Quality not quantity?

A very sad and unfortunately normal fact for the Church in the Western world is that it is not growing, and so many churches are closing, being demolished, or being turned into nightclubs or trendy apartments in cities. This is something we should be very concerned about, and we should be being proactive in dealing with head on. How many church mission statements cover this rising trend by saying they are looking for “quality and not quantity” in their congregations.

Acts 2 shows us the wonderful Day of Pentecost, and the growth of the early church was not just in the amazing numbers, but geographically also. The Gospel didn’t just stay in Jerusalem, it went throughout the world within a few years. By the end of Acts, the Gospel had hit most of the Middle East, and even Europe and possibly England itself. What would have happened if the first church had the same attitude as we seem to have in the 21st century? It is possible it would have been a short phase and just fizzled out before the disciples had died.

A healthy church is a growing church, not just in growth of numbers, but spiritually as well. It sees its congregation growing in their walk, in their life and as they change and grow, they spread the wonderful good news of the Gospel to all they meet and live with. They live and relate in different ways to those around them, to the point that people know there is a difference to them, a feel that only knowing God can bring.

A church that only looks inwardly, that only wants to stay as it is, is destined for self – destruction. It cannot sustain itself. It becomes burnt out or it could only take one major incident that could split the congregation to the point of closure. A church cannot survive without growth, or any imbalance in how it is lead or taught.

Teaching and preaching is what we in churches do. That is part of our roles, all of us. Older, mature brothers and sisters mentor the younger spiritual members. Leaders bring teaching and leadership that gives the congregation the strength and confidence in God to go out and live the Gospel and new life they have. We all have a role of some sort of evangelism. I believe there are those with specific evangelism gifts by the Spirit, but we all have a role of evangelist when asked about our beliefs. We have the job to pray and bring those around us before the Lord, to bring the Gospel to them. How are they going to know about the new life God gives if we dont show it, live it and tell them the why and how? Don’t leave confusion of preaching christianity and then not living it. It brings words like hypocrisy into minds where there should be a wanting to know more. It is a sacrifice, it is laying down our lives to God. Its how we live for God. Its a change that happens inside when we truly understand what He has done for us and what He has saved us from.

Who I am

I know a lot of my failings, and there are many more that others can see in me or that God can see that I don’t recognise yet. They will be shown to me at the right time, or at Gods timing for my life. It amazes me that He uses me with all my failings, warts, sins and all. God loves me and uses me for His kingdom as I am right now, and not who I will be 10 years from now, because who I will be then will be a different person. I know I am on a journey, but if I stop learning and growing in God, then I won’t be any different, but will stand still. To be different, I have to grow, learn and change my attitudes and heart to be more like God, then I will change into a more Christ-like child of God.
When I look in the Old Testament at some of the old “heroes” of the faith like Samson, Solomon and perhaps David, they were never super spiritual. God used them as they were for His kingdom and His purposes. They didn’t change for God to use them, they didn’t change who they were in God. We have consequences of living a sinful life, but God made us because He loves us.
We need to pray and ask God what He wants us to do for Him; who He wants us to speak to; how He wants us to live for Him; how we follow Him.

God is Sovereign over all

God gives us a calling on our lives, and what we do for Him is a calling. No one can hold God back, He is sovereign. He is love and His grace is new every morning.
What better reasons do we need to praise and worship our Lord and Heavenly Father?
We fail every day. Our lives get in the way, our pride, our minds. He never fails, never lets us down. How much of what we do is an offence to God? Maybe we need to sit and think about how we do things or how we speak to ourselves or others. Our flesh is strong, and we seem to battle all the time. Gods sovereignty is being watered down within our churches and how we view Him. He is God, He is our Maker.
Nothing can surprise God or shock Him. He knows all and knew us before we were born. He knows what we go through and weeps with us. He feels what we feel. He is there, and never goes away.
Praise is what I can bring. I can worship because I have nothing else to bring sometimes. I can praise when I am in a place where I am low, happy, content or in despair. Praise lifts us out of the mire.
Faith is believing when we dont see God, or dont know what to do. Keep your faith in Him who created dust into His child. He created you because He loves you.

Which Heart?

There are so many ways of describing our hearts and attitudes towards God. Looking into it, I have seen four types of heart that I have seen or experienced.

A calloused heart, one that is hardened to God and His Word.

A shallow heart that has no roots and no depth spiritually and possibly in life.

A distracted heart that is pulled many ways or is torn about what to do.

An open heart that is receptive and responsive to God and His Word and Spirit.

We need to keep a daily intimacy with God, and base ourselves in His Word. If we live more in prayer and the Word, we have a better grounding when the trials and troubles come our way. We will be able to put on our spiritual armour and battle knowing from the Word that God is always there. We can fight with the Word and use our sword to cut through doubts and distractions.

God changes us if we let Him. He gives us a hunger for the Word and lets us live in a new way so we put ourselves under the ownership of our Father. We begin to see new habits forming that make us more like Jesus every day.

The Word of God is our direction. Use it. Change my heart Lord to an open heart for you and what you have to say to me.

When we let Him arise

As a worshipper, I love to praise my Lord. I love the closeness to Him, and how after I stop singing or praying, I can still feel Him close to me. Its like being in a cloud of light, soft and still. It can carry me through many a bad night when even though there is no sleep, there has been a night of being with my Lord and Friend.

God lives in our praise and worship. He inhabits it. He desires to hear our praise and the worship of His children. He waits for it, and is there with us during our day, still and sure.

Worship is our relationship and intimacy with God. He created Adam and even before Eve was created from her husband, there was a close and intimate relationship between Adam and God. Our Lord was looking for the worship that could restore what was lost when Lucifer was banished. We restore what was broken there, and Christ restores us back to His Holy presence. We can be with Him forever because of Jesus sacrifice for us.

God has a purpose for us all as well as our worship. He has a plan for us. We don’t see the plan if we sit around waiting for it to come to us. We have to make the decision to push the doors to see through prayer, if they are the way we are to go. Just because we maybe can’t see the plan yet, doesnt mean it isn’t there. It is like a seed that is in the ground. Just because we cant see it until just before it gets harvested, does not meant it is not there. We need to position ourselves in Him to see the plan. Prayer, worship and praise bring us in the right place with Him and all He has for us. He wants to bless His children, all of them.

Let God arise in your life. Let Him do His awesome work, and purposes that we cannot even imagine.

Parenting

Parenting is an amazing gift from God, and the child or children themselves are truly gifts. It was never written that it was easy, it will never be a straight path, and in a lot of ways it is an un-thanked path we travel. Through prayer and the Word, we get the best parenting advice we could ever possibly need.

Some of the best parents I know are single parents, both Mum or Dad. When a single parent takes on the role of both parents, they make a brave choice to keep going, to keep their child/children safe and to not let them be deprived of the feel of both parents being there. What a brave decision to make every day, every morning before you get out of bed, to try to be both parents to your family. I am very blessed to have my lovely husband here, but know that is becoming the less normal way of life. There are more and more children growing up in broken families, including me, who live with one or both parents absent from their life.

How can we reach these broken people, broken families? How can we love some of these beautiful kids who are living in a different world to how some of us grew up?

Just one word really….. love.

Unconditional love that doesnt stop, even when that love may be thrown back at us. Keep loving, keep praying for them and never let them down. Ever.

So many people may have let them down, and sadly many of us know how hard that is for a child through our own experiences of life. If you have allowed a child or young person to trust you, or the child/young person has allowed you to be a part of their life, you must take that as your chance to help. Commitment is something lacking today in most relationships. If you commit to being a good part of someones life, never break that trust. The damage that could be done could be life changing for them and even for you.

Keep loving. Keep praying. Make sure you have prayer support.  

The persistent minstrel

Sat in the lovely cooling breeze blowing through the window thinking about the parable of the Widow and the Judge. Its such a powerful depiction of how we should be praying, and I know its not something that I do in my prayer times.

How many times during a service or prayer meeting do we hear it said that “now its been prayed for we can move on to the next subject”? There are times, especially during a service that we don’t have time to focus on one single subject. What about our personal prayer times. We can dot from one thing to another (in a kind of disjointed shopping list fashion) to fit everything into a certain time limit. Where does persistent prayer come in? Do we feel we can pray for one thing over and over until we hear an answer of “Yes”, “No”, or “Later”.

The widow came back again and again until the Judge gives her justice out of a wanting her to leave him alone. If this is a picture of us and God, then we should be at Him in prayer all the time until we get an answer. There are definitely times when we have prayed for something and we feel it is the right thing to leave what we have prayed for on the alter, for the Lord to look after. When we pray there will be times when we feel that it has been dealt with in the heavenlies, so we don’t need to pray for it again. This is not what the parable is about. Its about totally persisting in prayer on a near constant basis for something we really need answered or given.

Never feel that your Father God, your Abba, will not give you an answer. Never feel that in some way it is rude to keep praying and keep asking for answers to anything. He wants you to keep talking and praying to Him. My son talks away to me whether I am listening or not; he doesn’t really care as long as I murmur a good word every now and again. All he needs to know is it’s OK to start another hour of vague rambling about the new Lego model he has built. God isn’t like me, He keeps listening and never leaves your side. There will never be some little murmur as your answer. If we listen and stop being so busy, He will always answer. Maybe not in the way we want, but He does.

Don’t stop asking; don’t stop thanking; don’t stop magnifying.

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