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Servant Hearted Leadership Following the Leader of Leaders

School is sprinting full force straight at us and parents, teachers, and administrators face, with great anticipation, the huge job ahead of them.  A job that truly is not seen in the now.  Our job is touching, reaching, and changing the future. There are moments in the classroom that change the world for kids. There are moments that will give hope and grace to kids who have never known hope or grace. There are moments where those same kids will feel like they are heard and they matter and that might possibly be the first time they have ever felt that way.  There are moments that allow a future to unfold in a way that child never dreamed it possibly could.

So how do we as adults, educators and parents, change the future?

In 1 Kings 3 we see Solomon entering his kingship. His throne has been established and he has gone up to Gibeon to make a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. While he is there, during the night in a dream, God comes to Solomon and says, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you (verse 5).”

This is the moment of a lifetime, Solomon could ask for anything! Fame, fortune, long life, he can have it all and God has given him the chance to think of the thing he most longs for and values.

What would you ask for? Where would your heart be?

Solomon answers so graciously in verse 6, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.”

He knew he had nothing to do with achieving the throne. He accepts that God is allowing him the chance and honor to ask for anything his heart desires and his heart is already aligned in the right direction making his request all the more humble in verses 8 and 9, “Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Solomon’s concern is servant centered. He understands the throne is from God and the people belong to God and furthermore he is extremely aware that he is not equip to serve them as their leader.

Teachers are working tirelessly to prepare to walk into classrooms full of students. As we get ready to step through that threshold on the first day and meet those anxious, excited, eager faces our prayer should be like Solomon’s, “God, thank you for this honor!  These kids are yours and this job is yours.  I did not get here on my own. Please give me a discerning heart to serve these kids so that I always point them to you and they see you!”

True leadership is surrendered; it is submitted to the King of Kings. Solomon understood this concept. He knew he was part of David’s legacy.

You will lead someone and in that leading you have a true honest responsibility. How will you carry out that responsibility? How will you serve? Where is your heart?

Leadership carried out responsibly involves following someone. King David followed God and longed to have a heart like him and passed that legacy onto his son Solomon.

Growing up my mom always told me to choose carefully who I followed by looking at who was leading them. There are so many wonderful people who have poured into me over the last 34 years and two very special heroes.   I would like to point out one in particular whose display of a servant heart changed my life. When I met him I was a starry-eyed immature wanna-be teacher. He met me with a smile and a kindness I hadn’t seen many times and he tried to prepare me for the job and journey I was fixing to step head first into. His job was simply to make me a teacher and my job was to soak up every last thing I could over a very short twelve week span. I had no idea that God would completely turn over my life and my heart in twelve weeks.

Leadership is all about the heart; a servant heart. What I learned over those twelve weeks was all about the heart. He showed me a kindness and love for teaching and for others in a new way that I  had not seen before.  I learned how to be patient, how to serve students, and how to speak in front of others without fear because God would be with me.  His heart for God was always evident, every moment of every day.  I watched him show every student and adult Christ through his actions and words as he served. He truly served others where they were at always meeting them at their hearts.  At the end of the twelve weeks my heart was broken knowing I would not get to see that type of Christ centered service day in and day out.  His eyes, his focus, were always on the cross.

My friend, my mentor, my hero understands what having a heart like God looks like and he serves others endlessly showing them Jesus by serving them and meeting them where they are at.

Solomon was trying to be a chaser of God’s heart like his father, David. He understood that he needed that heart and drive to be a good leader. He asked God for wisdom; a discerning heart that would allow him to lead and serve the people of Israel.  He was following God.  He was a leader following the Leader of leaders.

Leadership is tough. It is a burden that we all carry and only few can handle. You will lead someone; point them in the right direction by chasing with all your being after Jesus.  Servanthood will change the future and create a hope in our youth.  Show them Jesus through serving and loving them with a heart for God.  If you do this you will have someone follow you and it will change their lives…it quite possibly will save their lives.

Fearless Flight

We live in a world of uncertainty. There is always something or someone knocking on our hearts telling us we are not enough, we are alone, we are forgotten. We are constantly sold the lie that we are replaceable and our imperfections could knock us out of God’s plan.

I am deathly afraid of heights; bring you to your knees afraid; your eyes pooling with glassy drops of water spilling over down your cheeks afraid. I struggle to hold back the panic of an outright full blown anxiety attack just thinking about getting on board a plane let alone flying high above the solid ground.

Sometimes God has a sense of humor and He calls us to face our fears because ultimately we need to see Him in a more intimate way. We need to lay ourselves down and allow a deep trust in Him to grow and thrive. A year ago the Holy Spirit showed my heart that She Speaks 2017 had a spot for We Three and that we were to go. In order to go, I had to get onto a plane, not just one plane but two planes just to get there.

That meant that I had to sit and grasp the arms of my plane seat and feel the pain of my body thrust into the sky and the tingle of my skin as we moved faster and faster; I had to feel my heart catch in my chest as we rose higher and higher not just once but twice before walking into the conference. I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to trust Him and to let go of this fear.

Fast forward a year later and here we were crawling on that first plane. God provided three of the kindest individuals who poured into our hearts through eyes of comfort on that first flight. The couple brought such a sense of peace along with them and the third was a passionate stewardess who spoke of angels and the presence of God as we soared through the clouds. The second plane was much easier after that and we cruised into North Carolina. We made it! We made it to She Speaks 2017 and we sat in the spot God had saved for us.

I learned three very important things:

  • Flying is okay! I actually kind of enjoy feeling completely out of control and allowing my trust in God to take over in a new and completely unexpected way. I’m 33 and my God is bigger than any plane on this earth and He is with me and He goes before me!

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

  • Women are absolutely amazing!  I am such an introvert and so different and one on one is hard for me and it can sometimes be paralyzing. At She Speaks something incredible happens when you get 800+ women whose hearts are in desperate crisis of chasing God that it fills the atmosphere with a pure excitement, worship, and love for God that is truly safe and completely contagious. You see His presence and unconditional heart in the face of each woman and you hear His whispers through their stories and encouragement that gives all glory to Him. It was something I have never experienced before and will not soon forget.

 

  • God has a plan for you and He is in control… He is in control… one more time… He is in control. We each have a story and a wiring unique for the story God is writing and using to spread His gospel. He has not forgotten you and you are not replaceable!

Psalm 139:1-18, “You have searched me, Lord,     and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise;     you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;     you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue     you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before,     and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,     too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me    and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;     you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;     your works are wonderful,     I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you     when I was made in the secret place,     when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;     all the days ordained for me were written in your book     before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!     How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them,    they would outnumber the grains of sand—     when I awake, I am still with you.

All of these were mind-blowing and eye-opening and sitting here looking back on the days passed I find myself wanting to encourage women to accept who they are in Him and to see Him in your wiring and His fingerprints on the story He has written that is unique to you.

I’m different and the truth is…

My wiring is okay. My need to see God in an intimate way through creativity and my camera lens is okay.

I had overlooked this photo. I think because God knew that after the amazing spiritual weekend at She Speaks I would be looking out into my great big world and the battle would grow stronger. I have a choice between confusion and fear or hope and trust. I am staring a new journey in the face and it can be overwhelming if I don’t choose to trust and believe God. My speaker wings are brand new much like this little guy and they need to be tested and tried without fear of the future.  My wings need to fly with the hope and truth of God all around them.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Sitting in the trees that day watching this duckling look out into the great big world he was learning to navigate, I could see God everywhere. I could feel His heartbeat through the eyes of the camera lens. I always feel safe as I stand behind the camera because I see Him. I see His fingerprints. I long to capture a brief moment in time where His beauty and His glory shines. This duckling in his moment of stillness, I can’t help but think, he chose to trust and hope in the wings God gave Him as he learned to spread them wide and allow the goodness of our Father to surround and breathe new life into him.

The story He has written in your life is amazing! Every hurt and joy, pain and grace, every mountain and every valley all of them are unique to you and He will use it! I want to encourage you to raise your wings and fly into your wiring and trust that God did not make a mistake and then chase after Him listening for His voice and His prompting as you seek to further and glorify His Kingdom.

You are not an accident and you are not replaceable and your wings, new or old, still have a lot of flying left to do!

Spread your wings and let God breathe new life into them as you learn to fly!

Blessings,

Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty for Ashes

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”                                                Isaiah 61:1-3    

We live in a fallen world. This isn’t the garden and the hearts of men are not always seeking God’s righteousness. We see storms come and go, some big others smaller and others still seem to overwhelm beyond big and encompass us like a tropical hurricane storm. Maybe you are currently surrounded by the stormy blue skies filled with dusty thunder heads and you can feel the ache in the air as it moves towards you. Maybe you are right in the middle of the chaos surrounded by flashes of lightning and thunder paralyzing every muscle in your body. The ache of the rain and hail pounds on your head as you struggle to move forward in hopes of finding a way out. Or maybe, you are now on the other side of the storm and you see the aftermath that has settled all around you and you cannot even wrap your head around where to begin to pick up the pieces as the mourning and grieving begins to set in.

Trying to find words to express the pain or hurt that life can bestow on you is often overwhelming and more seemingly unsuccessful. Trying to struggle through expressing the grief, depression, and brokenness of loss tends to come up empty-handed. So often I think we put on our strong brave happy face on and walk out into the world wishing for just a moment the brave front could be taken down without fear of rejection or judgement or worse pity.

In Old Testament times mourning was often met with ashes being heaped upon their heads (Ezekiel 27:30 and 2 Samuel 13:19). It was an outward way of showing mourning, they did not have to have on their happy face and pretend things were fine. They embraced grief in an honest gut wrenching way. Here in Isaiah he is talking about all those who are mourning, the ash in their hair will be smoothed away by a Savior and in place He will put beauty on their heads. This word Isaiah uses for beauty can be defined as a head covering much like a tiara or garland. Next, oil was often used in celebrations and festivities, and here the Redeemer will pour joy out over the mourners’ heads all the while replacing the garment made from sackcloth they wore in their mourning with a beautiful garment that expresses praise.

What a beautiful image!

Picture this: you can come to foot of the cross before, during, or after any size storm completely covered in mourning and grief. You can bow down on your knees with tears flowing form your eyes to the King of Kings all while wrapping yourself in sackcloth garments with ashes covering your head and cry out to Him! He will gently bend down and meet you face to face taking your face into His soft hands and smooth away every last speck of ash out of your hair. All while gathering up every last tear you cry and softly placing them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). He will lovingly look into your eyes and place a beautiful crown where the ashes once overtook. He will then rain oil of joy on you as He takes away your mourning and then covers you with the finest garments of praise.  You can look into the light of His face and simply trust Him and bask in His protection and restoration.

Take a minute or two to really get ahold of what Jesus will do. He adores you and patiently waits longing to have relationship with you. Our Creator, the one who knit us together, wants us, the creation, to talk to Him! He wants us to focus on Him! We have access to the King of Kings! Why would you not want to talk to Him, fellowship with Him, Praise Him? No matter what you are going through He can and He will smooth away every ash and He will take away all mourning all while restoring you in garments of praise!

Blessings,

Stacy

Faith

“… I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”                                                                               

  Matthew 17:20-21

I have recently been learning lessons in faith. I have seen God’s amazing blessings and the extraordinary come out of the ordinary. I would like to share with you one story of faith.

There is a man of faith that I know trying to teach his children and bring them up as followers of Jesus, he had taught them about faith and action.  Believing in your heart, asking God, and then thanking Him.

Recently his cats had been disappearing. He lives in the country and coyotes had been attacking all the neighbors small animals. His cats usually stayed in his fenced back yard. One day an adult cat went missing and then a few days later two kittens went missing. They looked and looked and after a number of days he could only determine that the coyotes had gotten them.

Sometime after this, he and his small daughter were driving to pick up another daughter. When they got in the car his daughter said , “Dad I want to pray about our cats.” He said, “Ok I will pray and agree with you.” His little girl smiled and prayed, “Thank you God for bringing our cats back.” They picked up his other daughter.  They headed home and when they arrived sitting on the porch were all three cats.  They were all setting side by side awaiting his daughter’s arrival!  How great is our God! How great is the faith of His children!

Be blessed today, God loves us!

  Cindy (We Three)

Have you been called?

Hesitation hit me when Cindy, my daughter, and Stacy, my grand daughter, informed me that they were taking me to the She Speaks Conference.  Before I could object, they informed me that the guys would look out for Gene, my husband.  “You’re reading my mind,” I thought.  Gene and I are always together and now that he has some health issues, he needs me more than ever.  Then there is the issue of my health.  I’m  not fully recovered from my surgeries, I tire easily.  The conference means flying, which I hate, long hours and full days of sitting, listening, etc.  The wheels in my head kept turning with excuses.

” I saw this last year,” said Stacy, “and I knew I was called to go.  This is going to help me with my speaking.  And it will help us in the direction of learning how to get our books published.”

Over a year ago, we started writing a series of books together.  The ideas keep flowing; as fast as we let one go, another one pops up.  They are endless and we are overwhelmed.  We have a strong spiritual and family bond.  We Three is the author of the books along with the name of the writer.

Fast Forward, I feel inadequate.  Cindy just got commissioned into the Steven Ministry, Stacy teaches a Bible study; they read and research the Word.  I’m that kid that got a comic book bible from her grandmother and loved it.  I’m that kid that prayed to God and asked him to make movies about the stories in the bible because that would be much more interesting than just reading the words.  (Yes, I’m that old.)

Anyway, Stacy sets us up a website and a blog to help us.  She does an excellent blog and then it’s my turn.  I prayed, wrote it, printed it out and showed it to the girls to critique.  Wow, did I ruffle some feathers.  They knew we would take all kinds of hits, good and bad, and they couldn’t stand the thought of anyone talking bad to their mom and grammy.  “Okay, I will put it on the shelf and think about it.”

“If you are suppose to post it, then do it,” they said.

However, I am not suppose to post it.  Some of it is being taken care of already.  What that blog did for me was to break away my feelings of being inadequate in the spiritual realm.  We discussed it and discussed how we each felt.  We talked about our strengths and our weaknesses and what holds our group together.  God knows what he is doing.  I have been exercising and gaining strength.  I have been called to this conference and it will do for me what is intended.  He calls us at all ages.  We are not through until we have finished.

“Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”  Mark 4:40

Shirley Perry

Who God is

“He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to men, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth-the Lord God Almighty is his name.” Amos 4:13

This is the first scripture I ever memorized and one of my all-time favorites.  My thoughts  when I first read this years ago were, “This is God. This is God!”  It brought me to my knees,  “Creator,  all of who He is, He is the beginning and the end, He is  everything!”  An awe moment and a realization that, “What I know of Him he reveals to me! WoW! Just WOW!”

For me, I love the feeling of awwww when God reveals something to me, when I see him working in peoples lives, when I gaze on his mountains, and  so many other small instances. This scripture is my reminder of who he is and what he does. When this scripture comes to my mind, which it does quite often, it makes me smile– in awww. He is my all.

I hope that in Gods word you find your Awwww moment that speaks to you in your place of need and also tells you who He is. God bless you.

Cindy Jester

 

 

 

Whose voice do we look to?

By: Stacy Ferguson

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

Even before our feet hit the floor in the morning there are a million temptations to allow our minds to wander into fear. Once we are out there with our feet on the pavement the rush of fears can become overwhelming and take away what little breath we have left in our lungs. Fear is lurking everywhere.

I sat at home on the couch completely unaware of the weather outside when a loud crack and boom echoed through the walls. All at once the sound of rain bombarded my roof and my first thought went to our miracle pup who has never seen or heard a storm like the one that just rolled in. I knew this could go one of two ways, either he would not be bothered at all by it, fingers crossed, or he would become terrified and we would have an anxious nutty pug pup running around in terror. Wouldn’t you know it there was a third option, Winston looked straight at me to see what I did and I didn’t react to the storm but instead I reacted to him. I talked to Mr. Winston and he turned his head back and forth listening intently to all the words I said and the tone in which they were said. Then he ran to the back door with me. I opened the door to a world of water rushing down in buckets and flooding our parched yard so quickly that the water level was rising quickly up and to our back door. He watched from behind me and I continued to talk to him about how God was watering the yard and how it was safe and the next thing I knew he was curious and stepping out in front of me to see the beauty of God watering His earth. For the next hour he ran from the front door to the back door demanding it be opened so he could see what had happened in the last few moments since we looked. Just when I thought we were done back to the front door to see the water rolling down the road and filling the flower beds and then once more coming and jumping on me to open the back door just to see the wonders that were unfolding from the sky.

God does the same thing with us. Those moments when we are completely oblivious to the outside world when the enemy booms and echoes trying to temp the fear to overtake our hearts and paralyze us, God is there with us waiting for us to look at Him. He waits patiently ready to talk with us and tell us of His mighty power and His mighty strength. He is not even addressing the fear that is booming in our ears but gently taking our hands and reminding us we are in Him and we get to stand in His mighty strength (Ephesians 6:10). He tells us His story, all of who He is, and reminds us He has already won. The victory is His. He, then, generously waits with us at the door He has opened while whispering all He already knows that lies ahead and how He will be with us every step of the way (Deuteronomy 31:8).

I learned something this evening from our miracle baby Winston, he never took his eyes or ears off of me. He put ultimate trust in me regardless of what was happening outside. He took his every que from my reaction and my voice and never once questioned it but instead was filled with excitement for all he was seeing and going through whether it was good or bad. See, if we keep our eyes and ears on God and only listen to His voice all those storms, all those fears, all those temptations to be paralyzed by fear will have no power in our lives. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Let’s look to God and allow Him to drown out the echoes and temptations of fear as we walk with Him through the doors He opens and leads us through.