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Is It My Turn Yet?
By: Jim Smith
Haven’t you always wanted to be a part of a winning team?
Isn’t it time to let God use your life for His glory?
I Sam 17: 19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.
Can you imagine all the hundreds or even thousands of warriors that were in the field that day? There were both Israeli and also the Philistine seasoned men of combat. Archers. Chariot riders. Foot soldiers. Champions of wars past. Huge, scarred, muscular men of combat.
And along comes this ruddy, stubbly faced, nosy kid who upon hearing the Philistine champion's challenge, calls out…. “Is It My Turn Yet?”
[ read more...]
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As common as the word mentor is in society, and in the business culture in general, when it comes to many religious organizations and the individuals that comprise them, mentoris often still a mysterious term. Confusion and misperceptions abound, and yet mentoring has been around since the dawn of man.
Just the mention of the word mentor causes an insecure leader or pastor to manifest jealousy, others to cry out that "I already have mentors in my life", and a few to simply confess they still do not know why they would even need a mentor.
Nonetheless the reality remains the same . . . the leadership actions of most leaders validate their need of a mentor. Every new endeavor of life often brings to the leader a need for mentoring. In essence, business training seminars and workshops is a multi-billion dollar industry because it is mentoring in real life to those desiring to improve and advance in their skills and knowledge.
Please read on.
A mentor is not some mysterious know-it-all guru that floats in and out of your life dressed in a white robe and riding on a cloud. Neither is a mentor a genie in a bottle that appears with the answer when you have a need and rub him correctly. Nor is a mentor a replacement for the pastor and influential individuals in your life.
A mentor is someone with the willingness, temperament, skill sets, gifts, talents, compassion, understanding, whit, intelligence, experience, and general life balance that shoulders up beside you to enable you to succeed at a higher level in life. A mentor is someone who cares about you enough to invest him or herself into you.
Whether paid or unpaid a mentor places more value in your life, aspirations, and goals than you ever return to them. Their primary reward is in helping, steering, advising, and equipping you toward the success they believe you have the potential for.
Every great leader attributes their success largely and in part to the influencers that played a key role in their pathway to success. Those influencers are mentors.[ read more...]
The main purpose of interpreting a text is not UNIQUENESS but CLARITY! The first task of the preacher is EXEGESIS – careful, systematic study of the Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning; to find out the original intent of the words of the Bible; to hear the Word as the original recipients heard it. But we don’t just do exegesis when there is an obvious difference between THEN and NOW – it is the first step in studying EVERY text
- Go back to the original and the best sources for yourself first – don’t just begin by consulting somebody’s book! (i.e. Mark 10:23 – one “expert” said there was a gate in Jerusalem called the “Needle’s Eye” which camels could only go through on their knees, but that gate never existed!)
- We must always guard against EISEGESIS – reading our desired interpretation into the text instead of letting the text speak to us!
To provoke your thinking, one of the best things to do is use several Bible translations that you know in advance will differ in their interpretation.
There are three basic theories of translation:
- Literal: advantage – as close as possible to the original; disadvantage – doesn’t account for cultural differences in customs and expressions (i.e. King James Version)
- Free: advantage – eliminates historical and cultural “barriers” by expressing Scripture in modern terms; disadvantage – since it is more concerned with translating “ideas” it is not always accurate in exact wording (i.e. Phillips, Living Bible, The Message)
All it takes to start a fire is a little fuel, the right atmospheric conditions, and a source of ignition, perhaps as small as a tiny spark. If circumstances are right, a single blade of grass once ignited can build into an inferno that burns and ravages countless acres of prime forest. Humble beginnings can transmute into raging fire storms, exploding trees, molten sand, and death. The aftermath of such devastation causes one to wince in regret at the horrible and blackened scars left behind where beauty once stood. As unnatural as it may appear it is but another witness of the beauty of the healing and creative powers of God. Most pristine forests have at one time or another been destroyed by fire, but eventually they grow back stronger and more beautiful than ever. It is a cycle that must be understood.
Seral Succession is an ecological principle in which, over time, the natural biological systems become so developed that they begin to atrophy and bog themselves down. A strong forest becomes weakened and diseased because of the vines, weeds and assorted parasitical vegetations that erode its strength. New growth is repressed and beauty lies dormant because the system prohibits it. Extreme cases may require a controlled burn - an act of destruction - before beauty, order and strength can return. The temporary and painful state of charred ugliness is quickly forgotten once the beauty of a healthy forest burst though.
The same principle applies to agriculture. It is not uncommon for farmers to burn certain fields in anticipation of planting a future crop. Soon afterward the tractor tills the soil and much of the ugliness disappears. As horrible as the blackened field may have first appeared, its memory will be completely erased as spring bursts forth in a display of brilliant colors and verdant growth where once only charcoal and ash had been.
In effect, the fire’s devastation produces healing by burning away the undergrowth that prevents fresh, new vegetation. The ash becomes a natural fertilizer.[ read more...]
Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed. (Jim Kouzes)
Within the church, God has placed men and women who love to see growth. It is what keeps us to our tasks. The lack of increase can kill the joy of our calling so we lean forward looking for any type of progress we can possibly measure.
Growth however, requires change. Going from where we are presently to a place of increase requires seeing what most people are not able or willing to see. Seeing change before it happens is called a vision. Few people are capable of a vision as most would rather stay in a climate that is comfortable. Comfort however can cause one to never imagine anything better. A Pastor or congregation who is comfortable with an attendance of 90 will never see a crowd of 300 because they are not desperate enough to make the kinds of changes it would take to gather that kind of increase.
Change means leaving a place that is familiar and going to a place that is unfamiliar. Few churches are willing to follow even the most seasoned pastor into a place of unfamiliarity. Here is why so many of our churches stagnate numerically. This is why the average church in America only runs about 85 people. Even in cities with populations in the hundreds of thousands, churches often find it hard to get over the 100 person hump.
Change requires casting a vision. Within the church it requires faith in the leader who is casting a vision of a place of revival we have not yet seen. As Moses of old preached of a Promised Land that was ahead, the current day Preacher must be willing to stand in a desert of nothingness and promise something far better than the status quo. As Joshua shouted, “Let’s cross over this river!” present day church leaders must be willing to look at obstacles as opportunities for miracles instead of places of failure.
No walled city ever came down without some great leader first standing far out front of the crowd and saying it could be done. No bridge was ever built nor building raised where some imaginative mind did not first dream it. No church ever grew exponentially without first, the Man or Woman of God casting the vision for it’s growth.
Where are the End Time revivalists who would tell our generation “Jesus is Coming”. Who are the men and women who will affect the kind of change necessary for a great Later Day outpouring? Where is the Pastor who will stand in a dormant church and declare “Revival, Growth and Increase”?[ read more...]
Don't slow it down to fit your expectation of what the service should be doing.
It doesn't have to be a fast song, just don't let it be a dead one.
The last song should be the most powerful one.
If the congregation is worshipping, let them enjoy the presence of God for a while.
Pastor Philip Harrelson has contributed a fantastic sermon series titled, “The Little Foxes" to www.PreachIt.org.
We all have spiritual vineyards that we are to be the steward over. The first vineyard that Rev. Harrelson mentions is that of the soul. We also have the vineyard of our family and the church. These are vineyards that we have been chosen to watch over and maintain. However, there are little foxes that are working to destroy our vineyards.
In this encouraging and instructive series, Rev. Harrelson goes into detail and explains how to efficiently “improve the soil of these vineyards.” He describes how we need to meditate on God’s Word every day and pray throughout the week as just a couple of the ways to “water” our vineyards.
Every Pastor, ministry team member and saint of God would greatly benefit to read these messages and apply these life lessons. This is a series that needs to be taught to every church and every team member.
Here is the first paragraph of the first lesson in this series:
Every person has a vineyard. We may not perceive that we are keepers of vineyards but there are responsibilities that we all have for our vineyards. First, we have the personal vineyard of our own soul. It is perhaps the most important vineyard of all that we are to take the most care of. Our soul is the most valuable possession that we have according to the Word of the Lord (Matthew 16:26; 10:28; Ecclesiastes 12:7). The care of the soul is a very tedious and challenging process. It involves the careful work of plowing, planting, cultivating, weeding, watering, and harvesting. Just as a farmer is in a joint venture with God, to care for our soul will have to be a joint venture with God. We cannot do it all alone! We must have God to intervene with Spirit and Word to accomplish His will for us.[ read more...]
While in Bible College many years ago I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Chorale. It was a big thing to make the Chorale. We were to go on a two-week tour during the summer break. It was the highlight of our summer. I don't know why, but recently one of the songs we sang during that summer tour has been on my mind. I can't remember much of the song except the main line of the chorus, which was also the title of the song. It was called, "Shut up and March".
The theme of the song centers around the idea that talk can only do so much good. There is a time to quit talking and a time to get on with the business at hand. I frequently tell my employees, "A little less chatter and a little more clatter, please." I think you get the idea.
When Israel fled from Egypt after 400 years of slavery they thought they had gained their freedom. The Pharaoh had finally relented and allowed them to go. On their very first night of freedom, they set up camp on the shores of the Red Sea. I can imagine how their spirits were soaring. They were looking forward to a bright future. However, in a moment's notice, their freedom was taken from them again. The Pharaoh had changed his mind. He had assembled his mighty army and come to take Israel back. When Israel saw the Egyptian Army they panicked and began to cry out to God. They began to curse Moses for leading them out.
When this barrage of words came against Moses, he responded with some of the most inspiring words in Scripture;
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.[ read more...]
I have so many titles for this article running through my head. "Stinking Thinking". "As A Man Thinketh In His Heart". "You Are What You Think". "So Go The Thoughts, So Go The Man". Let me start by asking you a few questions.
- Are you totally discouraged right now?
- Do you feel overwhelmed?
- Is your mental thought process completely shut down?
- Do you feel trapped?
I have a friend who consistently responds “I’m happy and blessed” when I ask him how he is doing. Now I like this guy, I really do. But, sometimes, I just want to say “get real" when he tells me that. I don’t know, maybe he really is happy all the time. I guess it’s possible. Anything is possible right?!
I’m going to get blasted over this article. I’m going to get tons of emails from the "Happy All The Time Crowd". They’re going to tell me I’ve gone off the deep end. They will let me know that the Christian should always be happy. It’s our right. It’s our obligation. We should always have this enormous smile that tells everyone around us that we are HAPPY.
Christians are not allowed to get bummed out. Christians, especially Christian ministers are definitely not allowed to sink to the cloud of discouragement. A minister should never allow himself to get to a place of feeling down. Right?
Sounds good doesn’t it. But in the real world that’s a bunch of baloney. Just ask the old Prophet of God. One minute he’s killing off 500 false prophets, and wishing he could die the next.
You might agree with me that most preachers are emotional people. Now some people out there are not real emotional, but most of the preachers I know are people who allow emotion to guide them. Now that’s not a bad thing. I’m convinced that the Lord has a hard time using people who are hard to move emotionally. This is why he anointed David to be king when he was only a boy. God said of David, “He’s after my heart”. Other words, he’s a person who is able to touch me with his emotion. Without emotion, David would be led of his own ideas and agenda. But, since he was a person whose heart could be touched, God said, “I’ll use him in ways he never imagined he could be used.”
Emotion is a good thing. We need to be emotional! God is emotional. Look what the scriptures tell us about him.
- He gets angry.
- He gets jealous.
- He laughs.
- He’s emotional!
We, being created in his image are allowed the same privilege of being emotional.[ read more...]
Every pastor, preacher, and minister should memorize these words that Paul shared with Timothy;
2 Tim 4:1-5 New Living Translation
1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Each time I read this letter I find myself asking these questions:
1. Am I prepared to preach; whether the time is favorable or not?
2. Am I able to correct and encourage my congregation with good teaching?[ read more...]