During my ‘dream’ series on my Weekly Thoughts I shared how the Lord described a process over the next 2 years of economic turmoil affecting the whole world. Since then China devalued their currency and our stock market has seen wild swings. But the Father’s economy is not affected by the world, and as He has provided and proven Himself in times past, so will He in the future for each of us.
Yesterday Chris and I were running errands, including taking some things to the local dump/recycle station, and when we pulled in there were 3 firetrucks attending to a fire in a large semi-truck (large lorry) size dumpster.
Chris just ‘happened’ to have a toy firetruck on his lap he had insisted on bringing with us that morning, which he’s never done before – one of those you can push a button and it has a siren and the sounds of firemen calling to each other over a radio. So he had his siren and lights going to match the trucks…I sat amazed at the Lord’s care for him.
We were both thankful that ‘the Lord loves firetrucks too’ and I was blessed how He orders our steps, unknown to either of us a harmless fire in a dumpster happened just when Chris and I were headed there, providing an afternoon’s entertainment for Chris.
Unconsciously led One of the biggest factors of that day is that Chris was unconsciously led to grab THAT firetruck from the house to bring with us. Chris has literally hundreds of cars, trucks, planes, and busses ranging from the small “Matchbox” metal cars to larger metal cars – all sitting in a big blue plastic bucket.
He always brings a Matchbox (small metal) car of “Lightning McQueen” from the ‘Cars’ movies, and always his larger number 12 NASCAR metal car, but he just grabbed the plastic firetruck that morning for some reason.
Look for ways you are unconsciously led of the Lord to do things, to go a certain direction, to encounter this or that – remembering most of Jesus’ miracles were interruptions to what He was doing. Today we get so wrapped up in what we are doing we forget to look for divine coincidences or divine interruptions to our schedule. We may not be unexpectedly called upon to turn water into wine at a wedding reception, nor called upon to miraculously feed 5,000 after an especially long day, but we may meet someone who needs a kind word, a prayer right there on the spot, or healing physical or emotional.
I’ve seen these little coincidences referred to as times God ‘winks’ at us to let us know He is ultimately in charge, caring, and arranging our steps.
One of the ‘required’ elements of a person’s heart is thankfulness. Romans 1:21 describes people who see God in nature yet refuse to honor Him as Creator and ‘neither were they thankful’. Psalm 100:4 says we “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, into His courts with praise.” Thanksgiving is required ‘at the gates’ before coming into His presence.
In I Thess 5:18 it says to give thanks IN all things, not FOR all things; I’m never thankful for what the devil does, but am thankful in all things. In many of Paul’s letters he expresses thanks for those he is writing to, and urges them to be thankful.
A heart that looks for things to be thankful for opens the door to communion and fellowship with the Father and Lord. For years, one of the first things I have done each morning is find something to express thanks to the Father – often it is the sunrise, sometimes saying thanks that Chris is sleeping in just a little longer than normal, often for something from the previous day or expected event of that day – but I find something to be thankful for, and when you do that you’ll find you will notice throughout the day how He has ordered your steps and provided for you in ways only His imagination could devise and time.
Remember, He lives inside us, so look down inside, in your spirit for His presence- it feels like peace and warmth- and hold onto what that communion with Him feels like, and let thanks and worship pour out of you in a conversational way throughout the day.
House church and leadership thoughts
In the first century words that are today known as nouns and seen on business cards and advertisements for churches or ministers, were originally verbs – action words describing function in the body of Christ.
An apostle is a ‘sent one’, and technically speaking, one who has seen the Lord and has notable miracles in which the Lord has used them. A prophet was ‘someone who speaks divine utterances’, national and international in scope, as well as nature-related events, not just simple prophecy described in I Corinthians 14:3 as an inspired word to someone of ‘edification, exhortation, or comfort’. A teacher ‘taught divine truth’ and a pastor ‘tended to flocks’ while an evangelist ‘heralds good news’.
Today these action words have become nouns, titles, and something seen on business cards, and in front of names on Facebook, as if ‘Apostle’ or ‘Prophet’ is their first name. Yuck, run don’t walk to the nearest exit! It is for that reason we don’t use ‘titles’ in CWOWI, for action words are to describe function in the body of Christ, not a noun announcing who a person is.
We are all equal in Christ, saved by the same blood, but have different functions. Therefore humility and approachability and ‘being real’ are hallmarks of people who function as true apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, helps, governments, ministries of special tongues, healings, miracles, etc.
And so it is we come to the word ‘elder’. It is the Greek word ‘presbuteros’, meaning ‘old man’. In that culture it described someone who had life experience, had strong moral character, and had a heart to tend the people of God. Those 3 elements are action words describing function – not a noun describing a person, and it is also clear in the pages of Paul’s letters that many women were recognized as elders.
I’ve seen 8 year olds who are elders among other children; those children mature in their life experience thus far, mature for their age in moral character, and have a heart to tend to the people of God – among their own peer group. I’ve seen 17 years old who were elders among other teens. When Paul wrote Timothy descriptors of elders and deacons (those who serve) his qualifications were character, and the quality of their home life. He said nothing about if they moved in the gifts of the Spirit, or if they had any other function in the body of Christ. It was all about character and their relationships.
Paul was talking to elders from Ephesus in Acts 20: 17, 28-30 and describing their hearts and functions, but then cautioned them that after he left there would be 2 categories of people who would harm the people: Wolves who come in from the outside with ulterior motives, to ‘devour’ the sheep, and those who would arise from within with ulterior motives to draw away people after them.
These 2 cautions therefore reveal the exact opposite of what an elder is: They are not wolves and they will not draw people away to themselves, but will in fact always point people to Jesus.
A wolf is someone who preys on others, has their own agenda, and has ulterior motives for entering into a relationship with someone. That is the opposite of someone who has the heart and integrity of an elder. An elder is easily identified as those of strong moral character, eager to point others to Jesus while deflecting efforts to put them ‘on a pedestal’. These people ARE interested in helping people along the discipleship process, and helping them with practical matters of life. They know they are under the authority of Jesus and so have a healthy fear of God which keeps relationships just where they should be in Christ. Look for function, not titles.
I am way behind in phone calls to those of you who write your phone number on the offering envelopes with their prayer requests, but know that what I do is take a photo of your prayer requests/phone #, and then scroll through my phone through the day at quiet moments – even at stop lights sometimes- to pray for you, keeping them for 1 year or until I hear otherwise from you. I’m still praying for B from last December about melanoma, for instance. I say that not to say ‘look at me’, but just to let you know we aren’t some big ministry where those who donate or send in prayer requests just become a computer number. You matter, and your gifts and prayer support mean a lot to us. We always give thanks for you!
John and Barb