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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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It's not unusual to feel stuck, trapped, and unable to move from a situation you feel is stifling. Actually, it's part of life and growth. But getting "stuck in" and "growing through" situations are different. Here are some ways to shift from one to the other.
- Step back and ask yourself what's really going on. When you're caught up in the stuff of everyday life, it's easy to lose objectivity. It's good to set aside a little time each day to challenge the obviousness of what seems to be going on. Is there a lesson to be learned that you are missing? Might that setback really be a step forward? Will things really turn out as badly as you think they will?
- Consider whether what's happening has happened before. Is this a unique situation or is it just another example in different garb, of an issue you've failed to confront before? If it's the latter, maybe now's the time to solve it and move on.
- Assume that present events and circumstances may be less of a "problem" than parts of a larger "process." There's a fair case to be made for the notion that, in this life, all is process rather than result. In other words, what this life is really about is growth and learning. Viewed in this light, where you're heading is not as important as how you choose to get there.
- Ask yourself what you can do next. It's the small steps that lead to successful journeys. Don't get sucked in by the suggestion that you've got to solve it all today.
I remember as a young person, admiring the Pastors and Ministers of our movement. In my mind they were (and are) equal to the Apostles. I cannot explain in words my respect for them.
20 years later, I am one of those men. Often I find myself comparing my ministry to those men who I admire. Who I am as a leader, seems far short to that of many of the men around me. Now please don't think that I am wanting to be them. I realize that we are all unique and gifted according to His desire. But there is something in me that always wants to improve. I never want to become satisfied with who I am as a Man of God. I always want to do more for Him. I want to get closer to who He wants me to be. Like Paul of old. After all he did for the Lord, he said "Oh, that I might know Him..." As great a man as Paul was, he still looked to Jesus for a deeper walk.
I'm not sure we always realize the effect we have on the young people around us. Or for that matter, any saint. One thing that God consistently reminds me of, is that I am an example to those who look up to me. I feel that there is blood on my hands, if I lead an example, that would discourage them from living for God.[ read more...]
I. He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:25-33).
- This is total self-giving love. He can only love his wife to the degree that he receives the love of God. Through this kind of love, he brings a sanctification and cleansing for his wife.
II. He is to be tenderhearted toward his wife.
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:12- 13).
- The one major complaint women give about their husbands is that they are not tenderhearted (sensitive to their feelings). "He just can't show his emotions."
III. He is to be the provider for the family.
"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (I Timothy 5:8).
"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (I Thessalonians 3:10).
- God works through the husband and father to provide for the wife and the children. This provision should also include protection from physical or emotional harm.
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.
Solipsism is the belief that nothing exists outside of your self. If you, while reading this article, believe that this article and everything around you are figments of your imagination, you are solipsistic.
Sounds strange? No, it is very real.
Engine Charlie Wilson, former CEO of GM, once said, “What is good for GM is good for America!” Engine Charlie was indulging in solipsistic thinking on behalf of GM.
Grades in school may be another example of solipsism. The purpose of school is learning. We create a surrogate indicator of learning: grades. Then we collude with each other to pretend that grades are an accurate indicator that learning has or has not taken place. We no longer even question the legitimacy of grades.
Another example is sweeps week. Twice a year there are weeklong surveys of TV viewership. The ratings during sweeps week are important because they determine what the networks charge for advertising. The solipsism is this: We pretend that the programs during the sweeps week are representative of the network’s regular fare and that the ratings during sweeps are indicative of something real.
Another example: The Discipline of Market Leaders, a book that made The New York Times list of best-selling books. This occurred because those behind the book were able to identify which stores around the country were used by The New York Times as their sample for calculating which books were best sellers. By buying up their book at these stores, they could artificially inflate the figures. The solipsism: pretending that The New York Times list accurately depicts the sales of books (and that the volume of sales of books is an accurate measure of what is worthwhile to read).[ read more...]
As technological progress continues, it axiomatically leads to increasing rates of stress, overload, complexity, and change, speed, debt, and meaninglessness. Yet how can we protect ourselves, or families and our churches from the exhaustion and burnout of our age? The following suggestions may provide some relief, both for you and for those you minister to.
- Put more control in your life.
- Learn to laugh.
- Generate good will. The greatest thing we can do to buffer ourselves against the ravages of stress is to continually spread good will to those around us.
- Limit negatives. Stop negative self- criticism. Limit your time with negative people.
- Stop digging. If you're in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging. If you're overloaded, start saying "NO!"
- Accept your limitations. God is the author of limitations, and He gave them to us for our protection. We violate them at our peril.
- Defend your boundaries. Establish appropriate boundaries and defend them against the onslaught of an extraordinarily demanding world.
- Prune the activity branches. Like new branches on a fruit tree, additional activities and commitments add themselves to our lives every year, often without our permission.
- Value simplicity. No one ever lived a simpler, more unencumbered than Jesus.
- De-accumulate. Everything we own also owns us. Each possession must be cared for, maintained and paid for.
- Control the "paper tumor." Every year the amount of paper and information it contains seems to metastasize without pity. When at all possible, use the "OHIO" rule - "Only Handle It Once."
- Restrain technology. Maintain a healthy skepticism of any new technology and don't buy it unless you can control it.
- Value traditions. Identify the traditions in your personal, family and church life that have special significance and protect them vigorously.
- Establish stability zones. People generally benefit from having certain areas in their lives where change is kept to a minimum, and stability and reliability are assured.
- Move less often. Church leaders are often called on to relocate frequently. But at a time when the rest of the world continues to change so wildly, leaders who have a choice may want to consider the benefits of greater longevity in one position.
Although we put so much effort into preparing for our worship services with music practices and prayer meetings, there are some in our churches that we know are not going to worship. It doesn't matter how wonderful the music sounds or how exciting the service may be, some people just aren't going to be involved at all in worship. The Spirit can be so powerful and the anointing be so strong and there are people whose lives are clearly being changed, yet there will be that select few who are content sitting in their seats doing nothing. What do we do when people don't worship? How do we get those people to worship?
Teach on worship.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Teach on worship in your bible studies. Have lessons on worship during Sunday School. Teach on worship during your mid-week services. Show what can happen when everyone is with one accord and in one place doing the same thing. (Acts 2) There are many passages in Scripture that teach on worship. Some people may not worship because they really don’t know how to worship. Maybe they are new to church and do not feel comfortable outwardly expressing themselves yet. Maybe they really don't know what worship is or how to demonstrate it. It is our responsibility to teach on these things. We can't expect these people to worship if we haven't first taught them what worship is and how to worship.[ read more...]
God provides for us so that we might in turn protect what he has given us. Our God entrusts us to live within our financial means and ability. To live outside this ability, jeopardized the provisions of the family.
God owns everything but he gives us the use of it all. As we can be further trusted, he entrusts us with more. We become the managers of his blessings and provisions. If we cann't be trusted with what we have, how do we expect God to trust us with more? The management and care of God’s provisions is critical to future blessings.
According to Matthew 25:15-27, God expects dividends and a return on his investment. If we do not properly care for it and squander it, then we can expect to be cut off from the continued blessings of God. Luke gave us a clear indication of this in Luke 16:10 as he stated that the person who is faithful in little things is an indicator of faithfulness in larger things.
While earthly things are temporal, we still have to live here on earth. God gives us everything we need to live, survive, and enjoy the fullness of life. We must care for it with all diligence.[ read more...]
Identifying that next leader is not easy. You must often times select a few prospects and begin to work with them waiting for the cream to rise to the top. While you are mentoring and waiting for maturity, here are a few things to begin to look for.
Leadership in the past. The best predictor of the future is the past. Is this a person who has worked well on a team previously? Maybe, they needed a break and stepped aside for rest, but are now able to get back on board.
The capacity to create or catch vision. When I talk to people about the future, I want their eyes to light up. I want them to ask the right questions. When you are sharing your vision with people do they get excited along with you? Do they offer suggestions that spur your imagination further? When you find someone who is able to catch the same vision as you, you have found someone that you can entrust much of the responsibility with. They will have a similar passion for the work as you yourself would.
A constructive spirit of discontent. Some people would call this criticism, but there's a big difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. The unscratchable itch is always in the leader. These people are a bit hard to sift from the genuine critics, but when you do you may have found a diamond in the rough. Just because they are questioning a few things does not mean they are not on your side. Give them an opportunity to help make a needed change and you may have found a great friend
Practical Ideas. Not everybody with practical ideas is a leader, of course, but leaders seem to be able to identify which are and which aren't. A person's experience will often times lend practical ideas. When someone offers an idea that is helpful, it may be that they have been involved in a project much like what you are facing which will make them a helpful candidate for your ministry team.
A willingness to take responsibility. Leaders will bear work, for the feeling of contributing to other people is what leadership is all about. When you find a person who is willing to take responsibility for not only the ministry you have given them, but also the success of it, you have found pure gold. These are people to build upon. The ministry is dependent on individuals who are willing to take responsibility.
A completion factor. In the military, it is called "completed staff work." The half-cooked meal isn't what you want. Someone who competes what they have set out to do is invaluable. When looking for leadership that will help you move your church forward, look for people who finish what they start, no matter how small or trivial the task is.[ read more...]