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The Valedictorian Church

Misalignment of the spine can cause any number of problems in the human body and can affect not only the skeletal system but major organ function as well.  Studies show that heart, lung, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen, stomach, kidney, bladder, prostrate and uterus issues can be directly influenced by the spine.  Furthermore, nerve fibers stem from the spine into every major immune system organ.

In the spiritual terms, misalignment can be just as detrimental to the Body of Christ.  When we fail to come under the headship of our Lord Jesus Christ and those He has set in authority, things become out-of-order.  As children of God and necessary parts of the body, our function can be hindered and our immunity weak.

For the remainder of this post, I want to call the misalignment, a “spiritual learning curve”.   To spare you the more in-depth and wordy definition of “learning curve”… here it is in short form.  The learning curve averages everything out.  In other words, new skills or knowledge can be quickly acquired initially, but subsequent learning becomes much slower. At first, a minimal investment of resources yields significant results, but the payback from continuing effort is smaller.

This is daunting in the world we live in of bigger, better and limitless upgrades.

At first it’s easy to make progress and our efforts are rewarded quickly but as time passes, the efforts we’re making do not garner the same results.  Just as when much is given, much is required, there are times when more is asked of us, with seemingly little to no increase.  This is when we are in real danger of settling for less in terms of spiritual gain if we fail to rise to the challenge. The average Christian walk, with a letter grade C and without challenge can begin to look rather appealing. It’s still passing right?  Yet, God wants us to excel in the call upon our life, walk worthy of it and increase more and more.  Come up higher and get an A!

I do believe God wants us to be straight A students… studying to show ourselves approved by Him, regardless of the applaud of men or the immediate result.  He is interested in our commitment and our longevity in our faithfulness to Him, the church, our leaders, fellow believers and the duty assigned to us.  We should be nothing less than valedictorian in the Spirit as we serve from scrubbing toilets to preaching to the multitudes.  Every season of our life comes with its own report card.

How are we faring?

“Average is just as close to failure as it is to success.”-Dr. John Polis

 

Being Rich Toward God

Luke 12:15-21, And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

It’s important to take inventory of our lives. To examine ourselves.  What does my life consist of?

When we find ourselves in a prosperous season… when the harvest of seeds sown has come to bear, there comes with it  a temptation to “pull down” our barns and build greater.  An upgrade is due us.

Somewhere along the way maybe, we’ve been lead to believe that we will arrive at a certain level of prosperity.  It’s a lottery of sorts…  a sweet spot in life, where we can just rest easy.  “Eat, drink and be merry”, right?

We long for the day when we won’t have to work so hard. When we can just retire and finally “live” a little.

We start to daydream of pulling down our barns.  It might look something like this…

“Oh, God has great things in store for me.  His plans are SO big that I’m gonna need a better ______________, a better _______________, a better _______________.  That’s what I intend to do! As soon as I get MY harvest, I’m gonna leave this ______________ behind.  I’m gonna build the life of MY dreams!”

Perhaps this kind of mindset has truly diminished the things that God has already equipped us with to use for His glory.  We’ve pulled down our barns.  And if these barns already aren’t enough for us, then how could something bigger and better ever be enough?

And here it is… that man was rich already. He was significant. He was provided for. He was equipped.  In essence, he had what was necessary for today.  He was taken care of, yet somehow, He thought he had to take care of himself.  Somehow, he thought the ground he was given belonged to him.

So what it all boils down to is that there is a question left unanswered.

In all of your pulling down and building greater, who have you served?  If you got your harvest and bought your dream _______________, to what purpose was it?  If it all ends at sunset…whose will it be then?

Will our children know what to do with it?  Will our extended friends and families?  How about our neighbors and communities?  And heaven help us, our government?

We must consider the “whose” of our harvest!  We must begin something with what God has given us that will live well beyond our years!

Get ready! The harvest is upon us. It’s time to seek the Lord! The Lord of the harvest is visiting our ground! He is preparing laborers to who will not labor in vain but will produce more of His spirit and yield His glory in this earth!  Unless the Lord builds it, we will labor in vain! Even if we give it ALL away, we will not find ourselves wanting.  The windows of heaven are opening and God has promised that He would pour out a blessing, so much so that there would not be room enough to contain it!  For some, even the most faithful among us, He hasn’t been able to release such a blessing because with even a handful, we pull down our barns!  We must settle it in our hearts that the foundations are good! What is already built is good! Yes, the barn is good! This is the year of the open door! If we will refrain from pulling down our barns, we will discover that He has opened the door of those barns and His bounty shall spill forth!  If we will rejoice in our room, He will give us a realm! Be rich toward God!

 

Undoing the Less!

Psalm 127:1, Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain…

For far too long, I’ve been living on less than God’s best.  It’s been a season of living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes that’s even a stretch. I’m not only speaking in financial terms. This is an emotional issue, as well as spiritual.

How often do we find ourselves emotionally maxed out?  Spiritually waxing and waning?

In all honesty, about three years ago, I hit rock bottom.  Suddenly, in one instant, everything turned upside down.  I could talk about the “suddenly” but truth be told, we all have had a run in with a “suddenly” of some sort.  For me, it was a major lapse.  The bottom fell out. The elevator plummeted.  And I found myself in the lowest place possible.

Pride.

It was a defining moment for me.  An identity crisis at it’s best. Really, who did I think I was? Could the person I’d settled for “being” ever recover from this?

I realized that I had been laboring in vain.  Vanity is the worst emptiness.  It’s a falsehood.  Nothingness.

I was building my life like a glass house and it was only a matter of time before I would really know my substance.

It was a good thing.

On a very personal level, I was having a Mark 14:58 moment.  “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and in three days I will build another made without hands.”

In an instant, it crumbled but God didn’t leave me there! He had building plans with my name on them!  And if I would just let Him labor in me, through me, with me, around me… His blueprints are much more glorious!

You see, unless the Lord builds… those who labor, labor in vain.  The word unless is a conditional clause of either a) a possible situation or b) an impossible situation.

Get the picture? When HE builds… it’s POSSIBLE!  When I build… IMPOSSIBLE!

So, this is the year for me! I declare it to be MY year! My year of undoing the less!  This is MY year to come into the manifestation of God’s building for my life! This is MY year of overcoming what has been IMPOSSIBLE in my own strength and living in all that God says is POSSIBLE for me!  I am a person of substance!  I am a SPIRITUAL being! I have the ANSWER and carry the SOLUTION! His name is JESUS and I am the HOUSE that He has built!  I am the vessel fit for my Masters use! I am equipped and ready! I am prepared for EVERY GOOD WORK!  This year, my labor is not in vain! This year, I will PROSPER and BE IN HEALTH even as my SOUL DOES PROSPER!  This is MY year!  And friend, it’s YOURS as well!

This is the beginning of MY declaration!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Bigger Than A Girl from “smallVille”

Some time ago, I wrote a blog entitled Bearing Fruit and I encourage you to read that post, as it was a pivotal moment in my life and the basis for what I’m about to share.  It was at that time that I realized I was languishing.  It was a do or die moment for me and has been ever since.  (Hope your curious enough to read it now… cliffhanger for your enjoyment.)

It’s been a long season of silence for me.  I love to write and for anyone who truly knows me, talking is no problem, learning, teaching, praying, helping, helping, helping wherever I can…  But honestly, as I poured myself out into ministry,  I was feeling empty inside.  Suddenly, the passion for learning, teaching, praying, ministering was fading and fading fast. All of the things I had thought were “it” for me, weren’t “it” at all. They were only part of “it”.  Like the dot on the i part. (And my disclaimer here is that “it” is ever-expanding as God reveals “it”.)

There was something I was neglecting.  Many years ago, God dropped one word in my heart.

Uganda.

That’s it. That’s all He gave me one day in prayer.  I didn’t even know where Uganda was, let alone what I was supposed to do with it.  So, I got out the map and found it and God never let me forget it.

It made no sense.  Was I just to pray for that place?  Would I go there?  Who, what, when, where, why, how?  I wasn’t short on questions.  And it seemed ridiculous.  I’m just a girl. An imperfect (really imperfect) girl, who grew up in a place called Finzel for crying out loud!  Finzel is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s the smallest form of “small Ville”.  Like way out the ways way.  OK?  So, what did I have to do with anything, anywhere else on God’s map?

But as time went on, God began to whisper secrets to me and my heart became full for that place.  Full to the point where I thought it would break if I didn’t do something about it.  So, my husband and I talked about it. Prayed about it and then, began to take the steps to move forward.  And then life caved in.  Like really caved, depleted the atmosphere of oxygen and nearly snuffed me out.  Seriously… the oxygen mask dropped and my seat belt was buckled and I was holding on for dear life.  None of what God said looked like it could ever come to pass.

And no one even knew it.  Except God. To this day, there are very few who know what died that day for me.  But my one  hope it this…   John 12:24, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

It was from that time on that survival mode kicked in.  I wasn’t going to just vaporize. God had truly strengthened me with might in my inner man.  I was moving forward. Regaining my momentum.  There I was like that fig tree, all robust and green!  And suddenly I had an encounter with my Lord like never before and He was hungry.  And in all my service and in all my “fruitfulness”, there was one thing He was hungry for, and I had nothing to offer Him.

He had planted me… integrated me… in a place I had never known.  A place called Uganda.  He had set aside ground for me there and I was doing nothing more than taking up His ground.  I had conceived something and was refusing to bring it to bear.   It was time.

No excuses. No “But God’s!”  It was do or die.  Produce or be removed.

It was a hard Word but it saved my life.  Again.

Since that time, I’ve now had the utmost privilege of serving in Uganda, Africa, some of the most beautiful, humble people I have ever known and have learned a love like no other.  I’d like to say it’s all been one-sided. That it has all been about loving them.  But it hasn’t.  I went there to be loved in return by a Daddy who loves like no other.

I’ll leave you with a thought on “short-term” mission work that resonates in my heart.  Those words are hard for me to swallow because to some, it’s now checked off the list.  Mission trip completed.  My Christian duty is done.  The words “short-term” some how give me permission to come and go as I please and forget the realities that are not my own or easily understood by the “world” I live in.  But the truth is, I’ve left half my heart in Africa and I can no more come and go as I please… even if I wanted to.  If I never return, I would be living a half-hearted life.  If I never return, I am unfulfilled, the Lord’s work is not finished and someone is left unloved… even if just for a moment.  ~  Stacey Blubaugh

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Off the Backburner

1 Kings 7:1, “Now Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house.”

It’s going to be a very rewarding 2013, for those who have put their hand to building God’s house and in service to Him first. Solomon’s house was completed in the 13th year.

He made more haste with the house of God than with his own, for that was but seven years in building; which showed greater regard to the honour of God then to his own glory, or even convenience; nor was this built till after that… (John Gill Exposition)

Throughout the years, many have selflessly been about God’s business and have served Him with their whole heart. Speaking from a personal standpoint, God-given plans and desires have been put on hold and divinely so.  That sounds contradictory, I know but the very things we have been believing Him for in our families and homes have seemingly been placed on the back burner.

In recent days (I’m about to be vulnerable here) I’ve been going through a mourning of sorts, for a lack of better words.  The threshold from one year to the next always brings with it a time of reflection and honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit of remorse for the things that have been placed on the back burner in my life.  These household blueprints in my heart that have “not been getting or needing immediate attention” are suddenly on the forefront of my mind and the feeling has been that of loss.

The agitation I’ve been feeling and this restlessness should more accurately be considered a fire.  The back burner issues are being moved over the fire. 

 

The seeds that have been in the ground a long time.  No.  A very long time.  Well….  things have changed.  Just wait and see!

John 12:24, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Prophecy

 

God’s Love…Does It Save Us?

Recently, I was talking with a friend about a church billboard sign that said something to this effect, “You are gay, you are welcome. God loves you.”   As I was hashing that concept out, several thoughts surfaced.

First of all, without  argument, the latter part of that statement is true.  God does love us, relentlessly, passionately, eternally.

But you see, the problem with that billboard statement is not that God loves us but that it implies that

1. God’s love saves us.

2. God’s love overlooks sin.

3. God’s love justifies sin.

4. There is no consequence for sin.

The honest truth here is that the very same God that loves us with all of His being will forever be apart from many that He loves for one reason and one reason only.  Sin.

The very thing that sign says is welcome IS NOT welcome in the presence of God.  Yes, He is love but love hates many things…all of which are born of sin.

Here’s the kicker.  That sign specifically says “gay” but it could just as easily read a liar, an adulteress, a thief, a gossip, a murderer, a glutton, covetous, rebellious, serving other gods, etc.

The misconception here is that being “gay” isn’t sin, when, yes it is.

And again, the greater misconception here is that God’s love saves us, when it doesn’t.  Yes, John 3:16 does say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”   

Looking closely, we understand that His love isn’t the key to our salvation but rather our belief in His love.  His love for us birthed a Savior but in order to be saved, we must believe in Him, Jesus. And Jesus is the Word (the bible) that was made flesh, and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth.  And the Word that says, “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”  (Leviticus 18:22)…that’s Jesus.

And furthermore…

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

(Disclaimer: the above list is inconclusive.)

Romans 8:9 tells us, that Jesus was the first-born among many sons and daughters but in order for that to happen, we must receive Him.  John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

We must be born again…of God, through Jesus.  Knowing God loves us is not enough.  We must respond to His love.

Love is like the interstate to salvation but our belief (our faith) in Jesus, the vehicle.  No one comes to Father except through the Son.

But what about 1 Peter 4:8?  “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 

Well, James 5:20 makes the same statement.  “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

 

In both passages, we see love in action.  The God kind of love doesn’t hide our sin but seeks to turn us from it (that’s what repentance is), saving us from death and covering over a multitude of sins.

At first glance, we might think that to cover over sin means to shield it from judgment or to keep it from view.  But it doesn’t.  Covering over a multitude of sin in no way allows us to “keep our sin” or to “continue” in it, making it a lifestyle that God is OK with.  That word cover actually comes from the word “klepto”, meaning to steal away or to take away by theft.

Our Jesus, a thief? Well, yes.

A thief takes what isn’t rightfully theirs, correct?  Did Jesus sin?  No…yet He desired to bear our sin, taking it from us and all of the consequences that come with it.

Matthew 24:43, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.”

We can either repent now, giving up our sin willingly or later, when He comes, He will find it and as Matthew says, our house will be broken up.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  1 Peter 4:18

All of us are guilty and none of us are worthy to stand in His presence.  (Ezra 9:15)

Being accepted socially and a warm welcome to a church doesn’t make us nearer to God.  There is only one way to come near to Him.

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

 

Generic Christians

There is a delima we are facing as Christians.  The term “Christian” has become watered down, denominate, and trite. We’ve compartmentalized God’s power by our divisiveness.  When we say we are Christians, yet cannot agree with one another, something gets lost in translation.  We are painting so many different pictures that it’s coming to the place where “anything goes”.  The thread of the common integrity of God is laid bare and the fibers of Godly character worn.  The line between right and wrong is clouded.

Christianity has become not so much about Jesus as it has about our preferences. I’ve said this before and I think it bears repeating that we can have as much of God or as little of Him as we want.  And here lies the real delima… in this, we run the risk of becoming generic.

To say “I believe in God.” simply isn’t enough anymore, especially when saying it demands nothing of us.

After the elections, I was driving to work after having been up most of the night.  I admit, I wrestled with God over the outcome and I was grieving a loss on many fronts.

I found myself asking God out loud, “What would Christianity look like if words alone could not prove that we serve You God?  What if we didn’t have words but merely action?  What if what we say has no bearing but only what we do?”

For the first time, the reality settled in that the Lord had come to draw the sword. (Matthew 10:34) I felt a swift cut and nothing would be exempt from circumcision. Not my home, my family or my friendships.  I was left with an awareness that He meant it when He said “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.” (Matthew 10:37)

The sword of the Lord is being released in this hour and it is this very sword that will bring a distinction and if we will allow it, it will cut ties that have been binding us, cords of limitation and will most certainly release us into our destiny.

We are going to be challenged in the coming days to love God like never before.  We are on the path to discovery.  “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”, Matthew 10:39

 

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