I know from experience that one of the most difficult transitions a Christian leader can make is to shift from an old model of ministry into a new one.
In matters of faith, those who have been gloriously converted and are lovingly devoted to the ministries or missions God Himself led them to, may have trouble releasing the old to take hold of the new!
In many ways, that is exactly what the Body of Christ is being asked to do in this season.
Like a Master chess player, God has the right to reposition or refocus His people at will - HIS will - for a maximum benefit to all. The best response we can give Him in times like these is an unqualified “Yes, Lord!”
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.”
This week, I was working my way through a checklist as I prepared to welcome family and friends home for the holidays.
As I went to sleep one night, I marveled at how quickly my list seemed to have been completed; there were only one or two items left for me to take care of. I was delighted to find myself two full days ahead of my own schedule!
Then, early this morning, I was overtaken by the Fear of the Lord as I sat quietly with Him. As God's unmistakable Presence enveloped me I heard the Him say “The Master of the House is coming to visit His Vineyard.”
A huge THANK YOU to His Inscriptions friends who prayed for last week’s ministry trip to Springfield, Tennessee! It was an amazing week of training roughly 60 leaders at City of Faith International Church which culminated in a mighty outpouring of God’s POWER on Sunday morning. Photos and testimonies follow.
“Simon Peter said (to the disciples), ‘I am going fishing.’ They said, ‘And we are coming with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.” ~John 21:3
There was a time when the apostle Peter felt more like a defeated soldier than a fearless leader. He wasn’t “catching” much of anything! His Savior had just been arrested. A valiant attempt to defend Jesus with his sword had brought the Master’s rebuke instead of praise.
Even worse, Peter had watched Jesus willingly face death like a lamb led to the slaughter. On the darkest of nights, Peter matched Christ’s three bold identity statements (“I am He”) with three denials of his own (“I am not;” see John 18).
Come to the sea of Galilee with me to understand how Peter must have felt at this moment - and what the Lord did to restore him.
In a powerful encounter early this morning, I heard the Lord saying: "it's time to invest in the next generation!" I believe the Lord is beginning to show many of us specific investments we are to make in the next generation of believers in Christ. I heard Him say: "Mentor, sow, feed, nurture, and cherish these young ones whose hearts need direction right now. Don’t allow your own frustrations to quench their fresh hope!”
It is so important that those who are "seasoned" believers in the Lord not allow the weariness and frustration from past and present seasons to color their attitudes towards youth who are arising now to take their places in God's army! Although the battles have been fierce and long, and many are still raging, the younger generations need guidance and wisdom from those who have experienced many years of challenges and victories in the Kingdom.
Twice in the past few weeks the Lord has allowed me to see from His perspective the advancing of His Kingdom during these times of trial. The first was in a dream, but last night as I listened, the Lord began to speak more specifically of what is happening today. I believe that applying these very personal strategies will help you receive your harvest!
“Never before has there been such hostility to the truth, and never again will there be such an engaging witness to the same.
“Even as the world exerts pressure on My people, so that very pressure is releasing a great cry for justice and mercy, one that would not be so passionate and heartfelt were it not for the pain the pressure is producing.
“I am extracting the precious from the vile.
I had a dream from the Lord this week which truly alarmed me.
In the dream, I saw that the Church at large, Christ’s Bride, was being systematically seduced by a man who was familiar to her. He was a “believer” and an active participant in countless local and regional ministries.
Because this man was working toward the same goals and supposedly serving the same Lord, the Bride willingly gave herself to his service in the deepest sense of the word. The Bride (represented in the dream by a variety of different women) bore his children and nurtured them as best as she could.
However, once the children were born, the man returned to each one of the women, exposing himself as a liar, not a lover of God. Though operating within the Church, he was anti-Christ.
Do you have a friend whom you love so dearly that even their phone call at midnight does not offend you? Whose number you keep "starred" on the list in your phone, so that at any time, day or night, you may be available to them?
Only a few friends and family of mine make that cut! These are the ones whose lives are the most important to me; whose voices I want to hear at any time, in any condition. There is nothing they could say that would make me love them less, and I choose to give my life to them because of that love.
“Only 14 percent of young adults (ages 18-35) say they attend church because someone in their worship community cares deeply about them.”
What are you doing to reach the next generation?
Take a look around your church or small group fellowship. How many of your regular attendees are from the “next generation” following you? 10%? 20%? 50% or more?
If you see a healthy crop of young believers growing and being discipled in your church, congratulations. You’re a rarity!
As research shows, the majority of young people in our culture are suffering from serious neglect. Notably, they don’t feel anyone in church “cares deeply” for them. (Barna, 2019)
Have you ever taken a personality test?
People around the world have used personality profiles to understand each other better. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses has become a trend, especially in Christian circles. The information can be a helpful tool for teambuilding and for leaders, to know how best to motivate the people who serve them.
I have taken many of these tests over the years and emerged with a series of “labels” designed to define me. I’m sure you have, too!
I know, for example, that I am equally balanced between introversion and extroversion (although my husband might question the “balanced” part!). I love a good party, love connecting with people, but recharge alone and need some time to “regroup” after a series of social events.
I am a researcher, a teacher/trainer, a high achiever, a creative, a prophet with a pastoral bent, an intuitive “feeler” and a very passionate person. I have been called melancholic, choleric, a leader, a judge, a mystic and - help me Jesus - a "Beaver!"
What are you?
More importantly, who does God say you are? How does God define you?
Here is what I believe God is saying to us today: “I want to develop personality in you - not YOURS but MINE!”
God knows who we are. He knows what labels we’ve been given. He’ll even use our strengths and weaknesses for His glory. Yet ultimately, He wants to infuse us with HIMSELF, filling us with His Divine Personality.
"Sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level."
The above dictionary definition could easily describe the life of prayer. After all, prayer is the place where we develop "Life-Giving Communication with God" (our His Inscriptions mission), sharing our thoughts and listening to God's heart.
Actually, the definition above is not for prayer, but for communion! Far from just a sacred sacrament, communion is one of the most powerful ways to connect with God in prayer.
I often take communion as part of my personal prayer time. It is a way of remembering the Lord's sacrificial death and renewing my commitment to the New Covenant. As I meditated on His death once again this week, the Holy Spirit highlighted these words: "The Lord Jesus, on the same night He was betrayed, took bread..."
This morning as I prayed, I heard the Lord saying: "When you realize that I never leave you, it will change your life. Where you see separation, I see unity. Where you feel division, I feel only love. The measure of My love does not depend on the size of your container! I will pour until you overflow... you cannot contain My glory!"
What does it mean to you to serve God?
For most Christians, serving God is a joyful expression of our translation from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. We exchange bad habits for good ones, spend time in Bible studies instead of bars, and invest our talents into churches, ministries, and good causes throughout the world. We hope that our investments will yield eternal rewards. Some time later, though, we may wonder, is this all there is to Christianity? Just meeting the needs of my church?
One of the secrets about communion is that you don't need to be in church to partake of it! As I've taken communion more frequently in my own personal devotional times, I have discovered that it is a powerful way of knowing Jesus better. Today's post is a YouTube recording of a sermon I preached in a local church on "Knowing Jesus through Holy Communion." I pray it will bless you and open your spiritual eyes so that you, too, know Him better.
God said something unusual to me in a quiet time this week. He said: “Unusual miracles will happen when the church at large begins releasing people to do unusual things.”
"Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them." (Acts 19:11, NKJV)
It's almost Labor Day, and with the kids - and hubby! - going back to school, preliminary college visits for my oldest (yes, we're already doing that!), football practice for my youngest, and a variety of other interesting developments, I definitely did not have time to "labor" over this week's post!
Instead, here is an end-of-summer post "roundup" of 5 new, recent, and older-but-popular posts for you to choose from. I hope you'll take time to relax, grab a tall glass of iced tea, and enjoy reading these carefully-selected articles over the weekend. You'll find a couple of new items here, including a cool Slideshare presentation you can use to pray!
And by the way, despite the busyness, I do pray for you, my readers, on a regular basis. Have a new prayer request? Send it to me here. Think a friend would enjoy the posts below? They're free to share. Happy Labor Day!
c. Deborah Perkins / HisInscriptions.com
Deborah Perkins is a Christian author and the founder of His Inscriptions, a ministry focused on life-giving communication with God. Through her website, inspired teaching and a weekly blog, Deborah offers discipleship to those who want to grow their relationship with God. A ministry leader for over 25 years, Deborah is an experienced prophetic counselor, marriage mentor, and prayer warrior. She's also fond of her hubby, 3 sons, and dark chocolate - in that order! To purchase her newest Bible Study, click here.
Leaders in the Body of Christ are called, among other things, to be lifeguards. Watching is the key function of a prophet or intercessor. Rescuing is a priority for the evangelist. Guarding is elementary for the pastor. Warning is a main component of teaching. Vision is essential for the apostle. Believers in the Kingdom of God are expected to be on guard, or more specifically: to keep watch.
My pastor runs a waterskiing ministry at the lake near his church in the summertime. On days when he is alone, the kids know that if he is out on the water training someone, no one swims until he gets back to the dock.
The famous comedian, Woody Allen, quips that "eighty percent of success is showing up." I'm not sure about the numbers, but I do think there's some truth in this. Ask any pastor and you will find that one of their primary concerns is how to keep people coming back to church, week after week, when most people simply crave "down time" on the weekends. We are tired, world-weary, and longing for rest. How do we find the energy to "show up" when we feel like there is nothing left to give?
Matthew's gospel reads:
On the surface, Christianity seems pretty straightforward. Love God, and you’ll be blessed. Disobey God, and things will go wrong. And this is true, to a point. However, this kind of black-and-white thinking leads to a simplistic spirituality that limits faith to a two-dimensional God. He’s either angry or He’s loving. Maybe He’ll bless you or maybe He won’t. You just never know; in fact, you can’t possibly know, since like all human beings, you have blind spots. You can’t see where you might have missed something.
Have you ever wished there were some kind of "litmus test" to tell you if a prophet is for real? Or to discern whether a prophecy you've received is true? I have. In this noisy world full of voices, it's probably a good idea to have a "back pocket" checklist of some sort to help us sort things out! Will this make us faithless Christians or doubting Thomases? Actually, no. It will help us tune in much more accurately to what God is saying. Here's why.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 summarizes the essence of a biblical approach to prophecy. It says: "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast to what is good." Likewise, the apostle Paul, discussing prophecy (1 Corinthians 14), says he desires that all should prophesy. He elevates prophecy to be among the highest of the gifts. He also encourages believers to judge prophetic words. (Notice that he wants us to judge the words, not the people giving them!)
The New Testament clearly favors the idea of God speaking to us today via the prophetic. It also gives us clear guidelines for how prophets should operate and how we can know if their words are true. Taking a look at five of these will give us greater confidence as we give and receive prophetic words.
Maybe regular church (or synagogue) membership just isn't working out for you. Maybe the kids’ sports schedules eat up every moment of your weekend time, especially Sunday mornings. And maybe you as a parent feel just a little bit guilty that you’re not giving your kids a better spiritual foundation. Well, there’s good news, and you don’t need to be in church to hear it! Here are five easy ways to reconnect your family to your spiritual roots, whether Jewish or Christian.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.