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Biblical Worship

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Worship is derived from an old English word that means “worthship,” signifying the worthiness of an individual to receive special honor in accordance with his/her worth. Therefore, Christian worship acknowledges that God is worthy of the highest praise due to His matchless worth. In the Bible, we find two principal terms (Hebrew – saha, Greek – proskyneo), which emphasize the act of prostration, the doing of obeisance, or curtsy. There is no more humble nor vulnerable position than to lay prone. In fact, to lay in such a manner before a person shows the utmost trust. To obeisance or curtsy, someone is a sign of genuine respect. Inserting these word pictures into the previously mentioned definition of worship brings greater clarity to the true meaning of worship. Worship is honoring God by expressing trust and respect toward Him through acknowledging His matchless worth.
Worship is expressed through presenting our lives to God as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). This is done both through a commitment to outward obedience and inward attitudes, which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in and through a person’s life, holiness.
Worship is expressed in numerous ways. A life lived for the Lord is an act of worship. The most basic acts of worship in a personal and corporate manner are the reading and exposition of Scripture, prayers, and the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as well as the observance of the sacraments. I do not believe that true worship of the individual nor corporate worship is limited by structure so long as they fall within the framework of biblical standards.
At Crosswinds, we believe God has called us to know Him and make Him known. Therefore, we strive to communicate the gospel and worship in a way that reflects this reality. We desire for worship to be expressed from the individual to God. Since all people are different, we strive for an open and honest expression of worship that is both meaningful to the individual and not distracting to others, especially those who have yet to make a decision for Jesus Christ. In our “worship” services, you will find people raising their hands (Psalm 28:2; 63:4), clapping their hands (Psalm 47:1), kneeling (Psalm 95:6), singing (Psalm 30:4; Col 3:16), as well as standing in quiet reflection and meditation (Psalm 77:12, 119:15).
It is also noteworthy that, like the worship of the early Israelites, we strive to use our senses, believing that the example of the early church was in like manner. The Israelites used sight through the beauty and symbolism of the tabernacle, where every color and hue had a meaning. They engaged their hearing through the use of music. The Bible records many instances of music used as worship as well as many songs. They used touch by literally touching the head of an animal to be sacrificed, symbolizing the fact that it took their place. They used smell through the scent of the sacrifices burning. They used taste through the feasts, which were celebrations and memorials, where much of the food was symbolic. We strive to follow this example through utilizing technology such as video, a live band, and the sort and other sources such as a creative stage with backdrops, refreshments in the lobby, and many other means to engage people in a worship experience that connects them to God and one another.
Since worship is honoring God by expressing trust and respect toward Him through acknowledging His matchless worth, God’s church, by definition, is a worshiping community. The apostle Peter wrote, “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). When the church gathers, they are to do so in a worshiping attitude, which both honors God and signifies to those who have yet to make a decision for Christ that God is real and relevant and desires to be in right relationship with them. It ought to be noted that the church has from the very beginning gathered regularly for worship and is commanded to do so (Heb 10:25).
Worship is to be expressed both personally and corporately, and both are to be done in a manner that is represented by a life surrendered to the Lord and actions representative of such a life. The importance of personal and corporate worship cannot be overstated. Both allow the individual as well as the “Body of Christ,” His Church, to grow in knowing God and making Him known. Or otherwise stated, both allow the individual and God’s Church to grow in their intimacy with the Lord, community with other Believers, and influence on those who are yet to believe. Therefore, worship is to be central to the life of the Believer and that of the church, being expressed daily through personal time alone with God as well as regularly gathering together with fellow Believers. Worship is to be expressed in the way we live our lives each and every day. God’s worth is beyond comprehension. Therefore, in awe, we are to offer what is due Him, from first to last, giving our all in honoring Him by expressing trust and respect toward Him through acknowledging His matchless worth. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

What is a Wesleyan?

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When people realize that Crosswinds Church is part of a denomination, The Wesleyan Church, there is usually a question that follows. What is a Wesleyan? This is a good question that I will try to answer as accurately and briefly as possible.
The Wesleyan Church is an orthodox, protestant denomination from the evangelical tradition. It is organized for worldwide outreach. Wesleyans believe that faith in Jesus Christ brings one into an eternal life-giving relationship with God. This life lived by the power of His Spirit empowers us for witness and assurance of life eternal in paradise with our Savior. Life in Christ gives us strength for today and hope into the never-ending future.
Our name is in honor of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, whose emphasis on knowing God and making Him known, growing in ever-increasing Christlikeness, is our example. There are currently around four thousand Wesleyan churches in over forty nations worldwide. The Wesleyan Church can be traced back to a split with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843 over the issue of slavery. Wesleyans united around abolishing slavery. The leaders of what later became The Wesleyan Church saw a need to spread scriptural holiness over the land and secure justice for all people. In addition to social causes like slavery, Wesleyans emphasize a deepening experience with God.
In keeping with our heritage, The Wesleyan Church today emphasizes applying the Christian experience to social issues. Discrimination and prejudice are key topics of concern, whether applied to race, gender, age, or other areas of life. The foundation for our concern in this area is Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Wesleyans have been at the forefront of the egalitarian debate, insisting that women are fully equal with men with regard to their position and function in the church.
Wesleyans believe in one God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Savior of all men and women who put their faith in Him alone for eternal life. We believe that those who receive new life in Christ are called to be holy (Christlike) in character, love, purpose, and priorities. We can only live this way by being filled with the Lord’s Spirit. We believe in the Bible and seek to establish our faith and actions on its teachings. We believe God wills for people everywhere to know Him and that the purpose of the church is to make Him known through sharing Christ’s love and message with others.
Wesleyans believe our faith applies to every area of our lives and communities. Our call to Christlikeness (holiness), knowing God and making Him known bound all Wesleyans together as a diverse family of multiple nationalities, races, languages, and cultures. The Wesleyan Church continues to be a catalyst for individual and social transformation.
Much more could be written about The Wesleyan Church’s history, beliefs, and vision. However, I believe this gives us an honest and straightforward glimpse of where we have come from and who we are today. Wesleyans are followers of Christ, being changed by Him, and committed to living on mission with Him. Soli Doe Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Discerning God’s Will

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When we come to Christ and receive Him as Savior and Lord, we surrender our will for His will. Before coming to Christ, we usually did what felt best. One of the benefits of coming to faith in Christ is His leading us in our daily living. Knowing God’s will for our lives at times might seem like a mystical adventure that is beyond the normal Christian’s reach. However, this way of thinking is contrary to what we find in Scripture. Christ taught,  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). Then, we have this from the Book of James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). We, believers, are encouraged to ask, seek, and knock in confidence, knowing God will answer our prayers.
When we don’t know what to do, we are to ask God. Notice, “who gives generously to all without reproach.” The Apostle Paul, writing to the faith community in Rome, addresses this very issue. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2). Here’s the point. Doing God’s will is not some super-Christian feat; it’s what God would have any everyday believer do.
So, how do we discern God’s will? How do we make choices that honor God? I like the imagery of a telescope to help me get a handle on the process of renewing my mind and, as a result, discern God’s will for my life. A refracting telescope has two or more lenses. I believe, for us to discern God’s will for our life we need to look through four lenses. These lenses are Foundation in Christ, ABC’s of Christianity, Model of Christianity, and Unique Role and Call. To fully understand what God’s will is for your life, takes a look through all four lenses. The problem is that all too often, the only lens that gets a look through is number four, Unique Role and Call. This is a significant error. The Christian who does not carry the DNA of a Christian will never be a healthy part of the “Body of Christ,” understanding his or her unique role and call. This leads to frustration and burnout.
The key to discerning God’s will is to look through the first three lenses (Foundation, ABC’s, and Model) before looking through the last lens (Unique Role and Call). I am going to give a summary of each lens. I know most of us are wired to like a sequential list, but here the telescope imaginary begins to break down a bit. What I am about to share is fluid. Think of it this way. Discerning God’s will is more a value-based journey than a task to be mastered. With that all said, let’s look through the lenses of our telescope to focus on God’s plan for our life.
If we are going to have a renewed mind, discerning God’s will, we have to reset our understanding of our foundation. The first lens is our Foundation. Jesus is our true foundation (1 Cor 3:11). He is the light that guides us to a straight path whenever we are in darkness.
We also need to understand the second lens that is the ABCs of Christianity. “A” is the Great Commission and Great Commandment. A disciple is a believer living out the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) and the Greatest Commandment (Matt 22:37-39). “B” is gaining a kingdom vision. Much is written about this kingdom vision throughout Scripture. Paul describes the Christian life or presenting a kingdom vision in Philippians 3:10-14. “C” is kingdom values or having a holistic Bible approach. The psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). God’s Word directs our steps. We need to know the Bible and walk in its truth.
Then, we have the third lens that is the Model of Christianity. Paul writes, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:1-2).  Jesus is our ultimate model to follow. If you want to know what to do, start by finding out what Jesus did. Also, look to church history. For instance, the picture of the early church described in Acts 2:41-47.
Fourthly, we have the lens of our Unique Role and Call. We can understand our call in two tiers that we need to keep in alignment. We have our primary or common calling. We are to be disciples, who make disciples, wherever we are (Matt 28:18-20). Then we have our secondary call or callings. As Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). A believer must keep his or her unique secondary calling aligned to his or her primary calling to make disciples who make disciples. (2 Tim 2:2) This is true whether we are pastors, teachers, students, clerks, moms, and dads…you get the picture. It is also important to know your gifts, abilities, and passions (1 Cor 12, Rom 12:1-8, Eph 4:11-13). We all are unique. We are all called to make disciples. How that looks in your life and mine may be quite different.
How do we discern God’s will? We look through the four lenses. Then, we prayerfully and with godly counsel decide. It is essential to allow God’s Word to renew our thinking and then, prayerfully and with godly counsel, let God’s Spirit direct our steps. To this, let me add several principles. Believe God will guide you. Surrender your will to God’s will. Listen carefully for God’s voice. Wait on the Lord. And, obey when God and wherever God leads you.
I wonder what it would look like if, for just one day, every follower of Christ throughout the world would live each moment of just one day on mission with the Lord. After all, a disciple is a person who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus. To do God’s will is not for the Super-Christian; it’s what God would have any everyday believer do. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Reconciliation

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No single topic impacts our relationship with God and others more than reconciliation. Biblical reconciliation may be defined as addressing the sin that caused the divide to bond together in a shared commitment to Jesus Christ. Every person who has, is, or ever will live needs to be reconciled to God and, due to relational challenges, will need to be reconciled to others.
Sin separates people from God. We can’t offer anything to overcome the sin gap. The good news is that Christ has reconciled us to God (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18; Col 1:20-21). The fact that we need to be reconciled means that our relationship with God was broken. Our sin alienated us from Him. This was our dilemma. God’s solution was sending His one and only Son.
John 3:16 offers us the gospel in a nutshell. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God gave His Son by sending Him into the world and by giving Him over to death. Jesus died for our sins on the cross. When we place our faith in Christ, we receive abundant life in the here and now and will spend eternity with Him in the never-ending future. Christ has reconciled us to God, as Romans 5:10 declares.  “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” When Christ died on the cross, He paid the price for our sin that separated us from God. We find peace with our Lord.
Our reconciliation with God provides us the grace and power, by His Spirit, to reconcile with others. You don’t need me to tell you that we live in a messy world. In this fallen world, none of us are immune to messy relationships. Yes, the believer is reconciled with God and becoming Christlike, but they are still a work in progress. If holiness is growing from one degree of Christlikeness to a greater degree of Christlikeness, it is also growing from one degree of messy to a lesser degree of messy. Yet, messy we will be until we see Christ face-to-face.
Reconciling with another means restoring friendly relations. Such restoration demonstrates the peace and unity we have in Christ. Jesus said a crucial element in our witness to the world of Christ’s love and message is that we love one another (John 13:34-35; John 15:12). The Bible teaches us that reconciliation should occur as soon as possible (Matthew 5:21-25). Matthew 18:15-20 provides us with a picture of reconciliation. Reconciliation ought to be kept as private as possible. The rule of thumb is that if someone is not part of the problem or part of the solution, bringing them in is no more than gossip. If the other person refuses to reconcile or discuss the issue, we are to take one or two others to serve to steer the conversation to bring about reconciliation. Here it is kept between the three or four directly involved. If there is still no reconciliation, it is to be brought to the church. If this does not work, church discipline is deemed necessary for the sake of encouraging reconciliation.
Obviously, if the other person is not a believer, the process as a whole does not make sense. However, going to them in private is a good starting point. If that doesn’t work, bringing one or two to help is a good strategy. But, bringing in the church is problematic if the person hasn’t received Christ as Savior and Lord nor accepts the authority of Christ’s church.
It is essential to keep in mind that we are reconciled to God because of Christ’s great act of love. It is by the power of His Spirit, following His selfless example, that we meekly seek reconciliation with another. When we are the one who has been wronged, we remember the forgiveness God has given us and by the power of His Spirit and following His example forgive others (Matthew 6:12; Colossians 3:13). Let me share a word of clarity and explanation. Forgiveness means you are letting go of the negativity you have been holding on to and not requiring them to feel the same pain you have endured. It does not mean allowing yourself to be put into a situation where you can be harmed. It doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship will be as it was before. Reconciliation is the process of restoring friendly relationships, not always close ones. We can’t force it, but we can do our due diligence, then find our peace in God.
The good news is that Christ has done the work to make us reconciled to God. We receive it by receiving Him as Savior and Lord. He is our example and provides the power and leading to pursue reconciliation with others. Ultimately, we find our peace in Him and are empowered to be ambassadors of His peace and reconciliation to the world around us. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

The American Revolution

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Yesterday we celebrated July 4th, Independence Day. This has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two years later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence.
I am guessing you already know that. The question I am going to address is focused on this time in our nation’s history. Here is the question I have been asked to tackle. What was the biblical justification of the American Revolution?
Let me be upfront. I am not going to biblically defend the American Revolution. I am going to look at the Founders’ biblical defense for it. I am going to look at their biblical hermeneutic. Biblical hermeneutics are the methods used to properly interpret and apply the Bible. As you could imagine, you can find many personal views today on whether or not the American Revolution was biblically right or wrong. It’s easy to have an opinion, especially nearly 250 years later. I want to look at the Founders’ biblical understanding that led to the American Revolution.
Based on numerous historical theological writings (which, significantly, had also been regularly preached from American pulpits for decades prior to the American Revolution), American Revolutionaries embraced two specific theological positions that guided their thinking and conduct in their conflict against Great Britain. What was the first biblical understanding that led to the American Revolution? Most Christians during the Founding Era believed they were forbidden to overthrow the institution of government and live in anarchy but were not required to submit to every law and policy.
When the colonist sought the Scriptures to determine appropriate action against tyranny, they recognized a difference between resisting the general institution of government (an institution ordained by God Himself) and resisting tyrannical leaders who had themselves rebelled against God. The biblical model for this position was repeatedly validated when God Himself raised up leaders such as Gideon, Ehud, Jephthah, Samson, and Deborah to throw off tyrannical governments – leaders later praised in Hebrews 11:32 for those acts of faith. Throughout the writings of the founders is the view that they did not intend to revolt against the institution of government but tyranny. Tyranny is defined as the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice or not in alignment with the purpose of government.
The Founders had a second biblical understanding that led to the American Revolution. Most Christians during the Founding Era believed that God would not honor an offensive war but would permit civil self-defense (Neh 4:13-14; 20-21, Zech 9:8, 2 Sam 10:12). The fact that the American Revolution was an act of self-defense and was not an offensive war undertaken by the Americans remained a point of frequent spiritual confirmation for the Founding Fathers. This belief was so rooted in our Founders’ minds that this command was given to the Lexington Minutemen: “Don’t fire unless fired upon!” They were fired upon without having broken any law. Therefore, they felt their reaction was justified self-defense.
Based on these two theological understandings: that God Himself had ordained the institution of civil government and that God had explicitly authorized civil self-defense, The Founding Fathers and most Americans in that day believed they were conducting themselves in a manner that was not in rebellion with the Bible but in alignment with it. You may have your own opinion about the biblical justification of the American Revolution. You are welcome to it. For me, the challenge is whether or not I am actively pursuing God’s guidance through the Bible in the many decisions and cultural realities I face each and every day.
You might find John Wesley’s Quadrilateral helpful. It’s how John Wesley proposed we decide if something is biblically right or wrong. Wesley suggested you ask: (1) What does the Bible say? (2) What has the church, through two thousand years, said? (3) Does it make reasonable sense? (4) Is it proven out in human experience? Keith Drury offers this baseball illustration. It is going to first base, starting with the Bible. Then rounding second base by examining what the church has taught (orthodoxy). Running over to third base, reason, and experience, Then taking it to home plate, back to the Bible, and making the decision. Many have found Wesley’s Quadrilateral helpful in studying and applying God’s Word to their lives.
I find this verse very insightful. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Paul is writing to his young protégé, Timothy. All Scripture is inspired by God – literally “God-breathed.” The purpose of Scripture is to teach true doctrine (Christian belief based on Scripture), correct false doctrine, reprove immorality, and instruct in a life of “righteousness.” It is crucial believers study and apply the Word of God to their daily living.
You might not totally agree with the biblical conclusion our nation’s Founders came up with, but you can’t genuinely deny the time they spent searching the Scriptures for direction. Perhaps, more than anything, we can take from them the importance of studying and applying God’s Word to our lives and doing it properly, with solid hermeneutics. God calls all of us to be biblically rooted. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Putting the Pieces Together

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There is no doubt that we, as the psalmist proclaims, “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are incredibly complex creations. When we consider our whole being, body, mind, and soul, there is still so much we don’t understand. This makes utilizing what we do just good sense. This is never truer than when we consider our temperament, personality, gifts, abilities, love languages, and sort.
Some in the church avoid the arena of psychology like it is a form of black magic. However, understanding our unique wiring is at the heart of our relationship with God and others. God desires us to love Him holistically and love others with a Christ kind of love (Matthew 22:39). Therefore, discovering our temperament, personality, gifts, and abilities is not only a wise idea but is a necessary part of loving God and doing life well with others. It is not mere psychology by deep theology.
The ancient sage writes, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The heart here refers to the center of one’s life and orientation to God, from which a person does all thinking, feeling, and choosing. The heart is the core of our being.
Taking words of wisdom into the heart is vital. Wisdom’s presence in the heart is worth guarding because out of the heart flow all the thoughts and words and choices in a person’s life. Again, it only makes good sense to learn all we can about temperaments, personalities, gifts and abilities, and love languages, and everything else that gives us insight into our unique wiring and that of others.
Human relationships are complex in their nature. We all coexist in a world where conflicts occur, and differences exist. Then, consider the complexity of each of our inner worlds. How we manage the external and internal stressors of life has a profound impact on the quality of our relationships.
We need the help of the Spirit and all the wisdom and insight God will grant us to relate to one another rightly. We are called to love one another (John 13:34). We are to serve one another (1 Peter 4:10). And we are to bear with one another (Colossians 3:13). I have heard it explained that we are to bear with one another because sometimes we act like a bear, challenging to be around. We need to put the pieces of biblical principles and insights into our wiring together to see our personal lives and relationships with others grow and flourish.
I began my journey of studying temperaments, personalities, and the such when I was in High School. My church family was committed to using every tool at their disposal to grow in relationship to God and others. Over the past three and a half decades, I have learned much about myself and others. I can’t claim that I have avoided all relational conflicts, but I can say that I have been thankful to have the knowledge of such things in my toolbox.
My father-in-law is a gifted craftsman. He has a saying that, “You can do anything if you have the right tool.” I am not sure that is true in my case, but I get the point. It certainly has been true in my connecting with others. My understanding of myself has allowed me to monitor my emotional health, the way I treat others and make course corrections when I have gone off course. My understanding of others has provided me the tools to care for them better and offer greater empathy when things are difficult. In short, putting the unique human wiring pieces together has been used by the Spirit to lead me toward ever-increasing Christlikeness and strengthening my relationship with others. After all, who doesn’t want that? Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

MENtor

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I have heard it said, “If you see a turtle on a post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.” That’s certainly been true in my life. I have been mentored by so many caring and loving people. In large part, I am who I am today through God using these men and women to intentionally pour into my life.
Mentoring is defined by Webster as teaching or giving advice or guidance to someone, such as a less experienced person or child. Simply stated, mentoring is the act of helping someone learn. The word “Mentor” originates from Homer and the ancient Greek language. The name is derived from a character found in Homer’s Odyssey named Mentor. Mentor was the trusted friend of Odysseus. During the Trojan war, Mentor stayed behind in Ithaca to watch over the upbringing of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. Mentor advised Telemachus with the objective of preparing him to take responsibility for family responsibilities during his father’s absence.
Here are some biblical examples of mentoring: Moses mentored Joshua, Naomi mentored her daughter-in-law Ruth, Elijah mentored Elisha, Jesus mentored His Disciples, Barnabas mentored Paul, Paul mentored Timothy, Priscilla, and Aquila mentored Apollos. This is just a handful of the many mentioned in the Bible. Notice, on the list, that Jesus mentored His disciples during His ministry here on earth. In fact, He said: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (John 12:26).
You might ask, “Is all mentoring the same?” the answer is no. Some mentoring takes place over a lifetime, and others for a season of life. Christian mentoring is different from other mentoring in that it encourages a commitment to grow in an ever-increasing degree of Christlikeness.
Paul urged the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul is not declaring perfection here. He is inviting them to follow his example. He desires to mentor the believers in Corinth to ever-increasing Christlikeness. A mentor helps another take their next growth step by their example and teaching.
As believers, we understand that mentoring is described as the process of helping someone pursue God. The biblical word for mentoring is “disciple making” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus modeled mentoring. Paul modeled mentoring. The Bible shows mentoring to be a significant part of God’s plan for people to grow in their faith (Eph 4:11-16).
There are three simple principles we can use to help us mentor others. The first principle is that in mentoring, less is more. The starting point for mentoring is the home and extends to your other spheres of influence. Jesus changed the world by pouring into a handful of people. God’s strategy to reach every generation is mentoring a small number at a time, maybe one or two or three, in a reproducible way. The key is everyone having a mentor and being mentored. Titus 2 gives us this principle of older women pouring into younger women and older men pouring into younger men. It is the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle of generational mentoring.
The second principle is that in mentoring, a trusting environment of truth and love must be established. There is no transformation without a desire to share and receive truth. This truth has to be shared in a loving way that can be received constructively by people. Paul writes, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). We help others grow as we speak the truth motivated by love. We grow as we receive such truth. We earn the right to speak into the lives of others. We can’t force others to accept the truth. Our responsibility is to consistently help people discover biblical truth and apply it to their lives.
The third principle is that in mentoring, there needs to be an action orientation. The pursuit of knowing God and making Him known is a journey, not a destination. Paul, talking about this journey of knowing God and making Him known, writes: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). Paul still had room to grow in His knowledge of Christ. He was determined to grow. Like a runner, he strived to run to complete the race of Knowing God and making Him known. His task is to concentrate on one thing – winning the prize. A mentor is not a better person than the one they are pouring into. They are simply further down the road. The more people discover life-changing truth, growing, and helping the next person do the same, the more God’s kingdom expands.
Paul writes these insightful words to his young protégé, Timothy: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This one verse speaks of four generations of believers doing life with one another. We have Paul. We have Timothy. We have others. We have the others who were taught by the others. What is expressed here is a generational chain of discipleship and mentoring. I do not believe it is an expression of age as much as a growing environment made up of one believer pouring into another.
The simple truth is that we have not been made to go through life alone. Kevin Harney writes in his book, Reckless Faith: “There is nothing more significant than loving relationships. In the entire universe, nothing trumps their value and importance.” As believers, we need people who are farther up the road of faith pouring into us. At the same time, we each need to help others in their faith journey. This is normative behavior for Christ followers!
I am so thankful for my parents. My parents were not believers until I was fifteen. I came to Christ when I was five. But, they were loving and moral examples for me and modeled a strong marriage. I am also so thankful for my spiritual parents and other mentors whom God has used to pour into my life over the years. I did not have a Christian pedigree, and their decision to pour into my life has been of incalculable value to me. I am committed to pouring into others. I still need people pouring into me. But, I also need to pour into others.
God has called all of us to be mentored and be mentors. There comes a time in people’s lives where they cease striving to be the hero and become hero makers. Won’t you seek to be mentored and mentor others?

Gifts & Abilities

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When I was in middle school, there was what was called the “gifted program.” I suppose those who were part of this group had a particular aptitude in specific areas of learning to belong to this group. I was a late bloomer academically and was not part of this program. However, I am gifted. In fact, every Christian is gifted.
There are two Greek words in the New Testament that describe the gifts of the Spirit. One refers to the source of the gifts being from the Holy Spirit, and the other signifies that they are granted as an act of God’s grace. The Spiritual gifts are given to believers by the love of God and are not based on our worthiness. God, in His sovereignty, chooses the gifts He gives to each and every follower of Christ according to His divine plan.
Unlike our abilities that are developed over time, spiritual gifts are given by the Spirit of God. Therefore, the gifts are part of the new life received through faith in Christ. They even may be drastically different from our abilities, although often one compliments the other. Paul offers this explanation: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:4-7).
Paul points out that there is great diversity in the gifts and ministry of His church. The church is the sum total of all believers living in the world today. Even so, there is unity in the body provided by the same Spirit, Lord, and God. John Wesley commented on this verse that there are “diverse streams, but all from one fountain.” No Christian is left without some “manifestation of the Spirit” in his or her life. The purpose of giving all followers of Christ these gifts is for “the common good.” Ministry is selfless service in the name of Christ for the sake of others.
We discover in the New Testament three passages that specifically list gifts and explain the gifting of believers. I don’t believe the intent is to present an exhaustive list but to offer a categorical picture of the gifts along with essential understandings of the purpose of such divine giftings. Paul writes of gifts in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Peter addresses gifts in 1 Peter 4:10-11. The common thread of teaching is that each gift fits together with the other gifts, and they all work together as the parts of the body to make a functioning whole. As Paul writes, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:5).
There are spiritual gifts tests and various writings by authors to assist a believer in identifying their gifts. The Bible says believers are given spiritual gifts for a purpose. Paul explains in Romans 12:8 to use spiritual gifts according to the character of God and His revealed will. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:24-25: “God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” Spiritual gifts are to be used in unity. One gift is not greater than another. All are distributed in God’s perfect knowledge to be exercised to glorify God and bless others. It is worth mentioning that believers who utilize their gifts appropriately will be blessed as well. In writing on the purpose of the gifts, Peter explains “that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
If you are a believer, you are gifted. You are an important part of the body of Christ. It takes the whole church working together to accomplish God’s purpose in and through us. The gifts Christians are given are from God and are to be used by them as a unified church for His divine work. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Personality

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It’s amazing how much of what we would call psychology is actually addressed in the Bible. This is especially true when addressing personal identity and our connecting with others. Personality, temperament, and character are three concepts used to talk about different ways of thinking, feeling, and eventually acting. Similarities between personality, temperament, and character can often be confusing. Temperament and character are fundamental parts of our personality. Temperament is the natural part of your personality that comes from your genes. You are born with a temperament. Then, we have character, which is the unique qualities impressed by nature or habits on a person, distinguishing one person from another. Character comes from life experiences and choices. Lastly, our personality is the sum of our character, temperament, and environmental influences.
Think of it this way. Our personality is not merely a product of our genetic inheritance but also how we have allowed our environment to form our character, utilizing our temperament to reveal our unique personality. Our personality is the group of emotions, perceptions, and actions that constitute a person’s behavior patterns. Again, I know this sounds a lot like psychology, and it is, but it is also something addressed in the Scriptures. An understanding of personalities, ours and others, is an important matter for all believers to explore.
What does the Bible have to say about personalities? Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:10-11). There is a human spirit all people possess. More than any other component of what we are, it is what enables us to be in God’s image, and yet each person is a different personality. We are distinct from each other, so that each person’s spirit is also distinct. It is his own. Your spirit is yours, and my spirit is mine. It is my spirit that projects my personality, my mind, my attributes, my knowledge, my understanding, my wisdom, and my discernment.
An expression Scripture uses to describe our personality is our heart. The Bible teaches that the heart is the center of a person’s moral awareness, the conscience. We are obviously not talking about our physical heart here, but our personality. People think with their hearts (Phil 4:8). Planning is described as a function of the heart (Prov 16:9). People can hide the Word of God in their hearts (Psa 119:11). Perception is also described as a function of the heart (Matt 13:14). Then, lastly, the ability to weigh evidence and make a rational and reasonable decision is defined as an intellectual function of the heart (Mk 2:8).
The Bible describes the heart as the emotional center of our personality. God’s Word identifies several emotions springing from the heart, including love (Matt 22:37), confidence (Jn 14:1), joy (Jn 16:6), peace (Phil 4:7), unity and gladness (Acts 2:46), hate (Matt 15:19), fear (Jn 14:27), sorrow (Jn 16:16), frustration (Ps 131), division and strife (1 Cor 1:10; 3:3). As we see, our heart, our personality, is our personhood.
People also express their will as an expression of their heart. Our personality, spirit, heart is connected with our faith. People find salvation in Christ when they respond to the Gospel with their hearts. Paul writes to the church in Rome, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). Ongoing spiritual growth in our life continues out of our heart’s response to the things of God. As Paul writes, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). We relate to one another as Christians out of a willingness to do God’s will from our hearts. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,  not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6:5-6).
It is important to note that no matter how warped our personalities, we are still made in the image of God. Also, no matter how lovely our personalities, we’re still soiled and marred by sin. We all need God to redeem our personality. The good news is that God’s redemption, offered to each and every one of us, includes the redemption of our personalities. One of the descriptions of Christians in Scripture is sheep. We become more faithful sheep in God’s pasture when we allow the Good Shepherd to pastor our personalities and shape our disposition.
What does all of this mean for our lives? It means that maturing Christians do not unthinkingly embrace their personality or ashamedly reject their personality. We offer ourselves up to God and His renewing of our personalities. We invite and cooperate with the Holy Spirit and His workings. We follow the Spirit’s leading, His signposts, to greater Christlikeness, Christian love, and living life in the One who makes all things new.
If you want to live out of your redeemed personality, the path starts here, walk in union with Christ. Each day as you become more like Christ in character, love, purpose, and priorities, press on. Let the redeemed you shine through. As you go about living, do so with all the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of your personality, being your in-Christ self, redeemed through and through. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

The Five Love Languages

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We are all quite unique. This is not to say that there are not similarities that many of us share. The study of temperaments, personalities, and the sort is not intended to stuff people into the proverbial box but a way to understand ourselves and others by recognizing our similarities and differences as well as our strengths and improvement areas. One such area popularized by author Gary Chapman is the five love languages. Our “love language” describes how we receive or prefer to receive love from others.
The five love languages include words of affirmation that are saying supportive things to others. Then, there are acts of service, where you do helpful things for another. Thirdly, there is receiving gifts. Just as the name implies, this love language entails giving someone gifts to tell them you were thinking about them. There is spending meaningful time with someone. We call this quality time. Lastly, we have physical touch. This one is a little touchy (pun intended) and can be freely expressed in a marriage relationship but obviously has a parameter of appropriateness in other relationships.
Each of us prefers to receive love differently, even among the five love languages. We also more naturally express love in the way we want to receive love. This works well when the person we are demonstrating an act of love to shares our preference. This, however, is not usually the case. Therefore, it is helpful to know how a spouse, child, or friend is wired to receive love. It is essential to learn to give love in ways that they are uniquely wired to receive it. The fruit of this caring endeavor is stronger relationships.
It’s important to note that most of us would appreciate being the recipient of all five of the love languages in the right situation. Although this is true, equally valid is that most, if not all of us, have one or maybe two that impact us more. I, for instance, really appreciate quality time. I can be working on a project, and just having someone keep me company feeds me. I appreciate it on a genuinely deep level. The challenge for me is to recognize the fact that not everyone is wired like me. I need to love enough, to care enough, to discover the love language of my wife, family, friend group, and colleagues so that I can express love in alignment with their love language.
I know this all might seem like a lot of work. Honestly, it is not as much work as it might seem. To start, it will take a bit of learning to discern your love language and that of those closest to you. The good news is that over time it becomes more intuitive. Like most things, as you see the rewards of knowing and embracing the five love languages, you will choose it as part of your lifestyle. Two books I would suggest for anyone willing to journey down the five love language’s road are, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts and The Five Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively, both are by Gary Chapman. You will not regret investing the time reading either or both of these books.
Jesus had this to say about love, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). Love is a distinguishing mark of His disciples. The newness of this command is found in loving one another as Jesus has loved us. Jesus didn’t just say He loved us, but came, moved into our neighborhood, and gave His life. Now that’s love and quite an example. The good news is that Christ-followers have His Spirit to lead us and guide us in our journey to love others well with sacrificial Christlike love. As we embrace Christ’s love for us, we are better equipped to express His love to others. The five love languages are a tool many have found very beneficial in fulfilling this command of Christ. It’s worth a try. After all, expressing love to others by utilizing the five love languages has been seen repeatedly to strengthen relationships. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!