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Be A Man!
By: James Smith
"A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Proverbs 13:22).
"Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (II Corinthians 12:14).
When we were boys, my brother Rick would say this to me after he slugged me and made cry.
Brothers can be the best of friends and they can also be very cruel to one another. Rick was 6 years older than I was and without a father in our home at the time, he was the only male role-model in our home and at times, quite the bully.
Be a man. Wow! What volumes of pain and suffering in this world would be avoided if the husbands, fathers and leaders of our world would truly be men. To be a man, has been my personal quest since I was very young. I wasn't quite sure as a boy, what a man was, but something in my heart and mind told me that to be a man was something honorable and good.
Coming from a dysfunctional family, my understanding of the role of a man has been blurred to say the least. Looking back at my childhood, I realize that the example of a good man was never shown to me. In my early years of being a father, I realized this when I began feeling and expressing a father's love to my children. It was then that I realized that I had never truly been the benefactor of such caring, protective love. Painful memories flooded my mind often as I would compare the careful love my children received from my wife and I, with the careless and even abusive treatment my bothers, sisters and I received at the hands of our parents.
It was at this point in my life, that I realized I was more a true man than anyone in my family had ever modeled before me. No parent, grandparent, or uncle had shown me what it was to be a man. Their own dysfunctional upbringings had so marred their lives that they were incapable of it. I also realized that I had a Heavenly Father who had been and was my example.
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The Bible says in;
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The final verse of Acts, chapter two, ends with two phrases that really catch my attention:
· Having favor with all the people.
· The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The last phrase ,"added daily to the church", is our goal, yet it cannot be accomplished without first having, " favor with people." You will never grow your church unless you have favor with people. You will never win people to Christ unless you first win peoples favor. One of the reasons that Jesus was so successful and had so many people following Him was because He had favor with man.[ read more...]
There are a number of great ways to preach the Word of God, but one of the most effective is expository preaching.
Stephen Olford defines expository preaching this way;
"Expository preaching is the Spirit-empowered explanation and proclamation of the text of God's Word with due regard to the historical, contextual, grammatical and doctrinal significance of the given message or given passage, with the specific object of invoking a Christ transforming response."
That is a pretty heavy definition, let me simplify; "The text does the talking, the preaching, the teaching and the transforming." The message is already there, you just have to open it up and discover it for yourself. Expository preaching forces the man of God to open his own heart first and allow the scripture to change him before it ever changes his audience.
An expository sermon comes from a portion of text that is usually at least one paragraph in length, and where at least a good portion of the story is told in its context. For an expository sermon to have impact, the story of the text must be opened up to your audience. A casual reading and retelling of the scripture is not quite what it is about. Nor is it a step by step outline of each verse. There is a message in the story of the text that must be shared in a meaningful way.
There is a pressure in our culture today for preachers to be 'relevant' to their audience. In doing so, expository preaching has become less and less popular. Many insist that it is no longer effective. Most of today's mainline preachers have adopted the 'topical' style of preaching in their attempt to become relevant. In this style of preaching they choose a topic and then go to the Word to see what the scripture says about it. The danger in this is that they become so topical in their preaching that there is very little of the Word of God left. The one or two scriptures they do use are often taken out of context and used in ways that alter their intended meaning. I would like to say that there is nothing more relevant for our culture today than the Word of God. The Word of God transcends time, tradition and culture. The writer of Hebrews declares that the Word of God is quick enough, sharp enough and has enough power to pierce into the thoughts and hearts of every person.[ read more...]
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
There are many worship services going on today but too many lack Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) involvement. The only way to lead a Spirit-filled worship service is if those doing the leading are filled with the Spirit. Sounds basic I know, but it really is the answer to leading a true Holy Ghost inspired worship service. Those who are involved need to have a true love for worshipping God and they need to express that while leading. The musicians, singers and anyone on the platform leading worship should be full of the Holy Ghost themselves (John 20:22).
Lead by example! When you are singing songs about worship and you yourself are not worshipping, you are sending the wrong message. As "worship leaders" we should be leaders of worship. To lead someone is to show someone the way. While leading worship, one should not feel constrained or bound by anything. Outward demonstrative worship requires us doing just that…demonstrating worship! Whatever the Lord impresses on your heart to do while leading, you should do without hesitation.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
liberty- freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
Pray to be sensitive to the Lord's leading. The Lord knows in each and every service, where He wants to take the congregation. If we limit Him by not leading the way we are supposed to lead, the service goes in the wrong direction. We should pray every service to be sensitive to His voice and that He would show us what He would have us do in that service. Worship is not something we do for anyone else but for our Creator. Worship is something that does not require the attention or approval of anyone else but our Lord and Savior! We were created to worship Him. He doesn't make or force us to do it, it is something He wants us to do from the bottom of our hearts. He gives us the choice to worship Him or to not worship Him.[ read more...]
There are seven things sheep want from a shepherd:
- They expect shepherds to be concerned for their safety. People want the assurance that their organization is wise enough to survive in turbulent times and will provide for their futures. A protector who is concerned with the welfare of his flock won’t hesitate to communicate the possibilities and the perils looming on the horizon.
- They expect shepherds to know them by name. When a responsible shepherd enters the fold, his sheep respond to him because he calls them by name. We cannot underestimate the value of establishing a connection with every person on our team – even if that number is large. The bond is strengthened each time people hear us speak their names.
- They expect shepherds to be gentle and kind. When people you serve are less than cooperative, it’s not an excuse for retaliation. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about his war experiences, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” If you feel the urge to lash out at those around you, get tough on yourself. That’s where discipline yields the greatest harvest.
- They expect shepherds to rescue them. What is our response when one of our employees becomes distracted? Do we let him stay off course and struggle to find his way back, or do we stop what we’re doing and give him our attention? Jesus said a good shepherd would leave a flock of 99 to go after the lost sheep until he finds it. That’s true of leadership.
You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. Think about it. It's a fact of life that people spend the most time doing what they believe will benefit them most.
When you realize that people treat you according to how they see themselves rather than how you really are, you are less likely to take personally their behavior toward you.
If you're willing to stand apart from the crowd, you're putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Count on some degree of criticism.
People withhold their best efforts when they see little or no relationships between what they do and how they are rewarded.
The key to relating to others is putting yourself in someone else's place instead of putting them in their place.
Confidence is contagious.[ read more...]
In one of our recent family devotions, my wife and I sat our three children down to talk about the importance of 'family.' We do this ever so often because our children, and probably yours as well, often withdraw into their own world of fantasy and ignore the rest of the family. They each have their own room and their own ideas about how to spend their free time. If we allow them, they will shut themselves out from the rest of us to do their thing. While this can be cute when they are very young, my wife and I have noticed that it lends itself strongly to an attitude of selfishness. It becomes all about 'me' and less about others in the family. When the kids do get together, it becomes a war of words or worse, as each of them stand up for what they feel is 'their rights'. They have no sympathy or compassion for their siblings. It is almost as if they desire to build their own little 'kingdom' or 'empire' in their own little space.
As I was thinking about this it struck me that this is also a danger for all of us in ministry. If we are not careful, we can allow ourselves to get caught up in building 'our kingdom' instead of building 'His Kingdom.' Even though we feel like we are doing the work of Christ, it can become more about 'me' and less about others. There is a grey area here where the lines of demarcation become blurred. 'His Kingdom' begins to blend into 'my kingdom.' Motives become mismanaged. Desires turn dangerous. And it is not too long until 'my kingdom' becomes more important than anything or anybody else. Because of this danger, we all need to test ourselves every so often. We do this by asking; How do I feel about the others in this Kingdom? Do I truly have sympathy and compassion for their needs? Or, are my desires more important?
As we all do, I understand the importance of caring for others, but recently, while listening to a Jewish Rabbi, this understanding became crystal clear.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin was speaking of the typical Orthodox Jewish family. I paraphrase his words;
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Why is it that everywhere in the world the Jewish people are so successful and wealthy? Why are their families so close knit and strong? Why is there very little divorce?
The obvious answer is they put God first. However, beyond that, it is because of their strong sense of 'family'.
The origin of the Hebrew word for 'family' means; to serve. A family is not a family unless they serve one another. Brother serves brother. Sister serves sister. Husbands serve their wives. They put others needs in front of their own. The Jewish people live this way.
The main purpose of interpreting a text is not UNIQUENESS but CLARITY! The first task of the preacher is EXEGESIS – careful, systematic study of the Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning; to find out the original intent of the words of the Bible; to hear the Word as the original recipients heard it. But we don’t just do exegesis when there is an obvious difference between THEN and NOW – it is the first step in studying EVERY text
- Go back to the original and the best sources for yourself first – don’t just begin by consulting somebody’s book! (i.e. Mark 10:23 – one “expert” said there was a gate in Jerusalem called the “Needle’s Eye” which camels could only go through on their knees, but that gate never existed!)
- We must always guard against EISEGESIS – reading our desired interpretation into the text instead of letting the text speak to us!
To provoke your thinking, one of the best things to do is use several Bible translations that you know in advance will differ in their interpretation.
There are three basic theories of translation:
- Literal: advantage – as close as possible to the original; disadvantage – doesn’t account for cultural differences in customs and expressions (i.e. King James Version)
- Free: advantage – eliminates historical and cultural “barriers” by expressing Scripture in modern terms; disadvantage – since it is more concerned with translating “ideas” it is not always accurate in exact wording (i.e. Phillips, Living Bible, The Message)
Let's say that there are 10,000 pastors who in any given week spend an average of 5 hours in preparation for the following weeks sermon. That would mean that those pastors accumulatively spend 50,000 hours per week studying for their sermon. On an annual basis, those same pastors spend a total of 2,600,000 hours in sermon preparation.
- In 1 year = 108,333 days
- In 1 year = 297 years
- In 1 year = 5 life times (60 year life span)
Think about that for a moment. To me it is staggering. What is also staggering to me is that many of these ministers are going to preach a message within that year that is similar to that of another man's message. Eventually, most of our messages are very similar!
Combined, these men will preach a total of 520,000 messages this year. I guarantee you that at least 20% of these messages are teaching very similar principles.
Here is where I am concerned. We are living in the last days. Every moment counts. If it were possible to help theses 10,000 men/women shave 20% off of their study time by creating a way for them to share sermon thoughts or ideas we could save the Church...
- 520,000 hours. Each Year!
- 21,667 days. Each Year!
- 59.5 years. Each Year!
I Need Help!
I am a pastor just like you. It’s Monday morning again and we had a great Sunday service yesterday. The Lord moved in a special way; people's lives were touched and changed. We even baptized someone this week, yet it already seems so long ago and so far away.
There are so many things going through my mind today. I feel like the enemy is trying to sift me like wheat. I don't know where to start. I have meetings to organize; leaders to train; sermons to prepare; Bible studies to teach; sick saints to visit; visitors to follow up on; letters to write; calendars to schedule; calls to return; counseling to conduct; a baptismal to fix, along with many other things--not to mention my own personal prayer and devotion time. Needless to say, I am feeling overwhelmed.
Wait…maybe I can postpone some of these things until next week? Then again, I know that hell hasn’t postponed her plans; in fact, hell is enlarging her borders today. If I delay, hell is gaining ground in my city and my city still needs to hear the Gospel message. I need help in a bad way!
Do you feel under-accomplished and overwhelmed with your calling? You’re not alone. Most, if not all, pastors and leaders feel this way on a regular basis.
Now before going any further, let me clarify. This is not an article about organization and restructuring; nor is it about adjusting priorities or time management. Although all of these issues are important, you have probably already been there and done that. The kind of help that I am suggesting in this article is “people” help. We need our people to help us but we must reveal our needs to them first. We need help!
As pastors and leaders, that is our heart’s cry. We look at our brethren with larger churches and think: Our church would be just as successful as theirs if only I had the kind of help that they have. Sound familiar? I hear that kind of talk often and, in all honesty, it’s beginning to bother me. After all, is this not God's church? Are we not all laborers together? The large church needs help just as much as the small church and vice versa. The needs and challenges vary from congregation to congregation, yet we all need assistance.
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
No one is going to find help for you; you must find it yourself. It is the pastor's obligation to train up workers to assist. Most of the time, our help is already in our pews; yet, the reason the laborers are few is because we fail to make disciples of our people. The least likely helper to you might be the most likely helper in God’s eyes. “God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.”
Every person in our pews can do something for the Kingdom. One thing more that they do is one thing less that you have to do. The challenge sometimes is just seeing people in a different light. I have tried to put blinders on my eyes when it comes to seeking help. God sees things that we can't see, and if we would simply trust God to transform the lives that He has already given us, we could accomplish a lot more for His Kingdom.