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Don’t let offense have the last word

Beach San Pedro

Proverbs 18:19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel (NIV)

One of the hardest things to talk about with your spouse is disagreement over a standard or value that you hold dear.

When any one of these standards is threatened, emotions run high and the relationship moves into a vulnerable state whilst the issue is discussed and a resolution negotiated.

At any point along this path offense may arise and when it does so it blocks off all future progress towards resolution until the offense itself is dealt with. In fact, the offense then becomes the whole problem and needs to be the focus of your attention. It will be impossible to talk further about the issue at hand until the relationship is restored.

The process of becoming offended during conflict resolution often follows this pattern:

  • Spouse A confronts spouse B on an area of concern to him or her.
  • Spouse B becomes defensive, feels attacked, and refuses to accept the correction. He attaches his self-worth to the actions that are being challenged.
  • Spouse A refuses to accept spouse B’s hurt feelings as being valid and doesn’t recognize the wounded ego of the other, but instead feels rejected.
  • Both spouses feel that the other should reach out and apologize first.
  • Stalemate ensues where neither backs down.
  • Either one or both spouses begin to think critical and negative thoughts about the other, and become exaggeratedly aware of the other’s flaws.
  • Emotional withdrawal takes place.
  • You start to avoid the other person and close off from them.
  • You begin to feel disconnected and find no reason to stay together.

Offense is the decision not to yield but to harbor hurt and anger. The Word teaches us that offense in a relationship is a tough challenge; but it is not impossible to restore harmony and achieve a greater level of understanding as a result

Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

When everything in you feels like venting your anger and frustration at the unyielding spouse, the Bible shows that the key lies in the gentle answer. The following ways of applying this principle will greatly increase your ability to resolve conflict and defuse offense.

 Show empathy with them. Use body language that tells them that you are giving them your attention and that you are sympathetic towards their cause. Turn towards them and look them in the eye. Offer to hug them if appropriate and ask, “Is that how you feel?”

Don’t invalidate, but acknowledge their emotions. They need their emotions to be understood. At the root of every argument is, “”You don’t understand me”, or “You haven’t given legitimacy to how I feel.” Don’t be critical, but ask, “How does that make you feel?” and, “How can I best understand you?” Resist the temptation to rush to the solution. When a person feels understood they cannot really carry on shouting. They feel they have a partner at resolving the issue at hand. But if you invalidate their feelings, you are in trouble. Now you start fighting about whether their feelings are valid. You have to learn how to speak softly.

Give the other person the right to have a different opinion and to complain. This is a powerful and liberating thing in a relationship. It takes the sting out of the offense and minimizes its affects. Let them know that their complaint doesn’t mean that your relationship is over.

Recognize their needs. Hand in hand with every argument is the fact that their needs are not being met. Most men don’t understand that a woman has a strong need for affection which is as strong as a man’s need for sex. Acknowledgement of the other’s needs is a powerful reassurance of love and concern.

Be prepared to act and do something about it. If you understand, what are you prepared to do about it? Be prepared to make adjustments to your interactions with your spouse. Maybe speaking more gently and considerately on a frequent basis will give your spouse the security they need to yield to your values and ways of thinking without feeling trapped.

You must show that you care. People shouldn’t be afraid of you rejecting them when they mess up. They can mess up but you will still love them. You must be hard on the issue and soft on the person. It is not so much about coming against the person as it is about resolving the issue. Don’t beat the person up about it, but take measures to curb the offending behaviors.

When you reach a place of stalemate with your spouse, seek help. Having a pastor who provides spiritual covering over your lives and marriage will be a huge strength if you both respect that person enough to agree to submit to their counsel.

Finally, someone has to be prepared to back down. It requires great strength of character to stop a fight even when you know you have a valid point that is not being received by the other. Letting it go and entrusting what is dear to you to God is sometimes the only way forward without breaking the relationship. If you choose to take that route, you can be sure that God Himself will never let you down. He will stand up for you and fight your battles. Watch and see what the Lord will do on your behalf!

 


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The secret to a big life

6-15-14 cropped

Acts 20:35

…Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

If you listen to the average person’s testimony, it is usually about what they received. We have the mindset that receiving is the greatest thing that can happen to us.

But It turns out that there is a greater empowerment of blessing that comes on our lives when we give, than when we receive.

In fact giving is a vital part of growing and even sustaining life. Try breathing in, but never breathing out. Try taking a salary but not working. Try eating without using the bathroom!

By releasing something, room is made for your increase, and the door is opened for your progress.

If you are feeling stuck at any particular level, check out your giving. You will rise to the level of your sacrifice in life and no further. When you stop giving you lose your capacity for more.

Many people achieve a level that they perceive to be comfortable, and then simply stop pushing for more. Whoever told you that everything that is in your hand was for your consumption alone? How will you be able to distribute to others if you are only operating with just enough for you?

This attitude will stop you from being maximized in who you can become in the purposes of God. It will affect your life in every arena.

For example you will make your million and switch to the world’s idea that you should protect what you have in case you lose it. Or you achieve peace in your home and stop reaching out to others because they are no longer necessary to support your emotional wellbeing. Or you rise up to become a manager at work, but become a blockage to others because you stop being resourceful and creative, but instead redirect your attention to maintaining your position.

The world’s mindset for achieving success is to hold on to every asset you get, and if you release it you will lose out. In fact this is the quickest way to kill your own potential. Every area of your life in which you are not giving anything, but you are receiving something, is actually dying. Giving allows your life to be replenished and refreshed.

Giving is about operating in an attitude of generosity in every way: with your time, your money, your ideas, your abilities, your love, your attention, your knowledge and your skills; in fact with every resource that you command.

Giving more will take your life to another level. It is the thing that triggers a greater harvest than you have seen before.

Your marriage may be good, but what would it be like if you were to give your whole self to your wife?

Your ministry may be bearing fruit, but what would happen if you loved those people God has given you to minister to with everything that is in you?

You may have good kids, but what could you impart to them if you spent time with them instead of simply buying them things to keep them happy?

You may be covering your bills, but what would happen if you started sowing financial seed like you used to when you were desperate for God to meet your needs?

Proverbs 11:25 tells us that the generous soul will be made rich. Let me ask you this: is everything you own close to you, or are you using your personal resources to have a positive impact on someone else?

It’s time to take care of someone else, and trust God to take care of you. It’s time to give so much at work that they call you the “Solutions Guy.” It’s time to pour so much into your family that your kids rise head and shoulders above their peers.

Of course I appreciate that it makes people mad to be challenged like this; but I encourage you to be teachable and to allow someone to stretch you – unless you are content to play in the Little League all your life. As for me, I am determined to make the Super Bowl!

Your life and results will increase and grow as you increase and grow. There is no mystery: your current results are an indicator of the person you have become so far. You will never see a significant harvest in your life as long as you stay in your comfort zone.

If you want to grow and see significant victories, don’t go running to someone for help as soon as you are in a tight spot. Find someone else that you can help, and you will be surprised at how quickly your miracle shows up.

Right now God is changing your season. He’s leading you out of every narrow place – narrow mindsets, narrow resources, shallow relationships, narrow friendships, narrow visions and narrow circles. He’s lifting you to higher ground. Accept THAT!!


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Something good is coming to your house

Harvest time

Mark 4:26-29

The Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground, and then continues sleeping and rising night and day while the seed sprouts and grows and increases- he knows not how.

The Earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, immediately he sends forth and puts in the sickle, because the harvest stands ready

God has set up a system for us to get results in life and it is called the Kingdom of God. Christians, however, are often frustrated by a lot of talk about the Kingdom, but no undeniable evidence of the power of God in their lives.

The Kingdom is not a matter of talk; it is an action orientated system. It’s a system of sowing and reaping. The primary seed is the Word, which is sown into the human heart; but as well as that, the whole of our lives are seeds. We were conceived as a seed and we ourselves are seeds.

Many good Christians are sowing the Word and sowing their finances; working and giving of themselves self sacrificially without seeing a harvest on their efforts because, although they have grasped the need to sow, they have failed to understand the reaping process.

Reaping doesn’t happen in passive place; nor is it a purely spiritual activity. We are going to have to engage with the world, and with the affairs of unbelievers if we are ever going to reap as God intended us to. As Christians we have to move away from an emphasis purely on church activity, and realize that this entire planet is spiritual; and that it is subject to spiritual laws. We can operate within the natural world and come out on top because the wisdom of God will always surpass the wisdom of men. We are spiritual beings in a natural world, and we are set up to master both realms.

Let’s look at the natural picture that we are given in this scripture: the sickle is a rough, sharp blade which the reaper uses in a vigorous swing to tear away at the stalks, and pull off the heads of the wheat. The gathering of the agricultural harvest involves deliberate, strenuous, physical effort.

Yet the average Christian is waiting patiently for his harvest to fall into his lap. He has no notion of what it will take to reap his new home, his promotion, his anointing, his peace of mind, his freedom from addiction or his dream relationship.

We are going to have to be intentional about reaping our harvest. Here are some practical pointers for going about it.

First of all, make sure you have identified what your harvest will be. It can be whatever you want it to be, so establish a clear picture of what you want. Make sure that it lines up with your purpose, otherwise you will be looking for a harvest that isn’t yours to have.

Sometimes your harvest comes but you didn’t recognize it, because you weren’t expecting something that GOOD! You were so preoccupied with paying your bills on your little house that you couldn’t even think that God would put you in that huge place! Don’t be like the man who misses his opportunity because he wasn’t ready to take it. Someone else stepped in and took the promotion that should have been yours because they were ready and you weren’t.

Expectation is powerful. When you stop expecting something good to come to you from God, there is an illness in your bones. You can be saying, “It’s harvest time!” with your lips, but inside you are thinking, “Maybe one day”. There is no urgency about your anticipation. Yet the scripture tells us that “immediately” we must put in the sickle.

Your attitude of expectation will cause you to take action, just like when a woman is expecting a baby and she buys certain things and eats certain things and stops doing certain other things in order to be ready for motherhood.

It’s time to be diligent about preparation – studying for the exams that will open doors for your promotion, taking care of the apartment you are in now because you are practicing for your mansion. Learn how to interview; improve your vocabulary and smarten up your personal presentation, because you are ready to stand before kings, and not before obscure men (Proverbs 22;29)

The realm of harvest is available to all those who will develop their self-image to the point where they think, concerning all the good things in life, “Why not me?”

Get rid of the kind of talk that says “I’m just a… (single mama, minority, uneducated person etc.)”  Recognize that you are equal with all men before God. Stop identifying yourself most strongly with your cultural or historical roots, and see yourself as a unique human being, whose primary place of belonging is the Kingdom of God.

Recognize your power as a human being to influence and affect the outcomes of things. Don’t give yourself away cheaply, taking the first deal that comes to you, or the first man who says he loves you, thinking they are doing you a favor by their offer before you have even had a chance to investigate what you are getting into. Stop being happy with the crumbs! Lift up your eyes, research, do your homework and find out options for every situation. Only settle once you know, “THIS is my harvest.”

Be prepared to take a stand. Enemies love to show up at harvest time to steal away your advantage. Although as believers we never pick a fight, God requires that we stand up for what is ours, just like in the parable that Jesus told of the wise and foolish virgins. It’s time to receive what is ours without shame.

Right now there is a sound of the abundance of rain. It’s time to make an announcement at your house, “It’s harvest time!”


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When marriage brings regrets

Marriage regrets

One of the greatest blessings that God can give us is the ability to choose wisely. There is no area where this will impact us more than the area of choosing a marriage partner.

The fact is that many people find themselves married to someone who they would now like to “switch out” for someone else.

Why is it so easy to make a choice which, with hindsight, we would like to revisit?

To make a choice that you won’t later regret, you MUST know who you in God. This understanding doesn’t come overnight and yet waiting to get to the place where you have a real grasp of your purpose on the Earth, will be a huge advantage in knowing who to choose to walk alongside in you in life.

 You will be most fulfilled in marriage if the person you are with “gets” who you are. In contrast, it is very challenging to spend your life with someone whose whole focus for living differs radically from yours; even though when you were dating that didn’t seem as important than the excitement of the relationship you enjoyed together.

One common misconception is that, since opposites attract, it is a good idea to marry someone who “balances you out”. While this seems like a great theory, in reality, marrying someone who is opposite to you will not make for harmonious life. Men and women are already very different in make-up. If your interests, temperament and ways of dealing with life are also far apart from that of the other person, it will be hard to enjoy each other’s company in the long run.

We sometimes choose according to the need of the moment, to answer some kind of pressured situation we are facing. We can be convinced that another person is the answer to our problems in some way.

For example:

To spite our parents by breaking their control.

To escape an unhappy home.

To get affirmation from another person to patch up a negative self image

You are on the rebound from an unhappy relationship.

You are fearful of being “left on the shelf” and your biological clock is ticking

You are fearful of independence and want to replace your Mum or your sister.

To protect the person you are dating from feeling rejected.

You feel sorry for him and see yourself as his counselor.

It is the only legal way of getting sex!

You fall pregnant.

You need a visa or money, or you have some other personal agenda.

Since life is a journey, there are almost always elements of immaturity in our decision, which later we see with greater clarity.

The great news is that our choices don’t consign us to a lifetime of unhappiness.

The meaning of redemption is that God takes our humanity and creates something wonderful from our lives, and for that reason we should never feel trapped by decisions we made along the way.  God is not taken by surprise by our decisions, and He is able to work everything together for our good if we will place our trust in Him and not panic. He is the way maker and He will take us forward from where we are now.

Recognize that there is no security in human beings. The person you marry will be the source of your greatest joy and your greatest pain. You have to trust God with the management of your life and recognize that every relationship requires faith in God to make it work.

Remember that God is the one who satisfies your soul and then focus your attention on being a blessing to your husband or wife, instead of berating them for not meeting your felt needs.

Attend to these four areas of need within our spouse and sow your seeds of fulfilment into him or her. Your seed will surely set in motion the harvest you seek.

Acceptance- communicate to the other person that they are wanted and needed just as they are.

Identity – Recognize who you have married, Step back and look at their unique attributes and qualities and celebrate them. Be for their development and personal fulfilment, and don’t expect more than they are able to give right now.

Security – Let the person know.” I will not leave you destitute, no matter what you do” Put the highest priority on providing for you both and never leave the other stranded. If you have a track record of walking out, stop it.

Purpose – There is nothing more frustrating than living without a purpose. When people are not in touch with their purpose, they find all kinds of ways of distracting themselves – shopping, TV, substance abuse, even doing good deeds and being busy. But there is no aim in mind. Connect with one another by exploring why you are as you are. Find yourselves together.

Finally, bring yourself to sit under the preached Word as often as you can. The Word and the anointing will heal you every place you hurt. As you submit yourself to God in this way, you will discover that God knows well how to make ALL things beautiful in His time.


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Don’t take instruction from your circumstances – it’s harvest time!

Outside the Hippodrome

Genesis 8:22

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.

While the Earth remains, God has ordained that we can be sure of some things never ceasing.

As well as the obvious physical regularity of these things, each one speaks of a spiritual season. We can all relate to these experiences of life, because we go through them at different times.

And yet it seems that one part of this picture is often missing – it’s the part about harvest.

All of us as Christians have heard a lot about sowing. We are well acquainted with the need to sow – to give not only our finances, but our prayers, our kindness, our forgiveness, our love, our time and our effort into other people and into the Kingdom of God.

In fact we have become so focused on seed time, that we have stopped expecting harvest time to even come around!

Yet the scripture says that harvest time should never cease! If you keep on giving and loving and sowing, where is your harvest?

In Mark chapter 4 26-29 Jesus talks about the point when the grain that has gown up, ripens. That is the moment when the harvest is ready for gathering.

 It has to happen because harvest can never be done away with. And when that happens, we have to put in the sickle. No one can do this for us – we have to show up and harvest our own crop.

Each believer has an appointment with their harvest. God ordained our days to be filled with peace, purpose, health, anointing, provision and wholeness. In short, we should prosper in every arena of life.  Our lives are all about us living the manifestation of what He already wrote in His book concerning us.

The problem is that many Christians are ashamed of wanting to receive a harvest. They feel it is just greed to expect to get something back from their obedience that is actually good!

Yet if a rich aunt left them an estate in her will, they would have no problem going to claim their inheritance in full.

The New Covenant is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. Since this is a will, we shouldn’t feel awkward about receiving and owning what is in the will.

Let’s make a clear distinction: greedy people want to lay their hands on what doesn’t, by rights,  belong to them; whereas covenant people don’t want to leave anything on the table that has been given to them as an inheritance in Christ.

Right now we are in a time when the grain has ripened. We’re not looking forward to a day when harvest might come – we are looking back to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which means that harvest has been brought right into the present. Having given us Jesus, God  has freely released all other things to us also.

So who stole your harvest? Where is the stuff that your Papa God bought for you? Your harvest should flow, just like day and night. As long as the Earth remains, you should be getting paid!

Not receiving anything doesn’t make you humble; it makes you sad. From now on you should not be OK with seeing no results from your Christianity. The devil has been playing dirty and stealing your stuff. You shouldn’t be investing all in your marriage just to find out she is just a gold digger; or he is a nincompoop. You shouldn’t be working faithfully in the background, doing your job excellently without seeing promotion. You are not excluded from the best business deals just because you don’t have a PhD, and you shouldn’t write yourself off from being used by God just because you have made mistakes.

On no account should you take instructions from your circumstances, or accept a lower  seat than the one God designed for you just because the world seems to give you the message that you belong down there.

Harvest is your portion, and as a man of God, sent to minister as a prophet over God’s people, I declare that it is harvest time in your house.

Just as when Elijah showed up in Ahab’s court and decreed that there would be no rain until he said so, so it is when a rhema word comes out of the prophet’s mouth nowadays.

Whatever the season that has gone up until this time in your life; as surely as the Lord lives, I assure you that from now on it is harvest time!

If you will take the instruction that comes in 2 Chronicles 20:20, to believe the prophet that God sends to your life, the Word that I am declaring right now will take precedence over your circumstances and cause harvest to be initiated right there, right now!

As you give weight to this Word, you are putting in the sickle. As you perceive and receive it as having come from God Himself, you position yourself for the manifestation.

Make a conscious decision to believe God more than you believe the physical evidence you face. Right now there is a fresh wind blowing in your life. Let the glory of God take you to another dimension. It’s harvest time!


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Becoming a runner

marathon-runners

Habakkuk 2:2

Write the vision and make in plain on tablets, so that he may run who reads it

When a man or woman receives a vision from Heaven of what God wants accomplished on the Earth, his or her first move is often to look for money to facilitate it.

But the greatest resource that a vision can have is not money; it is people – people who are passionate about the Kingdom Of God; people who understand that their lives are strategic to God’s eternal purpose, and who declare, “This is what I want to spend my whole life on.”

Above all else a vision requires people who will run with it. The main reason why any vision doesn’t get off the ground is because it lacks runners.

In Psalm 68:11 it says that God gives the Word, and great is the company of those who publish it. The runners are those who take hold of the vision and practicalize it. It will require a plethora of giftings and multifaceted wisdom to bring the El-Shaddai vision to its fullest expression.

Not only that, but we are called to be runners with a defined race, according to our assignment within the vision. We are not to be aimless, as one beating the air, but those who run with focus and discipline, so that we can win the prize. Winning is the reward of those who run consistently within their lane, and who will say, “Leave that segment of the race to me. I have it covered.”

When a person starts to run, it demands an explanation. When you start to run, others will begin to run alongside you, simply because you are running. Your influence for the Kingdom will immediately be increased.

As well as that, everything within you will start to change. The average person is waiting for things around them to be different, but God’s way of bringing to pass the changes we are looking for, is to turn you and me into runners.

A runner experiences a shift in every part of his being: his metabolism, his focus, his mindset and what is important to him. Nothing remains the same. Under the anointing, he is turned into another man. Every Christian should at least one time, experience the anointing coming upon him to the degree that he is shocked at himself and at what God will do through him.

It’s time to go into the enemy’s camp and to discover ourselves and what God will do with our lives, given over to Him. Maybe you don’t believe you have the strength or the time to do what God called you to do. Become part of the company of runners who gather under this vision and let the Holy Ghost come upon you.

A company of runners will have multiplied strength. Even an ox tied to a donkey will pull harder, even though the donkey isn’t actually yoked up. There will be a synergy, that will give us the ability to change a generation. As we march as one, each of us will become giants, and our God will be glorified.

Will you be a runner? Not a lone runner, remaining independent and self-directed; but a member of a company of runners, flowing as a team and allowing God to maximize your impact.

Let God’s purposes become your driving force as you run your set race. There’s no greater life!


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A taste of heaven

Heavenly place

Marriage is an amazing gift. Think about this: the whole reason that Jesus went to the cross was so that He could spend the whole of eternity married to us.

In fact the profundity of what we have in Christ can only really be understood in the sexual union within marriage. Notice that it is within marriage that this happens. Despite the popular belief that the “forbidden fruit” of sex outside marriage is the most exciting and fulfilling, the truth is that sex within a long term, covenant relationship causes every other experience to pale into insignificance.

Sex is a godly thing. The majority of people who mess up with all kinds of sexual perversions, do so because they failed to realize how sexual they are. The desire for sexual intimacy is like a fire within us; if your mind doesn’t process it, it will consume you.

The same wonderful gift that has the potential to be so amazing in your life, can also ruin your relationships and even destroy you. But your life cannot be all about intimacy. If you make it the focus, your strength will be drained. In fact your productivity in life will be directly proportionate to your ability to reign in and channel your sexuality.

Sex is far more than a physical act. When you sleep with someone, realize that it immediately gives you the greatest potential to hurt them the most. In a sexual relationship, you take on the responsibility to take care of the heart of that person, and to steward that life. You become God’s minister to them and the fulfilment of their potential is wrapped up in that experience.

When sex becomes just an act – even within marriage – it becomes something far less than what it was intended to be. Sex is not something you do; it is a place where you go – and you only go there with the one person you are married to. You are the only one who gives themselves up for the other. You carry one another to a different place. It is a taste of heaven.

So many people have engaged in sex, but have never been transported.  So many people have had sexual experience, but so few have entered into the fullness of what God has given to us.

Extra-marital sex is ultimately empty and lacking emotional depth. Marriage can easily become companionship without eroticism; love without desire.

The issue is that both men and women have a strong need for both reliability and permanency on the one hand, and adventure, mystery and surprise on the other.

The thing that many fail to understand is that you can have both within marriage: you can enjoy constantly renewed passion right there in an environment of security and commitment.

If you want to have an excellent relationship where you are excited about each other, the secret lies in the planning.

The myth that the only good sex is spontaneous sex could not be further from the truth.

You are mature and you can plan a night when you are going to give yourself to your husband or wife. You can have a sense of anticipation about the appointment you make with her. If you are tempted to fuss and get angry with one another, you stop yourself, because you are looking forward to your appointment and you have made a decision to have a great time together. Make it creative, imaginative and fresh. You have a license to enjoy one another, so don’t feel inhibited, but be playful and excited about one another.

Living longer with one another doesn’t mean ending up living with your sister. It’s possible to want what you already have with passion; to enjoy and celebrate one another without feeling the need to find fresh excitement elsewhere, and to experience a fulfillment that will undergird and strengthen your zest for life and the maximizing of your entire potential. That is the will of God for you.

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