Monday, November 26, 2012

Use Your Faith to Give Someone a Pump!

By Christy Fitzwater

Growing up in church, I took several spiritual gift inventories over the years, and I always scored high on the gift of faith. 

So I always thought, “Okay. I have a lot of faith.” That was as far as my thinking went. 

But a few years ago I read 1 Corinthians 12:7, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” For the first time it occurred to me that I had been given a lot of faith for the benefit of other people, to offer as a service to them. 


I chewed on that idea for a long time. How do I use my faith to serve someone else?



I decided it's like the pumping motion required to pedal two people on a single bike. I can propel someone forward in her experience with God, by applying the power of my own faith. 

Soon I realized God was always bringing people across my path who were in a crisis of faith. I had always found this annoying and thought, What’s you’re problem? Why can’t you just believe God and take Him at His word? When the idea of serving with faith entered my thinking, I began to understand God didn’t want me to be annoyed with people –He wanted me to use my faith to help them get through the challenge they were facing. 

Maybe you don’t have the spiritual gift of faith, but as a pastor’s wife you can serve your church family with the amount of faith you do have, even if it’s only the size of a mustard seed. So I’d like to offer some suggestions about how to use your faith to build up your sisters in Christ.   

FIVE STEPS TO GIVING SOMEONE A PUMP:

1.    When God brings someone across your path who is in a crisis of faith, consider it an opportunity to serve her with your own faith.

2.    Find a principal in Scripture that absolutely would be true in the person’s circumstances. 

3.    Take that Scripture and add some imagination!  Speak to the person how you can imagine that Scripture coming true in her life. Approach the crisis as an adventurous story that is going to have a God-ordained conclusion.

4.    Make a commitment to pray the person through the adventure of relying on God, and remind the person often that you’re praying.

5.    Celebrate with the person when she gets to the other side. Acknowledge God’s work in her life and speak faith at the end of the matter. This declaration of faith will lay a foundation for the next time she struggles with trusting God.

If you follow these five steps all the way through, you’ll find that not only have you encouraged someone else to believe God, but your own faith will be bolstered by the experience.






-Christy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife in Kalispell, Montana.  To get to know her visit http://www.christyfitzwater.com/.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Faith vs. Feelings


Feelings.

We all have them. And as ladies, we experience a lot of them. Often. [Can I get a witness?] There’s that oh-so-sweet commercial that brings a tear to your eye, or that terrible thing so-and-so said that made you angry. We have the ability to experience a whole array of emotions in a day. We can be happy and content just seconds before receiving unexpected news and now we’re devastated and overwhelmed. Given the right scenario, the switch can be flipped on our feelings at any given time.

Experiencing emotions is a good, and normal thing. I believe they are even a gift from God. Feelings are like a signal that tell us what's happening in the heart, and it’s healthy to acknowledge them. But what about when our emotions begin to affect [or trump] our faith? 

What if 2 Corinthians 5:7 read, “For we live by [feelings & sight] not by [faith]”?

Boy, would we be in trouble! Yet, if I’m honest, the question below can be deeply convicting, depending on the season I’m in.

Which one describes you today?

MY FAITH > MY FEELINGS
or
MY FEELINGS > MY FAITH

If you're like me, walking by faith isn't always easy. So, here are three hints for keeping your feelings from trumping your faith: 

1. Use the Psalms as a helpful guide.
I love the example we see from David in the Psalms about how he handles his emotions. He brings them before the Throne of Grace in total honesty. In some Psalms he confesses frustration over his enemies, in others he confesses feelings that God has forgotten him or abandoned him—essentially laying his questions at God’s feet—and in others he tells the Lord of his physical pains, and his exhaustion. Yet in all, he comes back to the truth. He tells the Lord of His faithfulness, thus reminding himself of God’s character. He prevails through faith, not on what is felt or seen, but on what is true.

2. Renew your mind with God's Word. 
Negative emotions will arise. It's natural and, at times, legitimate! But God's plan is not for his children to be defeated by their feelings. Take for example the Pastor's wife who is feeling too fearful to step into her calling, or the one who is beginning to feel hopelessness based on circumstances, or the one who is anxious about her family's provisions. In his book Discipleship Counseling, Dr. Neil T. Anderson explains that our emotions are essentially a product of our thoughts. If we choose to renew our mind with God’s unfailing truth, our emotions will eventually follow [see Philippians 4:8-9]. Let's take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. “If what a person believes or thinks does not conform to the truth then what the person feels will not conform to reality” (p 88). (Emphasis added).  

3. Examine the object of your faith. 
Faith is the key to victory. Truly, everyone lives by faith. The difference between believers and non believers is the object of faith. Ours is Jesus. But we can still sometimes get off track. For instance when feelings of worry or anxiety come, we must ask ourselves…

“What or who is the object of my faith right now?”

If that answer is not the One, True God [see His attributes here, and His names here] then we will need to realign our faith. I’d like to leave you with this diagram I recreated from Beth Moore’s Believing God study. It’s based on the Israelites journey to the promise land. From this visual aid, we see that prevailing faith in God and His promises will break the spiritual cycle of defeat and lead us into victory!



As New Testament believers, our Promise Land is the inheritance of all the Spiritual Blessings God promises to His children, according to His Word. This includes peace that passes understanding [see Philippians 4:6-7]. So, sisters, as life brings the testing of ups and downs, may we step out on faith with prevailing belief in our Awesome God, aligning our thoughts with His Word, and allowing our feelings to conform to His truth all along the way.

Will you choose to believe God with me today?

Lovingly,

Monique Zackery

_____________________________
Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com


Monday, November 12, 2012

Putting Feet to Your Faith

By faith...Abel offered, Noah built and Abraham went.
Hebrews 11:1-8

As Fall's last word fluttered down, Scott's phone rang. The call came as no surprise. My life and those I most loved flanked left in a 30 second call.

That moment was birthed about six months prior as my husband lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer. What raged within was so much more than a physical battle. It was from that very bed he first uttered his heart's dream - to use all his gifts of management and leadership for God's church instead of financial gain. 

Every day of those six months was lined with prayer. Only God knew of Scott's dream but talking to Him about it was more than enough. One ordinary night, Scott stumbled across an internet posting for the position of COO at Hope Church in Cordova, Tennessee. A quick Google search confirmed this as one of 50 largest churches in America.

It wasn't humanly possible that they would hire Scott, but God makes the impossible possible.

Three weeks later we were seated on a plane - me, Scott and Senior Pastor Craig Strickland - who just "so happened" to be returning from Dallas to Memphis and just "so happened" to be next to us on our flight. God spoke so loudly, Craig's phone call offering Scott the position was more like God's whisper.

Still it was relatively easy to take that call. It was incredibly difficult to act on it.

Answering meant moving my oldest daughters...again. Sadness lined my heart.

Answering meant leaving my parents and sister behind. Regret squeezed my heart.

Answering meant surrendering my own dreams to chase Gods. Faith met my feet.

The point where our faith meets our feet is the point at which it's actually made real. It is one thing to believe; it's another to act on our belief.

Faith is loving my spouse when he doesn't deserve it.

Faith is disciplining my kids when it doesn't seem worth it.

Faith is moving from where I am to where God wants me to be.

How has your faith moved you? Where does it still need to take you?
_________________________


Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.

She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.

Connect with her online at ShannonMilholland.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Faith For Your Calling

by Levitica "Lee" Watts

Do you remember the day you heard God's calling for your life? That whisper or nudge that confirmed what you were placed here on earth to do? Or perhaps it was a loud and sure voice becknoing you to your purpose, capturing your soul. Realizing and accepting our calling is often magnetic. It is a moment when the pieces of the puzzle all come together and our pain and our path merge together and we know we are where we are supposed to be. His Word and His whisper pierces our soul and we are excited to be alive, to be a part of His plan.

Then..."life" happens. Maybe something big happens in our lives that knocks us to our knees -- a death, a debt, a disappointment. Or perhaps it's those little things that distract us: the busy work schedules, children's activities, church programs, disorganized homes. It seems we no longer have the time, energy, resources or opportunity to do the very thing that we were certain He called us to do. Depression and discouragement sets in. We walk on an inner treadmill and we suddenly, yet slowly become doubtful of the future and God's call on our life. 

Although we talk a lot about faith, we seem to forget about faith when it comes to our own personal internal struggles. Sometimes we have more faith for others, than we have for ourselves - our spouses, our family, church members, friends. We use the faith talk and infamous faith verses for other people or those big problems that we like to bring before the church. Yet those internal questions that we struggle with at night, those... We forget to apply the faith verses to those things. 

When we come to that point of doubt and discouragement in our lives, when we have been brought to our knees, crying out to God and unsure of where we are, why we are here and where we are going, we must believe God's voice, and not our own. We must have faith and remember His character, who He is and not who we are. 

We must believe "... that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (Philippians 1:6 MSG)  We also must silence the voices - our own opinions and thoughts - and think of the goodness and love of God. Would He call us to something and not equip us to do it? Would our loving God dangle the proverbial carrot before our eyes? 

Yes, we in and of ourselves are unable to do it. The dream, the calling is too big to live out in our own might. That is when our faith kicks in and we believe that greater is He that is within us, than He that is the world. (1 John 4:4) Somehow the dream, the calling will be lived out. In His time, His way, His plan. 

When we are at a point of questioning our calling and not understanding how we will get from point A to point B, we must lean into God's promises and believe it, although we can't see it. It takes faith to shut-up (mentally and physically) and believe our Father. If we don't stop and reflect, the danger is to keep moving and believe the lies and ignorance we feed ourselves. And we've all seen it - those people that have accepted the lies, the belief that "this" is all there is and they can no longer do what God has set out for them to do. Beloved sisters, that is not who we are. We are more than conquerers. We are faith-walkers. We must press on...in faith.


Levitica “Lee” Watts lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Terence and two young boys, Terence Jr. and Trenton. Along with serving beside her husband, she is also the editor of an online magazine breathof God magazine and president of Atlanta Chapter of Ministers’ Wives. She is employed as Business Development/Marketing Manager and enrolled as an MBA student at Georgia State. She is a writer, sunshine-lover, hope-chaser, forever-friend of God, who enjoys working out and laughing with friends.


She can be found on Twitter: @lywatts, and on Facebook: Levitica “Lee” Ashby Watts.




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