Rootless Oaks

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We are going to conclude this series by looking at the fourth trap, being “rootless.” Christians can fall into the trap of resembling a “rootless” tree - depends on others to hold it up, has shallow roots, and dries up when it faces trials.

There are Christians that are not well-rooted. Their roots are only surface level and not deep. These Christians may look good and seem strong, but the reality is that other Christians are supporting them by surrounding them. But as soon as trials come, they quickly fall away and tumble in their faith.

Luckily there are Christians that resemble oak trees. Oak trees are known for sinking their roots deep into the earth and the inability to be shaken. These Christians are like oaks, because even in the midst of trials, they still stand strong and praise God.

Who are the five people you spend the most time with and what path are they on? Hopefully both answers are positive, because you are the average of them. You don’t want to surround yourself with bad company, for they corrupt morals. The path of the wicked leads to destruction. Instead, surround yourself with strong christians. Make Jesus Christ one of your five closest people. Jesus will make a huge difference in your life and will change that average. If one of your five people is the Lord, you cannot be shaken.

So grow deep roots to thrive in your faith; trust in the Lord, and you will never be shaken.

As we conclude this series I want to remind you of the four traps you should be aware of us a christian:

  1. Avatar Christians

  2. Fruitless vines

  3. A prayerless and powerless life

  4. Rootless faith

Avoid these traps and live out your life in a way that glorifies God.

 

Powerless Power

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The third trap I believe Christians fall into is the trap of leading a prayerless and powerless life. God asks us to pray to Him. So, why do we not do it more? Why do we not live as if prayer works? We are letting Satan rob us of the power of prayer. Satan wins through our laziness and our busyness. I challenge you to be more active in your prayer life and get to the next level with God.

Here are two things that keep us from seeing answers, let alone miraculous ones, to our prayers:

  1. There cannot be answers to questions/requests, if you do not ask.

  2. If you ask with doubt in your heart, you don’t believe it can come true. Therefore, why would God grant such a request? One has to ask with confidence and certainty, knowing and believing that all things are possible with God.

Ultimately, God will answer your prayer because:

  1. You asked Him

  2. You asked according to His will

  3. You asked in faith

  4. You are abiding in Him

Pray bold prayers, and ask God for the impossible.

Vines that Wither

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In the last post, I stated that there are four traps I believe Christians fall into. The first one was being an Avatar Christian. The second is being a fruitless Christian.

Read John 15 to see what who we are in relation to God and what we can do as a result. A few key themes I pulled from this passage are:

  1. God wants fruit - He counts fruit(v.8). How fruitful are you?

  2. If you do not bear fruit, He will cut you off(v.2).

  3. God saved you, so that you may bear fruit(v.3-5).

  4. God wants us to bear even more fruit(v.2,8).

  5. When you bear fruit, God hears and answers your prayers(v.7).

There are three types of fruit:

  1. Fruits of Justice
    These types of fruits are the acts of kindness towards those in need. This includes defending the poor, feeding the hungry, and caring for the sick.

  2. Fruit of Life and Conduct
    This type of fruit is living a Christ-like life. You know what is pleasing to God and choose to carry out His Will in your life. Your life is a living testament to who God is and who you are in Christ.

  3. Fruit of Eternal Life
    This is the fruit that one receives once you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. The fruit contains many seeds. The sole purpose of a seed is to reproduce more fruit. So, not only does this fruit hold the gift of salvation, but also provides the gives you the means and hopefully spurs one to sharing the gospel, and bringing people to the Lord. The gift of eternal life is meant to be shared...

Questions for you to reflect upon:

Are you fruitful?
Are you a disciple of the Lord?
Are you more focused on God or yourself?
Can you identify those around you to plant seeds in?

Avatar Christians

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In the next four posts, I will be sharing with you four “traps” that I believe Christians fall into. The first trap is called Avatar Christians.

Avatar Christians are Christians whose public images are impressive, but their actual private relationships with God are lacking. These Christians believe they are falling deeper into Christ, when in reality they are doing the opposite. When difficult trials come their way, their faith implodes and crumbles and they end up abandoning God. God is not present during this time. It is most likely because their faith was never strong or solid... it was hollow on the inside.

There are four types of Christians:

  1. Spiritually Malnourished
    The faith of these Christians are weak. They are malnourished because they do not receive enough for Spiritual food for their bodies to grow (no church, no bible studies, no reading the Bible, etc). During trials and hardship, their faith easily falls apart. They cannot win against temptation because they are not “strong” enough...no spiritual muscle. Every trial/hardship can end up being a reason for them to abandon God.
  2. Spiritually Constipated
    These Christians take in large quantities of faith, but they do not take time to digest the information. For example, they do a quick devotion followed by listening to a brief radio message, then read a chapter from a christian book, then have lunchtime fellowship, and continue to live this cycle. These christians are bombarded with spiritual “food,” but when do they have time to digest everything? Their system is so clogged up, it can only lead to indigestion and frustration.

  3. Spiritually Obese
    These Christians have a lot of knowledge, but no action accompanying the knowledge. They are satisfied with the knowing but are not putting any of it into practice. Their faith is inactive and stationary, which can only lead to obesity.

  4. Spiritually Fit
    These Christians realize that it takes time and a commitment to grow a relationship with God. They study the word of God consistently and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit through prayer. They also make an effort to partake in Christian fellowship. These Christians live out what God tells them to do, no matter what. They understand that without suffering, there is no growth.

What type of Christian are you? In my next post, I will discuss the second “trap’” Christians risk falling into.

Walking By Faith

As Christians, we are told to pray and bring our problems to God. God invites us to pray and to ask Him for answers. He is able to accomplish anything and everything, even if you don’t see how that is possible. But, if you do not ask God, then how can you receive what you wish for? Matthew 7:7 - Ask and it will be given to you...

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When you ask, ask clearly and wisely. You are not fooling anyone. God already knows. You know what you want, so be honest with Him.

When you ask, ask in His name. God’s Word states, “ask for anything in my name, and it will be done.” He will answer you because it brings glory to Him and allows Him to rejoice over you.

When you ask, ask in faith. If you do not believe, God will not nor cannot, answer your prayers. So, why would you bother asking. Your faith is not just a simple belief, but a deep trust in Christ himself. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for, and assurance about what we do not see.”

When you ask, expect your faith to be tested. God will test the genuineness of your faith. He will observe and know when you choose to obey and when you do not. Faith may not always result in the easiest solution. Sometimes, it may defy all reason. But the miracle can only begin, when you step out in faith.

Remembering the Poor

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Here in Kenya, only one percent of the population is considered rich, a household earns more than 500,000 shillings a month. This is more than an average middle class American (they earn an average of $60k a year, 450k shillings a month)! Kenya’s middle class makes up six percent of our population, with a household income of 40,000 shillings or more. This leaves the other 93% living on or below the poverty line! We have three types of poor: working, non-employed, and destitute. The working poor live on the poverty line, earn 10,000 to 40,000 shillings a month, and make up 43% of the population. The non-employed poor are 40% of the population and earn less than 10,000 shillings a month. Last but not least, the destitute poor earn nothing and are slowly starving to death. They are the street children, the abandoned elderly, and the isolated sick.

Poverty and the hardship of life kills dreams. The poor have no room to dream, they can only think about surviving. It is our duty to remember the poor! My friends, we cannot leave them behind! We need to be kind and to treat them with respect. We need to help them and to lift them up! The only way to raise someone out of poverty is to raise them above the poverty line!

5 Marks of a Healthy Leader - Part 2

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In the last post, I talked about the practice of taking a retreat regularly and how that helps to be a healthy leader. In this post, I will go over the final four self-care practices:

  1. Dealing with internal stress
    It is important to accept that stress may be a normal part of your life, but you need to know that too much of it can actually damage you. If you do not manage your stress appropriately, you risk blowing up emotionally in the wrong settings. To manage stress, here are six areas of your life where you should try to build some margin: finances, time management, physical health, energy level, emotional well-being, and relationships. Managing your internal stress can help to maintain a healthy emotional life, which will ultimately result in being a healthy leader.
     
  2. Continuing to Grow
    You must establish and strive to follow a plan for your own personal growth. We are never too young to learn. One may experience a “downfall” if one refuses to learn or stops learning. (Check out 1 Timothy 4:13-16)
     
  3. Developing close friendships
    Good friends are vital to keep leadership fresh. Leadership can be very lonely. Sadly, the higher you rise, the more likely you are to become isolated. Make an effort to surround yourself with friends that give you grace, rejuvenate you, and lift up your soul. Avoid the friends that to suck the life out of you. Life is hard enough without people bringing you down.
     
  4. Keeping your body fit
    You can’t be a healthy leader if your body is physically unhealthy. How can you stay physically fit? You need to manage your diet, your weight, your fitness, and your physical rest. Even a half hour walk a day will do wonders for your physical health. You may be surprised to know that managing your energy is more important than managing your time. You need energy all day long. Make sure to save some energy for when you go home to your family.

In summary, there are five self care practices you need to execute in your life in order to be a healthy leader: taking retreats regularly, dealing with internal stress, continuing to grow, developing close friendships, and keeping your body fit. Take a minute and reflect on your life. Make the necessary changes to be the best and healthiest leader you can be.

5 Marks of a Healthy Leader - Part 1

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Being a pastor is rated as one of the most hazardous jobs. Many suffer from burnout. The use of antidepressants among pastors is increasing, while their life expectancy decreases. To give you a peek into the life of a pastor, check out the following statistics:

  • 25% don’t know where to turn to with personal conflict
  • 33% feel burned out within first 5 years of pastoral ministry
  • 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job
  • 52% of pastors and their families believe that being a pastor has been hazardous to the family’s well being and to their health
  • 56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends
  • 57% would leave the pastrate if they had somewhere else to go
  • 70% do not have close friends
  • 75% report stress, anxiety, alienation, depression, anguish, worry, anger, and fear
  • 80% say they have insignificant time with spouse
  • 90% feel unqualified
  • 90% are burning out because they are working 50-70 hours a week

You may be thinking, well that is unfortunate for pastors, but how does this affect me Pastor Muriu? I’m here to say that it does affect you and everyone else alike! We are all on the verge of burnout! Our work habits have become unhealthy. As a result, we too, will become “insufficient” leaders. You cannot take care of others, if you cannot take care of yourself.

My dear friends, there is hope. I have five self-care practices I believe we can incorporate into our lives in order to become healthier leaders.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. - Romans 12:1

The first practice is to take a retreat regularly. It is important to recognize when to take a break and get away. Retreating:

  1. Allows you space to be alone with God

  2. Provides you with a healthier spiritual life

  3. Allows time to learn, listen, and grow with God

  4. Helps you maintain a proper perspective on life

  5. Allows you time to define visions for the future

  6. Helps you to maintain focus and sanity

It doesn’t matter how busy you are, there is always time for God. Even Jesus retreated regularly, and He was the busiest man of all. Even though it wasn’t easy for Him, He still did it! A good leader doesn’t live a busy life, a good leader lives a reflective life.

Join us for the other four self-care practices next week.