Hold On

She looked at me with hopelessness as deep as the ocean in her eyes. “I’m tired of holding on to a dream that seems more elusive with each passing day.” Then she literally screamed through her tears, “What’s the point of hoping my husband will change when he’s more abusive now than ever before?”

Have you ever held on to a dream for so long that it’s become a nightmare? What once filled you with hope and gave you strength now sucks the marrow right out of your bones. Your dreams, your prayers, and your promises from God seem to mock you now and leave you in a cesspool of despair.

Maybe it’s not been weeks or months, but years and decades of waiting. For a season, you prayed hard and believed in faith for great things, but your prayers are only whimpers now and you can smell the stench of bitterness growing in your soul.

“Will my son ever be free of drugs?”

“Will I ever get pregnant?”

“Will I ever find a spouse and the love of my life?”

If one more person tells you to “hold on,” you’re going to hurt somebody! If you hear “let…

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Want to pray powerful prayers? Charles Spurgeon once said, “Prayer moves the arm that moves the world.”

One of my mentors, Grady Higgs, often says that “nothing heavenly happens on earth without prayer.”

In other words, there are things God is willing to do – wants to do – but He has chosen to do them only in response to prayer.

Prayer, then, is like a great joint venture between the Creator and His creatures. In prayer, we join forces with the God of the universe to accomplish His will around us. He asks us to do the asking, and then he responds by answering.

Jesus even gave us a model for prayer that included praying “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” So in prayer, God’s will is accomplished around us in much the same way that His will is accomplished in the heavenly realm, where angels attend to His desires at all times.

If all of this is true, then…

Powerful Prayers Are a Partnership

Don’t misunderstand. It’s not that we accomplish anything with the help of God, nor is it that God accomplishes anything with the help of humankind.

God is transcendent,…

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Bad Leadership

We’ve all worked for terrible leaders. The bosses who made us want to quit. The manager who forced us to rethink our entire life plan. The supervisor who drove us insane and caused an emotional breakdown.

I remember one leader that I worked for whom I would definitely call terrible. In the words of Charles Barkley – he was “turrible.” I didn’t want to work when he was working. I was filled with anxiety on the way to work, unsure of what he was going to do and how he was going to make me feel. He was mean, sarcastic, and only cared about himself and how he looked.

Have you worked for this guy, too?

And, as much as I want to totally bash this guy . . . I have to admit that being a leader, at any level, is hard. It’s full of ups and downs, uncertainty, and unpredictable people. Because leading is so hard, it can put us in a position where we can seem terrible ourselves.

I’m sure you’re like me – you don’t want to be known as the terrible leader either. It can happen quickly and without warning. But…

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Offering All

 

By Bill Natalzia, NE Regional Director, Celebrate Recovery

“You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet — and before God” (1 Peter 4:3-5 The Message).

This verse tells us that we must be finished with our old way of life for good. Drunkenness comes in many ways. Not the least of this is the recreational use of marijuana. Recreational marijuana is all the rage nowadays. One state after another is passing laws that accept this behavior. As Christ-followers we know different, and to follow the beat of this drummer is what the apostle Paul refers to in Romans 12 as “conforming to this world.” He goes on to write that we are transformed in Christ by the renewing of our mind. Here is the catch — you cannot renew a mind clouded…

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Recovery Road

My name is Doug, and I’m a faithful believer in Jesus who’s in recovery for substance abuse. I grew up in a good, God-fearing home. I have two wonderful parents that loved and provided for me. You could say that I had a good childhood, but a very sheltered one. I was 15 years old the first time I smoked marijuana. I liked it! I liked the way it made me feel, carefree and very chilled out. At first it was only a once-in-a-while thing at parties or camping out with friends on the weekends. It didn’t take long for this to become an every-chance-I-could experience to eventually an everyday habit. At first I didn’t buy it, just smoking when someone around me had it. Eventually I was not only buying it, but getting some for other people. This was the beginning of years of dealing drugs to feed my own habit.

I wish I could say that marijuana was where I drew the line, but I went to places where other drugs were also available. Marijuana brought me into a drug culture where people were buying and selling all kinds of drugs.

When…

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We live in what is commonly referred to as the Information Age. Since the 1970s, the use of computers and readily available digital data have transformed the way we think and function. I recently did a Google search on the word politics. I got over one million search results! If you want to know anything about everything, it’s out there in cyberspace just waiting for a simple keystroke.

But is there a downside to being so data-rich?

Before I go any further, let me clearly say, I am not promoting ignorance in this post. As a pastor, author, blogger, husband, father, and occasional fix-it man, I’m grateful for search engines that can take me to the information I need. Knowledge is good. Learning is great. Information is valuable. I’m not advocating a return to the dark ages or any outdated view of technology. I like my Mac, thank you very much.

That being said, here’s my concern: I wonder if some have made an idol out of knowledge. Is it possible that the abundance of information has made them arrogant? More…

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The prophet Jeremiah once encouraged the people of his day to, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16 NIV).

Rest. That’s the promise.

Why do you do what you do in ministry? What’s driving you? Better yet, how do you understand what you are doing in ministry? What is your sense of what faithfulness to Jesus looks like in the context of your efforts in the local church?

We live in a time when fewer and fewer ministry leaders have a clear idea of what it is they’re supposed to be doing. As a result, we run this way and that, breathlessly trying to keep pace with our peers. We go from one fad and fashion to the next, from one movement or ideology to the next, from one book or conference to the next, desperate to find the elusive holy grail of effectiveness. There’s a reason many leaders struggle with chronic anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

Be honest now. How many times have you read a book, attended a conference, or…

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Thinking

When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption. But Jesus was ambitious about building his church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the promised land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back?

We tend to confuse humility with fear.

Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. All of us are a bundle of both great strengths and great weaknesses; humility is being able to be honest about both. Paul was able say, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” because he was honest about his weaknesses. In addition he said, “I’m the chief among sinners.” So he writes down both his strengths and his weaknesses.

God wants you to be humble, but he does not want you to be fearful. And to not accomplish anything is not humility, but fear. Don’t worry about God humbling you. He has plenty ways to do that. Worry that you might not be all that he wants you to be because of fear.

We…

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Relationships are like bridges in that they have to be built intentionally. They carry a lot of weight. A relationship can break down neglect, conflict, or from misunderstanding. 

Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship?

The Bible tells us that the secret to great relationships, is humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward on another” (NIV).

You’re not dressed for successful relationships until you’ve learned the quality of humility.

The cross shows that you are infinitely valuable but you are also deeply flawed. Humility is keeping those two things in balance. Humility is having a realistic evaluation of yourself. It is does not mean denying your strengths, but rather it’s being honest about your weaknesses. 

Humility, essentially, is loving God and loving other people, thinking about God and thinking about other people more than yourself. 

One of the reasons why so many relationships fall apart is because, frankly, many people are unwilling to do the serious difficult work that humility requires. There are five steps that you can take in humbly restoring a broken relationship.

1. Ask…

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Charts

Instead of counting Christians, we need to weigh them. – Dallas Willard

Clear vision requires clarity about the results you are after. Any result you might desire for your ministry will fit into three broad categories – input results, output results, and impact results.

Input Results

Input results in the church focus on the number of people and dollars that come into the church. Input results are important. You don’t have a church without them. It’s also important to measure input results. You can’t lead well without knowing them.

Common ways we talk about input results include the ABCs (attendance, buildings and cash) or “nickels and noses” or “butts and bucks.”  Every week, thousands of churches across the land will print their input results on a worship bulletin or review them in the next elders meeting. Input results inform the functional dashboard of the American church.

Output Results

Output results refer to actual life-change outcomes that God intends for followers of Christ individually and together. Examples of output results include the quality of a believer’s prayer life, the skillfulness in sharing the Gospel, or the development of patience as one of the fruits of the Spirit.

There are hundreds of biblical phrases and…

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Bikes

Summer is a great time to reflect on your leadership. You are between the “start of the year” season of ministry and the “fall season,” wrapping up the end of the year. In my personal life, each month, I look at my spiritual health planner to see where I’m at with spiritual goals, course correct, and the push into next month. It’s like my spiritual tune-up.

The same is true for my leadership. For me, summer is a season when I can take a deep breath, pause, and evaluate. I like to look at five attributes of my leadership that affect our church’s Small Group Ministry.

Am I taking a risk?

Comfort zones can be stabilizing places, but they can also be a barrier to the next level of ministry for you and your team. A good question to ask yourself is – Where are you taking a risk in ministry? When I use the word, “risk”, I mean, is there a new way you need to do ministry that may be better? If money wasn’t a barrier, what would you do?

Once you answer that, what are different ways to accomplish that goal with the funds…

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One key? Is that even possible?

Many of the books I’ve read and the speakers I’ve listened to have listed out way more than one key. Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success offers 17 principles of personal achievement. Grant Cardone teaches about a dozen rules for success. Jim Rohn, in this classic 90-minute talk, gives way more than one key.

I don’t want to argue with any of those people. They, and so many more leaders like them, are smarter and more experienced than i am.

But I’ve discovered a principle in the Bible, in business, and even in my own life that has me convinced there is a pattern to be observed. There is one principle of success I see repeated time and again. So here’s my assertion . . .

The one big key to becoming a successful person is giving your life to making the lives of others better.

If you decide today to give your life – and by “life” I mean your time, your attention, your resources – to making the lives of other people better, you will discover success….

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