God Can Use You

There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. Acts 10:1-2

Cornelius was a good guy, yet he was a Centurion. Centurion’s were a vital part of the Roman army and their job was to lead men (soldiers). The reputation of the Roman army was not good. However, Cornelius was a man who did charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. Because of that, an angel appeared to him and said, “Your prayers and acts of charity have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4b

Did you know God can use you whether you know it or not. You may or may not be seeking God. You may or may not believe in Jesus.

Yet God can use you.

So you may be a good person who does charitable things for others and you may know there is a God and even pray, but don’t fully understand the whole Jesus thing. Good News! Neither did Cornelius.

While God was working in Cornelius’ heart, Peter had a vision. Through that vision, God showed him the foods Peter thought to be unclean and how they could be made clean by God (Acts 10:9-16). Peter didn’t understand what God was trying to say and was deeply perplexed according to the scripture. While Peter was thinking about the scripture, the Holy Spirit directed him to three men who were looking for him. The men were sent for Peter by Cornelius who also had a vision. Cornelius’ vision was to send for Peter yet he did not fully understand why. Now here’s where I think this gets really interesting.

God used Cornelius, a Gentile, as an example of someone who was not Jewish. Someone who could be made “clean” and adopted into the family of God and be a follower in Jesus Christ. God was preparing Peter’s heart before the visit when he gave him the vision of clean versus unclean food. He was showing him that He loves all people both Jew and Gentile and salvation is available for all.

So can God use anyone…at any time…in any situation…to bring understanding of who He is and His great love! Are you praying for opportunities to be used by God. I promise if you pray it, He will use you.

I saw the movie War Room over the weekend and left the movie feeling inspired. The message I saw throughout the movie was about prayer and God’s faithfulness. In the end, the message was clear about another point.

Mentoring.

If I am a follower of Jesus, I should be mentoring someone else who desires to be in a close relationship with God. There are plenty of folks out there who attend church who could be mentoring someone. There seems to be a plethora of people who desire a close walk with God but don’t know what that looks like. I get that and I was in that place for a number of years in my life. These people are the perfect candidates for mentoring.

On Sunday morning, I prayed for a person I could mentor. A few hours later, a young woman is in our sanctuary by herself. When I approached her to introduce myself, she tells me that it is her first visit to our church and that she is nervous. It was an opportunity for me to encourage her for coming and for me to sit with her during the service. We have scheduled lunch this week and I am smiling ear to ear as I wonder how God is going to work in this situation. Maybe this is the person I am to mentor.

What about you?

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Three Good Questions

As Jesus went on from there. He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him. Matthew 9:9

Following is leadership and leadership is following. You can’t have one without the other. Jesus challenges us to follow him just like he did with Matthew.  Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Do you want to follow me?”. He said, “Follow Me!”. This was not a question but a statement. Matthew got up and followed him. May I suggest that when we are following Jesus, we are leading. We are leading simply by following Jesus Christ.

I’ve been particularly interested in leadership recently. Over the last few years, many speakers and teachers are talking about leadership. Andy Stanley has a Leadership Podcast titled, Simply Lead. Andy tells us to “keep leadership simple” and as your organization is growing, it typically grows with complexity and that is an unavoidable reality. Our approach to leadership should not be complex because our clarity in leading is vital to the growth. Andy tells us to ask three simple questions as we consider the vision or mission of our organization. 

“What are we doing?”  Asking yourself the vision or mission statement of your organization should bring clarity in answering this question. Does this new idea or project follow our vision for the organization? When everyone asks this same question, your team is united in moving forward.

“Why are we doing it?” This is where we find inspiration and clears up what’s at stake if we don’t do it. This goes beyond money and finds us considering how we can make the world a better place. What would be lacking in our country or community if we went away. This is a question all organizations can ask themselves. The leader has to ask him/herself why am I doing this. The “why am I doing this” helps us to see our personal and corporate passion. “Why” has the power to get us through the tough times and is the reason we don’t quit.

“Where do I fit in?” What is my critical role as a leader and what is my unique contribution. What is my core responsibility and am I doing what only I can do? Am I in my sweet spot as a leader. These questions helps us to re-center ourselves. We are at our best when we are doing what we do best and our organization is at it’s best when everybody is doing what they do best.

Andy suggests a one sentence responsibility description for your employees. If all else fails, this is the one thing that is expected from a particular person. That way, with everything else going on in a busy workplace, this helps the employee keep focus and answer the question as to “where do I fit in?”. This helps streamline an organization as the organization becomes more complex.

I love these three simple questions and how they are helping me to stay focused in practical ways in all areas of my life. I hope I’m a better leader which ultimately makes me a better follower. And since we are all following someone, I hope and pray you choose to follow Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).Image