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Monday
Oct172011

Find Your Own Rhythm

I just returned from one of my Leaders Who Last weekends in Northern California. I had a wonderful time with leaders from around 30 different churches. It is always encouraging to see lots of leaders in their 20s and 30s making a difference by planting new churches and getting the gospel out to new communities.

One of the things I say over and over in a variety of ways at this seminar is that  the primary responsibility of a leader is to regularly hear from God.  To hear from God, both for their own life and walk, as well as the future vision of the ministry.

 It can be easy to get into a rut and check time with God off as a duty, accomplished as you would any other item on your daily do list.

 That would be a colossal mistake.

Each leader needs to find his own rhythm and way of meeting with and hearing from God that deepens intimacy and receives empowerment from the Savior. As leaders, we desperately need to hear from Him.

Below are some thoughts from Pastor Steven Furtick  (Pastor of Elevation Church with six locations in North Carolina) on finding your own rhythm in your time with the Lord.  I am passing this on exactly as he wrote it on October 10th of this year in a blog.  Enjoy!

 “I get asked all the time about how I approach my relationship with God. The specifics of how I pray, read the Bible, and other disciplines like that. How often? How long?
Do I read an entire chapter at a time?  A few verses? How do I choose what I read?

 “Do I have a set formula in prayer? Do I keep a prayer journal?
Etc. Etc. I’m always glad to answer, but I’m also always quick to offer this one caveat:

 “You need to find your own rhythm with God. When it comes to the mechanics of engaging with God through spiritual disciplines, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all spirituality out there that suits every person. God has hardwired each of us so differently, with unique ways of learning, growing, and connecting with Him.

“Some of you are morning people who don’t feel like you’ve really met with God if you’re not up at 4:00 a.m. with a cup of coffee in hand. Others of you are convinced that Jesus is more of a brunch kind of guy who doesn’t even answer prayers until after 9:30.

“Some of you like to read whole chapters or books of the Bible at a time. Others of you like to focus on a verse or two at a time. Some of you have to have marathon prayer sessions with God.

“Others of you work best in short 3-minute bursts. Some of you prefer silence. Others of you prefer the Braveheart soundtrack in the background.

“None of these are right. None of these are wrong.
None of these are good. None of these are bad. They’re just different rhythms. Each of which might suit some people beautifully. Or feel like Saul’s suit of armor to others. Don’t think you’re inferior if your rhythm is different.

“Don’t think you’re superior if yours is different either. There is no wrong rhythm with God. Except a non-existent one. So find the rhythm that works best for you and get in sync with it.”



Monday
Oct102011

A day in the life of a journaler  

When I became a Christian at age of 20, I was a mailman delivering mail in downtown Palm Springs, California.  There were two ladies on my mail route that significantly influenced me as a new follower of Jesus.

One owned a small Christian bookstore and would periodically recommend books for me to read. The other was an avid supporter of world missions and pointed me toward books about young men in their 20s who left to serve Jesus in far-flung places.

For several years, I devoured books about young men who were on fire for Jesus and committed to His command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, regardless of personal cost.  It resulted in, among other things, serving Jesus in Sweden for eight years with my wife Susan. Three of our four children were born in Stockholm, Sweden.

A second thing it resulted in was being a life-long journaler. 

There were many attributes and characteristics that the young missionary visionaries in these books shared in common.  One was that most of them kept daily journals of what they were hearing from God, what God was doing in their lives and what God was doing through them. Some of these men were: Jonathan Goforth, Hudson Taylor, J.O. Fraser, CT Studd and Jim Elliott. Much of what we know of these faith-filled, adventurous young men we get from their journals.

Keeping a journal of what I am hearing from God and how He is shaping me has been a great source of strength and encouragement in my walk with Jesus over these 50 years.

Here is a journal note from just a few days ago. I copied it from my online journal in Evernote.

October 5, 2011 - 1 Kings 9-11

Jesus, I was struck that in spite of everything Solomon seemed to have going for him, he still fell away from you.  He had it all: Wisdom, Wealth, Love, Your favor and promises and, lastly, a godly (though not perfect) example in his father.

When I see his prayer in I Kings 8 and then read in 1 Kings 11 that he turns from you, it is hard to believe. “How the mighty fall,” as Jim Collins wrote.

 I am more motivated than ever to finish well with a good heart toward You and to not let

1. Bitterness

2. Anger

3. Jealousy

4. Envy

5. Comparing

6. Competing

7. Disappointment

8. Discouragement sideline or sidetrack me.

 

By Your grace, with eyes fixed and focused on You, I will finish well, for Your honor.  I will be aware of the fact that the enemy is always lurking in the shadows to devour me (1 Peter 5:8) and will use any of the things on the above list to accomplish that!



Sunday
Oct022011

The cumulative effect…

Over the years I’ve attended many weekend conferences and one-day seminars.  I consider myself blessed if I come away with a single idea that significantly impacts me and seems to be the kind of idea that can also be of help and encouragement to lots of other people.

A number of years ago I attended a conference on the east coast.  I don’t remember the city, the nature of the conference, or any of the speakers’ names.  I am sure I received lots of good information, but can’t remember any of it, except for one idea.

The cumulative effect of small things over an extended period of time…

I can’t give credit where credit is due, as I don’t remember who said it. I even Googled it, but that didn’t reveal the source.

This is one of those life principles that is true in any context, for any person, at any time.  It works in all areas of life.

1.  Financial - If a person saved just a little bit each month, but did so for a long period of time, having sufficient funds for retirement would not be the issue it is for many people.  On the other hand, those who spend just a little more than they make and do it for a long time are amazed at how fast the debt accumulates.

2.  Exercise - It is better to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes over a long period of time, than to leap into action with a guilty conscience every once in a while.

3.  Reading - Most people are hard pressed to find large amounts of time to read, but sincerely want to read.  If you are one of those people, try reading consistently for 10-15 minutes every day over a long period of time and you will experience the joy of reading 20-25 books a year. This has been totally doable for me for 25 years.

4.  Relationships - It is better to invest consistent but shorter times with those you love week after week after week than a larger block of time once or twice a year.

5.  Eating - Eat a little less than you normally do and, if you are consistent over an extended period of time, you will lose weight.  Eat just a bit more than your body really needs and do it consistently and you will gain weigh; it sort of sneaks up on you.

6.  Intimacy with Jesus- It works as you deepen your intimate walk with Jesus as well.  Spending time alone in his presence. Praying, scripture, confessing and repenting works better if you are consistent as opposed to once in a while.  He wants to hear from you daily not when you think you can get around to it

The bottom line is that many of us can’t seem to stay consistent with anything over the long haul, which is why our finances, exercise, reading, relationships and weight take a hit. Charles Swindoll said, “The problem with life is that it is so daily;” Funny but true. We live life daily--not monthly, quarterly or yearly. 

Look at the six areas listed above (and maybe add some of your own) and determine what you can do empowered by Him and to honor Him as you experience the cumulative effect of small things over an extended period of time.  Try it and you may like it, “Sam I am!”

 

 

 



Monday
Sep262011

Biblical Leaders Consistently Say Five Things

1. Forgive Me

There is something healing and team-building about asking for forgiveness. Better to err on the side of asking rather than making excuses and conjuring up reasons that it was not really your fault. Good leaders take a little less of the credit and a little more of the blame with their teams.

2. You're Right

Give credit where credit is due. When a team member has a good idea or a solution to a perplexing problem, publically acknowledge and affirm them. I have never met a person who felt they were encouraged too much. The rule of thumb is to praise publically and confront privately.

3. You're Wrong

We need to function as both Jonathans (encourage) and Nathans (confront) with team members. Don’t shy away from the tough conversations. When people have sinned and are clearly out of line, be bold to tell them so in private.  Don’t wimp out. Be a courageous leader and trust God to handle the results and the relationships.

4. Jesus Loves You

The phrase “Jesus loves you and so do I” has run its course and is not taken seriously anymore when uttered by a leader.  It is nevertheless still true that Jesus loves us and we need to regularly remind our people of the gospel’s central message that they are loved by Jesus Christ, and that amazing & incredible love is demonstrated by a bloody cross and an empty tomb. “What the world needs now is love” is still true for everybody; but, as the song says, “We are looking for love in all the wrong places.” A deeply-held belief that we are loved by Jesus can get us through lots of difficult times and circumstances. When life is tough at home, in the church or in the work place, we need to return to the simple biblical fact that we are loved. Say it often and say it with sincerity.

5. Me Too

Pastors and spiritual leaders are human, like everybody else. We sin, we doubt, we struggle, we get angry, we get envious and we repent. People need to know we can identify with them in whatever they are going through. It doesn’t decrease but, rather, increases your credibility as a leader when you admit to and own your sin and your folly. Better to say “me too” than “not me”, insinuating that you are a leader who is above and beyond what others are experiencing.



 



Sunday
Sep182011

Seven Traits That Separate a Leader of Courage 

One of the bloggers I follow regularly is Ron Edmondson. He has great insight and wisdom on leadership issues and I profit immensely!

This week, here are some penetrating thoughts from Ron on “Seven Traits that Separate a Leader of Courage:

You can find more from Ron by following this link:   Ron’s website

From this point on, these are all Ron’s thoughts with none of mine:

  • Takes risks others are unwilling to attempt
  • Invest in people others are willing to dismiss
  • Empowers people while others wait for them to completely prove themselves
  • Faces conflicts others avoid
  • Challenges the status quo with which others have grown contented
  • Embraces changes others ignore
  • Remains steadfast when others are quitting

I’ll be honest, as a leader, I can become timid towards each of the traits on this list…(other than maybe the embracing change one). It’s not a matter of having no fear or being over confident in one’s abilities.

For the courageous leader, it’s an issue of pushing through the adversity and obstacles that get in the way of achieving a worthy goal. It’s continually going back to the vision and doing whatever it takes to accomplish the vision. It’s embracing faith over fear and refusing to let past failures dictate future success. That’s what separates a leader of courage from the norm.