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Trouble Can Be Such A Friend!
By: Jeff Arnold
I am sure that most of those reading the title will think I have lost it for sure. However, I feel I have found it: While we seem to waste so much energy trying to avoid problems, troubles and things we deem unpleasant, the truth is—Trouble has built within it a blessing for all who will deal with it honestly. Trouble can surely reveal ourselves quite painfully and quickly, to say the least. Trouble has a way of making us reach beyond our small, imposed limitations and really allows for the accomplishment of so much more.
Difficulty is not a dirty word. We are made strong by what we are forced to face, not by what we have managed to side-step and avoid. Trouble has within itself a CHALLENGE we all need, to propel us into a higher level and to tap into our Latent Potential laying dormant. We all have a built-in desire to just coast. To do what has to be done and take life easy. This has never been the Way Of God. He has always managed to put His people into some tough situations, yet He always brings them out—and much better, I might add.
Various trials and tests are never sent to us, so we can crash and fail, but rather to educate us about the weak areas of our lives. These trials reveal the Power Of God that is available for the asking.
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Mentoring Christian Leaders
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. The Christian leader faces constant challenges whether at home, at work, or in the church. An increasing number of Christian leaders, business owners, and pastors are turning to mentors and coaches for development and assistance . . . and they are wise to do so. The advantages are many.
The word “mentor” is derived from the original Mentor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
The Merriam-Webster WWWebster Dictionary defines a mentor as "a trusted counselor or guide." A common definition of a mentor is "a wise, loyal advisor or coach."
A mentor is an individual with special gifts or knowledge that helps and guides another individual’s development. Mentoring is used in many settings. One of the most valuable assets your ministry can have is a good mentor.
Christian leaders are besieged with challenges. Who then do they turn to for counsel, verification, and guidance? Quite often confidentiality is a problem among peers. A seasoned and professional mentor or coach is invaluable in helping guide and validate a leader’s choices and decisions.
Many leaders and even pastors do not have a wise or seasoned elder pastor or confidential authority figure to turn to. Quite often finding solace among peers or elected leaders has proven disappointing.
Many have spent fortunes attending conferences and seminars that seldom have long-term results and lasting impact. Most simply offer motivation that quickly fades away as reality rears it head again.[ read more...]
Here's a question we would almost never ask somebody. And what an incredible question it is. "Are You Backsliding?" It's not a question to condemn. It's a question to ponder. As ministers of the gospel, some would never want to ask their congregations this question as it might offend. How many however, might still be saved today if only someone would have asked them this simple question while there was still time to correct their path?
We ask people all the time, "Are you ok?" "Is everything alright?" And why not? We are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the other person. True concern however, causes one to ask the deeper questions. It forces us to enter into a conversation on uneasy ground. Barbara Walters is renown because of her ability to ask interviewees the probing questions that often times bring those she interviews to tears. They never expected her to ask "That" question.
We oftentimes don't like to ask the hard questions. We rarely enter into conversation with someone where we don't feel comfortable. Yet, here is the place where a person is most vulnerable. Here is a place where they are searching for answers. Here is a place where they often times feel lost. Hard questions demand hard answers. Hard answers lead to a right way of living.
A person who is "off track" seldom realizes it before it is too late. Recently, the news has read like this...
Aug 6, 2011 - A hiker fell to his death from a cliff near a waterfall in the Angeles Forest in Eaton Canyon early Saturday, the second fatality in the...
Aug 1, 2011 - A 26 year old woman fell to her death Sunday while descending from the summit of Half Dome within Yosemite National Park.
July 27, 2011 - A Hiker fell to his death in Buckskin Gulch.
July 19, 2011 - A hiker died on Monday morning after sliding between 50 and 100 feet on a steep snow field along the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
June 25, 2011 - Officials say that a woman fell to her death while hiking on Mount Evans Saturday.[ read more...]
While in Bible College many years ago I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Chorale. It was a big thing to make the Chorale. We were to go on a two-week tour during the summer break. It was the highlight of our summer. I don't know why, but recently one of the songs we sang during that summer tour has been on my mind. I can't remember much of the song except the main line of the chorus, which was also the title of the song. It was called, "Shut up and March".
The theme of the song centers around the idea that talk can only do so much good. There is a time to quit talking and a time to get on with the business at hand. I frequently tell my employees, "A little less chatter and a little more clatter, please." I think you get the idea.
When Israel fled from Egypt after 400 years of slavery they thought they had gained their freedom. The Pharaoh had finally relented and allowed them to go. On their very first night of freedom, they set up camp on the shores of the Red Sea. I can imagine how their spirits were soaring. They were looking forward to a bright future. However, in a moment's notice, their freedom was taken from them again. The Pharaoh had changed his mind. He had assembled his mighty army and come to take Israel back. When Israel saw the Egyptian Army they panicked and began to cry out to God. They began to curse Moses for leading them out.
When this barrage of words came against Moses, he responded with some of the most inspiring words in Scripture;
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.[ read more...]
When God fills us with His Spirit and we become a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we automatically have a ministry. What is that ministry? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
We have a ministry of reconciliation. Reconcile is a verb that means to reconsecrate (devote or dedicate to some purpose). Our responsibility to our world is one that requires us to reach out and "minister" to those in need. There are various ministries that we can take on. Whether one is a greeter as David desired in Psalm 84:
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.[ read more...]
Jesus died for the sins of the world. He did not die for most, several or some. He died for all. When He suffered on the cross, He did not have only a few hundred or a few thousand on His mind. What held Him to that tree was every single man, woman, boy and girl who would ever live on this planet. Is our own directive the same?
How many churches would be quite satisfied if they could just reach a few hundred from their community. Think about it, if your church directly affected 300-500 souls on a weekly basis, would you be satisfied? I would. For a while any way.
We've got to stop thinking small. Jesus did not think small. The scripture does not speak small. This gospel was given that every single person ever conceived could have a relationship with Him. For too long the Church’s growth has been limited by our small thinking.
There are well over 6 billion people on this planet today. Some would say that God will add to the church in His time. That growth will happen when He wills it to happen. Jesus proved his commitment and desire to see every person in your city saved when he suffered that horrific beating and the cruel death of the cross.
Revival has nothing to do with God’s will for it to happen. He has proven His will. It has everything to do with our putting ourselves in a position to allow it to happen and to receive and maintain it when it comes.[ read more...]
Let’s look at some real examples of effective preaching. Our text will be from Acts 2 where Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and from Acts 3 where the lame man was healed while they were on their way to the temple. In both of these instances Peter ministered in such a way that thousands were saved. I think we can learn a lot from Peter (Acts 2:14-38 & 3:12-26).
Effective preachers must study. As you look at these two messages from Peter, you will see that he had studied the word. In both instances he was suddenly given the opportunity to preach, and he was “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). There is no shortcut to “studying to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
When I first started preaching I would minister on a different book of the bible every service – and we had three services each week! I used at least seven commentaries on each book. After researching them thoroughly, I would then seek the Lord as to how He wanted me to present the message and what kind of application He wanted for His people.
This took a lot of time and effort, but it was well worth it. It placed ample research under my belt to draw upon later when I wouldn’t have as much time. Taking shortcuts to in depth study will rob you of the rich jewels that the Lord desires to give you from His word and Spirit.
Effective preachers must memorize the Word. There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God. Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, quoted large and obscure passages of scripture. He didn’t pull out a scroll and start looking things up, he knew them by heart. We have the promise that His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11). It is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The word will do more in the hearts of people than I ever can. When I was first saved I made up my mind that I wanted to give people God’s answer to the problems of life and not only what I thought. My opinion is not worth much, but what God has to say is of eternal value.
Nothing has helped me in my preaching and teaching more than the memorization of scripture. Even if people have a hard time taking it all in, it will go on to work in their lives for years to come. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever he has said unto us” (John 14:26). His promise is that He will bring the appropriate scripture to us when it is needed the most. It was said of Jesus that when He was in a house in Capernaum, and there was so many people crowding into the house that there was no longer any room, that “He preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:2). It’s the word that makes our ministry truly effective as it did Jesus’.[ read more...]
It is so important that we recognize our need for close friends.
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
During His ministry, Jesus had many friends and many people that He was friendly to. Yet Jesus was only very close to a few people. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were three of Jesus' closest friends on this earth. This family of brother and sisters lived just outside of Jerusalem in the town of Bethany. Jesus would often stay with them on His journeys into the city. He became very close to them. You may all remember the story in this scripture...Mary and Martha heard that Jesus was coming. Martha immediately dropped everything that she was doing and began to prepare the house and the food and all of the things that are necessary to host a guest. Instead of helping her sister, Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear His word and to fellowship with Him. This so upset Martha that she went to Jesus and vented her feelings on Him. Jesus responded and said, "Martha, you are so upset about this, don't you understand that what your sister has chosen to do is a needful thing!" What was this needful thing that Jesus was referring to? It was the communing together of close friends!
Jesus needed this and so did Martha. In fact what stands out to me about his story is what Martha was doing was also a needful thing. What host would not clean the house, prepare the food and make sure everything was in order? That was important. Yet Jesus made it very clear that a special time of sharing between friends was much more important than hosting a guest! You must find time, you must make time to spend with your closest friends. Even at the cost of neglecting something important! I call this 'planned neglect'. Make plans to neglect some things so you can spend some quality time with friends. It has to happen, it is of outmost importance![ read more...]
Most of us worry unnecessarily about too many things.
It's almost as though we search for problems to give ourselves stress. The amazing news is that much of what we worry about doesn't matter at all! Take a look at these statistics about worry:
- 40% of all things that we worry about never come to pass.
- 30% of all our worries involve past decisions that cannot be changed.
- 12% focus on criticism from others who spoke because they felt inferior.
- 10% are related to our health, which gets worse when we worry.
- 8% of our worries could be described as "legitimate" causes for concern.
- Pray! Pray! Pray! Pray for wisdom specifically and continually. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest for ministry helpers.
- Seek a God- given vision for growth and philosophy of ministry (core values) and continually communicate them to the church.
- Pray that God will help you identify a core group of people in your church that embrace your vision and core values of ministry and will begin to make positive change in the church.
- Start mentoring your core group. Continue to share the vision and ministry core values God has placed on your heart. Equip them (through one on one mentoring, seminars, video resources, books, etc.) Help them identify their spiritual gifts. Cheerlead them. Love them. Do everything you can to make them a success.
- Praise from the pulpit those who are reaching out. Be careful not to degrade others while you’re publicly identifying those who are making a difference.
- Utilize weekly letters in your church as a means to enhance communication, share your vision, encourage them to bring others to church, praise those who are making a difference, build excitement for Sunday’s services, etc.
- Reach out to members who haven’t come to church in a while. Complacency in the church may have infiltrated their home. It’s time to bring them back into the church.
- Seek ways to reach out to the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Gradually begin to use visitation, mail-outs, door to door canvassing, advertising of a variety of sorts, special events, etc. to spread the name of Christ and the church throughout your area of ministry.