The People of Israel Raising Children in a Bomb Shelter

Hvat* never wanted to live this day but in her mind, she has relived this day thousands of times. Waking in the darkness, hearing the sounds of exploding missiles, screams piercing the moment, and now, seeing the blood, too much blood.

IMG_2469Hvat* lives in Israel in a small village near the Gaza strip, raising a small family, “This is my home, I don’t want to move, I want to live here, this is my land and this is my people.”  She had mentioned that to leave would to give the terrorists a win,

Standing there with her, within two minutes of the Gaza Strip border, less than ½ mile, the air was tense. The sky was clear, the air was dry and two elementary aged boys were riding their bikes. It was an uneasy feeling. Just a few days before our arrival IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) found a tunnel laden with explosives, motorcycles and several Hamas terrorists.

Terrorists have sent as many as twelve laser guided missiles in one day, “No one ever forgets, it never goes away.” A missile struck a bus, where most of the school child had just unloaded the bus for home but the driver and one teenage boy weren’t so fortunate. Hvat* continues with tears, lots of tears even though that day, that grievous day, was two years ago. “No one ever forgets, it never goes away.”us day, was two years ago.

“No one ever forgets, it never goes away.”

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Hurt feelings turned to compassion, many of the people in Palestine and Gaza are victims of Hamas terrorism just as we are. Her eyes are full of fear, her voice quivering, “I just want this to stop, for all of it to go away.”

It was a warm day, just like many days in the Southwestern part of the country of Israel. Just a few short miles to Egypt’s burning sands. The school was in session, concrete barriers were in place to help deter the attack of missiles. A weather balloon with a heat sensing camera monitors the area without much consolation.

Each bomb shelter received the artistic paint providing a stark contrast of fear with a mixture of hope.

Children have been trained and retrained, so much it has become a habit for most.

Children have learned to run for the bomb shelter. Hvat* looks out the window for a moment, “You may have 6 seconds to respond, twelve seconds would be considered a blessing. When the siren blows – you run. Several had an app on their phone telling them, not the weather or the news but the alert code. “You decide what pair of shoes to wear based on the intensity of the alert – if it is a high alert you wear something you can run in.” Tearfully she continues, “We painted the bomb shelters because we wanted to make this a better place.”shelters because we wanted to make this a better place.”

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Bomb shelter near a playground

The paintings and the bomb shelters seemed to divide the consciousness, one of joy, the way life was meant to be and the other of desperation and fear. “You never know the next time terrorists may send a missile over, we are just two minutes away from the border. You really don’t have much time to get to the bomb shelter.” She tried to smile for the picture but it was brief.

Two children playing in the living room under a makeshift tent, their mother was too far from her children at the moment, unable to grab the children and run to safety in the 6-second warning. The missile hit in the nearby street, digging a crater hole, shrapnel flying through the air went through the wall of the house, striking the four-year-old boy. “When I got there he was covered in blood – her son was dead.”IMG_2456

Grieving mothers confess when you have multiple children you have to quietly and sincerely decide which child you will grab when the bomb siren goes off.

Michael’s* name is written as a memorable among a gripping list of others, upon the walls of concrete.

She softly cries again and those with us cried with her.

The hole in the wall of the house has been patched and the street repaired. The hot sun has faded the paint on each bomb shelter but the memories are as fresh as today.

Hvat* motioned with her hand, a gesture of despair, “Has anyone heard this story? Does anyone care?”

 

Yes, we have heard and yes, we care!

 

Have you hugged your child today? 

 

*This is a true story but the names were changed for security reasons and personal privacy.

**This is the first of a series of true life stories of the people of Israel

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counseling or professional advice.

 

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HEALING FOR HURTING PEOPLE

If you have been in the ministry even a short time, you probably have discovered church, by its very nature, draws and attracts hurting people. Hurting people are described as:

 

  • WITHDRAWN – Hurting people have a tendency to withdraw from the crowd. Usually, find it difficult to be a team player.
  • HURT OTHERS – you have probably heard the phrase: hurting people hurt others. It is hard to kiss a porcupine – their inner pain repels and hurts others by their words and actions.
  • THINK IN TERMS OF HOW IT HURTS THEM – People who carry pain have tunnel vision – defining each moment in terms of how each situation affects them not in terms of how each situation affects others.
  • EXCUSE THEMSELVES – A common statement for a person filled with pain, “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” Or, “You don’t know what I’m dealing with.”
  • TRULY IN PAIN BECAUSE OF PAST OFFENCES – If You Are Still Angry Because of A Past Offence Then It May Be Time To Get Off The Fence. A pain filled person can point to each offense.
  • PUSH OTHERS AWAY – A pain filled person doesn’t want to be hurt again and often pushes others away from them. “I’d rather be alone than hurt by another person.”
  • SEEK OUT OTHER HURTING PEOPLE OR AN ANGRY CAUSE – Like attracts like and hurt people will gravitate to other hurt people.
  • THINK AUTHORITY FIGURES ARE AGAINST THEM OR FAVOR OTHERS – they may do their duty but reluctantly or grudgingly.
  • EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN NOT SPIRIT DRIVEN – “I’m having a bad day” may be their excuse as to why they are treating others around them disrespectfully.
  • OVERREACTIONARY – “You always get an overreaction in an area that has never been healed.” – Russel Hylton
  • WRESTLE WITH THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AS THEIR FATHER – it is increasingly difficult to accept God’s love for themselves or for others.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ENCOURAGER, CONSOLER OF THE HEART

Healing and comfort are provided through the working of the Holy Spirit. Read the following verses carefully if you are carrying hurt, past offenses or unforgiveness in your heart.

John 14:15 -21 If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray for the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.

 

RECEIVE HEALING IN YOUR HEART AND MIND

 

BELIEVE AND RECEIVE THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST God not only loves the world – He loves you. Accept God’s love in a heart cry to God. Know God was with you in your offenses but never intended for you to carry them. God wants to heal you from the pain and enable you to forgive others and forgive yourself. Look at this empowering scripture, Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. This has been largely interpreted as healing for our physical bodies but read the verse again, “He hath borne our griefs.” Jesus carried your pain and hurt – you don’t need to carry it anymore.

 

CHANGE YOUR FOCUS TO JESUS AND NOT OF OTHERS “First Focus” is to magnify Jesus and maximize relationships. FIRST FOCUS enables you to look at Christ hanging on the cross carrying our sin, our pain, our hurt and focus on His love, His forgiveness, and His strength. By watching other’s responses we merely build up our case, we strengthen the stronghold of personal offenses. By looking to Jesus, we recognize He is able to be the “author and finisher of our faith.”

 

SEEK FOR HUMILITY The door to God’s favor is found in humility. You will never reach the top by putting others down. Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life. Yes, you have been hurt. Yes, you have been offended. Yes, you were treated wrong. Humbly take it all to Jesus and humbly seek His presence in your everyday life. Humble yourself as a child of God, not because of your offenses but because of God’s enabling ability to carry you.

 

COMMIT TO RIGHT ACTIONS AND DELETE REACTIONS Begin a mental practice of actions when confronted with a variety of possible scenarios where you possibly could see yourself being hurt again. “I will honor and respect those around me despite how they use me, speak to me or hurt me.” You are responsible for your actions but you are not responsible for other’s reactions.

 

ALLOW JESUS TO RELEASE YOU FROM THE OFFENDER’S

POWER TO CONTROL YOUR REACTIONS.

 

PRAY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT Pray through to a breakthrough. Jesus heals and in His presence, there is a refreshing wave of His freedom. Find a quiet place and stay in His presence until you know within your heart and mind you have been freed and the chains have fallen off. Your deliverance is key to your spiritual health. Stephen, a New Testament deacon was stoned for his beliefs. As the rocks hit hard across his head and body, he shouted for all to hear, “Lord, lay not this sin against them.” When he died, witnesses around him saw his face as the countenance of an angel. God can change your countenance in the face of your fiercest opposition.

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counseling or professional advice.

 

How to CHANGE Your Pastor

Have you noticed how many people find it easier to complain and criticize? It is clear some part-time church goers fail to show appreciation for the prayers, phone calls and encouraging messages received from the Pastor. Lifeway.com reports, American pastors are leaving their church after 4 or 5 short years. Conflict, criticism, comparisons and complaining are the four major reasons plus, burnout, financial stress, integrity issues or marital conflict. Pastor’s are facing untold daily pressures adding to the load of their weekly ministry.
CONFLICT When words, attitudes and actions stretch beyond the bounds of Christian behavior the pastor sees no recourse but to leave the church, believing the issue at stake will not settle otherwise.
CRITICISM Sharp barbs are thrown as pastors are expected to live up to people’s unrealistic expectations. When the spiritual level of the church is down and the morale is low, criticisms spike upward as “someone is looking to blame someone.”
COMPARISONS Whether church members are comparing the local church with a neighboring church or comparing their pastor with another pastor the weight of comparison is difficult to manage. Contentment is destroyed by comparison. Comparison will kill a marriage and it will kill a pastor.
COMPLAINING It may not be a direct accusation against another member but it is the consistent static of a grumbling body of believers obstructing the work of God and stifling mission the church. To complain is to decrease the believers walk with Christ and reduce the opportunity for revival. One recorded prayer request from Jesus cries, “May they be one as the Father and I are one.”
Can we reduce the obstructions to change short term pastors into long term pastors? Can we CHANGE the mood from negative behavior to positive actions? I believe the answer is a resounding, “YES!” The following list is not conclusive but will graduate the church to a mature and healthy congregation and change your pastor.
PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR Nothing will change the pastor’s ministry and change your heart as intentional prayer for the pastor. Nothing will change the atmosphere or the chemistry of the church as believers calling upon God for divine intervention. Beverly Hylton, a pastor’s wife,  posted, “A pastor’s greatest asset is praying people.”
PLAN TO BE AN ENCOURAGER An encourager is a bright light in the darkest nights of discouragement and depression. A believer who allows God to use them to uplift the pastor can be pivotal to the life and future of the church. Anyone can complain but it takes a dedicated man or woman to encourage a downhearted leader. Hur and Aaron were used of God to uphold the weary arms of Moses during the battle, we can do no less for our pastor.
PARTCIPATE IN MINISTRY Sometimes what a pastor needs is someone who will volunteer. Something as simple as mowing the yard while he is gone to a conference or on vacation, washing the fellowship dinner dishes, cleaning up the nursery, preparing for an outreach, watching the children’s class and giving the regular teacher a break. An excited member can turn the anxiousness of the pastor into expectation as he visualizes the vision is being passed on. He has preached vision, planned vision and prayed vision and it is exciting to see a church member meet with the pastor about fleshing out the vision.
PARTNER IN GIVING The statistics are rough – some churches are seeing as little as 25% of the congregation tithing and only 15% giving to missions, youth or other church ministries. Often times the pastor’s salary is cut to accommodate for the rising cost or insurance, utilities or building updates. The pastor’s salary should be reviewed yearly with a cost of living raise, bonuses and special occasion gifts (birthday, Christmas, anniversary and conference expenses). Members should be expected to tithe of their income to the local church but special gifts and offerings to the pastor should be the norm for active church members. We must remember the church operates as a business but lives as a church.
POSITIVE PERSONALITY A believer with a smile and a kind word is a delight to God. Positive people may disagree but they disagree with a kind spirit. A believer who is motivated to please God, assertively promoting the church and joyfully entering into worship will emphatically change the impact of the local church. The first impression of visitors will be one of joyfulness, attracting them to return. Pastors are in a dire need of positive believers to gather in chorus around them. Supporting them to continue preaching and praying, “Your ministry is making a difference in my life.”

What are some ways you encourage your pastor?
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.

WHAT IS A FACEBOOK FAST?

“Every time I scroll through Facebook, I see an acquaintance bragging about their dynamic spiritual life, perfectly obedient children, and vibrant career. I want that for my life, but I seriously don’t know where they find the time.” (echurch quote)
Facebook has become the idol of many. Facebook is the connection tool from February 4, 2004, created by two Harvard University students to keep the classmates in touch with profiles, posts and pictures. Now some 2 billion people use Facebook, some checking Facebook multiple times per day. Mobile FB has made it easy for users to check their status or their friend’s status many times throughout the day sometimes creating an addiction to “likes” and “shares”.

The problem is, while we connect with others we have found ourselves drowning in a pool of information, an addiction to “being in the loop” and a host of other philosophical dilemmas. Facebook addiction is common and there is even a Facebook Addiction Test online. (Now I know you are secretly going to see how you score on it – aren’t you?).
Maybe it is time for a Facebook fast. Occasionally I will read someone post, “I’m going to be off Facebook for a while.” Or, another will dramatically comment, “I can’t take the drama anymore – getting off FB.”

A Facebook fast is when a time is set aside away from Facebook for vacation, renwed focus or a fresh mental picture of life. Maybe it is time to take a Facebook Fast, let’s look at the next few reasons why a person would want to take a season of time to withdraw from Facebook.

FOCUS ON INVESTING IN INSPIRATION From Facebook to face look. Honestly, we could spend more time in prayer, Bible reading, and reflection, if we prayed to the proportionate amount of time we have been spending on FB we could settle into  peaceful and fulfilling spiritual refreshment.

CREATE REAL RELATIONSHIPS Instead of having platonic relationships via the computer, step into the real world and strengthen a relationship that is waning or fractured. Invite someone to have a cup of coffee or get together with another couple for lunch.

One of the major, hidden mental and emotional dangers of FB is to compare my life with my FB friends. Examine the list below and evaluate how many times we have compared ourselves to someone’s post.

WOW! Look where they went on vacation
My friend’s marriage is more romantic than mine
There children are so much better behaved
They have the dream life – my life is so ordinary
My friends just got a new car – we are still driving a “Junker”
How come they get to do that?
They must have a lot of money

“LIKES” AND “SHARES” DON”T DETERMINE YOUR SELF VALUE If we get minimal “likes” we have a bad day but if we get elevated “likes” it changes our mood and our emotions. There are people who really care for you but don’t express it openly on FB. Value is determined by who you are not a fabricated or perceived lifestyle on FB.

DEPRESSION ABATED Deep concern over our Facebook image can bring about bouts of depression. Finding ourselves with “nothing exciting to post” can bring us to a state of withdraw and intense loneliness. Connecting digitally while avoiding personal encounters can be damaging in our psychological and/or physical health. Taking a break and spending quality time with our family, friends or relatives can create healing bonds and emotional outlets. Having a week or month of not comparing weight, looks, opportunities, children, homes and other subjects could lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

FOCUS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES Is it just me or have you noticed how magnetized a person is to their phone, tablet or laptop while missing moments with their spouse, their children, their friends or other acquaintances? Several guests are having an important conversation and they are sitting in a corner sharing a comical post on FB. A FB fast may bring a renewed focus on what is important. Certainly we will have more time to devote to a hobby, family or other activities.

Let’s take a FB Break or a FB fast and give our emotions, mind and family a break. (Even though I’ll be participating in a FB Fast several posts may appear on FB through a Twitter post or with Buffer).Do you think a FB would help your family? What’s your thoughts about a FB Break?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.

A Different Kind of Book List

If you like reading then you may find yourself admiring the book list of bloggers, pastors, leaders and others who contribute. Often, you may find yourself grabbing one book off the list from Amazon, Christian Books, Barnes and Noble or any of the other myriads of booksellers available.
Life, work, family and ministry are ever changing and finding the right book for the right time is of utmost importance. However, most are lacking in a particular topic of interest. Going through my library it may be difficult to remember the content but remembering the episode of life around the book is clear.
Take for instance, being enrolled in Bible School with a full senior load, newly married and working a fulltime job was excruciatingly painful. My devotional time was nil, prayer was often a sleepy response at the end of the day and emotions were frayed. Someone handed me a book, Ordering Your Private World by Gordan MacDonald. My outside life rambled on in much of a chaotic state but my heart was full. While I may not remember all the content (I rereading it now) I do remember the experience in my life. Here is a compilation of my favorite books in topical preference leaning towards personal experience.

THE BUCKET LIST MENTALITY
I must confess my discontentment with boredom. I want to do it all, experience it all and be it all but in all honesty, I can’t. The book, Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald (as mentioned above), has helped be an anchor to discern between driven and the calling. I can’t always live with a bucket list mentality – it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of money, Yes, I have scratched numerous things off my bucket list but Ordering Your Private World has helped maintain sanity and focus. Worthy of mentioning also is, Today Matters by John C. Maxwell.

MY THOUGHT LIFE
Two quotes have arrested my attention, “The mind is an awful thing to waste” and “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” Purpose to think right, think well and fill up your mind appropriately. There are two book that have been essential in the area of clear and proper thinking, The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Myers and Thinking for a Change by John C. Maxwell. One book, that I wholeheartedly recommend, is the classic, Guarding Your Heart by Dr. Gary Rosberg.

HEART AFLAME
Passion must be rekindled and the books are numerous but I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorites but anything by Leonard Ravenhill is worth reading and taking into the prayer closet with you. John Bevere has two books that moved me closer to God, Drawing Near, The Fear of the Lord and A Heart Ablaze. Dr. Bruce Wilkinson’s book, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthrough is a must. I would certainly be amiss if I didn’t mention the classic A. W. Tozer and his works.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP
Just go into any bookstore and the shelves will be filled with church management, church leadership and books for pastors but there are only a few that stand out peering over the shelves. Anything by Thomas Rainer will be attractive but particularly the book that has been read and re-read and alluded to in my congregational messages has been the book by Charles Swindoll, The Church Awakening. A terrific book for pastors burdened by comparison, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, by Kent and Barbara Hughes, the title says it all. Last, but certainly not least, for leaders, a personal book for the inner life, The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero.

While this list is far from complete it does provide a small list of books for the avid reader to check out for his or her self. However, there is one book, I must mention, which covers all of the above scenarios, The Holy Bible, and I wholeheartedly endorse its contents.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.

 

 

Seven Steps to Subdue Conflict

Conflict is inevitable. It is not our intention to cause friction but leadership, by its own rite, will have disagreements, varied opinions and even abrupt disapproval. People are people and will always be people. People who know people will collide with people.
We may not have the ability to avoid conflict but we do have the ability to subdue conflict. Let’s look at Seven Steps to Subdue Conflict:

Communicate Carefully Thoughtless words quickly turn against us. Carefully chosen words can be the most influential method of avoiding undue criticism and conflict. To stir up conflict because of our negative tones, overbearing demands and blatant arguments are unnecessary. Weigh out your words, carefully think it out and in difficult situations, check your statement with someone else to get their opinion.

Affirmation In negative environments it may seem impossible to give affirmation to an offending party but it can be done. “Before we begin our discussion, I would like to say how much I appreciate the hard work of X in our Children’s Department last Friday, the decorations were excellent and I commend you.” This affirmation can cool off the hot heads, catch the opposition totally off guard and may quell the conflict to a point.

Stick With The Facts Conflict only gets worse when you neglect to solve the problem and it becomes a personal assault. A personal attack is the most difficult of all conflicts. We should resolve early in the disagreement, it is not Bob’s problem or Sally’s problem – it is A problem. Shred gossip with facts, dismiss fairy tales, silence all lies and stick with the facts. Stay on course with the issue without naming individuals – most often, people will rally around a truth before they will rally against a person.

Attitude is Everything When everyone has lost their cool they have already lost the argument. Stay cool. Dismiss any illogical thoughts of gaining ground by raising your voice. A quiet, calm steady voice may not win the argument but it will win people. Claim meekness but never intimidation. My friend, Jim Durham states, “Your convictions combined with your humility may even attract others to your viewpoint.” Stand firm with a right spirit. “I know where I stand, I know what I believe and I can do it with the right spirit.”

Negotiate Some may think compromise in any position is a sign of weakness but negotiation to an agreed position is a sign of mature leadership, not weakness. You have the power to create a win-win situation by a carefully and well planned strategy. Again, Jim Durham suggests, “Be willing to compromise on nonessentials… Let go of what isn’t important.” Performing under pressure doesn’t necessarily means “someone blows up,” but actually the opposite – performing under pressure keeps someone from blowing up. When we try to demeanor a person(s) until all submit to a strong leadership style you may have subjects but you won’t have disciples.

Respect Before meeting with antagonistic opposition set the ground rules. Let’s suggest a few.
• “The meeting will begin at 7:00 and will end by 8:30. If we aren’t finished with business we will set another time as soon as possible.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting STRUCTURE.
• “We will respect everyone in the room. No name calling, raising our voice or expressions of anger will be tolerated or that person will be asked to leave the room.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting SANCTITY
• “We will stick with the problem and stick with the facts. Gossip and hearsay will not be allowed and personal attacks will not be tolerated – we are here to discuss the major problem not personality problems.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting STABILITY

With looking each person in the eye and asking for agreement you are building consensus and a mutual feeling of respect for everyone in the room. It is essential for a leader to respect people – even when they disagree. A mature leader will never lower their integrity to the oppostitions lack of it.

Pray Personally I believe we should pray before and after the meeting and occasionally the leader may want to bring the group to prayer in the heat of the meeting. Pray for wisdom, respect, brotherly love and God’s purpose be fulfilled in the meeting.

Personally, the leader must find a secret place with God and pray for wisdom, understanding and the presence of God. Oswald Chambers writes, “The reason the battle is not won is because I try to win it in the external world first. Get alone with God, fight it out before Him, settle the matter there once and for all.”

You won’t always win everyone and you won’t always win in every conflict but walking away with a clear conscience is the major win of all.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.

 

 

AM I STILL IN GOD’S WILL?

The will of God has been identified as purpose, God’s plan, His purpose or life fulfillment. Yet good hearted, sensitive and even, prayerful individuals are ever seeking for the “will of God.” The will of God is nearer than you think. For most the will of God is already brewing in your heart. Your passion is mostly the will of God burning in your soul. The thing you most like to do has been implanted in your heart and magnified throughout life to reveal God’s perfect will for your life.
Purpose cannot be defined in a day but it can be revealed to you in one day. You may not understand the where and the when and the how but once you know the why then God’s will be defined to you within one day.

YOUR INNER HEART ALREADY KNOWS THE WHY

BUT YOU MUST SEEK GOD TO RECOGNIZE IT.

There is the general will and the specific will of God. The general will of God can apply to a lot of somebodies but the specific will of God is for you and relatively few others. Let me illustrate by saying a lot of Americans own a car but the car you own has a title with a specific VIN # that uniquely makes it yours. While it is God’s general will to follow His command to “Go ye into all the world…” it is God’s specific will for an exact location for you.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL BECAUSE YOU FAILED. Failure in one area doesn’t mean you failed in all areas. Just because you struck out doesn’t mean you lost the ballgame. A fumble is embarrassing but doesn’t mean you can’t score a touchdown in the next quarter.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD BECAUSE IT IS HARD. Life is hard. Nobody promised it would be easy. Climbing is hard but the exhilarating view from the top of the mountain is worth it. The place God put you may be difficult at times but God wouldn’t have placed you there had He not had the confidence in you that you would endure, have the tenacity of a bulldog and win.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD BECAUSE IT IS INCONVENIENT Similar to begin hard yet different. Inconvenient means it is not a comfortable ride. You can drive to California in a bus and it may be more inconvenient than to fly in a plane but you arrive at the same destination.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD BECAUSE OTHERS DON’T AGREE WITH YOU Go to trusted counsel, express your feelings to a mentor or pour your heart out to your pastor but all friends may not feel about the “will of God” as you do. This is not an excuse for independence but after seeking the advice from experienced and caring counsel; get ready to watch minor reactions of negativity from others as you pursue your journey.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD WHEN YOUR FEELINGS CHANGE. Just ask the thermometer if change is inevitable. Feelings come and go but the will of God doesn’t change with your feelings. Stay firm, be determined to follow through and put your seat belt on until your roller coaster emotions are more predictable.

NEVER MAKE A CHANGE IN THE DARK – SEEK TRANSITION ONLY IN THE LIGHT

Comment: How do you follow God’s plan and purpose for your life?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

SEVEN WAYS SMALL CHURCH PASTORS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK

If you are reading about the status of the church in America you probably have read some pretty depressing news. I have both good and bad news; I will give you the bad news first; there is plenty of bad news. But there is good news; you don’t have to become a part of the bad news.
Refuse to settle, to cope or “just get by.” Rise again with hope, faith and zeal. It’s hard. We have all felt the despair to the point of “giving up.” The problem has always been, we don’t know where to go when we “give up.”
We have always wished there was encouragement for small church pastors that wasn’t coming from a glossy magazine and a “large church” pastor. “I appreciate the concern but when you use ministry words in your large church they mean totally something else in the small church.” What works for 1000, 500 or even 200 doesn’t necessarily fit the small church.
But there are some areas of ministry that will work in the small church. Read the list below. There may be more or maybe, a couple items need to be deleted. This list may need to be refined and tailor made for your location and, as always, feel free to add your ideas in the comments below.

FIND OUT WHAT MAKES YOUR CHURCH UNIQUE IN THE COMMUNITY
In the small church it is absolutely essential to discover the history to know the future; if it is good, major on it. If it is bad, recreate it. Find out what makes your church click or better yet, what is the one thing you do or could do making your church unique in your community.

Go down to the local coffee shop and see what the locals are talking about.
Ask your church to brainstorm and find your brand or uniqueness.
Find a need in the community and begin to meet the need through your church.

REACH OUT TO THE CIRCLES WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITY
Everybody in the local church knows somebody but not everybody is inviting everybody they know. Here is a suggestion, have everyone in your church write down three family members living in the area that don’t go to church and invite them to your next church service and church dinner. Why church dinner? Because it gives your guest a reason to stay and fellowship. (Make sure they don’t sit at a table by themselves).
The next service recognize the members who brought the visitors. Take your time and do it sincerely – this is a phenomenal moment for your church and will cause other members to invite visitors. The big church calls it “creating the invite culture.”

SOME CHURCHES RECOGNIZE THE VISITORS
BUT WHY NOT RECOGNIZE THE MEMBERS WHO BROUGHT THE VISITORS.

The next month you are getting ready for a church supper invite the same ones again. After a few months you can have the members invite neighbors, community people or their work acquaintances. Keep expanding the circle and keep acknowledging the church members – it may take six months before you see any results but keep at it.

PREACH TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU
Disgruntled members can drag a pastor and his message to the ground but great advice came from a friend, a few years ago, during the roughest time of our ministry. “Find those who love you and preach to them.” It totally changed the atmosphere of the worship service and changed the preaching style. Don’t watch the angry faces of the “mob” but preach to the glowing faces of those who stand with you.
You can’t control the mob but you can control your attitude. Find a happy place in the congregation and preach the Word. The pulpit is not a place to air dirty laundry or vent frustration with the board. The sacred desk is the grounds on which God anoints His word. Preach the Word.
RESPECT EVERYONE SINCERELY
No matter where you are in ministry, five months or 35 years, respect is the greatest characteristic a pastor can possess. “You may disrespect me but I will not disrespect you.” The respect you give to others will follow your ministry for many years.

INVEST IN THE ONE THING THAT BRINGS THE BEST RESULTS
Look at your ministry and begin to focus on the one thing that brings you the most fruit. Evaluate your calendar and rearrange your schedule to adopt more time into that one thing. Invest in that one thing. Begin to sow seeds into that one thing.
A field of flowers takes months before the first blossom blooms and ministry planted in the right field will, in its time, bring the fruit you were hoping to bear. There are no silver bullets in ministry but there are seeds that need to be sown in the right field.

SPEND TIME ALONE WITH GOD
This can never be stressed enough but your prayer life is the stage upon your ministry will stand or fall. Pastors need personal prayer to energize their public ministry. When no one understands how you feel – Jesus does.

Set a definite time.
Set a definite place.
Set a definite devotional.
Set a definite heart upon Jesus.

Maybe it is a good time to slip into the church auditorium, bow your head before a holy God and cry out for strength, anointing, vision and life. Oftentimes, a short time spent alone with God will be the encouragement you needed. Let Him hear your voice, let Him hear your heart beat, let Him hear your innermost needs.

SPEND TIME WITH YOUR WIFE
Rarely will a small church pastor feel he has the time or the money to treat his wife like he wants to treat her. You’re thinking steak dinner, night out, overnight stay, a cruise or an elaborate vacation. Spending time with your wife can be a walk around the neighborhood. Grilling out on the patio. Visiting with some nearby friends. Or drinking a cup of coffee together in the morning.
If you were to resign and leave your church you will not measure the days you wished you had spent more time working in the church but you will evaluate each day you wished you had spent more time with your wife.

YOUR WIFE IS YOUR MINISTRY

Tell her how you feel, let her know your heart is with her, tell her she is special to you. Tell her she is an integral part of your ministry and you need her alongside you. If you plan to change your ministry this week changing your marriage attitude would be the starting point.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling.

The Small Church Pastor

It is interesting to note 60% of America’s churches run 60 or less but regardless of the size we can all do better to encourage, support, pray for and be a friend to the small church pastor.
This is a non-comprehensive list of items you may or may not find true of a small church pastor

1. He gets a late night call form a member who found a hymn book had been colored with a Crayola and he thinks he knows who did it.
2. Somebody was off-key Sunday during the song service and there was a call Monday morning, “Who is going to do something about it?” (Meaning the pastor is expected to do something about it).
3. The testimony service took a turn Sunday night when Sis Smith started “testifying” about her “old man’s” colonoscopy results.
4. The trash from last month’s social wasn’t taken out and a deacon meeting was called to see who is responsible.
5. Door to door visitation was poorly attended with one teenager, an older women and one child.
6. The Sunday School offering was larger than the tithe offering. Disgruntled members were the cause.
7. The sermon went over seven minutes according to the head deacon.
8. The same busy body who spread something about Sis Smith has now sided with Sis Smith against the Pastor’s wife.
9. A ninety-two year old faithful member fell asleep again during the Sunday morning message.
10. A wasp flew in the back door and caused more excitement than the song service.

Hopefully you had a good laugh at this exaggerated post but truthfully the small church pastor has a tremendous load and can be applauded for many services to the church and community. Here is a non-comprehensive list of items you may or may not find true of a small church pastor.

1. Often the Pastor and his wife are the only ones who show up for the Monday night prayer meeting.
2. If the special speaker is to receive a decent offering for the Sunday Morning message the Pastor and his wife are usually the ones who gave sacrificially.
3. The small church pastor often has to put gas on his credit card so he can go to hospital to visit an ailing church member.
4. The small church pastor and his wife are not applauded enough and criticized too much.
5. The small church pastor is usually the one inviting new people to the church.
6. The small church pastor is tired, stays up late, works a job, visits the sick and organizes events and spends Saturdays mowing the church yard.
7. The small church pastor is underpaid but he is expected to drive a nice car that represents the church well.
8. The small church Pastor’s children are often expected to live exemplary lives – no mistakes allowed
9. The small church pastor’s education, books and seminars are usually at his own expense.
10. The small church pastor’s vision is waning because only a few catch the vision.

Merely knowing the problem but not doing something about the problem will only allow the problem to get worse. Here is a short list of ideas to encourage our small church pastors – start today

1. Slip the small church pastor some money for dinner at a nice restaurant
2. Give the pastor’s wife some money to go shopping with
3. Evaluate his salary and considering a substantial raise
4. Take notes of the pastor’s sermon
5. Offer to mow the yard while the pastor and his family are away at a conference or vacation
6. Offer to babysit the pastor’s children so he and his wife can go out on a date
7. Pray for them daily
8. Stomp out gossip
9. Be a volunteer
10. Encourage your pastor with complimentary words

There are many things we can add to the list – what do you think?

 

20 Reasons Why I Go To Church

Someone who was missing church gipped, “I can live for God and not go to church.” Really? But why would you want to? The Bible is clear about church attendance and below are Twenty Reasons Why I Go to Church

1. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Don’t you want to be an integral part of something Jesus is building? Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
2. Often, it is not leaving the church that is as wrong as WHY you left it. God warns of the “root of bitterness.” 1 John 2:9-10 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
3. Our children are to follow our footsteps, “Parents that treat the Church as optional shouldn’t be surprised when their children treat Jesus as unnecessary.” – Benjamin Leonard
4. “The gates of hell will not prevail against the church” Don’t you want to join a body of believers who believe in the same causes? Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
5. The early church joined in fellowship, breaking bread and prayer – corporate prayer is essential to the body of Christ. The church provides this opportunity. Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
6. “Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together” is not a suggestion. Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
7. The church is a body and Jesus is the head – the umbrella of protection is essential to each believer. The church provides this opportunity. Colossians 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
8. Tithe is the responsibility of the believer and my church provides a storehouse for my giving. Even the disciples participating in giving to the church. 1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
9. Church provides a central location for others to receive help. James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
10. Church gives me a place of personal accountability. 3 John 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
11. Church is a lighthouse set upon a hill to bring people together of “like precious faith.” Matthew 5:14-15 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
12. The Word of God preached at church is personal and directed for the salvation of the lost. Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
13. Water baptism is a step of obedience and church provides this opportunity. Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
14. Communion is an ordinance of the church and the church provides this opportunity. 1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (Previous verses state communion was done in the church).
15. Testimonies of changed lives is an inspiration in my life and church provides this opportunity. Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
16. Church is for singing and musical expression in a group of people. Colossians 3:16 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.
17. Church is a place for Bible Study, growth and discipleship, which everyone needs to grow in the Lord. We should delight in it. Psalms 122:1 A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
18. Jesus said Church is the house of prayer. We go to church to pray. Simple. Mark 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
19. Jesus Christ is coming back for a glorious church – I know this is not talking about an actual building but the body of Jesus Christ but still – the church is a place where glory resides. Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
20. Church in the Greek is the word Ekklesia and it means “called out ones” – if you don’t called to church who are you called out with? Who are your associations?

Maybe you need to ask yourself are you a giver or a receiver? If you are truly a giver you will want to be in the house of God to give worship, praise, thanks and to serve others.

Can you add some more biblical reasons why we go to church?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling.