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By: James Smith
I'm trying to understand Mark 9. I have been examining every word spoken by the disciples and our Lord. We know that the disciples wanted with everything that was in them to be able to deliver the boy. Why else would they later risk criticism and His strong rebuke to ask why they had failed. We know that the Lord wanted them to be able to do the miracle because of the rebuke. So what went wrong? Why a prayer and no miracle.
I've been praying for the answer to that. I have always thought that if I prayed enough or fasted enough, the prayer would be answered. If I could somehow earn enough points by fasting, then a miracle was sure to come. But then I read IS 58. Here we find that it's not the fact that you are fasting, but rather the intent or purpose for which you are fasting. And so I have been praying and fasting with Isa 58 in my heart and mind. Lord help me to fast for the right reasons, to provoke Love.
Beyond Isa 58 though, I have found what I believe is a key to what I am searching for. "Compassion"
When I read the account of Mark 9, I was looking at what the Lord said. How could we not hear Him. "O faithless and Perverse generation, how long shall I suffer you?" Then I was looking at what the disciples asked when they desired to know why they had failed. But what I had totally overlooked was what the little boys father said to the Lord. Did you get it? "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us"!
As a father, I have felt that man's compassion. I have held my sick children up to the Lord with tears of compassion for a sick baby. So, I think I understand the pleading and hunger he had in his heart when he asked the Lord to have compassion on them. When I read that I began a search on the word compassion.
It is in the Bible 41 times in 39 verses. The Old Testament is full of verses which tell how the Lord is "Full of Compassion".
- Mat 9:36 Compassion on the multitude...of lost people.
- Mat 14:14 Compassion caused Him to heal the sick of the multitude there.
- Mat 15:32 Compassion caused Him to feed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes.
- Mat 18:27 It was the lack of compassion which caused the servant to be given to the tormentors.
- Mat 20:34 Compassion caused Him to heal blinded eyes.
- Mat 1:41 Compassion moved Him to heal the Leper.
- Luke 7:13 Compassion made Him raise the widow's son.
- Luke 15:20 With compassion the father received the prodigal son.
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New Pastors often make elementary mistakes when they assume the pastorate of a church. Even though you’re now the pastor, you’re still the “new kid on the block.” Listed are some strategies to employ during the first year of your new pastorate.
- Earn confidence by showing competence in decision-making.
- Focus on people first – programs second.
- Make no major changes the first year.
- Promote health through loving the people.
- Tackle the most critical problems one at a time – line them up single file.
- Respect culture – each church has its unique history.
What is failure? Is it permanent? Is there a second chance? Complete the sentence by circling the right phrase “a person is a failure when…”
- He makes a mistake;
- He quits;
- Someone thinks he is.
Review - Failure should be a teacher, not an undertaker. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street. A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.
Repress - Perhaps your own personal problems and hang-ups caused the failure. If so, begin to work immediately on self-discipline. If you were the problem, put yourself under control. Lord Nelson, England’s famous naval hero, suffered from seasickness throughout his entire life. Yet the man who had destroyed Napoleon’s fleet did not let illness interfere with his career.[ read more...]
One of the keys to Effective Church Leadership is delegating work to others - no one can do everything for themselves. Learn to delegate aspects of your ministry properly, and you will have time to complete the most important needs of the church successfully.
The process of delegation consists of the decision to delegate, the briefing, and the followup. At each of these points, anticipate the potential problems.
The decision: Persuade yourself to delegate. You will not benefit if you lead the Church with the assumption that it takes longer to teach somebody else to do a job than to do it yourself. Delegation has its own rewards. Once somebody has learned a particular task, they will be able to do it in the future without repeated briefings. However, be sure to delegate each job to a person with the appropriate skills, experience and knowledge.
The briefing: Make sure that the person to whom you are delegating clearly understands the brief - what you want them to do and by when. Offer ongoing support and guidance.
The followup: During the course of the project, check the standard of work produced. Provide positive feedback, but beware of overdoing it - there is a narrow line between helpful supervision and debilitating interference.
Delegation does not mean handing over control of a project, but handing over responsibility for certain tasks. Encourage people to work using their own methods, providing they stick to the instructions you have given them. This allows you to utilize their specialized giftedness or to provide them with an opportunity to develop a new area of expertise. One of the common contentions arising out of delegation is conflict over responsibility, so it is vital to define exactly what the person is responsible for.
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As a youngster in the church I recall a phrase that my parents and grandparents used to say on occasion. The phrase was, "God's Word will not return void." I knew it was Scripture, but it was one of those that I hadn't read in a long, long time. Recently, while reading in the book of Isaiah, I came across this phrase again. It really hit me hard and spoke to me. I encourage you to read Isaiah the 55th chapter, I guarantee it will encourage and uplift you.
The verses that really hit me are;
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
It seems whenever I struggle or face a tough trial there are very few places I can find refuge and strength. Often a close friend or mentor can help. Sometimes it is my spouse or my kids. Just being around family is therapeutic to the soul. However, there is one thing that never fails me, and that is the Word of God. God's Word never ceases to amaze me. It truly is a book of life.
In this chapter, God said, "His Word will never to Him void." That simply means, It will never return empty handed or in vain. Most of us understand that everything in the Word of God is profitable. However, I draw your attention to the words, "goeth forth". The Word that doesn't return void is the Word that 'goeth forth'. The Word that is profitable is the Word that is 'spoken' out of our mouth.
God's Word doesn't help us if it stays on our bookshelves. God's Word doesn't accomplish what God wants it to if we don't speak it. I realize this article may be read by hundreds of preachers; however, I am not referring to preaching in this article. If the only spoken Word in our lives is the Word we preach, then we have miserably failed. Yes, we need to study, read, meditate, share and preach the Word. Yet, I am stating that we need to literally speak the Word out loud. We need to verbalize it over and over again. Not only from our pulpits, but over every situation in our own lives. If we can speak the Word to others, why can't we speak it unto ourselves? This is how our faith grows. This is how we make it through the fire.[ read more...]
One church may be in a small rural community where it is easy to develop close personal relationships. Another may be in a big city where shallow impersonal relationships are the standard. (In the country they all wave to each other – even to strangers. In the metro areas, they don’t speak to one another even when they walk abreast on the streets.
One town may have a growing populating while another may have a shrinking population. Industry is brining people into one area and as a result the pews seem to fill up all by themselves. Factory shutdowns may be causing another town to be losing its population, hence it looks like the church is not doing a good job since it too is shrinking.
One town may have a wealthy populace while another may be in a poverty stricken area. There is not going to be much need for a food bank in a wealthy area, but it may bring many new contacts and converts to a church in an impoverished area. If a pastor of the wealthy community says, “Hey, we need a food bank.” since he sees the success of the struggling community church, he may be wasting church resources and time.
One church might be a new church and another very established. (Established doesn’t always mean it has arrived, it just means it’s been there for a while.) I have worked in 2 church start ups and in 4 established churches. It is much easier to get things started and rolling in a newer church than one that has been around for 50 years. I could get programs started in one day in that small baby church where it took me months to get the same program started in larger established churches. Because it works overnight in one town does not mean it will work over night in another.[ read more...]
In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley offers 5 valid points to consider if you desire to be an effective leader. We highly recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position.
- Face it, you are not as good as you could be. So what are you going to do about it? The only way to go farther, faster, is to engage outside help. You can maximize your leadership potential by getting a coach...or two.
- Find someone to observe you in a variety of leadership settings. Outside input is critical. Even if you could watch yourself in a mirror twenty-four hours day, you would never see yourself as others see you.
- Select a coach who has no axe to grind and not reason to be anything except brutally honest. He need not be an expert in your field. What your coach must be able to do , however, is put himself in the shoes of those who are influenced by your leadership.
It is so important that we recognize our need for close friends.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
During His ministry, Jesus had many friends and many people that He was friendly to. Yet Jesus was only very close to a few people. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were three of Jesus' closest friends on this earth. This family of brother and sisters lived just outside of Jerusalem in the town of Bethany. Jesus would often stay with them on His journeys into the city. He became very close to them. You may all remember the story in this scripture...Mary and Martha heard that Jesus was coming. Martha immediately dropped everything that she was doing and began to prepare the house and the food and all of the things that are necessary to host a guest. Instead of helping her sister, Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear His word and to fellowship with Him. This so upset Martha that she went to Jesus and vented her feelings on Him. Jesus responded and said, "Martha, you are so upset about this, don't you understand that what your sister has chosen to do is a needful thing!" What was this needful thing that Jesus was referring to? It was the communing together of close friends!
Jesus needed this and so did Martha. In fact what stands out to me about his story is what Martha was doing was also a needful thing. What host would not clean the house, prepare the food and make sure everything was in order? That was important. Yet Jesus made it very clear that a special time of sharing between friends was much more important than hosting a guest! You must find time, you must make time to spend with your closest friends. Even at the cost of neglecting something important! I call this 'planned neglect'. Make plans to neglect some things so you can spend some quality time with friends. It has to happen, it is of outmost importance![ read more...]
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
The writer of Hebrews clearly stresses that fellowship is very important. True Christian fellowship can accomplish so much in a person's life. Sometimes we feel that we don't need fellowship and that we can do things on our own. This individualistic way of thinking is not how Jesus intended for us to think and He shows us that throughout His Word. Also, a church will never grow to its full capacity if there is not a love for fellowship. Our English word, “fellowship” is the translation of the Greek word, “koinonia.”
"Koinonia": meaning "close association; communion; close relationship." It is the most frequently used word for fellowship, sharing, and communion. This speaks of the act of using a thing in common.
The word "fellowship" is found numerous times throughout the Bible. In the Greek New Testament, the word koinonia occurs nineteen times. This beautiful Greek word has become almost as popular in English-speaking congregations as the well-known agape (love). Fellowship groups and Bible classes are sometimes called "koinonias." Fellowship is one of the four staples of the New Testament church, along with the apostles' doctrine, prayer, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). We are called unto the fellowship of Jesus Christ.
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:9)[ read more...]