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Check up From the Neck up
"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.
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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...]
A few years ago, I hired a man to work for me who was from Africa. His family had brought him to the United States and he was in need of job skills. My small painting company was a great place for him to learn a trade. Frances was a pure joy to work with. He was happy every day. He would sing beautifully as he worked and often expressed his appreciation to me for giving him a job. He was fun and often told funny jokes. He was always ready for work on time. His attitude was perfect. However, I had to fire him.
Frances did not understand the value of time. One day he would paint 30 doors, the next day he would paint 2. After speaking to the family member who was his sponsor to the US, she told me that in Africa, time is of little value. She said, “people where he came from do not place a value on time. If something did not get done today, that’s ok, it can get done tomorrow.” Unfortunately, we in the US do not and cannot look at time this way. I knew how much Frances’s time was worth not only to him, but also to me. As his employer, I had to cause Frances to improve his time to show a profit or I would lose money on each job he did for me. Frances was unable to change his way of thinking regarding time and as a result I had to let him go.
The Bible itself begins with a reference of time, “In the beginning”. Time has always been important to God. A reading of the early chapters of Genesis shows God creating the world as sequential event. Christ Himself did not come to this world until His time was fulfilled and when it was time, he returned to glory. Time is important to God, and it should be important to His ministers.
Some people view time like Frances did. It simply did not matter. “Didn’t do it today? That’s ok, do it tomorrow.” The fact of the matter is, we only have one life. We are only allowed so many days, hours, minutes and seconds in this life. At some appointed second in time we will pass from this life.[ read more...]
(Mat 20:20 KJV) Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
This woman’s only desire was that her two sons would receive a place of position.
Jesus turns to the young men and asks, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” People do not know the responsibility that comes with leadership. They have no idea the sleepless nights that comes with ministry.
Leadership within the church is viewed in some romantic sense. The fact of the matter is many are people worshipers. They fail to realize that this is God’s kingdom. The Scriptures tell us that he is a jealous God and He will not share his glory with anyone.
Some will do anything for position and the prestige that appears to come with it.
They take short cuts.
They will try to buy their way into a position.
They will use their influence to bully their way into a position.
They will claim they have the right to a position due to duration of their service.
They will use their relationship or friendship with someone else already in position.
They want the title of an office without the work or obligation that comes with it. They are unqualified to do the job, or fill the office, but because they have been around longer than anyone else, they feel they deserve it. Even if their qualifications or lack of qualifications actually disqualifies them for the position.[ read more...]
The title of my article is borrowed from a book of great truth. Some books, although not biblical in origin, bear great truth nonetheless. Had I read this book several weeks ago, I may have saved myself a great deal of labor.
Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo, is more than a child’s book of the Dr. Seuss series. It is in my opinion a manuscript of sacred truth often unrealized in the life of a leader.
Let me explain, in Because a Little Bug went Ka- Choo, Rosetta Stone describes the extreme chain of events that unfold as a result of a little bug sneezing. At first a seed is dropped. Of which a worm gets hit, who then gets mad and kicks a tree. Because he kicks the tree a coconut drops causing the turtle to get bopped… And so on until the final scene describes the entire town turned into utter chaos as fire trucks and town parades collide into a frenzied explosion of pandemonium.
A friend gave me this book the other night after I finished the complete renovation of her kitchen. The inscription she wrote inside the first page of the book says, “Jim, let this book be a reminder the next time someone calls you to help them install just a stove."
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1. Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
One man who has been one of my mentors for almost 18 years especially stands out because of his honesty with me. Early in my ministry and marriage, he pulled me aside and explained to me that I was not very respectful to my wife in public. He explained that the ladies of the church would not honor me as a minister for this reason. At the time I was offended that he would tell me this as I thought I was very good to my wife. However, years later, I see where he was coming from. I’m grateful that he was bold enough and honest enough to talk to me about a sensitive subject. Honoring my wife and publicly showing her affection has not only given me respect among the other ladies of the church, but has also been a blessing to our marriage.
2. Shows a good example for you to follow.
The old cliché “Do as I say, not as I do.” Does not work in mentoring. A lifelong mentor should be someone who is a model of who you want to become. Everyone is a little bit like the people who have parented them. Part of a mentor’s role is to let the protégé watch them closely in the work that they do. One of my mentors would often times invite me to sit in on important meetings that I had no experience in. I would never say a word unless asked my input. I understood that I was there to observe and to learn. I watched my mentor closely to see how he handled fragile situations that I had no experience in. I would often ask myself how I would handle these often sensitive meetings, but would then watch my mentor expertly handle delicate subjects with Godly wisdom.
3. Sees you as family.
Mentoring someone is a life long commitment. Your best mentors are not people who are only a part of your life for a short amount of time. A mentor sees you as a son or daughter in the Gospel. Paul who mentored Timothy referred to him as his son. Anything less than a family level commitment may prove to be a surface only relationship between mentor and protégé. Often times, subjects discussed in a mentoring relationship are sensitive and personal. A protégé needs to know that he is going to someone who is a father figure who only has the protégé’s best interest in mind.
4. Shows himself/herself to be open and transparent with you.
A good mentor is someone who is not afraid to talk to those they mentor about their failures as well as their successes. My father would often say to me, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I have made.” This is a good reason for mentors to be open with their protégés. You may save that person a tremendous amount of pain and numerous mistakes by revealing to them the mistakes you yourself have made along the way.[ read more...]
A question haunts many conscientious leaders. Although many people receive the Holy Spirit, many do not remain. Their new birth often proves to be more of a stillbirth. How can we reduce the number of stillbirths and lead newborn Christians into meaningful relationships with the Lord and the church?
Statistics reveal that unless a new convert is able to develop six or seven new relationships in the church within 9 months, he will probably leave the church. To compensate for this, we need to develop a caring community to nurture and integrate these people into the life of the church. Such a program will include:
- A. A strong commitment from the leadership, not only to reap, but to keep the harvest;
- B. A method for nurturing new converts; and
- C. A way to help the new convert make friends in the church.
Here is a method that is working in several churches.
- Start with a new convert’s follow- up class to be taught by the pastor. He may later turn it over to someone else with the ability to care for, teach, and nurture new converts.
- Find one or two couples who are outreach oriented, motivated by love, and loyal to the pastor to work in the area of new convert follow- up.
What I increasingly discovered was in these dark spiritually abusive environments, it serves as excellent and fertile conditions for hypocrisy to prevail. As you dig deeper into these environments you soon discover dark, deviant sins and moral corruption simmering beneath the surface. I believe that the huge level of repression that takes place in these “churches” does nothing except bring out the worst sins of the flesh. Although when someone finally does decide to speak up concerning the matter of these dark sins, the leader usually resorts to efforts of damage control so that the leadership and the church do not have a soiling of “reputation.” Man hasn’t really learned any new tricks about covering sin; he still resorts to insufficient fig leaves just as Adam and Eve did at the beginning of the state of man.
What I also found to be very surprising is that most of the time the wife of the leader will also work toward damage control. She will do everything within her power to live up to the social pressures of maintaining some semblance of normalcy in the various relationships she has within the church. She apparently has come to understand that the dark side of her mate can shift on her as much as it does with those people he is taking advantage of. So instead of dealing with the moral and spiritual failure that is present things are left to follow the course of gravity. Gravity leads the person to maintain an environment of manipulation and absolute mind control on those people he is supposed to serve.
While I have written about the traits and characteristics of those who are involved in a spiritually abusive environment, I have not been specific with practices of spiritual abuse. I will list some of the practices while leaving some of the most extreme situations out as some would probably be absolutely shocked to know this kind of thing takes place under the guise of religion. So here are some actual practices of spiritual abuse:
• A member having to submit financial records to the church leader and the leader determines how and when they are to spend their money.
• A member having to sell various things on a constant basis to feed the coffers of the church so that it entirely benefits the leader.
• A wide disparity between the lifestyle of the leader and the members. He lives like a king while the members appear to live at a level of poverty or barely just able to get by.
• The leader using a “word of knowledge” or “word of wisdom” to pick a spouse for those who are in the congregation.
• Members being absolutely forbidden to question the direction the leader takes or question the decisions he is making.[ read more...]
The carpenter relies upon his tools to be correct for whatever job is being done and, also, that his saw is sharp and the proper cutting type. No real builder of various items would even think about doing quality work without the best of tools to aid his efforts. Consider what type of music would come to the ear, if the wrong instruments were played for certain parts, or worse; the instruments were out of tune or broken down - guitars missing strings, a drum with a hole in the skin, violins with loose strings, a trumpet clogged, and so on. Without the instrument being correct and in good shape, the person working or playing could not be able to perform at peak. Now, consider the same truth with regard to God and His saved vessels.
We are the instruments that God plays upon, works through and, if we are in terrible condition, or out of tune with His purposes, what can we ever accomplish for Him?[ read more...]
How important is it? Consider this. Early in Jesus’ ministry, he chose out 12 men who would become his disciples. His purpose in choosing these 12 men went beyond their need for salvation. His vision was that he might “…make them fishers of men”. Jesus understood immediately upon starting his early ministry that his role was to not only bring salvation to this world, but to also raise up others who would do the same after He was gone.
What would happen to the church or ministry the Lord has given to you should you be removed from the picture today? Is there someone you have been training to do your job? Have you mentored anyone to take your place? Or have you like most ministers been so busy doing your fathers business that you don’t have time to train other leaders.
Jesus understood that this was paramount to all he did in this world. He realized that unless he mentored these 12 men, all he accomplished in this world was in vain as there would be no one to continue it after he left.
Many ministers don’t see the need to raise up other leaders in the church. In fact, many ministers view this as threatening to their own position in the church. Can I suggest to you that this is “small thinking”. Whose kingdom are we working for anyway? If it is ours, we will lose it. If it is God’s, we will gain it. Small thinking hinders revival.
We all so often can find fault in our congregations regarding the lack of growth in the church. We point out all the ways they fail in outreach and preach them into a level of guilt that kills their joy stymies their efforts to share Jesus. Yet, we need to ask ourselves honestly, how many people do we pull aside on a weekly basis to mentor and raise up?
It is a fact that our church will only grow to the level that it’s leadership is able to minister to. A single man or woman will never effectively pastor a church of 200 or more people. It is impossible. A single person can only effectively pastor 70-80 people “if” he is full time. Someone one would say, “But I don’t have time to train other leaders in the church”. Can I say to you, “This should be the first thing you are doing.” You might say , “but I am too busy teaching, preaching, praying for the sick and ministering to the needs of others.” Can I ask you something? What would be so wrong with raising up 5-10 men in your church to do most of these things or even do much of the teaching and some of the preaching for you?
Jesus took his focus off of the multitude on occasions to focus on his 12. He sent them out to do what he had been doing all along. Did they do it exactly like he would have done it every time? Doubtful, but they did get the job done and in greater measure than He alone was able to do it. Jesus understood that 12 was more than one. Do we really understand that? Or do we think “I” am the only one who can do this job. “I” am the only one called to do this job. “I” am the only one anointed to do this job.[ read more...]