Monthly Archives: June 2011

Week 14: Anointed

Have you ever considered yourself to be anointed? Have you bought into the idea that only certain individuals could be anointed…not you?

I used to think that. Being anointed, in my mind, went along with what King David went through. “You anointed my head with oil…” I used to think that being anointed only applied to those listed in the Bible, specifically the Old Testament. Prophets, priests, and objects were anointed for varying purposes throughout scripture. A different picture was painted for us when Jesus came in the New Testament.

1 John 2:27 reads as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, you remain in Him.

We have been anointed, but with what? Looking back through scripture, I came to stop at the story of Jesus’ baptism.  During his baptism, He was anointed by the Holy Spirit that descended as a dove. Jesus was washed in baptism and was anointed with the Spirit of God. Jesus then stated to His followers that He would send the Holy Spirit who would teach us all things.

A close friend of mine commended my God with a simple statement about how His anointing had fallen on me. This had happened shortly after a time of worship at church and the statement left me humbled in the eyes of a holy God. I was reminded that my gifts are not about me. They are about Him. He freely gave them so that they could be returned in full and used for His greater glory.

I was left thinking, Me? Anointed? I hadn’t thought of myself in that light prior to that statement. God’s Spirit opened my eyes to the fact that I was indeed anointed, by Him, so that I could enter into Christian ministry while in this world. It meant that I had been enabled, entrusted, and empowered to accomplish God’s will. So have you.

In searching through scripture and researching a few other articles, I’ve found the following passages that draw attention to what we’ve been anointed to do.

1 John 2:27 – To be able to discern truth
1 John 5:6 – To testify of the truth
Romans 8:39, Ephesians 6:18 – To be able to pray
Romans 8:4 – To live a righteous life
Ephesians 3:16 – To be strengthened with the power in your inner being
Romans 8:9 – To live in joy
Romans 15:13 – To live in hope
1 Corinthians 12:4 – To receive spiritual gifts
Galatians 5:22-23 – To bear spiritual fruit

This anointing opens our minds, teaches us, guides us, calls us to pray, empowers us, and enables us to be strong Christians. It also enables us to use our gifts and talents to His greater glory. And it can only be attained through the cross on which Christ gave His life in sacrificial love for all of us.

Do you believe that you’ve been anointed to do His work?

Week 13: Uncommon Ground

I often wondered how that little coffee shop in Uptown Minneapolis got its name. I’ve checked multiple sources and even asked one of the baristas – no answer was found.

I then began to think of how the name of that shop could connect with Christ…it so does! Before Christ, we lived common lives, walked common ground, dealt with common things. We lived in the in-between – between our past and our unknown future.

Christ makes that ground uncommon by adding extravagant color to the mundane.  We start to see beyond every day and know what our future holds. The road less traveled is covered by uncommon ground. The only other person who’s been down that road before us was Jesus Christ Himself as He paved the way through which He lived, loved, died, and gave. Have you found uncommon ground?

Week 12: What Are They Searching For?

In reference to Uptown, my pastor recently posed this question to our study group. While it left us baffled, it also left us wrestling a number of other questions individually: How will God use me in giving them what they’re searching for? Has He equipped me enough to offer what they’re looking for? And what will that look like?

I’m a planner – an extremely organized one – and I like to know what’s happening and when. Granted, I do like a small reprieve now and then, but for the most part…I like to have my day mapped out so I know what step to take next.

God has really been stretching me in that fact that it’s okay to not be in control all the time. He has the Vine under control and I don’t necessarily need to know all the details just yet. He will reveal those in His good and perfect time.

We had been discussing the demographics of the Uptown area as well as why some churches have not flourished there. Could it be a lack of faith and trust in the Holy Spirit? Could be because that particular group relied on themselves rather than God? Could it be because of a spiritual stronghold, something that is hard to tap into? Or, could it be all of the above? These questions and more started our thought processes spinning.

I found myself thinking back to my walk prior to deciding to follow and honor Him with my life. Sure – I grew up in a Christian household and came to know and understand Christ and who He was at the young age of four, but it wasn’t until college when I made the decision to give Him my life. Since then, it’s been a story woven with surrender, humility and love.

[Be confident in this], that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Prior to making that decision, I remember searching for fulfillment in everything besides Him. I didn’t necessarily want to be popular in school, but I wanted to fit in and not be stuck at the bottom of the ladder. At the time, I didn’t think I would ever make it up to the top (or close to it); that I would be stuck there for life. I went through cycles with the group of friends I had chosen and looked for attention from the boys on occasion. I wanted to play the piano at church and wasn’t allowed to because I wasn’t “Christian” enough. (What kind of label was that any way?)

I’ve since found my fulfillment in Christ. Now, I’m not perfect and on occasion, I have chosen to wrong option, but He continuously takes me back even though I am not worthy.

Perhaps they’re seeking that same fulfillment. Question is, how will we portray that God is enough to them? Or better yet – how will God portray Himself to them through us?

Week 11: Walking in Love

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2

What is the first thing you notice about Jesus? Or, rephrased, when you first became a Christian or came to understand what it meant to follow Christ, what was the first thing you noticed about Him? For me, it was His overwhelming love for me.     It was breathtaking. I was rendered speechless – me a girl who talks all the time! I fell to my knees under the weight of His mercy and began to surrender my all to Him.

Love is a human hunger we all desire and some of us spend all of our lives looking for it; mostly, in the wrong places. We all have that void that only love can fill and the love of God is the only true love that can fill that hole. Love is what makes life beautiful and worth living.

Love is about giving. For God so loved…that He gave…John 3:16. Love cannot help but give of itself for that is the nature of love (as God created it to be…as He is love). It is not rationed or taxed.

Hollywood portrays that love is based on how you feel, what someone does for you, what they can offer you, how they make you feel, etc. They even go so far as to state that we don’t have a choice in the matter when it comes to who we love. It just happens.

I believe that perspective to be incorrect. Love is a choice. God chooses to love us in spite of our selves. He doesn’t force us to love Him. He offers that choice. If you’re tempted to walk in the way of the world, look for the direction of love and take it. It will soon become habit; a good, rewarding habit.

Here’s an excerpt from the novel Midwinter Turns to Spring:

“Love is not just a feeling. It’s a choice, a commitment, a way of behaving toward another. Love is not simply an event that happens to you. Rather, love is something you choose to do. The state of being in love is simply a prelude to love. But most people make the mistake of thinking they’re one and the same thing. We are all given circumstances by which we can exercise the choice to love. That’s the thunderbolt that God supplies. It’s that instant attraction to another person, those warm, fuzzy feelings, that fever akin to drunkenness or madness that causes you to know that you’re in love. But it’s what you choose to do after that thunderbolt has passed that matters. You choose whether you’re going to continue loving the other person after the drunkenness has dissipated, after the frills of romance have fallen away. You choose whether you’re going to continue to seek the best interests of the other person, and care about him or her through any and all circumstances — and for how long. Love is a conscious choice.”

Love isn’t something that we can “fall into.” It’s something that we grow in; something that we walk in…daily, not just when we feel like it.

Love comes with a cost. 1 John 3:16 reads “We know what real love is because Jesus gave his life up for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  It’s costly to love as Christ did, but it comes with terrific investments in heavenly rewards. Life isn’t easy. And loving with Christ’s love in the life is definitely not easy. It may cost you money, respect, dignity, pain, heartache, ridicule, perhaps even your life. Sacrifice it for the Name of Jesus; He will accept it and reward you in full.

Be encouraged. You have His love in you: And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love –  Romans 5:5. If you feel you don’t possess that kind of love, ask Him to teach you and take the action to learn. Love is a learned behavior, finessed with time and practice. And with that love, we’re able to love all people, including our enemies. When our flesh has a difficult time expressing that love, we just need to pray that Jesus will love that person through us. His love never fails.

Love Came Down – Brian Johnson 

If my heart is overwhelmed and I cannot hear your voice
I hold on to what is true, though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come, and the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith, I will believe 

When my heart is filled with hope, and every promise comes my way
When I feel Your hands of grace rest upon me
Staying desperate for You God; staying humbled at Your feet
I will life these hands in praise; I will believe

 I remind myself of all that You’ve done
And the life I have because of Your Son

 Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours – I am forever Yours
Mountain high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
That I am Yours – I am forever Yours

I am Yours – I am Yours – All my days – Jesus, I am Yours

Week 10: Girl Talk

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Accountability. You’ve heard about it. You’ve probably read about it. And some of you may even be doing it. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account one’s actions. It’s a check and balance system designed to protect us from harm from ourselves and others. It’s a sure sign of character. It says you are liable, responsible and answerable for your actions in life to God; accounting for what we are up to. It allows us to be answerable to one another and focuses on key relationships with one another and focuses on the key relationships in our lives.

One of my closest friends just moved here. I praise God that He’s chosen her to be a part of this amazing task (the Vine) and for getting her here safely. We were catching up the other day when the idea hit that we should start a small Bible study; getting together once a week just to dive into Scripture, gain different perspectives on His Word and its application to our lives and to hold each other accountable. We also wanted someone who would challenge and push us in our own individual faith walks.

We met for the first time this past week and are going through the book of Nehemiah. It’s amazing how applicable even the first chapter of the book was to both of our lives, here and now, and especially with this new church plant. It’s also been amazing to finally have that one person I can go to for accountability (and vice versa).

Being accountable to her has enabled me to share my life with her (as well as our core group at the Vine) and has helped me get to know her as well as myself in a deeper manner. Most of our relationships in life tend to be casual and superficial, but we also need a deeper connection. God created us for deep connection (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12).

Romans 14:12 says that even God holds us accountable: So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. And according to 1 Corinthians 12, we are accountable to one another. There is no separation of churches. We all service the same God. We are all part of the same body. No one part is more important than the other.

Our society runs rampant with accountability groups that assist people who would like to overcome an issue, an addiction or any other tendency. Humans seek support, comfort and motivation from others who have either gone through or are going through similar life circumstances. Accountability consists of trust and the ability to relate. Accountability involves a willingness to open yourself up and share sensitive, private or personal information. This is why trust is so imperative. Without it, accountability will not succeed. People who relate to one another can empathize and share with an understanding heart.

Galatians 6:1-2 sheds some light on this subject: Brothers [Sisters], if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Are you accountable?
Do you have a friend or two to whom you can go?
Will that person or that group hold you accountable in your spiritual walk?

Are you the type of person that people can come to when they need accountability?

Pray about it. Seek out who God would have you turn to and follow His lead.