PRIDE KEEPS SHOWING UP AND SHOWING OUT

Pride shows its hand in multiple instances when we demand our way over the lives of others. Pride loves applause, clamouring for center stage. We cherish the “pat on the back,” wish for acclaim, and we do all we can to win the approval of others. Not all talented people are proud, not all handsome or beautiful people are proud, not all rich people are proud. But richly defined, pride steals the attention for ourselves. Turning each conversation around to yourself, even when the story is about another person.

 

Pride is the epidemic of self, flesh puffed up. It majors on our territory at the expense of other’s needs. Craving the limelight, crashing the party, and pouting when not acknowledged. Pride is the onslaught of humility, the massacre of motivation and the destruction of benevolence. It is difficult to care for someone else when we are working so hard to build our own statue.

 

THE STRUGGLE FOR CONFIDENCE
We like to be accepted. There is a healthy approach to winning friends and influencing people while finding our confidence is in Jesus Christ. We are who we are, we do what we do, and we operate in the gifts by the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. Confidence is in a close and viable relationship with Jesus, to pull away strikes at our confidential level but to draw near to Him brings confidence to a higher level.

STOP CONSTRUCTION
Don’t build your own statue. Building yourself up is pride and is an indicator of inner needs of emotional security. Maturity ceases building confidence and security on “what I have done,” while humility stops construction of pride and confesses “all that Jesus has done.”

DEFLECT ALL THE GLORY TO HIM
We are a mirror, not a solar panel. A solar panel absorbs sunlight to generate electricity. While this illustration is not comprehensive, it illustrates the point. Pride is when we absorb the applause and praise for our self. A mirror reflects light and humility deflects praise to Jesus. One friend said it like this, “Give the glory to Jesus and not keep it to yourself.”

CONFESS ARROGANCE
Confess it to Jesus. We may struggle from time to time with pride. It will rise but with confession bring it to Christ and watch pride diminish in our life. Walk with the Lord each day and allow the Spirit of God to infiltrate your life.

 

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 or professional advice.

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Does Holiness and Grace Clash?

Often within the church, debate opponents, are required to take the grace side or the holiness side. Those who prefer liberty in thought and action often refer to the holiness side as rigid, legalistic or law keepers. Those who prefer the “narrow way” often refer to the grace side as liberal and worldly. These two have clashed since the biblical portions of scripture have been penned, often leaving no room for reconciliation.
There are differences in people and interpretation as noted in Mark 15;25 When Jesus is crucified at nine in the morning and John 19;24 records Jesus as crucified at “six in the morning.” Jesus could have been crucified either in the middle of the two hours or Mark and John writing of two different events leading up to the crucifixion. Did the crucifixion occur at the whipping, the actual cross bearing, at Golgotha’s hill, or once the cross was raised?

While differences in people may develop different theological arguments the Holy Bible is the anchor of truth holding all hearts accountable.

Holiness, best defined, is the nature of God and defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “the quality or state of being holy. Grace, best defined, according to Webster’s Dictionary, as “the unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” The qualifying definition of both grace and holiness must be biblically defined, if we are to ascertain the truth of God’s Word. Sadly, we have adapted a “Christian worldview” that has become increasingly apart from a “biblical worldview.”
In the Old Testament, God is referenced as HOLINESS, Kadesh, sacred, consecrated, or hallowed. Because God is holy, (Isaiah 6), he can set apart and consecrate, and He did make holy:
Holy Habitation
Holy Sabbath
Holy Nation
Holy Men
Holy Garment
Holy Gifts
Holy Crown
Holy Anointing Oil
And much more, it appears what God touched, consecrated and set apart were made holy.

In the New Testament, we  are determined by God to live holy. Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And commanded to be holy, 1 Peter 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Holy is not to be fought against but actually we are to be passionate for His nature of holiness to live within us. Resistance, struggle and disobedience are enemies of God’s holiness. 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

If I am responsible to allow the nature of God, holiness, to flourish within me, doesn’t this contradict grace?, There is nothing I can do to be holy, or I am working for my salvation? And of course, the answer is, there is no clash. We can never work or be “good enough” to be saved, that is a works based salvation and it absolves the power of grace. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Grace and grace alone saves but when grace saves you, it also changes you.     2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
When the nature of God, holiness, is imparted in your life, the nature of God creates a new creature and you begin to adapt the nature of God to be your nature. Grace empowers you to live holy. Examine this verse carefully, notice grace opens the door for God’s nature of holiness to live within you. Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Grace and holiness are not opposites but actually partners in the path of salvation. Grace opens the door for the nature of God, holiness, to live within us. We are given grace to deny ungodliness, to deny worldly lusts, liver soberly, live righteously, live godly – all pointing us to God’s nature of holiness.

Holiness is not works but holiness is grace at work in our life and works will follow.

If the nature of God is within us then we will live, walk, talk, and act like God. Any other grace is simply a cheap or weak substitute.

God’s grace must “teach us” what ungodliness we should deny, what worldly lusts we should deny and how to live soberly, righteously and godly. That is grace and holiness in partnership to conform us into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

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, counselling or professional advice.

 

 

Revival and more…

Revival in the church, revival in the land and revival in me. Sounds like a good song and we need an awakening. A fresh encounter of the presence of God rising above cultural norms, western Christianity, and church normalcy.
Revival is to bring back something almost dead and to see new life in the near corpse-like body. In a spiritual sense, it is Ezekiel’s dry bones getting a new breath from heaven and the Spirit of life raising them into an army. Acts 2 enabled a doubting Thomas, a denying Peter, a running Mark, a “behind locked doors” disciples to become a church, “endued with power from up on high,” to “turn the world upside down.”
Revival is promised in Joel and later reiterated by Peter, “In the last days, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” This promise and others throughout scripture, including, “the sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings,” bring hope to churches and individuals scattered across the United States of America.
God is moving in some exclusive areas, the “pour out of my Spirit,” however it is more like a drizzle than a downpour. Don’t count me as negative because there have been souls saved, people healed and great deliverance in many people’s lives but compared to Acts we are in the sprinkling proceeding the downpour. We are seeing in small measures will be poured out in larger doses, we can believe God is about to do something far greater than what we have ever experienced.
However, we are facing dramatic instances of mass shootings, drug addiction is rampant, sexual perversions screaming for attention, demonism glorified in movies and video games, homeless families on the rise, epic criminal activity and a sense of hopelessness and despair.
We need revival.
It has moved from “we want revival” to “we need revival.”, we need to repent of apathy, repent of lethargy, repent of sleepiness, repent of hypocrisy, repent of selfishness and repent of prayerlessness.
Revival doesn’t come upon the smug. The comfortable. The self-reliant. The comfortable.
Revival comes to the hungry. The thirsty. The needy. The broken. The crying heart of His people.
We must be the conduit which revival comes through.
God is pouring out His spirit now. As the dove sent from Noah’s Ark, the dove scans the horizon, choosing a place for her foot, finding none she returns to the ark. Revival is in the wings of the morning sun, God is seeking for a people who crave Him, in desperation of His presence, crying for His Spirit to fill them.

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, counselling or professional advice.

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.”

IMG_2455

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.”

IMG_2442
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.

 

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.

 

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.