God’s Little Suggestions

Winning People

The Lord Jesus, Our Champion

Stir Up the Gift of God

A Few Thoughts on Leadership

What Now? We Witness as Jesus did.

As we are to walk by faith, so should we lead by faith.

As we are to walk by the spirit, so should we lead by the spirit.

In our youth some of us enrolled in a leadership training program designed to train leaders for a lifetime of Christian service. Their question was – Are you a leader?

During their outreach training, this same ministry taught that we all have the spirit of God, Christ in us.  We are all leaders. They presented principles of Christian leadership from Charles Jones? Life is Tremendous, who taught if you are living you are leading.

Two extremes on leadership, perhaps.

In between came those that heard God?s call and took on the responsibility of leading a fellowship. Many times without formal training because they were laborers together with God. This was an on-the-job, following others? examples, seeing a need in someone?s life and out of love for God and them rising up to meet it type of training.

Since love never fails and God always supplies, they had one success after another. They became the leaders God needed out of their love for Him, and by walking by the spirit He had given them.

Could this last group define spiritual leadership development? A man or woman becomes a leader for God when they realize God called them – body, soul and spirit, with all their strengths and all their weaknesses – He called them to live and speak for Him. And then they decide to learn what it takes to do that.

Our devotion to God and love for Him compels us to make the commitment. Our ability to deliver God?s goodness grows as we are willing to step up and operate His wonderful gift.

As we are to walk by faith, so should we lead by faith.

As we are to walk by the spirit, so should we lead by the spirit.

Walking by way of the faith of Jesus Christ and walking by or in the spirit are both talking about the same reality. We have this great gift within that we received when we were born again. God works in us via that spirit to show us both the long game and the short game, the vision for where we are heading and the details along the way. Like Abraham, we don?t always know our destination, but we do know we?re heading in the right direction.

Walking by the spirit involves learning to operate the manifestations of the spirit, starting with the greatest tool in our toolbox, speaking in tongues.  It is the Swiss army knife of the manifestations. It is perfect prayer. It is true worship. It magnifies God, making His presence and power a greater reality than all the concerns of this world.

It builds us up spiritually so we can do what God called us to do. It gives rest to the soul and is the refreshing we all need at times. It is speaking divine secrets with the Father, preparing the way for things in the future.

It teaches us to sanctify the things of the spirit, to recognize and set them apart from the things of our mind. Later on this will keep us from inserting our own words and phrases into the worship manifestations, or confusing our own thinking with revelation given to us.

It also shows us how to operate the other manifestations ? we just begin, knowing God will energize and supply. We prove this every time we decide to operate the worship manifestations to bless one another. God never fails us. Neither will He fail us as we rely on Him for the revelation we need to lead, teach, instruct, minister, heal and reconcile one another in the Body of Christ.

As we are to walk by faith, so should we lead by faith.

As we are to walk by the spirit, so should we lead by the spirit.

Do you want to fulfill your ministry before the Father?  Pour out your heart to him, spend time in prayer, and speak in tongues more and more. That is how you begin learning the great things God has planned for you.

The one great work of the Spirit is to direct the heart.
–VPW, The Counsel of the Lord

The Writer as Craftsman

After picking a topic and gathering some materials, the excitement began to build. A sure sign it was time to begin the next step. The fun step – writing the book.

This step is different for everyone. The important thing for me was to get the ideas and thoughts out of my head and on paper. While being careful and attentive is good, I avoided overthinking it. What helped keep it fun was to realize that this was not the book but the first draft of the book.

It is called the first draft for a reason. First drafts are not suitable for prime time. But they are great for letting the backlog of thoughts and musings and that had built up just flow out onto the page. This was the time to get it down.

The Writer as Craftsman

Then (actually, now) comes the “work” part – editing the first draft. Writing is a craft. This writer needs to become a craftsman with words, and with the rules of the English language. Talk about a challenge! While there were glimpses of this while writing the first draft, now is time to get serious!

As usual, there is lots of fluff (some would say fuzziness) in the first draft that doesn’t need to be there. Large paragraphs. Too long sentences. Adjectives and adverbs that add little. Side comments that pull the reader this way and that. Words that mean one thing to me but something else to others. These I need to avoid.

Distilling the original down to what I really want to say takes work. It takes revisiting those materials gathered earlier. Is this quote accurate? What did he mean by that?

It also means digging a little deeper – i.e., more research. How can I clarify this? What more can I add here? How does it fit wit the big picture? Does it fit with the big picture? Help me, Google. Help, help me Google.

The Craftsman’s Tools

Online tools can help. But since their entries tend to be abbreviated, I use the full versions. I need to know the precise meanings of words. Then I can choose the best word based on nuances of meaning that are not as evident online.

The most basic and most necessary tools are a good dictionary and thesaurus. Beyond these, there are two other tools that truly helped me become more of a craftsman.

One classic, tried and true work is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Poor grammar and poor composition both tend to befuddle readers. Neither should be noticed. I want my ideas to shine, not my ignorance. It is a thin book, the writing is succinct and to the point – as should mine be.

Another great resource is William Zinsser’s On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction. This book teaches the craft of writing as a personal transaction between the author and the reader. How to get the point across with simplicity, grace, humanity and warmth. Helps me see how all the details fit into that big picture called communication.

What helps your writing? Would love to hear your suggestions.

So, this is my challenge today. You will see more in this blog as the journey continues.

The Beginning


Writing and publishing a book, especially your first, can be quite a journey. There are tasks and trials at every step. In this author?s blog I will talk about the challenges an aspiring author may face, and how he learns as he overcomes each one.

Getting Started

My first challenge was deciding what book to write. So much to be said, so little time. As a Christian, the topics abound. What to do? Not a problem – go with God. What tweaks my heartstrings? What inspires me the most? Where do I feel I can make a lasting contribution? The book begins from deep within.

One day while studying some materials on the gospels I thought, “Why hasn’t anybody written a book on this?” The next thought was, “Maybe I should do it.”

There it was.

I immediately began to think about a framework for presenting, showcasing my ideas. How could this best be presented? What would communicate? How could it be done simply, in a way anyone would be blessed to read? What would allow plenty of room for depth for the more curious readers? There are so many ways to handle a topic.

It only took about 20 minutes to nail down a format that would work. Perhaps not surprisingly, but although I am much further along in this process today, the framework remains.

Digging Deeper

Then I began gathering ideas and material, resources, quotes. Beyond the direction I was heading, I needed to see what else was out there, what had already been written. So I read. Thought. Picked up some historical perspective. And took lots of notes. (Besides supplying material, these will come in handy when citing sources and building a bibliography.)

I recognize the need to be an authority on this subject. One of the themes common to authors’ blogs and YouTube videos and a recent writers’ conference was – don’t rush it. There are many steps to publishing a book. We should not rush any of them. So I am taking the time and being thorough. Why? Whether I do or don’t, it is going to show!

Next blog, we will look at my writing process.

Grow up! Grow up! Grow up!

Jesus Today

God wants us to be fully mature, taking on our responsibilities in the Church and speaking the truth faithfully. He wants us to encourage one another and inspire one another to stand up and give our best for our Lord.

The Church grows and matures as every part in the Body of Christ grows and matures.  That?s right, every part. So let?s grow up!

Eph 2:10 
For we are his [God?s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained [prepared] that we should walk in them.

Each one of us is God?s workmanship, and His workmanship is first-class. When we accepted Christ He created within us something magnificent, something so glorious and mighty and effectual that?it changed us forever, equipping us to do His most valuable work here upon earth.

We may be in different churches, or perhaps you are not in a church. But we are all in one Body, the Body of Christ.

Rom 12:4-5 
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office [function]:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

When Christ looks down on us from heaven, what does he see?  He sees the men and women he gave his life for, the ones he called to accept his Lordship and live with him forever.  Forever includes this moment, right now. You don?t have to die to see his glory.

I Peter 4:10-11 
As every man [every man!] hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

The gift of God we have within is a powerhouse!  We have everything we need to do the good works God has prepared for us.

So get busy! The harvest is still great, and the laborers are still few. Talk to your leadership about what you can do. Then do it. You will see yourself growing. You will see the Scriptures coming alive right before your eyes!

Do you want to know? You can! Do you want to grow? You will! There?s plenty of room at the table for all of us. The Church, the Body of Christ, will grow and mature as we do ? we are all linked together, we are all one Body.

Just make up your mind and go for it. Grow up!

When Will the Dead be Raised?

The Timeline

The many schools of thought on the rapture, the resurrections, and the great tribulation confuse many Christians as to when the dead will be raised up. One reason is the attempts to reconcile verses concerning the resurrections with those concerning the rapture, the gathering together.

When we read the verses on the rapture or gathering together, we are looking at a separate event from the resurrections. There will be two resurrections, the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust, besides the gathering together. We will see these three events will occur at three different times.

The Two Resurrections   

Jesus spoke of there being two future resurrections, the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust.  These Jesus foretold, as recorded in the gospel of John.

John 5:25,28-29 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

The apostle Paul also recognized there would be two resurrections.

Acts 24:14-15 
But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

The First Resurrection

These two resurrections are two separate occasions. The book of Revelation shows they occur a thousand years apart. The first is not until the great tribulation in the book of Revelation is over.

Revelation 20:4 
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

This is the resurrection of the just. The just will be raised from the dead and reign with Christ for a thousand years.

The Second Resurrection

After a thousand years have passed, then ?the rest of the dead? will be raised up in the second resurrection, the resurrection of the unjust.

Revelation 20:5-6 
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [verse 4] is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The Gathering Together

The third occasion, the rapture or the gathering together, will happen before both of these. These dead will be raised before the resurrections spoken of above. Even before the tribulation.

The Wrath to Come

To help distinguish the gathering together from the resurrections, we will introduce another term describing the tribulation period. That is the word ?wrath.? John the Baptist and Jesus both used this word when speaking of that future tribulation.

Luke 3:7 
Then said he [John] to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Luke 21:23-26 
But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Revelation 6:17 
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Although this will be a terrible time for those on earth, we Christians need not fear the coming wrath.

Saved from Sin, Saved from Wrath

Those born again of God?s spirit in the Church age are saved from the wrath. We who accepted the Lord Jesus have accepted him as our substitute for sin.  We are justified, delivered from, saved from our sin. 

Romans 5:8-10 
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The Scriptures plainly teach that we who have accepted Christ shall not go through the tribulation of the future. Paul stated as much in his first epistle to the Thessalonians.

I Thessalonians 1:10?&nbsp
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

I Thessalonians 5:9-10 
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

No Reason to Fear

Despite the assurances in this first epistle, some Thessalonians were still fearful. This was because of those saying, ?The great tribulation is coming soon!? The Thessalonians needed further teaching. Paul addressed these fears in his second epistle.

II Thessalonians 2:1-2 
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Paul assured them that he, Timothy, and Silas were not the source of these teachings that were troubling the church.  He then explained why they had no reason to fear.

II Thessalonians 2:3a 
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first,

The day of Christ, which includes the wrath, will not come until after ?a falling away.?  What is this falling away?

The Falling Away of the Church

Many teach that the falling away refers to a time of rebellion against the church, a time when many will forsake its teachings. That interpretation tends to build fear.

For one thing, it is very nebulous.  What exactly constitutes a falling away? How can we measure how close it is? This line of thinking leads to more questions than answers. Only answers bring comfort.

And say, isn?t this the same idea that those troubling the church in Paul?s day were teaching? ?The day of Christ is at hand! We are about to enter the Great Tribulation.? How would that ever bring peace to one shaken and troubled?

Paul was writing this to allay their fears, not increase them. There must be a different understanding of this passage than what some of us have been taught.

The Departure

The answer is in the translation.  The words ?a falling away first? should be translated ?a departure first.?[i]  Before the tribulation comes to pass there will be a departure.  What departure is that?  The gathering together, when the dead believers will be raised and together we shall all depart, all be caught up to be with the Lord. ?So shall we ever be with the Lord.?[ii] 

After we are gone, then the events foretold by Jesus and in the book of Revelation will take place. These events will not affect those that accepted Christ, for they will have already departed be with the Lord.  Only those that rejected him will face this time of wrath.

II Thessalonians 2:3-4 
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [a departure] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

We who trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation have no reason to fear.  We will not go through the wrath of the Great Tribulation.  Before that begins, we will depart to be with him. We will be gathered together to join him in his heavenly places. Only after we leave will that time of tribulation begin.

Then, after the tribulation period, there will be a resurrection of the just. These will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The resurrection of the unjust will occur after those thousand years are finished.

[i] Walter J. Cummins, A Journey through the Acts and Epistles (Franklin OH: Scripture Consulting, 2006),  p 487.

[ii] I Thessalonians 4:16-18

The picture of the watch at the top of this post is courtesy of Wayne Lougee.