Testimonies from Mexico

By Ruth Martinez-Ost

A pastoral couple had serious marriage problems and were on the verge of separation As we were finishing up one day, Vic said to the husband, “just treat and love your wife, like Christ loved the Church”. All the lights went on, from that moment forward everything changed in their marriage, family and church. Recently they invited us to speak to 25 couples at a Marriage Seminar they held in their church.

One on one is one of the most valuable opportunities of multiplication.

We would like to share another testimony regarding a now pastoral couple, who were former business people. As we opened the Saturday classes he was the first student to sign up, yet he seemed like the most unlikely candidate. Saturday after Saturday was spent pouring the Word into his life along with 5 other students. 18 months later they started a home group with 3 people and in three months grew to 30 people in an area of Monterrey where there are NO evangelical churches. There is only one dance hall in the whole area which they are now renting for a church. The growth has been because the noise is spreading that “miracles” are the norm.

Vic had triple surgery in his right eye and was told the best he could expect was just to see only objects. One day he was reading his Bible on the cellphone and I just said to him, “what don’t you cover up your good eye and see if you can read with the right eye?” Amazingly he was able to read!

A month ago we had the Encuentro Hermano Mayor (this is a yearly event called “the older brother and the purpose is to invite former students to meet and connect with the present students) On this occasion former students came that had not been here for 37 years. They shared an awesome testimony – He had very serious medical issues – weighed only 77 pounds, couldn’t see, couldn’t speak – leg was totally swollen almost to the point of amputation and had been in the hospital for weeks. In addition, his wife had breast cancer. After being told there was no hope; he said, “God I have preached that you are a miracle working God, we are trusting you as our ONLY hope”. Both are perfectly healed.

Faith, Hope and Love Center Victoria – As we were praying for the first time in the gang-infested swamp a purse was stolen from the car. The beginnings were a small tin-roof building and a tent. – I recall one evening everyone was clapping – slapping the mosquitos! We prayed and asked God for a miracle, “not one more bite until after the service” you could hear the silence, not one more mosquito bite til after the service! Since the land was a swamp we had to bring in 1500 truckloads of “landfill”. The place is now a finished building that seats 1400 people and there are starting the third Sunday service. Every week precious souls are coming to Jesus.

Vic and I have completed 50 years at the Bible School this year. During our February event we had a wonderful transition. Our youngest son David and his wife Cintia are now the Directors of the Bible School. Please pray for them as they also are Pastors at the 1rst theater we purchased in Monterrey.

Our oldest daughter Rebeca has been the Bible School Coordinator for 16 years. We ask you to pray for her as this is a bittersweet experience as there is “grief and relief”. She is teaching in a Christian school in southern Mexico.

To learn more about Victor and Ruth Martinez, visit www.mrcpartners.org. Ruth is on Facebook as Ruth Martinez-Ost.

The Israel Story – Why Did God Choose the Jews?

By Randy Alonso

There is a growing number of Christians who are awakening to the importance of Israel. It is a fulfillment of scripture and the growing, active work of the Holy Spirit today worldwide. Concerning the Jewish people, scripture is very clear.

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 states “For you are a holy people to the Lord Your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than other people, for you were least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep His oath which He swore to your fathers…”

This text frames for us a very simple answer to the question, “Why did God choose the Jews?” There are two powerful reasons; because God promised to Abraham that He would do so, and God always keeps His promises.

God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) is the Magna Carta of Israel’s future. There is no subject today more talked about or controversial in the eyes of the world. It not only affects religion, it is a hugely geo-political issue as well.

The reason there is a growing number of Christians supporting Israel is because they are more aware than ever of its importance. However, while awareness and support has grown, there is also a great need for Christians to develop their theology concerning Israel. When they do, it will help them understand the great unrest that is in the world today, beginning in the Middle East.

As small as it is, Israel is not only the geopolitical center of the world but also the spiritual capital of the world. And, except for the USA, it is the most mentioned country in the world in daily news. Israel is the only democratic country in a sea of Arab nations that deny its very existence as a sovereign state. It is surrounded by countries that hate it and will not acknowledge it’s right to exist. This is what I want to help more followers of our Rabbi Yeshua, our Savior and Lord, to understand more clearly.

God’s covenant with Israel is an Unconditional Covenant. As you read it beginning in Genesis 12, you will notice God saying, “I will, I will, I will.” Everywhere else in the Bible, you see God say, “If you will, I will.” Yet in Genesis 12, people are not the condition: God is. He makes it clear, “It’s about Me. My plan for mankind. No annulment. No changing my mind. I will.”

It is also a Personal Covenant. He says, “I will bless you,” referring to Abraham. Not only was God going to bless His people, He was going to bless Abraham. And that is what He did in a big way with a large family, wealth, possessions, herds and a trained army (Genesis 14:14). Abraham lived to be 175 years old. God also told him he would make his name great, and He did. Not only was he well known among the people of his day, he’s well known by the people of our day – four thousand years later. Abraham’s name is respected, trusted and loved worldwide among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. God kept His promise.

It is a National Covenant. In Genesis 12:2, God says, “I will make you a great nation.” When you travel to Israel you actually realize how small it is. It is hard to comprehend how God would make it such a great nation. It is easy for us to comprehend the USA as a great nation, but tiny Israel? I live in Florida. You can fit five Israel’s within the border of our state.

The ultimate greatness of Israel is yet to come, when God sets up His kingdom and establishes it from Jerusalem. In the meantime, Israel is a world leader in technology, innovation, and medicine.

Rabbi Amnon Rubenstein writes, “Israel is minute in size, not much bigger than a sliver of Mediterranean coast line. It has withstood continuing Arab onslaughts, wars, boycotts, and terrorism. It has turned itself from a poor rural country to a post-industrial powerhouse. It has reduced social, educational, and health gaps among Arabs and Jews. Its achievements are unprecedented. Israeli Arabs have a higher life expectancy than almost all of the European whites. It has maintained freedom of the press in time of war. It stands as a singular Democratic post World War II island in a sea of Arab and Muslim poverty and backwardness.”

I have witnessed it first hand. It is my privilege to travel to the Land regularly and work with one of the great Christian ministries serving the Jewish people. I encourage you to check out bridgesforpeace.com.

Israel is surrounded by thirty-seven enemy nations. Those countries occupy a landmass of five million square miles. Israel has a landmass of nine thousand square miles. Israel is a prosperous nation today in the midst of tremendous opposition. There is a lot of news in the United States concerning immigration and refugees. President Trump’s recent temporary ban on seven known terrorist friendly nations saw violence erupt in our country, in protest. Many people would be shocked to know that Israeli citizens are banned from traveling to or entering sixteen different Arab nations. You won’t see that covered in the nightly news. Fact is, the Jewish people are a light in the dark world of the Middle East.

Yet most critical today, it is a Territorial Covenant. Genesis 12:1; So the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”

He traveled from his home in Haran to Canaan. And on the same day, in Genesis 15:18, the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.” The boundaries that God gave to the Jews have never been fully realized. If so, it would include modern day Israel, Lebanon, the West Bank, substantial portions of Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Israel has never come close to that.

Some would say, ‘God certainly missed this. He must have been speaking figuratively or in hyperbole.’ But one day, rest assured, Israel will occupy all that God said they would. Because they do not currently occupy it doesn’t mean they don’t own it. Secularists say God was only making some kind of spiritual analogy. I think Abraham would look at the secularists cross-eyed and say, ‘’What are you talking about?’

God said it. It’s a real piece of real land. It belongs to Israel because God gave it to Abraham. No matter what anyone says, no matter how much they argue over it, the land of Israel belongs to Israel. The Word of God is clear, there’s no disputing it. It is the land of Canaan and will belong to Abraham’s descendants forever.

It is the most important piece of real estate on earth. It is the geographic center of Divine dealings for the ages among the nations. It is ground zero for the end times. It is the only land on earth not up for negotiation with anyone, at anytime, for any reason. It is the only nation ever formed by God. And, it is the only nation to have its history written in advance through the Word of God.

My encouragement to followers of Jesus is be sure that the foundation of your faith is clear according to this covenant. When God gave the land of Israel, He was clear in what it meant and how it would play out in His Divine plan. Why is this so important?

Because today there is constant pressure on Israel to give up its land by dividing it further, believing somehow this will bring peace. Here is a great truth; you can never disobey God and end up with peace. You have to really want to believe something else to not believe what God has already said. Here’s a sample of scriptures concerning God’s mind in this matter.

Jeremiah 32:37,41 “Behold, I will gather them out of the countries where I have driven them in My anger, and in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and will cause them to dwell safely. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all my soul.”

Ezekiel 11:17 Therefore say, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”‘

Ezekiel 20:42 “Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers.”

You have to work hard at making stuff up, spiritualizing the land and even the people to rebel against what the Lord has said. If anyone tries to divide or parcel out God’s land, they are doing it in the face of a mountain of revealed Biblical evidence spoken by God who inspired it and wrote it.

How much does God care about this?

Deuteronomy 11:12, A land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.

Zechariah 2:8, For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”

I first traveled to Israel in 2001. I have been privileged to go there regularly ever since. In January of this year, while touring with and teaching fifty Pastors and Ministry leaders, I took a day at the end of our tour to go into the West Bank to witness for myself what is at stake. It’s surreal to see places like ancient Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant resided after the initial conquest of the Promised Land by Joshua. Even stranger is it to drive through Ramallah and see the headquarters of Hamas. I visited a Muslim village of three thousand people where two hundred Hamas terrorists live. Why? A house church is being built for a young convert and his family. The gospel lives and brings eternal hope!

Intertwined in this difficult area of real estate are Jewish and Palestinian communities. You can feel the tension. It has been an honor for me to get to know the people who live in the land, including Jews and Arabs. I have found that people are generally friendly and want peace. However, the spiritual tension is obvious.

The truth is, no nation around Israel likes Israel. And it is not because they are not likeable. Why? Never forget, God’s eyes are always on her. The Jews are a chosen people. That is a very special privilege and at the same time a very heavy burden. This tiny group of people was commissioned by God to bring moral, civil, and spiritual law to all of mankind. They are purveyors of the heart and mind of God to all of humanity for all of human history. Human sin nature rebels against this.

The significance of the Jews being in the land today is in order for the future prophecies of Israel to come to pass. The Jews have to be at home in the land of Israel. They are making Aliyah in record numbers. Aliyah is the act of going up, in reference to Jerusalem. It is the return of the Jewish people out of the diaspora, to their homeland.

This all began in the modern age on May 14th, 1948. Israel was restored as a nation. It is the most significant sign leading to the return of Jesus. The Jewish people live on high alert. Every 18-year old man and woman serves in the Israel Defense Force. Everyone is trained and everyone serves as a reserve into their forties. They know how to guard their land. I’ve been to military installations, including a Counter Terrorism Training Center. It’s humbling and impressive.

It is a Territorial Covenant and every time (which is often) people try to divide up the land I think to myself, “No, don’t do that. God has already spoken on this. Be wise. Agree with God.”

If this subject is fairly new to you, I would encourage you to dig deeper. What can you do today? Be an advocate for the Nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Lead your church family to support Israel with your prayers, dollars, and participation. And most of all, make friends with Jewish people in your community.

We live in incredible times. God in His sovereign plan brought you and I into the world for such a time as this. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to the nations, and then the end will come.” Sobering to think that we may very well be the generation that puts the finishing touch on the canvas of the church age. May you be encouraged today to be faithful in your calling.

Recommended reading;

Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin Wilson

Israel and the Church: God’s Road Map, by Rebecca Brimmer and Bridges for Peace Leaders

The Destiny of Israel and the Church by Derek Prince

Sinai Speaks by Dr. Jim Solberg

The Jerusalem Dispatch a bi-monthly publication of Bridges for Peace

Scripture references are NKJV.

Randy Alonso is a certified coach, trainer, and speaker at the John Maxwell Team. He Randy was a senior pastor for over 30 years, and is now the Teaching Pastor at Central Life Church in Melbourne, Florida. He is a Senior Leader for Bridges for Peace and is an advocate of the land of Israel and the Jewish people. He also serves as President of the International Ministerial Fellowship serving over 1300 Christian leaders worldwide. Randy holds a DDiv degree from Masters International University of Divinity.

You can contact Randy Alonso at Ralonso@bfpusa.org

 

Overcoming Fear

There will be times in everyone’s life when they will be invaded by the spirit of fear! There are all kinds of circumstances & situations that may pop up in our lives unexpectedly that will cause you to doubt and fear. It’s so important to understand the influence fear can have and how it works against us and the promises of God for our lives. It can keep you from being all God has created you to be!

Fear is the opposite of Faith….and the devil works very hard to cause us to fear because it brings with it torment! (I John 4:18) It’s important that we remember, II Timothy 1:7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)

Fear is designed to cripple your ability in the Lord and cause you to live a life full of torment & misery. It’s like a huge yoke placed upon your life, trying to prevent you from believing what God is Able to do in your life!

Fear begins as a thought and develops into an emotion that if you are not careful will cause you to make wrong decisions and rule your life or simply paralyze you from moving at all. How we think and ponder on our challenges in life has a lot to do with the results for our lives. (Prov. 23:7) The truth of the matter is most of our fear is birth out of a mind that has been formed by this world and it causes us to have a thought process that limits God. This is why God lets us know our transformation to who he created and called us to be will not fully manifest until we begin to renew our mind. (Romans 12:1-2)

We are expected as Christians to walk by faith and not by sight. (II Corth 5:7). We are to trust God in spite of what we see, hear or know. Our Faith must stand in the power and the ability of our Lord and on His Word!

When we become born again through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we actually become “recreated in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:10 AMP) So, whatever Jesus is, we are too. He is strong, and in Him, we are strong. He is courageous, in Him, we are courageous. He is a conqueror, so we can be too. He has peace and joy, so we have peace and joy. He’s capable and bold. In Christ, we can do whatever we need to do with His boldness. (quote by Joyce Meyers)

We must learn to fight the good fight of Faith and you’ll see…. you will have Victory over fear every time!

 

Pastor Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons Ministries

www.kimlyonsministries.com

Kim Y. Lyons is the Co-Pastor and Founder of “In Faith Ministries International” in Lima, Ohio and the Founder of KLM. She is a native of Dayton, Ohio and was licensed & ordained a minister of the gospel by Bishop Ted Willis of Second Baptist Church in Piqua, Ohio.

Some words to describe the Ministry of Kim Lyons would be, impacting, dynamic, radical, life- transforming and Real! She is affectionately known as “Mama Kim” because of her “keepin it real” approach in ministry and life.

The influence of her ministry has broken through racial, denominational, and economical barriers which have allowed her the privilege of impacting many people.  Her dynamic style and “Keepin it Real” approach to preaching and teaching Gods word has allowed her numerous opportunities to preach at conferences, workshops, and churches abroad.

She has been a frequent guest on WTLW TV 44 “Grace for Today” show as well as WTGN Radio “Prayer Time” and has served as a Chaplain for Marketplace Ministries a ministry designed to minister to people in the work place. She has recently birth out a monthly Prayer Impact – Prayer line that has been aggressive through social media and is making an Impact in the Kingdom of God!

Her passion is to assist people in reaching their full potential and discover their authentic purpose and destiny. She is the wife of the Michael Lyons the Senior Pastor of In Faith Ministries International and the proud parent of 4 children and 2 grandchildren. 

Is This My Job Or Is This My Calling?

By Jen Tringale

The word calling is a word we generally set apart to describe those selected for a specific task or purpose. When I was growing up in church; this word ‘calling’ was generally reserved to describe a person that was called to be a pastor, teacher or maybe a missionary. It wasn’t ever actually said to me but the assumption was that those that were “called” were sort of the ‘rock-star’ ministers given the task to really do something for God and the rest of us were merely here to attend church, maybe volunteer and cheer them on.

However, this word ‘calling’ speaks to the fact that there is divine purpose attached to what a person does and it is important to know that it does not always require a pulpit. Many times we hear someone say that they have “found their calling.” While a lot is being said in recent years about the topic of purpose or calling, we ought to make sure we rightly define exactly who it is that is called and for what purpose.

In Ephesians 4:1 Paul the apostle writes and very strongly admonishes ALL believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called”…”

The word ‘calling’ here simply means, “A divine invitation to service or a summons to employment.”

This vocational calling that Paul is speaking about is backing up what God originally instituted with Adam in Genesis Chapter 2, “…to be fruitful, multiply and to have dominion…,” and then again when He gave us the great commission in Matt 28 and in Mark 16. In each case God is reiterating His plan that every believer has been issued a call, an invitation to a kingdom assignment. We are to impact our culture to bring together His family and to establish His kingdom in the earth. It is because of this call – this purpose – that you and I are here.

It is vitally important that we understand that you and I did not just come from our parents, we merely came through our parents. In Jeremiah

1:5 God says, “Before you were even in your mother’s womb I knew you.”

At some point God our creator had the idea of you and because He does everything with purpose attached to it, He also attached to you a calling, a purpose, and a divine invitation to employment!

This divine calling will utilize the gifts, talents and abilities that God has given each of us to in some way be an answer to a problem and to bring a solution to societies’ needs. This changes how we approach what we do vocationally. For the believer, there is no such thing as mere secular employment but a better description would be that you have a vocational calling.

In fact, Jesus made this plain when He first announced His purpose and strategy for how we were to carry on when He was gone when He told Peter, “…And upon this rock, I will build my church,”(Matthew 16:18).

Jesus used the Greek word “ecclesia” here when He spoke of His church. Without going into lengthy historical detail, let me give you a snapshot of what Jesus was referencing.

The “ecclesia” was a roman legislative group made up of people very skilled in their various vocations. The Romans would send out the ecclesia into their newly defeated territories. This skilled group was made up of law-makers, judges, educators, artisans, musicians, builders, architects, as well as others. Their job was to take positions of influence throughout the cities of these newly conquered territories. As they began to function in their vocations, they were assimilating the people into Roman ways of living. Slowly, thru their influence, they would begin to transform the people’s thinking and their way of life into all things Roman! They began to teach in the schools using Roman methods. The musicians shifted the sound, lawmakers introduced Roman policies, and on and on it went.

All of this was a strategic way to get the people to forget their old identity and in a matter of time the ecclesia would have transformed the culture to look, sound and function just like Rome. Isn’t it interesting that this is the concept that Jesus referenced when He spoke of building His church? He was not speaking of us meeting in a building; rather He spoke of us building the kingdom in the culture we are in! To be salt and light, to be a city set on a hill, which speaks of having positions of influence.

For years we have tried to change the culture merely through the church alone, but it takes more than the 5-fold ministry gifts. Their function is actually to equip the saints; which is why it is vitally important that we as believers are planted in the local church where this equipping can take place. But that equipping is to help all believers, men and women of God to function in their calling. That those who are educators, care-takers, law-makers, musicians and many others would take their place of influence thru the ability and the anointing that comes with the calling!

Let me sum this up with 3 basic principles every believer needs to know about their calling.

  1. God always has a plan and He has a plan for you. Don’t settle for anything less.
  2. Who God calls He equips. You’ve got the raw materials of what it takes.
  3. Never judge what you do as insignificant. Allow the Holy Spirit to ignite the destiny seed of God in you and lead you into the calling He designed you for.

I call you blessed,

Jen Tringale

 

New Book: “Your Defining Moment” can be Pre-Ordered at www.jentringale.com

For booking information please call 1-877-286-2995

Jen Tringale Ministries

PO Box 161205

Fort Worth Texas 76161

 

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3 Crucial Things We Must Protect As Leaders

By Lysa Terkeurst

Whether your dream is to get a degree, publish a book, be a singer, hold a leadership position, open your own business, or any of the hundreds of other dreams people have, there are three things worth protecting at all costs.

The world will beg us to trade them in for a quicker taste of success.

But if we do, every bit of the success that follows will feel horribly shallow and hauntingly meaningless.

What are these 3 crucial things?

  1. Identity

Know who you are and Whose you are. This is the number one lesson my husband and I have taught our kids. Every Biblical, moral, and crucial life lesson we’ve ever taught them can be wrapped up in one simple statement: “Remember who you are.”

A few years ago, our youngest child Brooke was making a cake. The cake was supposed to cook for 50 minutes but at the 30-minute mark, the cake looked done.

It smelled done. She wanted it to be done.

So, despite knowing the proper directions, she removed the cake from the oven. A few short minutes later, she watched with great sadness as the cake caved in. The cake couldn’t withstand the weight of an undone center.

And neither can we.

We must know who we are before tasting success in our dreams. Otherwise, our dreams will threaten to become our identities. As success ebbs and flows, it crushes those whose identities aren’t grounded in the assurance of God’s love for them.

  1. Integrity

Know what you stand for and determine to stand for more than just yourself. Success in your dream won’t be enough. There has got to be a higher purpose to it all. I like to say as you reach higher, you must remember to also stoop lower. God has a purpose in our dreams and it isn’t to make us happy, rich, or famous. It’s to enable us to make a bigger difference in the lives of people.

That’s true whether we’re seeking to write a book, hold an office, or become a great parent. I often challenge myself to say this statement about any blessing I receive: “This is happening so that I might bless whom?”

  1. Intent

Know why you’re following your dream. If my intent is to get something I feel I’m missing in my life, I’ll forever be disappointed. If my intent is to give something back in this life, no matter where I am in the process, this can be true.

Always trying to get something positions me to be selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed. But if my intent is always looking to give something, I can be free to live that part of my dream today.

Today, I may not be able to have— but I can certainly decide to give.

Which of these three things speaks to you the most? How can you work on checking and protecting your identity, integrity, and intent in your leadership position?

Are Your Children The Real Problem in Your Blended Family?

In 98% of our discussions with couples in blended families, the subject eventually turns to problems the parents are having with one or more children in the new family. Children are often seen as “the problem”, or one of the major problems – poor grades, depressed, uncooperative, sad, disrespectful, unmotivated, hanging out with bad influences, drugs, isolating themselves, to name a few.

There are always two sides to a story, and we offer you a view from the children’s perspective. We read a story about a firefighter who was fighting a forest fire. As he walked through the charred forest, he saw a bird with its wings spread out at the base of a tree. It caught his eye because it moved. As he looked closer, he found that the bird was obviously dead because its body was charred, but beneath the bird was a baby bird that had survived. The mother bird had sacrificed itself so that her baby could live. Other animals display “unto death” protection of their young. There is not a more aggressive animal than a female grizzly bear protecting her cubs. A herd of elephants will circle the young in the herd when a threatening situation occurs.

Children from Broken Homes

Children in blended families do not live that same experience. They are innocent victims of either losing a parent to death, or wounded by at least one of their parents who decided to divorce. Home life evolves to one or two single-parent homes.

Children of divorce are often hurt by hurting, selfish, or angry parents. They pack bags and travel for visitation, often hear a parent speak negatively of their other biological parent, and at times are used by a parent as a communication tool to avoid having to speak to the former spouse. Rejection or even abandonment by one of their parents is often an undeserved reality.

Children in Blended Families

With this in mind, it is not surprising to us when children respond negatively to a parent remarrying. We have heard from many couples that their children were fine, but their attitudes changed dramatically after the wedding. We have seen children have an emotional meltdown during the wedding and reception.

The day a parent fulfills their dream to remarry and build a new life is the same day the children’s dream of mom and dad reconciling dies.

Usually the new blended family occurs before some or all of the children have found healing for the hurts from the previous broken home. One or both biological parents may have moved through the healing process – or think they have – and are ready to remarry and build a new life. However, children may still be dealing with pain from the previous divorce or death of a parent.

Parents typically think that if they are healed, their children are healed, that children are resilient, and they bounce back. The truth is that children don’t bounce; they splat just like adults do. The remarriage places the children in a new family that they did not ask for, with a new parent figure, a new home, possibly new (step) siblings, new schools, losing old friends and having to make new ones.

In the blended family, children usually experience a multitude of emotions. A few are:

  • Wanting their biological family restored, or at least wanting the single-parent home again,
  • Hearing strife between biological parents,
  • Feeling rejection by the parent who left,
  • Competition between them and the new people in the home for their biological parent’s time and attention,
  • Identity shifts in the new family (no longer the oldest or youngest),
  • Fear of another home life failing (the last one did, right?),
  • Resistance to the involvement or discipline by a stepparent who does not yet love them,
  • Favoritism which is more prominent in blended family homes (until hearts of acceptance are established),
  • Unforgiveness toward their biological parent(s), and not knowing how to forgive,
  • Swings of anger, frustration, sadness, resentment, numbness, jealousy, hate, and so on.

 

We have identified 19 different reasons why children resist connecting to their blended family (there are probably others). We doubt if a child will experience all 19, but it is highly likely that a child will have more than one reason.

You Are Responsible

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

Children in blended families are also a reward from Him. They are not extra baggage, someone else’s problem, or along for the ride. God hates divorce, but He deeply loves people who have divorced. He forgives people of their sins that destroyed a relationship, His wonderful grace gives people a 2nd chance to build a 1st class marriage and family. In remarriage, that 2nd chance comes with children not born to us. Stepparents are to love, care for, provide for, encourage, defend, teach, edify, and guide.

Parents and stepparents need to be sensitive to all the children – to what they are feeling, and to what adults put them through. We are not advocating that parents have to live their entire life for their children. We are advocating that God expects parents to love, nurture, and protect the children at all times, not just when it is convenient.

We need to help our children find their healing from past hurts. Many need their biological parents to forgive each other. They need help learning to:

  • Forgive those who hurt them
  • Manage their anger
  • Trust people again
  • Sense that there is abundant life ahead
  • Quit looking at their past, and look forward to the new thing God wants to bring them into.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

Your life may never be the same after experiencing divorce or death of a spouse and parent, but your life can be better! The book of Job in the Holy Bible is an incredible story of a man who lost everything. But because he loved and served God, God restored to him twice as much as he previously had. His life was never the same; he probably had scars on his body from the sores and on his heart from the loss of loved ones. But his life got even better! Scars are not bad – scars appear after healing has taken place.

God is always trying to do something new in our lives and in our children’s lives. The blended family can be a great place for your children. It can be a positive, Godly influence to you and your children. It is the biological parent and stepparent responsibility to create that positive atmosphere. Show your children the positive things about God and your family.

Commit your life to God! Then commit your life to every member in your new family! Purpose in your heart to see all your family healed from the past, serving God, and moving into the new things that God has for your future.

Parents and stepparents, work together to bring healing and wholeness into your family.

  • Make God the center of your heart and home through intimacy with Jesus Christ,
  • Build a loving, life-long marriage; become one in mind and heart with your spouse. Your children need a healthy role model of what a successful marriage looks like, so they can duplicate it.
  • Pray together as a family, and for each other,
  • Involve yourself in your new children’s lives.
  • Communicate with your biological AND new children — let them know that they are a vital part of your family.
  • Encourage your children to express themselves. Do not react to what they say, but help them work through any negative feelings that come up. (The law of emotion is, what you suppress will eventually come back up – usually in unhealthy ways.)
  • Allow your biological AND new children to grieve. Don’t tell them to, “get over it.”
  • Apologies bring healing. Apologize to each child, as the Holy Spirit leads you.
  • Help children develop new, positive, achievable dreams. Learn your children’s dreams and desires, and help them attain their goals.
  • Show respect to your biological AND new children – especially to those who are being disrespectful. Giving consistent respect will bring respect to you.
  • Read some divorce recovery, grief recovery, and blended family material, and share what you learn with your children.

God is in you, and He is on your side! He makes us overcomers in every trial; He delivers us from them all! We only lose when we quit.

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

 

Blending a Family Ministry

~ Changing the way you view your blended family ~

www.blendingafamily.com

 

 

Loving the Platform

I have been leading worship now for over 8 years and what a privilege it is to do so. I get the opportunity to help people see, feel, and experience Jesus with my life. I have done this in many ways, but to be able to do this with music has been such a blessing. At this point in my life I have led thousands of worship services all over the United States. I’ve been in many different churches, denominations, and age groups. I have come to realize that many people’s opinion on what a worship leader is and isn’t varies drastically from person to person, generation to generation, church to church, and especially pastor to pastor. I believe God has given me a clear picture of what a worship leader is. I am just going to share briefly on the importance of a leader falling in love with the body of Christ. You may say: “What does this have to do with worship?” EVERYTHING! This simple revelation changed me as a worship leader and how I approach all ministry. It’s not just for worship leaders… it’s for everyone.

Falling in love with body of Christ is the same as falling in love with Jesus himself. Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind, strength and love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27 paraphrased) In other words, Love Jesus with everything you’ve got, and love others as much as you love yourself. (SIDENOTE: if you have a hard time giving love to your neighbor, it could be the root issue is that you haven’t learned to love yourself like you should. You can only give love away when you learn to love what the Lord created in you. We can all only love to the extent that we love ourselves.)

A couple years ago the Lord dropped a syllogism in my spirit that changed everything about how I led worship, did ministry, and lived life. A syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning used in the study of logic. I hadn’t even thought of syllogisms since taking logic in High School so I was surprised when the Lord chose to speak to me this way. This was the syllogism: “I am the Church, I don’t love the Church; therefore, I do not love myself.” When I heard this from the Lord I began to weep. I realized that the issues I had with the Body of Christ were issues that I had with loving myself. The more I fell in love with Him the more I began to love what he created in me. The more my love grew for myself and the way I was created, I began to be able to see the beauty in what Jesus created in other people. Every word from the mouth of God is eternal and will not return void. When he calls something good… He means it.

After I started receiving my healing in this process, I realized that I could not separate loving Him from loving His others in His body. Compassion for His body overcame me and still does to this day. Compassion and love started to become my genuine motive for being on a platform week in and week out. I wanted people to hear, taste, and see the Lord in all that I sang or said. My responsibility as a Levite and worship leader is to not just usher in His presence but to give people Jesus. To release a song that is more than words, but full of life, love, and compassion. I get the opportunity to help create a space for Jesus to reside in that moment, at that place, at that time. I also came to realize that this was impossible to do consistently without really learning to love people like Jesus does. The more my compassion grows for people, the more I long to give them Jesus. I can’t wait to worship every week because I long for everyone to meet Him! Loving the way Jesus loves changes everything about worship. When you love someone, you don’t leave them behind. I now desire for everyone come with me into his presence to meet Him because if they can just get a glimpse, it could change everything. So this has become my motivation in worship now: For people to see and hear Him above all else and all that He is… is Love.

The Lord doesn’t want us to worship stages. Stages come and go. Stages are for lights and actors. Platforms are something completely different to me from stages. A platform is a raised place so that everyone, even the people in the back, to see what and who is up there. To me, platforms are a raised place for people to see and hear JESUS better! I long for people to see Jesus in me! To hear Jesus in my songs! To see and hear Jesus in my worship teams! People need Jesus in our worship. People need Jesus in our churches. I love and appreciate the platform because I want everyone to see Jesus. Even that person in the back, who is the furthest away, and feels like they can’t get close to Jesus, I want them to see Him!

I see Jesus doing this Matthew 5:1-2: “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.” A little history around what I see in these two short verses. At this time in Jesus’ ministry He was being followed by multitudes of people. We call this the “Sermon on the Mount” because, obliviously, it’s on a mountain. Let’s look at the literal definition of Mountain: “A landmass that projects conspicuously above its surroundings and is higher than a hill.” Jesus wanted his love, his compassion, and His Father to be conspicuous! He wasn’t trying to get away from the crowds in my opinion. He brought his trusted few close and up the mountain with him so that everyone who was there had the opportunity to hear and see him. He raised himself up not out of haughtiness but out of humility and compassion. Jesus raised himself up to a higher place not because he needed it, but because He loves His people! He raised himself up because he was overwhelmed with compassion for the people. This HAS to be our motivation for the platform. Here are 2 literal definitions of a platform: 1.) a raised level surface on which people or things can stand. 2.) a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands. Do you see the similarities there? Do you see why the Lord uses platforms? The platform exists to make Jesus conspicuous. The platform exists to make Jesus famous. The foundations of our platforms have to be built on love, compassion, humility, and grace. This is what we have to stand on when we are on any platform. This is not just for worship leaders. It’s for everyone! No matter what you do in ministry.

I long for more platforms now! Not out of the desire to further my career. Not because I want people to hear me but because this man Jesus has humbled me with His overwhelming compassion towards me. I have to give that away. People deserve that from me. They deserve my best every week! Every service! Whether it’s 5 or 5,000 people. Everyone needs to see, hear, and experience Jesus. That is why I am worship leader. That is why I love the platform. That is why I can bring something fresh every week. It’s because I’m learning to love like He does and his compassion is overtaking my will. His love is better than what I may feel like from week to week. (I can’t even write this without tearing up because I feel His love, compassion, and pleasure as I write it.)

This perspective makes a difference. Trust me. I have taught my worship teams this and I have seen the fruit. We DO NOT have bad worship services. They don’t exist. It’s not because we’re the best musicians or singers… It’s because our motivations have changed. Every service, every week, he does something brand new because of His everlasting compassion and mercy that is new every morning. If you’re a worship leader, musician, speaker, or anyone who has been given a position in front of people… DO THIS. It will change everything. Your fruit will exponentially multiply and so will your influence.

 

When God is Your Job

One of the things we have to guard against as spiritual leaders is letting our relationship with God become a job that we have to do, rather than a relationship that we want to nurture. For everyone in ministry — from lead pastors to lay leaders — the lines between “job” and “relationship” can quickly become blurry. It’s easy to just keep doing what is expected of you without realizing that you are becoming cold in heart.

Honestly, this has happened to me many times throughout my 25 years of church leadership. There have been some Sundays (and Saturdays and Wednesdays) that I find myself participating on the outside — nodding along to the message and  raising my hands in worship — but on the inside, I am as disconnected as I can be. I am going through the motions, but my heart isn’t in it. I find myself distracted and restless, and maybe even a little discouraged. But I plow on, because, well, serving God is my job! When that thought enters my head, I know it’s time to do some soul searching.

Personally, I know I am getting close to the “God is my job” mindset, when:

  • I find myself mindlessly going through the motions during service, but my mind is in a different place (making my to do list, planning my calendar, reading twitter on the front row when I’m supposed to be following along in YouVersion).
  • I lose my interest in meeting new people.
  • I want to come as late as I can and leave as early as I can after service.
  • I start seeing actual ministry as an interruption to the tasks I need to get done.
  • I enjoy video announcements more than worship.
  • I listen to the sermon for other people rather than for myself.
  • I get picky about the song list.
  • I focus more on how the service is being done than on the presence of God.

Serving God should never become a job to us. As spiritual leaders, we must to fight every day to keep the fire of God alive in our hearts. When I find myself slipping into a “God is my job” attitude, this is what I do to get back on track:

  • Do a health check:
    • Am I being consistent in my spiritual disciplines? (Prayer, bible study, giving, and periodic fasting)
    • Am I guarding the gateways to my soul? (My eyes and ears — what I watch and listen to has an impact on your attitude)
    • Am I practicing thankfulness? (Our default as humans is to be ungrateful and negative. We have to be intentional about cultivating thankfulness and positivity in our minds.)
  • Hit the reset button on my identity: Remember this, before you are a pastor, pastor’s wife, church staff, or lay leader, you are first and foremost a child of God. He has entrusted you with responsibility and a calling, but at the end of the day, He still calls you “son” or “daughter.” there is no pretense with God. He sees through all of it, so get real with Him.
  • Hit the reset button on my church experience: Even though you may have a service role at church, you still need to be able to experience God’s presence. Whatever opportunity you have to pray, worship, or participate in the service, make it count. Don’t merely go through the motions.

 

You can learn more about Kerri Weems by visiting these links:

www.celebration.org
www.kerriweems.com
www.shineinc.org
www.facebook.com/kerri.weems
www.twitter.com/KerriWeems

 

I Took the Road Less Traveled

I Took The Road Less Traveled

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”

 

Robert Frost’s famous poem ends with these words, but for me, it is a reminder of how I started my journey along a ‘road less travelled’ – The road signposted, ‘Missionary’.

 

When I was young, though I didn’t understand it, there were road signs pointing me toward this road less travelled. I loved reading about the American pioneers imagined what it would be like to be a pioneer in an untamed land. I would even create my own adventure by trying to get lost in the miles of endless woods behind my home, only to find to my disappointment, that no matter how hard I tried I would eventually find a road that I recognized and no longer be lost.

 

But it wasn’t until after I graduated from Bible School that I found the road to adventure.  My wife and I were newly married and knew we had a call on our lives.  We were helping a small church in Michigan as volunteers and giving every hour we could to the ministry.  Being volunteers at the church, Julie worked and I would draw houses to make ends meet.

 

However, my frustration was building at the realization that what I was doing was the most natural and temporary of types of work.  This frustration built until one summer morning when the sun splashed across my drawing board and I looked at the graphite I had painstakingly applied to the large sheet of paper and thought, “not one single ounce of what I am doing at this moment touches eternity.” I was drawing another ‘dream house’ on what amounted to nothing more than paper – made from trees, so that someone could cut down even more trees and arrange them into a building that might not even be here in a hundred years.

 

As I sat at that drawing board, I longed to impact the eternity of souls.  I wanted my life to make a difference, and an eternal difference. I wanted to tell the untold, and reach the unreached. To go to those areas of the world that others didn’t want to go to.

 

Twenty years later I can truly say I’ve traveled the road less traveled, but what a road it has been!  My goodness, this road should be marked with those highway signs that say, ‘Scenic Views Ahead’!  For the road signposted, ‘Missionary’, has truly been a beautiful road to travel upon!

 

According to the US Center for World Missions, there are more than 100,000 people that write off to missionary organizations every year sensing some kind of call to travel upon this missionary road. However, less than 1% of these ever find the road, and of those who do, in just 5 years 80% have taken a detour.  Being a missionary is, in the words of Frost, a road ‘less traveled by’.

 

It is estimated that out of the 1 Billion evangelical Christians who live on this ball of green and blue, there are only 400,000 missionaries.  That’s just .04% of the Church – talk about a road less traveled!  This means that even if we doubled the number of missionaries, it would still be less than 1% of the Church.

 

And the crazy thing is, though so few travel this road, it is the most rewarding of roads to travel upon.  I’m forty and have spent nearly half my life on this road and I can truly say that I cannot think of any more rewarding way to invest my life.

 

Not only have I seen the incredible power and demonstration of God, I can say my desire to make an eternal difference is being fulfilled!  I’ve seen more than 1000 Muslims born-again while leading our church in inner-city England! There are fifteen women in current our student body here in Africa who no longer suffer the stigma of not having children. Some were standing for children for as much as 8 years, but after just a few months hearing the Word of God in class, all are now pregnant!  I love the view from this road!

 

We’ve also enjoyed seeing those whom we’ve ministered to go on to do great things.  For example, we have a young lady who graduated from our Bible school in Manchester, who is now reaching into North Korea and having amazing results. A current team member was recently holding meetings in a village her in Nigeria and in addition to several who were healed a paralyzed woman was completely healed.  Having just returned to do some more meetings in that same village the team member reported that this same woman was dancing and running and jumping more than anyone else in the church!  I could go on an on rehearsing the beauty of the eternal scenery that traveling this road less traveled has brought to our lives.  I do love the view from here!

 

For me, living for the cause of telling the untold and reaching the unreached is like the Forest Gump of journeys!  Once you start, you just can’t stop!  It’s almost an addiction of some kind, only without the negative side affects.  It ‘feels’ just way too good to stop!

 

The journey has its twists and turns and it’s not always an easy road to travel, but when I look back on how God has given me fun little ‘rest stops’ along this road less travelled, I think it’s almost too good to tell others about.  As a missionary, I’m supposed to be depressed, starving, and above all – not enjoying life.   That must be a different road, because that’s not been where this road called, ‘Missionary’, has taken me.  Actually, I’ve thought it could be that there is an unspoken conspiracy among missionaries to paint the worse possible picture of what it means to be a missionary so that they can keep all the fun to themselves!  It is an incredible journey, this road less traveled!

 

There have been some great ‘rest stops’, like the time our family found ourselves in the south of France, just as the world famous Monaco Grand Prix was finishing.  We took a small detour off the highway to arrive just as they were loading the still warm cars into their trucks. There I was standing in the course with all the race markings and banners still in place. So I thought, ‘Why not?’… I drove that little three cylinder Fiat rental car as fast it would go around the circuit. I’ve been behind the wheel of an Alpha Romero 166 winding through the mountain roads of northern Italy, and experienced the adrenalin filled joy of belting down the German Autobahn in a brand new Mercedes that the rental agent reluctantly upgraded me too (it was the only car left on the lot)! If you’re going to travel the road less traveled, why not enjoy the ride!  These are the kind of joys I would have never known if I hadn’t decided to give my life to the ‘road less travelled’.

 

I’ve eaten well on this journey too.  From crêpes under the Eifel Tower in Paris, to incredible pasta in a side-street café in Florence, Italy to a ‘proper’ breakfast at the House of Lords with ambassadors and ministers of state. Speaking of Lords and Ladies, my wife and I have had the privilege of dining with a Baroness, or two over the years… and where did we dine, none other than Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s former residence. In Egypt, I’ve had stuffed pigeon and cow brain ‘McNuggets’ (think chicken McNuggets only with Cow Brains instead of chicken), and you don’t want to know some of what I’ve eaten in Burma or Thailand.  All of these culinary experiences add color to life and it’s all because I chose to travel on the road less travelled.

 

When I started this journey, I never thought I would experience such things, and though my focus has always been souls, God has finds clever ways to rewarded me with a great view as we travel this road called, ‘Missionary.

 

I’ve climbed the three highest peaks in the UK and about to climb the highest in Africa.  I’ve had great seats at a ‘free’ center-court match at Wimbledon after finishing a hectic ministry schedule in London.  Another time, Julie and I were blessed with ring-side seats to one of the biggest boxing matches in British History.  Everyone who was anyone was there, and they were all sat behind us and paid big money for the privilege!   However, because one of the boxers, was a Christian from the USA and wanted an American Pastor to help in his preparation for the match, we got free ring-side seats! I have been followed by secret police in a Muslim country, and travelled 3 days in Burma to a meeting where more than 5000 believers received the Baptism of the Spirit.  And, I’ve met the most amazing of people along the way.  Why, oh why, isn’t this a busier road!

 

Now here’s the thing, I do not believe that everyone should be a missionary.  But, even if we only doubled the number of missionaries it would make a big difference to the cause of Christ.  And that would still mean there’s more than 99% of the church to help finance, care for and encourage that 1% as they go!

 

Ralph Winters, who only recently went on to Glory, is a man who has done more for modern missions than almost any other I know.  He made a powerful statement,  “What is needed today is not just a few who are willing to go themselves, but those who will be facilitators of others by the thousands.  This is our heartbeat.  We want others to know what a beautiful road this is, and to help them find it, and then care for and support them on their journey.

 

Club1040.com exists for just such a purpose, helping others travel this same and beautiful road. My hope is that through the efforts of Club1040, the road will become a road – much more traveled!

 

The Club1040 vision is to see closure to what Jesus started, to see a finished work of the Great Commission.  Jesus defined the finish line in Matthew 24:14, when he said that this Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached throughout all the world as a witness to EVERY nation, AND THEN the end will come.

 

According to joshuaproject.net, one of the best mission resources available, there are still more than 40% of the world’s 7 Billion people who are considered unreached.  Therefore, if we are going to bring closure to the great commission, we will have to make significant changes.  We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.

 

My hope is that this short article has sown a seed of change in you.  Maybe I’ve helped you to think differently about the missionary call.  I trust you will begin to see the missionary journey for the beautiful journey that it is and either personally start down this road, or help others as they travel the ‘road less traveled’.

 

We’ve created a short film called, ‘New Breed’.  It’s just fifty minutes and follows our family as we moved from the UK to Africa.  If you would like a free copy, please email admin@club1040.com If you are a pastor, maybe you could show it to your congregation, or use it in your small-group ministry.

 

If you, like I myself, long for your life to make an eternal impact, contact me personally at matt@club1040.com and maybe we can help you find your ‘road less travelled’.

 

If you can’t personally travel on the road less travelled, but would like to help us continue on our journey, you can visit www.club1040.com for details on how you can enable us to go in your place.

 

 

 

Leading When the Results Aren’t What You’d Like

Oscar Wilde, the noted Irish playwright, once said: “The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.” Have you ever felt that way? You preached what you believed to be a great message, but the response wasn’t what you expected? You put together a great program, but people just didn’t get behind it?

If you are like most leaders, you tend to judge yourself very hard, and you are inclined to take it quite personally when things don’t go well. For example, if someone leaves your church, you assume it’s a failure on your part. If someone doesn’t receive the help you offer, certainly you are to blame. If your church is not overflowing with people, it’s obviously your fault These types of self-imposed expectations and assumptions can create enormous frustrations in the life of a pastor, especially when the results we all desire are contingent not just on our efforts, but also on the response of those to whom we minister.

Did Jesus ever deal with fickle people? You bet He did! Was He able to super-impose the results He desired contrary to their own will? No! Jesus addressed this issue when He said: “How shall I describe this generation? These people are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you weren’t happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren’t sad.’ For John the Baptist didn’t drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, ‘He’s demon possessed.’ And I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!’ (Matthew 11:16-19, NLT).

Jesus pointed out that some people hadn’t responded positively to Him or to John the Baptist, even though they took very different approaches. In essence, Jesus was saying the same thing that Oscar Wilde did – “The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.”

One reason that pastors get frustrated is because in America, success is very often evaluated by the three B’s – bodies, buildings, and bucks. Keep in mind, though, that in heaven, success is evaluated by obedience. We have the responsibility to lead with diligence, to serve with commitment, and to minister with excellence whether people respond the way we want them to or not. Certainly we rejoice when we get the results we desire, but we must be faithful even when outcomes don’t measure up to our expectations, or are slower in coming than we’d like.

I appreciate what one pastor shared about his frustrations. “During one service I was complaining to the Lord about the lack of attendance: ‘Lord, attendance is just not what I’d like it to be.’ This was the Lord’s response: ‘My son, attendance is not what I’d like it to be in heaven.’ That was the last time I complained to the Lord about lack of attendance.”

I’m not writing this to discourage you from setting goals or striving for growth, but I do want to make sure that you’re enjoying your journey, not just striving for a destination! Make sure you stop and smell the roses on your journey through life. Keep in mind that the weight of the world is not supposed to be on your shoulders; you can’t accomplish anything without God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:10) or without the cooperation and mutual faith of others (Romans 1:11-12)!

This article used by permission from Tony Cooke Ministries – www.tonycooke.org