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Archive for the ‘growth’ Category

There are times in our lives when we just have to agree to start expecting more.  We cannot simply keep accepting the status quo.  Something has to change.

Why not change your perspective on life?

As a Christian, you may not escape the pains and heartaches of this life.  Pain will come.  Heartaches will happen.  That is life.  Yet, how we live our lives is what should separate us from the rest of the world.

Start changing how you approach matters in life.  Let each be met with eager anticipation, expecting God to do marvelous works right before your eyes, right in the midst of your presence.

Start meeting your days with expectancy.  Start watching God do His best for you and through you.

Oh, and by the way, be ready.

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Remain Positive

He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

-Proverbs 13:20

Why suffer needlessly? It’s senseless.  It’s foolish.  It’s totally unwise.

In midst of all of this foolishness that may come your way, I suggest that you remain positive.  Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power o f Positive Thinking many years ago and it still generates fans to this day.  Keep yourself positive.
How?
Keep a positive perspective on things.  Be an optimist.  Winston Churchill once stated: “The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Maintain a positive perspective.
Stick with positive people.  Don’t fall in with the wrong crowd at the copy machine or water cooler.  Keep yourself surrounded by people who will build you up and lift your spirits.


Stay positive.  We all know that bad things still happen to good people.  That’s still a reality.  Let’s maintain our own positivity in the midst of the storms of this life.  hink about the folks who survived Hurrican Sandy and who were so thankful to God for sparing their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  That’s how to stay positive in the storm and beyond.

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In The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren stated: “If the church isn’t growing, it’s dying.” That is enough to shock and stun some pastors, even petrify others.  Yet, the ones who read those words and take proactive actions to set their church to growing tend to see results.  Others who dare not do anything different seem to be doomed to see their church see very few results.

If you want to see some growth in your church, you need to get growing.  Get busy doing the things that grow the church.  Don’t simply pay attention to who you have in attendance.  Get in touch with those who are not in attendance.

What do you do about those who:

  • Stopped coming to Sunday school?
  • Quit serving in ministry?
  • Never signed up for anything at church?

Get a team together to work on reconnecting with such people as soon as possible.  Work with that team on how to reach people in a variety ways.  Develop a plan for getting in touch with these people.  Schedule when to execute the plan.  Start bringing the plan to life.

Once you get that going, bring another team together and see how to reach those within the community.  Plan outreach activities where you can reach people through the Word and your good works. 

Jesus fed folks, healed some, and taught others.  He used parables many times rather than laying out a exegesis of the Scriptures through a sermon. 

Don’t trip.  God has already gifted both you and your team with what you need to reach others.  You just got to get busy growing.
Three books that can help you grow:

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According to 2008 U.S. statistical data from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), 34,169 people claimed “no religion.” That includes atheists and humanists.  That is almost 5,000 more people than in 2001.  In 2008, according to the same survey, over 173,000 people identified themselves as “Christian.” That’s over 13,000 more than in 2001.
Obviously, Christianity grew and expanded during this period.  That sounds good.  However, the adult population surveyed increased by approximately 20,000 during this period.  We gained 13,000 and the “no religion” folks gained 5,000.  That means 2,000 people became Muslims, Jews or some other religion.  Or, the same 2,000 just did not dare claim any religion at all.  Either that or it is some mix between the two of them.


The world has its own standard.  It may not be one that we, as Christians, desire to follow but it exists.  It is alive and well within the world.  That’s suitable for those who do not know the Lord.  It works for those who live in the darkness of unbelief.

It doesn’t work well for Christians.

For us, things are just a little different.  We answer to a higher calling in Christ Jesus, seeking to mature in Christ as we walk with Christ.  We are to live by a different standard than the world.

So what is this standard of living for Christians and where does it come from?

  • The Lord sets the standard.  He lays it out based upon His supreme reign over all things as the Creator, the Maker and Elohim.  He answers to no one.
  • The Lord shares the standard in the Scriptures.  Christians have the upper hand because we have been provided the play book.  We can read it.  We can reference it.  It is for our consumption.  The Lord gave it to us.
  • The Lord demonstrated the standard.  The Word became flesh.  He dwelt on earth and dealt with some serious troubles like being born to poor parents and living in a society where foreigners ruled over His people.  He showed us the standard and expects us to live up to the standard.
Live it up.  Live a life of influence that inspires others from interacting with you and your business.  Live up to Christ’s standards as you work, as you play golf and as you go to and fro.  Handle your business and live up the Lord’s standards.

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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. – Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)

The Word needs to take root in our hearts and souls in order to be applied by us.  We have to take in the Word so that we can operate by the Word.  If we do not have the Word in our hearts, then the service of our hands is futile and is of no effect because it solely relies upon what we bring forth by our own doing.  We need to take in the Word to become, as James wrote, “doers of the Word.”

Here is a simple way to take in the Word:

  • Look in the Word: Read your Bible daily.  Study the Gospels.  Understand the Pauline Epistles.  Familiarize yourself with the books of Moses.  Start with a One-Year Bible that offers a daily reading plan of the Bible.
  • Listen to the Word: Hear the Word aloud.  Listen to the Bible on your iPod or MP3 player, even your laptop or desktop.  Numerous sites like YouVersion offer the Bible in audio format online.  Also, get the Bible on CD for your daily drive or in eBook format.
  • Learn from the Word: Join a small group or a Bible study group. Attend Bible study at your local church.  Check out short-term Bible courses offered within your community.  Learning from the Word can be a group effort.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

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And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
 

Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’
  -1 Samuel 24:5-10 (ESV)

David had an open opportunity to get his revenge.  Saul literally walked right into his hands.  In verse 4, David’s men shared how such a divine opportunity was laid upon David.  Truthfully, David was within his right to take Saul out right there in that cave.

Saul had it coming.  He had chased David throughout the kingdom.  He hurt those who had helped David.  He had killed others who had hidden or provided supplies or food for David.  King Saul sought to kill David.  King Saul hunted down his son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Michal, and desired to see him dead.  He did all of that out of envy and rage, seeking to destroy David and forcing David to hide in caves.

David refused to take revenge.  He had the opportunity.  It presented itself to him.  He saw the opportunity and neared it, daring to cut a slice from Saul’s robe as he relieved himself.  David did not slit the king’s throat.  He just cut part of the king’s robe.  David exercised restraint rather than take revenge.

Do we do the same? Do we hold back or do we go for the jugular? Do we restrain ourselves when vengeance emerges as an opportunity? If not, we could.  Better yet, we should.  We should restrain ourselves.

The choices that we face can cause us some real agony.  If we are not careful, we will find ourselves led by the wrong spirit and doing the wrong thing.  Revenge does not do anything positive for us that will last beyond the immediate moment.  Exercise restraint.

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But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

– Titus 2:1-8 (ESV)

Paul shares some sincere instructions with Titus.  He urges Titus to not simply preach the Good News.  He encourages the man of God to teach what accords with sound doctrine.  In doing so, Paul also urges Titus to engage others to teach others by example.  He shares how the church is an intergenerational conglomerate of men and women of various ages who need to show each other and see each other, even their pastor, as a pattern of good works.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us

Let mentoring serve as part of the foundation of your ministry.  People come into the church all sorts of ways.  They accept Christ at special events or during outreach efforts.  They accept Christ as their Lord and Savior on street corners or during worship services.  People come to Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, but they come to understand their new life in Christ through the mentoring and discipleship provided by the church’s leadership and laity.

The Lord instructed His disciples to make disciples.  That was the basis of the Great Commission.  He did not say for them to recruit members or stand in judgment of people.  He said for the church, His body, to make disciples by teaching and admonishing new converts in what He had taught them.  That’s what happened after Pentecost.  The people continued in the doctrine of the apostles.  That means that they accepted and applied the teachings of the apostles into their own daily lives.

Let’s mentor more.  Let’s model more.  Let’s make more disciples.
“We do not consider soul winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year.” – C.H. Spurgeon

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