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Just Don't Quit!
By: James Smith
The story goes like this...
The guy wakes up on Sunday morning and say's, "I'm not going to church today!" "Why not?" The good wife asks. "I just don't feel like it and besides, I'm not sure everyone there likes me. In fact, I'm sure that Sister Jones outright hates me!" The man retorts. "Well you have to go." Responds his wife. "Why's that?" He asks. "Because", she says, "You're the Pastor!"
Ever been there? Don't answer that. I can't find much scripture on this, but I honestly feel a spirit of Defeat attack me at least one day out of the week. This little guy must keep a tight schedule, since he always comes on the exact same day. Hardly ever does he come around on an off day. It's always the same day, Monday!
You may not understand this unless you've Pastored or been in ministry for a while. I've heard other ministers say this Imp who I will call Defeat, attacks them on Mondays too. So I suppose I am not alone on this one.
I'm not much of a quitter. Quitting is just not in me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too stubborn to quit, or too stupid to realize it's time to quit. Like old Shammah. Defending a field of lintels against a whole troop of Philistines. Just him and an dead donkey's jawbone.
Was that guy tough or just not smart enough to get out of the way? We've preached him tough, but I really worry for the man. He didn't have much to work with there. Why didn't he just fall back (quit) and regroup? You know, get some help. I believe I have the answer...He was neither stubborn or dumb. He knew his purpose!
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In a world of constant distractions, learning to achieve and sustain a laser-like focus on your priorities gives you an enormous competitive advantage in the marketplace – as well as enormous benefits to your personal life. If keeping your focus has never been harder, the payoffs have never been better. How do you achieve laser-like concentration? I’m going to share with you seven principles of achieving and sustaining an intense, productive and energizing focus.
- Keep the Big Picture in Mind. To successfully sustain you focus, you must first have a big-picture view of your goals and priorities, and a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish. After all, achieving an intense and sustained focus is not an end in itself, but a powerful means of achieving your long-term goals. The clearer, and more specific and more vividly you visualize the big picture of what you hope to accomplish, the more successfully you can focus on the means of achieving it.
- Set Goals That Excite You. One characteristic shared by virtually every highly successful person is that they had big dreams and specific goals. The higher you aim, the higher you’ll go – even if you fail to hit your target. And if you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars.
- Be Mindful. By targeting your attention with laser-beam accuracy to the matter at hand, you are literally unable to entertain destructive thoughts. Concentrating on the present reality eliminates fear of future possibilities. In this way, being mindful not only increases your effectiveness, it enhances your peace of mind.
- Track Your Progress. When you see the advances you have made, it is easier to concentrate on covering the ground that remains. Tracking your past progress enables you to enter unfamiliar terrain with the confidence that comes from success and experience. Some strategies that will help enable you to monitor and accelerate your progress include setting deadlines, taking time for re-evaluation and allowing for adjustments.
Based on surveys of more than 15,000 people, the following traits were selected as the key to effective leadership:
· Being honest – 87%
· Being forward-looking – 71%
· Being inspirational – 68%
· Being competent – 58%
- Honest people have credibility – and that’s what gives leaders the trust and confidence of their people. High credibility leaders foster such things as greater pride in the organization, a stronger spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and more feelings of ownership and personal responsibility. What are some of the other characteristics of credible leaders?
- They do what they say they will do. They keep their promises and follow through on their commitments.
- Their actions are consistent with the wishes of the people they lead. They have a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.
Through out the years I have had many people tell me of their love of fishing. I, myself, however have never had the patience to cast a line into the water and wait for a fish to bite on to it. If I can't cast the line into the water and catch a fish within 30 seconds and then go home I can't see the fun in it.
Our fast paced and 'microwave' society appears to have the same mentality to life in general that I have to fishing. Desire for instant gratification is the norm. Whether it be business, career, or even spiritual matters, most society looks for the quick fix. 'Lose weight fast with no effort', 'Get rich quick' and similar mindsets have even worked their way into church growth seminars.
In the 5th chapter of Luke we read the account of Simon Peter and the other fishermen who had spent the entire night fishing without catching a thing. The important thing to realize with these men is that their entire living depended on their catching fish. Theirs was the day before guaranteed salaries, sick pay and profit sharing bonuses. After a disappointingly long night of hard toil they were still open to do what Jesus asked of them. The first request was easy enough, set out from shore and allow Him to speak to the crowd from their boat. (Luke 5:3). The second request ". . . launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a drought." (Luke 5:4) was more difficult to do. It required faith. They had not slept since the day before and had worked all night. No doubt they stayed awake and listened to the anointed preaching of the Rabbi. They were tired. But they believed the Lord. Though weary and discouraged, their act of faith was rewarded with a great catch.
Sometimes situations seem impossible. In the gospel of Matthew we read about such a situation. Jesus, when faced with the issue of feeding the great multitudes said to the disciples "They need not depart, give ye them to eat." (Matthew 14:16) The disciples knew that their possession of five loaves and two fish would not feed their own group, let alone the multitude that stood before them. However, with the same trust in Him that they had in the fishing boat, they offered what little was at their disposal, allowing the Creator of the universe to multiply it. Though the situation seemed impossible, their act of faith resulted in the feeding of close to twenty thousand people.[ read more...]
The problem with life is that is shows up regular and so suddenly, leaving in its wake—Our Reality. Many of us wish that our Reality was something much different: all good and no bad; all sunshine, no clouds; all answered prayer, no waiting, or even worse…refusals. Reality can become a Prison Of Despair, which can drag the best of us way down. We must allow Faith to forecast change, so that our Reality becomes all God intends. Remember; today is not final; the God of Glory has the great power to alter and change what seems to be Final. Time is totally subject to God; He can use it to alter whatever in our lives that is not becoming what He wants.
So many of us have in our lives either hoped for or worked toward a Reality that was of our dreams. Reality, for most of us, is a far cry from the ideal, but that does not mean we cannot make some real progress, so that our Reality can become a better issue for us. I refuse to allow what is now existing to stop all that can be. Reality is not the final word; Jesus has that all to Himself.
How many of the followers of our Lord have found themselves in situations less desirable and not at all what they had believed for, yet they did not cave in, but, rather, moved ahead and did some great things? How many cripples were affected when He impacted their Reality? How many lost and sinful lives were greatly altered, even though their Reality seemed set in stone?[ read more...]
How do you influence people? Do you influence them intentionally? Do you influence them in a positive way? Are you even a person of influence? Do people listen when you speak? John Maxwell lists influence as number two on his list of the twenty one laws of leadership. You must have influence with people if you desire to be a leader.
In life and in leadership you will be influenced and you will also influence others. The degree to which you can influence people is the key to success. Influencing people to become great will help you to succeed. There is also a flip side of influence; allowing great people to influence you will help you to influence others. Before you ever become a person of influence, first you must become influenced. Winston Churchill said, "Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must first yourself believe."
In 1832, at the age of twenty three, Abraham Lincoln wanted to serve his country in the war against Black Hawk and the Sac and Fox Indians of Northern Illinois. The government had called for volunteers to help drive these Indians back into their land beyond the Mississippi. In those days, the person who put together a group of volunteers often became its leader. So with no experience as a soldier, and no experience leading men into battle, Lincoln was given the rank of captain of this company.
Lincoln soon found himself in a very awkward position, he soon found that he did not have any influence with these men. Having never received influence from anybody as a soldier, he did not have the ability to influence his soldiers. He knew nothing of tactics. He knew nothing of procedure. He knew nothing of military jargon. So he couldn't even give the right commands to his men. On one occasion, he was trying to guide his men through a gate from one field to the next, but he couldn't manage to do it. Remembering the incident, Lincoln said, "I could not for the life of me remember the proper word of command for getting my company endwise. Finally, as we came near the gate I shouted: 'This company is dismissed for two minutes, when it will fall in again on the other side of the gate.'"
In the few weeks after this, Lincoln and his company of soldiers marched northward and westward all the way to the Mississippi. They never did any fighting, they were never even able to find any Indians. Other, more able companies, finally tracked these Indians down and defeated them at Bad Axe on the Mississippi River in July of that same year.
Lincoln's career as a Captain lasted only four weeks. Lincoln though was not done. He did not want to end his military career on such a negative note. He enlisted again to a company of mounted rangers. This time he became a private. He had learned the lesson that He needed to be influenced by a captain before he would ever be able to influence as a captain. We know the rest of the story. Lincoln overcame his inability to influence others and became a person of enormous influence as our nation's finest president.[ read more...]
John Bunyan’s book The Holy War describes the capture and re-taking of Mansoul. The gates were taken advantage of by Diabolus and his armies because they were not guarded properly. When King Shaddai decided that he was going to gain control of it again, he chose to assault the gates also. The Eye Gate and the Ear Gate were the primary ways of going back into the city. So he determined that he would have his best men to attack the Ear Gate. It literally shook while these men assaulted it. While the allegory is best understood as preaching that is being used to reason with the Ear Gate, Bunyan does an excellent job in describing the ways that it falls back to the control of King Shaddai.
The first to assault the Ear Gate was Captain Boanerges and his first assistant, Mr. Thunder. The second man to assault the gate was Captain Conviction and his first assistant, Mr. Sorrow. The third man sent in is Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror. Obviously Bunyan is describing the most effective tones of evangelistic preaching. Although all of these techniques, authority, passion, conviction, godly sorrow, judgment, and a fear of the judgment awaiting every man, it appears that much of this kind of preaching has fallen by the wayside.
Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror (knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2 Cor. 5:11) are dressed in red uniforms with an insignia of a burning furnace. When he stepped up to speak immediately after Captain Conviction, his words rang out.
‘O ye, the inhabitants of the town of Mansoul, that have lived so long in rebellion and acts of treason against the King Shaddai, know that we come not today to this place, in this manner, with our message of our own minds, or to revenge our own quarrel; it is the King, my Master, that hath sent us to reduce you to your obedience to him; the which if you refuse in a peaceable way to yield, we have commission to compel you thereto. And never think of yourselves, nor yet suffer the tyrant Diabolus to persuade you to think, that our King, by his power, is not able to bring you down, and to lay you under his feet; for he is the former of all things, and if he touches the mountains, they smoke. Nor will the gate of the King’s clemency stand always open; for the day that shall burn like an oven is before him; yea, it hasteth greatly, it slumbereth not.[ read more...]
THE PERIL OF SHEEP DISEASES
Rev. Robert Wimberley
11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
INTRO: The word sheep is mentioned exactly 187 times from Genesis to Revelation.
New Ungers Bible Dictionary tells us that the term Sheep can mean several things in the Hebrew….
1. young sheep, a lamb, Heb. keseb.
2. A flock of sheep (rendered "flock," the most frequent word thus rendered, Heb. 'son.
3. ne of a flock, a single though sometimes used collectively (Jer 50:17), Heb. seh.
4. ny four-footed tame animal accustomed to graze, but always a sheep in the NT Grk. Probaton.
Sheep were an important part of the possessions of the ancient Hebrews and of Eastern nations generally. They were used in the sacrificial offerings, both the adult animal and the lamb, i.e., a male from one to three years old, but young lambs of the first year were used more frequently. No lamb under eight days old was allowed to be killed . A very young lamb was called taleh (1 Sam 7:9, "suckling lamb";
(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)
I came across a book several months ago which belonged to my father. It was written by a former English Shepherd who had spent the majority of his life raising and shepherding sheep until God called him to be a pastor. So he traded in his staff for a Bible, and his rod for a pulpit. But he felt that it would be beneficial to write about the first hand experiences he had as a shepherd, since so many of those experiences apply today to the spiritual flock of the Lord.[ read more...]
We live in a world that needs healing. We are surrounded by people who need healing. The pain of this healing is manifold. It comes from the past. It comes from the present. It is physical. It is emotional. It is spiritual. It is mental. Some of these people have received a bad report from the doctor and are desperate for a miracle. Physical injuries of every kind have left others maimed or crippled to the point that they struggle to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Many others are victims of childhood abuses and neglect that have crippled them emotionally and mentally as adults.
These people encircle our churches. They are our members. They are our neighbors. They are the people we bump into at the grocery store and places where we do business. We speak to them on our jobs. We speak to them on the streets. Every day of our lives we are in constant contact with individuals who desperately need a healing of some sort in their life.
But healing does not come. The pain does not subside. The inner and outer suffering is constant and there is oftentimes no help from doctors, psychologists, counselors or even the ministry.
This is very sad, especially when you consider that many people spend their entire lives and fortunes seeking the healing they need.
Just because a person is a member of a church and filled with God’s Spirit does not mean they are not still suffering as the world does. Oftentimes, a person can sit in a church pew their entire lives, and many of them never do completely open up and let God heal the wounds of their heart and mind. Others still are struggling with the news they just received from the doctors. Panic, fear and despair all attack these sweet people as the realization sets into their minds that they may not have long to live or that their malady is something that cannot be healed by the doctors.
For many, the doctors and specialist have done all they can do. Help is not eminent. The suffering is going to continue. Pain, of the heart and mind and throughout the body, is all they have to look forward to. Fear, panic, worry, and anxiety of every kind is constant and is not promised to end.
But God asks the question, “Are You Ready For Your Healing?”
Why does it seem that God heals some and not others?[ read more...]
I marveled as I observed each presentation. The goals were impressive, and every presenter received accolades at the conclusion of each delivery. It was an annual goal setting and calendar planning session. It was expected that I would be impressed. When everyone was finished the pastor asked me if I had any questions for the various department leaders now that the presentations were finished. I did have a few.
“How many people on your team or in each department have any clue as to what you just presented? As the department leader did any of you create these presentations on your own and without the input of your team? Were any of these presentations simply modifications to last years? Did anyone achieve what was proposed to do last year? How do you hold yourselves accountable to attaining these goals? Do you or they know how you are going to accomplish these goals? How do your goals support the goals of the other departments? Are the goals of every department mutually supporting one common church vision? Are the goals of any one department pulling in a separate direction and counteracting the goals of another? Did the church develop its vision first and then have every department develop goals that are essential in order to reach the vision? Are your goals self-serving or do they benefit everyone else? Are any departments competing for people, calendar time, resources or talents in order to achieve your goals? How do you intend to measure these goals in order to track them? What data did you use in order to set your goals? Does anybody know exactly where this church is heading and what its vision is?”
These were just a few of the questions I asked. Surprisingly nobody had answers for any of these questions.
I then told them a true story. Recently my wife and were stopped at a traffic light. A Day Care Center was located on the corner and we observed over twenty children and a few teachers having a car wash. It was hilarious! Each child had on a little yellow T-shirt with the Day Care Center logo emblazoned proudly across the front. They were running, chasing each other, and expending a lot of energy. It looked like a swarm of little bees humming around. One little boy was chasing some girls with a soapy sponge. Another was spraying his friends with the water hose. There was a cacophony of screaming and laughter in the air. We both laughed at the sight of the people actually doing all of the work. The teachers were washing the cars and trying in vain to get everyone to cooperate with them.[ read more...]