Alexi George : Live well – Lead well

The annoying disparity between gifts and fruit

Just as a gift is given, the Holy Spirit also gives gifts to God’s children. Once the gift is given, the person is able to use it immediately – no strings attached (sort of).

On the other hand, fruit takes time to grow and ripen. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

It can be utterly annoying to see someone flowing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit but lacking character in various areas of their personality (Tweet this). The person may be angry, rash, or bitter. Or impatience may be destroying the person in their personal life. Their relationships may be shattered due to habits that pull them apart from others.

When we see such problems in people, we may question the genuineness of the gift. In such people, we may disregard the gift because of the gaps in their character. It is the responsibility of the person to work along with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit molds their character and person to reflect that of Christ.

Don’t be troubled by the disparity between gifts and fruit. It’s natural.

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Why do some church plants fail? (4)

Continually share the Good News

    Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to keep sharing the Good News personally with people in my community and encourage others to do the same.

    Since I teach in a Seminary, it’s difficult for me to connect with unbelievers on a daily basis. I’ve had to make an extra effort to reach out and connect with others.

    Praying for an unbeliever who is sick naturally gives opportunity to share my faith. But even otherwise, I look for opportunities to “turn the conversation deeper” Then I share my experience with Jesus.

    I’ve made it my goal to pray for one sick person or share Jesus with one person every day. Although I’ve not been successful every day, I’ve been able to do that several times per week.

    When I teach people in church, I use my personal experience as I encourage them to share Jesus. This gives them perspective and encouragement to do likewise.

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Risk takers connect better with other risk takers

They are a unique breed, often misunderstood by others. But they relate well with other risk-takers. They seek out each other’s company as they are often rejuvenated by each other.

When Mary accepted God’s offer and became pregnant with the holy Child, she quickly sought out the company of her relative Elizabeth. In her old age, Elizabeth was pregnant and quite unique among the other women of her land. Both were risk-takers and they connected with each other in a unique way (Luke 1:35-45).

As they both gathered, their time together erupted into worship to the Lord as recorded in Luke 1:46-56. They acknowledged that God in all his might chose to use simple and ordinary people to do extraordinary tasks for his Kingdom.

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Why do some church plants fail? (3)

Stick to your values

    Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to stay faithful to who I am. My values cannot be compromised regardless of local trends.

    When things aren’t moving along as expected, it’s common to doubt yourself – especially to doubt who your are: You’re values. You begin to think that just maybe, you should be like someone else, someone more successful.

    I’ve been approached by pastors in our area regarding some of my practices. Their question was clear: Why aren’t you like us? These questions were quite difficult as I struggled with the church planting process.

    Sometimes I’ve wondered if being culture current for my town means being like the other churches. After all, they’ve been around much longer and seem to be successful.

    Over the years, I’ve come to the realization that my values define who I am as a minister of the Gospel. If I try to change who I am, I’m trying to change what God wants to do through me in my community. I’ve got to stick to who I am.

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Fighting for my way

Each day, I sense that resistance within me to go my own way or to give up. My way might be more satisfying for my ego (I think). And to give up might be the easiest thing to do.

But those two options are not really options. Because God’s calling within won’t let me go. It’s trenched too deep within me that it is such a part of me. If I go my way, I would be constantly fighting with my own heart.

So the best option and the only option is to submit to God’s plan. Every day is a new beginning as I resubmit.

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Why do some church plants fail? (2)

Persist in the process

    Why do some church plants fail? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve had to persist in the process. With little or no results, I’ve had to stay with the task and continue doing those things that God has called me to do.

    There are numerous hindrances to persistence. Each one presents an opportunity that you would not have if you persist with the church plant. Every opportunity points you in a direction that is different from your calling.

    Job opportunities elsewhere are one form of hindrance. Often, this is quite appealing as many church planters face financial difficulty as a result of the commitment they have taken. The same struggle may be there even when you work and plant as a bi-vocational church planter.

    Paid ministry opportunities are another form of hindrance. It’s a great way to fulfill your calling. This also allows them to take a different route than the difficulty of the planting process.

    These are just a few examples of deviations. But the real struggle is to persist and persevere through every difficulty.

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Could Jesus have chosen not to die on the Cross?

Now that’s an unthinkable idea. That was the exact purpose for which Jesus came. Why would he choose to depart from his purpose? Maybe that question itself is invalid.

When Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed a very disturbing prayer: “Father, may this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:36-44). He repeated this prayer three times but each time, he differed to the father’s will.

I am struck with two thoughts regarding this prayer. First, could Jesus have had another will apart from his Father’s will? That would be contradictory to the divine Trinity. But since humanity and divinity were merged in Jesus, this apparent contradiction would be possible.

Second, if Jesus were to choose not to die on the cross, all of humanity would have been eternally lost. We all would have been eternally lost. We all would have been eternally doomed without the option of receiving forgiveness of sin and and an eternity in heaven.

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Why do some church plants fail? (1)

Trail of Failures

    I hate failures. It never feels right and it leaves a bitter taste within me. Time may remove that from within me, but sometimes it seems like it will be with me forever.

    For some of the church plant failures, I was deeply involved. Either I was a catalyst that inspired the plant, or I performed some of the major functions and took responsibility for those things.

    But for one of those failed church plants, I was the lead pastor. For five years, the investment was tremendous. Long hours of work each day supported my family and put food on our table. With the remaining time, we made our best effort to reach out to everyone and anyone who cared to listen. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

    I have made attempts to understand why it failed. But I’ve got very little answers for the many questions that begin with “why.” But I need to accept these failures as a reality. In the ultimate Sovereignty of God, there is some explanation that is beyond my current grasp.

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Suffering – to learn obedience?

Obedience is difficult when you are used to having your own way. Your way becomes so valuable that there is no other possibility but your own way. Those who value their own way to such an extreme level will struggle to obey.

But when you suffer, your values become altered. Pain and agony will change your perspectives. The perspectives that you held so strongly will surely be questioned as you go through suffering.

Thus suffering can make people more obedient and flexible. Their perspectives will be much broader. Their values will have more depth.

The Bible says Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Heb 5:8). It’s not clear why Jesus would need to learn obedience. It is difficult for human minds to comprehend the convergence of divinity and humanity in Jesus.

But suffering alone does not teach obedience. Pain causes one to be more flexible. Agony gives depth to an individual. Such a person has values that are altered, never to be the same again.

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Why did God put that tree in the garden?

It sure seems like a setup. A definite setup for failure. But if the option for failure didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be any victory either.

God wants to love people and be loved by them in a real and genuine way. People must have the freedom to reject God in order for them to love and accept him. if they did not have the freedom to reject God then their love would not be genuine.

Without the freedom to make any choice they desire, they would not be human. They would be robots performing their duties according to commands and inputs from another. As humans, God wanted us to have the free will to choose or to reject his commands.

That tree in the middle of the garden had to be there for Adam and Eve to be human. It gave them the option to disobey and reject God. Only then could they obey, accept, and love God genuinely from their hearts.

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