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“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

Exceed expectations. Are you getting any closer to excellence?  Merely meeting expectations is a minimum.  When you exceed those same expectations, you start to enter into excellence.  We are to offer God our best every step of the way.  Excuses do not excuse us from the expectations of our Eternal Father.

We have to go further than we have ever gone before.  We have to take actions that will lead to exploring new territory.  Excuses are just excuses.  They do not excuse us from His expectations.  They can hinder us from doing His will or walking by faith.  They can harm progress in our spiritual maturity.  They may not even help us at all.  We have to see what excuses really do for us.  They offer nothing but trouble because they lead to procrastination, problems and poor performance or pitiful productivity.  That’s what comes forth out of excuses.

Let excellence serve as your trademark.  Lead by example.  Let excuses go.  Let others see the distinct qualities that set you apart from the crowd.  Demonstrate that you are not simply going with the flow.  In fact, if you live for Him, it may even cause you to go against the grain at times.  You begin to discover that God has put more in you than you think, but you won’t discover it until you have been put to the test.  When the tests, trials and troubles come your way, it won’t be time for excuses.  That will be the time you set your heart on excelling beyond expectations.  At that point, you become David facing a giant called GoliathRight then, you become Moses standing before a raging Red SeaIn the midst of  it, you stand out like Paul, writing as a concerned parent to his dear children, addressing believers in Rome with an assurance that every Christian is more than a conqueror.  We overcome with overwhelming strength supplied by the Supreme God, God Almighty.

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But I tell you the truth. . . – John 16:7 (NIV)

Jesus combatted tradition with truth.  He shared the truth openly.  He did so with His disciples.  He also did so with the multitudes.  In fact, He even did so with those who opposed Him like the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus took on tradition with truth.

In Matthew 5, Jesus takes on tradition with two repetitive phrases: “You have heard that it was said” and “But I tell you.” He speaks of “You have heard that it was said” in verses 21, 27, 38, and 43.  Verses 31 and 33 are some variation of the same phrase.  He speaks of  “But I tell you” in verses 22, 28, 32, 39, and 44.  Jesus addresses tradition, but He accentuates truth.  Jesus opens with what has been said, but He discloses how to truly do what pleases God the Father.  He offers the truth as opposed to tradition.

Are hearing truth or honoring traditions? The Lord offered truth that outweighed tradition.  If you have truly heard the truth, test tradition against the truth.  Does it withstand the test? If so, uphold it and continue with it.  If not, you may need to discard it and discontinue it.  Put your traditions to the test with truth.

The teachings of the truth allow us to live and lead by the truth.  Learn the truth.  Live in the truth.  Lead by the truth.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.- John 8:32 (NLT)

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Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11 (NIV)

There is a vast difference between right and wrong actions.  If it applies to children, you can sure bet it applies to us as adults.  That is especially true when it comes down to the “work of the ministry” as well.

God wants us busy at work for the soul-saving and gospel-spreading calling He has bestowed upon us.  He doesn’t just want us busy.  He desires that we handle kingdom business as wise stewards of the King of Glory.  Our approach should not be come about what best fits into our calendar or life plan.  We need to see where we are best suited to truly “serve the Lord with gladness.” We need to serve where we can be found faithful, even if it is over the little things.

God doesn’t want us to go about as Bible-toting busybodiesLook at the words of Paul to his young pastoral protegé Timothy as he advises on how to handle such people (1 Tim. 5:13).  God wants us serving as a busy body of believers at work for His glory, not simply a bunch of busybody believers.

Let others see you at work for God.  Show your faith through your works.  Get busy doing the right things in the right way and at the right time.  Show the world and other Christians that there is a vast difference between right and wrong.

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And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.-Luke 14:27 (NIV)

Salvation is free.  It’s an open opportunity.  All you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  It costs you nothing.  He already paid the penalty.

There’s a cost for the prize, though.  The prize comes at a price.

In Luke 14, Jesus shares about what discipleship will cost a believer.  It contains statements such as:

  •  If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. (v. 26)
  • Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? (v. 28)
  • Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (v. 31)
  • In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (v. 33)

The Lord was serious about sharing about discipleship.  He was honest and real about it.  He shared that becoming a disciple has to be a calculated and conscious decision because of the cost involved.  He never hid anything about it.

The prize is to be called and considered the Lord’s disciple.  Yet, the prize must come at a cost.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (v. 27, NIV).  You have to be willing to pay the price in order to gain the prize.  You can’t simply pursue the prize.  There’s a price involved in pursuing the prize.  You have to pay the price as you pursue the prize. You have to carry your cross and follow the Master.

The price always comes prior to the prize.  Pay the price and gain the prize.  Of course, that is only applicable if you are willing.

 

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The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other.
John C. Maxwell, Be a People Person
Early on, when I started managing, I found myself in a mess. John Maxwell and Peter Drucker became my best friends to rely upon in those early days. Be a People Person certainly got my attention and helped me understand how to effectively work on myself in order to effectively lead and manage teams of people and deliver results. I learned a lot through the book and shared much of what I learned with others who struggled to survive the responsibility of management.
My experience has taught me a few certainties. One certainty that I have learned about management, whether it is for-profit or nonprofit, is that management can be a mess. It can become a mess if you let it. The management mess can be by decision or de facto. However, once it becomes a mess, it takes some serious work to untangle it all.
Typically, the management mess comes down to two major factors: people and paperwork. The people person may not be the most organized person so they lose as much credibility as paperwork. The pencil-pusher and policy-upholder may know the manual upside down and inside out, but they may leave a lot to be desired when it comes to relating to others. You have to know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. If you only work within your strength, you will always have a lop-sided performance. You will do what you love and avoid what you don’t do well. There’s no escaping what it requires to become effective.
Here’s a short list of management titles that I have found useful:
  • Covey, Stephen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  • Blanchard, Ken and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager
  • Drucker, Peter, The Effective Executive
  • Briner, Bob, The Management Methods of Jesus
  • Burkett, Larry, Business by the Book

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 Evangelism is a lot like College

It is a lot like college in many ways.  You can only imagine how so, but here are a few of the ways that evangelism resembles college life.

 

  • You are tested by people at times who may know just as much as and sometimes even more than you on the subject at hand 
  • You have to use a lot of what you have already learned to face new challenges
  • You meet people from nearly every walk of life
  • Doing your homework pays off
  • You’re own your own but you can always come back home
  • The study and discussions help you when you interact with others outside of class
  • You can just show up if you want to, but you have to put in some hard work in order to reap the rewards

 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

 

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  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.- Luke 6:38, NKJV

Giving should come out of the heart.  We are to give, as the Lord states, a “good measure” because by that same measure we will also be measured.  When you give a little, you can expect a little back.  When you give abundantly, you can expect an abundance in return.  Giving is measured proportionally.

Giving, whether it is time, talent or treasure, should be an offering of our best to the Lord.  Many have questions about the Lord accepting one’s offering and not the other’s.  Was there more to it than what Cain and Abel brought? Look at Ananias and his wife in Acts 5.  It was their own land and their own money.  What was the big deal? Peter speaks to lying to God,not man, when we do such a thing.  It is like when you feel compelled to sign up for a special offering campaign and pledge a certain amount, and then when you are questioned about it, you go into how things have been hard and you need people to get off your back, especially at church.  Or, it could be like when you give your contribution to the church and you equate every leaky toilet and creaking stairs to what your offering should have paid for, along with the pastor’s salary.  You gave it, but you never really let it go.  You are still keeping tabs on what you technically gave to someone else.  That’s pretty much how it is when it comes to what we give God in the form of money.  Did we truly and freely give without any hang-ups and holdouts?

Our attitude is just as important as our gift.  If we carry the wrong attitude, then we bring our offering in vain.  Paul shared that we should begrudge giving or do so out of necessity.  We should come as “cheerful” givers.  In doing so, our giving is measured according to what we bring and how we bring it.

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