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Borrowing Comfort From The Past
By: Jeff Arnold
So many times we are told to step out of our past when it seems to hold us hostage with details of failure, mistakes, and setbacks. I have often had to challenge my past with various Truths and dismantle the Structure Of Defeat it had erected in my heart and mind. It is so easy to look back to whatever you see and feel, and build our future out of those things. Today, I want to do something much better with our past: Look deeply at it and Borrow Comfort And Help.
When David had to face the man Goliath, he had to reach into yesterday and vividly recall just how good God had been to him regarding a lion and bear. Knowing in himself it was not his ability alone that won the victory, but the Lord had been with him. The God who had worked in and for him would show Himself the very same now, showing us he had received comfort and strength from his past. Getting the good from our past, I think, requires a greater deal of effort than recalling bad things, for the negative just seems to show up, but good has to be reached for. Of course our enemy loves to flash our past errors on the screen of our soul, but the Holy Ghost delights to use our past to bring honor to God.
Samson also used the past to get some help from when he had killed a lion and, after awhile, Bees had used the animal to build a place for some fresh honey. By taking time to taste honey from a past victory, he, too, had been helped by his past. I just wonder how many dead lions and honey spots are all over our yesterdays just waiting for us to both visit and extract help from?
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There are reasons that we have to work. Listed are some brief reasons that we are to work and the benefits we gain from it.
1. We work to provide for our Family. I Timothy 5:8 says, “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.”
- God expects a Christian to labor to provide for family needs. Providing for family necessities is a part of keeping the faith. Failure to do so makes that person equivalent to an unbeliever.
2. We work in order to help others. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
- Our generosity to help others is important to our Christian character. We must be concerned with the needs of other.
3. We work to render to God. Mark 12:17 says, “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
- God gives us the 100% so that we might in turn give him 10%. By doing so, he blesses the 90% that is remaining.
What are people, especially younger generations, looking for?
Authenticity, Not Hype – In all things, the church should strive to be genuine – to be real.
Balance, Not Burnout – For a world running on empty, where teenagers use Day-Timers, the church should be a place of balance.
Connections & Community – A place to belong.
Disciples, Not Decisions – Recognize the different stages of faith development. (Making a one-time decision for Christ is not enough. Christianity is a lifetime walk not a one-time decision. Once the decision has been made, training for growth must begin. How many “saved” are still in the church growing six months or more down the road?)[ read more...]
Most of us worry unnecessarily about too many things.
It's almost as though we search for problems to give ourselves stress. The amazing news is that much of what we worry about doesn't matter at all! Take a look at these statistics about worry:
- 40% of all things that we worry about never come to pass.
- 30% of all our worries involve past decisions that cannot be changed.
- 12% focus on criticism from others who spoke because they felt inferior.
- 10% are related to our health, which gets worse when we worry.
- 8% of our worries could be described as "legitimate" causes for concern.
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.
There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. It is important to cast a vision of servanthood to lay leaders and those in the church who serve the body of Christ.
Preach servanthood. There can be no greater example of servanthood than Jesus Christ. He was someone who could have expected everyone to serve Him. However he continually offered himself as the servant of all. You get what you preach. If the church needs to be reminded to serve one another, Preach servanthood.
Live servanthood. If Jesus can do it, so can the preacher. People live by our example more than what we preach. If we preach servanthood but live lordship, people will become confused and view it as hypocrisy.
Reward servanthood. Praise those who put others first. Openly applaud those who go out of their way to put others needs before their own. Jesus said, “When you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” He wanted us to know how important servanthood was as[ read more...]
It is fair to say that Levi, or Matthew, was not a man of good character. He had accepted the office of tax-collector for the Romans. And being a Jew this did not go over too well. The Jews did not take too fondly to an office that put them in subject to the Romans. Therefore, they gave these tax-gatherers a bad name. They had a certain hatred for them.
But when Jesus went out looking for disciples to come and follow him, one of the first places he went was to this tax collecting booth and simply said to Levi (Matthew)"follow me." Levi, who was rejected by so many because of his occupation, was in disbelief that Jesus had sought him out and selected him on purpose. Luke writes that "he left all, rose up, and followed him. "
Jesus was used to hanging out with people who were down-trodden. First a leper, then a paralytic, and now a tax collector! If Jesus were running for public office he ought to be more careful about the company he is keeping. But Jesus has a higher mission than popularity: "to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18), and the needy aren't always clean or respectable.[ 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.
John Bunyan’s book The Holy War describes the capture and re-taking of Mansoul. The gates were taken advantage of by Diabolus and his armies because they were not guarded properly. When King Shaddai decided that he was going to gain control of it again, he chose to assault the gates also. The Eye Gate and the Ear Gate were the primary ways of going back into the city. So he determined that he would have his best men to attack the Ear Gate. It literally shook while these men assaulted it. While the allegory is best understood as preaching that is being used to reason with the Ear Gate, Bunyan does an excellent job in describing the ways that it falls back to the control of King Shaddai.
The first to assault the Ear Gate was Captain Boanerges and his first assistant, Mr. Thunder. The second man to assault the gate was Captain Conviction and his first assistant, Mr. Sorrow. The third man sent in is Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror. Obviously Bunyan is describing the most effective tones of evangelistic preaching. Although all of these techniques, authority, passion, conviction, godly sorrow, judgment, and a fear of the judgment awaiting every man, it appears that much of this kind of preaching has fallen by the wayside.
Captain Judgment and Mr. Terror (knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2 Cor. 5:11) are dressed in red uniforms with an insignia of a burning furnace. When he stepped up to speak immediately after Captain Conviction, his words rang out.
‘O ye, the inhabitants of the town of Mansoul, that have lived so long in rebellion and acts of treason against the King Shaddai, know that we come not today to this place, in this manner, with our message of our own minds, or to revenge our own quarrel; it is the King, my Master, that hath sent us to reduce you to your obedience to him; the which if you refuse in a peaceable way to yield, we have commission to compel you thereto. And never think of yourselves, nor yet suffer the tyrant Diabolus to persuade you to think, that our King, by his power, is not able to bring you down, and to lay you under his feet; for he is the former of all things, and if he touches the mountains, they smoke. Nor will the gate of the King’s clemency stand always open; for the day that shall burn like an oven is before him; yea, it hasteth greatly, it slumbereth not.[ read more...]
I frequently converse with ministers and business leaders who are overwhelmed. They need help and I have solutions. I am good at what I do. However, all too often my attempts to help prove futile because leaders are notorious for not allowing themselves to see beyond assumed responsibilities and circumstances. They have problems focusing. For some it might be their Attention Deficit Disorder kicking in, and for others it is simply personal neglect. Just as a mechanic’s car often needs the most repair, and a plumber’s house needs a leaky faucet fixed, leaders seem to avoid personal changes of routine and lifestyle.
Sadly this is all too common. Many leaders assume roles and responsibilities they should not assume and therefore settle for a constant state of chaos and mediocrity. Numerous potential problems arise when a leader reaches a saturation point but refuses assistance and is unwilling to change habits.
I want to highlight a five of the potential problems and emphasize a few solutions for each.
The first potential problem: Addiction to adrenaline. Workaholics get used to the adrenaline they feel when meeting certain goals or deadlines. Many leaders develop a sense of pride at being busy; often boasting whenever their schedule hits overload because it feeds their false ego of self-importance. They have a hard time saying “no” to new responsibilities.
The intensity one feels when overwhelmed develops stress. This affects the quality of their relationships. Stressed leaders can become very controlling, territorial, moody, and sharp with their reactions to others. Stress also has negative affects on health in the long term.
Depression often sets in when someone who is addicted to adrenaline attempts to slow down or relax. Time with God, loved ones, and for personal development tends to be neglected or placed on the backburner. Those things simply aren’t the leader’s priority, and that is a big part of the problem.
Suggested solutions include:
- Establish a maximum number of hours to focus on work each day.
- Refuse to take work home with you.
- If an extra request for you to do something means you cannot accomplish it without adding to your maximum allotted workday hours then say “no” to the request.
- Schedule time off on a regular basis.
The second potential problem: Burnout. The body, mind and emotions are designed for a balance of work and rest. Time must be made for both. Burnout sneaks up on you, and when it comes it can be very difficult to conquer.
Burnout produces a cacophony of emotions. One might develop a sense of guilt, anger or regret. These are hard to overcome when one is in a state of burnout.[ read more...]