 19:9,10)
  • The treatment of immigrants—those that were allowed into the land (Exodus 22:21)
  • Letting the land lie fallow (Exodus 23:10,11)
  • Sacrificial provisions for those with less money (Leviticus 5:7-11)

This same pattern is carried forward to the Christian congregations and observed in first century Christian’s dealings with those in need, those affected by natural disasters and how they treated those who were orphans and widows. Lastly, in the Bible’s finale, we see ultimate liberty restored to all through the events of Revelation.

The pattern is clear, and God has not changed. (Malachi 3:6 NIV “I the Lord do not change . . .”) He wants you to be free and political, economic and spiritual liberty will be among the grand achievements of God’s Kingdom. But, that is future state. What mark then, should this understanding have on us today? How can we enjoy a degree of liberty now?

Christians and Liberty Today

Satan stands in opposition to any form of liberty. Oppression is his tool. This is why we see today’s liberties coming under attack at an accelerated rate. The Bible reminds us that Satan has the ability to transform himself into an angel of light, the ability to deceive those who are not looking for his tactics. We have seen him use this tactic before. “You will not die,” he said, “ . . . you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4, 5 NIV) But this was not true. He transformed the truth; he became an “angel of light” and deceived the first human pair into a decision that led to their oppression.

Today, this same oppression tactic is alive and well. It could be disguised in the form of women’s rights, (it’s your right to get rid of that inconvenient child in you) modern views on sexuality (have sex with whomever you want) or the acceptance that religious beliefs are actually hateful (Christians must hate homosexuals because they believe marriage is between a man and a woman). In some forms, these rights and freedom bring about very oppressive ideas. If we choose these, they do not free us, but bind us to the negative consequences of those decisions. This bondage is not what God wants for us.


So, what can we do?

God’s call encourages us to stand strong and to reject the “wisdom” of this world. First, we should free ourselves from our own oppressive beliefs and vices with which we bind ourselves. Remember, some of what you are seeing suggested on the news is likely a tool of oppression used by Satan himself. Next we should carry God’s view of liberty to those we meet. He appeals to awake and mature Christians to take a stand and tear down the belief systems that are oppressing our women and children. He calls us to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, fight for those that are less fortunate than us. Be an agent of God’s Kingdom and work to liberate as many as we can from the grip of this backwards world. Hold fast to our hope that soon “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

“Serve the king…protect the people.  Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.”

Godfrey of Ibelin – Kingdom of Heaven

I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 
@omegaleagueman


Heart2Heart: Generous YOU!

Written by Andrea Stephens

Generosity. The giving of good things to others freely and abundantly out of a heart of genuine kindness. Generosity is something we are challenged by during this season of thankfulness and gift giving. It affords us the opportunity to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Have you ever met someone who is generous? Not just someone who repeatedly tells the story of her one-time over the top act of kindness. I mean someone who lives it. Someone who sees what they own, what they earn, what they do with their time, and their words of encouragement as tools to use to bless the lives of others. Someone who has experienced the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive and can attest that giving increases their own well-being and happiness (Acts 20:35). Someone who’s heart has been so touched by the love of God that it overflows toward others in a consistent, almost natural way.

Several years ago, I met Marge. She was an older lady, a widow, the mother of two adult sons who were inattentive to their mother. Her life had not been easy but her disposition was one of gratitude, a key to generous living. She could be heard thanking the Lord for this or that and giving Him credit for all the good in her life; Marge had well learned Jesus’ command to love the Lord with everything within her and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39). I got to watch up close as she would hear about a need and find a way to meet it. Mr. Avery had been laid off and his family needed groceries; Suzette didn’t have a winter coat and the temperature kept dropping; Karen was in the throes of chemotherapy and just couldn’t prepare Thanksgiving dinner as usual. Marge had three bags of groceries delivered to the Avery’s, took Suzette shopping, and shared her festive meal so Karen could rest. The majority of her most generous giving was done anonymously so that the credit went to God alone. Even as someone who became one of her close friends, I didn’t know all the giving she was up to, yet that smile on her face let me know that she and Jesus were up to something good. Together, they were on an adventure that brought energizing joy, contentment and purpose to her life.

Her example taught me that I, too, could possess the quality of generosity. Generosity is not about how much you possess, or how much money you make. It’s about the condition of your heart, your mindset, your willingness to put it into action. Caring, sharing, and giving because it blesses the Lord, blesses the recipient, and blesses you.

Sometimes our generosity is an act of obedience to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. A friend tells the story of having lunch at one of her favorite restaurants—the kind with country style cooking. When she was getting ready to leave, the Holy Spirit whispered to her/impressed upon her to leave her waitress a $20 tip. She admits that her first reaction was what, $20? After all this wasn’t one of her regular waitresses but a new person she didn’t even know, a person with a pink streak in her hair. Well, she knew the thought hadn’t come from her. So, she had a decision to make. Should she trust the impression or pass it off as a ridiculous thought?

Obedience won. She tucked the money along the side of her plate and left the restaurant. The next week she returned to that restaurant for lunch. While scanning the menu she heard someone say, “Hey, you’re the lady that left me that awesome tip last week.” She looked up to see the waitress with the pink streak in her hair. She smiled. “I was having such a bad day. Several customers had been mean and no one was tipping. In fact, I had just been alone in the walk-in freezer crying and asking the Lord to help me. Then I came out and there was your tip. Thank you so much.”

Wow. Who knew her obedience was actually the answer to someone’s prayer? My friend was doubly blessed. She had followed what the Lord lead her to do and she had impacted another life with her generosity.

Of course, the greatest example of generosity was done by God, our Heavenly Father, when He choose to send His Son, Jesus, to earth as a human baby who would one day sacrificially give His life to save the world from the wrath of sin and restore all that was lost in the Garden of Eden. When Jesus gave His life for you and me, it was the greatest demonstration of love being the motivation for generosity. First, God loved the world which resulted in the giving of Jesus (John 3:16). Then Jesus loved His Father so much that He obediently went to the cross to die for the world His Father loved (Matt 26:36-44). Yes, Jesus loved us, but His motivation came from the love he had for God.

To complete this demonstration of love, Jesus rose from the grave having defeated death and paying our sin debt so that we can live forgiven, free, and forever reconciled to our Heavenly Father. This alone, gives each of us reason to be grateful and to show our love for God by loving others. Life can be hard, messy, and disappointing. Yet when we intentionally keep our focus on the generosity of God toward us, we will recognize our blessings and be motivated to bless others.

How can we become more generous women? First, study God’s Word. The more we know His love, the more we will love Him (and the more we will want to obey Him). January will be a great time to get in on a local Bible study. Check out these studies for women: Bible Study Fellowship held at Asbury Church on Thursday mornings and Community Bible Study held at Evergreen Baptist Church on Wednesday mornings. Second, practice an attitude of gratitude. Challenge yourself to write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Get in the habit of telling others when you are grateful for them. Third, just start being generous. Yes, begin paying attention to how and when you can be generous to those around you—whether it is someone you know or a seemingly random person God puts in your path. As you do these things, your desire to be more generous will grow. Your joy will increase. You will become a natural at it!


Just How Fruity of a Fruitcake are YOU?

Written by Teresa Goodnight

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

Galatians 5:22–26

I  know. I couldn’t help the reference with the holidays coming, but our fruitiness is pretty important. Our CORE is a pretty good indicator of our status with Christ. Makes sense. God tells us that the closer we get to Him, the more the Holy Spirit will produce these kinds of fruits within us:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-Control

God tells us “There is no law against these things!” Makes sense. Why would there need to be a law against such things? I know no one complaining at the Thanksgiving table—“Kenzi, she’s just too loving. I always feel like she is just joyful or something. It’s really aggravating me. When things aren’t going her way, she’s peaceful. It’s like she thinks that no matter what happens, everything is going to be ok. She’s kind when I think she should be boiling over. It’s like she’s full of goodness or something. I mean her faithfulness and gentleness anger me. I wish she wasn’t so stinkin’ self-controlled. I just don’t like to be around people like her.”

It’s so silly—it’s difficult to write (and probably read). I just don’t hear people complaining about people filled with the Spirit. In fact, I’m more likely to step back and challenge myself when I’m around such people. There’s no one in my life who would naturally call me self-controlled. Gentleness isn’t exactly on my type A personality trait list either. I want it to be. In fact, when I spend more time with God, it actually starts to creep into me. I notice it. Then, when life gets busy and I get off track. It’s gone. Type A me, me, me is right back in action wondering if anyone noticed I was next in line and not the person they waited on ahead of me. As I wonder in my head how they missed me, I stand there annoyed I’m having to wait longer, fighting rushing up to get my turn that was due. It’s not just self-control I’m lacking there. It’s patience. It’s love. It’s goodness. It’s certainly gentleness. All not happening. ARGH!

So, why can’t I keep producing the fruit I want? Many times, it’s because I AM PRODUCING THAT FRUIT. When I’m just doing it on my own, it won’t last. It doesn’t have the sticking power that a fruit of the Spirit does. People can sense you aren’t even happy with what you are trying to force yourself to do, but when it’s just growing out of you—it has its own life and power, God’s Holy Spirit’s power.

It’s not that I shouldn’t try to be good. We should all try of course. It’s just that there is a different power source behind the actions when we are plugged into Christ. When I’m reading God’s word, spending time in prayer about it—all of a sudden, the fruit just starts growing in me. Sure, I’m participating. I’m there letting the seed be planted with God’s word. I’m listening to God as I pray, letting the Spirit water me like a garden if you will. Then I’m out there operating in the sunshine watching it grow inside me. It really is a very different crop though. One is born out of pushing myself to do it myself. The other is truly born of the Spirit. It actually can feel a bit effortless at times. In fact, it can even surprise you that it’s just happening. I know it has me. (Mainly because I know it is NOT my natural instinct. Hey. Don’t judge. LOL)

My daughter is addicted to a dumplin’/carrot kid’s meal at the Cracker Barrel (Please stay with the no judging theme here. Ha! ). She’s a picky eater. Anyway. One day, we had a waitress who was just downright grumpy with us. Anything we asked seemed like an enormous drain on her. I wanted to throw down a bit of righteous indignation that a paying customer feels they deserve to throw when things aren’t going well. I own that mode when needed (Sadly!). However, we had been challenged at church to be a bit different. The seed had been planted just the service before. It was watered with some Biblical teaching and addressed in prayer. So, without even having to debate it, which still baffles me, we left a $100 tip. It wasn’t because we made ourselves do it. It really flowed right out of us. We left being thankful that God had turned us that direction in that moment.

Several weeks later, my daughter and I went back to the Cracker Barrel. Honestly, I didn’t remember the waitress, but she remembered us. (Don’t even know how she knew it was us, because you pay at the front desk at CB!). Anyway, she came over and talked about what a horrible day she was having that day. She talked with me about some of her trials. She knew she had been pretty awful to us. She was so thankful to us for being generous on her really bad day. I had to tell her—I think God wanted you to have that encouragement. He must have known you needed it. We do NOT do that all the time. We have done that only when we feel a tug that feels from the Spirit and we just respond immediately. It’s difficult to put into words, but it is just different. I’m sure you’ve felt that tug.

So how fruity are you? Are you working on any kind of spiritual fruit crop at all? Do you have some artificial, genetically modified fruit crop that looks a bit like real fruit out of “I oughtas or I shoulds” or are you plugged into the Holy Spirit and watching God grow something amazing in you that you know couldn’t be produced without Him? Again, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t put for the effort, but I’m telling you—there’s something different when the Holy Spirit is growing it in you. There just is.

So, I think we should throw down the holiday fruitcake challenge for this season. Let’s spend some time with God to be as fruity as we can be going into holiday time with our family and friends. See what happens!

Action:

  • Let’s read and study Galatians 5.
  • Look up a definition of the words Paul used like love, patience, etc. day by day.
  • Pray about at least one of them daily.
  • Pray that God will bring you opportunities to display them and that He will grow them in you like a harvest!

Then #GoDoBe.

We’d love to get some notes from you over the holidays with any stories of God producing a bountiful crop in your life through His Spirit! Be blessed, but more than that, BE A BLESSING!

What does a SUPER Lost World Need? A Savior.

Goodness. America feels upside down and torn apart. Admittedly this country has made more than its fair share of mistakes growing up. So have I. One of the best parts of who we become grows out of the grace God gives us for those mistakes. At our worst, at our best, or somewhere in the middle—God loves us, sent His son to die for us, and offers forgiveness that knows no limits. So, in these times of social media wars, families divided over our political state, and hearts that fully reject God’s Word, His grace and even ours, how do we love? Like God did.

God being under attack isn’t anything new although it feels a bit new to our generation. In fact, although we focus on the amazing birth of our savior in this season, we must also remember He too came into a very tumultuous world. There was a hunt to find where the Messiah would be born—to destroy Him. The horrible taxes drove Mary and Joseph to travel when she was with child to get them paid. There was no room for a woman giving birth at the inn? Really? Would noone give their room? The owners? Even through the hunt, the lack of common decency, God still saw fit to send His son. He was born in a barn. He would die on a cross at the hand of the very people He came to save. 

Why? Because then and now, the world still needed a savior. That’s how God loves. 

This is not our home. It’s not. No matter how “blessed” we feel with all the frills even America offers, at the core of every human being, it remains true: THE WORLD IS STILL VERY MUCH IN NEED OF A SAVIOR. You have the answer to a broken and hurting world living inside of you. Breathing His Spirit into you. His grace covers you. You are grounded in Christ. In this season, #GoDoBE Christ wherever you find the opportunity. America is crying out desperately for a savior, reminding us of the real reason why Jesus was born. Give the gift of a savior with God this season. It just may change someone’s eternal life.


Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

Benjamin Franklin

It was late, around 1 a.m., when I was ripped from my dreams. As consciousness returned to me, I recognized the sound of our home alarm screaming in the night. I looked to my right and, through the glow of the television, I could tell by Teresa’s eyes that she hadn’t triggered the alarm system. As my feet hit the floor, I grabbed an HK pistol from the bed side safe and chambered a round. Teresa grabbed our infant daughter dialing 911 and headed for the closet, while I stepped outside the bedroom and closed the door behind me. Until the police arrived, almost twenty minutes later, I stood between an unidentified threat and the safety of my family. (BTW—That’s 20 minutes IN THE CITY for the police to arrive).

I look forward to the day when firearms have no place in our world; to when we each live securely in our own homes and have no need to know the ways of war. (Isaiah 32:18; Isaiah 2:4 NIV) But today is not that day. In the current environment in which we live, I have been thankful more than once to possess a means with which to defend my family or myself.

Regardless, we cannot deny that such rights do get abused. The country has been terrorized by many tragedies over the last few years, even the last few weeks. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I received a phone call telling me I had been separated from my daughter or wife due to a violent act fueled by another’s disorder or hate. My innermost being cries out for those who have had to live that nightmare. And, in the middle of the tears, the pain and the regret perhaps we find ourselves questioning and searching for solutions. But, hidden amid the chaos and fear, there are cleverly disguised traps in some of the solutions being proposed.

The “Red Flag Laws” that have gained support should raise red flags themselves for any who value their freedoms, regardless of our opinions on firearms. These proposed laws, should they become law, will pave the way for the abuse of many of our liberties, not just our second amendment rights. The basic idea proposed is simple: If an individual believes another person is capable of acts of violence and owns firearms, the concerned individual can petition to a judge. If the judge agrees, law enforcement will be dispatched to the accused’s place of residence to confiscate any firearms. Many believe that this is a reasonable idea.

Why do I suggest that we be concerned?

I believe many individuals reason such laws would never have an effect upon them, as these laws are only for those who intend harm toward themselves or others. But think for a moment on how intent is being established under these laws. If you offended someone, if a social media post was misinterpreted or if your religious persuasions were deemed hateful, an opposing individual could raise a red flag against you, even if you didn’t own a firearm. “So what?” some have responded. “A judge would be able to tell the difference. So, these laws have no way of being abused.” Do we really believe that?

Consider this. For the last two years we have seen the country waste millions of dollars on legal action attempting to prove that our current elected leaders committed treason. How did all of this begin? The opposing party convinced a judge of alleged guilt, based upon lies and motivated by hate. If similar laws can be used against the highest office in the land, why would we believe ourselves to be immune from such tactics?

What effect could such laws have upon our other protected rights? Consider these:

  • The first amendment protects our right to religious beliefs. It protects our right to think, believe, speak or write ideas as we choose. Red Flag laws pave the way for those beliefs, ideas and words to be weaponized against us. This is already happening at an enhanced rate toward Christian beliefs and these laws will only make that easier.
  • The second amendment is obvious. A citizen of this country has a protected right to own a firearm, unless they have forfeited such right through proven and convicted criminal activity. Your religious beliefs and expressions of your Christian faith do not constitute criminal activity, even though many would like to change that.
  • The fourth amendment protects private individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. How reasonable would such laws be if activated only by the word of another?
  • Similarly, the fifth amendment ensures that our property (in this case a firearm) cannot be confiscated without just compensation. It also protects our right to due process. Due process would demand that any claim be proven prior to confiscation.
  • The tenth amendment states that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. The power to confiscate personal firearms has not been granted to the United States via the Constitution. To the contrary, it is restricted from it. The states are given the authority on how they would choose to deal with the reoccurring issue of private firearms ownership.

Let me be clear on this point: This article is not about firearms. Ownership and use of firearms are subjects that each Christian needs to decide upon for themselves. What this article is about is our awareness, our ability to look beyond the clamor and see dangers that threaten other fundamental liberties that we will not compromise on. Freedoms such as religion, speech, press and due process. When did these ever become negotiable? It is about giving authority to men over aspects of our lives, where they do not have any authority (constitutionally or spiritually), nor should they.

Even if not a firearm owner, why would we trade our liberty to think, believe and worship without immediate fear of retaliation at the promise of security provided by men—a questionable promise in of itself? It is a high price to pay for something they cannot even guarantee. In the end, we risk losing both. No additional security paid for with our liberties and, once you give them up, they are difficult if not impossible to get back without a fight.

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

Thankfully, I have heard two of our state representatives express grave concern for the dangers these laws pose. Both Congressmen Kevin Hern and Congressman Markwayne Mullin have expressed similar concerns should such laws be officially proposed. They have both stated they will not support them. Congressmen Mullin shared a nice podcast addressing why he would not support them and you can listen to it on Soundcloud (link below). In his podcast he asks some very thought-provoking questions. For example, “So how can a judge, by asking a few questions make the determination that a male or female is not fit to bear arms without due process? We can’t.”

We thank both of these Congressmen for their continued cautious support to protect our freedoms.

In the meantime, let’s pay attention and listen to what is being said (or not said). We certainly can’t just go by what we see and hear on television. There are many important aspects of our daily life hanging in the balance. These kinds of proposals require extensive research and thought. They are not to be taken lightly, because sometimes the very essence of the law is in what is NOT said rather than what is written.

https://soundcloud.com/user-213561710/mullinpoints-podcast-episode-24)


I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 
@omegaleagueman


WILMORE, KY—Asbury Seminary Tulsa allows pastors, leaders and laity to pursue a theological education without uprooting their life and ministry. Along with the Master of Divinity degree, the Seminary offers master’s degrees in ministry and leadership.

Asbury offers a hybrid degree option so students can study online while staying on mission. With the hybrid format, students in the Tulsa and Midwest region can experience the convenience of online learning with meaningful in-class sessions just two to three days during the term of the course. This course structure gives students full access to the “Asbury Experience” in a rich, theological community. The Tulsa site is made possible by a partnership with Asbury United Methodist Church.

Asbury Theological Seminary was founded in 1923 by H.C. Morrison with a class of three students and an audacious seal that said, “The Whole Bible for the Whole World.” Its mission is to prepare theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled men and women to evangelize and to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world. Almost 100 years later, the Seminary has nearly 11,000 graduates serving in every time zone around the world through social justice initiatives, government, art, mission organizations, education and the church.

To schedule a site visit, check out asbury.to/visit. For more information about the Asbury Seminary-Tulsa site, email Tulsa site coordinator Allison Gardner at allison.gardner@asburyseminary.edu or call 918.392.4590.


Student Who Recently Selected Asbury:

Asbury’s M.A in Leadership Studies balances between both continuing my studies from a spiritual and secular point of view. The M.A. in Leadership path I chose will give me skills I can put to direct use in my secular career, as I lead people across cultures, countries and beliefs. I looked at many other colleges– secular colleges as well as Christian colleges. Most of them only focus on one direction or the other. Either you will get a good secular education or a good Christian education. I was looking for a program that gave me both. Asbury definitely filled that need.

I wanted to study Bible truths to make my personal ministry and my responsibilities inside the church more effective. There are more and more differences inside mainstream Christian organizations. I believe generational gaps, cultural differences, as well as a decline in formal discipleship programs are to blame. A divided church was not the model Christ left us. There was only one church, the Church. Even spiritually, when dealing with a group of diversified individuals, leadership skills help navigate across differences. Asbury’s M.A. in Leadership program equips graduates with skills to lead and effect change across and increasing complex culture.

In addition, I wanted a college with a wholesome environment, where I would study with like-minded individuals. I liked the hybrid models we discussed. I needed a program that gave me the ability to do studies online on my own schedule. The blend between classroom time and independent study time is perfect. I think this is a good balance for the working adult who is also trying to pursue a degree.

I think Asbury’s program fits perfectly with all aspects of my life—professionally and spiritually.

Written by Teresa Goodnight

In the July issue, I shared a story about nearsighted children. Dr. Chenoweth had my full attention, explaining how he could stop most nearsightedness for children in its tracks with CRT, potentially preventing eye diseases later in life that could lead to blindness. I was so amazed, I started asking parents who had children with glasses, “Are they nearsighted?” I’m not kidding. I did it across Epcot, Hollywood, and the Magic Kingdom. I wanted everyone to hear the good news. Then God kicked me in the shins. HARD.

Why in the world do I not have that same gusto (if not greater of course) for sharing Christ with people? When you have such incredible news—you just can’t HELP it. Right? You want to share it. I am not sure I ever have had that same gusto for telling folks about Christ. Why? I mean preventing potential blindness is big news. Don’t get me wrong. You should check out the July issue. But really? Knowing Jesus makes an eternal difference. Every single day people lose their life without knowing Jesus. Every single day, they are destined to be separated from God for eternity. How in the world is THAT life altering news not coming out of my lips with everyone I met? I have the information that could save their soul for crying out loud.

I used to stop at booths in the mall with the Campus Crusade Four Spiritual Laws booklet in tote. I USED to know sharing Jesus was THE most important thing I could ever share with anyone. If you’re reading this magazine, you likely already know Christ. (If you don’t—we need to talk!) So, you would agree what God did for us sending His son—it was a bit monumental. Life changing. It restores man to a relationship with our heavenly Father.

Why doesn’t it flow into my conversation with such zesty purpose as it did with the news about protecting a kid’s vision?

What in the whole big world is more important than sharing the life-altering, eternal redemption found in how He removed our sins as far as the east is from the west?

Judging by my life?

EVERYTHING.

Anything.

Ugh.

I considered myself a spiritually charged evangelist when I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU). It’s an organization built around Jesus’ basic ministry: You go share Christ. You bring in the new believers. You teach them. Then, you challenge them to go out and do the same. Discipleship 101.

I wasn’t as good as CRU founder, Dr. Bill Bright, at getting someone into a meaningful conversation about Christ, but I was learning. Watching. Trying to get better. It was an active pursuit while I was in college and while I was on staff. It mattered. Then somewhere along the way, it didn’t. It faded? Maybe having a job and other responsibilities took away my focus? Whatever it was—it faded until it was so close to non-existent, it simply moved from my priorities—from my heart.

Really, you have to wonder. How did a CORE message from Christ get pushed out from our daily duties as His followers? I can tell you for me, it was not a difficult push. I believe in reaching people for Christ. However, it was much, MUCH easier to slip into a complacent mode. In fact, I slipped so much that I can’t tell you when I personally shared Christ with someone in a one-on-one situation aside from mission’s trips. I can’t. It’s not that I’m shy. I’ve sold large multi-million dollar deals to the largest telecom giants out there. I can talk to a wall. It comes straight down from my grandfather to my mother in my DNA. I mean, come on—I’m asking strangers about their kid’s eye condition on the other side of the country. My limits aren’t exactly pressing me in.

You know what I think? I think I slowly shifted my focus onto things of this world. I spent my time like other things mattered more. I just kinda let the “Good News” of life everlasting, salvation from sins, and finding a way to live a more meaningful life under God’s grace and out of shame fall out of the front of my mind. Maybe Satan, the oh so powerful distractor, snuck in through a tiny crack and repurposed my focus? Seems like his game. He is quite the master. Regardless of how it happened—I’m still in control of it. It is still off track, but I’m repenting, confessing and hopping back onto God’s path. I can tell you this: It was NOT going to get back on track unless I purposefully moved it back.

The Great Commission is a direct command in its simplest form. The last Jesus shared before heading to Heaven. I guess it might have been important from his perspective?

Have you been there?

Are you there right now?

Have you let the passion for the things that matter most disappear? Let them get pushed behind everything else?

A Look Back at The Call

One thing Jesus did was to focus His teaching on the things that mattered. He didn’t waste time. He knew He didn’t have much time to train His disciples if they were to be the instruments for spreading the news of His death, burial, and resurrection. He poured into them. He lived out the “Great Commission” by example and then challenged them to repeat the process.

It didn’t take years in the church to train His disciples. He spent about 3 years with them. However, they were certainly a part of His ministry as they were being trained through doing life together. They were reaching people with Him. Some of the best training parts in the Bible are Jesus’ ministry days shared by the disciples. (Mathew, Mark, Luke, John). The New Testament shares the teachings as the disciples themselves learned more and guided new believers to keep them in line with Jesus’s teachings.

How long have you known Christ? Been in the church? Been receiving from head pastors teaching into your life? It’s quite likely you are more than well trained.

I suspect most reading are not super new believers. I bet many, like myself, have known Christ for decades, but somehow missed that following His command to go and make disciples wasn’t really optional. It’s certainly not a call for just the pastors of the church. In fact, I could (I will) write an entire article on the role of pastors in the Church. We put a large burden upon their shoulders they were never meant to carry alone.

Jesus called the 12 disciples because He needed to train up a group, who could share the good news. He trained the 12, who got to experience His teaching. Those 12, who after Judas betrayed Him became 11, did exactly what Jesus called them to do. Spiritual multiplication. In fact, through their obedience and of course God’s Holy Spirit, therein lies the path for how you and I came to know Christ. They are our spiritual forefathers.

So if I’m not doing it and you’re not doing it, then who in the world is reaching, teaching and training the next generation for Christ? Just the pastors? I need to break it to you. That kind of teaching does not fall on just the pastors of the Church to pursue. Goodness. They’ve been pouring into most of us for decades. They are probably worn out waiting for us to rise up and take on our role alongside of them.

It’s something we can do with Bible studies—Discipleship 101. We teach the basics of the faith (saved by grace, not works, nothing we can do to earn it) kind of stuff. Then, we take the new believers into the world and show them how to teach those studies. We show them how to share Christ. The greatest lessons are by example as much as by teaching from the Bible. In fact, I would put forth that the Millennial generation is constantly searching for people who do what they say. They want examples to follow.

We all aren’t called to use the Four Spiritual Laws kind of method. However, we should understand the Gospel enough and employ SOME sort of method. We should re-engage (or engage for the first time) with our God-given purpose shared by Jesus—to go and make disciples, baptizing them, teaching them, and setting them up to go and do the same. We should live a life that makes them want what they see we have—like peace that passes all understanding, love that gives when it’s not easy, and grace for when we miss the mark by a landslide.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19–20 (NLT)

If you are wondering: The time is NOW.

At the moment, Americans aren’t at risk of losing our lives for sharing Christ. We still live in a free country (for now). Others are not so lucky. I felt the fear while on a missions trip in China. I saw the guns in the hotel lobby. I knew to be careful what I shared. Here in America though, we are free to have those conversations without much fear of harmful persecution. There, they can be put in prison for having a Bible study in their home.

So, I challenge you, as I’m challenging myself, with Jesus’ command to go. Let’s get back to our CORE purpose. Let’s see what that kind of focus can do in our lives and in other’s lives. It’s a message that can change the world one lost soul at a time.

Not Equipped? Need a Refresher?

Don’t let it stop you! You are not alone. Come with us. If you aren’t in a situation to get the basics of our faith from your church for discipleship purposes—reach out to us. We will help plug you into a church. You can email me at teresa@communityspiritmagazine.com for more information.

Don’t Know Christ? Let’s get that introduction started. Just send me an email and we can help you understand that we are all lost—every one of us, until we choose a relationship with God. That relationship is made possible by the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. He died in our place for our mistakes. He takes away our shame and our guilt. He raises us to new life with God when we claim that gift in a prayer to Him. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You can just read these few sentences to Him. He just needs our hearts.

“God—I know I’ve messed up. I can’t get to you without Jesus so you came to me. You sent him for me. He paid for my sins. I accept that payment. I can be born again as a new creation with you. In Jesus name I pray—Amen!”