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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.
[ read more...]
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“You know you are a leader if you look behind you and people are following you.” There are many leaders who have people following them, but the leader is not leading them anywhere.
All too often, the leader himself is not being led. It is a shame when a leader is unwilling or unable to be led of the Holy Spirit. It is a tremendous loss of potential to the Kingdom. As well, those who want to follow that leader become discouraged as their willingness to be led turns to disillusionment.
A leader who refuses to move in the direction God would lead him lacks the courage to see beyond the obstacles in his way. Someone who’s intent is to wait until circumstances are perfect before he moves forward, will never move. There will always be some obstacle between where you are and where you want to be. Moses and the Children of Israel are the perfect examples of people who had a clear vision of where they felt God was leading them. They found that there were going to be many walled cities and giants they were going to have to face before they arrived at their place of promise.
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to face your fear and move forward in spite of the uncertainty or risk.[ read more...]
This often-used scripture has always challenged the believer, for most want to be able to live up above the earthly arena of life. The one key is written; They that wait, they that serve the Lord with life and lips will surely learn the art of mounting up. I read an article about birds that stated, "The hearts of birds are heavier in proportion than the hearts of man or other animals." The reason given was, the more the body works, the greater the demand on the heart, which causes it to become heavier. Birds are very hard working creatures and so should the believer be.
A lofty life lived on spiritual wings requires an enlarged heart, which means constant fellowship with God Himself. If we are to live in the Heavenlies, to arise we must ask God to give us a bigger heart. Our desires must be for Spiritual things and only a heart after God will allow that.
In Psalm 119:32, the writer shouts, "I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou shall enlarge my heart!"[ read more...]
Without a doubt, interruptions in a day can kill your effectiveness. A "list of things to do" is hardly started before the first interruption sends you reeling toward another unproductive day.
It's important to know who can interrupt you when you are busy and who cannot. To reduce the number of interruptions you receive, draw up the following lists:
- People who may interrupt you at any time, such as your spouse or other church ministers.
- People who may interrupt you when you are not particularly busy, such as important members of the church.
- People who may not interrupt you at all.
These lists can save your day. Keep them in mind and give copies to your support staff and relevant ministers of the church. Ask them to follow these lists as much as possible.
A few good ideas to minimize interruptions:
- Ask your secretary or assistant to screen calls for you.
- Stand up and walk towards the door to indicate the end of a meeting.
- Do not sit down if you are followed into your office.
- Keep your office door closed when you do not want to be interrupted.
Paradox - "A statement seemingly absurd or self- contradictory, but really founded in truth."
Being a Pastor or Christian leader is not easy. Whoever said it was, was lying. Being a Pastor or Minister is rewarding and satisfying, but it is not easy.
The part that is not easy for me is when I do good for someone and they turn against me. It knocks me back a step when someone who I have really bent over backwards to help, lies against me or without gratitude, throws "it" all in my face. If you've ministered for more than 1 year, I'm sure you will be able to relate. If you've ministered for 10 years, you could probably write a book on the subject.
One thing they never taught us in Bible College was how to take a direct hit in the chops and keep a smile. Don't you just love getting bawled out by someone in the office, 10 minutes before service. It's not easy getting up in front of your church to preach a positive message after an encounter like that. But we do it anyway! Why? Because that's who we are. That's what we do. We are Ministers. We do good when people hurt us. What a Paradox![ 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...]
As leaders and pastors, many of us are involved in growth programs in our various ministries. Whether you pastor a church or lead a small group, it is critically important to have a plan of action for the growth of your ministry. However, it is a serious error to place the program above the person. You, as the person, must take priority over the program. Your program will only be as successful as you are. Your program will only be as successful as your relationship with Christ. If you make personal growth your priority, church growth will happen out of the excess of what is happening in your own life. Your life will be the example to the people you lead. You will be a living testimony. You will have a story to tell.
It is so much easier to lead people if there is a surplus of energy, ideas and anointing in your own life. Take the time to make personal growth a priority. A Plan of action for personal growth is just as important as a plan of action for church growth.
Three must do's for Personal Growth:
1. Get in God's Presence.
When the Old Testament priest went beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies he was literally stepping into the presence of God. It was there that God communed with him and spoke to him everything he needed to hear.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It is a good thing to talk to God every day, but it sure is a lot better when God talks back to me. That is what happens every time I get in His presence. God speaks to me. God communes with me. God tells me everything I need to hear. I must have the voice of God in my life. If I have God's voice in my life, people hear God's voice from me.
In God's presence we grow our person. The presence of God is where we find God's will, God's anointing and God's voice. If you have those three things in your life, people will follow you. Make the time to get in God's presence every day.
2. Get a life.
Every person in ministry needs a life outside of church. We need to get outside of the walls of the church. There are a couple of reasons for this; First of all, you can't personally win anybody to Christ if you have no life outside of church.
Jesus was very good at building relationships with unbelievers;
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
The reason Jesus built relationships with publicans and sinners was because they needed Him. The people outside of our walls need us more than the people inside our walls. We need to build relationships with the unsaved in our communities. This is how we win the lost.
Secondly, your life needs to be interesting. The reason our messages or ministries lack impact is because they are not interesting and the reason they are not interesting is because we are not interesting. Take the time to get a life outside of church. Do something different. Get a new hobby. Join a softball league. Go build an orphanage in Africa. Start a soup kitchen for the homeless. Get a life.[ read more...]
Your life is not measured by your accomplishments, but rather by the people you’ve touched and the lives you changed.
Mentoring someone allows you the opportunity to affirm their ministry and change the direction of their life.
You don’t have to wait for someone to ask you to mentor them. Pull them aside and explain to them that you see potential in them and you believe they are ready to be mentored. You may be amazed to find that they have been waiting on SOMEONE to notice them.
Don’t judge – Critique. The difference between the two is one is done out of love and concern the other is not. Let your aspirant know that you care only for their growth and want to offer suggestions for them to become better.
Open up. Tell them of your early shortcomings. Let them know that all is not going to be easy. Confess a few faults and ways you have conquered them. There is nothing common to man. There is a great possibility that they may need to know how to get over a few things along the way.
Model it in front of them. They are going to do what you do - not what you say. Regardless of how well you explain things to them, they are going to model themselves after your actions. You speak to them when you are not speaking to them at all. Remember they are watching you and learning.
Meet with them. Choose definite times to meet together. Doing this tells them that you care about their growth and are concerned about them as a person.[ read more...]
To give a little history as to how some of the heavy-handed authoritative traits came into play among pastors you have to trace back to the charismatic movement. Out of the charismatic movement there was the evolving of a concept called “shepherding.”
The Latter Rain movement actually had its earliest beginnings in the late 1800’s and was born out of the Methodist and Holiness camp-meeting environment. It would continue to generate momentum and experience growth during the post-World War II years and be much encouraged by the Charismatic movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Marked by extreme excess and abuse of the gifts of the Spirit, this activity led to the production of “prophets” who had little use for personal holiness and consecration. After a while it appeared that they only had a desire for their own personal kingdoms to grow.
As time went by these intruders became susceptible to moral and ethical failures. The subsequent fallout from their failures caused many who followed them to be led astray by their repulsive actions. In an effort to recover from these shenanigans a group of leaders came together and formed what was called “The Shepherding Movement.” Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, and Don Basham were the primary founders of this loosely formed organization who determined that its sole purpose would be to form a system of personal accountability. Later a fifth leader, Ern Baxter would be added to make up what was referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale Five.”
They decided that their work would be modeled after the pattern of Paul mentoring his sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus. They would work toward building a system of accountability that would form deeper relationships among pastors, ministry development at all levels, and ethical standards with emphasis on moral and financial dealings.
The whole system worked with the idea that anyone who came into the church needed a“shepherd.” After witnessing the moral collapse of several prominent men, this seemed to be a good and necessary thing. Who could object to the need for spiritual leadership and accountability? It became very heavy on authority and control in a manner that even simple decisions of daily living had to be monitored and approved by the pastor/leader of local congregations.
As an example, the leader would have to make the final decisions on car purchases, home mortgages, and job opportunities. In some cases, the “shepherd” would designate who young men and young women would marry to the degree that the marriages were arranged and carried through. The “shepherd” would have almost complete control over the personal finances. The parishioners would bring their paychecks to him and he would cash them and take his cut which was oftentimes more than 10% and give them the remainder. So as you can see the role of the pastor changed into an extreme form of authoritative control.
Some of the characteristics of the Shepherding system are as follow:
• Discipleship only takes place when one is committed to the group, cell ministry, and its leader.
• The only hope of salvation is extreme devotion to the shepherd of the group. This indicates the leader has more power to save than does Jesus Christ.
• Jesus Christ does not work directly in the life of the follower but rather He works through a system of delegated authority that flows down from the shepherd. You are to submit to this man as you would submit to God.
• Our relationship with God is not primary but rather it works in tandem with the power of a shepherd who has total control over the present, material world we live in.
• Our obedience[ 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...]