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God's Spoken Word
By: David Church
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.
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Be confident. No one wants a sissy for a Pastor. (Sorry if that sounds demeaning, but I’ve seen some.) Don’t be bullied. Be strong. Know your calling. Walk tall. Square your shoulders. Lead! People will follow. You may lose some critics along the way, (Let them go!) but you will gain a congregation who will follow you into revival.[ read more...]
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...]
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My younger brother is very successful in law enforcement. I am amazed at his ability to pay attention to the slightest details. He has the ability to walk into a situation and tell you not what is present, but what is not present. What’s missing is often the clue that leads to a case being solved. Myself, I would probably end up exhausting myself studying the clues and items that were left at the scene of a crime rather than understanding what is different or missing from the scene.
Here is the problem many churches in our present day have. There is something missing and we haven’t figured out what it is yet. We are studying what is in front of us, but we can’t figure out why we are not having the kind of revival we know our Lord wants us to have.
We see people’s lack of involvement. We see the lack of dedication to the House of God. We know that the growth of our congregations are not keeping up with the population growth of our communities. People come to church with an “Entertain Me” attitude that lacks the fundamental hunger that is needful in a revival church.
We want to identify with the biblical New Testament church but the picture that was the Original Church is in many ways very different than the picture that is the modern day church.[ read more...]
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If people do not know and can’t offer a simple explanation to the questions, “Why do we exist, and what are we here to do?” they will not pour themselves into your lack of purpose indefinitely.
The 2nd Fatal Error: The Wrong Organizational Structure
God designed every land dwelling creature over 7 inches in length to have a skeletal structure to overcome the downward pull of gravity. However the structure must always fit the purpose of the creature. You cannot do the work of the Church with an antiquated structure designed by yesterday’s business world. The Church is physical and spiritual, and its structure must fit God’s designed purpose.
The 3rd Fatal Error: Using a Shotgun to Hit a Distant Target
If you place a target 150 yards away and shoot at it with a shotgun then hitting the target becomes accidental. If you want to intentionally hit the target every time use a rifle with a scope. Your vision and supporting actions must be focused and intentional.
The 4th Fatal Error: Containment
The best way to kill a church is to keep it contained in the four walls. Don’t let the message out. Don’t advertise. Don’t give to outside ministries. Stay away from media markets for telecasting services. Keep the people submitted and never release their ministries. Death will eventually come to such a church, but very few people will ever even hear about it.[ read more...]
Though God gets all the credit for growth in any ministry, there are practical steps pastors can follow to make their cities their congregations and enlarge their ministries for Christ:
1. Know your call and catch the vision. If a pastor has the vision, the mind-set, to break out of traditionalism, great things can happen. Don’t lock yourself in a box. Find a need and determine to fill it.
2. Be faithful in the little things and be consistent. “One thing about pastor is that he is very predictable,” says Jennifer Mallan, an outreach pastor at Church Without Walls. “He does the same things every day, so people know they can count on him. You know that on Wednesdays and Fridays our trucks will be out; on Saturday foods are prepared. It’s never hit-and-miss. Pastor has parented the city very well.”
3. Realize that it takes time to grow. You have to prove yourself. You want to show that what you are doing is not fly-by-night. Ask yourself, “Am I building my own kingdom or really helping my community?”
4. Put people around you who will catch your vision. Build a team that has diverse talents to accomplish the vision you are called to fulfill. Focus on a particular hurt and cure it; find an ill in society and figure out how to solve it. Realize that you and your team will need to put 100 percent into bringing a solution to the problem. Bridge the gap.
5. Work within all aspects of your community. Realize that the support of city council members, police chiefs and other leaders is necessary for the large-scale success of any growing ministry. Meet with city leaders when you first start and share your vision. Then get on a council agenda once or twice a year thereafter to give a progress report.
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At a Midwestern Fair, spectators gathered for an old fashioned horse pull. The Grand-champion horse pulled a sled with 4,500 pounds on it. The runner up was close, with a 4,400 pound pull. Some of the men wondered what the two horses would pull if hitched together. Separately they totaled nearly 9,000 pounds, but when hitched and working together as a team, they pulled a total weight of over 12,000 pounds.
Herein lies the value of team work. There is some kind of energy that is exchanged when someone feels that there is someone working with them.
I read somewhere a while back of a ward in a particular hospital for premature babies. In one case there was an infant who was several months premature. The mother and father had abandoned the baby at the hospital and it looked as though the child would die. The doctors and nurses did everything they could to care for it, but in all that they did, it grew weaker. In a last ditch effort, one nurse had the idea to place another healthier infant in the same bed as the weak infant. She made sure that the two children were close and touching at all times. Immediately upon feeling the touch of the stronger infant, the weaker one's heart rate began to get stronger and stronger. After several days of touching and being touched by the stronger infant, the preemie became stronger and soon was able to eat on it's own and became healthy.
As leaders, I believe it is paramount that we understand the value of the existent and potential leaders around us. Moses was a man who tried to do everything by himself. He was someone who felt that if God called him to a task, then God would give him the supernatural strength to complete the task. Moses also found out that he was wrong in his assumption.
Moses' father in-law on the other hand, was someone who saw untapped leadership resources everywhere he looked. So, he suggested that Moses find, recruit and train other leaders to assist him in his leadership responsibilities. Once Moses did this, he was not only able to sleep at night, but the needs of Israel were met.
Jesus hardly started His ministry before he chose out 12 men to train in leadership. He understood multiplication instead of addition. Rather than build the church on one man's shoulders, he chose to build it on 13. His and 12 others. As a result of this, when His own life and ministry was ending, 11 others were just beginning. The beauty of the situation was that not one of them detracted from his own ministry, but rather added to it.[ read more...]
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.
I marveled as I observed each presentation. The goals were impressive, and every presenter received accolades at the conclusion of each delivery. It was an annual goal setting and calendar planning session. It was expected that I would be impressed. When everyone was finished the pastor asked me if I had any questions for the various department leaders now that the presentations were finished. I did have a few.
“How many people on your team or in each department have any clue as to what you just presented? As the department leader did any of you create these presentations on your own and without the input of your team? Were any of these presentations simply modifications to last years? Did anyone achieve what was proposed to do last year? How do you hold yourselves accountable to attaining these goals? Do you or they know how you are going to accomplish these goals? How do your goals support the goals of the other departments? Are the goals of every department mutually supporting one common church vision? Are the goals of any one department pulling in a separate direction and counteracting the goals of another? Did the church develop its vision first and then have every department develop goals that are essential in order to reach the vision? Are your goals self-serving or do they benefit everyone else? Are any departments competing for people, calendar time, resources or talents in order to achieve your goals? How do you intend to measure these goals in order to track them? What data did you use in order to set your goals? Does anybody know exactly where this church is heading and what its vision is?”
These were just a few of the questions I asked. Surprisingly nobody had answers for any of these questions.
I then told them a true story. Recently my wife and were stopped at a traffic light. A Day Care Center was located on the corner and we observed over twenty children and a few teachers having a car wash. It was hilarious! Each child had on a little yellow T-shirt with the Day Care Center logo emblazoned proudly across the front. They were running, chasing each other, and expending a lot of energy. It looked like a swarm of little bees humming around. One little boy was chasing some girls with a soapy sponge. Another was spraying his friends with the water hose. There was a cacophony of screaming and laughter in the air. We both laughed at the sight of the people actually doing all of the work. The teachers were washing the cars and trying in vain to get everyone to cooperate with them.[ read more...]
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5)
Five truths of attitudes:
Truth #1: Our attitude determines how we approach life.
Are you someone who sees the glass half full or half empty? Do you even see the glass? The attitude we have whenever we wake up in the morning will usually dictate how the rest of our day will be.
The story is told of the grandpa and grandma who visited their grandchildren. Each afternoon, grandpa would lie down for a nap. One day, as a practical joke, the kids decided to put Limburger cheese in his moustache. Quite soon he awoke sniffing. "Why, this room stinks," he exclaimed as he got up and went out into the kitchen. He wasn't there long until he decided that the kitchen smelled too, so he walked outdoors for a breath of fresh air. Much to the grandpa's surprise, the open air brought no relief, and he proclaimed, "The whole world stinks!" How true is that in life? When we carry "Limburger cheese" in our attitudes, the whole world smells bad to us.[ read more...]