We’re Always in Agreement; We Do What She Says

13 08 2018

At first I was a bit taken aback by the expression that was just spoken half jokingly. It went like this, “We’re always in agreement; we do what she says.” Do you find yourself all too often acquiescing to your spouse’s desires in order to head off an argument?  Should you be doing that?

 

Perhaps there’s a deeper issue.  It might be fear.  Or, it could be the more hidden root of mistrust.  Being fearful of push back, being wrong or feeling shamed is not a good sign in a marriage relationship.  Also, where there is fear present in a relationship, there is a lack of love and where there is mistrust, there is a root of unresolved past issues with hurts attached.

 

This leadership couple honestly confessed and was willing to talk about past issues with disagreement. They were willing to disagree. But what I think they were really saying was sometimes it’s more biblical to overlook an offense or a difference of opinion.  Proverbs 19:11 states, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

 

If we’re avoiding communication thinking that it will lead to a heated disagreement, then we’re not doing the two of us any good.  You have to be committed to work through the differences.  After all, it is those differences that in the end will create a better decision. Truthfully, both of you with your collective opinion, input and insight are necessary for healthy communication and dealing with conflict.  By the way, it’s not wrong to have conflict; it’s wrong to not resolve the conflict.

 

It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.  Proverbs 20:3

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Raised Hindu with the “Favor” of Many God’s

14 05 2018

“I grew up in a Hindu family and was introduced to the worship of many gods,” said my new friend. “However, those ‘gods’ as I grew older, became more and more aggressive, unfriendly, demanding and evil.”  Her family told her this familiarity was highly favored and to be embraced, but nothing about this world felt favorable to her. At the age of sixteen, someone introduced her to Jesus and she received Him and His love into her heart.  She told me there was a profound change in her life and she soon realized that the “gods” she carried with her were actually demonic presences or spirits meant to torment her.  She wanted them gone from her life.

 

Some of her Christian friends gathered to pray over her, declaring the powerful blood of Jesus and one by one those unwanted spirits left and a new freedom was the result. After hearing this testimony, I looked straight at her and asked what her primary spiritual gift is today. Without hesitation she said, “I see spirits in and on others’ lives.”  I knew it; I just knew that the God who delivered her would now use her to bring deliverance to others.  It made me smile.

 

Looking straight into her eyes once again I asked, “Look at me and tell me what you see; do you see ANYTHING…any presence that does not represent the kingdom of God?”  I do not want anything that does not represent my King in or on my life.  I want nothing hanging out in my presence that does not represent or reflect the holy and the sanctified.  She focused squarely back at me without taking a breath and said, “I already checked you out and you’re clean.”  With a sigh of relief, I sat back in my chair and told her thank you…thank you for walking in this gift and ministering love, compassion and freedom to others.  I continued by saying thank you for not shying away from something that can be considered controversial.

 

“Thank you, Father, for Jesus our Deliverer.”  He cleansed the temple and He cleanses our lives just because He loves us and longs for us to be free.  (Galatians 5: 1 & 3:13)





Locating, Growing and Incorporating Intercessors for Your Ministry

23 04 2018

Incorporating those who pray over you and your vision for ministry seems like a no brainer. But how do you identify these persons and better yet, how do you keep them praying?

When asking someone to pray for you concerning a specific mission, often the response is to receive a yawn, then a look in another direction and finally a nonchalant response like, “Uh, yeah, ok.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. My wife and I were on the lookout for a small band of persons who loved us, loved what we were called to and wanted to know more about that call. It was also advantageous for them to have a heart to pray for us. We watched and waited and soon discovered there were such persons in our lives. We approached them with the question, “We really appreciate your personal interest, your questions about what we’re doing and your heart to even mention praying for us, would you be interested in joining a team of intercessors?”

You have identified them and you approach them. Rarely have we had someone approach us. Most persons do not even think in those terms, but when you define the prayer ministry description and how you will not inundate them with daily email, they normally respond with a resounding yes. We ask for a one-year commitment only. At the end of each year, we approach them and ask if they would like to continue to serve in the intercessory role for another year.

Obviously this person loves to pray as well. You know they have a committed relationship to God and are mature enough to not be seeking information about your personal life, but rather long for you and your vision to succeed. These are persons whom you have not just met at a first time gathering, but are persons who you have a track record with and you’re aware of their faithful heart.

We will email prayer requests that are both personal and ministry oriented. We have that level of confidence in our team. Speaking of confidence, we ask that everything we share remain confidential – between them and their heavenly Father only. Normally we email them twice a month with a brief as possible prayer update. Please note, these email prayer requests, updates and praises need to be consistent from you to them or you will send the message that the intercessors are an afterthought.

We tell our intercessors we are not looking for return email unless Holy Spirit speaks something to them and they are compelled to respond with a scripture, a prophetic word or an encouragement. Otherwise we have no expectation of ongoing email conversation.

Some persons we know meet face-to-face with their intercessory team, but our team is spread all over the USA and that simply is not possible. When we can, we will meet individually with intercessory team members. We also pray for them and regularly thank them for voluntarily being a part of the ministry. 

All in all, we take confidence in the Father calling these persons to us, having developed a heart for prayer and we find reassurance through the protection in offensive and defensive personal prayer for our travel, our speaking and our oversight ministry. You can enjoy this same reassurance in the Spirit with a team of intercessors. Start with one committed person and grow a team from there. You’ll immediately be aware of the benefits.





An Interesting Job Description That Few Desire

9 04 2018

There is a job description that reads somewhat endlessly: Counselor; encourager; prayer warrior; evangelist; healer; teacher; preacher; visitor of the sick and shut-in; visitor of the incarcerated; visitor of the lonely; tending the sheep; Sunday School teacher; camp counselor; wedding performer; funeral arranger/speaker; mediator; janitor; maintenance worker; trash hauler; fiscal operations manager; overseer; meeting coordinator; leader of leaders; etc., etc., To top it off, the person in this position is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

These are some of the expectations of your pastoral leader, even as many of those persons also work other jobs for needed income in support of their family. Our expectations are high of this position and we hold them to a level of accountability and integrity, along with scrutiny, we do not often hold ourselves to. We can’t believe they’re mowing their lawn on a weekday afternoon, while every “normal” person is working. We can’t imagine they need another Sunday off or away, because…”didn’t we hire them to work Sundays?”

Rarely do we concern ourselves with their pay and benefits support. Few, if any, ask their pastoral leaders how they are doing financially. Few, if any, ask when they last managed a day off or if they have a vacation scheduled. We mostly desire to know they area available to us when we need them.

These things said this is a scriptural position in which the Bible gives us some clear guidelines of support. Here are some of those instructions:

I Timothy 5: 17-18 reveals to us that we are to give “double honor” to those who preach and teach and to not “muzzle the ox” as “The worker deserves his wages.” How many of us have asked our pastoral leaders to our home for hospitality and/or asked of them how they are doing personally? Even further, have we asked them how they are doing financially or if they are struggling with debt?

I Corinthians chapter nine gives us some interesting guidelines as well. To paraphrase some of the things the Apostle Paul writes, he asks if it is right for a soldier to be a soldier at his own expense? He illustrates that if this leader has sown spiritual seed in our life, shouldn’t he/she be able to reap a material blessing from us? He clearly writes that those who preach the gospel are entitled to support and that support should be at least at the median income level of the congregation…if not higher. Why higher? The scripture above declared, “double honor.”

Let us honor God, by honoring our leaders who love us, pray for us and care for us.





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)




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!

 

 

 

 





The Men In Your Life Are Looking For Respect

26 02 2018

Recently while in the nation of New Zealand, a friend pointed to a fellow teacher and said, “See that older gentleman?” I assured him that I did. He went on to explain, “I am younger than him and I am retired from teaching.” I asked why he chooses not to retire figuring the conversation was leading that way. My friend replied, “He tells me he wants to continue teaching because it is far better than going home and living with his critical wife.”

 

Men long for respect. Paul, the Apostle, admonished wives to respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33) A man can handle not being loved, but he cannot handle not being respected. I think God knew that about a man. If a man does not feel respected by his wife and family, he will stay at work longer, he will hang out at the bar after work or he’ll go to the fire company and loiter with the guys. Men don’t care if their friends do not express love, but if men feel disrespect it will be the demise of the relationship. Men do not need their supervisors to express any form of love, but they long to hear words of affirmation on a job well done – respect.

 

I read a recent study that indicated 74% of men would choose the preference of feeling unloved in the world around them rather than feeling disrespect. These men indicated they would choose to live with a wife who respected them, but did not love them. Do men need love? Of course, but the need for respect has a higher personal value. Consider this: Even while a sports team is performing poorly, they will still resonate with the female cheerleaders on the sideline pushing them forward with their optimistic, upbeat and affirming cheers.

 

Be a cheerleader in the life of your husband, your son, your brother or your Dad today.








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