Topic: Personal Development
Lesson PDF link: Personal Development
What in your opinion is the road of the Christian journey from the beginning?
This is likely a complicated question to answer and I will try to help by saying that it's going to be the same, but different. It's not the road or journey, but the method and appearance that God chooses to take in someone's faith journey that will be likely different. There are a lot of the same things in everyone's faith journey that we can hang our hat on -- meaning that we can count on them because they are predictable.
In the game of Monopoly, one of the goals is to acquire properties by sale or trade that will eventually be worth the investment by becoming much more powerfully expensive for the opponent later on and eventually leading to his/her bankruptcy. We are going to travel the journey of a general Monopoly property and link it to our faith journeys one stage at a time.
The first thing is that we actually have a choice and sometimes it's our traditions, the easy way etc., or Him.
Let's look at Joshua 24: 1-28
1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
2 Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.
3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac,
4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
5 "'Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out.
6 When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea.
7 But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
8 "'I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land.
9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you.
10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
11 "'Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands.
12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you--also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow.
13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.'
14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!
17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled.
18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God."
19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.
20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you."
21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD."
22 Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.
23 "Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."
24 And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him."
25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws.
26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.
27 "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God."
28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.
Personally, I originally made the choice wholeheartedly in 2002. I knew that I had worked in church ministries before etc., but I was still under the influence of not really getting the whole commitment thing and didn't have a hugely faith- filled life; I was, in my opinion, lukewarm spiritually. When I made this commitment though, things got rolling to the side of faith in Christ.
Second, when we make the choice to serve God, we will be marked as such by Him. Let's look at Ephesians 1: 1-14
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,
9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory.
Then we must be committed. Let's look at Romans 1: 16-17.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed - a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
Starting in 2002, before the next step could take place, there was a transition period for me, as if I knew what was happening, but didn't at the same time. Although, I still had a ton of spiritual junk (I still have some), I was being prepared for things and opportunities arose to show this. I was excited about the potential changes. One of the biggest transition points was being more talkative with mom especially about spiritual things and then people started (more than before) talking to me about their life issues etc.
Third, we must allow God to work. In this Monopoly video game, the "Permit" sign means that a player owns an entire color group or monopoly and is permitted to build to raise rents. In life, we need to make sure that God owns the whole us, which allows God to build our value in Christ and therefore, be much more effective in His kingdom work. Most times, this involves a sacrament known as baptism. The meaning is that we publicly declare to be sold out to God's plans. Baptism is one of the most humble things that we can (and in most cases must do) to have a milestone set in our minds, hearts, and spirits marking the commitment already begun. A lot of times, this involves church membership and a working brotherhood and sisterhood of believers to help support the faith journey. Remember though, these scriptures, so we don't forget whose side we're on. Let's look at Proverbs 16: 18 and Proverbs 18: 12
Proverbs 16: 18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 18: 12
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
If you are a Christian, how do you know that you're sold out and ready for development in Christ?
For me, this stage also was in 2002 and soon after making the commitment, getting dunked in the process, I started having bad dreams and visions about the demonic; I am very sure that Satan didn't like my choice. Soon after, I talked about this with my pastor at the time and he said not to worry. I started receiving dreams of God and Satan's properties (personality traits).
We need to remember that public commitment is very important and not worry about what anyone evil (like the devil) thinks.
Let's look at Romans 6
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -
7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let's look at Colossians 2: 1-15
1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.
2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,
12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
However, understand that permitting God to have you this way can have unusual side effects. Totally committing changes your life and spirit for good. Some people may not even recognize you. People may not trust you or think of you as just an actor.
Saul is the perfect example hands down. This is found in Acts 9: 1-31
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest
2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.
6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.
11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.
14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.
16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?"
22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,
24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.
25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him.
30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. Remember also that Jesus is God's version of the "Permit" sign because He is the chief cornerstone of our spiritual journey and faith. With Jesus, we have the honor and privilege to be honed and developed for God's purposes.
Let's look at Matthew 7: 24-29
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,
29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Let's look at Luke 6: 46-49.
46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.
48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.
49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
Let's look at Ephesians 2: 11-22
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (which is done in the body by human hands) -
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
For my part of things, I started to totally act different than I did. I wasn't even a bad guy before I permitted God to work on me more, but God made me seemingly about 1,000 times better. I became able to talk to people more without judging, I was commanded by God to start speaking blessings over people, I was given astounding leadership qualities that have been honing me from the beginning of my walk etc.
My family didn't expect some of the changes that came over me, but I think they have gotten used to them by now.
Now, the fun begins and development really starts. Even though development isn't always fun, the resulting consequences or effects are always; trials and obstacles will abound, but God has plans to test and strengthen through those and we have to be ready. A thirst for God's power to help His kingdom and people in mighty ways are very great goals and will be rewarded with fulfillment.
Let's look at Proverbs 17: 3
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.
Let's look at Proverbs 27: 17, 21
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise. If the right attitude is there, criticism (even destructive), can be used positively, likewise, praise if the attitude is right, won't cause arrogance, but will give knowledge that we're doing something right and to keep it up and grow in faith.
These are my personal stages.
After the initial push of energy of re-dedication through baptism, those dreams and visions that prepared me for what was to come, in 2004, I went to college at Eastern Kentucky University and took some courses for Freshmen in General Studies; this included English, Sociology, CFS, Philosophy etc. I attended for 3 semesters part-time as my visual impairment causes a slowness in efficiency of just about any type of work, including school. This opened my eyes to critical thinking, but also opened my eyes in other ways. God showed me that I could and would succeed; this was needed because I have failed at school and other things before. I tried going to college fresh out of high school and failed miserably, mostly because I didn't ask for help in accommodations and other things. At EKU, I did do this and I got A's and B's instead of D's and F's. This proved that I was becoming more mature as a man and student.
More happened in 2004 though, as I was called by God to start writing "A Spiritual Lesson In Toon Language", a Christian curriculum based on TV cartoons paralleling with Biblical scripture. Since I knew the success of doing well at something like a little learning from school etc., I was starting to understand how special God wanted me to be and that He had some really beautiful plans in store for me too. I quit college in 2005 because God was focusing me more on writing than homework. God was focusing me on a personal ministry at this time and not necessarily a normal career that people would think about. People that have “conventional wisdom” think that not earning money at a specific time with a developmental move like this, or being the oddball that no one understands is a bad thing. There have been some obvious downsides, but there have been some very rich rewards in the process too.
Let's look at Romans 12 to prove my points.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is --his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The first thing that we see is that everyone in Christ is going to have a certain gift or even a set of gifts from God Himself. Everyone is going to be unique and distinct and are mandated by Christ to work together; this is a command and is not optional. The right mindset is sorely lacking in some churches because denominationalism seems to be rampant; if you force people to not be able to use their gifts, it causes severe cavities in the church's teeth, shall we say; different styles are fine, but to what end? The different people and their gifts have to find proper places in the body of Christ and be appreciated for their function and who they are, otherwise the church becomes a travesty. Different styles should be allowed to work together in Christ—no matter what!
Harmony is important in the churches and this is sorely lacking too. I have seen some people jockey for position so much that their base gifts get clouded by politics and such, this isn't right either. I've heard stories about not wanting to serve people sometimes because they smell bad, they look bad or rough, or just appear to mooch. These are judgmental attitudes that need to be changed. If these attitudes persist, we can lose at least part (if not most of) our voice as God's church to help the world to believe the gospel we hold dear.
As an independent pastor (more about this later), I am not bound as much by denominational style or requirements. I am able to help people to work together, use their gifts together and encourage more without worry of doing as much the wrong thing. I am about God's business of unification of the true church of believers. Regardless of denomination or style, people should do more of finding ways to bring everyone together in Christ with faith, gifts and service working in harmony. which are good and noble goals, but I can't change everyone's mind, much less every church's mind.
In 2006, http://toonspirit.net was launched because there were so many lessons at this time that it only made sense (there were about 30-40 lesson sessions at that time), I was also given the opportunity to use one of these "Toon Devotionals" in First Baptist Church (Richmond KY) by a friend of mine; this church was pastored by Bill Fort (still is as of this lesson). This experience happened on December 7, 2006. This presentation was the second part of two which was one of the problems that I ran into. The people attending weren't happy because I was using a Japanese anime called Digimon. Although the scriptures matched the cartoon very well, the attitude about the cartoon itself was sour and I had a friend that's a non-believer attend as well and all he did was get into a debate about the Sonship of Jesus and His Deity. This took about half of my presentation time and I thought the lesson was a disaster, until I found out that two people actually liked it, one of these was Bonnie L. Johnson, who is now my wife (now Bonnie L. Heinlein) and the other is Gloria Presson, who currently works with us when she has time and as needed. Bonnie and I were married on September 6, 2008. She originally just wanted to be my regular student, my how things change.
Let's look at Genesis 2: 18, 24
18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
I am absolutely positive God made Bonnie specifically for me to have as a ministry helpmate, a beautiful woman to love and cherish and caregiver when I'm not feeling well, this also means that I am the same for her --a ministry helpmate, a handsome man for her to love and caregiver when she's not feeling well. Of course, marriage is much more than just these; we literally invest our lives into each other and are the symbol for Christ and the church according to God's decrees.
Let's look at Proverbs 18: 22; 19: 14; 31: 10-12.
18: 22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
19: 14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
31: 10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
31: 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
31: 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Let's look at Ephesians 5: 21-33
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word,
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church --
30 for we are members of his body.
31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
32 This is a profound mystery --but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Bonnie and I have been married happily for almost 11 years. We work together, eat together, run together, play together, pray together and stay together. We have had some bad times, as all marriages will (finances, illness, discouragement etc.), but we love each other, we're committed to one another and we are privileged to be together. It's an honor, trust me.
On February 19, 2010, Bonnie, myself and another friend of ours named Cyndi Stone founded Toonspirit Ministries together. Cyndi doesn't work for this ministry anymore, as she felt that it wasn't for her after all. Bonnie and I have kept working and this ministry is now over 9 years old formally. Joyfully, we use the curriculum that God gifted me with (A Spiritual Lesson In Toon Language) as one of its crowning achievements. Not only do I make a curriculum out of TV cartoons in order to show Bible parallel, I also make other curricula using video games, board games, card games, news and will be going into a curriculum using toys sooner or later.
Let's look at 2 Timothy 4: 1-5
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage --with great patience and careful instruction.
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
We have endured great discouragement and criticism for our ministry from people, including churches who are narrow minded of what ministry actually is. Even so, we will keep working to bring people together in Christ one person or small group at a time. These lessons teach Christian conduct, how to increase one's personal faith walk with Jesus and encourage worship public or private of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We pledge that we will help anyone who needs or wants help in the ways that God gives us capabilities to get a closer walk with The Lord; these people will be given the lessons, personal experience, love, empathy, sympathy etc. that they need to grow up right in Christ.
On September 3, 2016, I started serving as Pastor with Toonspirit Ministries; this is over 6 years after its founding. By a vote of all people there when a formal vote was cast, I was given this position 10-0; this means I am now responsible for the shepherding of a few people in The Way and looking for ways to use everyone's gifts as intended regardless of who is under the ministry's umbrella, when we are talking about workers. In 2017, I was appointed Chaplain/Pastor where I live by the then Tenant Association Chair Kim Wooldridge and she remains our student to this day. I was voted in as Pastor in general, then afterwards appointed by Kim because everyone involved sees who I am and that I have all the hallmarks of passing the test found in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 and Titus 1: 5-9.
Timothy 3: 1-7
1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.
2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.
5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)
6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.
7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
Titus 1: 5-9
5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.
7 Since an overseer manages God's household, he must be blameless -- not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.
8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
This hotel stage would imply complete perfection which I haven't attained yet. With my current stage of development the way it is, God is renovating me constantly and will continue to do so.
Let's look at Philippians 3.
1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh --
4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
10 I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul's Example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Verses 3-6 are especially interesting to me, as Paul says that he was basically successful in his original career, however he found a better way—the world's kind of success was nonsense to him because he knew the truth of Christ. Being fully developed by the world's standards, corrupts a true calling. Paul took a 180 degree turn from what he was as Saul.
None of us believers are going to be absolutely perfect until we're in Heaven, so there are very few of the "Hotel" type people out there. However, this is my picture of what absolute earthly perfection might look like in scripture.
Let's look at Matthew 5: 1-16.
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2 and he began to teach them.
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Let's look at 1 Corinthians 13--This is a very common passage used to show love's perfection.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
A God-centered ministry will never be arrogant, it won't be an actor, it won't want someone else's calling; on the contrary, a God-centered ministry will always be full of hope and light, will endure hardship and annoyances, will always look for ways to serve God and all mankind with its gifts and it will always forgive when there is persecution --ready to bless not curse.
Let's look at Galatians 5: 19-26.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 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.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
We will never attain true perfection unless we allow ourselves to be open-minded to God's plans for all believers. As an independent pastor, I have made it my mission to hunt for and use different gifts of believers no matter what they are. If people that don't know Christ see these attributes correctly, they will know what Christians are to be like and they may turn to God instead of the world for answers and perhaps become followers of Jesus themselves. Everyone that comes under our ministry (Toonspirit Ministries) can have their ministry individually and corporately, in other words, work done is put in public view of others, but the calling is God's plan for the individual as well and undoubtedly will be used outside the ministry/church's walls if there are any and outside of the internet too. Every individual has the right to his/her work, but while said work is allowed to be online by these individual, it is corporate as well. God's call for our ministry is simple--to use our gifts wherever we land and bless people no matter where they are. This has been the mission from the beginning of our ministry's founding. May God use us, keep us and bring us home safe to be with Him forever.