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Has it ever happened to you? It happened to me again today. Someone said I said something that I didn’t. They did it to defend themselves and their lifestyle of sin. I guess they figured if they could make me look small, it would somehow make them bigger, or at least more righteous.
Several years ago, I realized that people will (dog) the Pastor or the church in order to make themselves appear better than the church. This way, when someone comes to invite them to church, they can use this as a way of saying, “your Pastor is no better than I am. Why should I come to your church?!” And boy if you did say what they said you said. Or if you did what they said you did, now they have every reason in the world to never come to church. As if by some miracle, you were as wise as Solomon and did everything perfectly.
I believe Jesus understood this. Mary and Martha would have blamed Him for their brother’s sickness and death, but the fact of the matter was it was their own lack of faith that allowed their brother to die. And for their lack of faith, Jesus wept. Adam himself wanted to blame his wife for his own sin. As much as Eve did play some part in tempting Adam, the real one at fault was no one else but Adam.
I’m sure if you have been in ministry long at all, you have counseled people only to have them use your good counsel to try to destroy your character and reputation. Personally, I refuse to allow other peoples sin to affect me. When they want to make excuses and bring my name into the situation, I have decided to quickly turn the conversation around and allow light to come into the problem. “The real reason there is a situation, is you have had an affaire, not that I counseled you or did not counsel you about this.” I think you get my thinking here. There are several examples I could give.
“My brother would have lived if you would have been here Jesus”. No, he would have lived if you would have prayed for him to live. Why bring my name into your faithlessness. “My family would have stayed together if the Pastor would have spent more time with us.” No, your family would still be together if you would have slept in your own bed. “I’d still be in the church if that Pastor wouldn’t have offended me with his preaching.” The only thing that is offended by good preaching, is sin. Why don’t you confess your faults and be healed instead of blaming the Pastor for your unrighteous lifestyle.
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God gives leaders gifts and talents that fit the mission to which they were called. What raises men above their fellows is the degree to which they developed those gifts through devotion and discipline.
Discipline - Without this essential quality, all other gifts remain as dwarfs; they cannot grow. Before we can conquer the world, we must first conquer self.
Vision - Those who have most powerfully and permanently influenced their generation have been "seers" - people who ha e seen more and father than others - persons of faith, for faith is vision.
Wisdom - If knowledge is the accumulation of facts, and intelligence the development of reason, wisdom is heavenly discernment. It is insight into the heart of things. Wisdom involves knowing God and the subtleties of the human heart. More than knowledge, it is the right application of knowledge in moral and spiritual matters, in handling dilemmas, in negotiating complex relationships.
Decision - When all the facts are in, swift and clear decision is the mark of a true leader. A visionary may see, but a leader must decide. An impulsive person may be quick to declare a preference; but a leader must weigh evidence and make his decision on sound premises.[ read more...]
"The fiercest battles are seldom fought over theology. More often, they are fought over change; sometimes even the slightest change. Here's a process that can smooth the way for change."
Test the waters. The first thing to with a new idea is find out how people will react should the change take place. First, it lets you know if your dissatisfaction with the status quo is shared by others. Second, testing the waters will tell you what changes not to make. Finally, it lets you know what aspects of a proposed change will cause the most resistance and who the resisters are most likely to be.
Listen and respond to resisters. People who resist our ideas are sometimes labeled adversaries. We should prefer to see them as advisors. They can transform a good idea into a great idea!
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Pat yourself on the back.
Have you been feeling underappreciated lately? Does it seem that no one understands how hard you work or how much you are trying? The feeling that no one appreciates you can be very discouraging to most people.
We all know the power of congratulations. Rewarding people with our praise is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to motivate others. Simple words of encouragement can literally change a person’s life when given at the right moment. Saying “Good Job” or “This Looks Great” can motivate a person to want to try harder next time in order to please you, as well as give them a much needed sense of accomplishment for the hard work they have invested.
What happens though, when no one gives “You” that needed praise? Who encourages the encourager? Who tells the guy at the top “Good Job”? Oftentimes, nobody does this. Even a self-motivated person has a point where they just need to hear someone say “I appreciate what you are doing.” So what do you do when those affirmations are few and far between?
Encourage yourself! David did it. 1 Samuel 30:6;
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
Maybe you’ve never had the congregation ready to stone you, (Or maybe you have…) but there have probably been many times where you wondered where even your closest followers' devotions were. David understood that this was one day where encouragement from the men was not going to come. They were tired, discouraged, and let down. He knew that there was nothing he could do or say that would cause them to appreciate all he was trying to do for them. The only thing left for David to do was to “Encourage Himself”. The scriptures say he “…encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” Wouldn’t it be something if we could know exactly what he said or did to do this. What were his words? “Don’t worry David (to himself), God’s got your back. You’re doing a fantastic thing for the Kingdom of God. Don’t be discouraged, the Lord knows where you’re at right now.” These are things we might say to another person to encourage them, so why not say them to ourselves?
I confess, I talk to myself on occasion. Not like a lot of people do, but rather to encourage myself. A few years ago, I began to become very discouraged when it seemed that no one else seemed to appreciate the very hard work and tremendous accomplishment that I was experiencing. So, I began to do something that might sound a bit strange to many people. I began “patting myself on the back”. Seriously, I literally patted myself on the back and said to myself, “Good job Jim. No one else may notice what you just did, but I did and I think you did a fantastic job.” I know that sounds odd, but I have to be honest with you, it felt good. I said it to myself and at the same time realized that the guy saying it knew what he was talking about. He was someone who recognized when someone did something great and he was now complementing me. Only, me was also me, so for some that might not sound so great.
However, it was the only praise that was going to come to me that day, so if it had to come from me, I was going to accept it.[ read more...]
As pastors and spiritual leaders we have many things on our plates. We have schedules, deadlines and appointments to fulfill. Our calendars are filled up with church meetings and conferences before we even get a chance to plan a family vacation. We run out of room to write in our daily planners. We are busy with Kingdom work. We are constantly about our Father's business. It would be all too easy to just quit and justify our quitting with being "burnt out." However, if we could see with our spiritual eyes just how close we are to reaching our final destination. If we could know exactly how close we are to the coming of the Lord, we would work faster and harder than we have ever worked before. We would load up on Bible studies and go teach our whole neighborhood the Word of God. If we could only see!
In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She'd already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn't until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day she said, "All I could see was the fog... I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it."[ read more...]
As the attack of Mansoul continued by Prince Emmanuel’s troops, the second captain came to the Ear Gate. The first attack had come from Captain Boanerges who was absolutely confident in what he had to say. Captain Conviction, whose main assistant was Mr. Sorrow, was just as confident but his attack on the Ear Gate came in a bit different manner. Their uniforms they wore were pale and their insignia was the book of the Law that issued a flame of fire. He said to the inhabitants:
‘Hear, O Mansoul! Thou, O Mansoul, wast once famous for innocency, but now thou art degenerated into lies and deceit. Thou hast heard what my brother, the Captain Boanerges, hath said; and it is your wisdom, and will be your happiness, to stoop to, and accept of conditions of peace and mercy when offered, especially when offered by one against whom thou hast rebelled, and one who is of power to tear thee in pieces, for so is Shaddai, our King; nor, when he is angry can anything stand before him. If you say you have not sinned, or acted rebellion against our King, the whole of your doings since the day that you cast off his service (and there was the beginning of your sin) will sufficiently testify against you. What else means your hearkening to the tyrant, and you’re receiving him for your king? What means else your rejecting of the laws of Shaddai, and your obeying of Diabolus? Yea, what means this you’re taking up of arms against, and the shutting of your gates upon us, the faithful servants of your King? Be ruled, then, and accept of my brother’s invitation, and over-stand not the time of mercy, but agree with thine adversary quickly. Ah! Mansoul, suffer not thyself to be kept from mercy, and to be run into a thousand miseries, by the flattering wiles of Diabolus. Perhaps that piece of deceit may attempt to make you believe that we seek our own profit in this our service; but know it is obedience to our King, and love to your happiness, that is the cause of this undertaking of ours.
‘Again I say to thee, O Mansoul, consider if it be not amazing grace that Shaddai should so humble himself as he doth: now he, by us, reasons with you, in a way of entreaty and sweet persuasions, that you would subject yourselves to him. Has he that need of you that we are sure you have of him? No, no; but he is merciful, and will not that Mansoul should die, but turn to him and live.’
Captain Conviction comes in and takes a different but just as effective method of preaching to Mansoul. Where Captain Boanerges relied on authority, Captain Conviction relies on passion and fervor. Notice how that he confronts them with their sin and their rebellion against God. He also establishes the fact that they have sold out their allegiances to a king who is far less superior to what King Shaddai had been toward them. He tells them that their actions are going to cause them increasing misery as time passes on if they do not respond to the gospel call. He tells them that they are to humble themselves before God because this is their only way of escape.
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According to the latest statistics, over one-half of all families in America are experiencing financial difficulties. This includes single parent homes. Most people have financial problems, but don’t know why!
In order to be aware of the financial difficulties one has and know what causes them, a person must educate himself to the reasons for the difficulties. The following are a list of reasons that most people find themselves in financial difficulty.
- FAILURE TO FOLLOW SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES. The Bible is full of guidelines regarding financial principles. In fact, one-half of all parables and one out of six verses in the New Testament deal with stewardship. Get your Bible out and start studying. Ask your pastor for more information. See a Christian Financial Counselor for assistance. You will find great guidelines and principles in the Word of God.
- FAILURE TO IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES. Just exactly what do you want? More things or better financial stability? Prioritize your desires and needs and stick to it.
- NO DISCIPLINE! That one horrible word causes us more problems than anything else in the world. We need to exercise discipline in every phase of our life, especially when it comes to discipline! Discipline yourself to limit unnecessary purchases and wasting money. Discipline yourself to set down once per month to analyze your finances. Discipline will be the greatest thing you can establish in your life. Work diligently with disciplining yourself.
- FAILURE TO ESTABLISH GOALS. A person who has no goal is a person without direction. A person without direction is going…nowhere! To solve your financial difficulties, you have to establish a clear goal. Where do you want to be one year from now; five years from now, etc.? Write your goal down and work toward it.
- NO CONTROLS. This compares to discipline, however, it means to have written controls over your spending. Write down what your limits are. Review them frequently.
- FAILURE TO ESTABLISH A BUDGET. A budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is a clear cut guideline of where your money comes from and how it is to be spent. It only takes about 1 hour per month to maintain a budget so that you can control the process of knowing where your money is and how it is spent. Don’t negate the importance of a written budget…it will be the greatest factor in helping you get your finances under control.
- UNABLE TO CONTROL IMPLUSIVE SPENDING. If you don’t follow the direction of your budget and discipline yourself, you will be unable to stop spending when you see that item that you just must have. Don’t spend any unnecessary money until you discuss it with someone. You must control your spending if you ever hope to get ahead financially.
What is Leadership? Leadership is first and foremost influence. When you look over history, you will find People like Hitler, Churchill. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, who were all great leaders. Not all of them were great people, but they had a way of drawing the masses into their way of thinking.
Of those people listed here, the one who intrigues me the most is Adolph Hitler. If there ever was a political mad man, he was one. However, with all of his error, he was able to lead the masses of Germany into his way of thinking. He was able, with his mindset of madness, to convince them, that murderous mayhem was the necessary means of creating a better and stronger Germany.
So, leadership is influence. How a person uses that influence is the proof of that persons character. Some even in church arenas, have used their influence of people for their own self gratification. Their own self-preservation. And their own agendas. This is not Godly or Spiritual Leadership, however it is Leadership.
Regardless of the result of your effect on a person’s life, whom you have influence over, you are ultimately leading them. It may be your children. It may be the people who work for you or are under you in a corporation or church. It may be the kids in your Youth Group. Or it may be the people you Minister to in your local church.
I recognize the effect of my father’s leading in my life growing up as a child. For years, my father was an alcoholic. He beat his wife. He neglected his children. He abandoned his post of fatherhood, yet he was, with all of his silence in my life, leading and influencing me. Who I would become as a man, was being formed by a person who, for the most part of my childhood, was absent.[ read more...]
There are two essential elements of community. 1) interpersonal commitments and 2) a sense of belonging. True community needs both of these elements in operation. Without interpersonal commitments, a sense of belonging would soon be lost as a sense of belonging is derived from and is a result of the interpersonal commitments. Did I loose you there? Ok, let me break it down.
Bob joins a new church. He is warmly welcomed. He soon receives salvation. Bob likes the people and enjoys what he feels in the church. However, as time goes on, Bob soon realizes that since his only real commitment is to come to church, worship and give in the offerings, his commitment level is not very deep. In fact, if Bob only develops a deep relationship with the pastor there, then the Pastor is Bob’s only real reason for staying there. What happens however, when Bob gets upset at the pastor? What happens if the pastor resigns? You and I know what happens, Bob soon leaves. However, what would happen if Bob were was interconnected in a deep level of community or fellowship with 10-12 other people within the church? (Small Group) What if it were possible that Bob could get upset with the Pastor, yet his love for and interconnectedness with these other 10-12 were so deep that he would stay?
Relationships are powerful. A good relationship will build a person up and a bad relationship has the potential to destroy someone. We often fail to realize the value of relationships within the church. We exhaust ourselves with evangelistic efforts and get so excited over the sudden growth or influx of visitors. Yet we then often fail to get those new people into bonding relationships within the church and soon lose them. What we end up with is a person who is easily offended and will have nothing or nobody to stand in their way of an exodus.[ read more...]
When God fills us with His Spirit and we become a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we automatically have a ministry. What is that ministry? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
We have a ministry of reconciliation. Reconcile is a verb that means to reconsecrate (devote or dedicate to some purpose). Our responsibility to our world is one that requires us to reach out and "minister" to those in need. There are various ministries that we can take on. Whether one is a greeter as David desired in Psalm 84:
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.[ read more...]