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Most leaders must constantly work at making decisions simple. The implication of a decision will always be complex enough, and sometimes we try to solve or deal with all the implications - the how, who, why, how much and so on at the same time we make the decision.
What are the five to ten most relevant, proven facts in this situation?
- Right up front, distinguish proven facts from what are simply your assumptions. Assumptions are what we believe to be true. They can be very faulty foundations on which to build your decision. A proven fact is "Last month the house down the street sold for X dollars." An assumptions is "I think houses in this neighborhood will generally sell for about X dollars."
- The most frequent violation of sound decision making is trying to decide before all the facts are known. Somehow in our minds we have a need to decide now, a need to bring closure, a need to have things settled. Because an undecided situation often brings us stress, our minds compel us to make a decision too quickly before all the facts are in. "Once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you." Find out the facts!
How will this decision impact all the people involved?
- Who are the main players? Who else will be affected? People in other departments? You spouse and children?
What will be the long-term impact of this situation?
- What will be the long term impact of this decision?
- How would this decision affect people a year from now? Five or ten years from now? By the time the children leave home? By the time I retire?
- The more reversible the decision and it's consequences the freer you are to move faster in making it.
What legal, moral, or ethical concerns are involved in the decision?
- Be clear on these factors, especially if it's a big decision involving major commitments of money, time, and energy and affecting a number of lives.
- Understand the difference between these three categories. Legality is based on a coded law. Morality is based on a moral code or trust. Ethics are based on an accepted local or cultural standard.
- Sort out these terms and their application to your decision making process, since some decisions you make could be legal and yet immoral or ethical and yet illegal.
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Momentum is defined as “mass in motion.” All objects have mass; therefore, if an object of mass is moving, then it has momentum.
The amount of momentum an object has depends on two things:
1. The weight of the object that is moving.
2. The speed of the object that is moving.
In terms of an equation, the momentum of an object is equal to the mass of the object times the speed or velocity of the object.
Momentum can also be measured by its direction. This is called linear momentum because now it has direction as well as magnitude.
Momentum occurs when a force that is greater than the resistance to the object is applied.
Momentum is a conserved quantity, meaning that the total momentum of any closed system (one not affected by outside forces) cannot change. Here on Earth, gravity is the outside force that comes to mind for most of us. Gravity is the force that gives weight to objects and mass on Earth. The Earth's mass creates a gravitational pull on all objects near its surface. Anything on or near the surface of the Earth such as planes, trains, and automobiles, must use a force that is greater than gravity for them to begin to move, and to keep moving. Once they are moving, they have created their own momentum. In order to sustain this momentum, the forces that started that momentum must continue to operate, or momentum will decrease and eventually stop.
Momentum is a force more powerful than we realize and it greatly affects our lives. Yet, it’s not something that we consciously ponder or try to figure out.
As we address momentum in ministry, remember that it always takes an outside force for momentum to start, maintain, and to stop!
In these lessons, we will address and discuss the outside forces that constantly threaten the continuance of momentum in the Church.
The Force of Momentum
Momentum is a powerful force. Just as momentum works in the natural world, momentum works in our ministries and spiritual lives.
Yet, it is rarely talked about.
· The loss of momentum takes place in churches daily all around the world.
· This loss causes untold disappointment and frustration.
· A minister with great passion and vision will experience only so many disappointments and frustrations before they give in to discouragement, even doubting themselves and their calling.[ read more...]
Twelve questions to keep your personal accounts in order.
- Am I content with who I am becoming? Every day I get one day closer to who I will ultimately be. Am I satisfied with who this will be?
- Am I becoming less religious and more spiritual? The difference: I can control religion, while spirituality controls me.
- Does my family recognize the authenticity of my spirituality? If I am growing spiritually, my family will recognize it.
- Do I have a flow-through philosophy? As a Christian I am to let the blessings flow through me to others.
- Do I have a quiet center to my life? There is an important difference between the fast track and the frantic track. Peace is the evidence of God.
- Have I defined my unique ministry? Unless you know the things you can do uniquely well, you end up doing many mediocre things just to please others.
- Is my prayer life improving? One test is: Do my decisions have prayer as an integral part, or do I make decisions out of my desires and then pray?
All it takes to start a fire is a little fuel, the right atmospheric conditions, and a source of ignition, perhaps as small as a tiny spark. If circumstances are right, a single blade of grass once ignited can build into an inferno that burns and ravages countless acres of prime forest. Humble beginnings can transmute into raging fire storms, exploding trees, molten sand, and death. The aftermath of such devastation causes one to wince in regret at the horrible and blackened scars left behind where beauty once stood. As unnatural as it may appear it is but another witness of the beauty of the healing and creative powers of God. Most pristine forests have at one time or another been destroyed by fire, but eventually they grow back stronger and more beautiful than ever. It is a cycle that must be understood.
Seral Succession is an ecological principle in which, over time, the natural biological systems become so developed that they begin to atrophy and bog themselves down. A strong forest becomes weakened and diseased because of the vines, weeds and assorted parasitical vegetations that erode its strength. New growth is repressed and beauty lies dormant because the system prohibits it. Extreme cases may require a controlled burn - an act of destruction - before beauty, order and strength can return. The temporary and painful state of charred ugliness is quickly forgotten once the beauty of a healthy forest burst though.
The same principle applies to agriculture. It is not uncommon for farmers to burn certain fields in anticipation of planting a future crop. Soon afterward the tractor tills the soil and much of the ugliness disappears. As horrible as the blackened field may have first appeared, its memory will be completely erased as spring bursts forth in a display of brilliant colors and verdant growth where once only charcoal and ash had been.
In effect, the fire’s devastation produces healing by burning away the undergrowth that prevents fresh, new vegetation. The ash becomes a natural fertilizer.[ read more...]
I don't want to be so presumptuous as to speak for everyone in ministry, so allow me to speak from my experience;
I often feel overwhelmed and under qualified at that task that God has set before me. I sometimes wonder if I will be able to communicate what I feel so strongly about in a fashion that would cause those who hear me to feel the same passion I feel. I wonder if I can motivate the Church to move in the direction I believe God wants it to move. I feel especially burdened with these thoughts when I am ministering in an outreach setting where the people have not yet heard the Apostolic Message. (with this group, I may have only one chance) No doubt you have felt the same way.
Early in my ministry, I figured this feeling would dissipate over time as my experience grew. But it hasn't. I still feel overwhelmed and under qualified, even more so than before. Yet, now, I have come to understand this is how God wants me to feel. When I lose this feeling, I am on my way down.
What I am describing is not so much a lack of confidence in one's self. I am not describing someone who is fearful or timid of people and pulpit ministry, but rather someone who is humble. God requires humility in every leader. Without humility you will never reach your people. The moment you feel like you have everything in control is the moment you lose control. The message that you just know is going to fill the altars is going to flop. Pride has no place in ministry. Pride will backfire every time. Yet, when you feel like you are in way over your head or when you feel like you don't have the words to say, God will always make up the difference.[ read more...]
There are times that I really get wrapped up with being important. I mean those times when I am so into the importance thing that the whole world finds it’s orbit around me. I know that you may find that hard to believe, that “importance” could have such a dizzying effect on me but it does.
In fact some time ago, I found myself being very important. Our church was hosting a preaching workshop. Rick Wyser was doing his very good seminar “The Six Should-Be’s of Preaching” and I was feeling particularly important. We had plotted and planned and had all sorts of free books, gadgets, computer programs and all sorts of other things to give out to the participants. Somewhere around fifty ministers came and we were having a tremendous time. Nothing motivates me like talking about becoming a better preacher, so I was definitely enjoying the element.[ read more...]
Here's a question we would almost never ask somebody. And what an incredible question it is. "Are You Backsliding?" It's not a question to condemn. It's a question to ponder. As ministers of the gospel, some would never want to ask their congregations this question as it might offend. How many however, might still be saved today if only someone would have asked them this simple question while there was still time to correct their path?
We ask people all the time, "Are you ok?" "Is everything alright?" And why not? We are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the other person. True concern however, causes one to ask the deeper questions. It forces us to enter into a conversation on uneasy ground. Barbara Walters is renown because of her ability to ask interviewees the probing questions that often times bring those she interviews to tears. They never expected her to ask "That" question.
We oftentimes don't like to ask the hard questions. We rarely enter into conversation with someone where we don't feel comfortable. Yet, here is the place where a person is most vulnerable. Here is a place where they are searching for answers. Here is a place where they often times feel lost. Hard questions demand hard answers. Hard answers lead to a right way of living.
A person who is "off track" seldom realizes it before it is too late. Recently, the news has read like this...
Aug 6, 2011 - A hiker fell to his death from a cliff near a waterfall in the Angeles Forest in Eaton Canyon early Saturday, the second fatality in the...
Aug 1, 2011 - A 26 year old woman fell to her death Sunday while descending from the summit of Half Dome within Yosemite National Park.
July 27, 2011 - A Hiker fell to his death in Buckskin Gulch.
July 19, 2011 - A hiker died on Monday morning after sliding between 50 and 100 feet on a steep snow field along the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
June 25, 2011 - Officials say that a woman fell to her death while hiking on Mount Evans Saturday.[ read more...]
"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23)
compel: to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly
Most people are "nervous" when it comes to inviting guests to church. In fact, most people are afraid to even talk to someone about Church or about God. They are afraid that they won't have all of the right answers. They are afraid of rejection and many other things that the devil will use to get them to dislike outreach. So, how do we get our people to buy into inviting people to church? We must first ask the question "Are the leaders of the church soul-winners?" Is winning souls something that drives us every day? Remember, the sheep will follow their shepherd.
1. You can't sell something if you haven't yourself bought into it first. If soul-winning is your passion and what drives you, it will come out in every message and in everything you say and do. It is a part of you. It is who you are. It's not a chore or an inconvenience to you, but it is part of your make up. You do it without thinking about it and it has become second nature to you. If you passionately preach and teach on soul-winning long enough, the people will feel your excitement and buy into what you are selling.
2. Teach on this Biblical fact: Witnessing is a command. Once we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive the Power to be a witness. Jesus instructs us that we SHALL be witnesses (Acts 1:8). He doesn't ask us if we want to or if we feel like it or if it fits into our schedule. He commands us to be witnesses. When we invite people to our church we are displaying our witness. We are showing them that going to church and learning more about God is what we enjoy doing and that it is part of our life.[ read more...]
This is the third installment in a series on spiritual abuse. The whole idea of spiritual abuse is a very troubling at best. The church was intended to be a place of redemptive recovery facilitated by the grace of God. When manipulative control moves to the forefront it can have a very harmful effect on the people who gather to worship. It also has to be established that spiritual abuse can take place in a reverse order. It can originate from the congregation in the form of a board of elders or a single influential member who controls the pastor through financial means or sometimes through psychological and physical intimidation. Increasingly one will find the reverse order in churches that once had to deal with a pastor who was spiritually abusive.
Spiritual abuse is defined as “the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support, or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.” It can be defined another way as “destructive and dangerous involvement in a religion that allows the religion, not a relationship with God, to control a person’s life. He also goes on to say, “People broken by various experiences, people from dysfunctional families, people with unrealistic expectations, and people out for their own gain or comfort seem especially prone to it.”Spiritual leaders who resort to this kind of activity may or may not immediately recognize the control they are exerting. The trend usually isn’t immediately recognized but as time passes the cycle of behavior manifests in a manner that has a horrific effect on people’s lives. Even worse is the leader who acclimates himself to a state of denial of his own personal responsibility. To compensate for the increasingly unsettled environment, he may begin to assign all of the spiritual shipwrecks of the past as those who were “wolves” or “rebellious.”
As I filtered through all of the material concerning spiritual abuse, I jotted down a series of questions concerning not just the church but the leader too. They were based more on a rhetorical nature that did not so much require an answer but rather an evaluation of the spiritual health of the place where this activity is taking place.
• What does spiritual abuse do to those who worship there? How does it affect their sense of worship and understanding of God?
• Can God have freedom to transform and can grace really do an adequate work in this atmosphere where fear, intimidation, and manipulation prevail?
• Can true spiritual growth and discipleship take place in this setting?
• What do the actions of the pastor have on his soul in the long term? This was a very troubling question to me personally. What dark things begin to take place in the soul of the pastor who exerts force in such a way that he is never challenged and held to a standard of accountability himself?
• Are his actions motivated by pride of place or position?
• Has he moved from being an under-shepherd to a lord over God’s heritage? Such spiritual abuse literally takes the place of God in the working of the church.
• Is there a sense of the grace of God reflected in any of the public ministry of the Word?
• Is there an attempt to place heavy weights on the people he is called to shepherd?
• Does he empower people to live in a venue of spiritual growth in a public setting as well as within the private confines of the heart?[ read more...]
One of the perceived obstacles to winning people to Christ is that the convictions we hold are not attractive to the world. I beg to differ with that. If the convictions we hold are no different than those of the world then why would they want what they already have? Why would they be attracted to what we have? Attraction, by definition, means to draw an object away from one thing towards another. The law of attraction states that the force doing the attracting has to be greater than the force holding back.
What we have is much greater than what the world has;
1 John 4:4
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Still, there is this perceived notion, that what we have is not what this world wants. Even though we know what we have is greater, the world doesn't know. They will not be attracted to what we have unless they can see it for themselves.
In 605 BC, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem. Instead of destroying the nation, Babylon decided to destroy Israel's identity and culture. They turned Israel into a slave state. In the process of doing so, they selected the most promising children of Israel and shipped them off to be immersed into Babylonian culture.
At least four of these children were taken to the king's palace. Daniel was one of these four. He would be given and new name, a new wardrobe and taught a new language. Daniel did not protest these changes to his identity. Who could blame him? It seemed as if God had abandoned him.
Then the king asked one more thing of Daniel;
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
This is where Daniel drew the line. Consuming the king's meat and drink meant that Daniel would be eating meat offered to the false gods of Babylon. He would not have any part of it. So Daniel asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat the king's food. This presented a serious problem for the chief of staff. He was responsible to the king for these four boys. If he gave this permission and they became pale and thin, the king would have his head. This man was not attracted by Daniel's conviction. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with it.
Daniel responded to this in unique way. We can all learn from what he did;
Dan 1:11-15 NLT
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12 "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said.
13 "At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see."
14 The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.[ read more...]