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Is God Okay With My Plans?
By: Tim McNeily
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Pro 3:5-6 AMP)
Our future well being depends largely on the decisions we make today. We are a world in transition; we change homes, cars, jobs, cities, and spouses as easily as changing clothes. Many of the problems in our lives are the direct result of decision that were not well thought out, not prayed over and are emotionally driven.
In many decisions the cost was not counted, the impact was not measured, and the long-term implications were not considered.
We feel right and justified about our decision, but only time can reveal the end results of our choices.
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Pro 16:1-3 KJV)
An important principle to remember is that, we will reap the results of our decisions, whether good or evil;
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal 6:7-8 KJV)
You do not always reap immediately, some seeds take years to produce, and when they begin to bring forth it is in a larger quantity than the seed sewn. No one plants an apple seed expecting only one apple to be produced as a result. The hope of the grower is that the single seed that has been planted will eventually produce thousands of apples.
There are some questions we need to ask ourselves about our plans for the future.
Have I consulted God about my plans? – prayer is our way to communicate with Him. The wisdom to make a Godly decision is not found in our flesh.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Jas 1:5 KJV)
Have I consulted Godly counsel? – your choice of counsel may affect your decision.
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An alarming trend in the 21st Century church is the accepted absence of signs, wonders, miracles and healing. Many people believe in but simply have not seen the spiritual manifestations of God. The result is an uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the operation of spiritual gifts and faith. The absence of manifestation makes it difficult to have absolute trust in God’s present ability to do anything. Men and women are hesitant to step out and “take chances” on God because they have never seen or experienced God under such circumstances.
This weakens the effect of the Word because the one speaking does not have true faith in its ability. The same Jesus who did not many mighty works in His home country due to their unbelief (Matthew 13:58) will not do many works in your life and church for the same reason.
The more unfamiliar we become with spiritual and miraculous manifestations of God the more humanistic we become in our understanding of Him. I am astounded as I listen to preachers who have little to no understanding or experience in spiritual things. They make excuses and deny the power and authority of God without realizing it. They belittle as weird those who have experiences. His Word becomes a lifeless book that has no power.
It is time for this to change! The weakening of God’s Word cannot be acceptable under any circumstances. He is a miraculous and unlimited God right now!
Jesus said in Mark 16:17 that, “these signs shall follow them that believe”. This has never changed. The signs still follow. If the signs are not following you need to examine your walk with God. Signs do still follow believers.
Mark 16:20 tells us,
20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
I want to accentuate the “amen” by declaring that these things still occur in abundance. They still follow true believers. A true believer is not merely someone who believes true doctrine, but one who practices true Christian behavior and faith. Faith without works is dead according to James 2:20, 26.
Many Christians limit their relationship to God to their time at church. However, in Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us to go throughout the world preaching the gospel to every one everywhere. Those who do that will see things happen. They will have testimonies. I have my thousands. You can also if you want them. Signs follow our actions of faith. They do not lead the way, but they follow after us.
My brother Alan is an evangelist from San Antonio, Texas. He is an example of someone who has had signs and wonders follow him. The following is one of many such true stories.
Rain at 2:30
As teenagers, Alan and I both worked Murrell’s Corner. It was a full service gas station on the corner of Kenneth and Elgie Streets in Beaumont, Texas. An amazing series of events took place there over the course of three days during the drought of a hot summer.
Alan’s born-again experience was very real. In his zeal he had witnessed to Murrell, who promptly dismissed Alan as a certified idiot. Murrell was a deacon in his church, and evidently he felt like he had God all figured out. He mocked Alan and told him that tongues were only for the apostles and that it didn’t happen any more.[ read more...]
Here are five symptoms that indicate you need a church administrator to help with the load:
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1. More than 25% of your time is spent on church administration. Pastors often find themselves attending to administrative needs that are beyond the scope of a secretary’s authority. This may include tasks such as directing the volunteers who clean the church, reviewing the accounts payable and managing the building maintenance.
2. Your administrative tasks are increasing – with no relief on the horizon. A growing church will generate an ever-increasing amount of administrative tasks. Although the financial strength of the church is a key factor in determining the right time to hire an administrator, the problem of administrative overload will have to be faced and resolved sooner or later.
3. You can’t seem to find enough time for prayer and sermon preparation. Too many hours spent on administration can result in a starving flock because your times with the Lord and your personal study of the Scriptures have been neglected.
What makes people act the way they do when they get in a car.
If I bumped into you as we enter an elevator, I would politely say "excuse me" and that would be it. But if my car comes into your lane and "almost" touches yours, Look Out! How many times we read or see where someone was even beaten up or shot over road rage. Testifying before a House transportation subcommittee, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials estimated that two-thirds of the 42,000 highway deaths last year were related to aggressive driving, which appears to have joined drunk driving as a perilous trait of American culture.
Otherwise seemingly, quite, reserved people who turn violent when someone cuts them off in traffic. I've done it and so have you. Nothing irritates me more than sitting at a 4 way stop and the person to my right doesn't know it's their turn to go. And so there we sit, waiting for the other person to go first. I wonder if some folks ever did read the driving manual.
I'm sure all of us at one time or another have been rewarded with that certain hand gesture by someone who felt we offended them in traffic. I've even had young girls offer that one now and then. (Maybe I'm just a bad driver.) How could someone give such an offending gesture to someone they don't even know?
Well, that's really what I want to talk about. I only reminded you about your road rage to make a point. The fact is, people experience road rage, because they don't know you. There is nothing personal about driving past someone on the road. Yours is only a very brief encounter. You will never see them again. They can say or do what they want to you and they will never have to face up to it. Your relationship has no value. And as a result, neither do you. Isn't that sad?! (I'll give you a little hint. If you need to get into a lane and no one will let you into it, simply roll the window down and give them a big smile and wave. Now they will let you in.) Try it.
As long as you are only another car on the road, you don't matter. But when you become a face and a person with a smile, well that's another story. They'll stop the traffic in their lane to let you in. I'll admit, I'm a horrible driver. Just ask my wife, she'll tell you. But even she knows that I can cut into any lane of traffic I want, because of a smile and a wave.
I wonder though how many of us have this same mentality even when we get out of our cars. Hmm, let's try a little test here. Let's say you are on vacation and a few hundred miles out, you stop to have dinner at a restaurant. You know, at one of those places where they cook everything in lard. What happens if the service or food is bad? Do you tip her any way? Well you don't have to do you?! After all, she doesn't even know you. Well, you might even be able to get off a couple of "complaints" to her since she won't see you in church this week.[ read more...]
“Have you been trained to fail?” You have been trained in ministry to fail if you have been taught to do the ministry rather than to train others for ministry. I am grateful to the teachers who taught me to perform the functions of ministry: visiting, counseling, marrying, burying, teaching, witnessing, and a host of other duties. All are needed. By themselves, however, they help us only to maintain, not to maximize ministry. We can never be effective ministers until we learn what it means to be a leader and how to function as a leader. The following are five common ingredients in growing churches:
- (1) The pastor and the congregation understand their God-given gifts and use them in ministry.
- (2) The pastor’s hands-on ministry decreases and the congregation’s increases.
- (3) Both the quality and the quantity of ministry increase.
- (4) The pastor’s ministry influence increases as he shares ministry responsibilities with the congregation.
- (5) A biblical philosophy of ministry is established. That is, leadership plus lay ministry equals growth.
How can you build a leadership team and maximize ministry in your church? The following six steps are proven and effective.
- Identify the leaders in the church. Who are the influencers? These persons may hold formal or informal positions of leadership. They are the ones to whom others look for decisions. Write down their names and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 as to their leadership and influence within the church.
- Intentionally take time to build relationships with your current and future leaders. Do not ignore or exclude the others, but focus on developing leaders.
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.
What are some of the principles that greatly impact our lives and help us become mature, growing, productive people? Listed are principles to guide your life:
- Your attitude determines your altitude.
- It’s not what happens to a person, but what happens in a person that makes the difference.
- Every problem has a hidden possibility and a seed of victory in it.
- Failure is not final. Learn from it and go on.
- Limitations are guidelines, not stop signs.
- Expect the best and express the best.
- There is not much difference between success and failure. The successful usually gave just a little bit more.
- Each person can increase a little. You can improve your attitude, relationships, priorities, determination and credibility a little each day.
- Helping others succeed helps you to succeed.
- Be yourself – that’s who God made.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Live what you teach.
- Pay now and play later.
What would an ineffective pastor look like? Here are seven habits of highly ineffective pastors and how you can avoid them.
- Be reactive. Effective people are proactive. They take responsibility for their lives and aren't swayed by their physical or social environments. Being proactive means responding by choices and values, not by emotions or circumstances.
- Focus only on short-term results. A good habit says, "Begin with the end in mind." This attitude will help you keep a heavenly perspective throughout your day-to-day work.
- Do the least important thing first. An effective pastor will look at all the things in his or her life and prioritize them. The people or items at the top of that list will receive the pastor's first and best attention.
- Think win/lose. Truly effective pastors will look for win/win solutions. They find agreements that benefit and satisfy everyone involved. This principle is especially valuable with staff and volunteers.
Here is a question every leader of people asks himself/herself at one time or another.
When Jesus looked out over the masses who followed him, I wonder if He asked himself this same question. As He counted, in His mind, the healings and considered all who he helped, I wonder if he pondered how many would come after him.
Of course they would follow him to the next miracle. They would follow Him to the next free dinner. They would be there to hear him preach again, but would they follow him all the way to the cross.
People are fickle. Have you noticed this? It doesn't take much to turn their heads. You can spend all your energy helping them and teaching them, but when something/someone flashier comes along, off they go
It's no wonder we are likened to sheep in the scriptures. Sheep are wanderers. If the shepherd is not watchful, his sheep will simply wander off. They don't mean to leave the shepherd really. They just found a patch of grass that is greener and so off they go.
I look at the ministry of Jesus and I am dumfounded at the throngs of people he could gather. So many on the sea shore that he would have to launch out on a boat to talk to them. Thousands were there the day he multiplied the little boys lunch. They pressed against him. They cried out to him from the edges of the crowds. They climbed into trees to see him. They tore the roof off of houses to get to where He was at. Yet I believe he had one question in His mind every time he saw them press in. "How many will follow?"
Each time you get in front of the group you minister to, do you ask yourself this question? How many will follow me? How many will live the way I teach? How many will stay strong to the faith? How many will be saved?[ read more...]
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...]