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Knowledge Will Increase!
By: James Smith
Over the holiday season, I took my family shopping in Chicago. As we were heading home to Indiana, it was dark and you could see the lights of the city. As we topped the Skyway (a very high bridge), I looked out and viewed a sea of rows of lights from the street lights below. Thousands and thousands of illuminating beams of light in every direction. As I drove along viewing the endless rows of lights that make up the Chicago skyline, I couldn't help think about a man by the name of Thomas Edison. He's the guy who thought up the light bulb. Without him, we would still be in the stone age with regards to much of the technological breakthroughs of this century. As I thought about Mr. Edison, I couldn't help wishing he was there with me right then to see the spectacle of light that came from his dream.
Over 10,000 failed experiments went into the first light bulb being created. People all around him, inventors and investors alike said he was mad, even insane.
- He believed in something no one else believed in.
- He saw something no one else saw.
- The light bulb!
You can buy them for around a quarter today. Imagine, a world without the light bulb. I could go on and on telling of all the inventions and advancement which came as a result of that one human hair dipped in carbon and encased in vacuumed glass.
It's hard for us to imagine a world without cars, computers, airplanes, Palm Pilots or light bulbs. However think with me for a minute. For thousands of years, the best mode of transportation was the horse. From the beginning of time the very best thing the human mind could come up with was a saddle to put on that poor beast of burden. They thought they really came up with something when a guy from England came up with something called the stirrup to keep a rider from falling off.
This last century has been filled with incredible advancements which we credit to the superior minds of our century. However, I'm not so sure we should give the credit so vainly to our selves. Yes, the Wright brothers really had something with that small glider. Yes, Henry Ford had a great idea with that assembly line. But, let's not be so foolish as to think that the medical, technological, manufacturing, farming, space exploration advancements have come from the human mind.
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Matthew 5: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
“Pure” as it is used here in the original Greek is katharos. Katharos is pronounced Kath-ar-os. It means of uncertain Affinity; clean (literally or figuratively): clean, clear, pure.
Jesus declared to the people that day that if someone was capable of having, keeping or obtaining a pure heart, that they would see God someday.
It is the desire of every believer that, one day, they would see God.
However, the enemy of our souls has a desire too. His desire is to keep us from seeing God. Both in this world and in the next. His attempt is to cause us to lose our pure hearts.
One thing that I have found to be universal amongst new converts/believers is the pure heart that the Lord gives to them.
As newborn babes in Christ, their hearts are open to receive anything that the church has to offer them. They trust the ministry and they trust their newfound church family.
Their hearts are pure. Their motives are pure. Their intensions are pure. They are simply thankful to be saved and are happy and content to be a part of the Family of God.
These people are the source of revival in the church. They are usually the ones who bring new people to the church. They tell all their family and friends about what the Lord has done for them. They are not afraid or ashamed to declare their Love for God or what He has done for them.
What makes these people so important to a community’s infiltration of the Gospel?
What makes these people so valuable to the growth and continuance of a church in a given city?
Their pure heart.
- A heart that is pure is capable of loving someone who is unlovable.
- A heart that is pure is able to look beyond a person’s faults and see their potential greatness.
- A heart that is pure has no selfish motives. It only wants to bless those around it.
It labors for the Lord because it loves the Lord and the people who surround their life.
This person is not perfect. They are still human. They still make mistakes. They still sin. But Jesus said that because their motives were correct and their heart was pure, that they shall see God.
So it seems paramount that a believer in Jesus Christ should seek to have and maintain a pure heart.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls.”[ read more...]
1. Define and understand your own reaction to change in order to compare it to the reactions of others.
Even the happiest of changes may cause a feeling of loss for what existed before. As a leader, perhaps you see that the change will save the company, enhance the product, diminish costs, or make the organization more competitive. But what will occur that is outside your own comfort zone? To be a leader of change, you must identify how the change will impact your own personal situation. What stresses will you experience that you will either consciously or unconsciously pass on to others? Will you also fear for the future of your job or your department? Will you survive, but see many of your colleagues go? Will you have to learn a new skill or move to a new location? Only if you take the time to specifically define your own reaction to change can you put yourself in the shoes of those you lead who will have their own reactions, fears, and behavioral fallout.
2. Involve those people who will be affected by change in both the planning and implementation process.
When change is dictated, resistance is the automatic response to the stimulus. Leaders are able to gain much more cooperation when they invite others to join the plan. Include them in figuring out how to implement change, even when they are obvious in their opposition. Co-opting the opposition is the best way to get their buy-in. Leaders may even end up with some better ideas for making the change work.
3. Communicate the vision so others can understand and buy in to the change.
The benefit of the end state must become the driving force to persuade employees to work through the agony of change. There must be something better waiting, and it must be visible throughout the pain. Often leaders have a vision that makes great sense. However, this bright future may not be shared beyond the inner circle. Failing to understand, employees feel uncertain as to why they must change and where they are going. Uncertainty itself can be more painful than change.
4. Share all possible information about change with the widest audience possible. When you think you have spread the word, start over.
In the midst of change, the best advice is, "Communicate, communicate, communicate.' Unless information is proprietary or may be helpful to the competition and harmful to the organization's success, it should be shared widely. lf employees understand why actions are taken, what is expected, and how the change will lead through the steps toward the vision, they are much more likely to come along on the journey. When employees do not have information, they are more likely to resist or even sabotage change efforts that appear to threaten their stability and security. When Lockheed and Martin Marietta began the merger process, the leaders of both organizations traveled to every major site and talked directly to employees. The message was carried in videotapes, written documents, and personally by leaders at all levels.
5. Explain the impact of change on individuals more than on the organization.
When the status of one's job is in danger, an employee really doesn't care about organizational success. At a time when GE was downsizing, employees were attending training programs at the same time that they were wondering whether their desks would still be there when they returned to their offices. Corporate leadership was talking about the need to slim down for future financial success, but employees were used to a culture in which they were GE employees for life. Productivity was significantly degraded while employees wondered about the personal impact, not the organizational impact, of the change.[ read more...]
There are many different ways to lead God's people.
- Visionary leader - These leaders have a crystal-clear picture of what they want to happen. They cast visions powerfully and possess indefatigable enthusiasm to pursue the mission.
- Directional leader - The directional leader can carefully assess the values, mission, strengths, weaknesses, resources, personnel, and openness to change of an organization - then point that organization in the right direction.
- Strategic leader - A strategic leader forms a game plan everyone can understand and is able to get various departments synchronized and focused toward the goal.
- Managing leader - These leaders possess the unique ability to establish mile markers on the road to the destination, then organize and monitor people, processes, systems, and resources for mission achievement.
- Motivational leader - These leaders possess insight into who needs a fresh challenge, additional training, public recognition, and an encouraging word or a day off.
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One of the reasons so many ministries become discouraged and too often fail is the inability to understand God's timing. Having lived for the Lord for over 25 years and served Him in ministry for over 20, I admit that there are very few times when God acts when I think He should.
In my own ministry, this has caused me much grief and discouragement. I'm an action person. When I see a job that needs to be done, I find a way to get it done before others even realize there was a need. It drives me nuts when I see other people drag their feet when there should be action in a needful situation. So waiting on God who does not operate in the same time zone as I do has been very hard. (CAN I GET A WITNESS?)[ read more...]
In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley offers 5 valid points to consider if you desire to be an effective leader. We highly recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position.
- Face it, you are not as good as you could be. So what are you going to do about it? The only way to go farther, faster, is to engage outside help. You can maximize your leadership potential by getting a coach...or two.
- Find someone to observe you in a variety of leadership settings. Outside input is critical. Even if you could watch yourself in a mirror twenty-four hours day, you would never see yourself as others see you.
- Select a coach who has no axe to grind and not reason to be anything except brutally honest. He need not be an expert in your field. What your coach must be able to do , however, is put himself in the shoes of those who are influenced by your leadership.
How important are relationships anyway? I don’t know about you, but in my life, one of the things that has caused me the most pain, is relationships with other people. The relationship between myself and my parents when I was growing up was a most excruciating experience. I nearly took my own life as an adolescent because of the painful experience of relationships in our home. My brothers and sisters beat up on me and literally tortured my brother and I at times.
I have to admit, my understanding of proper relationships or relationship skills was pretty messed up for almost half of my life. For that matter, even for the last 20 years of ministering to others, I have to admit, I have suffered painfully at the hands of relationships with people. People I have trusted have stolen from me and lied on me. People I have loved, have hated me. People I have helped have turned on me. I don’t know about you, but relationships with other people, have really hurt me.
On the other hand, my relationships with some other people have been my salvation. Had it not been for a relationship with a friend in High School, I may have never been introduced to Christ. My relationship with my Pastor helped mold my character as a young man. My relationship with other ministers has solidified my faith and walk with God. My relationship with other Christians, has renewed my faith in people and allowed me to experience a proper relationship experience. In fact many of the brothers and sisters in the church are closer to me than my own siblings. My relationship with my wife has given me something to work towards every day. My relationship with my children is my passion.
Relationships. A good relationship can make you, but a bad relationship can destroy you. The chance we take to have a good relationship is almost not worth the risk to many people. They have been so hurt by relationships that they choose rather to become introvert and avoid relationships with other people at all costs. Their way of avoiding another painful experience is to avoid all close relationships.[ read more...]
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...]
A crucial issue for today’s church is communication. At the heart of the Christian faith is the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yet today this message is one of a multitude of messages people are bombarded with daily. Furthermore, the “audience” has changed drastically. Today, the church faces the increasingly difficult task of communicating sacred meaning to a secular audience.
Here’s a check list of things to consider when it comes to evaluating what you’re communicating today as the church amid the rising tide of secularism:
- Keep it simple. Simplify everything from the bulletin to the sermons. You will communicate better with secular people.
- Translate please. Secular people don’t understand the theological jargon we use. You can simplify Biblical terms without sacrificing their integrity.
- Timing is everything. Time is the new currency. Communication must be concise. If people lose focus because of time, they lose the message.
- Take nothing for granted. The average churchgoer often takes for granted the things new people may not understand. The answer? Define what terms mean.
- Define non- negotiables. Some language and practices simply can’t be changed. Define the non-negotiables and then clarify their meaning.
As leaders and pastors, many of us are involved in growth programs in our various ministries. Whether you pastor a church or lead a small group, it is critically important to have a plan of action for the growth of your ministry. However, it is a serious error to place the program above the person. You, as the person, must take priority over the program. Your program will only be as successful as you are. Your program will only be as successful as your relationship with Christ. If you make personal growth your priority, church growth will happen out of the excess of what is happening in your own life. Your life will be the example to the people you lead. You will be a living testimony. You will have a story to tell.
It is so much easier to lead people if there is a surplus of energy, ideas and anointing in your own life. Take the time to make personal growth a priority. A Plan of action for personal growth is just as important as a plan of action for church growth.
Three must do's for Personal Growth:
1. Get in God's Presence.
When the Old Testament priest went beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies he was literally stepping into the presence of God. It was there that God communed with him and spoke to him everything he needed to hear.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It is a good thing to talk to God every day, but it sure is a lot better when God talks back to me. That is what happens every time I get in His presence. God speaks to me. God communes with me. God tells me everything I need to hear. I must have the voice of God in my life. If I have God's voice in my life, people hear God's voice from me.
In God's presence we grow our person. The presence of God is where we find God's will, God's anointing and God's voice. If you have those three things in your life, people will follow you. Make the time to get in God's presence every day.
2. Get a life.
Every person in ministry needs a life outside of church. We need to get outside of the walls of the church. There are a couple of reasons for this; First of all, you can't personally win anybody to Christ if you have no life outside of church.
Jesus was very good at building relationships with unbelievers;
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
The reason Jesus built relationships with publicans and sinners was because they needed Him. The people outside of our walls need us more than the people inside our walls. We need to build relationships with the unsaved in our communities. This is how we win the lost.
Secondly, your life needs to be interesting. The reason our messages or ministries lack impact is because they are not interesting and the reason they are not interesting is because we are not interesting. Take the time to get a life outside of church. Do something different. Get a new hobby. Join a softball league. Go build an orphanage in Africa. Start a soup kitchen for the homeless. Get a life.[ read more...]