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16

Understanding The Time and Season You're In

Understanding The Time and Season You're In

Understanding The Time and Season You're In!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8(NKJV) - To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

My wife and I frequent a Caribbean restaurant near our home in Metro-Atlanta where they sell some of the best Jamaican food. Sometimes, after an early morning workout, we would buy ackee and saltfish for breakfast. Ackee is a West African fruit that became the national fruit of Jamaica and it's delicious. However, there's an interesting fact about ackee that's relevant to today's blog. Ackee can only be eaten at the right time. Until it's fully ripe, it's poisonous and can put you in a coma or even kill you. It doesn't matter how hungry you are, how much of a rush you are in or how desperate you are, you cannot enjoy ackee until it's ripe.

Today, The Lord wants to teach us a valuable Kingdom principle. Many important things in life are time-dependent. They cannot be rushed. They cannot be manipulated. They cannot be forced. They only happen when they're supposed to happen. It doesn't matter what you do, certain things won't happen until the time is right. Even if you find a way to force them to happen early, they won't happen right.

For instance, the full-term of a human baby in the womb is targeted for nine months. If a mother wants to have a natural child-birth under normal circumstances, she has to wait until that time for the baby to be delivered. If she simply gets tired of being pregnant after two months she can't decide to give birth on her own schedule because premature child-birth comes with serious health risks. She has to understand where she is in the pregnancy and act accordingly for the sake of her child's life. In the same way, when the time comes for certain things to happen, there can be no delay, they must happen. At the end of nine months, ready or not, when a baby is ready to leave the womb, the mother typically has only one logical choice; push.

1 Chronicles 12:32(AMP) - Of the tribe of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, two hundred chiefs; and all their relatives were at their command;

Do you understand the times like the tribe of Issachar? Do you know what season you are in? What has God called you to do in this season? Are you doing it? Your answers to those questions could explain your success or failure in life. Do you know that if you do the wrong thing at the right time or the right thing at the wrong time you will fail? Yes, it's crucial to know what your purpose is but it's even more crucial to know when is the right time for your purpose. If you don't get both right, you won't succeed. Yet, understanding times and seasons in God's Kingdom is not that straightforward.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King Solomon taught one of the most simple, yet profound life lessons in The Holy Bible. There is a season for everything and a time for every purpose "under heaven". Pay close attention to the last two words because that's where God wants to reveal some gems of wisdom today. What did he mean by "under heaven"? Don't the same rules that govern time on earth apply in heaven? Nope! Time is a natural construct created by God for natural things. The heavenly realm operates under its own set of rules which govern eternity and they supersede our concept of time.

Psalm 31:15(NKJV) - My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me.

God holds my times in His hand; not my time (singular), but my times (plural). Over the weekend, I attended the ministry school graduation of my wife, Angel, where she received her Masters in Ministry. In the opening remarks, one of the school's founders, Tim Scott, talked about four dimensions of time;

1) Chronos (Greek) - Linear, sequential, chronological time; the time that's captured by clocks and calendars.

Genesis 1:1(NKJV) - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Daniel 8:19(NKJV) - And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.

Chronos time has a precise beginning and a precise end. As long as we are on the earth governed by the systems of the earth, we must submit to the laws of chronos time. Certain things must happen before other things can happen. Time is what it is. I can't speed up time and make a minute happen any faster than 60 seconds. I can't slow time down and make a minute last longer than 60 seconds. I can't gain time nor can I lose time. I can't control time. I can only control what I do with it. One of my favorite college professors said that time is our only non-renewable resource. Once it's gone, it's gone and we can never get it back. Nothing can be done to compensate for lost time. We can only learn from our mistakes and do better with the time we have left. Yet, that's just one dimension of time. There's so much more.

2) Set Time - A time that's appointed, like the time set on your alarm clock; the moment ordained by God for something to happen; it's non-negotiable and cannot change.

Psalm 102:13(NKJV) - You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come.

Psalm 105:17-22(NKJV) - He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, To bind his princes at his pleasure, And teach his elders wisdom.

There was a set time for Joseph's dreams to come to pass. Until then, he went through some trying times. In fact, The Bible says that The Word itself tried and tested him. What does that mean? When God gives you a prophetic Word about your future, that Word will challenge you all the way until it happens. It will challenge you to keep going. It will challenge you to stay focused. It will test your faith. It will try your patience. It will keep you on your toes knees. So what do you do while you wait for your Word to come to pass at its set time?

Galatians 6:9(NKJV) - And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Keep doing good. Keep praying. Keep serving. Keep obeying God. Keep worshiping. Keep walking in God's Will. Don't give up. Don't lose heart. Don't get tired. Don't be weary. Stick it out until your due season comes because those who sow and care for their crops while they develop will reap when harvest time comes around. You can't force your set time to come ahead of God's schedule so all you can do is be faithful to God long enough to see it happen during your lifetime. As the psalmist said in Psalm 27:13(NKJV); "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living."

John 7:1-9(NLT) - After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

Jesus knew His "set" time and refused to let His brothers talk Him into getting ahead of His Father's schedule. The time had not come for Him to reveal Himself to the masses so instead of going to the festival He stayed home. That's the perfect example of how we should apply our understanding of our "set" time. If you know that your time has not come for something, don't get ahead of God. How can you be so sure? First, listen to God's Voice. If He doesn't tell you it's time to move, it's not time to move. Second, look for God's open door. He won't ask you to do something without first opening the door for you to do it. When He opens the door and tells you to walk through it, it's your "set" time. Until then, wait.

3) Fullness of Time - The time when something is complete, like the time when a baby is ready to be born; it marks the successful end of a process and varies depending on the exact duration of the process.

Galatians 4:3-5(NKJV) - Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden God set in motion a plan of redemption that spanned thousands of years. It started with the first animal sacrifice by God Himself. He killed an innocent animal and used its skin to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness. He called for sacrifices from Cain and Abel. He broke the curse on the earth because of Noah then washed it clean with a flood. He brought Isaac, the son of Promise through the seed of Abraham, the Hebrew nation through Jacob, salvation from famine through Joseph, freedom for slavery and the advent of the law through Moses. This plan unfolded until it ended in the fullness of time with Jesus Christ, the innocent lamb of God, dying on The Cross for all sin. Jesus didn't just die because the time had come, He died because the process was complete. That's why on The Cross He could say with confidence, "It is finished!"

Hebrews 10:35-36(KJV) - Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

You only receive the promise after you have done the Will of God. However, there's no guarantee that you'll receive it immediately after. That's why you have need of patience. The fullness of time depends on what you do but it doesn't only depend on what you do. There are many other corroborating factors that must be in place. We can only see things from our narrow perspectives so we may believe the time is right for something because we're ready for it to happen. The Most High God, on the other hand sees it all and has to ensure that all things are working together for our good and the good of everyone else involved. When all things are in place in the fullness of time, the promise will come to pass.

Isaiah 50:4(NKJV) - “The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.

Before I get to the final dimension of time, The Lord woke me up to write this blog at our 3:00 AM set time (his favorite time to speak with me) and revealed another dimension of time that I will address now.

4) Cyclical/ Seasonal Time - The moment when certain things take place after regular intervals of time; the sun sets and rises in one day; spring, summer, fall and winter repeat in one year.

Genesis 8:22(NKJV) - “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

Spring comes after winter. If you're tired of winter, you can't force spring to come any faster, you have to wait for it. That's just the way it is and there's nothing we can do about it as long as we're "under heaven". We are also subject to cyclical time. When the sun rises, it's morning time and when the sun sets, it's evening time. The sun won't set in the morning or rise in the evening. That's how time works and we're bound to it. Certain things don't happen unless the season is right for it to happen.

Psalm 1:1-3(NKJV) - Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

You can only bring forth fruit in the season designated for that fruit. A revelation of that will change your life for the better. It will help you to curb your expectations to match the season of your life. It will save you from disappointment and frustration. It will cause you to focus your energy in the right direction. There's a season to sow and a season to reap. If you sow during your planting season you can be confident that you will reap in your harvest season. There's a season to work and a season to rest. If you work during your resting season you won't make it through your working season. There's a season to start certain things and a season to end them. There's a season to go to certain places and a season to leave them forever. Since there's a season for everything, you're always in the season for something. What season are you in right now?

5) Kairos (Greek) - Right, critical, opportune time; the time when God breaks into the natural realm with His supernatural power and authority demonstrating His Sovereignty.

Joshua 10:12-14(AMP) - Then Joshua spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord handed over the Amorites to the sons of Israel, and Joshua said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, And moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation [of Israel] took vengeance upon their enemies. Is it not written in the Book of Jashar? So the sun stood still in the middle of the sky and was in no hurry to go down for about a whole day. There has not been a day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to (heeded) the voice of a man; for the Lord was fighting for Israel.

What really happened that day? Did Joshua's words stop the sun from moving? One of the most basic lessons we learn in classical mechanics is that, as it relates to the earth, the sun is not moving. It's the earth that's moving. What about the moon? Did it stop moving? Did the moon's lack of movement affect the force of gravity or the tides? Do you understand the collateral impact that a situation like that would have had on the earth? If the earth stopped rotating for several hours so that the sun was directly above the battlefield what happened on the other side of the earth? Were they in darkness?

Obviously, this situation defies all logic and cannot be explained using natural phenomenon. What if there's a Kingdom explanation for this? God inserted His supernatural power to save Israel and took control of natural time. His Kairos time was imposed upon earth's chronos time long enough for His people to defeat their enemies. God also overrode the reality of cyclical time, stopping the earth's daily movement because it was the set time for Israel to defeat the Amorites whose wickedness against God and His children reached its fullness of time.

Kairos time has no limitation or schedule and is not subject to any laws. It's the time that represents God's sovereignty. It's the time when God imposes the power of infinite eternity on finite time. Whenever He feels like breaking into a situation with His power, He will do so. He created time and can do whatever He pleases with it. Any time is a good time for the Kairos time of God.

Case Study: Moses and the Children of Israel

Exodus 2:11-14(AMP) - One day, after Moses had grown [into adulthood], it happened that he went to his countrymen and looked [with compassion] at their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his countrymen. He turned to look around, and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He went out the next day and saw two Hebrew men fighting with each other; and he said to the aggressor, “Why are you striking your friend?” But the man said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Certainly this incident is known.”

In Exodus 2:11-14, we read the account of Moses killing an Egyptian to save a Hebrew slave. At that point, he was 40 years old. He did it out of compassion for his people but it didn't work out the way he thought it would. To Moses, it seemed like a good chronos time because any time is good to be free from slavery. Yet, it wasn't God's Kairos time because God did not break in and help Moses free his people in response to the actions of Moses. It wasn't the set time for freedom because we read in Genesis 15:13(AMP); "God said to Abram, “Know for sure that your descendants will be strangers [living temporarily] in a land (Egypt) that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years."

The Hebrews had to be enslaved for 400 years and would not be free any earlier than that. It also was not the fullness of time because look at the response of the Hebrew man when Moses told him to stop fighting his brother. He obviously wasn't ready and neither was Moses. Their freedom would only happen after a process and it was a threefold process. Moses had to go through a process in the wilderness with God for 40 years. After that, Egypt had to go through the process of 10 plagues. Most importantly, the Hebrews had to finish their process of learning to trust God for their salvation and freedom. Unfortunately, for most of them, even though they made it out of Egypt, they didn't make it into the Promised Land because they never completed the process. Sadly, even though they made it out of Egypt, they died in the wilderness and their fullness of time never came to enter the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 8:1-3(NKJV) - “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

The "set" time for freedom from slavery was 400 years. The Chronos time for entering the promised land was 11 days. They had chronos time and God's set time on their side but they still didn't see the promise. Why? They didn't reach the fullness of time because they didn't complete the process of mental and spiritual transformation in the wilderness in 11 days or even 40 years. Hence, they never experienced God's Kairos time and died in the wilderness. While God was dealing with the Children of Israel as a group, He was also working on Moses as an individual.

God worked with Moses in 40 year cycles. At 40 years old he felt a sudden compassion for the Hebrew slaves and killed an Egyptian. It was not the "set" time for their freedom so he ran into the wilderness where he spent another 40 years before God showed up to call him back to Egypt. He returned at 80 years old and that time, The Lord was with Him. When Moses was done in Egypt not only did every first born in Egypt die, their entire army was drowned in the Red Sea and the Children of Israel were set free. Forty years after that, at the age of 120, Moses finally saw the Promised Land. Unfortunately, he couldn't enter because he didn't do so 40 years before. He wasn't weak, sick or impaired but he died at 120 at the end of his "chronos" time.

Times Are Changing!

Daniel 2:20-22(NKJV) - Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.

Amos 9:13(AMP) - “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the one who gathers the harvest, And the one who treads the grapes [shall overtake] him who sows the seed [for the harvest continues until planting time]; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills shall melt [that is, everything that was once barren will overflow with streams of blessing].

The Lord said through Pastor Tim that we are entering a season when all dimensions of time will occur simultaneously in our lives. This is how The Lord showed it to me this morning. Think of your times as 5 intersecting circles with one spot at the center where all 5 overlap each other. There's a koinonia or union of times that takes place when enough "chronos" time has passed, God's set time for your favor has come, you've been through your processing and it's your fullness of time, it's your season for breakthrough and God supernaturally breaks into your life with His miraculous power. In that moment, all natural laws will be suspended. You will reap where you did not sow. What should take years will happen in a moment. God will turn back the clock and restore all that was lost. God will open doors that should never open under natural circumstances. God will heal diseases that became progressively worse over the years. God will perform miracles.

So what now? When is the right time for you to see God's promise come to pass in your life? Well, it depends on your definition of time. Understand the time and season you're in. You can't stop, speed up or slow down chronological time so accept that the clock will keep ticking. You can't control God's "set" time so submit to God's schedule of events for your life. However, you need to know where you are in your season and you need to do what God has called you to do for this season. Only when you complete what you should be doing in your current season will you be able to enter your next season in the fullness of time. Also, only when you're doing what God has called you to do for this season will you be rightly positioned for your "set" time for His promise. Last, but definitely not least, the only overriding factor on all time is God's Kairos time. It can happen whenever God chooses and when it comes, it will be right on time. It is my prayer that you're ready for God to break into your situation right now!

5

Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the twelfth and final point; " 12) Many people choose a church for what they can get from the church instead of what they can give."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back."

"I'm just not being fed at that church. They just don't have everything that my family needs. Their facilities are sorely lacking. I love it over here. Every week, our praise service is like a huge concert with smoke, lights and special effects. My pastor's a superstar, more people want his autograph than his blessing. My kids get all they could desire at the children's ministry. We get what we want so this must be where God wants us. Church is about what we can get, right? Isn't it? How else can we grow into what God has called us to become?"

Ephesians 4:14-16(NLT) - Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Growth does not come from simply being a part of The Body of Christ and receiving from it. It comes when each part does its own special work. Every part of The Body of Christ has work to do including you and me. This is how Christ put His church together and this is how The Body of Christ grows into a strong, healthy, supernatural organism overflowing with God's Love. Yet week after week, there are Christians all over the US and the rest of the world who go to church services, enjoy the show and go home. The only thing they don't do is eat popcorn and drink slushies as they watch the amazing production that's put on before their eyes.

Due to their consistent attendance, they sometimes feel empowered to even criticize those who actually serve on a weekly basis. If they like what they see on Sunday morning, they give a round of applause and a good offering but if they don't like it, they grumble about what could be better once they reach the privacy of their cars. They went to church to receive from God so if they didn't receive what they came for, something's wrong with that church assembly and somebody needs to fix it. How do I know? I've been there.

For years I sat in a fabulous church and did nothing but watch what was going on around me. I didn't see a need to participate in any meaningful way. I also didn't see where my gifts and talents were even needed. I was there to receive what The Lord had for me so showing up was what mattered and believe me, I was not alone. I felt proud that I didn't miss a Sunday and I even showed up consistently for the midweek services when the crowds were small. That's right! I wasn't a Sunday morning Christian like the rest of them, I attended church during the rest of the week too and God must be so proud of me. Well, not really.

For some reason, many of us have overemphasized the importance of church attendance and under-emphasized the importance of church participation. I agree with Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some do but that's just the beginning. If you're in a church assembly and you're not doing your special part to make it grow in spiritual health and love, are you really even there?

The point is that if you choose a church assembly for what you can get out of it, what you do to serve in the church when you get there is of no consequence. If you're there to get blessed and you're not getting blessed, you probably won't see any other reason to be there. That's why it's easy for some people to attend a church and take from the community of believers without every feeling compelled to give.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Everyone of us has at least one gift from God because everyone of us has a purpose. He won't call us to do anything He didn't give us the gift to do and He won't gift us to do anything He didn't call us to do. God's responsibility was to give the gifts. It is actually the responsibility of each individual Christian to serve God in a local church using the gifts God has given. What does that mean? If you're a church attendee like I used to be, stop warming the bench and get in the game.

Also, if you're on the bench because there's no room for you on the team, it's either not your time or you may be on the wrong team. If it's not your time, then be patient and the opportunity for you will come. However, if you're on the wrong team and it's clear that they don't need you it's time to make a move. There's a team with a vacancy that's tailor made for you and your gifts. Not just that, they're probably praying to God every week that He would send you to them. One of my favorite pastors would say that if two people are completely the same, doing the same things, in the same place, one of them is irrelevant. Let that not be said of you.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

As we bring this blog series to a close, let us ponder these final thoughts. Do you believe that The Church is really The Body of Christ and each member including you and me are parts of it? If yes, then think about something with me. If any part of your body does not function the way God designed it to function how do you think it would impact the rest of your body? For instance, what if your heart didn't beat properly? What if your lungs didn't extract oxygen from air anymore?

What if your hand lost its ability to grip? Now take it a step further? What if a part of your body did absolutely nothing at all? For instance, what if your ears did not hear or your eyes did not see? Would that be a problem? Of course! Then why is it that people think it is okay to be a part of The Body of Christ and do nothing while receiving nutrients from the rest of The Body? The scripture above says that God puts each part exactly where He wants it.

What does that mean for you? It means that you are shaped, fashioned and created to fit into a specific place in The Body of Christ. Every member of The Body of Christ was designed by God to be placed in a specific part of the body to carry out a specific function. Eyes see, ears hear, kidneys clean and hearts pump blood not because they want to or it's popular. They do so because that's what God created them to do and if they don't do what they do, the entire body suffers. In fact, any part of the human body that appears not to have a vital function (e.g. appendix) is usually amputated if it ever gives problems.

On another note, every part of The Body of Christ doesn't get to choose where they connect with The Body. They have to be where God has placed them. It might be true that they can attach anywhere and receive from The Body. However, until they are attached where they are supposed to be they will never be able to give to The Body what they were created to give. If my hand is attached to my stomach, it's worthless to my body because that's not where I need a hand. So why is it that some Christians will spend twenty years in a church attached to The Body of Christ where they do not fit?

The Body of Christ has parts all over the place doing all kinds of stuff. We have hands trying to take steps like feet. We have ears trying to talk like mouths. We have toes trying to breathe like lungs. Why? Because we're not positioned according to where we can truly function and serve in God's Kingdom. We positioned ourselves where we want to be and the rest of The Body suffers as a result of it. We also position ourselves where we're most comfortable or receive the most benefit.

Now for my final point about being relevant. If my body has two arms attached to the same shoulder, one is irrelevant. What about thirty arms? Twenty nine are irrelevant. In your church, are you arm number thirty attached to one shoulder waiting for the other twenty nine to die or move so you can get your opportunity? Perhaps, there are twenty nine shoulder sockets in your area missing an arm while that one socket you're attached to has thirty.

Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35(NLT) - All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

What's my point? You're one of the many important parts of the The Body of Christ. Don't attach yourself where it's popular or where you can simply feed off The Body. Attach yourself where you fit and function as you were designed. Covenant membership in The Church is a two-way street. You receive from The Body and you give to it. You are fed by The Body and you feed others in it. That's how God designed His church and that's how it should function. The truth is that if you receive anything from your church it's because someone else is giving it. Again, if you're not in the game, get off the bench and help the team win or join a team that needs your talents.

Acts of the Apostles 20:35(NLT) - And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 3 - You Can't Technically "Start" A Megachurch

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: You Can't Technically "Start" A Megachurch

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we are highlighting the third point; "3) If you're starting from the ground up and your only example of church is a mega-church you will get your feelings hurt.". For the previous point click the following link; "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Did God Really Say Leave The Church?"

My church is huuuuge (with Donald Trump's voice). It's huuuuge. We take up an entire block. We don't have a church building we have a church campus. We're so big that there are people I go to church with each week that I have never even seen. We're so big that when we turn the pages of our Bibles together it sounds like waves in the ocean. In fact, our church choir is the size of a small congregation and our children's ministry building is bigger than the entire church up the street. We have 50,000 people on 50 campuses in 50 states. We're huuuuge.

In the USA, there is an obsession with size. Bigger is assumed to be better. We want bigger houses, bigger trucks, bigger corporations, bigger portions of food. We don't want a large #5 at the fast food joint, we want it super-sized. So it logically follows that the same attitude has entered the church. Swelling with pride, we say, "my church is bigger than yours" with the unspoken message being, "hence, my church is better than yours". Whether or not bigger is better doesn't really matter right now because that's not what this discussion is about. Regardless, that mindset is everywhere.

Acts 2:40-47(NLT) - Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Wow! I can see this in my dreams. The Holy Ghost falls on us in a room, we talk in tongues, then I stand and deliver the message of my life. In response, 3000 people get saved on the spot. From that point on, our church continues to grow as a community with frequent signs and wonders while God keeps adding people to the community daily. I would love to say that's the story of The Body Church but it's not. That's the story of the early church led by Apostle Peter. Perhaps, it's the story of Billy Graham, Benny Hinn or Reinhard Bonnke but definitely not our own. Anyway, back to earth now.

Today, we are talking about being young, naive and starting a church with unrealistic expectations. Welcome to reality. I sat in an Atlanta megachurch for about twelve years and completely lost touch with the real world. There were times when I sat transfixed by what looked like complete perfection in motion before my eyes; thousands of people in attendance, a perfect choir, a perfect worship team, perfect band, a perfect sermon, perfect media presentations, perfect drama team, intercessory team, men's ministry, women's ministry, youth ministry, security, parking attendants and the list goes on and on.

There were moments when I lost my mind and thought that when I started a church it would be just like that. That's about as unrealistic as expecting parents thinking that when their son is born he would be a 6 ft tall, 200 lb professional athlete. Impossible. The only way you can start a church with all the pieces together is if those pieces come directly out of someone else's church. Hence, you're not really starting a church, you're taking a piece of another church and transplanting it elsewhere under a different name.

That's a church transplant and only a few people get that opportunity. Believe me, if you get the opportunity to start like that, take it because you don't want the stress of starting from scratch if you don't have to. If we could have inherited a team of mature, faithful, consistent, dedicated Christians from someone else's church we would have gladly taken them. Nonetheless, let's now focus on what we've experienced stepping out on our own and what's a much more likely scenario for the average young pastor in a similar situation.

Zechariah 4:10a(NLT) - Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin...

You're probably going to start small like we did. Perhaps, not as small but definitely small in comparison to the mature churches you've seen or modeled yourself after. However, don't despise your small beginnings because God rejoices to see the work begin. With small beginnings come big responsibility. I've had to sing, play the keyboard, beat drums, clean, set up, break down, run the projector, run the video camera, etc, etc and oh yeah, preach a little here and there. Until someone was willing to take my place, I had to do it.

Unfortunately, the toughest part of the whole thing is not being able to execute church on the level that you desire which comes from not being very good at certain things and having no choice but to do it. Nobody feels worse about something in a church service not being at the highest level of excellence than we do.

After watching such excellence at the megachurch I attended for so many years, my dream was to operate on the same level. Yet, here we are, two years in and we're not there yet and that's sometimes very hard to deal with. We have had to prioritize and ask ourselves the question, "What must a church have?" Once we found the answer we had to focus only on that. The rest will come later.

People want perfect churches and I get that because megachurches have it all. They want flawless worship bands, top of the line children's ministry, high profile guest speakers and gospel artistes, smiling greeters, excellent ushers, dance ministry, pantomime ministry, single mother's ministry, legal ministry, jail ministry, free ministry, street ministry and the list goes on. Well, we want the same thing too. We're just not there yet. In fact, we're not even close. If we knew the formula for growing the church quickly we would have used it. Yet, the truth about growth is contained in the following passage.

1 Corinthians 3:5-8(NKJV) - Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

After trying everything we knew and failing miserably, we've finally settled in our hearts that we cannot make the church grow. We can sow The Word, love people, advertise, invite people, pray, make confessions, connect on a personal level, prophesy, do personal ministry and participate in outreach. We can water with encouragement, Godly counsel, follow up, support and accountability.

The one thing we cannot do is bring the increase. That's God's job. We have to let Him do what He does the way He chooses to. We pray for The Lord to send us the people we need. We ask the people we know to help. We advertise and put ourselves out there. Yet, all we're really doing is sowing and watering. God and God alone will bring the increase.

Job 8:7(KJV) - Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

We receive that Word like it was directed to us. The end of our story will be bigger and better than the beginning. We don't expect it to be quick nor dramatic. We just expect it to be done right and the right way is God's way. If He makes it quick and dramatic then we'll take it. If He takes us through this process for a long time as He builds our character and establishes the church's structure so we can handle the increase we'll take that too.

Maybe you're in a similar situation where you started something and it's small right now. Don't let the lack of size frustrate you because beginnings are supposed to be small. Since God is no respecter of persons, follow His directions and expect Him to greatly increase it. I thank God for the time we spent at Christ United Church prior to starting The Body Church. They gave us a much more realistic perspective of starting a church and helped us to be better prepared for the small beginning. See you next time for; "Point 4) You know more about being a pastor when you're not an actual pastor."

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Why Don't We Evangelize? - We Don't Think It's Our Responsibility

Why Don't We Evangelize? - We Don't Think It's Our Responsibility</a

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 10 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 9, "Why Don't We Evangelize? - We Do Not Love Others As Ourselves".

The sixth reason why we do not evangelize is because we don’t feel it is our responsibility.

Is it your responsibility to evangelize or does this responsibility lie with those who are called by God to the ministry of evangelism? Are you unclear on whose responsibility it is to evangelize? Sometimes, when we are unsure about a particular situation, it's easier to avoid the situation altogether. Hummm… so whose responsibility is it anyway? Let’s see what the scripture has to say about the difference between an evangelist and evangelizing?

Based on Ephesians 4:11-13, evangelists are gifts given to the body of Christ. The scripture tells us that the purpose of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers is to equip and edify the body of Christ. The office of an Evangelist is considered one of these five-fold ministry gifts. The gift of Evangelism is an anointed office given to those who gather souls into the kingdom with the message of the Gospel and motivate others to do the same. Those in this office are usually called by God into the full time vocation of evangelism of souls. Two examples of well-known evangelists are Billy Graham and Reinhard Bonnke.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV) – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”

John 4:35-37 (NKJV) – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.”

2 Timothy 4:5 (NKJV) – “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Isaiah 52:7 (NASB) – “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Are you called to be an Evangelist? Then uphold your responsibility by sharing the love of Jesus in the place where the Lord has sent you. Jonah is an example of an evangelist who did not wish to go to the people of Nineveh. In his opinion, the people of Nineveh were wicked and did not deserve to receive a warning message from God. Initially, Jonah did not feel it was his responsibility to share God’s message with the people He was being sent to. We all know how Jonah’s story ended. So, don’t be like Jonah.

Jonah 1:1-3 (NLT) – “The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are. “But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.”

What about Matthew 28:18-20? Has Jesus not commanded all Christians to evangelize? Yes, this passage of scripture is clear that the act of evangelizing is the responsibility of every born-again believer! Jesus commands every Christian to share The Good News with unbelievers. Our great love, thankfulness, and desire to obey Him should compel us to share the message of salvation with others. We all are responsible for fulfilling The Great Commission within our sphere of influence.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) – “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

2 Corinthians 6:12 (NKJV) – “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Are you called to evangelize? If yes, then, do so indiscriminately. It is the desire of God that no one is lost and all come into the saving knowledge of God. Peter is an example of someone who was told by God to evangelize to a person he did not wish to associate with. In his opinion, Cornelius, a Roman Officer was unclean and he did not feel it was his responsibility to share The Gospel with anyone like him. Initially, he would not have evangelized to him, but a vision from God changed his mind.

Acts 10:9-21 (NLT) – “The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean. But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.”

Whether you are called to the office of an Evangelist or not, if you are a born-again Christian, it is your responsibility to evangelize. Not one Christian is exempt from sharing the message of The Gospel because it is the power of God to salvation for all who believe. Evangelize to the lost, no matter who they are. Let’s not take our responsibility to evangelize lightly. For if we fail to fulfill our responsibility to evangelize and they die in their sins, God will hold us responsible.

Romans 1:16 (NKJV) – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Ezekiel 3:18 (NLT) – “If I warn the wicked, saying, 'You are under the penalty of death,' but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. and I will hold you responsible for their deaths.”

Today, grab hold of the honor and privilege of sharing The Gospel with those who need salvation. Yes, it is YOUR responsibility to reach the lost!

Tomorrow, we will discuss the seventh reason we do not evangelize; we forget that Jesus is coming soon.

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Why Don't We Evangelize? - We Don’t Love the Word

Love The Word

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 8 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 7, "Why Don't We Evangelize? - We Are Afraid of Difficult Questions".

A fourth reason why we don’t evangelize is we don’t love the Word. Jesus is the Word. If we really love Him, we will evangelize. When we neglect the practice of telling others the Gospel, we are demonstrating that we do not love Him. What? Wait, before you take offense to this notion, let’s look at what the scripture says concerning Jesus being the Word.

John 1:1-3 (NIV) – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

John 1:14 (NASB) – “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

1 John 5:7 (NKJV) – “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”

Now, that we have settled the fact that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, let’s move on to the issue of not loving “The Word”. Love is an action word. Jesus demonstrated His great love for us by dying on the cross for our sins even while we were yet sinners. Also, we know that God’s love for the world compelled Him to give His only son, Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin. Jesus Himself says that when we keep His commands, we demonstrate our love for Him. These commandments include telling others the Gospel, also known as carrying out The Great Commission. You can read more about this command in our second article of this series entitled; "Why Do We Evangelize - It's A Commandment".

Romans 5:8 (NIV) – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

John 3:16 (NKJV) – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 14:15 (ESV) – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

If we love The Word, we will do what He says. If we do not love the Word, we will NOT do what He says. Any questions? The bottom line is, we cannot give to charity, feed the poor, or help rescue kittens from trees in lieu of obeying the commandments of God. He wants our obedience to His Word more than our sacrifices. Our obedience to The Word is a demonstration of our sincere love for Him.

1 Samuel 15:22 (NASB) – “Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”

Acts 1:8 (NLT) – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The Holy Spirit is our helper and He empowers us to live lives in total obedience to the Word. Not only does the Holy Spirit empower us to uphold the much quoted “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20:3-17) and “The Greatest Commandment” (Matthew 22:36-40). He also empowers us to uphold Jesus’ commandment to evangelize (Matt 16:15).

Mark 16:15-20 (NLT) – “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.”

Search your heart today and ask yourself; "Do I really love the Word?" Am I carrying out Jesus’ commandment to evangelize? If not, pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you boldness so that you can tell people everywhere about Jesus!

Get ready! Tomorrow, we will discuss the fifth reason why we don’t evangelize; “We don’t love others as ourselves.”

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Ask Donnell: Are Children Assets or Liabilities To Their Parents?

Family in Hands

We received the following question;

"My father says to us that we (his children) were liabilities while growing up and now that we are older we are assets to them (parents). I was looking in the Bible to match it up with what my dad said but all I found was children obey your parents and honour your mother and father. I would like to know if children are liabilities or assets to parents."

This is a very interesting question. An asset is something that adds value and a liability is something that costs. Before we get into the scriptures let me tell you the first and easiest thing that comes to mind. From the perspective of the Government, before children reach a certain age, are mature enough to live on their own and/or can pay their own bills they can be claimed as dependents on their parent's taxes. What does it mean to be a dependent? It means someone else is responsible for taking care of you.

Naturally, when babies are born, they are 100% dependent on their parents for survival. They can't do anything for themselves but cry and hope a parent responds. As they develop, children depend on their parents until they get to the stage of their lives when they can take care of themselves. Until that stage, children live in their parent's home, eat their parent's food, occupy their parent's time and cost their parents money.

Unless a child does substantial chores or contributes to the household in some other significant fashion, from a purely financial perspective, it's understandable for parents to consider children as liabilities. After all, they are the biggest expense in the household without providing additional income. That is, until they become adults and no longer depend on their parents, sparing them the expense. In some cases, the roles are switched and children are held responsible for taking care of their parents in their old age.

In other cases, this switching of roles between children and parents takes place before the parents are old. It happens when parents hit tough times and need help from their children and even in extreme cases, a roof over their heads. This is an illustration of how children can become assets to their parents when they become adults. However, there is more to the story than just assets and liabilities. There is a third category that bridges the gap between each. Let's get into the Word of God for the truth.

Psalms 127:3-5(NLT) - Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

The Bible describes children as both gifts and rewards from God for their parents. Not just that, children are described as arrows in the hands of a warrior and a blessing to their parents. Yes, children cost money when they are young but the payback is priceless in God's eyes. Hence, nobody should consider a gift from God as a liability. Also, when something initially costs but eventually adds value it is neither merely a liability nor an asset, it's an investment. That's the category that children fall into.

The arrow analogy is my favorite. The archer has four main responsibilities; aquiring the arrows, pointing them in the right direction, providing the force to propel them forward and releasing them. Once the arrow is first propelled by the warrior with sufficient force it can take flight on its own. In the end, it travels faster and further than the warrior who released it. It also fulfils the objective of the warrior without the warrior having to be in the same place that the arrow lands. Let's now apply this to parenting.

Proverbs 22:6(KJV) - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

When children are trained in the way they should go, they are essentially given direction for their lives. The parent has to bear the child, point the child in the right direction, provide the motivation and support to propel the child forward and at some point, release the child. Once released, the parent has to trust The Lord that the child will end up at the desired destination. Sometimes, it might take a while but if it is done right, the end result is always the same. They will eventually hit the target.

Arrows don't travel in a straight line because of the force of gravity. As a result, each arrow takes a unique trajectory before hitting the desired target. In the same way, the path of each child is different so the parent's job is to point, propel and release their child. The rest is up to The Lord. With that in mind, let's wrap this up by emphasizing the multi-generational nature of God's plans. He rarely ever gives someone a big vision that's completely fulfilled in one generation. Hence, children are necessary to carry on the legacy started by their parents.

Genesis 18:17-19(NLT) - “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”

God's plan for Abraham included his children. In fact, God's promise to Abraham could only be fulfilled through his offspring. Look at what the scripture says. Only after Abraham teaches his children and their families the way of The Lord would God fulfill his promise to Abraham. Why does that matter to us? That's how God works. He doesn't just call one man, He calls the entire family. Simply put, the human race (pun intended) is a relay.

One generation passes the baton to the next one to continue running. Abraham passed the baton to Isaac who passed it to Jacob who passed it to Joseph who passed it to Ephraim, etc. all the way until it got to Jesus. Hence, if your parents fulfill God's Will for their lives the baton in their hands will be passed to you so that you can continue the race for your generation. Regardless, even if your parents don't do God's Will, through Jesus the baton of being God's people in the earth has been passed on to us.

So, to tie this entire discussion up, let's settle on a few things. All children are dependent on their parents when they are young. However, as they mature they can become assets to the family by choosing to add value to their parent's lives. They can also remain liabilities beyond the allotted time and drag their families down with bad decisions. In the end, the choice is yours. After all that your parents have invested in your life, have you begun to provide any value for their investment? I hope so. It's expensive to raise a child these days so make something of your life and prove to your parents that it was worth it.

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Ask Donnell: Will Heaven and Earth Literally Disappear At The End?

cloud

We received the following question from Jabari;

"Good morning Pastor Donnell, I was reading Mark 13 where Jesus taught his disciples what will take place in the last days and one particular scripture jumped out at me that I don’t quite yet understand. It is Mark 13:31, “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” This was after Jesus told them in verses 26 &27 of Mark 13 “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world —from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven”. I am unclear as to what it means by heaven and earth will disappear. Can you help?"

Wow! Jabari, you sure are eating that scroll, aren't you? You've obviously been reading your Bible. Great question. Here's the best way to clear up a scripture. Find another one that says the same thing clearer. 🙂 Before we get into that, be sure to read Chapter 7, "The Gap Theory", from my book, Faith Science. In it, I discuss Biblical prophecies that address the end of the heavens and earth as well as certain scientific theories that connect with them.

Anyway, let's get to the good stuff. At first glance, if you don't know much about Eschatology (Bible "End-time" Prophecy), it would be easy to assume that Jesus was just using the phrase, "heaven and earth will disappear" as a figure of speech. Maybe He was just trying to emphasize how impossible it is for His Word to ever pass away. Perhaps, He could have said the same thing in a different way if He was merely using it to make the point about the lasting nature of His Word. However, can what Jesus said be taken literally? Perhaps, there's more in there.

2 Peter 3:10-13(NKJV) - But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

There it is as clear as day. God intends to start over. He will destroy the heavens and the earth as we know it at the end of time and then recreate them. He will burn everything with a fire so hot that even the elements themselves will be consumed. That supports a literal interpretation of the phrase Jesus used; "heaven and earth will disappear" because they will. This outcome is consistent with at least one of the popular scientific theories predicting the end of the expanding universe.

Isaiah 66:22(NKJV) - “For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.

God intends to only do this once. When He creates the new heavens and earth they will remain forever. The tainted old earth and heavens that we live in now will be a distant memory and God will press the restart button. Thankfully, there will be no more sin and the devil himself will be in the lake of fire. Nevertheless, for some more insight into the circumstances surrounding the end of the earth and heavens let's turn to my favorite book of The Bible, Revelation.

Revelation 20:11-15(NKJV) - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:1-7(NKJV) - Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

After the one thousand year Millennium reign of Jesus Christ which follows The Resurrection, the devil will be released to tempt mankind one more time. He will lead those who remain on earth without Christ into revolt against God and they will be soundly defeated. Once that is done, God will administer The Great White Throne Judgment and send everyone who's not in Christ into The Lake of Fire to burn for eternity. It's at that point that God will destroy the heavens and earth and start over with only the people in His Kingdom. Everyone else will be in The Lake of Fire for eternity after being sentenced during The Great White Throne Judgment.

I know I threw allot of information at you there but that's the answer in a nutshell. If you want a better understanding of Bible prophecy read my book, "Revelation Unplugged". In there you will see much more about how things will end according to The Book of Revelation and other supporting scriptures.

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Ask Donnell: How Do I Ask God To Confirm "The One" For Me?

alone

We received the following question from a young lady;

"How do i ask God for confirmation for a person i have never seen? I dated one gentleman that i really liked but he no longer speaks to me. There has been no other suitors that have come along. But deep down in my heart the guy that no longer speaks to me is still in my heart. He may be the one. How do i ask for confirmation?"

This is a great question. A gentleman asked almost the same question a few months ago so check out the response at the following link; "Ask Donnell: How Will God Confirm Someone As Your Future Wife?" The principles in there will also apply in your case.

James 1:5-8(NLT) - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

First, let me congratulate you on your decision to seek God for guidance in this situation. Without His wisdom we are always bound to make bad mistakes that can affect us for life. When we ask God concerning a mate He answers us. This brings up the broader issue of developing your ability to hear from God so that when He answers, you will be able to hear and act on it. Read this blog, "Respect God's Voice In Other People". It's Part 7 of a mini-blog series on Hearing from God. Read all seven points by clicking the links in each blog to go backward to the previous point. Additionally, an entire section of my book, "Well Done", is dedicated to hearing from God.

So, is the guy who no longer speaks to you the one for you? Well, since I don't have any first hand knowledge of the details of your situation I don't know. However, I can reason using the facts you provided to me. What I do know is that your relationship with him is over and he is not speaking to you. Those two facts are important to keep in mind as you seek God about him. Whether or not he's still in your heart is not a factor because you can keep someone in your heart for as long as you choose to. When you are ready to let him go, he will no longer be in your heart. It's that simple. It takes time but it works. I assume that he's not married because if he is, then it's not a mystery. He's not the one.

Sometimes our emotions cause us to hang on to people we should be letting go. So, here is some good counsel. Since he has already let you go by not keeping in touch, it's time for you to let him go! Put him in God's hands and let The Lord reunite the two of you if He chooses to. If God doesn't do it, it's not going to happen because the guy has demonstrated that he's over it. Thankfully, that could be a good thing for you because when you let him go, you make room in your heart for the right person. Right now, that spot is occupied so even if The Lord sends someone in your direction, you're not ready to receive him. You can't see the man in front of you if you're busy looking back. So what now?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35(NLT) - I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

This is some of the best advice ever for single people. It's the same advice I received of The Lord while I was single and it works. Now is the time to go hard after The Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. Since you don't have a husband you don't have to split time so God can get all of you. Additionaly, during this season let The Lord shape you into the type of woman that the type of man you're looking for is actually looking for. It's much easier to attract the right man when you are the type of woman a man like him would be attracted to. Therefore, if you are looking for a man of God, let God help you to prepare by focusing your energy on your relationship with Him.

Psalms 37:4-5(NKJV) - Delight yourself also in the Lord , And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord , Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

Matthew 6:33(NKJV) - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I was single into my thirties and had to live these scriptures. I had to put God's Kingdom first and trust that He would do His part to add the things I desire to my life. My testimony is that when I finally decided to stop trying to force things and decided to trust God, He brought me my wife, Angel. It took several people speaking into my life and some bad experiences for me to finally reach that point but thank God I did. I just gave up and said God if you don't do it, it doesn't happen.

Until God favored me with a spouse I wrote several books, started The Cracked Door and threw myself headfirst into the Work of The Lord. He had my attention and now that I'm married I understand what Paul was saying to the singles. Make the most of your time while you have it. That's The Word of The Lord to you also. Give your all to The Lord while single until He sees fit to bring you a spouse. During that time, let God prepare you for the man He has for you.

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Let me also share another part of my testimony. When I finally decided to give up on doing it my way, The Lord impressed on my heart to ask Him for what I really wanted in a woman. I had never articulated it before because I thought that was not necessary. He is God so whatever He wants to do He should do. I have no opinion. However, when God says to ask He means it. So I did just that. I wrote a detailed list of the qualities in the woman I really wanted even though I had never met her (I thought) and prayed over it for about one week.

I then forgot about the list and went along with my life. A few months into my relationship with Angel I remembered the list while talking to her on the phone. I found it and was completely blown away. She was exactly the person I prayed for and I didn't even know it. In addition, God spoke to me in a dream through a scripture to confirm that I had found the woman He had for me. Hence, when I walked down the aisle I knew I was walking in my destiny. It was not an act of my will being done but The Lord's. That's what I pray for you too.

John 10:27(NKJV) - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

So what am I saying? Confirmation from The Lord about a spouse is so much more than a feeling because feelings are random and can change at anytime. God knows how to speak to the people who know His voice. I had to learn His Voice over a long time so when I needed to hear Him clearly about a spouse I heard Him in several different ways. Read the blogs I linked to earlier so you can also develop your ability to hear from God. This is probably the most candid answer you may ever get because I'm telling you as it is. I can tell you an answer that sounds good or can make you feel good or I can tell you the truth. I rather tell you the truth because only the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

II Chronicles 20:20(NKJV) - So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

Proverbs 11:14(NKJV) - Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

I'm going to finish this blog with two points. Seek counsel whenever you think you met the person God has for you and trust what God speaks into your life through His prophets. Not only did I hear from God on my own concerning my wife but I received several independent confirmations from prophets and people I sought for counsel. Some people don't want to go through all of that trouble but when the pressure hits them in the middle of a bad marriage they will wish they did.

The decision to marry someone can be one of the best or one of the worst decisions you will ever make in your life so don't cut corners during the process when you don't need to. Before I leave, let me give you some free advice I received from an expert. You'll usually find the type of spouse you're looking for in the places where that type of spouse tends to be. If you're looking for a drinker, frequent the bar. If you're looking for a partier, frequent the club. If you're looking for a man of God, stay in the presence of God.

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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On "In Vitro" Fertilization?

Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On In Vitro Fertilization?

We received the following question;

"How is it viewed in The Bible when a man and a woman cannot have children but take it upon themselves to get the job done? For instance, by having their egg and sperm fertilized outside of the woman’s womb or body then placed back in the womb! What is your take on this from a biblical perspective? To me this is doing God’s work which brings up another question, Is God’s spirit in this child? God bless you."

Thanks for your question. First, let me apologize for taking so long to respond to some of the questions that have already been submitted. Keeping up with The Cracked Door Foundation has proven to be a little more challenging than we could possibly have imagined. Apart from our careers and personal lives we've been investing any time we have left into The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. Pray that The Lord send us the people we need to help shoulder the load.

Nonetheless, The Lord has provided a long term solution which we will be rolling out next week. We're very excited about what He's doing with this ministry that's been around since September, 2006. What started as a website to market my first book, I Curse Death, has grown into what you see before you now. So, on with your answer.

Ecclesiastes 11:5(NLT) - Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Did you know that each of the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob faced fertility issues in their families? First, there was the struggle of Abraham and Sarah, then Isaac and Rebekah, then Jacob and Rachel. They all struggled to have children but in the end God worked miracles in their lives. So, fertility challenges are all over The Bible and God has proven Himself as a deliverer in many of those cases, over and over.

Infertility is a very touchy subject. When a married, Christian couple can't have children it's a troubling and difficult reality to deal with. They have chosen to do things the right way in the eyes of God by getting married before having children yet some can't seem to get the expected results. There is little you can say to a couple in that situation to truly comfort their hearts. The last thing we need to do is speak out of turn and not approach this particular topic with as much sensitivity as it deserves.

Nevertheless, just like it was when Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes 11:5, the mystery of childbirth remains a mystery today. Modern science may be able to explain the physical process from the point of conception to birth. It may also allow us to see it using ultrasound imaging and other means. Yet, nobody but God can explain when or how a human spirit enters a human body and turns an embryo into a living soul. That's the part of the process we have no power over and will never be able to control. Regardless, the question we must address today is whether or not we have the right to engage the benefits of biotechnology and modern medicine to interfere with the physical process of childbirth.

Genesis 30:1-2(NLT) - When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”

Proverbs 30:15-16(NKJV) - The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: The grave, The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough!”

Listen to me. Some men might not really care to have children but according to Proverbs 30:15-16, the barren womb is never satisfied. If a woman has no children and she wants to have a child, there is nothing in the world that you can give her in place of that and The Bible acknowledges it. She can have all the money in the world, all the power, all the fame, her pick of men, the ability to travel anywhere, perfect health, good looks, everything you could imagine but she will never be able to fully let go of the thought of having children.

As a result, if there is any solution available for infertility, any woman in her right mind would at least consider it. She will never give up until it's either impossible or her spirit is completely broken. Hence, it doesn't matter what scripture you quote, you cannot tell a woman she should be okay with never having children when she wants children. Like the grave that takes and takes but doesn't give back, a desert that soaks up water and is quickly dry again or a fire that continues to burn as long as it has fuel and oxygen, the desire of a woman to have her first child cannot be quenched.

Genesis 1:26-28(NKJV) - Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Before we move on to anything else, let's establish that as human beings we are mandated by God in Genesis 1:26-28 to be fruitful and multiply. As a result, just to carry out God's plan we must have children so the desire to have children is built into our DNA. The truth is that everyone will not have children. In fact, everyone will not even get married so that they can have children according to God's order. Regardless, someone has to have children for God's plan in Genesis 1:26-28 to continue. That person might as well be you.

So what's The Bible's solution for infertility?

1) Pray

Philippians 4:6(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Genesis 25:21(NLT) - Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.

Obviously, we can assume that a Christian couple who has started looking for medical solutions to infertility has already prayed. However, let's not make any assumptions and be thorough in our approach. Pray, then pray, then pray some more. That's such a religious sounding answer to someone in the middle of a tough situation but we have to always say it just in case people need a reminder. Like any other challenge you face in life, pray first, ask questions later. Once you pray, The Lord will then direct your steps. Sometimes, He just miraculously heals without the involvement of any human processes but sometimes He brings deliverance through processes that are already in existence.

2 Chronicles 16:12-13(NKJV) - And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.

Don't be Asa. Never trust physicians more than you trust God. The end! Okay, well not the end but you get my point. If you meet with doctors before you meet with God you might exacerbate your problem instead of getting a solution. Let me say something again, but this time in a different way. God will either miraculously heal you by His supernatural hand or He will use the hands of a medical professional or some other natural process. The point is, we must go to God first and then let Him direct the process.

Mark 5:25-28(NLT) - A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

The woman with the issue of blood spent all of her money at doctors before she ever got to Jesus who then healed her for free. We can't let the cart drive the horse and then be surprised when things don't work out. First, reach out and touch Jesus then He will either heal you instantly or He'll give you instructions to receive your healing like He did in John 9:7. This leads us to #2.

2) Explore Medical Options

Mark 2:17(NLT) - When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Colossians 4:14(NLT) - Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.

After prayer and by the direction of God, it is totally fine to visit the doctor for help. If something's wrong with your car you visit a mechanic. If something's wrong with your building you call a structural engineer or building contractor. If something's wrong with the electrical wiring in your house you call an electrician. If there's a pipe leaking you call a plumber. If something's wrong with your teeth you see a dentist. So if something's wrong with your body you see a doctor. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doctors. Luke, one of the disciples of Paul was a beloved doctor. Even Jesus acknowledged that people who are sick need a doctor so that's what they are there for.

There are many medical treatments available for infertility once the cause is known. When most of the treatments don't work they turn to in vitro fertilization. Here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about in vitro fertilization;

"In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks.

IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier — a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus — might be used.

Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy)."

As long as the husband's sperm and the wife's egg are used in the process I don't see any scriptural basis for objection. Their physical bodies are not functioning properly for some reason so a medical procedure has been created to bring healing to the process. Regardless of the way the sperm gets to the egg, under the right conditions, the biological process stays the same. What we don't control is how the spirit enters the embryo. That's God's decision.

Ecclesiastes 12:7(KJV) - Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Just like a spirit returns to God at death and the body decomposes, a human spirit comes from God at conception and the body starts to grow. Perhaps, the entrance of the spirit causes conception? Think about that. I believe that the spirit of a human being plays a role in controlling how DNA triggers the process of cell multiplication in a fertilized egg. This explains why even under perfect conditions, the process never works 100%. Doctors cannot guarantee that cell replication will take place resulting in the development of a fetus when they implant a sperm into an egg.

Jeremiah 1:4-6(NLT) - The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Did you see that? Jeremiah existed before his body was formed in his mother's womb, not just before birth. It's easy to acknowledge that God set him apart before birth because when you look at an ultrasound you see a person. However, how do you explain the fact that God knew him before he was even formed? Simple. The real Jeremiah existed before the physical Jeremiah and when the physical Jeremiah died, his body decomposed and his spirit returned to God.

Psalms 139:13-16(NLT) - You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Doctors do their part but God chooses whether or not the process of conception ever begins because there is no conception of a human without a human spirit that comes from God. This explains why no human being is a mistake. It doesn't matter the conditions of a sperm entering an egg, only God determines whether or not a fetus will form. He forms it. The only part of the process we control is the physical act of bringing the sperm and egg together whether through natural or scientifically enhanced processes. God determines if that embryo fully develops. Regardless, this brings us to #3 which is a stern warning.

3) Think Carefully Before Including A Third Person!

Genesis 16:1-6(NLT) - Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

One popular solution for infertility is the involvement of surrogates. In this situation, the sperm of a man is used to fertilize the egg of a woman outside of the body and the resulting embryo is placed into the womb of another woman. Sometimes, the couple desiring the baby donates the sperm and egg but many times, other people donate either the sperm or the egg or both. These donors can be anonymous. Though it sounds like a good idea when you first think of it, Abraham and Sarah tried their version of that option and it didn't turn out well.

When the process of conceiving a child involves three or four people the door swings open wide for drama. Right now, there's a famous actress who divorced her husband while a surrogate was carrying their baby. Since the "fertilized eggs" were not her own she claims that she's technically not the mother and should hold no responsibility for the child. The case is probably still dragging through the courts today. The person in the worst position in that situation is the surrogate mother who essentially plays the role of Hagar. She was just trying to help out and now she just can't win. This brings us to Option #4.

4) Adopt

Ephesians 1:3-5(NLT) - All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Do you know that every single one of us in The Body of Christ are adopted into His family? That's because we were born into sin and without Jesus are left outside of God's family. That's the example God set for us. When we were separated from Him and left out in the cold with only the devil as our father, God reached out and adopted us. If a Christian couple can't have children, adoption is always an option. That's why, the first step is always to pray. When you pray, God's solution might just be adoption.

James 1:27(NKJV) - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

What's the most important thing an orphan needs? A loving family! Right now there is a young lady living in your area contemplating aborting her unborn child because she knows she is not ready to be a mother. Why can't someone else who is willing and able raise the child? While there are Christian married couples crying out to God for a child of their own, there are unwed mothers crying out to God because they have children and can't take care of them. In the end, we end up with two problems. Parents who cannot or choose not to take care of their children and parents who cannot have children. Included in the first category are parents who died and left behind their children. Adoption is the solution to both problems.

We will end this blog today with a Word from The Lord;

Isaiah 54:1-6(NLT) - “Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities. “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
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Apostolic Mentorship

Apostolic Mentorship

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10(NLT) - History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.

Have you ever felt like you're the only one going through what you're going through? I have, at times, but I know that's not true. Nothing's new. It's happened before. It might be new to you or me but it's not new to mankind. After thousands of years and billions of people we're running out of unique experiences on the earth. Somebody has felt your hurt before. Someone has experienced your failure before. Someone's been disappointed just like you before. Someone has been in your situation before. In the same vein, someone has had your gift before. Someone has had a similar opportunity before. Someone's had to make a similar decision before. It's not new. It's just new to you.

As I prepared to walk out the door of a previous job into a much better position elsewhere I asked the president of my former company for any advice he could give. At the top of his list was a simple instruction; "Find a mentor. That person will be an invaluable resource throughout the course of your journey." Coincidentally, in preparation for my new position I read the book, "Passing It On" by Dr. Myles Munroe. Contained within it was the same principle of mentorship and how crucial it is to the continued success of The Church of Jesus Christ. With that in mind, I invite you to Friday night's session of this weekend's conference "Building The Church" at The Body Church in Decatur, GA.

At that session my mother, Apostle Jemma Duncan, will officially launch her new book, "Common Mistakes Women Make" in the US market. It's a labor of love to women in the church from a mother of three, wife of almost forty years, pastor of many, radio and television host of "Ask Pastor Jemma", prolific author, Bible School founder and retired elementary school teacher. Each time I hear my mother teach God's Word I am amazed at how clearly the Voice of God is communicated through her words. My mother taught me how to write as a young elementary school student when I would get all A's except for a huge C in Creative Writing. As a young preacher, my mother would critique some of my early messages and helped hone my teaching style.

Titus 2:1-7(NLT) - As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.

Older women must train the younger women to be good wives and mothers, to make wise decisions, to be pure, to take care of their homes, to do well and respect their husbands. In the same way, older men must teach younger men to make wise decisions as men, husbands and fathers. This is the model of The Church. We're not supposed to figure everything out for ourselves, we're supposed to receive and then pass down generational wisdom from which The Church can grow to please God. I didn't have a name for this principle so I created one; "Apostolic Mentorship". Older women are church mothers and older men are church fathers with years of experience from which the rest of us can benefit. We are a family and when things are done right, we won't repeat mistakes.

1 Corinthians 10:13(NLT) - The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Women, this Friday was set up especially for you. Someone else has felt the way you feel. Someone else has faced the challenges you face. Your temptations have been on repeat throughout history. God is faithful and wants to provide you with answers to your many questions. Your questions have been asked before and the answers have already been given. The answers you need are out there and you can get them if you make yourself available to receive them. With that, I am reminded of the common saying, "If we don't learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them." Praise God, that won't happen to you. See you on Friday at The Body Church for the launch of "Common Mistakes Women Make".

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