Category : Leadership

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The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of December 19th

Let me begin by wishing everyone a very, Merry Christmas.  I hope you have a Jesus-filled holiday weekend and looking forward to a great New Year.  The following is this week’s Top 10 list.

I am constantly reading blogs, books, and such and thought it was time to start sharing what I find interesting. Hope you enjoy.

So once again, Happy Holidays!  The following are The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of December 19th: (These are in no particular order)

1. 9 Powerful Body Language Tips To Instantly Boost Your Confidence

2. Confident Body Language

3. 10 Questions to Capture the Year in Your Journal

4. 5 Reasons You Need To Stop Imitating Other Leaders

5. Gadgets Are Majorly Damaging Your Spine: Here’s the Fix

6. 5 Essential Time Management Tips to Live By

7. 10 Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader in Your Field

8. 3 Ways You’re Making Church Awkward For Visitors

9. How Some Phrases May Be Costing You A Fortune

10. Pastor, If you Burnout…

Well, that is my Top 10 for the week.  What other great posts did you read?

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A Letter to RLC, All, Leadership
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Is Tithing New Testament?

Recently, I was reading an article in CharismaNews.com which I hear all too often, “Is tithing a New Testament thing?” I believe it is. Here is a great article about this very interesting topic:

Question: One area that I am researching is the Tithe and offering. I know very well what Malachi 3:7-12 teaches that according to the Law if a believer falls short then they have robbed God and fall under a curse. Paul wrote to the Galatians in Galatians. 3:13 telling them they had been redeemed from the cruse of the Law.

The main point of Malachi 3 is often overlooked. The prophet was telling the Jews to turn their hearts to God and give with love so the ministries would be fully supplied. I know that God wants us to give—and I believe in the law of reciprocity—and I know we need to support our local church, orphans, widows, etc. Here’s my question shouldn’t support and giving be from the heart and not because we are under a mandatory legal system? What are your views on Tithes, offerings and giving? —Brother Keith

Bible Answer: You asked a great question. I get this question all the time.

Tithing began before the law was introduced. The Law simply regulated the tithe. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, 400 years before the time of Moses and the Law, and according to Romans 4:12 we are to walk in the footsteps of the faith of Abraham. If tithing was good for him, it should be good for us, too.

We give tithes like Abraham gave them—not by the Law but by faith. And beside that, if the people of God paid 10 percent before the Law, and 10 percent under the Law, shouldn’t we, who live by grace, be doing any less when we have a better covenant (Heb. 7:22)?

There is a passage in Hebrews, which deals with this issue directly. It is Hebrews 7:8:

In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.

Melchizedek received Abraham’s tithe. The Hebrew writer shows that Melchizedek is a prefigure of Christ. We can conclude that just as Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, we give a tithe to Christ who is declared to be living.

Some people think this is a new issue. It is as old as the second century when more and more Gentiles were being converted. The early Jewish believers had no problem with tithing since they had done it under the Law and gave it to the priests. They simply gave their tithe to the elders of the church and did by love. However, as the church became less Jewish this issue came up to the church fathers. They answered the question of tithing with Matt. 23:23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Notice Jesus said, “You should have practiced the latter (justice, mercy and faithfulness), without neglecting the former (tithing).” The fathers argued, and rightful so, that Jesus word ends the discussion. Since Jesus said not to neglect the former—being tithing—then no believer should neglect tithing. I wholeheartedly agree!

Some argue that Jesus words are not applicable to us today, because Jesus was under the Law and spoke to those under the Law. Their theory goes something like this: Jesus was giving an instruction to the Jews, so His words are not binding to us.

The problem with this interpretation is that these teachers are bringing Christ down to the level of a Jewish prophet or Teacher of the Law. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, so this means every word that comes out of His mouth is eternal. He cannot say anything without it being “spiritual law” and everlasting. Jesus emphasizes this point by saying, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

These supposed Bible teachers are making the words of Jesus pass away—obsolete and out of date. Besides, these same teachers pick and choose which teachings of Christ in the gospels they believe are applicable to us. I notice that even these teachers agree that most of Christ’s teachings are for us; however, because they are predisposed against tithing, they have had to come up with an excuse for not obeying the clear word of Christ in Mat. 23:23.

As a believer, you have to show who your Lord is! Is it the teachers who tell you tithing is not New Testament and who tell you that Jesus word on the subject is out of date; or is it Jesus who clearly told us not to neglect tithing? No modern teacher has the right to tell you to disobey Jesus instruction on tithing. Period!

Even if the only passages in the New Testament was Jesus’ word, then that would be sufficient, however, I want to present other New Testament passages on the subject. Let’s look at Paul’s teaching on giving.

Paul also uses the pattern of tithing under the law in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 and says, “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

Paul argues that just as the priests got their food from the tithes of the people, so the preachers should live the same way. This passage clearly shows the mentality of the apostle and his understanding of carrying over the concept of tithing into the church. The passage often used to contradict this is 2 Cor. 9:7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The argument goes something like this: “Each believer has a right to decide for himself what to give and should not be told what percentage he should contribute.”

The problem with this argument is that the above passage is not dealing with giving to support the church, but rather giving to the poor. Under the Law, giving to the poor was a freewill offering. The Law commanded freewill offerings as well as tithes: “But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks” (Deut. 12:5-6).

It is quite inconsistent for people to appeal to freewill offerings yet claim that tithing has been abolished. Both tithing and freewill offerings were incorporated in the Law as the above passage shows, but they preceded the Law, thus they both should be practiced. The burden of proof is placed on those who teach that tithing has been abolished. If so, where in the New Testament does it clearly say that tithing has been abolished?

One last thing, notice the resemblance of the language Paul uses in the first passage in Galatians and compare it with the Old Testament passage about tithing:

“Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Gal. 6:6).

“And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied” (Deut. 26:11-12).

Galatians 6 is dealing with giving to the teacher of the gospel and he uses the same language about the Levites receiving the tithe of the people and he calls it “all good things.” This is pretty good internal evidence that the early church tithed to the ministers of the gospel, although, I admit it is not explicit evidence.

Tom Brown is the founder and pastor of Word of Life Church in El Paso, Texas. He and his wife, Sonia, host a weekly television program, The Bondage Broker, available online.

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All, Books, Leadership
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Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: By Sam Chand (Chapter One Review)

At RLC, our staff is currently reviewing the book “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” by Sam Chand. It is important to step back from working in something to work on it from time to time. Here are some of the statements which stuck out to me in the first chapter.

CULTURE TRUMPS VISION

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes . . . but no plans.  —Peter Drucker

Culture—not vision or strategy—is the most powerful factor in any organization. It determines the receptivity of staff and volunteers to new ideas, unleashes or dampens creativity, builds or erodes enthusiasm, and creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved there. Ultimately, the culture of an organization—particularly in churches and nonprofit organizations, but also in any organization—shapes individual morale, teamwork, effectiveness, and outcomes.

The fact is, culture eats strategy for lunch.

You can have a good strategy in place, but if you don’t have the culture and the enabling systems, the [negative] culture of the organization will defeat the strategy.

Seven keys of  GOOD CULTURE:

  1. Control
  2. Understanding
  3. Leadership
  4. Trust
  5. Unafraid
  6. Responsive
  7. Execution

Many leaders confuse culture with vision and strategy, but they are very different. Vision and strategy usually focus on products, services, and outcomes, but culture is about the people—the most valuable asset in the organization.

To see a few snapshots of a church’s culture, we might ask these questions:

  • Who are the heroes? What makes them heroes? Who determines who the heroes are?
  • When someone inquires, “Tell me about your church or nonprofit,” what stories are told?
  • How much does the average staff member feel he or she has input into the direction and strategy of the church or nonprofit?
  • Who has the ear of the top leaders? How did these people win a hearing with the leaders?
  • What are the meaningful rituals? What message do they convey to those in the organization and those outside it?
  • Who is rewarded, and for what accomplishments?
  • What is the level of loyalty up and down the organizational chart? What factors build loyalty?
  • What is the level of creativity and enthusiasm throughout the organization?
  • When an objective observer spends an hour watching people interact in the offices, what mood does he or she pick up?
  • How are decisions made, deferred, or delayed?
  • Who are the non-positional power brokers, the people who have authority based on the respect they’ve earned but who don’t have authoritative titles?
  • Where are control problems and power struggles most evident?
  • How is “ turf ” defi ned and protected?

The shape of an organization’s culture begins at the top levels.

Culture Is the Most Powerful Factor in Any Organization

Culture Is Usually Unnoticed, Unspoken, and Unexamined

Culture Determines How People Respond to Vision and Leadership

Culture Most Often Surfaces and Is Addressed in Negative Experiences

Culture Is Hard to Change, but Change Results in Multiplied Benefits

Culture problems, by their nature, are never solved quickly.

The intangibles of respect and trust transform a church culture into a beehive of thinking, creating, and working together to accomplish grand goals. When staff members feel valued, they far more readily embrace a leader’s vision. Even if they disagree or don’t understand, they are more willing to give the benefit of the doubt and pitch in.

A positive culture will act as an accelerant for your vision.

Changing your organization’s culture will be one of the most challenging processes you’ve ever implemented, but I guarantee you, you’ll be glad you did.

Think About It . . .

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the premise of this chapter that culture trumps vision? Explain your answer.
  2. Describe the most inspiring organizational culture you have experienced as a staff member or ministry leader. How did the senior leaders treat people? How did they impart vision and strategy? How did people respond?
  3. Why did you pick up this book? What do you hope to get out of reading this book and implementing the steps of change?
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A Letter to RLC, All, Leadership
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Feeling Afraid, Worried, or Unsure?

Feeling afraid, worried, or unsure? God’s Word has a little something to say about it…

33 Verses to Remind Us – We Do Not Have to Fear

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19

“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:22-26

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” Mark 6:50

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“’For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:39-40

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7

“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” 1 Peter 3:14

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22

“Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’” Revelation 1:17

“Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” Mark 5:36

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38-39

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” from Psalm 91:1-16

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A Letter to RLC, All, LCL, Leadership
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The Election Is Over, Now What?

The election is now over. No matter who you wanted to win, it is now over. So, as a Christ follower, what do we do now? Here are a few steps to begin to move us forward:

HONOR.

(2 Timothy 2:2) “Prayer …for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

We have had our chance to vote now our job becomes to pray. Respect is earned but honor is freely given because it is something God has asked of us. It ultimately comes down to a question… Do you really think God is in control? If so, trust Him and honor the new elected incumbent and honor one another.

CONTENTMENT.

(Philippians 4:11) “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

As I said above, it comes down to trusting God. No matter who was going to win, we still have a God in Heaven who loves us. Contentment is a matter of trust, not in our government but in our God.

PRAYER.

(2 Chronicles 7:14) “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Prayer changes things. Prayer changes history. Prayer changes people. Prayer should be our first response not our last resort.

WORK.

(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV) And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV) Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.

(Colossians 3:23 ESV) Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Put feet on your prayers. It’s time to work to build bridges between those you have disagreed with. Be the change you want to see. The church is God’s plan to reach the world. It is time for us to unify and reach our world for Christ.

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A Letter to RLC, All, Leadership, Life Groups
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Why Pete Wilson is Rocking the Ministry Community

If you have not already heard, Pastor Pete Wilson of Crosspoint Church in Nashville, Tn resigned just a little over a week ago. What made this resignation so unique was why he resigned. It was not due to an addiction, moral, or ethic failure. It was something that most people ministry are familiar with but rarely talk about, burnout.

Nine days after his public announcement, I have personally talked with six different ministers who have been rocked to the core by what Pete did. The reason why is simple but staggering, because they are in the same boat too. Pete has thrown the curtain back on something that has become an epidemic among leaders today. We know how to lead churches and businesses well but have no idea how to lead ourselves. Our churches and businesses are growing and thriving while we are slowly dying and wondering if the pain will ever stop. I applaud Pete’s willingness to confront such an issue. I believe God is using this difficult moment to reveal the hearts of so many who are hurting and desperately need help.

The purpose of this blog is to be a sort of online mentor for anyone wishing to grow in their lives. Because of this, I talk about various random topics that I hope will cause you to think, be encouraged, inspired, and maybe even grow in your pursuit of excellence. That being said, many people are on the brink or have already fallen overboard into the sea of burnout. You know it. It is time to come clean.

Here are some of the signs that you may be experiencing burnout or emotional exhaustion:

  1. Chronic fatigue. In the early stages, you may feel a lack energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.
  2. Insomnia. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; as exhausted as you are, you can’t sleep.
  3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up.
  4. Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).
  5. Increased illness. Because your body is depleted, your immune system becomes weakened, making you more vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.
  6. Loss of appetite. In the early stages, you may not feel hungry and may skip a few meals. In the latter stages, you may lose your appetite all together and begin to lose a significant amount of weight.
  7. Anxiety. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes in your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
  8. Depression. In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad, occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped, severely depressed, and think the world would be better off without you. (If your depression is to this point, you should seek professional help immediately.)
  9. Anger. At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability. In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in theworkplace. (If anger gets to the point where it turns to thoughts or acts of violence toward family or coworkers, seek immediate professional assistance.)

Signs of Cynicism and Detachment

  1. Loss of enjoyment. At first, loss of enjoyment may seem very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave. Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends. At work, you may try to avoid projects and figure out ways to escape work all together.
  2. Pessimism. At first, this may present itself as negative self-talk and/or moving from a glass half-full to a glass half-empty attitude. At its worst, this may move beyond how you feel about yourself and extend to trust issues with coworkers and family members and a feeling that you can’t count on anyone.
  3. Isolation. In the early stages, this may seem like mild resistance to socializing (i.e., not wanting to go out to lunch; closing your door occasionally to keep others out). In the latter stages, you may become angry when someone speaks to you, or you may come in early or leave late to avoid interactions.
  4. Detachment. Detachment is a general sense of feeling disconnected from others or from your environment. It can take the form of the isolative behaviors described above, and result in removing yourself emotionally and physically from your job and other responsibilities. You may call in sick often, stop returning calls and emails, or regularly come in late.

Signs of Ineffectiveness and Lack of Accomplishment

  1. Feelings of apathy and hopelessness. This is similar to what is described in the depression and pessimism sections of this article. It presents as a general sense that nothing is going right or nothing matters. As the symptoms worsen, these feelings may become immobilizing, making it seems like “what’s the point?”
  2. Increased irritability. Irritability often stems from feeling ineffective, unimportant, useless, and an increasing sense that you’re not able to do things as efficiently or effectively as you once did. In the early stages, this can interfere in personal and professional relationships. At its worst, it can destroy relationships and careers.
  3. Lack of productivity and poor performance. Despite long hours, chronic stress prevents you from being as productive as you once were, which often results in incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list. At times, it seems that as hard as you try, you can’t climb out from under the pile.

 

 

1. Take an inventory. Make a list of all the situations that cause you to feel stressed, anxious, worried, frustrated, and helpless. Don’t rush through it. It’s not a race; it’s a process. Also, you cannot move forward until you know where you are.

2. Locate. After taking an inventory, locate the highest stress options and eliminate.

3. Just say “no.” While you’re “recovering,” avoid taking on any new commitments or responsibilities.

4. Delegate as many things as possible, even if the person you’re delegating to may not do them as quickly or as well as you would.

5. Control your devices. Gadgets, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones, can consume large amounts of your time and energy. Turn them off as much as possible.

6. Socialize outside your professional group. This can provide fresh perspectives, stimulate new ideas, and help you discover previously undiscovered resources.

7. Resist the urge to take work home. Enough said.

8. Get a better view of counseling. Gone are the days of misguided views on counseling. Have a professional counselor in your life is a very healthy thing to do.

9. Rediscover your passion. How long has it been since you did something purely for the joy of it?

10. Rest. It took you a long time to get this way. I will not get better overnight. Embrace the process and rest, rest, rest. The world will keep spinning, I promise.

So, where do you stand with all this?

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All, LCL, Leadership
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Everyone Has A Calling or Life’s Pursuit

One time, my wife and I wanted to surprise our two girls who were five and seven at the time by taking them to an indoor water park for Christmas. The park was about two hours away from our home and the whole way both my girls kept asking me where we were going. “Come on daddy, tell us where we’re going.” They wouldn’t stop asking. Neither my wife nor I wanted to tell them because it was suppose to be a surprise. Therefore, we just kept saying, “Don’t worry, you’ll love it. You’re going to be so thankful once we get there.” Finally, we arrived at our destination. When we pulled into the parking lot, even though it was snowing outside, you could look through the Plexiglas walls at families with their swimsuits going down slides, playing in the water, and floating down the lazy river. We expected both our girls to start screaming with delight. However, to my wife and my dismay, both girls were silent. When we looked back to see what was going on, both of them ha were frozen with their mouths wide open. They were so excited they were speechless. Needless to say, they were thankful and that still stands out as one of the best Christmas’s we’ve ever had.

That experience reminds me a lot of the Father of Faith, Abraham. Of all the amazing stories in the Word of God that speaks to us about the calling God placed on men’s lives, Abraham is probably my favorite. Can you imagine God coming to you and saying, “I’ve got something great for you to do. Follow me.” You might say, “Where are we going Lord?” God would answer, “I’m not going to tell you right now. You’re not ready and it would spoil the surprise anyway. It’s going to take a while to get there but trust me, you’re going to love it.” That’s basically what God said to Abraham. Here’s what God said in Genesis 12: 1- 3 (NIV),

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

 

I think another translation that puts it a little more in our modern day vernacular is The Message translation. Look how it says the same passage:

God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing.  I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.”

 

The word “Go” or “Leave” or “Get Thee Out” (KJV)in Hebrew is the word halak which literally means to “walk” or “to continually come on”. I like the last one that says to “continually come on” because it reminds us that answering the calling of God is not a one-time thing. The book of Galatians says there is always a battle between the flesh (our carnal nature) and the spirit (that part of us that wants to pursue God). We must continually deny our fleshy desires and say yes to the call that God places on all our lives.

Within all of us is a unique gifting and calling. God made you for greatness. You are a “10” at something. It reminds me of the movie “Chariots of Fire” when the runner said, “When God made me, he made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.” God made you to do something and when you do it, you can feel His pleasure. There are many ways to discover this unique gifting and calling in your life and while we all have a special plan from God there are some things which are universal to us all. We are called to do personal missions and corporate missions in the Kingdom of God. Today we’re going to talk about three different corporate missions that we all need to fulfill in our lives as modeled to us in the story of Abraham.

The first calling that was given to Abraham and to us all was the calling to FOLLOW BY FAITH.

Genesis 12:1 (RSV) says, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.'” The first calling God placed on Abraham’s life (and ours as well) was to simply follow. A retired pastor once said to me, “The greatest message Jesus ever preached to us pastors was when He called the disciples. He said, “Follow me and I will make you.” The greatest calling we can fulfill is to simply follow God and trust His leading. The Bible says that God’s Word is a “Lamp unto my feet.” God doesn’t always give us enough light to see the whole journey. Many times we have just enough light for the next step. That takes a lot of faith. However, God will never cause us to stumble or slip as long as we follow his leading.

The second calling given to Abraham and to us as well was the calling to serve. The next thing God says to Abraham is “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great” (Gen 12:2-3). Have you ever wondered why God does things? I do all the time. Not out of a desire to question God but rather to learn His nature so I can more fully recognize Him at work. Why do you think God wanted to bless Abraham? Another way to say this is, “Why does God want to bless us?” You can see it all throughout the Word of God. God always blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. The calling that God places on all our lives is not so that we can build our own kingdom. The calling of God is always a calling to serve. No matter what gives us a passion and gifting to do, it is always to serve the Body of Christ and reach those far from Him. One of our highest callings is to serve others.

The final calling we will discuss is the calling to be a blessing. The next thing God said to Abraham was “I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3). One of the chief responsibilities in the life of every believer is to add value to others. If you are not adding value to others you are subtracting value from yourself. We were not called to be an island unto our self. We were called to add value to the world around us with our gifts, with our time, and with our attention. The real beauty of how God uses His church is that in His hands, God can use just about anything to make a difference in the life of someone else. He just needs someone willing to be a blessing.

God has a unique gifting for us all. Just because you do not see it’s redeeming value does not mean it isn’t there. I served a church one time where there were few elderly women who were very discouraged. They thought they had “outlived their usefulness” and God couldn’t use them anymore. The pastor said to them, “What do you like to do?” They answered that they met every week and crochet together. He told them, “There you go. God can use that. Just figure out how.” These ladies decided to try that out. What they did was amazing. They found out the local paper had a section that would post when new babies were born in the community. What they began to do was crochet little socks for these newborn babies then go by these houses to congratulate the new parents and present them with the little socks as a gift. Since these ladies were all grandma’s they would instantly fall in love with these little babies and many times began to help out these new, exhausted mothers. During these visits they would be able to pray with the new parents, provide guidance, and even help them reconnect with their families. After two years over 15 new couples had begun attending church because of these elderly women who felt like they had “outlived their usefulness.” God has a plan for your life but it’s going to take the faith to step out and purse it. He’s also called you to be a blessing in the lives of others and to serve everyone around you. By doing this, we are fulfilling the greatest calling of all, to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus in this world.

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All, LCL, Leadership
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Laws of Bible Study

There are several methods of Bible study that may be employed to arrive at a correct understanding of Bible truth. In hermeneutics (interpretation) there are certain principles or laws that must be observed in our study of God’s Word. They are:

I. Law of Application— Application of Scripture may be made only after the correct doctrinal meaning has been determined.

II. Law of Literal Interpretation— When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, lest it make non-sense. 

III. Law of First Mention— God has order the meaning of a word in it’s first occurrence in Scripture as to forecast how that word would be associated in the rest of the Scriptures. 

IV. Law of Progressive Mention— God make the revelation of any given truth increasingly clear as the Word proceeds to its consummation.

V. Law of Subsequent Mention— God in later Scripture adds details to prior events, or give events never before recorded.

VI. Law of Context–The meaning of any particular element is controlled by what precedes and what follows. A verse out of context is a pre-text.

VII. Law of Discrimination— The Scriptures must be divided so as to make a distinction where God makes a difference.

VIII. Law of Agreement–God will not set forth any passage in His Word which contradicts any other passage. 

IX. Law of Repetition— God will often repeat something previously said as a means of emphasis.

X. Law of Double Reference— A passage may apply primarily to a person or event near at hand, but is used by the Holy Spirit at a later time as applying to the Person of Christ, or the affairs of His kingdom.

XI. Gap Law— God, in the Scriptures, will sometimes skip over lengthy periods of time without comment.

XII. Laws of Right Divisions— God’s Word must be divided according to dispensations, covenants and ethnic groups.

XIII. Law of Types— God often employs types as a divinely appointed illustration of some spiritual truth.

XIV. Law of Numerical Design— Numbers in the Bible have a specific meaning that teach specific truths.

XV. Synthetic Technique— God inspired the literary structure of the Bible so that it is constructed in introversion, alternation, or combinations of both.

 

(taken from: http://www.avhughes.com/images/laws_study.html)

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All, Leadership
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GROW 2016 (Children’s Ministry App) Takeaways

Important building block to being a great Children’s Ministry….

1. The RIGHT CULTURE.
-We are not a baby sitting ministry.
-We minister the Word of God to little people.
-Elevate children’s ministry in the eyes of the church.

2. Needs to MIRROR the Call and Vision of your church.
-Everyone has to run the same play.

3. Discipleship is done through Facilitating the Parent not Replacing them.

TOOLS>>>
-Rooms that are safe and age appropriate.
-Fun, preach the Word, safe
-Safe, Safe, Safe
-Build trust with the parents
-Safety- uniform police officer designated to kids
-Safety- toys in appropriate rooms

Excellence is NOT expensive but IS intentional.
-UNO cards with a passionate leader is better than any expensive game console.

People are the most important asset you have.

People don’t know what you know, they only know what they see.

Only 3% of offenders are caught by background checks. The reason you do it so you can protect the church.

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All, Leadership
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GROW 2016 (Know God) Weekend Services Takeaways

Everyone needs to know the vision of the church
-Needs to be the same thing.
-That way we all know the same play.

KNOW GOD. FIND FREEDOM. DISCOVER PURPOSE. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

SYSTEMS- Delivers your vision.
-System isn’t the vision. A system delivers the vision.
-A system does not ensure your success.
-Define a vision that’s measurable. Then find a system to deliver it.

Every time people leave your church there’s one of two responses (“Man, it’s over already?” Or “Man, I’m glad that’s over”)

WHAT WE DO?>>>

We create worship experiences that both unchurched people and believers love to attend.

The goal isn’t to do everything we know how to do.
The goal is for people to come back.

WHY WE DO IT?>>>
1. Because it is the Biblical model.
-Church is not for you. Church is for the lost.
-Church is a place for inspiration, motivation, and training so we can go into the world and reach the lost.
-Turn your church into a place where lost people get saved.
–Don’t stop working on it until people are getting saved.

2. Because we are called to continue the ministry of Jesus.
-John 17:18-20
-Acts 20:24 (The most important thing is to complete the mission)

3. Because Heaven and Hell are REAL.
-Don’t let christians stop you from reaching the lost.
-Luke 15- Three different stories Jesus tried to communicate how important it was to find the lost.
-God is distracted by those who are lost.
-Put an emphasis on the lost.

God’s not excited about your church service as much as you are. He’s excited about lost people getting saved.
HOW WE DO IT?>>> WEEKEND SERVICES

1.Focus on a life-giving culture.
-Culture trumps everything.
-Don’t worry about the score board. Focus on creating a life-giving culture. Healthy things grow.

Personality of Jesus>>>

>>> Services should be AUTHENTIC.
-Be real.

>>> Services should be RELEVANT.
-Not like the world. Not secular music.
-Talk about things that pass the “who cares?” test.
-Everything you do… ask if they can use it on Monday.

>>> Services should be ENJOYABLE.
-Kids jumped in Jesus’ lap. He was fun.
-Church should be full of FOOD and FUN.
-It is the joy of the Lord that gives people strength.
-Generosity is MASSIVE.

>>> Services should be ACCEPTING.
-We’re not saying you approve of what they do but you accept them.

>>> Services should be POWERFUL.
-Don’t be afraid to pray for people.
-Don’t forget that signs and wonders accompany the believers.

2. CREATE SERVICES THAT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT.

KNOW WHY the unchurched are unchurched.
Top four reasons>>>
-boring
-just want my money
-too long
-afraid for my kids

IMPRESS THEM within the first 10 minutes.
-Parking team
-Greeting team
-Children’s check-in (make it look more professional)

-Put your energy and resources into GREAT PRAISE AND WORSHIP.
-CHILDREN’S MINITSRY SHOULD be well staffed, safe, clean and fun.
-DELIVER EVANGELISTIC MESSAGES that are interesting, clear, relevant, entertaining, and Biblical.
-PRAYER teams should cover the services behind everything.

-IN EVERYTHING, focus on EXCELLENCE.
Excellence creates comfort.

-DO FEWER THINGS EXTREMEMLY WELL.

-FOCUS ON TRANSITIONS.
-Both in services and in preaching.

3. YOU HAVE TO TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO DO PERSONAL EVANGELISM?
-Accept the personal responsibility.
-God’s plan to reach the people around you is you. (Relational networks)
-Teach people how to give a personal invitation. (Need to have two lost people come every year.)

If every Christian led one person to Christ every year the entire world would be reached in 20 years.

4. WE TEACH PEOPLE TO PRAY FOR THE LOST.
-pray that the father would draw them to Jesus (John 6:44)
-bind the spirit that blinds their eyes (2 Cor. 4:4)
-Loose the spirit of adoption (sonship) (Romans 8:15)
-Pray that believers will cross their paths and enter into positive relationships (Matt. 9:38)
-Loose the spirit of wisdom and revelation on them so they can see Christ. (Eph.1:17)

5. KEEP THE FOCUS ON THE OUTSIDER.
-Work hard on this.
-There is a gravitational pull toward selfishness.

HOW>>> By creating series specifically designed for unchurched people.
HOW>>> By communicating your missions outside the church.

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A Letter to RLC, All, Leadership
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10 Reasons Why I Love Our Annual “At The Movies” Series?

1. Breaks up the normal schedule.

No matter how much you love church, it can get predictable. Most people actually don’t think that’s a bad thing. I love being able to know what to expect, especially when I’m thinking of inviting friends. The problem is when you get so use to church that you quite expecting God to speak to you. Doing an “out of the box” series like this gives us the opportunity to refresh our perspective.

2. Presents the Gospel in a fresh way.

People are use to seeing a preaching ascend to the stage preach the Gospel. That’s what churches do. They don’t expect churches to show movies.

3. Forever makes these movies markers for the Gospel.

Elf, The Polar Express, Avatar, The Hunger Games, The Help, and The Guardian are just some of the movies we’ve used in the past to tell the story of the Gospel. After using these movies I’ve been told my many people that every time they watch these movies, they think of how we used it to tell about Jesus. I love that. The next time you watch “Elf” at Christmas time you’ll think of Jesus. #winning

4. Speaks to unbelievers.

Hollywood sometimes spend in excess of $200 million on movie projects. We get the benefit of that amazing budget to tell God’s story. I’m continually amazed at how God uses modern day parables to show people who He is.

5. Surprises believers.

Over the years we’ve had several well meaning Christians criticize this evangelistic method. We’ve learned now to simply say, “Just come on and bring a friend. You’ll see.” What they find is people who they’ve been praying for years to see saved, give their lives to Christ every time. Many of these former doubters will come up to me later and say, “I totally get it now.”

6. Shakes off that religious spirit.

It’s hard to watch “Elf” or “The Help” in church and still have a religious criticalness.

7. Who doesn’t like movies?

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like to watch movies. Everyone’s tastes are different but everyone like movies. They’re just fun.

8. Who doesn’t like popcorn?

I mean, really. You get free popcorn and a drink for three straight weeks at church. You can’t loose.

9. Our “At The Movies” series makes inviting people to church a little easier.

Ever wonder why it’s easy to invite people to a special presentation? Because it’s a special presentation. If you invite someone to church, they will possibly put you off. If you invite them to something special that only happens once a year, the law of scarcity comes into effect. The added bonus is we might watch their favorite movie.

10. Our “At The Movies” series helps us live out one of our church’s chief values: “We will do anything short of sin to reach people with the life-giving message of the Gospel”.

We believe the message of the Gospel is so important that we will risk offending Christians to reach the lost. Our goal is not to intentionally offend others but to win people. When you read about Jesus, it appears the only people He offended were stuffy Christians who couldn’t see past their own noses. That’s not us. We only have a limited time on this Earth. We want to reach as many people as possible.

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All, Leadership
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Why Do You Do That?: Salvation Prayer Every Sunday

Have you ever saw someone do something and just wanted to know why? You’re not saying you disagree, far from it actually. You just don’t understand why.

At Real Life Church, there are a few things we do differently from how you may have grown up experiencing church. Some of those things include:

  • Offering one-on-one prayer every Sunday at the end of service
  • Receiving our tithe and offering at the end of service
  • Have our announcements on a video instead of live
  • Greet our first time guests and talk to them every week
  • Lead the congregation in a prayer of salvation every Sunday.

Some of these you have never been curious about before. However, one I hear often is, “Why do you lead people through a prayer of salvation every Sunday even if it wasn’t the focus of your message?” That’s a great question. Here are three reasons:

1. Salvation is for everyone TODAY. 

Hebrews 3:15 – “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

There is no longer a reason to wait. Today is the day of salvation. We always pray for God to send us His lost children, people who are far from Him. We believe God has already been preparing their hearts for that moment, they simply need the opportunity to come to Christ.

2. God is constantly drawing His people.

Acts 2:39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Through the will and movement of the Holy Spirit in the Earth, God is constantly drawing His creation back to Him. When we are far from God we don’t always know that’s what feel. However, we know something is missing. When you are far from God, He will use every situation to draw you toward Himself.

3. Simply, people know they need Jesus.

Colossians 2:13 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses”

I’ve talked to countless people who’ve attended our services and many times they’ll say things like, “My family is in trouble. We need help.” or “I have messed up and I need help.” They know they can’t do this thing called ‘life’ alone. It’s not working. They’ve realized there has to be something more. I truly believe that when we surrender our agenda to God and make the service about Him and not what makes us happy, He works in people’s hearts all through the service. By the time we get to prayer time, people are aching to connect with Jesus. I’ve seen it time and time again.

 

Here’s the bottom line- 
We believe that in every service there’s someone in that room that God is drawing to Himself. He’s desperately trying to reach His lost children. Why wouldn’t we do everything to make that happen. We were once far from God. We know what it’s like to be lost and alone. I don’t want anyone to feel that way. What if you met a kid and found out they had run away from home, wouldn’t you do everything you could to convince them to go home? That’s what we do every Sunday. We tell lost kids that their Heavenly Father loves them and wants them home.

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