Monday, 07 July 2014 00:00

Who are you?

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Several years ago a young man walked up to me and asked this question: “If you were not a preacher, who would you be?” He went on to explain that his question was meant as a thought provoker. He explained that much of our identity is tied to our vocation, possessions, accomplishments and the like. My friend reminded me that we are valuable because God created us and loves us just as we are apart from our accomplishments.

All of us know this to be true. God loves us unconditionally!  Love is His nature.  “God is love.” (I John 4: 8)  Sometimes we forget and need to be reminded of this simple truth.  As I pondered my friend’s question I quickly formulated my list of things in which I seek value.

My vocation- I am a pastor. I feel affirmation in being a pastor. I must differentiate my vocation from my standing before God. I need to be reminded I will always be valuable even when I am not serving as a pastor.

Monday, 30 June 2014 00:00

Rescued from the Futility of Accomplishing

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After declaring everything to be meaningless, Solomon asked a piercing question: What does a man gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:3)

Everyone pursues something, labors for something, works for something. And Solomon’s point was that all the labor under the sun is meaningless because there really is no gain, no profit in the end.

Friday, 20 June 2014 00:00

Thankful for Who?

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Do you have trouble giving thanks for some people?  These people may cause you to join the Sons of Thunder in hoping God will rain down fire from Heaven.  Don’t be so spiritual, you think similar thoughts!  LOL!

A few weeks ago I read through I Corinthians. As Paul opens the book he gives thanks for the Corinthian believers. (1:4) As I read those words I thought to myself, “Come on God, give thanks for the Corinthians.” After all the Corinthians were marred by division, jealousy, envy, immorality, lawsuits, marriage issues, questions of Christian freedom, drunkenness, and questions about speaking in tongues. Talk about a church with problems. I might have missed a few of their issues.  Giving thanks for such a group would be like giving thanks for a migraine.  I was reminded of the command in I Thess. 5:18, “In everything give thanks.” So, if Paul could give thanks for the troubled church in Corinth, what can we learn from him?

Saturday, 14 June 2014 00:00

Shepherding the Flock

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As I write this, I’m getting ready for a test at the hospital. Just routine, I think. Last week I went for an annual checkup and my doctor spotted a couple of areas for which she wanted more tests.

About the time I get through with these tests, a note will arrive from the dentist announcing my 6 month checkup. Right now, my car is overdue for its 3,000 mile oil change and it’s time for a tire rotation. The house needs painting and the air conditioning unit is being serviced.

Nothing about ‘maintenance’ sounds very glamorous. A friend of mine is in charge of maintenance at a chemical plant up the river, but don’t let it fool you. We’re not talking about sweeping the floors and mowing the grass. His area is keeping those massive machines and intricate processes working as they were intended.

That lovely old car you spotted on the highway still purring like a kitten after 200,000 miles functions well not because some rich guy bought it and spent a fortune overhauling it, but more than likely because its owner took good care of it from the first day. He had it serviced regularly and kept it in a garage and treated it as an investment.

Sheri, a single young woman, said to me once, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about maintenance. I’ve owned my car for a whole year and have never had an oil change or anything, and it drives like new.” I said, “Just stick around. You’ll find out.” She did.

Teams that don’t feel valued often simply go through the motions and that dampens motivation and decreases productivity. Great leaders pay keen attention to how valued their teams feel. Poor leaders seldom even think about it.

 

Evaluate your leadership against these five behaviors that great leaders show.

Thursday, 29 May 2014 00:00

Enjoy the Journey

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Judy and I are in the process of building a new home.  This has been a time of great reflection for me.  Many thoughts run through my mind.  The thoughts I ponder are different than when I was younger.  (I am 60.)  When I was younger the excitement and adventure of such a project motivated me.  As I get older, challenges such as building a house stir a different set of emotions.  For instance, thoughts such as:  I might not live long enough to see a 30-year mortgage paid in full! (or)  Why is a sixty-year-old building a new house when we ought to be downsizing?  Such thoughts are foreign to younger guys.  These thoughts sound negative.  However, changing thought patterns are a part of life.  Stay with me, I am going somewhere with this thought.

As I focus on this new construction the thought that motivates me is not the final destination but the joy of the journey.  That is what I desire to share with you.  I enjoy cutting bushes, working with my hands and doing things around a construction site.  The journey is a lot of fun!  That should also apply in our service to Christ.  Many times the journey becomes cumbersome.  The speed of life, the trials of ministry and the challenges we face can steal the joy of the journey.  Each day we should ask ourselves if we are enjoying the journey.  If not, there should be adjustments.  What kind of adjustments?  I offer the following suggestions.  You will probably add to your list.

Saturday, 24 May 2014 00:00

5 Ways to Deepen Your Integrity

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Daniel and his three friends are some of my favorite Biblical characters. They modeled what it means to live a life of integrity, which is taking a beating today.  Several years ago James Patterson and Peter Kim authored the book, The Day America told the Truth. They conducted a survey by asking Americans what they would be willing to do for 10 million dollars. Here’s what they learned.

  • Would abandon their entire family (25%)
  • Would abandon their church (25%)
  • Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
  • Would give up their American citizenship (16%)
  • Would leave their spouses (16%)
  • Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
  • Would kill a stranger (7%)
  • Would put their children up for adoption (3%)

When I read this my heart sunk. I can only imagine that since that survey over 20 years ago, the same survey would yield even more discouraging results.

Saturday, 17 May 2014 00:00

Answer At the Door

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Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by prayer?  Last week my wife, Judy, and I closed on the sale of our home in DeRidder.  Our intent was to sell this property, which was in town, and buy a couple of acres in the country.  In recent months we have driven most every road in our area seeking a piece of property.

As we waited on the sale of our home we located several pieces of property, only to have them sold before we could make arrangements.  In addition, nothing seemed to match our dreams.  These two factors caused a bit of frustration.  I know none of you ever feel this way.  However, God sent an answer to the door of our home.

Several Saturdays ago a real estate woman brought the lady who purchased our home for a final check.  Judy and I cleared out to give them room.  While they were looking, Judy and I rode by a piece of property we had been watching for three years.  There were no “for sale” signs on the property.  We returned home and found the realtor and home buyer with several unanswered questions.

Friday, 09 May 2014 00:00

Quad 2 Living

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A few years back, Steven Covey wrote a popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book provides helpful concepts in life management.  Among the concepts Covey advocated was Quad 2 living.  Covey divided daily activities into four quads:

1. There are things that are urgent and important.  These are the crises events you cannot avoid, such as the death of a family member.

2. There are things that are not urgent but important.  These are life’s vital activities, such as our relationship with God, relationships with friends and family, personal growth and recreation.  These activities contribute to a stronger life and help you move beyond crises events.

3. There are things that are not important but urgent.  Some meetings and some phone calls would fall into this category.

4. There are things that are not important and not urgent.  Browsing the internet and watching television would be examples.

Quad 1 activities (crises) cannot be avoided.  Quad 3 activities deplete you because they must be fulfilled, but you do not get excited about them.  Quad 4 activities are time wasters or activities that we run to after Quad 1 events.  They help us chill out, but do not contribute to our productivity in life.

This brings us to Quad 2 activities.  These are the proactive activities.  These contribute to our growth and development.  These help us avoid many Quad 3 activities and a dependency on Quad 4 activities. All four quads are a part of life.  However, our aim should be to prioritize Quad 2 living.  This will make us stronger physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

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