Two Ways

There are two ways we can minister:

One is out of compassion in response to someone who’s hurting or something that we see.

The second is out of the Spirit’s leading.
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All too often, we minister out of compassion and not out of His leading. When the Spirit leads us, we will always see His power flow. 


What I love about the Original Design Youth Group is that they have been ministering out of the Holy Spirit’s leading. The week before they go out to minister, they ask the Lord to whom He wants them to give love. They write down clues and pictures that the Lord gives them. The following week, we worship and then go out to look for the people God described the previous week. 

These young students have learned the power of sitting and listening to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to lead them to minister and bring amazing encouragement, freedom, and healing!

Do you primarily minister out of compassion as a response to people, or are you leading from the Spirit’s prompting?


-Sheri

Encourage Yourself in the Lord


Several years ago, I got an offer to go work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be ninety minutes to two hours. My friends did it often. They would leave for the office by 6 a.m. so they could beat traffic on the way to the office, and they would come home at seven. I thought about the quality of life, and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you are never alone. There’s traffic everywhere. Everywhere you look, you see people, and you can wave and smile at people. On the other hand, sometimes if you’re driving at night on a country road, you may not see anyone for an hour.

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Scripture says there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of it in terms of traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Most people are on this road, going in the same direction. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. The narrow path is the less-traveled road. The people on it are few and far between. You might be walking all by yourself for a while before you see another person passing by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and see the busy rush hour traffic, but you don’t jump in and join it. You choose to take a secondary road. It’s like deciding, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 onto this side road. I’m going to take the backwoods route.”
Think about it. When you get off onto those secondary roads, they’re more peaceful and winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stop is a backwoods mechanic shop with a filthy bathroom. The towns are few and far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It can be challenging to take the narrow path of God because it isn’t traveled by as many people.
Christians can fall into the trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them. Sometimes we don’t even think about it or we figure, “It’s okay for this family, so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. They give their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is taking them from the narrow path to the wide path. Their children start exposing themselves to entertainment and other influences that may jeopardize their purity. Before you know it, instead of following God, they are following the world.
As Christians, we need to protect the wellspring of life that is our heart and make good choices. I believe Christians should be out front. People should want to be like us. They should be following our way and wanting to make the choices we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. You are going to find that your friends on the narrow path are a wide range of ages, say seventy down to twelve. There are so few people that you have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle should look like so you can be close with people who you know are making these choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect, but when you feel lonely, encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like David in 1 Samuel 30. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t rely on it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and remember what He has done for you already.


Two Ways


There are two ways we can minister:

One is out of compassion in response to someone who’s hurting or something we see.

The second is out of the Spirit’s leading.





All too often, we minister out of compassion and not out of His leading. When the Spirit leads us, we will always see His power flow. 


What I love about the Original Design Youth Group is that they have been ministering out of the Holy Spirit’s leading. The week before they go out to minister, they ask the Lord to whom He wants them to give love. They write down clues and pictures the Lord gives them. The following week, we worship and then go out to look for the people God described the previous week. 

These young students have learned the power of sitting and listening to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to lead them to minister and bring amazing encouragement, freedom, and healing!

Do you primarily minister out of compassion as a response to people, or are you leading from the Spirit’s prompting?


-Sheri

One Step Ahead to Self-Development

Forgive yourself when you fail.
I’ve gone two whole months without failing. I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t gotten angry. I haven’t been offended. I haven’t been hurt. 

You know that’s not true. It’s really not possible. We’re flawed human beings by design. The truth is that I’ve failed already today in a big, hard way. It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon when I’m writing this. Today, I’ve been angry and bitter, holding a grudge against my husband and, honestly, keeping a record of wrongs on his behalf. He won’t keep his own record of wrongs, so I have to keep it for him and make sure I correct him when he’s wrong, right?
Of course, I fail. I fail, sometimes, moment by moment. I fail in being disciplined. I fail in eating right. I fail in spending enough time with my kids. I fail by harboring bitter thoughts. I fail by getting offended. I am a failure in so many ways.
Several years ago, I stepped into the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness. I remember the day when I realized I was truly forgiven and I finally forgave myself. That day, I was set free. I haven’t been in bondage since.
In my Christian walk, there were times when I would get mad and frustrated. I would think, “I can’t believe I failed again. I’m such a failure. Argh! Why do I keep screwing up? Why do I keep messing up? This is horrible. I know better.” I hated it. I hated myself. I was so mad.
But guess what, I wasn’t walking in the freedom of forgiveness I once received. Scriptures say to walk in the same way you received Christ. That means if you know you’re forgiven the first day, then you’re forgiven the second day, the two thousandth day, the eighty-two thousandth day. You’re forgiven. You can forgive yourself.
The Lord showed me that when I screwed up and then beat myself up about how I had messed up, I was living in my works, my own effort, my own goodness, my own (lack of) perfection. I was living in my blood as a sacrifice to God. I wasn’t living in the blood of Jesus. 

He showed me, “When you fall, you need to get right back up into my Spirit in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t do this right in that moment, you’re inoperable to work as My child for as long as you’re beating yourself down, whether it’s a day or a month or a year, because you’re too focused on you and what you’ve done. I need your eyes on Me and what I have done and who I am and what I am here to do. I don’t need your eyes on you. I need them on Me.”
He showed me that while I was beating myself up, I was saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for me. Man, that’s all-out blasphemy. That is arrogance beyond arrogance. Not only do we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we need to forgive ourselves quickly.
You know, I think a lot of people think that means repentance. They think repenting means crying in their closet, “Oh, God, please forgive me. I screwed up so bad. I’m a horrible person. I’m just a weak, fleshly soul.” You know what they are doing when they say that? They are agreeing with their old self before they were in Christ. They’re agreeing with their old identity and completely ignoring who God says they are. Wow.
Have you done that before? I’m confident you have. I have done it. I lived that for years, tearing myself down all the time. I talked horribly about myself. When I do that, I’m completely disregarding God’s truth that: one, I am a new creation; two, I am made whole; three, I am the righteousness of Christ; four, I am forgiven, and my sins have been erased forever; five, I’m His child, and He delights in me; six, He is not mad at me; seven, I don’t have to beg a God who loves me, a Father who enjoys me; eight, I am whole. Nothing can change my identity. My behavior cannot steal my wholeness. It’s impossible.
Here is what God convicted me to do when I mess up. I didn’t learn this from anyone else. No teacher taught me. I didn’t watch it on TV. I didn’t hear it from my pastor or a friend. But I struggled and I wrestled for a very long time, beating myself up because I wasn’t perfect, so I know. This is my story. I’ve walked in these shoes. This isn’t a preacher’s message. This is straight out of the heart of God, and you need to hear it.
God said, “Though righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” He said, “Sheri, get up. Lift your chin. Do you know who you are in Me? You’re already forgiven. Do you think what you just did was a surprise to me? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a surprise. I’m not shocked by you. I knew it already. Here’s what I love about you, Sheri. You fall, but you keep choosing Me. You choose me again and again because you know I love you. You know Me. We’re intimate. We’re close. Your mistakes don’t steal from our relationship.”
He showed me that when you fall down, you need to get up and say, “Thank You, Father, that I’m forgiven. Thank You, Father, that I’m not defined by what I do. Thank You, Father, that I am the righteousness of Your Son. Thank You, Father, that I’m a new creation and I’m not of this world. Thank You, Father, that I’m completely forgiven. I receive right now in the name of Jesus. I thank You, Father, that You make me whole and complete. I thank You, Father, that I am Yours and You are not mad at me and You are not mean like my parents were. I thank You, Father, that You are so in love with me, that You delight in me, that we’re friends, that I can come to You and talk about my struggles. Thank You for keeping me whole. Thank You that my identity has not changed, that I’m secure, that Jesus Christ was enough for me.”
You know what, I get up from that prayer with fullness of joy like you have never known. Somebody can call me and say, “Hey, can you help my family member who is in the hospital on the verge of dying? Can you leave for them right now?” And I can say with everything in me, “Yes.” I don’t feel unworthy because it’s Christ who makes me worthy. I remain worthy even when my behavior isn’t worthy because it’s not based on me. It’s based on the blood of Jesus Christ, His love for us, and what He did for us—that alone, nothing more. It’s never been based on you or me. It’s never been dependent on us, and it never will be.
If you get down and you beat yourself up, you are making it about you. It will be about you trying to make things right with God. It will be about you trying to get yourself back in the right place with the Lord. It will be about you and your behavior and what you’re not. It will be about you begging God because you don’t think you’re worthy to come to the throne with grace and boldness. You don’t think He wants to forgive you. You don’t think He is delighted to give you the desires of your heart.
But He is. You have to forgive yourself, and you have to do it quickly. Forgive and forget.

Encourage Yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be ninety minutes to two hours. My friends did it often. They would leave for the office by 6 a.m. so they could beat traffic on the way to the office, and they would come home at seven. I thought about the quality of life, and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you are never alone. There’s traffic everywhere. Everywhere you look, you see people, and you can wave and smile at people. On the other hand, sometimes if you’re driving at night on a country road, you may not see anyone for an hour.

                                      

Scripture says there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of it in terms of traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Most people are on this road, going in the same direction. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. The narrow path is the less-traveled road. The people on it are few and far between. You might be walking all by yourself for a while before you see another person passing by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and see the busy rush hour traffic, but you don’t jump in and join it. You choose to take a secondary road. It’s like deciding, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 onto this side road. I’m going to take the backwoods route.”
Think about it. When you get off onto those secondary roads, they’re more peaceful and winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stop is a backwoods mechanic shop with a filthy bathroom. The towns are few and far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It can be challenging to take the narrow path of God because it isn’t traveled by as many people.
Christians can fall into the trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them. Sometimes we don’t even think about it or we figure, “It’s okay for this family, so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. They give their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is taking them from the narrow path to the wide path. Their children start exposing themselves to entertainment and other influences that may jeopardize their purity. Before you know it, instead of following God, they are following the world.
As Christians, we need to protect the wellspring of life that is our heart and make good choices. I believe Christians should be out front. People should want to be like us. They should be following our way and wanting to make the choices we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. You are going to find that your friends on the narrow path are a wide range of ages, say seventy down to twelve. There are so few people that you have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle should look like so you can be close with people who you know are making these choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect, but when you feel lonely, encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like David in 1 Samuel 30. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t rely on it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and remember what He has done for you already.

Serving That Adds You a Credit

Isn’t it fun to be asked to do something? Isn’t it great when people trust you with a job? Sometimes you look at those people and think, “Well, I don’t want to let them down. They entrusted me with this great responsibility.”
The truth is that we should never work for people. We should always work for God. Whatever we do, we should do it as if we’re serving the Lord (see Colossians 3:23).
Many times, people get lackadaisical in what they are doing. They start serving people or a cause. They stop serving the Lord, and their work becomes less than excellent. They become lazy. All they offer is poo-poo service. They have great ideas but no execution, no follow through. They’re not willing to put in the hard work. They want someone else to do it for them.
Scripture says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6 NIV). I believe every one of us on God’s team should be like an ant. God tells us what to do, and we should be working hard, day and night, night and day, lifting things that are heavier than our own bodies and working as if we’re serving Him. We need to be strong and accomplish His work with great excellence!

Encourage yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go to work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be up to two hours just for you driving. Ninety minutes to two hours, my friends did it often. They would leave for the office by six am so they could beat traffic on the way in to the office and they would come home at seven. I just thought about the quality of life and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you never are alone. There’s traffic everywhere. You constantly have to look and see—you see people, and you can wave at people and smile at people. They are everywhere, just constantly busy. But at night, when you’re driving—sometimes, you might be in a drive in a country road, and not see anyone for an hour.
                                     
Scripture says that there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of those like traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Everyone is on it. Everyone’s going the same direction. They are all heading towards home. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. But the narrow path is a less-travelled road. Sometimes, people that are on it are few and far between. You might be walking a while all by yourself until you see another person passing you by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and you can see the busy rush hour traffic but you don’t jump in and go on it. You choose to take a secondary road. If you’ve ever been on a trip or you’re like, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 and I’m going to go on this side road and backwoods.”
Think about it. When you get off on those roads, they’re more peaceful, they’re more winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stops are a backwoods mechanic shop and its bathroom is filthy, dirty. There are few, far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It’s because, truly, the narrow path of God isn’t travelled by as many people. You’ve got people that are going to movies that may jeopardize your own purity because we gotta protect the wellspring of life which is our heart and make good choices.
So every choice we make, we never make it because everyone else is doing it or, “It’s okay for this family so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. Every day, they are giving their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is they are taking them from the narrow path to a wider path. They are increasing their path from the narrow path into the wide path. So all of a sudden, the world is leading our children, not our children being led by God.
I believe that Christians should be the front. People should wanna be like us. They should be following our way. They should be making choices that we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world, but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay firmly planted on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. I think if you’re in your twenties, you’re gonna find that your friends on a narrow path is gonna be in a huge age range. Say 70 down to 12. There are so few people—few, and far between. You have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle is going to look like so that you can have an inner circle that is close and tight and the people that you know are making those choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect. When you feel lonely, just encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like 1 Samuel 36. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t look to it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and what he has done for you already.