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The Chinese Bamboo Tree
By: David Church
When I read of this amazing wonder of life, I can't help but think of the time and effort we invest into our ministries, often without any evidence of growth or life. There have been many times I have personally invested my time, talent and finances into a person or ministry without evidence that it would pay off. There have been times, because of this, that I have given up on a person. Yet, there have also been times after giving up, that I have seen a breakthrough, and that person I worked with finally accepts a bible study. They finally come to church. They receive the Holy Ghost. Those years of hard work and effort finally pay off.
The Bible states;
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
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Problems. If you're going to work with or minister to people, you are going to have problems. Sometimes big problems. Moses was one person in the scripture who had people problems. Millions of them. Everywhere he looked - people problems. How to feed them. How to water their livestock. How to settle their petty problems. How to settle their big problems. Where do the tents go? How about the toilets. Everywhere problems.
Surely with all these problems, the solution must be complex. Big problems should mean big, intricate, thoroughly researched and analyzed solutions - right? Not necessarily. In fact, very often, the solution to one's problem is asymmetric to the problem itself. Big problem, small solution.
When our problem is large or complex, we too often feel that the solution has to be the same. Because of this we usually miss the obvious, simple answer. In Moses' case, it took his shepherd father-in-law's simple mind to figure it out. A shepherd understands that a flock can get too big. When it does, it can begin to overgraze the fields and ruin the good pastures. This simple sheepherder was not educated by the most learned teachers of Egypt as Moses was, but he did understand something about having too many sheep in one place. He knew that when you have more sheep in a field than what that field can contain, you have to hire an under-shepherd to take part of the flock to another field. With that elementary laymen's thinking Moses was able to correct very simply, the extremely complex dilemma the nation of Israel had found herself in. Jethro told Moses to break the number of people down into smaller segments and then place leaders over these small segments. How simple.
The biggest problems that your ministry is facing today probably could very well be corrected with a simple solution. Too often however, we go shopping for the big answer: The complex answer. The expensive answer. The time consuming answer. Here's why: We focus on the negative instead of the positive. Seriously, nearly everyone does. Did you know that in the English language, 62 percent of the "emotion" words are negative, vs 38 percent that are positive. A group of psychologists once reviewed over two hundred articles and concluded that for a wide range of human behavior and perception, a general principle holds true: "Bad is stronger than good." Ask yourself, do you remember more of the bad that you hear about others or do you remember more of the good. A vastly larger audience of people remembers the bad instead of the good.[ read more...]
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5)
Five truths of attitudes:
Truth #1: Our attitude determines how we approach life.
Are you someone who sees the glass half full or half empty? Do you even see the glass? The attitude we have whenever we wake up in the morning will usually dictate how the rest of our day will be.
The story is told of the grandpa and grandma who visited their grandchildren. Each afternoon, grandpa would lie down for a nap. One day, as a practical joke, the kids decided to put Limburger cheese in his moustache. Quite soon he awoke sniffing. "Why, this room stinks," he exclaimed as he got up and went out into the kitchen. He wasn't there long until he decided that the kitchen smelled too, so he walked outdoors for a breath of fresh air. Much to the grandpa's surprise, the open air brought no relief, and he proclaimed, "The whole world stinks!" How true is that in life? When we carry "Limburger cheese" in our attitudes, the whole world smells bad to us.[ read more...]
What are Icebreakers?
As the name implies, an icebreaker session is designed to "break the ice" at an event or meeting. It is a technique that is best used with people who do not yet know one another very well. Ice breakers ease people through those uncomfortable moments that come with getting to know strangers.
Most people know us by our profession. We are known as a teacher, carpenter, doctor, housewife, etc. Some may know us from church, but they don't really know us in a meaningful way. Whether your group has known each other a long time, or has just recently gotten together, icebreaker sessions allow a group to get to know one another more intimately. A great icebreaker stirs us to talk about our hobbies, personal experiences or even our family backgrounds. A group that’s more in tune with each other makes better decisions. They feel a sense of trust and are able to work together more productively[ read more...]
"Not on your own, but with God's help you can!"
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
If you asked anybody, "What amazes you most about what Jesus did while on this Earth?" You would get responses like, "He raised the dead," or "He died for my sins" or "He healed the blind and the lame." No doubt that each of these are amazing works of God, Calvary can never be denied as the greatest work that Jesus did. I would have responded the same way. Calvary aside, one of the most amazing things to me that Jesus did while on this Earth was transforming the twelve into disciples, and ultimately into the leaders of the first century church. That was an amazing accomplishment.
I know firsthand as a leader and a pastor how difficult it is to change people. I understand how much time it takes to cause habits and thinking to change. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the twelve disciples were total idiots, but let's be honest, they didn't have a whole lot going for them. They were definitely less than ordinary. They didn't have a lot of natural talent. Their intellectual abilities were lacking. Each one of them was prone to failure, bad attitudes and mistakes, no one more than the leader of the group, Peter. Almost every one of them had issues with their faith. They all had bouts with doubt. On one occasion, Jesus said of them;
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Jesus called them fools, yet He also saw them for what they could be, instead of what they were. These twelve "fools," or at least eleven of them, went on to turn their world upside down. They became the propagators of the Gospel after Jesus ascended. They built the church from the ground up. Their ministry continues to influence us to this day. So the answer is 'yes', a loser can be turned into a leader. A fool can become a person of wisdom. In fact, more often than not, God typically calls these kind of men and women to become the leaders in the church[ read more...]
You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. Think about it. It's a fact of life that people spend the most time doing what they believe will benefit them most.
When you realize that people treat you according to how they see themselves rather than how you really are, you are less likely to take personally their behavior toward you.
If you're willing to stand apart from the crowd, you're putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Count on some degree of criticism.
People withhold their best efforts when they see little or no relationships between what they do and how they are rewarded.
The key to relating to others is putting yourself in someone else's place instead of putting them in their place.
Confidence is contagious.[ read more...]
The following are the results of a poll given by the Barna Research Group. It may shed some light as to why people give. Remember people give their time and talents for similar reasons they give their money to the church or other organizations.
They have a great reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.
Accuracy of this description. (continue for each question)
Very Somewhat Not too Not at all
66% 27% 2% 4%
You feel good about yourself when you know that you have helped others.
59% 31% 5% 6%
The organization is involved in a type of work that is of greatest interest to you.
54% 35% 4% 4%
You have seen or studied the work of the organization firsthand and know they’re trustworthy.
49% 36% 4% 9%[ read more...]
The expression of guarding the gates really has to do with guarding the mind. As noted in the previous message, John Bunyan wrote another classic although much less recognized than Pilgrim’s Progress entitled The Holy War which tells the story of Mansoul being captured and taken over by Diabolus because of the gates being compromised. That same plan is still being effectively carried out in our generation. People of every kind and status within the church have a responsibility to not let this kind of thing take place. This is especially true of those who are actively called into the ministry. If the shepherd can be toppled, the sheep will scatter.
It was explored how that study allows a man who serves a church to guard his mind. While that is a good measure to take up, there is another crucial “guard” that we have to recognize. It is the aspect of prayer. Of all the disciplines involved in a Christian’s life, prayer is the most difficult one to maintain conversely it can be one of the most joyous and powerful tools we can find in our spiritual arsenal. A preacher must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. If a minister is not careful he can come to the place in which he will neglect his place of prayer because of his attention to the Kingdom. He may have all kinds of grand truths rolling through his soul because of the constant exposure to the Word. He can be so busy with various meetings, discipleship of new converts, and counseling of those who are in the throes of some dilemma of life, and obligations to duties of the organizational stripe, that he can entirely neglect his prayer life. In fact a minister is more likely to omit his praying than a new convert who has just come in to the church.
Diabolus loves to get the men involved in ministry to fall to the temptation of substitutes for prayer. Sermons on prayer, reading books on prayer, attending prayer conferences, and hearing sermons on prayer can never take the place of prayer. One can even come under the belief that church attendance, praise, singing, giving, and doing measures of physical labor at church can be a valid substitute for prayer. What soon happens is a tendency to resort to all of these things to move us into a position for revival without true heart-felt prayer.
Pastoral prayer is a great biblical concept and it has great authority. There is an ingredient of spiritual authority that comes to life when a pastor will discipline himself to prayer for his people. From the outset, I have to tell you that this is NOT an easy task to do. Prayer that is truly heart-felt and sincere rarely takes place (for me, perhaps not others) when we just decide to get on our knees and begin to pray. There has to be some stimulus of preparation that is involved in it. There are useful things that you will learn to use to help put your mind into a vein of prayer.
There are times when reading books on prayer will be very helpful to put you into a mindset of prayer. Some of the ones that I have regularly gone back to frequently and year after year are listed below:
E. M. Bounds Complete Works on Prayer—There are eight books in a single volume and are very rich and motivational toward opening my heart for prayer. The Necessity of Prayer, The Essentials of Prayer, The Possibilities of Prayer, The Reality of Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, Power Through Prayer, and Prayer and Praying Men.
Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer—Ravenhill’s material is becoming increasingly rarer to find in bookstores these days. He was a staple for many of the preachers who attended the Deeper Life conferences scattered around the nation in the 1970’s. There have been times that I have read just a page or so of Ravenhill’s material and found it incredibly rich in preparing my heart and mind for prayer. Particularly helpful a [ read more...]
There is truth in the saying that you live life in forward motion but you understand it looking backward. I know for myself I would certainly have done many things differently had I the opportunity to do things all over again. However, like everyone else, you only get one chance at this circle of life.
Those who have a teaching father or mentor have an inside edge on doing things right the first time . . . if they have the willingness to listen and apply Godly advice to their life and decisions. Unfortunately, such is not the case for most individuals.
Leaders are a unique breed. They are fueled by passion. They feed off the energy of accomplishment. The adrenaline can be addictive. It is not uncommon for leaders to be so enraptured by the doing that they lose track of their state of being. Many people who succeed at leadership therefore fail at the more important things in life such as family and personal development.
The scripture asks, "And what shall a man profit if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?"
The best time to consider the impact of leadership upon you and your family is now. It cannot wait any longer. Today needs to be the day that you do what is best for those you love the most.
Ponder this sobering thought. At the end of your days who will be there to weep over you? Who will carry you to your final resting place? Who will bury you and weep afterward over regrets and missed opportunities? The answer is your family. It won't be those you neglected your family for.
Ponder another sobering thought. If your spouse or one of your children died today would you bury them with regrets over missed opportunities? If you are like most leaders the answer probably is yes. Please don't say this can't happen to you. It can.
A few years ago I landed at a large airport. Soon after deboarding I noticed multiple ministry colleagues in the area. As I spoke to them they informed me they were there to meet another colleague who had been on an overseas mission trip. He was to land soon and they had to give him the sad news. His wife was killed in a tragic automobile accident on her way to the airport that day to pick her husband up from his missions trip.[ read more...]
People work better when they are working towards the same goal. When agendas or expectations differ, confusion often wins over production.
Take the time to get people on the same track. Taking the time to educate and motivate people towards the same agenda will pay dividends. You may want to start a project or ministry today, but consider that this vision may be for a future date. God sometimes speaks to leaders about things we think are for today, but in reality, they are events God would cause to happen in the future. Take the time to educate people and cause them to come under the same burden and vision that you have. This will make the process much easier once God’s plan begins to unfold.
Create teams. People work better when they have someone else to lean on now and then. A team can encourage each other and help to share burdens. This also allows people who are inexperienced and who would otherwise be unable to get involved the opportunity to gain experience. They may later be able to lead a team of their own.
Pastor/Leader – explain your vision thoroughly. Most people want to follow their leader’s vision. This is absolutely necessary in the church. Differing visions can kill revival in the church. “One Vision” should be the theme of every new venture of the church. When people are following the Pastor’s vision, their own agenda does not get into the way.[ read more...]