Archives For Discipleship

By Steve Gladen

This month is pretty special for me. I started the journey in fulltime ministry 29 years ago in the month of September. In some ways, that seems as if it was a lifetime ago. In other ways, it seems like just yesterday. Many times I sit back and say, “If I only knew then what I know today”. Although I can’t go back and rewind the tapes and do some things over, I can share with others and pray they don’t make similar mistakes or take careless risks. So, if we were to sit down and chat with another ministry leader, here are my top five pieces of advice for lasting in ministry.

This month is pretty special for me. I started the journey in fulltime ministry 29 years ago in the month of September. In some ways, that seems as if it was a lifetime ago. In other ways, it seems like just yesterday. Many times I sit back and say, “If I only knew then what I know today”. Although I can’t go back and rewind the tapes and do some things over, I can share with others and pray they don’t make similar mistakes…

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Earlier this month, Sandy and I spent a couple of relaxing days at Cape May, N.J., where the houses are Victorian, the breezes are fresh, and the beaches are wide. The only downer was the vicious cold I developed just in time for our little getaway. But even that couldn’t take away from the loveliness of our stay.

Actually, I used to be much more of a “downer” person. My tendency is to be introspective, perfectionist, even negative — and when looking within my own soul, I could catalog 10 thousand reasons why I didn’t measure up. I would stare within and find an awful lot not to like. Ever been there? I lived there.

Fact is, there’s always plenty of defect and stupidity and sin brewing around in our minds and hearts. Our actions, our desires, our thoughts, our words — they never do match up to the perfect standard of God’s . Not even close.

At Cape May, you can walk the wide beaches, and the sand seems almost infinite. Imagine trying to count not merely the smooth little stones that wash up but every grain of sand!…

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Consistency Counts

By Kelly Rhoades

Not Giving UpStatistically, this is the time of year when most people abandon the goals they set just a few weeks ago, giving into the idea that change is either hopeless or just too hard. We often give different names to the reasons for our failures:
Time – usually not enough of it.
Tough – the task is just too hard.
Terrible – to describe how you feel on the new diet, wake/sleep pattern, budget, etc.
The answer for most of these problems is simple though: maintaining consistency. Simple concept, yes, but difficult practice. The behaviors we repeat often define the reality of our lives. Aristotle may have said it best when he said:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Aristotle
You have probably heard that a habit can be created or broken in a matter of just 21 days. But more recent research has shown that this isn’t really accurate. The study reveals that the actual number is 66 days with variation of between 18 and 254 days depending on the specific habit being developed. Yes some habits are harder to form,…

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Life PlanWe’ve been talking about life plans as part of our Strongology as ministry leaders. If you’ve been following this blog for some time now, you know that Strongology is a lifestyle built for maximum ministry while eliminating burnout at the same time.

Are you considering developing your own life plan? Here are some resources to get you going in the right direction:

Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan eBook

Life Optimizer’s “A Guide To Creating Your Life Plan”

Lifehacker’s “How To Create Your Life Plan”

Personal Coach Package – Developing Your Life Plan

I believe every ministry leader must have a life plan if they are going to serve with full engagement, maximum performance and sustained health. This plan will look different from one person to another. Some will be very detailed. Others will be sketchy and powerful. The key is not to build your plan to look like anyone else’s. The key is to discover the life plan that works for you in a powerful, effective way.

Source: Serving Strong

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Inner PeaceAnd the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

If you lived in a frontier town constantly harassed by raiding parties from an enemy, one option for your military would be to send troops to actually live beside you. These troops would be garrisoned to your town, and their presence would not only provide protection during an attack; they, hopefully, would dissuade the enemy from even launching any more attacks.

This is the implication of Paul’s language in this passage; that the peace of God will be garrisoned within your heart and mind, providing an ever-present protection from within as opposed to the need to stressfully search the horizon for the Calvary to arrive just in the nick of time.

God’s peace and presence is closer than a brother, not a mental state reached by working yourself into it. Jesus became flesh and garrisoned among us (John 1:1–14), and now the Holy Spirit garrisons within us.

It’s a garrison of peace that mingles and indwells your heart and mind, protecting you even as it heals the wounds of worry…

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About 40 years ago, I was at a camp in the mountains. Alone in a room, I prayed, “God, if there is a God, I’m open. If you’re real, I want to know you’re real. And, Jesus Christ, if you can change my life, if there is a purpose for my life, I want to know it.”

You know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t get goose bumps. I didn’t cry. No bright lights shown down. Nothing.

But that was the turning point in my life – because I was no longer biasing myself against God. I wanted to know the truth, even if it was inconvenient.

As we teach our congregations, we need to help them understand that Truth can be discovered once we develop an attitude of openness that says, “I want to learn God’s Truth more than anything else.”

Once they understand this, we can explain that God uses these five ways to show us what is true. You can take these points and adapt them for use in your congregation —

1. Through creation — We learn a lot about God and a lot about truth just by looking at…

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HeartI tweeted earlier this week that:
“True believers are marked by their love. It flows from God through men and women to the world. Want to impact the world? #LoveSomebody”
I whole heartedly believe this is true. Last week I sat down with my friend Joel, a man I have much respect for whose love for God and others cannot help but splash out in the world around him. He shared a very moving story with me that I immediately knew had to be shared with our church. Please take a few minutes and watch this powerful video that tells the beautiful story of a simple act of compassion.
Sometimes we fail to do what we could because we feel it would be insignificant and of little effect. The truth is that while the small actions usually fail to garner publicity, they often have the greatest impact.
Mark 12:41-44 (NLT)
 41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
 43 Jesus called his disciples to him…

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Infinite Memory

By Steve Woodruff

Walking last evening in mid-town Manhattan, I was struck, as always, by the vast multitude of people, walking past and with me from all directions. At most, I will “know” these people in the fleeting depth of one glance, barely registering on my consciousness; soon unseated in my very limited memory by a million other sights and sounds and ideas and thoughts.

A chance visual encounter, never to be repeated; a passing glimpse that doesn’t even qualify as a passing acquaintance.

Yet – God, the Creator of us all, knows every one of those people down to the deepest atom of their bodies and souls. Every word, every thought – every moment of their lives. And millions of others in cities large and small throughout the world – towns and villages, too. And every one of our ancestors, generation after generation backwards through time – God knows and has known every person, every event, with undimmed clarity.

He even knows the unborn before we do. And the generations yet to come.

And that’s just our tiny little world. Now multiply by billions of galaxies, with countless trillions of stars – each of which God can recall by name.

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LaughingI hope the people at your church know it is okay to smile every once in a while.  Even laugh occasionally (but not during the pastor’s sermon, please!).  Sometimes I think we take the things that happen at church a bit too seriously.

Do you know what I mean?

No, I’m not talking about things like sin or theology or repentance or anything like that.  Certainly those things have their place and should always be taken quite seriously, indeed.

Actually, I’m talking about the lighter things that happen in and around your church.  Like the things that appear in your Sunday morning church bulletin, for example.

Rarely does anyone ever create the Sunday bulletin and then run it by the pastor or a few sanctified editors for things like punctuation, clarity, etc…but maybe we should.  Why do I say that, you ask?  Well, read the following list of actual church bulletin bloopers and you’ll understand why.

These are funny, embarrassing, hilarious, and…oh, just read them yourself.  Enjoy, and share them with someone at your church who needs a good laugh!

  1. Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
  2. Bertha Belch, a missionary from…

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SunsetGrowing up, I played a fair amount of golf. My parents would drop me off in the morning and pick me up later that afternoon.

Many days, I was by myself, just me and the narrow fairways.

There’s something epic about that picture to me, even now. Here’s the picture:

A 12 year old beating buckets of range balls on the dew-soaked ground until his hands callous over while the sun comes up. Walking 9 hours on a golf course by himself, evaluating every shot, pouring over every sliding putt. Kicking himself every drive that trickled into the second cut of rough. Spending hours on the putting green engraining that perfect putting stroke.

Gotcha fooled

And I’d love to say that that was the real picture. But more often than not, halfway through the first bucket of range balls, I’d decide to call it quits and just start my round. By hole 5, instead of lining up every putt, I would try to break my speed record of how quickly I could finish the hole.

It wasn’t gritty. It wasn’t hard, disciplined work. There was nothing epic about it. No Braveheart music was playing in the…

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I found out recently that one of my most faithful, trusted leaders and his family is being relocated due to a job transfer. It was really hard news to hear. This is a man who has taught for me, led classes, counseled hurting individuals and families as well as done everything from cooking to cleaning to repair work around the church for the past 10 years. I not only appreciate him, I love him.

My friend and I were talking, knowing that his final Sunday was coming, and he asked if I knew of any “good” churches in the city where he is being relocated. I thought about the churches and pastors that I was familiar with in the area and began to list them one by one describing what I thought to be their strengths and weaknesses. He was familiar with some of the churches from co-workers, had visited a few already, and I could tell that he was rather nervous about starting the process of looking for a new church home. We walked away from each other with a promise to pray, “put out feelers,”…

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(Editor Note: When our son, Jeremy, died at birth, we were blessed, yet surprised, by the number of infertile couples who reached out to us. Ministry to these couples is often overlooked; yet, it is truly important. You may find there is a fairly large group in your community who suffer in silence. Consider reaching out to them. jon walker)

In a recent Huffington Post article, Melanie Notkin writes about her “secret grief” of being single and childless. There, Notkin — who wants to marry — references the seeming difference in response a single woman receives and a married woman receives. Similarly, Courtney Reissig posted a blog about her current infertility journey and the challenges that come with it. Both articles are telling. Even though they are on this journey for different reasons, both Notkin and Reissig refer to the pain and grief that seem to be traveling partners on the road of childlessness.

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 15 percent or 4.3 million married women in the United States have impaired fecundity. That is, they either…

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