Karen Zeigler

Just As I Am

Is the Church’s Decline Part of God’s Plan? (Part 2)

Church Decline 2

 

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.—Cynthia Occelli

I ended yesterday’s post on the church’s decline with the above quote, which I saw recently on Pinterest. Could it be that the decline of the church isn’t God’s plan falling apart but actually God’s plan coming together?

Cynthia explains the quote, which I found through Google, by looking at God’s processes in nature: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth it would look like complete destruction.”

Could it be that in order for God to grow THE CHURCH, the body of Christ (His people, not buildings labeled “the church”), He must do what appears to the outside as destruction of the church?

Why do I believe this might be true? Because when Christ came to earth, He canceled the old covenant and put into place a new covenant. As Hebrews tells us: “[Christ] said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will.’ He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect” (Hebrews 10:9, NLT). In the old covenant, the temple (church building) was where God dwelled. In the new covenant, Christ made God accessible to everyone, and when an individual invited God in, He made His home within them.

Because of Christ’s atoning work, the cornerstone of God’s church was no longer physical bricks and mortar but spiritually God’s Son. As the psalmist reminds us: “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22, NLT).

Could it be that as Christians we have struggled to see the proverbial forest for the trees? That our focus has too long been on the forest—the church building as representing the body of Christ—versus the trees—the people representing the body of Christ. We have to stop doing church and start being the church. Our role is not to take our unsaved friends to church to get them saved but to be the church for them so that they will thirst for what we have: Christ our Savior.

Right now, a lot of people are leaving their churches. Yet perhaps people aren’t just leaving the church for the sake of leaving the church. Evidence suggests that people are leaving to go out into the world and live their faith there—spreading the Good News to those who would never enter the doors of a church building. In an article on ChurchLeaders.com titled “7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America,” Kelly Shattuck talks about this phenomenon. I found this quote from the article quite telling:

Ed Stetzer, missiologist and director of the Center for Missional Research at the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, has found similar evidence of spiritual behavior occurring outside church walls. He recently finished a study on alternative faith communities, and found that a growing number of people are finding Christian discipleship and community in places other than their local churches. The study found that 24.5 percent of Americans now say their primary form of spiritual nourishment is meeting with a small group of 20 or fewer people every week. “About 6 million people meet weekly with a small group and never or rarely go to church,” Stetzer says. “There is a significant movement happening.”

This movement sounds a lot like what Jesus was doing in His day, in which He poured into His disciples, and His disciples poured into new disciples, and on and on. These small groups met in homes throughout Jerusalem, Judah, Samaria, and beyond. It was a movement that rapidly grew the body of Christ. And amazingly, for the time period, included women leaders at every level (see, for instance, Acts 9 and 16). When the church leaders of the day recognized that THE CHURCH Christ was building was taking away from their power (the church), they had him crucified.  (Matthew 20:18, Matthew 16:21)

Why would God desire to trade the “organized” church system of today for a more mobile, organic, seemingly-disorganized version? Let’s consider this simple example: One neighborhood has a single church. Perhaps it’s a church of 2,000 regular attenders. On any given week the pastor spends countless hours on his face before God seeking the message God has for his congregation. Now apply this to the trend of house churches. What if just 1 percent of that neighborhood church (200 people) felt they were being called to teach others? Perhaps they felt God impressing upon them to obey His teaching to put off the old self and put on their new identity in Christ as Paul stated in Colossians 3:16 NLT:

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Now, instead of just the one neighborhood pastor, you have 200 people on their face before God seeking the message that He has for the people who will show up to their homes on Sunday morning. I can tell you from my own experience teaching a Sunday school class that there is no Bible reading or study at the level you go to when you are faced with teaching others. Especially in a small group where people can look you in the eye and hold you accountable. We approach Bible study for teaching with a greater reverence because we know others are counting on us and God Himself will hold us to a higher standard.

Could God be using this age where technology and the American culture are leaving people more disconnected than ever—even sitting in church on Sunday morning—as part of His plan to evangelize our neighbors, connect us together, get us digging into His Word, and grow us closer to Him?

While I still attend a neighborhood church and I believe that there are many churches that exist to share the love of Christ with the world, I am not discouraged by the fact that the church continues to decline. I’m actually encouraged by what God is showing me. So be encouraged, my friend, I don’t think God’s plan is falling apart. I believe God’s plan is starting to come together. THE CHURCH, men and women equally, using their talents and gifts to take the gospel to the world. Leading others to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit that is in them not by any specific external anatomy. God is still doing great things—through THE CHURCH. And that CHURCH is most definitely not in decline.

 

 

Is the Church’s Decline Part of God’s Plan? (Part 1)

ChurchDecline1

I am an unashamed lover of God, His Word, and—though some days are more challenging than others—His people. And like most people, I get obsessed with things I love. One of the ways my obsession for all things God comes out is through my avid love of reading. I’m particularly drawn to articles and books about the church.

Before we go any further, let me make a distinction about what “church” I am referring to in this series of posts. I define “the church” as the organization established for the purpose of sharing the gospel, discipling its attendees, and leading those disciples into maturity and a missional mindset. This lowercase “church” has leaders who run the organization, cast the vision, and ensure that troops are gathered to carry out their vision. This is distinctly different from what I call “THE CHURCH.” THE CHURCH cannot be contained in the walls of the building. THE CHURCH is made up of every believer on earth. Every believer who takes their unique vision and marching orders straight from the King, Jesus Christ.

The job of both are the same: share the gospel and make disciples. One carries it out primarily in the confines of a building during a weekend message and perhaps a few other times during the week in small groups. The other carries it to the highways, byways, bus stops, and business meetings. One delivers through Sunday messages and small group meetings while the other through personal connections and divine appointments.

Sadly, you don’t have to read very much to find a myriad of articles on the decline of the church. These authors claim everything from busy lives, to decay of the family unit, to culture as the reasons for many churches’ decline. But these articles go beyond those reasons to place the primary blame on their congregations. If I read only those articles, I would believe everything they say and would feel defeated about the state of the church (aka God’s plan to redeem the world). Yet over the past few months, God has led me to Scripture after Scripture, which also talks about the decline of the church. Interestingly, much of what the articles’ authors have to say doesn’t line up with what God has to say about the topic. While the church is experiencing problems and their individual visions may be sidetracked, the vision of THE CHURCH and its fulfillment seems to be right on track.

Since the Fall (see Genesis 3), the decline of any person, city, or nation has been from one thing alone: sin. Consider Adam, Sodom and Gomorrah, David, Babylon, and even Israel, God’s chosen nation. I’m sure you could add a few more to my list of fallen. Yet when you read articles from pastors and other well-meaning theologians and researchers, most of them focus on everything but their sins or failures as the leaders of the church. As if they and/or the church they lead are sinless. Instead of a discussion of sins or leadership failures, most articles point to the culture of the people in the pews. The habits, happenings, and hang-ups of the members are the noted reasons for the decline.

 

Pastors and theologians pointing fingers at the congregants, as the problem for the decline, is the equivalent of a CEO pointing his or her finger at the company’s customers as the reason the company is going under. It’s laughable. To quote John Maxwell: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Yet no one in churchdom seems to see leadership or thChurch Declineeir failure to lead effectively as playing a role in the decline of the church.

As a Christian coach for women leaders, it is my mission to help women remove the roadblocks that keep them from growing and fulfilling their God-given purp
ose. It is in this personal mission to help leaders fulfill God’s purpose that I bring the Scriptures that God has revealed to me about the decline of the church. I pray that it will bring self-reflection and in turn help to remove the roadblocks that are keeping churches from fulfilling their mission.

 

Let’s begin with two verses (one from each Testament) that point to God’s judgment and connection to the rise and fall of the church.

It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. – Psalm 75:7, NLT

 

The time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? – 1 Peter 4:17 NLT

Another passage I find particularly telling:

If you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. – Galatians 5:4, NLT (emphasis added)

 

In this Galatians passage Paul urged the churches of Galatia to remember the freedom that was theirs in Christ. The churches had returned to the bondage of the law and were requiring circumcision, a Jewish ordinance. Paul was reminding the churches that their connection with God did not come by “doing” things a certain way or by any external appearances. God did not care about the status of their male anatomy, and because of their focus on that, God responded by removing his hand of grace.

While the church no longer requires circumcision, one issue they have continued to struggle with, which has aided in their decline, is that, for many churches, they are still focused on the male anatomy. Not so much whether those particular body parts are circumcised or not, but whether a person actually has them. Do we really think God is searching to and fro the earth for someone to speak his message and as he looks, he utters the words, “Nope, not that one. She doesn’t have the right parts for the job. Sure, she has a mouth and a heart for God, but she’s missing that essential male body part. Next!” It’s absurd. Yet in many of today’s churches, they still strictly dictate issues that are not biblical, based solely on gender—such as the fact that women are not allowed to preach or become elders. In some churches they still cannot teach (other than school-aged children or other women), read Scripture aloud, or even pray in mixed groups. And from my experience, I’ve found that although many churches claim they have no problem with a woman preaching, they rarely allow it to happen.

While I suspect some churches still adhere to many other laws that have them under bondage and have fallen from God’s grace, this one referring to women is especially dear to my heart. As the founder of the National Association of Christian Women Leaders, I continually hear from women who have a deep burden to fulfill the purpose they feel God is calling them to, but are unable because of the limited and restricted roles they are offered inside their churches.

Here’s my message to the women whining about the church.

Could it be that today’s churches have fallen from God’s grace, and as a result are in decline, because of their stiff-necked adherence to the law rather than walking in the freedom that Christ died to bring us?

While God has been incredibly patient with the church, he will at some point draw the line and allow them to bear the consequences of wrong choices. From my view from the pew, this issue boils down to pride. Here’s what the Bible says about that: “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” (

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall – Proverbs 16:18 NLT

Those self-inflicted wounds, as well as the cultural changes, will have dire results. In fact, one political commentator predicted recently that 50 percent of churches will be gone in five years. If that is true, then it would seem that God’s plan for redeeming the world is falling apart.

So what are we to do? Will the church begin to address their leadership issues? Including the inequality of women in church leadership? Does the decline of the church mean God’s plan is falling apart? No, I believe it’s actually starting to come together. This quote I saw recently on Pinterest sums up my thoughts about the church in decline:

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.

In tomorrow’s post we will unpack how God reveals the truth of this quote in nature, what I think it means for THE CHURCH, and why I believe it could be what’s happening in the decline of the church.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the decline of the church and the role of leadership in its decline.

 

 

 

A Sack of Crap Won’t Change the World! The End

SackofCrapEnd

Today is the final entry into this three post series.  In case you missed it Part 1 happened when my passion to see people overcome life’s difficulties and fulfill their purpose was rekindled set on fire by a post on Twitter that continues to perpetuate a false belief the enemy wants women to believe.  The false belief that they are no good, a sack of crap basically.  In that post we talked about the tweet (pictured below) and the lie that the enemy is perpStupidTweetetuating because of misinterpretations of scripture and not a full understanding of how God has made in his image – mind, body and spirit.  In Part 2, with the mind, body and spirit distinction from Part 1, we tackled the primary two scriptures that are often misinterpreted to tell people they are a no good sack of crap: Romans 7:18-20 and Isaiah 64:6.

Today I want to turn our attention to the truth. The truth that you are good.  And it is with this goodness that God has placed inside of you that Christ intends for you to change the world. As I mentioned in part 2 I am not denying that we don’t have the capacity to do bad or that there aren’t evil people in the world. However, even Christ himself recognized that there are good people filled with good qualities doing good things.

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. Matthew 12:35 ESV

And I believe if you are a believer in Christ that you are one of those good people created to change the world.

In keeping with the thread that runs throughout this series – that we are made in the image of God: mind, body & spirit –  I want to look at the good that exists in each of those realms.

Spirit

Our spirit is who we are and for the believer it is where we become one with the Holy Spirit.  God has gifted our spirits with special gifts, talents, strengths and unique personalities. These were gifts that were with us since he knit us together in our mothers womb. It is in the spirit where our greatness lies.  If you have every been touched by a beautiful piece of art, a commercial that makes you smile, in awe of a building standing in its glory after centuries or in wonder of the interworking of your computer – you have experienced the work of someone working from their spirit. Working from a place of authenticity and gifting. It is because of individuals willingness to discover and develop the goodness that God has placed inside of them that this world IMG_2253is such a wonderful and amazing place. Let me give you a quick example. Susan Boyle at age 47, a self proclaimed unemployed cat lady from a small village in Scotland tries out Britain’s Got Talent. Her modest and somewhat homely demeanor had many whispers and eyes rolling as she took the stage in 2009. Using an amazing gift of God she sang that day. And by the end of her performance she received a standing ovation. A year later this previous nobody was singing before the Pope of England.  Confirmation of God’s word! Now I’m not sure what your gift is. It may not be as easily identifiable as singing or painting but I do know this. God has placed many good gifts inside of you and when you seek to find them and develop them they will take you places you never thought possible. And when you use them for good and to bring glory to the Father – you my good friend can change the world!

Mind

Your Mind is how you think. It is the seat of all thoughts and emotion. It is where you have tremendous power to create, problem solve, strategize and develop a plan. All really good things by the way. And due to our gifts, our life experiences, our education and many other factors each of our minds think differently.   It is the minds of good people that have given us the automobile, the computer, indoor plumbing and the list goes on.  Our mind is the pivot point for whether the good that God has placed in our spirits and the promptings of his Holy Spirit take flight or whether we focus on the doing of our bodies.  A mind focused on the doings of the flesh results in life – boredom, no energy, lack. A mind focused on the Spirit results in life and peace.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 ESV

It is why we are commanded to take our thoughts captive. Take the good thoughts, good ideas and good plans that come from a place of your Spirit and begin to focus your doings there.

Body

Our body is what we do.  It’s eating, drinking, exercising, working, serving, giving and every doing thing you can think of. We can do a million good things in our life time – give to the poor, feed the homeless, solve complex problems at work, help our neighbor – yet we are not operating from our spirit it won’t matter a hill of beans for eternity.

To close I want to remind you that you are good. You have value.   God

God values you so much he gave the price of his son Christ in exchange for an eternity with you. Your heavenly Father loves you so very much, he has created you so very good and for a specific purpose.  A good purpose. He created you to change the world! So don’t believe anyone when they tell you that you are no good, a sack of crap. It’s just not true…cuz a sack of crap won’t change the world! And you my good friend are destined to do just that!

A Sack of Crap Won’t Change the World! Part 2

SackofCrap2

Yesterday my passion to see people overcome life’s difficulties and fulfill their purpose was rekindled set on fire by a post on Twitter that continues to perpetuate a false belief the enemy wants women to believe.  The false belief that they are no good, a sack of crap basically.  In yesterday’s post we talked about the tweet (pictured below) and the lie that the enemy is perpetuating because of misinterpretations of scripture and not a full understanding of how God has made us.  Today I want to give you a few scriptures that I believe the well meaning Pastor was referencing in his tweet (pictured here) and debunk this StupidTweetidea that you are no good – a sack of crap.  For today’s post to make sense to you, it’s important that you understand the mind, body, spirit distinctions that I explained in part 1. Click here for a refresher or to catch up.

Before I launch into specific scriptures let me say that this post is not to say people are 100% good. I’m not naive. We all have good and bad in each of us – it’s called being human. In Christian-ese we have a sin nature. Whether it’s ALL good or NO good at all…that is where a false belief becomes a stronghold of the enemy. So don’t email me with your arguments about how we aren’t all good.  I know. But as I said yesterday – to perpetuate the lie that we are NO good is weakening the body of Christ.  As a sack of crap never changed the world and that’s what we are here to do. Right? So let’s get down to business.

imageBelow I’m going to go through a couple key scriptures that are being misinterpreted into YOU are NO GOOD and unpack why that was never God’s intention that you think or feel that way. As David Wemmel says we cannot speak badly of ourselves.

Scripture #1: Romans 7:18-20 AMP

 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not. 19 For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me.

Seems pretty straight forward – nothing good lives in me.  But I want you to notice what I’ve put into bold and italics.  This scripture is clearly talking about our flesh. Not our spirit (who we are), our mind (how we think) but our body (what we do).  We are made up of all three.  Our body (flesh) is always about the doing.  And when we spend our days doing, doing, doing and don’t connect with the Spirit then our efforts are going to fail over and over again. It’s why we are urged in Matthew 26:41 to

Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!

The Spirit (who we are) is willing!  Willing to do good.  Body (what we  do) is weak. To do good you must first have the capacity to do it.  And we do. God has created us in his good image to do good things. So the message here is not so much – you’re no good. But instead slow down and  connect with your Spirit – those special gifts and talents God given us and His Holy Spirit for direction  for how we are to use those gifts and talents. Awww….that’s when it gets good. Really good.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Matthew 5:22-23

This is when the good in us comes out. It’s when this God-given goodness has the potential to change the world.

Scripture #2: Isaiah 64:6

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

I often hear women combining scripture one and two: “There is nothing good in me all my deeds are like flithy rags.” Again notice this scripture is talking about deeds, our doings, the body part of mind, body, spirit.  This is the point when we focus on the doing (the body) part of ourselves even our good deeds are rubbish. We have to, have to, have to, focus on the Spirit part. Who we are, who God has called us to be, how his Holy Spirit is guiding us.  Our goodness is found in our being, never in our doing.   When we operate from this place of goodness that God has placed inside each one of us then we can and will change the world!

Tomorrow in my final entry in this three part series I want to plug you into the good that God has placed inside you, inside everyone of his children. I want to  help you use God’s truth to overcome this false belief of the enemy that you are no good. Until then, leave your thoughts below and share this post with a woman in your life that is stuck believing that she is no good.

A Sack of Crap Won’t Change the World!

SackofCrapI’ve lived for most of my life on the 5 minutes early rule but for some reason today I miss judged and arrived 20 minutes early for a lunch appointment. So what is a girl to do but see what’s happening in the world?  Not surprisingly, as a Christian, my Twitter feed is filled with lots of Christian posts – pastors, writers, coaches, speakers and just ordinary God-loving people. So as I was cruising Twitter I stumbled upon this lovely tweet (insert sarcasm).

StupidTweet

It’s a false belief that is being perpetuated by several scriptures that I intend on unpacking in this post series.  The women (and men…sorry we focus on women here) walking into today’s churches are broken and hurting. They really don’t need to hear that they are a sack of crap by someone that doesn’t even know them. And before you rebut what they need – let me say what they need, what we all need – the love of Christ and the truth of what he has done for us/them. I coach women every week who because of rape, abandonment, neglect, abuse and yes even their own sins feel like they are no good – a sack of crap. And even though they have submitted to Christ and studied His word they feel unworthy to step into the calling they feel He is placing on their life.    Women don’t need anyone giving them this message when the enemy is already perpetuating this message relentlessly on a very deep level in their head!  It’s no wonder there is an  huge exodus of women leaving the church. Really people? We were put here to change the world for Christ.  As far as I know a sack of crap won’t change the world!

So here’s what I want to do for you ladies (or men) that follow this blog and have, through the repetition of the voices in your life, on replay in your head thoughts and feelings of worthlessness. You are not a sack of crap, no good or any other false belief the enemy has tried to through at you through a Christian or elsewhere.  God loves you so very much he paid the highest price possible to unite you to him – the life of his son Jesus Christ.  And as far as I can tell no one has ever given their life for a no good sack of crap.

But ranting about a leaders misuse of scripture is not my intent in writing this blog post series. I want to debunk the scriptures that are preached from the pulpits across the country, that (whether intentionally on their part or not) the enemy is twisting to make you belief such rubbish. Misuse that is creating a false belief so deeply rooted that our women warriors for Christ are keeping themselves on the sidelines instead of forging forward to fulfill their purpose.

First – an important distinction.

We are made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 tells us this So “God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Although I’ve never seen God I’m pretty confident he is good, really good.  Not even a glimpse of looking like a no good sack of crap. But forgive me I draumatize to make the point. 

God is a triune being.- mind, body and spirit.  Depending on the scripture reference it may also be referred to as heart, soul and body or similar variation. It why we are commanded to love God in Luke 10:27 in more than a singular way.

…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.

As a triune being (like our Creator) there are three levels on which everything we do say, think, feel or experience happen.  Spirit at it’s root is who we are. It is how God has uniquely made us, our personality, our gifts, everything we had nothing to do with that was a gift from our heavenly Father who loves us. (Who does that for a no good sack of crap?) When we come to Christ it is God’s Holy Spirit that speaks to our spirit giving us direction, guidance and reminding us of God’s great love for us.  We can’t point to where this happens we just know that somewhere inside it is happening. And when our bodies, these earthly tents, fall away it is this spirit that God invites to live in eternity with him.

Next part is our mind and this is how we think.  The is in fact the battlefield of the mind that the enemy loves to wreak havoc in.  And it’s why God tells us repeatedly to take our thoughts captive, to think good things, etc. And one thought I want you to take captive right now and throw in the garbage is this idea that you are no good.

Next is our body. It is our physical body and it most easily understood as what we do. In Christian-ese this is our deeds…good bad or indifferent. If we have done something it took our bodies to do it.

It is in this distinction (3 parts to one person) that is so crucial for understanding scripture and it’s meaning.  Scriptures are often twisted and well meaning leaders create (perhaps unintentionally) the message that we are no good. When without discussion of the distinction is just not true.

It’s a deep subject and I want to unpack verses like our deeds are like filthy rags and others  that often get twisted, but I don’t want to lose you as a reader. It’s taking a lot words than I anticipated to get this message communicated. I like to keep my blogs 500-1500 and I’m fast approaching my own limits.  So we will expand this post to a series to make sure we cover thoroughly the evidence that you are far from no good and in fact you are are the very person God has sent to earth to change the world!

Humbled, Honored & Hungry for More

HumbledHonoredHumbled

It seems so long ago that the proverbial rug was snatched out from under me as the market crashed in 2007.  As a financial advisor and teacher of Biblical financial principles it was quite humbling to go from six-figure income to close to zero. To move from full IRA’s, cash reserves and little debit to none of the former and too much of the later.  To go from seemingly knowing it all, having it all together and planned out for the next 10 years to not knowing how a bill was going to get paid.  I had been humbled.  Humbled where I didn’t even realize I needed humbling. I was serving faithfully and giving generously beyond the tithe, doing everything you read about in the good book.

Everything but….following that still small voice. Everything but surrendering my plans for God’s greater plan.  But the voice was just a whisper and the whisper didn’t seem to be in complete sentences. Write, speak, coach. A planner by nature I needed more info than that to begin.  Give me a vision. Give me the 3, 5, 10 year plan. Give me the details of how to achieve it and I’ll gladly go.  But God said No. Do what you know to do write, speak, coach. Seek me for all that you don’t know. The vision will come. But the 3, 5, 10 year plan and the details I can’t give you all that. If you have all that and begin to accomplish it on your own, pride will return and my plans will not prevail. No, you must continually walk humbly with me. He was faithful. He did provide the vision.  In the journey of the last few years I write about the vision in my latest book Created to Lead: A fresh perspective for women seeking God’s path to their purpose and their highest potential. The vision was to launch the National Association of Christian Women Leaders (NACWL) which I did in November 2014. No 3, 5, 10 year detailed plan given just 3 tasks I’ve been charged with unite women – grow leaders – fight injustice.  Do I know what that means, what the details are. No. Do I trust God that he will fulfill his plan.  He promises just that in Psalm 138:8

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for you.

So not knowing. I walk humbly with God wondering where this road will take me, whether it’s worth it or will I only look foolish, finish poor and forgotten. Those and many other doubts when God decides to give me a glimpse of his great love.

Honored

It’s quite a detailed story but I’ll share with you the highlights. I connected recently with an organization I had never heard of – Christian Life Missions.  They followed me and NACWL on twitter. Since I had never heard of them I asked what brought them to me. Through a series of tweets, emails and concluding with a phone call I learned they were interested in partnering with me to write for their organization.  It’s a very cool opportunity in and of itself but it gets even better.  (It just amazes me how personal and tender God’s shows his love for us).

So let me back up a minute so you can understand what I share next. When it comes to influencers of my life it really has come from the books I’ve read and the Bible studies I’ve done.  In addition to the Bible my mind and life have been transformed by the likes of John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, Beth Moore, and Joyce Meyers ju51+I8ymR+zL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_st to name a few. Yet as much as these have influenced me I can point back to two books that have been a catalyst for me discovering my purpose and genuinely lighting a fire in my bones for Christian Women in Leadership.  One of those books was written by Lee Grady titled Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual BondageHe has written so many books about women, the injustices we face and the truth that sets them free. He is such a proponent of women that after witnessing the atrocities of babies being thrown in the trash because they were female in third world countries that he has founded a ministry to continue his support of women titled The Mordecai Project. While I am not the celebrity groupie type, I am so very thankful for his work and the influence it has played on my life. So thankful that He chose to listen to the still small voice of God.

So back to my writing assignments for Christian Life Missions.  Christian Life Missions as it turns out is a affiliate of Charisma Magazine. Lee Grady was the Editor of Charisma Magazine for quite sometime before his writing and ministry took his life a different route. He still writes a blog for them called Fire in My Bones. His influence runs through the organization to their affiliate Christian Life Missions. He also happens to be a board member for Christian Life Missions and he writes for them along with Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King, Jr and civil rights activist herself).

When I pieced it all together I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.  God has blessed me with the honor of writing on the same website as Lee Grady!!  How amazing is the love of the father that he lavishes on us!! I am so honored. So humbled that I get this opportunity.

My first article is up at Christian Life Missions and you can read it by clicking on the image below.

Karen-S.-GOd-Chooses-the-Weak

 Hungry for more

The journey has been painstaking at times. There have been many tears shed, possessions lost, relationships tried. The valley was a lonely place even though I knew God was there I found myself doubting more times than a person of strong faith should have.  Yet as I look back to see how God humbled me, how honored I am with the opportunities that he has placed before me I can truly say I am only hungry for more of him.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Bird, You’re a Bird

GodSees

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 was a part of my devotional recently. It reads

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing.Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 

As crazy as it may sound upon thinking about this passage the line from the movie The Notebook came to mind “I’m a bird, you’re a bird”

While I don’t believe in reincarnation or prior lives I do believe that in God’s Kingdom we’re all the same. I.e., if you’re a bird, I’m a bird. The scripture clearly lays out that when these earthly tents (our bodies) fall away that what remains is the body that God built and has sealed with his Holy Spirit. In Matthew 22:30 this new body is described as like angels.

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

So if these earthly tents – that are black, white, red, male and female – are all the same on the other side of heaven. And even here on this earth because of Christ’s work we have been gifted the Holy Spirit and God sees us all the same. Why then does the church tell women you can’t teach, you can’t preach?  If God himself made us the same and sees us the same and then gifted us accordingly with a variety of spiritual gifts then why does the church continue to look at the outward tent to determine who should do what for His Kingdom? And more importantly why do women care? Scripture (vs 10 above) clearly says we will stand before Christ for judgement. With that in mind – speak, speak, speak! In a world of social media, youtube you are no longer caged inside a church building.  Proclaim the message God has given you!  You are free to fly!

To the Women Whining about the Church

BigGirlI noticed it a couple years ago when I read The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s rib is no longer willing to be the back bone of the church by Jim Henderson.  Around the same time there were tons of articles about women whining about the inadequacies of women’s ministry.  Here are just a few.

Why Women Don’t like Women’s Ministry by Bianca Juarez Olthoff

Look up (Why I hated Women’s Ministry) by Kate Conner

Why I don’t do Women’s Ministry by Gift for Leadership blog

I even write about what I found scripturally to the question “Do Women Really Need the Church?” back then. The whining about women’s ministry seems to have died down quite a bit. Though I suspect the reason for it only being a small whimper is that the church’s answer to that issue was to stop women’s ministry altogether.  It’s classic we can’t fix the problem so let’s just eliminate it. If’ there’s not a women’s ministry then there won’t be complaining about women’s ministry. Yet this work around has only magnified the discontent for many women. The discontent (aka whining) is still there and so is the continued exodus of women from church.  Here are a few recent examples of that.

What Women Want: More Opportunities to Serve by Halee Gray Scott

Women: The Church’s Most Wasted Resource  by Jim Henderson

What Happens When We See Women Teach the Bible by Sharon Hoddle Miller

Losing their Religion: More women join the unspiritual set by Cathy Lynn Grossman 

Why Working Woman are Starting to Unplug from Their Churches by Sandra Crawford Williamson

Yet when I read story after story of this discontent and the debates for the illusive solution it’s beginning to sound to me a lot like a whining wife.  But instead of the wife whining about her husband – He doesn’t listen to me, he doesn’t appreciate me, blah, blah, blah – it’s women whining – the church doesn’t listen to me, the church doesn’t appreciate me, blah blah blah. As I have listened to and read this insistent whining I’ve made a few observations I’d like to share with women.

First observation If you see the church in the same light as you see your husband then can I say you are married to the wrong man!  You are the bride of Christ. Not the bride of the Church.  You are not called to serve the church you are called to BE THE CHURCH.

Second Observation: Jesus started his ministry in the church but soon the leaders of the church saw his wisdom and his teaching as a threat to their way of doing things (aka pride overruled truth). (Sound familiar?) It was this catalyst that took the gospel to the world. So what you have to take your gifts, talents and wisdom outside the church. Just like Jesus it’s the churches loss not yours. The world needs you!! Get moving!

Third Observation: Why as a woman do you insist on being a Big fish in a little pond.  Did you ever stop to think that less than 20% of the world will ever set foot in a church.  Could it be that God is actually stirring up all this discontent among women so that the 80% in the rest of the world could actually experience the love of God through seeing women use, live and fulfill their God given purpose?  I’m not sure who authored the following cliche’ but I’m pretty sure they were reflecting on God’s work in their lives – “people don’t change unless they feel that the pain of staying the same has become greater than the pain of change.” Are you tired of feeling the same old pain??

Fourth Observation: Stop seeking to people please or to garner the approval of people (i.e., the leaders at church). You are no longer under the old covenant. You are under the new covenant – a disciple of Christ. And Paul reminds us in the following passage that we have all we need to carry out the mission that God has for us.

21So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you—22whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. 1 Cor 3: 21-22

It is no longer necessary to follow or seek approval of a church leader. We are to follow Christ, please God and we are Created to Lead others to him. It’s time to stop listening to the great deception that you are not enough. You are enough!! God has given you everything you need to do the work He has called you to do .

Fifth Observation: Why are you as women waiting for the church to authorize your leadership, your ability to preach, your ability to use your gifts of administration, your ability to teach. Any gift for that matter.

 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 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. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Natalie Nixon a writer for Inc.com in a recent article calls what I’m talking about here the Law of Momentum. Why do we continue banging on the door that may be closed to us, rather than going through the doors that are open. If God is not opening doors inside your church – go where the doors are open!

As the Founder of the National Association of Christian Women Leaders God is calling me to swing wide the doors for women to discover their purpose, grow as leaders, and use their gifting NOW!! We have opportunities galore for women who want to use their gifts and talents for God.  You can write for our website, lead a local #NACWL group, use your gifts as a teacher, counselor, coach in our online forums, share your God story, share a video of a message you have preached, the opportunities are endless.

So what are you waiting for?? Put on your BIG girl shoes and run for your future.

To explore #NACWL visit our website. I am also giving away 25 free copies of our manifesto (Created to Lead)  to the first 25 comments. Leave your address in the comments (your address won’t be published) and I will mail a copy to you.

Unite Women – Grow Leaders – Fight Injustice

The title of this post is the tagline and mission for the National Association of Christian Women Leaders which I am the founder of. The organization launched last month with a room full of excited women and online viewers as well.  The program lasted about 42 minutes and you can watch the entire video here.  In the program we discussed

  • How NACWL came to be
  • The Great Deception that has kept women from seeing themselves as leaders since the beginning of time
  • The scriptural bases for Christian Women in Leadership
  • The personal growth map to discovering God’s path for our lives and our highest potential
  • And why the time is now for women to step up into the call to lead God has on their lives.

The video below is a 4 minute highlight clip of The Great Deception from that evening.

 

FREE BOOK GIVE AWAY –

For the first 10 people to comment on this post with your mailing address (don’t worry it won’t be published) I will send you a free copy of the manifesto for the organization titled Created to Lead.

c2LFrontcover

Going forward all my leadership writing will take place on NACWL site and this blog will take a more personal focus.  If you are a Christian writer or speaker check the “Become a Contributor” page and consider being a guest or regular writer for the site.

 

Where have you been the last 4 months?

In case, that question is coming up for you as this post pops into your email, that’s what this post is about.  It has been a crazy busy 4 months since I last wrote a post here on August 20th.  I’ll give you the highlights. Those BIG things that happened. And won’t bore you with the little details.

As the summer  drew to a close I was deep in the throws of wedding planning. Yep my one and only sweet daughter was getting married.  And if the wedding of your child wasn’t a big event on the calendar already try having the BIG event on your property!!  Can you say s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l!!  But aside from blessings from heaven (aka rain) it was a beautiful affair and everything we had dreamed of. 10806330_10153050261393814_8725238857354085333_n10352593_10153050261678814_1623038597903425743_n10463020_10153050261638814_8448768030885563087_n

Next on the agenda was finishing up the editing on my second book. Created to Lead: A fresh perspective for women seeking God’s path to their purpose and their highest potential. It’s available in paperback and electronic versions on most online retailers including Amazon.   Can I just say I hate editing!!! I know us Christians aren’t suppose to hate but I’m just saying – it ain’t my thing. A huge Thanks to my wonderful editor (who thankfully it is her thing) Ginger Kolbaba, who did a fabulous job.  I couldn’t have done it without her!!

c2LFrontcover

 

You can catch my first interview about the book with Gail Ross of the TV program Testimonies of Triumph below.

And in between all that, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Holidays I also was busy launching a new platform for women in leadership.  The book is the manifesto for the organization and I hope you will check it out and follow along as we grow.

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I’ll be writing more about the National Association of Christian Women in Leadership in the next few posts but you’ll definitely want to subscribe on the NACWL website to keep up with what I and a number of other women writers, coaches and counselors have to say about women and leadership.  In the weeks ahead this blog will morph into something new as I will post most of my writing dedicated to women and leadership on the new #NACWL site.

Thank you for waiting patiently these last 4 months.  I pray that all my efforts made it worth your wait.  For all the many blessings I counted in 2014 you (my readers) are right near the top of the list.  May God bless you in 2015 with the desires of your heart and may you always  – lead strong.

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