Four Steps to Fulfilling Your Role

Your role in this world is important. It’s time for you to step up to the responsibility. People all around you are waiting for someone to lead them. I like the example of Barnabas because he was a common person with a good reputation who mentored others by teaching and leading them. You can read about how Barnabas lived out these qualities at this link.

 

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There are many who are driven by the need to be heard, to be famous, or to make a name for themselves. But you must be different. Take the example of Barnabas and be an enabler. We can take four important tips from the life of Barnabas: Be reputable, be a mentor, be a teacher, and be a leader.

Be Reputable

Build reputation through consistency and longevity. Keep on doing what you do for a long time. When you are consistent, people can count on you. They become comfortable around you. Longevity brings a similar response. It’s not a matter of being perfect, it’s a matter of showing up. Again and again, month after month, year after year, continue to perform your task with faithfulness.

Be A Mentor

In a rapidly changing society, there is a great need for mentoring. People are more independent than ever before, but they still long for role models and mentors. The frequent and drastic shifts in society create a vacuum that must be filled. Mentors are like anchors that hold the ship in turbulent weather. Many are waiting for people like you to stand up and be an anchor, a mentor they can count on.

Be a Teacher

From your childhood, you have been learning. Formal learning in the classroom coupled with your life experiences has produced within you an increasing amount of knowledge. Be generous and share what you know. People are eager to learn more than ever before. Take a bold step and begin sharing what you know.

Be a Leader

I’ve heard it said that leaders don’t need to know everything. They just need to know the next step. In a world that is vast and confusing, your leadership is important. People are waiting for someone to lead them. You have what it takes. Just being one or two steps ahead of others qualifies you to lead.

Whatever profession you are in, you can be a Barnabas. Every profession needs reputable mentors, teachers, and leaders. Begin seeing yourself differently.

Here are some practical ways you can begin to take a step. Begin with your profession, your passion, or things you enjoy doing the most.

  • Start a small group
  • Spend personal time with those who are struggling
  • Write short notes or articles on common struggles
  • Start a blog and begin sharing your knowledge and experience

In what ways do you think you can be a Barnabas?

Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post by clcking here.

Just You and God – Meditation

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97)

Day by day, we face numerous issues that deter us from our focus. The events of the day seem to control us. Emotions vacillate from one extreme to another. Tension gradually builds as control slips out of our hands.

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By hearing God’s voice and direction each day, we can reduce the chances of being controlled by circumstances. His words can be a guiding light that leads us through the day and throughout our journey of life. I wish to present to you a simple three step process of meditating on God’s Word and for hearing His voice each day.

The instructions given below are derived from the concept of Lectio Divina (Latin word for Divine Reading). The roots of this practice of meditation go back to the 3rd century. You can read further about its background at this link. Some have called it Time Alone With God to emphasize the relational aspect of our meditation.

Three R’s For Meditation

1. Read and reflect

  • Get ready. Find a suitable place.

  • Invite the Holy Spirit to come.

  • Read one chapter, section or paragraph from the Bible.

  • Listen for God’s still small voice as you read.

  • Select one verse and read it several times.

  • Focus on one word or phrase out of that verse.

  • Listen to God’s voice about that word or phrase as it applies to your life.

2. Respond and pray

  • Prayer is a conversation with God. Pause and listen to him.

  • From the verse you are meditating on, God will speak to you about the following matters:

S  –  sins to confess

P  –  promises to accept

A  –  attitudes to change

C  –  commands to obey

E  –  examples to follow

  • Silence and stillness of the soul are important aspects of prayer.

  • Alternate between silence, words, and contemplative reading as you return to the text.

3. Record and Revisit

  • In a notebook, write the date and text you read.

  • Write down what God spoke to you.

  • Record your response.

  • Share it on social media so others can benefit. 
  • Throughout the day, revisit your conversation with God by reviewing what God spoke.

  • Allow God to integrate his words into your life as you face life and all its difficulties.

I hope this simple three step process (or something similar) can become a daily process for you. After you do this today, please post your response in the comments about what God spoke to you. 

When There Is No One Else But God

We were in the mountains of Sikkim, near a town called Namchi. My wife, daughter, and I visited this area for the first time. It was after being healed of chronic back pain that I had for 17 years. With every step, I thanked God for healing and restoration. I could never imagine climbing and walking like this before. The hills and mountains around Namchi were quite steep, and every step was amazing to me. In fact, one of the villages we visited required a climb of more than 260 steps (pictured below).

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The mountains were beautiful and I enjoyed every minute as all my prior expectations were blown away. Before my healing, I was never be able to move my body as I used to. One by one, each MRI revealed that my back was falling apart. I could barely stand, sit, or lie down without excruciating pain.

I finally asked the doctor, “Does this mean that my back will eventually collapse and I’ll finally be crippled? The doctor struggled with that question and stumbled for words as he explained that the damage was irreversible. Then he said that an operation may help, but the success rate was too low and the risk too high.

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I felt like my body was giving up on me. It was as if there is still life left in me, but my body was giving up too early. I experienced somewhat of a feeling of betrayal. My body should have stayed with me for the rest of my life. It was a deep internal struggle that was unexplainable.

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When David was betrayed by his own son Absalom, he had to flee. David realized there was no one to trust except God. Thus he responded: “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill” (Ps 3:3-4). David had lost all hope, and in the midst of his distress, he reminds himself that God is his hope.

In my utter helplessness, God in his mercy, put me through about two years of emotional healing and finally experienced his miraculous touch in June 2012. The pain was miraculously gone and I was able to resume all my former activities. You can read about the healing at this link.

The mountains of Namchi were a testimony to God’s faithfulness and healing power. What is impossible with people is possible with God.

Please leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Why Do We Try To Defend God?

When someone speaks against God or the church, we may feel offence or fear. Obviously something important and dear to our hearts is being put down.

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Some are quick to respond in defence of God or the faith. These responses may end up in arguments that lead nowhere. The response may be verbal, through writing, or through social media.

There is an internal fear that causes us to respond when someone speaks against God or the church. We fear that God’s name or honor may be defamed. Our own reputation may be on the line due to the attacks.

But why the fear? Could it be a lack of trust in God and his ability to handle his own reputation and that of his church?

I acknowledge the value of apologetics and how it can positively impact young minds that are truly inquisitive and impressionable. But here, I am referring to our personal reactionary response which possibly comes from fear.

The Psalmist has an interesting take on this. He sets the stage where nations and their kings are all set against God. They speak arrogantly against God. For God, it looks like there is trouble on every side, and the odds are stacked against Him.

God’s response is given quite simply and directly. “He who sits in the heavens laughts; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).

This obviously implies that God sees the taunts and words of his enemies as simply comical. He is not at all worried about his reputation or his kingdom.

I suggest we take God’s approach. When you hear someone speaking against God or his church, let’s take a step back and think twice before responding.

*What do you think? Please leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

Are The People Truly Committed?

By looking at any local church, we can understand that not all who attend are equally committed to Jesus and his church. These variations in commitment among the people may be quite drastic. At our church in Adoor, we have the entire spectrum of people from those who are fully committed to the least committed attendees.

Years ago, I learned a principle called Circles of Commitment that helped me to understand these variations and minister to people according to their needs. The people in any given church come with various levels of commitment to Christ and to his church. Unless we understand this, we may become disillusioned as we minister to people.

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Circles of Commitment

The diagram above illustrates the five levels of commitment that people have as they attend church. Those in the core are fully committed to Jesus and his church. The ones in the outer circle may only come occasionally when there are special programs or when their friends urge them. Our goal is to move people from the outer levels of less commitment to the inner levels of greater commitment.

Community

I consider our community as that large group of people who are loosely connected with our church. Some of these connections are families, friends, co-workers, neighbours, and anyone our people relate with on a daily basis. These people are our first target group for the extension of God’s kingdom and love.

Crowd

All who attend the worship service are part of the crowd. Many may be unbelievers with no commitment to Jesus, but we encourage them to keep coming. A church that actively reaches out will have a larger crowd. These people will be the first to accept Christ in your church.

Although they are not believers, there is something that draws them to the church. The worship and sermons may not be so meaningful to them, but they certainly will be “warmed” by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Congregation

Those who have made a firm decision to follow Christ are part of this group, the congregation. If your church has no official membership roll, then these are your members.

These people consider this their church. When there are weddings, funerals, and other important events in their lives, this is the church they call on. These people will come on Sundays, but you will not get any further involvement from them.

Committed

Those who take the next step towards maturity in Christ are part of the committed group. These people will attend small groups, other special meetings, and make an attempt to tithe regularly. Once people are in this area, they begin to take more responsibility for their personal lives.

Core

The Core of any church consists of people who are willing to take responsibility for various functions that are important to the church. These people are an integral part of the life of the church.

This is the smallest yet most crucial group for the growth and stability of the church. These are people you can really count on week after week.

*The concepts and the diagram above are from the book Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren.

 

How To Have Clarity In Life

It was in Calcutta that the ethicist John Kavanaugh met Mother Teresa at her centre. He came there to spend three months and to get a clear answer regarding his future. When Mother Teresa asked him what she can do for him, he asked for prayer.

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At that point, she asked him his request. Happily and longingly he said, “Pray that I have clarity.”

She was quick to reply “No. I will not do that.” Then she said “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” Kavanaugh retorted that she seemed to have so much clarity – which is exactly what he wanted in life. But quickly she said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.*

Trust forfeits control and clarity. We work hard to devise a clear path to the plans we have for our lives. But life seems to ignore our plans and takes a path of its own. It goes completely out of our control. The steering wheel seems to turn on its own will. Then we see our plans in the “rear-view mirror.”

Job was a man who looked in his “rear-view mirror” and saw his plans left behind. Looking ahead, he only saw darkness, gloom, and death. But finally God broke through the darkness from above and gave him a new perspective. God said “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).

He wanted Job to know that even if his life seemed to be completely out of control, God is the creator and holds everything in his hands.

So, what do you see in your “rear-view mirror”? Are your plans lying there all shattered with the broken pieces of your life?” Then when you look ahead what do you see? You don’t even want to think about it? Complete darkness? Now, its time to look up and trust God. He holds everything firmly in his hands.

One thing God asks of you is to trust him with your life: Your career, family, health, and all your dreams for the future.

Would you share what you see in your “rear-view mirror”?

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

*This story comes from Brennan Manning’s book Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God.

What Do You Value?

Values determine who we are and what we do. They give us direction in ministry and life. Our practices are determined by what we value.

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1. Bible Teaching – Theology and Practice of The Kingdom

  • The Kingdom of God and its effects are the basis for much of the Old Testament perspectives on the coming Messiah.

  • When Jesus the Messiah came, he preached and did the works of God’s Kingdom.

  • We see the Kingdom of God as an important theme that is intertwined throughout the Bible.

  • We wish to see the “already and not yet” of the kingdom in our words and deeds.

  • This is expressed through healing that is physical, emotional, and social. It is also expressed through doing justice and deliverance for those held captive physically and spiritually.

2.Culturally Current – Culturally Relevant Mission

  • One of the vital purposes of the church is to reach out to those who are lost.

  • The Good News should be delivered to all peoples and to every type of people.

  • We are to “translate” the message of Jesus into the language and forms of various peoples an cultures.

  • We wish to be creative and innovative in doing ministry to reach those who are far away from God.

  • Simplicity – the value of the next generation. We don’t do things for the sake of “effect.”

3. Ministry to the Poor – Compassionate Ministry

  • God has a special place in his heart for the lost, poor, outcasts, and foreigners.

  • We are to reach them with the compassion of Christ.

  • There must be an attitude of mercy as we reach out to the poor.

  • We must value the words of Jesus “as you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”

  • We must be moved with compassion for the poor – regardless of the cause of their sufferings.

4. Evangelism – Reconciling Community

  • The basic reason for the incarnation of Jesus is to reconcile people to God and to each other.

  • We are committed to being a community of healing so that we can reconcile people to God where sin has separated them from him.

  • Our personal preferences must be put aside to minister to those who are lost.

  • We are to be a community that reconciles people to God.

  • Purposely break barriers of race, culture, gender, and class for the purpose of the Gospel.

5. Worship – Experiencing God

  • We respond to God and his love for us through worship.

  • Since God’s presence is real in our midst, we respond to him in worship.

  • Praise, adoration and expressions of our love to God are important aspects of worship.

  • We avoid hype and manipulation in our worship.

  • A natural interaction with the people and their God is our expectation in worship.

These are important core values that we value and cherish in our church. We wish to see these elements expressed and practised in the church and the lives of the believers.

This and other useful posts are listed on the Ministry Resources page.

The Good, The Bad, and the Confusing

Several years ago we lived in Bangalore for two years. At that time, Shivaji Nagar was the place where we did a lot of our shopping for basic groceries and meat.

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Once while purchasing meat I said to the man “give me something lean with less fat.” He looked at me with surprise and said “that’s the best part — why wold you want to remove it?” I said “are you serious? You really prefer the fat?” He patted his stomach with a big smile and said: “Meat is best with plenty of fat in it.”

I walked away with my purchase of lean meat with a bit of surprise. I realized what was of no value to me was of great value to that man at the meat shop. What some people consider a blessing may also be considered a curse for others.

In the book of Job, Elihu recognized this duality in relation to nature and God’s work when he said: “He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightening. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the hapitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen” (Job 37:11-13).

Elihu used rain as an example to explain that God’s work in some people is seen as a curse while others see it as a blessing. Rain may cause havoc in a land with flooding, landslides, and other calamities. This is seen as a curse. Some people say “the gods are angry at us.”

But far away, some farmer may have been waiting for the rain in its due season. For him, it is a blessing. Then I remember the words of Elihu: “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.”

Others around you are doing so well, but you feel like life is tearing you to pieces – a confusing place to be in. Maybe you’re wondering if God still remembers you. You’re wondering if God still remembers you. You’ve probably concluded that the “pieces” of your life can never be put back together again. God has a clear and definite plan for your life. To you and to others, life may not seem to be fair, but God is busy working on your life.

You see some good, lots of bad, and you are completely confused. But just remember: “Whether for correction or for …love, he causes it to happen.” You are God’s child and you are still in his plans. He is still working on you. Give him time.

What is God doing in your life right now?

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.

 

How To Pray For The Sick

Healing Prayer

Healing prayer for the sick has been an area of contention and misunderstanding for a long time. I believe it was God’s intention to release all the gifts of the Spirit to all of His children. At the bottom of this post, I’ve mentioned some resources you can consult to get a deeper understanding and a proper framework regarding healing.

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I.  PERSPECTIVE

We will look at healing from the perspective of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom expected

  • Throughout the Old Testament, the Kingdom of God was expected to come in the future.
  • Although the situation in the world seemed to be deteriorating, a future expectation was clear.
  • Some highlights: Creation and dominion, The fall and promise, Call of Abraham, Israel as a kingdom of priests, Kingship and the promise of a future King of Israel, Voice of the prophets, Messianic expectation, Intertestimental eschatology.

The Kingdom Now but Not Yet

  • Jesus came preaching the Good News of the Kingdom against the backdrop of these expectations.
  • God himself has come to dwell among people. The teaching and demonstration of Jesus was focused on explaining and revealing God’s kingdom on this earth.
  • Although the kingdom was inaugurated at the time of Jesus, it would only come in its fullness at a future time. For now, the Kingdom of Evil exists alongside the Kingdom of God.
  • Therefore, we see the works of the kingdom of God active through changed lives, healing, and the miraculous. But we also see the active evidence of the kingdom of Evil on this earth. So the Kingdom of God is here Now, but Not yet in its fullness.

 

II.  PRACTICE

Here are five steps to use as you heal the sick. Use it and bless others (and be blessed).

1. Ask the person about their pain.

● Find out details about their sickness.

● Find out where it hurts, when it started, and if the pain is constant intermittent. Find out if they are experiencing the pain now (at the time of prayer).

● Be loving and friendly.

2. Listen to the person and the Holy Spirit.

  • The Spirit will speak to you about their condition. He will show you the root of the problem.
  • Listen carefully to the person and get a clear understanding about their pain.

● The problem may just be a physical one.

● Often there is a spiritual dimension.

● It may be related to various issues of rejection, unforgiveness, jealousy, sin, and a host of other emotional problems may cause the sickness they are suffering.

3. Decide how to pray.

  • Based on the information from the person and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, make a decision how you should pray for this person.

● Prayer of petition

  • Help them to forgive others (deal with issues of unforgiveness)
  • They may need to confess sins to God.

● Command the sickness to leave, the body parts to be re-aligned, etc.

4. Pray

● Be focused and determined. Let your words be few. Don’t pray like a “chatter-box.”

● Have faith that God will heal, but at the same time, allow Him to be sovereign, if He doesn’t.

  • Pray with your eyes open – to see what God is doing in/on that person.
  • Speak to the condition, the body part, the pain, etc.
  • After several attempts, pray against the Spirit of Sickness and command it to leave the person’s body.

***Now, go back to step 1 and ask again how they feel. If they are completely healed, go to step 5. Otherwise, go through the first four steps several times until healing occurs. If the person is not healed after several attempts, there are several possibilities:

  • The healing will be gradual.
  • Emotional healing is required.
  • Spiritual issues need to resolved.
  • Healing will occur gradually through the use of medicines and prayer.
  • Unknown reasons that the Holy Spirit may reveal later.

5. Encourage – Give final directions

  • A word of encouragement and love will bring the prayer session to a proper close.
  • Offer a verse from the Bible as an encouragement or instruction.
  • Words of instruction also may be given on maintaining the healing
  • Encourage them to pray for the healing of others

Resources

 

How Does God Get Your Attention?

The train from Bangalore was packed with passengers after our group of about sixty people entered with our luggage. A young man in his mid twenties was frantically pushing his way through this crowd and their luggage. As he made his way closer to where I was standing, I said to him, “Where are you going?” He said “My seat is on the other side and I need to sit down.” I said “Look, you’re not getting very far through this thick crowd any time soon.”

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Just then the train jolted a bit and all the passengers were shoved to one side with the movement of the train. I saw this young man grabbing his leg with a painful expression on his face. When I asked him, he told me that for over two years he had been suffering pain from torn ligaments. He opened his bag and showed me all the medicines he had just purchased. For two years, he had been back and forth from one doctor to another. When I asked him if I could pary for him, he reluctantly agreed. After a short prayer, he was instantly healed. Soon, other passengers began tugging on my shirt, asking for prayer.

I was astonished at the response of the people and the extent of their needs. So many are in pain and in need of God’s touch. And it is this pain and brokenness that God uses to draw us to him. If it wasn’t for the pain, we may not realize our need of God. One of Job’s friends recognized this and said “He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity (Job 36:15).

That young man who was healed on the train is now a follower of Jesus. It took two years of pain for God to get his attention. His Ligaments were torn due to natural causes – God didn’t cause it. But God decided to show him mercy and kindness when he healed him. It was God’s mercy that drew him to God.

What are the situations in your life that show your need of God and his mercy? What are the ways in which God is drawing you to him?

Leave your response in the comments section of this blog post by clicking here.