Real Fear Vs. False Fear

26 03 2018

I grew up without a fear of dogs until one cold and snowy day. While sledding at my neighbor’s house, their mean-spirited German Shepherd was released from his chain (a big chain I might add). He chose to go after me while on my sled and bite me in my meatier portion through several pair of pants. I immediately went home crying. Later, around age 15, I was riding my motorcycle past a neighboring farm and their mongrel decided he didn’t like motorcycle riders. He actually caught me, made a leap straight up and latched on to my left arm. I had several really nice puncture wound, landing my mother and me at the Dr. for a tetanus shot and wound care.

Undoubtedly, I became a little skittish around dogs, especially big dogs. But was my fear legitimized by these incidents? I believe it was. The fear was based on real life encounters with real life dogs and real life bleeding wounds to prove it. Fears can be real due to actual life experiences and fears can be false. Let me explain.

Bethany said “I do” to Derek, madly in love with him. Without reason, she struggled almost daily that Derek would one day leave her. No matter what Derek said and no matter how he reassured her, she still maintained her fear. Where was it from and why was it so powerful in her life?

When Bethany was just five years old, her father walked out of her life. She carried that fear into her marriage and was waiting for her husband to do the same one day. It was a false fear, based on no present reality or truth.

Someone once shared with me that the word FEAR could be an acronym.

When our fear is based on the real, our Father can heal that place in us by His love because His love casts out fear (See I John 4: 18). When the fear is false, His truth can set us free from the lie that is holding us captive. Our job is not to assume that all of our fears are based on truth. We can pray as they are identified and ask God what is true and what is false so that healing can follow.

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Ten Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

19 03 2018

I have compiled this list over years of being a leader which encompassed years of personal leadership mistakes. They say worse than making a mistake is not learning from ones mistakes. Included are scriptures that help address the specific mistake. Admitting our mistakes is tough, but not as difficult as hiding them. Hopefully these truths will help you in your life of leadership.

  1. To derive any form of identity from leadership. Leadership is from a position of servant hood and humility. The older I become, the less I know. Rick Warren was quoted as saying, “Humility is not that I think of myself as less; it’s that I think of myself less.” (Mt. 20:26-28; Phil. 2:5-7)
  2. To go end-around and not face problems directly. Going to others (with the problem) that are not a part of the problem or a part of the solution. (Mt. 5:23, 24; Eccl. 7:21, 22)
  3. To not guard the spiritual environment. Examples of spiritual environments would be natural parenting, being a husband/wife, spiritual parenting, eldership or being a small group leader. To not allow gossip, broken relationship and bitterness into the environment. Handle people as God’s people, not yours – caring about the spiritual health of those whom you lead. We will answer to God for our spheres of influence and what we fail to guard, we give to the evil one. (II Cor. 10:13-15; Rom. 12:18) (Sphere of influence or metron (Greek) – see II Cor 10:13.)
  4. To make excuses for the inner, felt symptoms rather than stopping to consider and listen to them. Often you cannot put your finger on the issue, but you know it’s there. Follow your gut – the spirit. Too often we give in and trust another’s opinion. (Is. 30:21; Eccl. 8:5, 6)
  5. To guard your mind and spirit from legalism. Legalism is often a cover up for sin or at the very least, false humility. Legalism brings control and breeds autocratic leadership. The more religious some leaders become, the more strict and legalistic they can become, which means less grace and less freedom. (Gal. 3:3-5; Gal. 5:1; II Cor. 3:17, 18)
  6. To guard against promotion of persons who have chronic problems with sin, or finances, or anger or negative habits. You will Peter Principle them. (Num. 32:23; Ps. 119:133; Jn. 8:34)
  7. To work very hard at not rescuing people. Sometimes the consequences are the best training tool from God. Work as preventively as possible. If you rescue once, you will have to rescue again. (Prov. 19:19; John 5:1-6)
  8. To consider expansion before considering depth. The current church has become known to be a mile wide and an inch deep. We want to avoid this syndrome. We must go deeper before attempting to go broader. (Prov. 24:27)
  9. To take responsibility for another’s accomplishment. Always give credit where credit is due. Someone once said, “The first time I give a quote I mention who said it. The second time I quote it, I fail to mention who said it. The third time I quote it, I said it.” Let others promote you; do not promote yourself. (Prov. 27:2, 17, 21; II Thes. 2:6)
  10. To promise promotion without at the same time promising tests and adversity. Anointing does not necessarily mean a person is full of character. Character and discipline, holiness and integrity come first, then promotion. The next generation may desire what we have, but do not skip the process of tests and maturation. (Ps. 26:2; James 1:12)




Does Your Heart Ache?

12 03 2018

A number of years ago my wife and I visited some churches in the nation of Rwanda. We were responding to an invitation to share marriage principles with these lovely, but broken people. Just leaving the airport, we were told by our hosts, “But first, you will visit the genocide museum.” Mary and I could hardly speak after seeing those images and reading about what happened in this war-torn nation. We were wrecked from the inside out and, quite honestly, our hearts ached. It was difficult to gather our emotional selves for the service that evening. As we looked into the Rwandan’s eyes that night, we wondered what images they carried with them.

Once again, a little over a year ago, I returned to that same country. On this visit, I listened to a young man who watched his father be hacked to death by another man whom he knew. Ten years had passed and the murderer was released from incarceration for his crime inflicted on my new friend’s father and family. He felt called by God to visit this man and extend his hand and heart of forgiveness toward him. Stunned, I sat there thinking and wondering to myself  if I could do the same.

But I relay this story for another reason. I want to ask you what your heart aches for? Does your heart ache when you view the news and see the KKK member blurting out his or her beliefs? Does your heart ache when you watch and disagree with the political candidate that you do not endorse or even like? Does your heart ache for that self-centered and mean boss or co-worker? Does your heart ache for the drug addict, suicide bomber or immigrant? And does your heart ache for that welfare recipient who is lying and taking advantage of the system? Or, is your response anger, irritation and criticism?

In the gospel of Matthew (chapter five), it is recorded that Jesus said to me and to you…love your enemies and pray for those who may hurt or persecute you. He said that the sun rises everyday for them as it does you and me. He said, even a tax collector can love if they are being loved. He said that if you only greet (love) your brothers, what is that? Jesus then said, even those outside the kingdom can comply with such efforts.

My paraphrase of these verses would go something like this: If you or I cannot look at that certain government official, the parent that deeply wounded, a past friend who has rejected you, someone with a different sexual orientation or a former spouse who lied about you…with love, compassion and have your heart ache for their soul, then how can we go to another nation and openly declare our love for those persons, those national leaders and those unfamiliar faces whom we do not know?

Paul once wrote to Timothy that he was at one time a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man, acting in ignorance and unbelief, but God’s grace was poured out on him.  Paul went on to say that he was one of the worst sinners who was shown mercy because Jesus came into the world to save those exact persons.  (See I Timothy 1: 13 – 17) That was me too. Thank God for sending His Son whose heart ached for mankind.





Praying For and Adjusting to the Slightly Imperfect

5 03 2018

Our family often had the nations around our table as our children grew up. We loved the cultural examples each one brought to us. I remember in particular a couple from Zimbabwe who we invited from a local college for Thanksgiving. In the middle of the meal the wife told us, “You throw away the best parts of the turkey.” We all had a great laugh because we do not eat the head, liver or the feet of a turkey. But we desired our children to know and understand that every life is valuable to God and His design for them. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of nations and nations represent people.

Proverbs 12 tells us, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” What does your tongue bring to those around you, your co-workers and your acquaintances?  I am personally challenged by my thoughts (not often spoken, but still thought) that do not think the best of others or those thoughts which do not give those different from me the benefit of the doubt.  To have the privilege of traveling the world and to experience different cultures is enlightening, while at the same time difficult to not think comparatively, i.e., my culture vs. their culture.

I can remember being invited to a wedding in Central America that was to begin at 11:00 AM.  My wife and I were there and ready for the ceremony to begin at ten minutes before eleven o’clock.  The funny thing was, no one else was there other than a few people who were setting up.  I had my wife recheck the invitation and sure enough it said 11:00 AM.  The wedding actually began sometime after noon.  It was our introduction to a significant cultural difference.  It wasn’t wrong, just different.  Our North American mindsets needed to be desensitized so that we could accept the cultural norms of another nation.

How creative of God…warm cultures, cold cultures, on time cultures, fashionably late cultures, brash and bold cultures…all to His honor and glory,  All cultures representing differing characteristics and attributes of the nature of a loving Father. Did you know the word nations is found in the Bible 564 times? In the book of Revelation, chapter 21 reveals, “The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it [The New Jerusalem].”  The nations will be represented in that new city.

Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with us, our lack of understanding and proverbial comparisons. How You love the nations!

 

 

 

 








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