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Archive for the ‘solutions’ Category

Haunted houses and ghosts are about to become the seasonal rage once again over the next month or so.  Folks really get into Halloween.  I guess if getting the hell scared out of you is the point then perhaps more evangelicals should use scare tactics and haunted sanctuaries to grab the world’s attention.

But seriously, let us consider that those things that haunt us are oftentimes from our own past.  They are either things that we did or things that were done to us.  Both hunt us down in our sleep and haunt us during our waking hours.

Yet, imagine your past hurts helping you.  If your abuse-filled childhood helps you help runaway teens and teen moms without prenatal care, let it do so.  Past and personal struggles can make making it hard or they can open your eyes to numerous opportunities to advance and broaden the kingdom of God as you work through some of your own pain and struggle.

Pray for freedom from the dominance of your past demons over your life.  Fend off the persecution from your past.  Let it help you.

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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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“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman (Christian clergyman, author, and activist)

Analyze where the Christian church stands today.  Take an honest look at the standing of one of the most treasured institutions of society.  Make an earnest appraisal of the modern church.  See where the church stands today.

For far too long, in the eyes of many, the church has remained in isolation.  In the opinion of some, the church has appeared inactive, almost docile, dormant and dulled, if not deadened.  Others have said that the church has simply dwindled into a state of sheer ineffectiveness.

George Barna has studied and evaluated the church for years.  Henry Blackaby has shared some insights and findings as well.  John Maxwell has offered multiple volumes on Christian leadership.  Rick Warren weighed in with The Purpose Driven Church.  There is no shortage of Christian perspectives of what the church is not and where the church has fallen short.

Don’t disregard the Reformation or the Great Awakening.  Don’t toss aside the Progressives or the Abolitionists.  Do not forsake the social activism of Prohibition and the Salvation Army, YMCA, and YWCA.  Don’t forget how Christians fought Darwinism and the teaching of evolutionism in the U.S. school system.  Forget not Azusa Street and the likes of Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.  Do not frown upon the church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war protests, and the pro-life debates.  Consider all of the church’s storied past.

Recall that the church has been called to be more than a building.  The church has a calling as the body of Christ.  Look at Luis Palau, Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship, and the countless missionaries and ministries that exist today.  See how many are fed, clothed, sheltered and ministered to through street ministries and storefronts alike.  See the church playing an active role in society.

Do not grapple with public opinion.  Do not spend hour upon hour debating with the church’s critics.  Stand proudly and boldly to be counted among the many who diligently serve the Lord by doing all that they can with what little they have for “the least of these.”



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How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear;
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
John Newton

We are supposed to stay with Jesus.  Truthfully, we are supposed to stick with Jesus.  In fact, we are supposed to abide in Christ as He abides in us.

Does any of this sound familiar?

How do we get so far away from the one who sticks closer than a brother? How do we find ourselves at such distance from our Redeemer?

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

Just like our sin, our wandering is not limited to new converts.  Some of us who have been at it for a while can lose our fire.  We can become burnt out and dulled.  We all, at one time or another, have to rekindle our spiritual fire.

  • Go to God in prayer.  Pray for God to show you the error of your ways and a solution to what has you spiritually stagnant.
  • Go to God’s Word.  Read His Word and seek to draw closer to Him.
  • Go to God’s man.  Talk with your pastor.  Share your concern so that he can pray with you and guide you with spiritual wisdom.
  • Go on and get back into ministry.  Start slow.  Don’t commit to too much.  Start and stick with one ministry first.  Let it be something near and dear to you so that you do not lose enthusiasm or excitement.

God can help us get back on track.  We have to submit to Him and His perfect work.  We have to be obedient to His calling on our lives.  He’ll offer us a solution.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32 (NIV)

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Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”-Genesis 4:9 (NASB)
Am I my brother’s keeper?
New Jack City (Two-Disc Special Edition) 
It is an age-old question.  Ever since this early sibling rivalry, the question has loomed among mankind. Some have only asked it.  Others have crafted sermons based upon it.  Many have built ministries based on it, too.  It has at least crossed our minds at one time or another, possibly pricking our hearts in some cases.
We ask it without truly seeking out the revealed answer that occurs in the very same verse where it initially appears.  We ask it without recognizing that the question that prompts us asking such a question provides the very rationale that we need to truly understand the Lord’s desire for us.
“Where is Abel your brother?” 
Blood In, Blood Out 
It is the Lord who asks this of Cain.   It is not Adam or Eve seeking to find out what has happened to Abel.  It is the Lord who asks about Cain’s brother.  The Lord’s question about Abel, Cain’s brother, supersedes and precedes Cain asking if he is his brother’s keeper.  The question that comes from the Most High is over greater importance.
Let us seek to uphold our Christian responsibility by answering the Lord’s inquiry about our brother or sister.  Let it never be the case that we are resistant or reluctant to help our brother or sister in need when we have the means to help him or her.  How pleasing are we to the Lord when we cannot even answer about our care and concern for our own brother or sister? May we never shame the very name of Christ by our negligence for the calling to live up to His name as Christians.

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“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What we discover when we read this quote from Bonhoeffer is horrific and even terrifying when we think of Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom and other accounts of the terrors of the Holocaust.  As a minister and pastor in WWII Germany, Bonhoeffer probably watched on as other demographic groups were isolated as threats to the regime within the Fatherland.  However, by his own admission, he ignored much until the day came when they came for him and his comrades.

Advocacy is about being a voice for those who have no voice of their own.  Think of how you may be able to address the needs of children and the disabled.  How about the elderly and immigrants? You may not agree with everyone’s values and ideals, but you do have to agree that there are some certain civil and human rights that we should ensure that people have as a matter of human decency.

Where is your voice? Who have you spoken up for?  for whom have you stood up and spoken out on principle?  Where is your voice?

“We often expect more from others than we are willing to do ourselves.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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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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Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!
– Proverbs 6:6 (NLT)
Some people are full of ideas. Ideas just pop into their head all of the time. Inspiration and creativity spark inside their minds and they jot down something in a notebook or journal, even on their Blackberry or iPhone. They’re simply full of ideas.
I empathize with such people, for I am one of them. However, as I reviewed some notebooks from a few years back and got drawn in deeper and deeper into my own notes and ideas, I realized that I was full of ideas and need to convert more of my ideas into innovations. I would imagine that that’s the case with many others who share my flaw.
The Bible is full of verses that speak of productivity. Yes, I said productivity. Look at Psalm 1:3, John 15:8 and others that speak of fruitfulness, prosperity and service. Even as salt and light, we are called to produce something that leads to others glorifying the Father based upon what they see in us. Proverbs points out that the “lazybones” should look at the ant and take in the wisdom of such a creature who needs no supervisor or manager and is productive, being considered wise.
Here are some steps for converting your ideas into innovations:
  • Find Initiative: Get an idea about how to get started, but by all means get started and soon.
  • Focus Intensity: Keep your focus on doing and doing it right. Don’t get so intense that you get distracted or detoured doing other things. Keep your intensity focused on the right things.
  • Fortify Infrastructure: Build beyond a “one hit wonder.” Dream about other ways to enhance or expand your idea. Broaden the scope of your vision and build a structure that allows for it to grow and expand into a possible enterprise.
  • Formulate Innovations: Could your sermons become podcasts on iTunes or articles for online e-zines? Could you write a how-to article for your church or community newsletter on the topic? Could you blog or tweet regularly on related and relevant subjects centered around your idea? Think it out, and then plan it out. If you plan on going anywhere but where you currently are, you are going to need a map.

I pray that this is helpful to those who are full of ideas and inspired to convert those ideas into innovations.

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Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 (KJV)

Meetings seem to be run-of-the-mill and dull when they simply are not in the right order for the right purpose. I addressed the idea of purpose in “Meetings Versus Ministry” some time ago, but I want to address some simple meeting “must-haves.” These are the things that your meetings, whether for regularly-scheduled ministry, strategic planning with your board, or volunteer orientation, simply cannot do without as you move forward. By no means am I saying that this is an exhaustive list, but it is a list of some essentials for nearly every type of meeting.

  • Agenda: Previously emailed out to attendees; printed; Topics with time frame for each one
  • Sign-In Sheet: Keep track of who attends meeting; gather contact information
  • Minutes (From the Previous Meeting): Essential if people need to vote on approval; previously emailed out to attendees; printed and stapled or clipped together with supporting documents, i.e. grant applications/ proposals for review, reports, etc.
  • Reports: Previously emailed out to attendees; printed reports with supportive documents

Please note: The type of meeting you host will determine other essentials, i.e. whiteboard and dry erase markers, laptop and projector, and so on. Keep in mind that the longer you are meeting will dictate a greater need for water and refreshments or an actual meal. If you need people to work through lunch, either provide a break period for them to grab something nearby at the break room/cafeteria or be prepared to have lunch served. In most cases, you have to know your audience and your purpose for meeting in order to identify what else you may need.

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Information has “inform” as its root word.  The point of giving information out to people is to inform them.  If you are distributing information, be sure to be informative.

In you information dissemination, be certain to use both a Medium and a Message.

  • Medium: How do you get in touch with people? What do you use to reach people with your message? Is it online and off-line? How frequent do you use it? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask when considering your medium.
  • Message: your message needs to inform.  Let it be clear and concise.  Make it short and succinct.  Eliminate all of the clutter of jargon and eloquence and say it straight and plain.

if you seek to inform people, put them in the loop and keep them in the loop.

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