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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.
[ read more...]
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The Power of Mentoring
Mentor was the name of the advisor to Odysseus, King of Ithaca and victorious leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War. So respected was he and so valuable was his guidance that his name has been borrowed to mean any wise and trusted counselor.
Most of you have had a mentor in your life at one point or another. Most successful people have benefited from a relationship with an individual who served as a counselor. It is a process that we have all gone through, but what gives a mentor success? What is it that makes him or her someone you should or would listen to?
Lou Tice lists three things that gives a mentor their credibility:
1. Our mentor is like us in some significant way.
2. He or she has achieved a measure of personal success in a relevant field.
3. He or she has mentored or coached others to success in that field.
A mentor is somebody who sees more in you than you can see in yourself. Jesus was a mentor to the twelve in the truest sense of the word. Jesus saw greatness in each of them, but he didn't stop there, He began to lead, mold and shape them into the potential that He saw in them.
Jesus saw them as they could be. Jesus didn't focus on their mistakes and shortcomings. Jesus focused on their strength, their power, and their potential. Jesus told them things that reaffirmed their potential. He showed His confidence in them by building them up and reinforcing His belief that they would go on to do great things.
To Peter Jesus said;
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.[ read more...]
"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." (John 19:38- 40 KJV)
Upon His death, Nicodemus came to Jesus’ tomb and he and Joseph of Arimathaea, wound the body of Jesus with linen clothes and 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes. This amount of burial myrrh and aloes would have been an extreme even for a wealthy person. The usual custom was to use 20 pounds.
Think of this with me. If any of you have ever baled hay on a farm, you know that a bale of hay weighs around 60-70 pounds. This bale being compacted and compressed into some sort of shape by a baler. In Jesus’ day, there were no such machine. They would have had to carry this in a sack of sorts. Imagine the scene of Joseph carrying the roughly 175 pound body of Jesus and Nicodemus carrying the huge sack with 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes for the burial.
Putting myself into this text, I find two men who loved Jesus. Enough, that they would risk their own life to see that the Lord would receive they very best burial they could give. So, Joseph donates his very expensive tomb and Nicodemos, not wanting anyone to smell the decomposing body of Jesus, brings 100 pounds of costly burial aloes. When people walked by the tomb, he wanted them to only notice the beautiful smell of the myrrh and not the rotting flesh of a dead God.
I’m not sure where these two were doctrinally at this point, but I do know that they heard the truth preached to them by the Lord himself. However, I’m not so sure they got what Jesus tried to get them all to understand. “(John 2:19 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
People often quote John 11:35, “Jesus Wept”. Recently at a funeral of 2 friends, the minister referred to the Lord as a mourner who also wept at the funeral of His friend Lazarus. I don’t believe Jesus wept because his friend was dead. He sure was not too concerned when they told him about Lazarus being sick a few days prior. I am certain that the reason Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend is because of the unbelief of those whom Jesus had spent much time with, trying to convince them that He was the Resurrection. How many funeral processions did Jesus stop to raise the dead? He had proven to all of them that He was able to raise the dead. I believe He went to the tomb of Lazarus hoping to find Mary and Martha sitting in wait, full of faith that regardless of how long it took, Jesus would show up and when He did, He would raise His friend to life again. Jesus did not weep for Lazarus’s death, he wept because of the faithlessness of Mary and Martha. Hear his rebuke to them, (John 11:25 KJV) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”[ read more...]
This series of articles are dedicated to those individuals who would struggle to maintain the momentum of God's workings in the church.
Latin centum, movement, from *movimentum, from mov re, to move. See meu - in Indo-European Roots
a property of a moving body that the body has by virtue of its mass and motion and that is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity; broadly : a property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force
n 1: an impelling force or strength; "the car's momentum carried it off the road" [syn: impulse] 2: the product of a body's mass and its velocity; "the momentum of the particles was deduced from meteoritic velocities"
Momentum is very hard to create. The larger the object, the harder it is to move. Depending on how much energy is needed to move it and the amount of time that energy can be applied decides how much momentum can be generated.
Building momentum in the church is not easy.
- A constant Investment Of Time
- An Endless Amount Of Energy
Put It In Writing
The written word is persuasive. A spoken word is quickly forgotten, but put the same words in writing and the phrase is instantly given new credence and respect. For that reason, putting it in writing is a wise practice. When everything is written out, you're able to see clearly what needs to be accomplished, how it will be done, and what your responsibility is. By putting it in writing, you're making a commitment.
Putting it in writing will also motivate you and keep you on track. By writing down your goals you make a commitment to them. Written goals urge us to action and determine direction.
Decide for yourself what your goals are and when and how you wish to reach them. Then after you have written them down, keep them in a place that is in plain view throughout each day. As you accomplish each one, cross it off! As you do, allow yourself some personal gratification. There is therapy in seeing a long list of goals accomplished.
A things to do list will ease the mental stress of the day. Often our minds are more on thinking of what needs to be done rather than on what do do to get something done. It is easier to set a pace for the day when you have a written list. Plan your day by allowing yourself an allotted amount of time for each item. Write that time next to each item. Don't let other people or situations keep you from accomplishing each task.[ read more...]
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.
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.
Don't you love them? They add so much to a church or organization. Their destructive attitude is so encouraging. They build faith in all who fall prey to their vile contempt. They're such a blessing!
It is funny though, how some people hate to hear a complaint, but love to be the one complaining. I suppose there are many reasons why a person complains. However, I doubt anyone realizes the full impact of it's destructive ability.
Several years ago, I was working on a job with a fellow leader in the church. We were working the midnight shift in a factory. As the night went on, I found myself complaining to this brother about my situation. At the time I felt justified because it was late and I was tired. I was also hurting emotionally and felt that people in the church should be more sensitive to my families needs. I had a list of reasons why it was OK for me to complain.
It has been over 11 years since that night and I have regretted it ever since. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked God to forgive me for allowing that negative spirit to work through me that night.
The real reason I feel so bad about that particular night, is that in fact the church people had been absolutely wonderful to us. They treated us with respect. They often blessed us financially. They always encouraged us. They took us in when we had nothing to offer them in return and placed us in leadership. As I said they were wonderful to us!
I bare my soul today only to point out how simple it is at times to feel justified to complain. I believe it is true that the majority of people who complain, are complaining about people who they actually owe a great debt of gratitude to.
Some time ago we had a man in our church who was a graduate of the school of complaining. This guy had a Masters degree in it. At first, I thought he had a valid points. However, as the years went by and we all grew weary of his negative verbiage, we also began to see the real problem. In fact he was his own problem.
The people he complained about were actually wonderful people who he owed a great debt to. Even his boss who he often attacked, had to have been an angel to have kept this guy employed. The boss was actually trying to help the man by keeping him on. Yet all the time this guy did nothing but talk bad about him.
This man finally left our church. I am thankful for the strong folks in the church who would not listen to him destroy their Pastor. I am also thankful he is gone. I did not realize at the time how much of my energy was being spent trying to please a man who could never be pleased.
The day after he left, the sky was blue and the birds were again singing. In fact they were singing to me. They were singing me praises and telling me how good I am as a Pastor. They were singing these praises from the tops of the trees for all the world to hear. Opps...sorry about that...reality check! O.K. so it wasn't the birds, but it was one or two wonderful people who attended the church I Pastored. They saw what the man was trying to do and thwarted it with praises.
Praise someone today!
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
1. A Praying Church.
The first century church continued in prayer. The fact that it continued means that it had previously started. These people had been praying long before the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts.
Acts 1:14 KJV14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
Before the church ever experienced growth there was prayer. Corporate and unified prayer. This was the foundation of what happened in Acts chapter two. Prayer is the most basic and necessary requirement of any church. Prayer is the foundation upon which everything else is built. A praying church is a church that is ready and waiting to do whatever God desires to do amongst them.[ read more...]
In his book, The Turning Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the work of the connector. The connectors he explains are important to social epidemics. The reason why a new restaurant would become the new hotspot in the community might well depend a great deal on the work of the connector. You see, a connector is the person in the market place who tells all their friends about the great deal they just got at Wall Mart. Or the fantastic food they ate at a new restaurant. Every church has connectors in them.
I have identified my wife as being a connector. Should Natalie find a bargain at say Wall Mart, she will immediately call her mother and sister on the phone and them about the great deal and why they should head over to Wall Mart as soon as they get off work. My wife is a connector. She loves telling people about everything from the newest restaurant, to the store who has a sale on paper napkins.
My life was changed by a connector. I was 17 years old when I came into contact with this person. 95% of the relationships I have today are a direct result of this one connector in my life. Mike was his name. Had this person never told me about and invited me to his church, I never would have met most of the people who I now know as my close friends and colleagues. He was not a preacher. He was a connector.
Something excited him about his church and he could not help himself to share it with someone else. Mike is not an orator. He is not a teacher of God’s word. But he connected me to the people who would eventually change my life.
We all have had the work of a connector in our lives. They introduced us to the church. They introduced us to our spouse. They told us the kind of car we should buy. They work behind the scenes to promote projects, products and agendas and they do it every day without pay or recognition. You might say it’s their personality. I would say it’s more of an obsession with some people.
My wife can’t help herself. She has to share her good fortune. I have told her in the past to keep some bargains to herself. Like the beautiful new dress she just got off a clearance rack for a few bucks. I tell her let people think you paid a little something for it, but no, she has to tell the world where they can get the same deal. She loves to be the connector.[ read more...]