Sep

3

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “ Matthew 25:37-40

In this parable Jesus’ message is clear –how we love others and respond to their needs is how we love and serve God Himself.  They are one and the same.

God doesn’t judge the way the world does, based on possessions, power, influence or fame.  Instead, He looks at how we love and how we demonstrate that love through the simple day-to-day things.

Food for the hungry.  A drink for the thirsty.  Welcoming a stranger.  Clothing the naked.  Comforting the sick.  Visiting the lonely or imprisoned.

What these acts have in common is that they are simple – things that any one of us can do.  They are also things that only the person being helped will notice.

Notice in this parable that those serving didn’t realize it was Christ they were serving.  “When did we do that?” they asked.  Winning His favor wasn’t their motivation.  Instead their motivation was to serve purely out of love for others, even the least of them.  As a result, their attitudes and actions were credited to them as righteousness.

Continuing on in the parable, you’ll see that those who didn’t help others, who may have had they known it was Christ they were serving, were separated out and judged as having the wrong heart, wrong motives and wrong actions.

Our Father is delighted when we love and help others without expecting anything in return.  That’s how we experience the pure joy of serving.

And we needn’t think we have to do everything, fix everything or give everything that we have.  That is not the goal.  The goal is simply to love others well, and it’s the simple things can make such a difference!

Lord, please help us to be present in each moment, and to notice the people and needs around us.  Show us how to help in the simple ways that reflect your love each and every day.  Amen.

And to partner with us in loving others well in South Africa, please follow this link.

Aug

20

Guest Blogger: Jill Marshall

I’m an early riser. I set my alarm for 4:45am but am often awake even before that. I like to get up early so I can spend time with the Lord, workout and walk Zoe all before going to work. I love my morning routine even when I hate it. It has become my thing.

One of the challenges, however, is that Zoe insists on protecting the world from squirrels and raccoons, even at 4:45am. That’s her thing.

One morning I was praying and journaling about some things that weighed heavily on my heart. The Lord was encouraging me to see the best in everyone including myself, and to see the best in every situation rather than worrying about things outside of my control. Basically, to see people and circumstances through His eyes.

So I was feeling all encouraged and spiritual…until Zoe started barking, running back and forth, jumping up my back wall, and trampling all my flowers trying to catch a raccoon. I was ticked! And I was sure my neighbors were about to be as well. Zoe was in big trouble!

Then I paused. What did the Lord just speak to me? See the best in everyone? Did that mean my dog as well? Because she was just doing what dogs do. What she thought was right. Protecting her mamma. And that raccoon was 25ft in the air, in a tree behind the 6ft wall of my yard. Yet she barked and jumped as if she could actually reach him. It never even occurred to her that she couldn’t. I wish I had that same determination, perseverance and hope.

Did the Lord just school me using my dog?

I don’t want to over-spiritualize this. I still grabbed Zoe and pulled her into the house. Barking at 5am is a big no-no. But I love how God used her to reinforce his lesson to see the best, assume the best and to step out in faith trusting that he’s in control. He also reminded me of how quickly the enemy tries to snatch away truth through annoyances, distractions and challenges, and for that we must remain alert and guard our hearts.

May we all learn to snatch God’s truth right back with the same determination, perseverance and hope of Zoe girl.

Ps. In this picture Zoe went after a skunk rather than a raccoon. In the battle of Dog v. Skunk there are only losers. But you can’t blame a girl for trying.

At Ignite we purpose to see the best and call it out of leaders of all ages. For ways you can help, please follow this link.

Aug

15

Guest Blogger: Jill Marshall

“You complete me.” Whose heart didn’t just melt when Jerry Maguire dug deep into his soul and poured out these words to Dorothy, played by Renee Zellweger? And what woman (or man if he’s willing to admit) doesn’t long for the exact same thing?

To be complete. To feel complete. For someone or something to complete them.

I know I do.

In Colossians 1:28, Paul’s goal is to proclaim and teach the gospel so that everyone may be presented complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10 says that we are complete in Christ. Some translations use the word perfect.

So often I focus on the things that I’m lacking or have lost along the way. My flaws and scars. My fading beauty and energy. Goals not yet accomplished. Dreams deferred or destroyed altogether.

Then I try to rally by cultivating gratitude and “counting my blessings.” By focusing on what I do have rather than what I don’t. That works for about a minute, then it floats away and I’m back to beating myself up. This time with “ungrateful” added to my list of flaws. Ugh! Have you ever done this, or am I the only one?

What do the things I’m grateful for and the things that I lack have in common? They are things! Separate from me and even contradictory to who God says I am. They neither make me complete nor detract from being complete because they have nothing to do with it.

The truth is that I already am complete. With or without my 20-year old body. With or without a spouse or full bank account. With or without accomplishments, accolades or promotions. With or without Instagram followers or 1000 Facebook friends.

The truth is that I am complete. Because my Father, my Creator, my Lord and Savior says that I am.

And if you’ve surrendered your life to Christ, you are too!

Lord, you complete me. Thank you that I am complete because you are complete, and you are in me. Help this truth sink deep into my soul. And may it fuel joy, gratitude, confidence and power in my life. Amen.

Pastors, leaders and youth need to know they are complete in Christ, and in Christ alone. If you can help us reach them with this truth, please click here.

Feb

13

Let the whole world know what God has done…

The strike has ended with surprising speed. Reports indicate that Vusi Tshabalala has stepped down as Mayor over Maluti a Phofung district.

Today, schools are back in session.  Word is that we will be able to resume our Flashpoint classes tomorrow.  What an answer to prayer!

We also plan to move forward with the Mobile Pregnancy Clinics in both Mmakwane and Qholaqhwe on Thursday, Friday respectively. Please pray that word gets out and that people respond and take advantage of the classes and services we are offering.

We ask for continued prayer for our district, and the country, as there will be many changes in leadership on all levels over the coming weeks.

Thank you for your partnering with us, prayer absolutely changes things!

Feb

12

Today is the second week of a bit of unrest here in South Africa.

Last week Tuesday the strike started with roads being blocked, schools closed, and shops locked. We had hoped the end was near however just discovered today that it is continuing indefinitely.
We could use your prayer support…

The reason for the strike is multi-faceted but the request is that the Mayor V. Tshabalala step down.

He has been accused of many things including misappropriation of funds which has led to services having slowed or stopped in many areas.  Additionally,  residents in Qwa Qwa find themselves without essentials such as water and electricity.

The situation is desperate and word is that schools, nor work, will be resumed until he steps out of office. Which to date, he has refused to do.

In addition, at this moment a committee is in session to determine whether President Zuma will be asked to step down. If he refuses again (he has twice so far) the matter will then go to Parliament.

In all of this uncertainty I can assure you we are safe.

We are taking precautions. Which means our Flashpoint classes, Workshops, Life meetings and ministry events have been put on hold temporarily until life settles.

We pray that will be this very week. Will you join us?

Jun

19

Educators, regardless of where employed, have a challenging job.

To accomplish their goals to teach and prepare students for life and advanced education, they must take many things into consideration.  For example, they need to incorporate various teaching-learning styles to enhance learning. They take time to identify learning challenges in an effort to help the student succeed.

However, what happens when significant challenges are discovered?
Working within an impoverished area in any country holds unique challenges.
How do you teach a child who is hungry? Alone? Abused? In an unsafe environment?

Many educators find themselves asking the questions . . .
What is my role? How can I help a person overcome such insurmountable obstacles?
After all, I am only one and the problems so very great.

Yet history clearly reveals ONE can create great impact.

Just look at Moses, Mary, Ghandi, King, and Mandela as a few examples of people who gave of themselves regardless of the cost.

With a passion to impact came boldness, love for others and a willingness to sacrifice.

The work here is hard and daunting. The number of students that are orphans or living in housing (hostels) with little adult supervision is overwhelming. Bullying, abuse and sexual predators are rampant and the list goes on.  Needless to say burn out for teachers is on the rise.

Our Educator workshops the past couple of months were filled with facts and truths as we lead them through self-discovery of purpose and passion.

Here are a couple testimonies from the school of Phahameng:

“I did not know how to speak positive words to learners if they did wrong. In fact, I was talking bad words and was easily angered. I even rebuked one in front of everyone!

I now realise the power of words and have learned to control myself, no longer speaking negative words. I know how to talk to the learners and have seen things change in my class just because I have changed the way I speak!”  ~Mme

“Prior to this workshop I saw my work as a job, as a way to pay my bills.

Lately it had become hard for me to work, I would get tired and want to go home early. I took my work simple. I did not know these were symptoms of burn out or what could be done to help.

The workshop showed me that though I may not have “chosen” my profession, it chose me!
I now see my purpose and have a heart to help, to impact the lives of the learners. 

Because of this workshop I have changed my life and am choosing to live out my purpose through my work!”  ~Ntate

Our Flashpoint youth programme collaborates with the schools to help students succeed in life. We  offer these services because of and through the support of our partners and friends.

If you are passionate to help youth overcome and be positive impacts regardless of their past, please consider giving a gift!

Jun

12

I ran my first full marathon in South Africa and it was grueling. The course was all hills and it rained the whole time. I was pretty much last – I only saw one guy behind me and he was walking because of an injury. To be honest, I was just happy to finish upright and not to be the last one.

No one wants to be last.

In Matthew 20 Jesus tells the story of some laborers hired to work in a landowner’s field. The men hired in the morning worked hard all day in the hot sun. As the day wore on, the landowner continued to bring in more workers. Then at the end of the day, he called them in last-in-first-out order, and paid them each a denarius for their work. The men who had worked all day were angry. They didn’t think it fair to get the same wage as those who worked less, and even worse, they were paid last.

No one wants to be last.

Jesus uses this parable to describe the Kingdom of God where the last shall be first and the first shall be last. (Matthew 20:16) But how is this possible? When is being last actually winning rather than losing? When we exalt God rather than ourselves. When we surrender our will to His will.
When we love, serve and sacrifice for others.

The morning laborers failed to do this. Instead, they compared themselves to others growing angry, jealous and discontent. They doubted the landowner’s wisdom, motivation, character and sense of justice. Then they powered up to get justice for themselves. As the first ones hired they wanted special treatment – payment befitting of being first.

They wanted what they thought they deserved.

A mentor of mine says that forgiveness is the oxygen of the Kingdom. It sustains life. It makes Kingdom living possible. If that’s true, then perhaps comparison is the carbon dioxide of the Kingdom. It sucks the life right out. It steals our joy, faith, trust and love, and turns our focus inward. It defeats and implodes, and out of the dust rises pride and insecurity. And it hinders us from receiving and demonstrating God’s love. That’s why comparison is such an effective scheme of the enemy.

The landowner ascribed value equally and unconditionally, just as our Heavenly Father does.
We can’t earn value through works, or attain it by comparing and striving to get ahead. Instead, we must put God and others first. That may mean last place for us, but there are both great lessons and great rewards to be found there.

I’ve never heard of a race where athletes train and run in hopes of finishing last. But then the Kingdom of God isn’t a typical race, and Jesus isn’t a typical coach.

Here’s to hoping for a photo finish with all God’s people tied for last.

What does training and aiming for last place look like for you?

Mar

27

In Matthew 14:22-31, the disciples left by boat while Jesus stole away to the mountainside for alone time with God. By the time Jesus was ready to rejoin the disciples, it was near dawn and the boat was far off, being tossed by the wind and waves. Jesus went out to them, walking on water. I love how that part is thrown in so casually and matter-of-fact, like he could have just as easily been walking down the street.

The disciples saw him and were terrified at first. It’s not every day you see someone walking on water. But today wasn’t going to be like every other day. Jesus called out to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” And that’s when Peter, empowered by courage and faith replied, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus did, and Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water towards him. But then Peter saw the wind and became afraid, and that’s when he started to sink.

So often with this story we focus on Peter’s crisis of faith, the fear that crept in, how he took his eyes off Jesus, and Jesus’ rebuke. Maybe it’s because we can best relate to this side of the story. I know I’ve had times when I’ve bailed out on my faith, afraid of the winds and waves around me.

But there’s another side to this story.

Peter hoped for the best. Better yet, he expected the best.
And even better yet, he actually did it! I think this side is harder to relate to because so often we hope for the best, yet expect the worst. We stifle our faith with a myriad of worst-case scenarios and back-up plans.

What would our lives look like if we retrained our minds to hope for the best and then truly expect it? The Bible teaches that through the power of Christ we can move mountains (Matthew 17:20), accomplish more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and do even great works than Jesus Himself (John 14:12).

But only if we both hope and expect it to happen.

 

What is God calling you to today?
Are you expecting the best, or hoping for the best while expecting and planning for the worst?
And if it’s the latter, what does that reveal about your faith and trust in God?

Feb

27

A desire of Ignite is to help leaders (of all ages) dream big, discover their gifts, and pursue God-sized goals. Goals help us move forward, focus on what’s important, prune away distractions, overcome obstacles, and ultimately accomplish great things. Goals are a good thing.

But what makes a good goal? What should be the goal of our goals?

First of all, our goals should bring glory to God. Not ourselves, not anyone else. 1 Corinthians 10:31 teaches us that no matter what we do, we should do it for the glory of God.

As Pastor Rick Warren says in Transformed “Any goal that causes you to trust Him more, to depend on Him more, to love Him more, to love other people more, to serve God, to serve others, to be more unselfish”, that’s the kind of goal that honors God.

Anything and everything – from housework and yardwork, to going to school, raising children, even leading a multi-national corporation – can be done for God’s glory if done with the right motives.

Do your current goals honor God in this way?

Second, our goals demonstrate God’s love in the world. Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That is what love in action looks like.

When we operate in love, we put others first, treat them well, partner with them, and accomplish so much more than we could ever accomplish on our own. An old African proverb says,
If you want to go fast travel alone, if you want to go far travel together.”

Do your current goals reflect the love of Christ in this way?

God won’t further goals that are motivated by selfishness, pride, jealousy or fear. But he will get behind (and in front of and alongside) goals that are motivated by glorifying Him and sharing His love with the world.

Goals are a good thing. And if our ultimate goal is to become more like Christ, then doing everything for His glory and His love is the path to success.

So, what goals are you currently pursuing? And are you pursuing them with right motives and right ultimate goal in mind?

Feb

9

Isn’t due to location, finances, smarts, or even who we know. Becoming more…

begins with a thought.

Who we are today and tomorrow begins with a single thought.

In fact, what we think is the foundation
for every action we take, our actions develop into habits, habits evolve into a lifestyle and thus our lifestyle propels us toward our destiny.

Common knowledge you say?

If so, then why is it that we allow all the negative talk, discouragement, and bitterness to reap havoc in our thoughts and emotions.  If we truly know that our thoughts direct our outcome and destiny, why is it that our failures and disappointments are the focus rather than our destination.

God instructs us to renew our mind with His Word for a reason.  He knew that our greatest battle, the only one that can overcome us, is in our mind. Whatever we focus on is guaranteed to become larger whether it be a problem or the solution.

Our focus ENLARGES and leads.
Our focus directs our life and penetrates our heart.

We are invited to focus on the following for purpose.
Whatever is true and noble, right and pure, whatever is lovely and admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

Our purpose in life is to be directed by God’s truths.
His truths about you (You are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works).
His truths about life (Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul and mind).
His truths about people (love your neighbor as yourself).
Even His truths about disappointments and hurts (forgive as I have forgiven you).
His truths will guide you and ensure you accomplish your purpose in life (seek His will in all you do and He will direct your path).

So once again I lay a challenge before you.
Throw out the garbage and lies you’ve allowed yourself to ponder.
Discover what the truth truly is in those areas (hint: Look in His word and email me if you can’t find it).

Then.. think on them daily, speak them out loud and live the life you were purposed to achieve!