Category Archives: Live and Learn

The things life has taught me.

MARY vs MARTHA by Mary Ellen Lively

My good friend, Mary Ellen Lively, is guest blogger for this post. She writes on a condition all too familiar to many of us! Enjoy!


My “Mary” and my “Martha” are in conflict! I mean some days they are just slugging it out, no holds barred and no referee! When will this be over so that someone can yell, “Yo, Adrian! I did it!”   “Mary” wants to turn up the worship music and get lost in God’s Presence. She wants to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up every word, every breath and every nuance of what He is teaching. She wants to bask in the glow of His glory. If there were a Mountain of Transfiguration in Fayetteville, NC, she would find it and be there to hear God speak. She wants to be at each intercessory prayer meeting and sing to His glory long after each worship practice is over.   

However, “Martha” knows that there are things that must get done. (And who else is going to do them and do them right the first time?) This house really needs to be cleaned. Some of the dust bunnies look like they knew Methuselah personally. There are meals to prepare and groceries would be essential to this process. Apparently, laundry was also given the command to, “Be fruitful and multiply!” Someone needs me to listen to a problem and then solve it. Perhaps the bills should get paid. Oh no! One of my adult “children” just called. He needs “Mom time!”

How will I ever survive this battle of a lifetime? Mary and Martha can peacefully co-exist when I invite Jesus into every aspect of my life. He is Lord of All and the greatest Mediator of all time!
Lord, I confess that sometimes I think I am a superwoman who can do all things. I am not!  You alone can do all things. So, have your way in me this and every day.
Make a “To Do” list. Examine it, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in light of true priorities. Let Him organize your days.

Pattern of the Kingdom

I’ve been talking here about exchanging the negative, destructive patterns in our lives for the grace-filled patterns of the Kingdom of God. When we are born again we all enter our new relationship with Jesus carrying excess baggage we’ve hung onto from our old life before we knew Him. We learned certain ways of getting along in the world, many of those based on painful experiences.  Rejection produces patterns of self-protection, fear of failure produces patterns self-promotion, and so on. Jesus offers to exchange those patterns based on self-effort for new patterns founded in His grace.

Discipleship is the basic grace-pattern of the Kingdom of God. We see it first in the relationship between the first couple and God. God could have created Adam and Eve with full knowledge of what they were called to do and  how to do it. Instead, God gave them a general overview of their assignment at the start, but the kind of guidance that would enable their success was dependent upon daily talks with God in the garden.   Adam was told to tend the garden, but how far apart do you plant the cabbages? and how deep do you plant the tulip bulbs? and how many watermelon plants can you grow in a single mound? That time every day when God visited them in the garden was pretty important! Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to be discipled by God, and then to make disciples of their own children. 

Adam and Eve were not obedient disciples, but that does not negate the truth that God designed men and women to be discipled and to make disciples. Down through the ages, men and women who walked out the plan of God for their lives, made disciples and trained them to fulfill their own God-given plan. Consider Moses with Joshua, and  Elijah with Elisha. These were mighty men of God who raised up their successors to go even further than they did in advancing God’s Kingdom in the earth.

Then came Jesus, the greatest disciple and the most effective discipler of all time. Jesus said, “I can do nothing of Myself, unless it is something I see the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19-20). Jesus broke the pattern of rebellion established for man by Adam and Eve and chose to follow instead the pattern of the Father. He embraced the discipleship of the Father rather than going His own way as Adam and Eve had done. When Satan tempted Him, Jesus relied upon the Father and His word. When people had needs, He relied upon the Father to heal, deliver, comfort, teach, confront, correct, and exhort through Him. When He had needs, He relied upon the Father, drew aside to hear from and talk to the Father.  To know what to do and where to go every minute of every day, Jesus was totally dependent upon the Father.

And Jesus made disciples. For three years, twelve men plus the “ministering women” followed Him and watched Him. They saw how He lived, they soaked up His presence and His way of life daily, they were taught by Him, had the scriptures explained by Him, and they gradually came to imitate Him as He imitated the Father. Through Jesus they came to realize that they too could “do nothing of themselves”, so, after Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, they waited obediently in Jerusalem to receive the promised Holy Spirit. They knew they needed the power of God and intimate, daily communion with Him through the Holy Spirit in order to see what God was doing in their day and to allow Him to work through them.

And those disciples, as they walked out their lives, made more disciples. They repeated the pattern of  Jesus and took people with them wherever they went, allowing those companions to get to know them, to see how they lived, to see their relationship with Jesus, to see their dependence upon the Holy Spirit. They preached and taught publicly, but they also had disciples to whom they privately explained the ways of God more thoroughly.

Paul and Timothy’s relationship is the most talked about discipling relationship in the New Testament. We don’t know exactly how Timothy first became a disciple of Paul, but we do know that Timothy was with Paul to follow his “teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and suffering, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!” (2 Timothy 3:10-11). Timothy was allowed to come in close and get to  know Paul and to see how he responded under pressure. Paul’s life and ministry discipled Timothy to become a man of God himself.

I hope you will join me at Living Way Church in Greensboro at the Wellspring Day Seminar on June 23 where we will be talking about some of these discipling relationships and what they mean to us today. Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples …” so it would seem that His is a pattern worth repeating! The seminar will begin at 10:00 AM with worship led by Jessica Cotten followed by my teaching. Then we will have lunch together (bring your own bag lunch and the ladies of Living Way Church will provide drinks for us). After lunch, we’ll divide into small groups where we will discuss how to implement the pattern of Jesus in our own lives. At the end of the day we will regather the full group for a question and answer time, worship, and personal ministry, all ending by 4:00 PM. All the details may be accessed by clicking on the RSVP button below. You can also register there (, which will help us with planning. The $25 registration fee will be collected at the door and may be paid by cash, check, or credit card. I hope to see you there. It’s going to be a great day!

[button link=”″ newwindow=”yes”] RSVP[/button]



IMITATION Written by Michael Cotten

(This post was contributed by my husband, Michael Cotten. lt first appeared on his personal blog,, on May 24. I hope it blesses you as much as it did me!)

Have you ever noticed how little children mimic and imitate their parents? It’s how they learn to talk, walk and relate to the world. God puts it in their hearts to do that. Even after all these years, I still see my Father in the walk and mannerisms of my brother, Wes. It’s an unconscious gift, this imitation and has the effect of creating a living remembrance of our Fathers and Mothers.

Even as this is true in the natural, it’s also true in the spiritual realm. Paul said “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV) This is a bold statement and at first glance seems to be prideful and a little egotistic. I certainly reacted that way the first time I read it! But there’s more.

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” (1 Corinthians 4:15–16 ESV)

“So Jesus said to them,Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'” (John 5:19 ESV)

This is true imitation! Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father doing. In this statement, He also sets the pattern we’re to follow with Him. As I see Him only doing what the Father is doing, so I desire to only do what I see Jesus doing. And so Paul says to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me . . . “

Then we are drawn to the conclusion that we have to get integrity — that means the inside life matches and is in unity with the outside picture. That is, what is on the inside is true to my words. There are multitudes of people in this world who are crying out for someone to believe in — just somebody who is not going to fall by the wayside; who is not going to sell out their life, ministry and integrity for a bit of momentary passion.

If we are not saying to someone, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” we have not yet seen the fullness of our call to Disciple the Nations.

Michael and I will be hosting The Legacy Conference September 28-30, 2012 at Ridgecrest Conference Center. Registration goes live June 18. Check back here for details.

Patterns of Grace

All of us enter into the Kingdom of God with patterns of living and responding to life we have learned from living in the world. These destructive patterns are the logical conclusions of life lived without Jesus. We experience rejection so we adopt patterns of self-protection to keep from suffering that pain

again. We are attacked so we develop patterns of self-defense to insure that we always feel safe. We are threatened so we retreat into patterns of self-preservation to make sure no one gets the upper hand over us. We are betrayed or undermined in some way so we adopt patterns of self-promotion to insure our personal success. All of these patterns are ultimately self-destructive because they form an armor that no one is allowed to penetrate. We hide inside this armor, distrustful, lonely, afraid, and feeling vulnerable. Miserable.

Those who are born again have experienced the infiltration of the Holy Spirit, Who manages to get inside our armor to the place where the “real me” hides. He comforts and confronts and coaxes us, using the powerful revelation of the Love that Jesus has for us, to come out and meet the Savior and to relinquish control of our lives to Him. As soon as we listen to the Holy Spirit and accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, He begins to replace those old negative patterns of our lives without Christ into the life- giving patterns of the Kingdom of God. We are set free to be ourselves as our focus of concern gradually shifts away from our own safety and promotion and onto a desire to  glorify God with our lives and to see other people blessed. This is transformation and it happens from the inside out.

Some transformations happen quickly and suddenly. I have a friend who was instantly delivered of a 15 year addiction to cigarettes when she was born again. Another friend stopped cursing and drinking alcohol instantly when she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. And yet there are others for whom freedom from these same bondages took years to attain. I don’t have easy or simple answers to these dissimilar methods of the Holy Spirit, but I have noticed that when a mature Christian takes an interest and spends time with a young one, the spiritual development of both is enhanced. When someone else thinks my life is worth her commitment to see me through to maturity, then hope is quickened in my own heart and I begin to value my life enough to persevere.

Jesus told His disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I commanded you … ” (Matthew 28:19-20Becoming a disciple and making disciples was commanded by Jesus as the life pattern of His  Kingdom. Making a disciple involves more than introducing someone to Jesus. Making disciples involves teaching and shepherding people, holding them accountable and modeling obedience for them  so that they, in turn, become makers of disciples themselves

My life is being consumed by this concept of discipleship, and here at Wellspring we are excited to teach and impart, with the help of the Holy Spirit, what we are learning to any who will listen. We are holding our second Wellspring Day Seminar on Saturday, June 23, 10 AM until 4 PM, at Living Way Church, 4433 Rehobeth Church Road, Greensboro, NC 27406. There will be teaching, fellowship, small group discussions, and time for questions and answers. I am hoping to see you there!

It would help us if you would RSVP by clicking on the link below. Complete details are on the registration page as well.

[button link=”″ newwindow=”yes”] RSVP[/button]






Set-up for Glory

“But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.'” Exodus 14:13

There they were, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, so to speak. Pharaoh’s army was chasing them and the Red Sea blocked their escape — no place to run, no place to hide. And everything they loved and all they owned was with them — they had everything to lose.

It looked bad, but it was a set-up for God to be glorified.

You know the story: Just at the last moment, God parted the Red Sea and the Children of Israel walked across on dry land. Then, as Pharaoh and his army tried to follow them, God released the sea and all the Egyptian army was drowned in the crashing waters. God not only rescued His people but He also destroyed their enemy. It was a set-up for the glory of God!

More information on modern exploration of the Red Sea, what we today know as the Sea of Aqaba, can be seen at this website

The circumstances of life, daunting for us in the moment, are often divine set-ups for His glory to be manifested. Like the Children of Israel, we are, each of us, in the middle of a story written by God. We cannot see the end yet,  but God has told us that He has arranged our lives to bring glory to Himself.

It is so easy to lose faith in the middle of the story. When all we can see is the painful details of the set-up, we are tempted become angry at God and discouraged. We forget the promise and fall into fear, just like the Israelites.

God is honored and glorified in His supernatural rescues. As Christians we know the truth of that statement,  and most of us have experienced a rescue or two! God is exalted when, against all odds and when all of our attempts to rescue ourselves have failed, God saves us.  But we sometimes forget that in order for there to be a supernatural rescue, there must be a catastrophe! God is glorified when we receive His offered grace to persevere in faith as we wait for His rescue.

Our ultimate, bottom-line purpose is to glorify God in our lives here on earth. God is the One Who chooses and sets up the circumstances that will honor Him. Our part is to keep our eyes on Him and follow Him through to the end, trusting Him and obeying His every command.

Sometimes God’s set-ups are for a quick and dramatic resolution, like with the Children of Israel at the Red Sea. Other times they are more long term, as when a baby is born with permanent disabilities or when unrelenting illness strikes. But these persistent circumstances are also set-ups for God’s glory, worked out in the lives of everyone in the family. Whether it comes in healing or in grace to endure, God’s presence and intervention is powerful and personal and testifies to His faithfulness and love. No matter the circumstances of our lives, the prayer on our lips must be, “Let my life bring glory to Your name!”

Whatever the storm, we are covered by His grace and our lives are always a set-up for His glory. Remember: God gets glory from giving us grace.

Blogging, Boating, and Bettering Myself

Hello out there! Is anybody reading me?? I’ve been wanting to set up a personal blog for some time but have been a bit intimidated by the technology aspects. But I am blessed with 2 techno-savvy sons and have decided to become bold and courageous (with their help!). So here I am, hoping that someone will enjoy reading what I write . . .

At every stage of life, it’s good to learn new things, but as you get older it becomes more and more important to update so that you don’t become irrelevant. We lived at the coast a few years back. My husband Michael has always loved to fish but the only boat he had ever owned was a little aluminum johnboat. Then a VERY nice person gave him a 21 foot Boston Whaler with a cuddy cabin. We were EXCITED!

Michael took the Coast Guard course and learned all about water safety, at least in theory. He did so well on the test that they invited him to join the auxiliary, not knowing that he had never set foot on a boat that had a motor. Having qualified ourselves with the Coast Guard, we bought a boat trailer and towed our new boat home. We stayed up half the night memorizing the steps for putting a boat in the water, but, of course,  the reality is much different from the book. . .

Michael backed the trailered boat down the ramp.Then, as I slipped behind the wheel of the car, Michael climbed on the still trailered boat. When I backed down the ramp  just a bit further, sure enough the boat began to float off the trailer, just like the book said it would. I drove the car and trailer back into the parking lot while Michael and the boat floated into the small harbor where we had a boat slip. As I ran back down to the harbor I noticed that Michael and the boat were dangerously close to the other boats sitting in their slips. I watched as Michael started the engine and the boat moved even closer to the docked boats. Then I heard Michael shout, “There’re no brakes on this thing!” In less time than it takes to tell it, boat owners appeared out of nowhere, stationing themselves on the ends of their boats nearest Michael with boat hooks handy. One brave soul was able to grab a rope dangling from our boat and pull it close enough to join Michael on the “Sister Glorious”. A wise man and good neighbor, he coached Michael through maneuvering our boat safely into our slip, standing beside him at the helm but letting Michael handle the boat.

Thank God this is not us!! But you see what COULD have happened!

We were so proud! Our first boating experience had been pretty scary, but I thought Michael was the bravest man I had ever known to conquer such a feat! We were back out early the next morning, and the next, and the next,  learning something new about boating every day and enjoying every minute of it. Most of all we enjoyed learning something totally new and the surge of confidence that gave to other areas of our lives as well.

I don’t know that blogging will require the same kind of courage that boating did, but the learning curve for me seems about the same. Learning something new will be good for me, and, hopefully, others will enjoy what I share. In fact, now that I am at the end of my first piece, I do feel rather proud of myself. An inaugural bottle of champagne might even be appropriate. . .