God Speaks in Three Parts

 

EagleI spent three blog posts on how God speaks and making it simple enough to teach them to children and adults as well (I like simple things, too.) We have talked about our prophetic/spiritual senses: impressions, God’s voice, visions, and dreams, and how God speaks to us through them. Now, we must understand the three components of the prophetic word and basic interpretation of prophetic words.

Every word from God contains three important parts:

1) Revelation (What did God say?):

Revelation is what we spent “Does God Speak? Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God” Parts 1, 2, & 3 talking about. It’s what God initially told you. Simply put, “What did God say?” This is the information you received from God that you could not have known unless God gave it to you. Revelation can come as a vision, a dream, an impression, a knowing, or through our prophetic senses. Up to this point when we have talked about hearing from God, we were talking about receiving revelation from God. This is the part we receive. I love asking the kids in my class, “What did God say to you today?” Sometimes, they didn’t hear anything. But many times at least one child in the room had God speak to them. One time, I asked this same question to the kids in our class, and this is the response I got: “I saw some angels flying around the room waving different colored flags.” Wow, awesome, but what does that mean? That’s where we lead into the second part of how God speaks.

2) Interpretation (What does it mean?):Jeremaih 33.3

This is the part where we ask, “What does it mean?” “What is God saying?” This is the understanding of the revelation that God has given. God could have shown us something super amazing, but it’s useless if we do not know what it means. Sometimes, it’s obvious. God normally speaks in a way we can fairly easily understand. But there are times when it is not so obvious. What do we do then? Simply pray and ask him. He may tell you directly, use a leader in your life, or show you through the Word of God. Now, you don’t always get this part right away and sometimes someone else or the person the word is for gets the interpretation. When we receive a word from the Lord, always pray it back to Him for an interpretation. So when the child in my class told me about the angels and flags, I asked him, “So what is God saying?” Five minutes later, he came back to me and said, “They are here to pray and worship with us and God wants us to grab flags and worship with the angels.” So now, that awesome word went from something pretty cool to now something I understand and can apply to my life which is the third part of how God speaks.

3) Application (What do I do with it?):

Now, we have a revelation and we know what it means, but still if we leave it at that the prophetic word is still powerless. We have to take it to heart and applied it to our lives. This the third part of a prophetic word. This is taking what has been said and using it in our own lives. In other words, “What do we do with this?” Many times, God gives the application to those who the word is for. So now back to our angel word, we actually have to get up and worship with flags with the angels. If we did not do that, we would have just had a nice word, and that’s it. We have to take the word and the direction therein and apply it to our lives. If not, it’s pointless to receive these words. Some of the things God says are straightforward direction. One time when I asked my class, “What is God saying?” I received this response, “Jesus told me to be like him, so I can reach people around the world!” That’s pretty straightforward in what God said, what it meant, and what he needed to do with it.

So no matter how God speaks and what it means, God is there—ready and excited to speak to His children. And ultimately when He speaks to us, it should be a call to action on our part. WHENEVER you think God is trying to get your attention and speak to you, ASK HIM!!!

Thank you and Be blessed!

Mack Fowler, III Children's Pastor Destiny in Christ Fellowship

Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
Destiny in Christ Fellowship

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My Heart is a Bucket

heart bucketRecently, I wrote a post about overflowing with Jesus and how to keep from burning out, so to go along with that I want to talk about our hearts. For this post, think of your heart as a bucket. By itself, a bucket is neither good nor evil—it’s a bucket. All a bucket is: is a carrier of potentially good or evil things. So it is what is inside of the bucket that defines its character and whether it is good or evil. Our hearts are the same way. We are ultimately the gatekeepers of what we allow to fill our hearts. Will we fill it with good things (love, joy, and peace) or bad things (anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness?)

On a really good day, I control me. Sometimes, bad things happen to us and around us that we can’t control. Like the person who cut us off on the highway, the new person at Starbucks who can’t get our coffee right, getting sick on vacation or when you have some very important things to do, or the co-worker who never has anything nice to say about us. These things we can’t control, but I can control me. I control whether I get angry at the person who cut me off. I control whether I say things I shouldn’t to the person who can’t get my coffee right. I control whether I choose to be miserable and make those around me miserable while I’m sick. And I control whether I choose to be offended by that rude co-worker. I control me, and I control what I allow to get into my heart. Because all those things if left unchecked will begin to fill up my heart and will be dirt, slime, and filth in my heart bucket. Jesus tells us in Luke 6:45, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Thus, if I leave these things in my heart, nothing but evil will flow from my heart and from my mouth.
That’s why the Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to “Guard our heart above ALL else, for it determines the course of your life.” Because what we allow into our hearts will decide our words, our actions, and our lives. Ultimately, my whole life rides on what I allow to fill my heart bucket.

I was teaching this to the kids in our church and I asked them this question: If I had a gallon of fresh, pure, spring water, how many drops of poison does it take to spoil the whole batch and make you not want to drink it anymore? They all quickly responded only a tiny drop makes it bad. It’s the same with our hearts. If we allow a tiny drop of poison (sin) to fill our heart bucket it will spoil all the good things in our hearts even if all the good things that God has put in us far outnumber the bad!

So now you might say, “How can anyone possibly have a pure heart, we all sin?” Simple, our heart buckets have to constantly go through the wash cycle. When the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and tells us, “Hey, you sinned there, that wasn’t a good thing.” We have to yield to him, ask forgiveness for it, and then repent of it which means to choose and make a conscious decision to not do it anymore and follow through with it. So yes, none of us are perfect, but if we are humble and allow the Holy Spirit to correct us and forgive us. We will stay a clean bucket always ready for Him to pour more of Himself in us!

Thank you and if you have any questions or prayer requests, always feel free to contact me by commenting or sending a private message.

Be Blessed!

Mack Fowler, III Children's Pastor Destiny in Christ Fellowship

Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
Destiny in Christ Fellowship

 

5 Reasons Why Every Leader Needs an Inner Circle

Photo Credit: thenextweb.com

I came across this blog post from Kidsminspirtaion.com and thought it was really good and something that all Christians especially anyone involved in children’s ministry should read. I have noticed in my life how not having an inner circle has caused me to begin to burn out and get very frustrated with my ministry. So check out this blog post and take it to heart.

When I started out in kidmin, I likened myself to a sponge.  I wanted to soak up as much knowledge as I could.  I also deeply craved being around other leaders who did what I did.  I learned so much from listening to and engaging with other leaders – many of my own ideas were birthed as a result of being in such environments.

As the years have passed, the desire to be around other kidmin leaders hasn’t waned.  In fact, it has increased!  While I still love to learn and swap ideas, I now listen more intently to the heart of the leaders.  We share the same challenges and disappointments.  We are all trusting God to do big things through us for His glory.  We are just trying to survive week to week!

Having my circle around me has made me a better leader.  One piece of advice I always give to new ministry leaders or those having a rough time is GET AROUND OTHERS WHO DO WHAT YOU DO.  Having a circle of support doesn’t mean you’re a weak leader; it helps make you a stronger one.

How?

1. You can share in a safe place.  Every leader needs a safe place to share frustrations, challenges and tears.

2. You can bounce ideas off of other brains.  Some of my best ideas have come from a brainstorming session.

3. You can be supported in prayer.  Ministry is hard work and can often be lonely.  Having prayer support will be invaluable.

4. You can be affirmed.  Sometimes when you hear what others are going through, you realize that your situation is not all that bad.

5. You can be challenged.  You’ll hear other points of view and be challenged to think outside of the box.  You might even be encouraged to take a risk.  Being challenged might help you take the next step as a leader.

If you don’t know where to find that inner circle, here are a few suggestions:

Look within your church.  There are people in your church who are passionate about kidmin, love and support you or both. This group might not ‘do what you do’ but they can be a great source of support for you.  Keep them updated on ministry and personal needs.

Look within your community.  Are there church leaders in your community who you can network with?  I strongly believe that having a support system of like-minded people will be of great benefit to you.  I am part of a network of leaders who meet quarterly but out of that group, I have connected with one leader in particular who meets with me once a month for lunch and fellowship.  She is my kidmin sister and I always look forward to getting together with her.  Don’t have a group nearby?  Start one!

Look on social media.  Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and CM Connect provides platforms for you to connect with other kidmin leaders.

Look within your denomination, if you’re part of one.  Many denominations have Christian Education groups that meet regularly.  If not, start one!

Look for discussion forums within other websites, like Kidology.  You might also be able to find discussion forums for the curriculum that you use.  Visit their website to see if one exists.

What have been effective ways for you to connect with other kidmin leaders?

Burnt Out? Overflow…

overflowI can’t say how many times I’ve heard or even felt myself, “I’m burned out.” It is so easy to give, give, give, and give to something that you’re passionate about. We’ll give our time, money, and energy to the things that we’re passionate about. In the process, we can end up overwhelming ourselves. We can end up feeling exhausted and feeling like we have no energy left. But I know Jesus doesn’t want us to feel that way! He doesn’t want us to be totally exhausted and tired, unable to carry out what he has called us to do. Jesus wants us to overflow with Him. How do we do that?

One of the biggest reasons, I’ve felt burned out is I’ve neglected my time with Holy Spirit. I either haven’t spent time in worship, prayer, or bible reading, or I haven’t been keeping up with what my pastor(s) are preaching about (it’s hard to hear the message on Sunday morning when you’re serving the children.) So many times because I work in children’s ministry, I read the Word to teach and not read the Word to learn. I spend time with God to seek Him for Sunday morning not just hanging out with Him. That’s backwards! And that is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out real fast! Not only burn yourself out, but you’ll put yourself in a place where you may never want to serve in that ministry again!

waterfall Think of yourself as a barrel that holds water. When we spend time with God, it will fill up that barrel. When we serve, we start using up what’s in that barrel. Now only if we continually stay close to him, and we’re consistently staying in communion with Him, He’ll keep filling up that barrel until it eventually overflows.  When it overflows out of our barrel, it will spill out to those around us. So now, we are ministering out of the overflow of what God is doing in us and not trying to draw from the bottom of the barrel. If we don’t get filled back up, that barrel will eventually be empty. It will dry up, and we will have nothing left to give. Now, you can’t just get filled up once and then you’re good, you have to continually be being filled. So as, we give and give and give, we must also be filled and filled and filled, continually. If not, you’ll eventually run out again.

Now I’ve heard my whole life, “Read your bible, always pray, etc.” And I never thought it was that important, but now being involved in ministry, I have found myself more times than I can count to the point of giving up and quitting. Only moments later, getting a prophetic word of encouragement or spending time in worship and feeling completely fired up again. It’s because I had nothing more to give. My barrel was empty, and I needed to be filled up again. I have seen many times in my life and in those in ministry around me how this is so important! Don’t let yourself get burned out; allow Jesus to overflow you.

Mack Fowler, III Children's Pastor Destiny in Christ Fellowship

Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
Destiny in Christ Fellowship

End it!

You may have heard, but if not, today is FREEDOM FIGHTERS DAY! No, it’s not celebrating some victorious country in some war long ago. It is a special day that has been set aside to help bring awareness to modern day slavery. You may think slavery ended at the civil war, but actually slavery couldn’t be more prominent! The slavery I’m talking about is Human trafficking. Over 27 million men, women, and children are trapped in slavery around the world today, including the United States. In brothels. In factories. In mines. On street corners. In homes. In the shadows, hidden. Yet out in broad daylight, in plain sight here in America. Yes, in America! Over 200,000! Because over 50% of the slaves are children and teenagers taken their homes or sold by their families, it breaks me immensely. That’s why today I hope we can share with those around us the importance of this issue and hopefully we can take stands against it in our communities, countries, and on the other side of the world. Let’s be the generation to stand up and speak out for those who have no voice!

Does God Speak? Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God Part 3

God is still speaking

I feel that it’s time for another installment of: “Does God Speak? Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God,” In part 1 & in part 2, I covered the prophetic senses, impressions, hearing God’s literal voice, and the basics to hearing God and how to teach it to children. Now, let’s go in-depth on prophetic sight: one of the most common and my favorite prophetic sense.

Prophetic Sight: If you remember from my first blog on Hearing God, I briefly explained prophetic sight, but if you missed it here’s a recap: In the Old Testament, Many times prophets were called “seers”. Because they could see things in the spirit a lot like seeing things in the natural. We can see into the spirit today too! Sometimes, we will see pictures and images, that we call visions and have dreams. This is a very common way God speaks to us. We can even see angels and demons. We may even see someone we do not know that will remind us of someone we do know. God may be telling us something about that person that is similar to the person we do know.

Now, let’s go deeper. I am going to discuss visions and dreams more in-depth. There are a few kinds of visions and dreams that God uses to speak to us. Some are very simple while others are considered high level forms of prophetic revelation. I will discuss three types of visions and dreams.

Visions

1) Glimpses into the Spirit

These are the most basic form of visions. They are internal (we see them in our minds) pictures that we receive from the Lord. They are brief and usually contain only a still picture, not a scene or a story line. These visions are often times very symbolic in nature (not literal, using symbols to express a point.) After we receive these visions, we need to pray for an interpretation. Although they are a lower form of revelation, God can speak very powerfully through these gentle visions.

2) Gentle Internal Visions and Strong Internal Visions

Although they are still seen internally, these visions are stronger than simple glimpses. As a rule, these visions are more than just still pictures. Many times they are like “mini movies” in your mind that include a “story line” of events, and they often times focus on a specific event, person, or people. Some internal visions are much stronger, clearer, or more “to the point” than others. These are Strong Internal Visions. Both of these types of visions can be interrupted by distractions, so good focus is needed to keep from missing them.

3) Open Visions

This is the highest form of vision. These visions are received when your eyes are wide open, and these visions are not stopped by distractions. These visions can start and continue even when you are focusing on a specific activity. The experience is similar to seeing a scene acted out physically like in a movie screen. Additionally, open visions may be seen by more than one person at the same time.

Now, let’s talk about dreams. We pretty much all have dreams. So this way that God communicates to us can very easily apply to all of us. Not all of our dreams are good and from God, but there are times God uses dreams to speak to us! Our thoughts and brain are out-of-the-way, so God is able to speak clearly and thoroughly to us. But don’t assume every dream you have or remember is from God…

dreams and visions

Dreams

1) Literal Dreams

Literal dreams are short dreams that often times show us a bit of the future under certain circumstances. Basically, what will happen if you do this or if you don’t? Many times these dreams are easy to understand because they are not very symbolic.

2) Symbolic Dreams

Some dreams can be highly symbolic and must be very carefully interpreted over time. With lots of prayer and focusing on God, we can discover what God has to say. Some symbolic dreams are highly personal ways God speaks to people about decisions facing them. God has designed in such a way that we understand symbolism really well. Jesus spoke in parables which are very symbolic. So God will many times use symbolic dreams to communicate to us. It is also important to note that most dreams are symbolic, so do not assume a dream is literal. Always pray and allow God to lead!

3) Dreams of Angels or the Lord

Some dreams simply consist of an angel or God speaking to us. They are not visitations; they are dreams, but they are a high level of revelation. One of the most common scriptural examples is found in first two chapters of Matthew, when an angel speaks to Joseph, Mary’s wife.  God can speak to ANYONE through dreams and it is one of God’s most effective ways to speak to us. Because our minds are “off” and God can speak clearly to us.*

Alright, so why do I talk about the prophetic and even consider that kids can do it? Well, I was a kid who heard God at a young age. When I was 6 years old, we had this thing in the children’s church I grew up in called: Prophetic Prayer Night on the second Sunday night of the month. From there, I began to learn to hear God’s voice, and it was so simple! God didn’t hold back from speaking to me even though I was a little kid. I started off with learning my prophetic senses, specifically prophetic sight. I began seeing “pictures” and “mini movies” from the Lord while having dreams regularly all throughout my childhood and still today. I grew up knowing that God was always there and always speaking, and I believe all kids need to be taught this. That there is a God who is crazy about them and who loves them immensely. He wants to talk to them. Knowing this, has built such confidence in my spiritual walk and my identity, so now I want all kids to have the opportunity to learn these things. But not all credit is due to my children’s pastor, my parents were just as much a big help in teaching me about what a relationship with the Lord looks like. They would answer my questions I had about how to hear God, and they would help me understand what he was saying.

So if you’re a parent or children’s minister, you can teach your children about the Holy Spirit and of course how to hear him. It is probably the greatest thing aside from salvation to teach a child. And if you’re an adult, teenager, or child, you can hear God too! There are no limitations except the ones you put on yourself. God is speaking, and He wants to talk to you because He loves you!

That is all I have to say today. Sorry if this was a little long. I hoped you enjoyed it. Feel free to comment with stories or questions. If you were blessed or challenged by this, please share it.

Thank you & Be Blessed!

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Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
Destiny in Christ Fellowship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Information on Prophetic Sight, Visions, & Dreams comes from: Thompson, Steve. You May All Prophesy. Charlotte: MorningStar Publications, Inc, 2000. Print.

Yuck! That sounds like work!

Volunteer

“WHAT?! That sounds like work! What am I supposed to get out of it? How much are you going to pay me?” Those are all responses that we’ve probably made at some point or another at the sound of volunteering. Volunteering or serving another person, a group of people, or an organization is not always something we want to do; it’s not always easy, and sometimes it’s not fun either! So why do we do it? Why is it important? And does it even benefit us in any way? The answers to those questions aren’t simple, but let me try to tackle it anyway.

Why do we serve or volunteer? Well, for most people deep down in their heart of hearts, they feel the need to help humanity for the greater good. Whether you’re Christian, or any other religious affiliation, or not, most people tend to want to help others (including family) who can’t make it on their own. And sometimes trying to starve this inward desire to help can literally and emotionally make us sick. Sometimes, we serve by helping the single mom or elderly couple by mowing their grass, or volunteering our time at a food bank or soup kitchen, or maybe just giving money to an organization or a disaster fund. No matter how we do it, we have a tendency to want to help. And at the end of the day, many of us like the feel good feeling that makes it easier to sleep at night. Or the thought of just knowing, we helped someone in need. Sometimes, that’s the only reason we volunteer, and I think that there couldn’t be a better reason!

But why is it so important to volunteer or time, money, and energy? I’ve been to a handful or third-world countries, and the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the extreme poverty and lack of some of the basic “necessities” in American/western culture i.e. computers, Wi-Fi, phone service, hot water, air conditioning, consistent electricity, clean water, etc. But what I’ve noticed even more is how many people live in the United States without a lot of these “basic necessities” that I thought (in my little bubble) you had to have to “survive.” According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, there are over 16,000,000 children who live below the federal poverty level here in the United States! Some of these kids, whom I have met, don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, they don’t get cool toys for Christmas or their birthday, and many of them are constantly moving from house to house with their families. Now, this is just one example of the many areas where we can help others. The point is to answer the question of why is volunteering important. It’s because: there is a need!

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Xcamp 2013 with inner-city kids.
(KevinJamesKelly.com)

So how does volunteering benefit us? Well, I already mentioned how many people do it to get that “feel better/feel good about myself feeling.” But actually, I believe one of the greatest ways volunteering can benefit us is that it takes our focus off ourselves and yes even our families and “our little world” and turns it towards others. Volunteering turns our focus on the needs and people around us. Many times, it is so easy for me to get caught up in my life and my problems that I forget that there are people with their own lives and problems all around me! A maybe just maybe, I might just have the answer to their problems, and they may have the answers to mine. Volunteering helps build a selfless and humble attitude in us. It can put us in our place and help us realize that the problems in our lives may not be as big a deal as we thought.

Ultimately, serving others with our time and energy helps make us better, and I think it may actually benefit us more than the people we are trying to help. I have found that even if I don’t feel like it at first volunteering and serving makes my day so much better and puts a big smile on my face! So next time you need a pick me up, go and help someone else; it will flip your whole day around!

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Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
Destiny in Christ Fellowship