Archives For Rick Warren

Godly Habits

By Rick Warren

Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress.

1 Timothy 4:15 (GW)

God’s truth will set you free, but it may make you miserable at first. For instance, when you think about facing your weaknesses with honesty, fear can keep you in a prison of denial.

But when you allow God to shine the light of his truth on your faults and failures, you’ll be set free from the old habits and patterns that have held you in bondage. You’ll finally be free to replace your old way of doing things with God’s way of doing things.

How can you find this kind of freedom? It begins with understanding how much God loves you. He is already aware of all your weaknesses and mistakes, and he is actively working to help you change. It won’t happen overnight. The truth is, even though you were given a brand-new nature at the moment of conversion, you still have old habits and patterns that need to be replaced. Doing that takes time.

You may wonder if it’s really possible to be free from your habits, hurts,…

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November is a great time to reflect upon what God has to say about gratitude in the Bible. It’s not just because we celebrate Thanksgiving this month. We’re also getting close to the end of the year. For ministry leaders, it is a busy season because we’re preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Our calendars are full.

Also, as we enter the final weeks of the year, it’s a great time to reflect upon the past year and prepare for the upcoming year. And gratitude is an important part of that process.

You can’t read through the Bible without seeing how important gratitude is to God. A few years ago, as I prepared for a Thanksgiving sermon, I found over 400 Bible verses that reference either thanksgiving or gratitude. I then saw two major themes.

First, God expects gratitude to be the primary motivation behind everything in our lives. For example, Paul tells us this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Second, God rewards gratitude with a long list of blessings and benefits. Scientific studies have…

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Everything you have is a gift from God. God has given you your family, your health, your ministry, and even your freedom. 

If God didn’t give you the ability to work for what you have, you wouldn’t have anything. 

God expects you to be a good steward of everything he has given, including your influence. He wants you to use your influence to help others. 

What is influence? It’s not fame. You can be famous and not influential. Many people know celebrities, but they don’t care what they think. It’s also not wealth. You can’t buy influence. The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as the power “to affect how someone or something develops, behaves, or thinks.” God expects you to use that kind of influence for good.

How can you do that? Start with these three steps.

1. Recognize your influence.

Everyone has influence. You’re likely aware of some of your own influence at church and at home. 

Yet you might not be aware of all the influence you have. You influence everyone you come into contact with, such as your relatives, neighbors, and even…

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You can’t succeed in ministry without getting people to work together. It’s a crucial leadership skill. 

Chapter 3 of Nehemiah is a powerful illustration of effective leadership. When God put a dream on Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem, he successfully led a team to finish his goal. 

Pastor, as you rally your team around the dream God has given you, these six principles can help you get the most out of those you lead.

  1. Divide a big dream into smaller goals and tasks.

Nehemiah broke down a huge dream into manageable chunks. If you read Nehemiah 3 in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, you’ll see the word “section” used 28 times in 32 verses. Repeatedly, the Bible tells us that particular groups of people helped to build specific sections of the wall. A section is simply a smaller part of a whole. Nehemiah took this very large dream and split it into manageable tasks. 

I followed Nehemiah’s example when I started Saddleback Church. Before we began, I split my 40-year dream into 480 monthly…

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Ministry leaders today are facing more decisions than ever before. We live in a multi-choice culture. And like a small hinge on a giant door, even the smallest decision can have the biggest impact on our lives.

The story of your ministry will be told through your decisions. Whether you decide to start a new outreach, add more people to your staff, or go out of your way to tell someone about Jesus, every decision you make is important.

Here are six tests to help you make decisions that honor God and align with his purposes for your life:

  1. The Ideal Test: Is this in harmony with God’s Word?

Seeking God should always be the starting point for every decision we make. All of us must decide who or what is going to be our ultimate authority. It comes down to two choices—God’s Word or the world. 

Pastor, if you choose the world, you’ll always be out of date. Why? Because what the world thinks changes all the time. But God’s Word never changes. Truth is always true. If something was wrong 5,000 years…

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Nothing Surprises God

By Rick Warren

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16 (NIV) 

God can see past, present, and future—all at once. 

This part of God’s character is something we can’t fully understand, for God is not like us. However, we can take great comfort in God because he knows everything that has ever happened and will happen. 

You trust a doctor with your health because that person has great knowledge. Greater still, you can confidently trust God because his knowledge is perfect. 

The future will surprise you because things don’t always work out as planned—but God is never caught off guard. He is never baffled or bewildered by anything that happens. He is above it all! 

The next time you face a crisis, you may find yourself asking, “What’s happening—where is God?” The truth is, God is constantly aware of everything. He’s with you now, and he knows what’s coming around the corner. When times are difficult, he is…

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You’ve heard people say that you can’t take your money with you when you die. But that doesn’t mean you can’t send your resources ahead of you. 

The Bible says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20 NLT). You can store up your money in heaven by investing in the purposes of God. It’s the most secure investment you can make because it yields dividends forever.

Any good investment strategist would tell you not to put all your money in one place. God’s financial wisdom is no different. We need a diversified giving portfolio. Specifically, God calls us to invest in five funds that represent his purposes for our lives.

1. Treasury Fund

The first purpose of life is to know and love God. The Bible calls this worship. One way you can express worship is to contribute to the Treasury Fund, which is based on the principle found in Proverbs: “Honor the…

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Leadership is influence. The quickest way to see if you’re a leader is to look over your shoulder. If no one is following you, you are not a leader.

If leadership is influence, then influence is earned by respect. If you don’t have the respect of others, you’re not leading anyone. 

So how can you become a leader who people respect? By developing these six characteristics:

  1. Integrity.

“Respected people do not tell lies” (Proverbs 17:7 GNT).

Integrity is the foundation of any good relationship. Your character as a leader matters. D.L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Your character is who you are when nobody is watching. 

A reputation isn’t the same as character. People build reputation instantly. But it takes a lifetime to build character. The key to a good reputation is having good character. And character is what you have left when you’ve lost your reputation.

The leader who walks with integrity is free to be confident. They’re not afraid of anything, because they  don’t have any skeletons in their closet. Genuinely confident

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Spiritual growth isn’t automatic. Your congregation must be intentional about growing spiritually. They won’t grow by accident.

The same is true corporately as a church. As pastors, we need to be intentional about helping people grow in their faith. Discipleship, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity—whatever you call it—is one of the five purposes of the church. You won’t help people grow unless you specifically focus on it. 

Paul tells us, “Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity” (2 Corinthians 10:6 The Message). 

To be intentional about helping people grow, we need tools. One of the most important spiritual growth tools we employ at Saddleback is sermon outline handouts. 

When I was a teenager, I read a U.S. Air Force statistic that showed we forget 90 to 95 percent of what we hear within 72 hours. And that’s a depressing statistic for pastors! 

That means that despite all those hours you devote to studying Scripture to deliver a life-changing message, your listeners will forget most of it in just…

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Risk and ministry go hand in hand. You can’t have a faithful ministry if you’re not willing to follow Jesus into places that make you feel uncomfortable. 

In Part 1 of this article, I wrote about how fear keeps us from fully following God’s leadership in our ministries. Once you step past fear, the next step is to go. But the Bible teaches us that taking Jesus-led risks isn’t the same as rashness. Throughout Scripture, you’ll find five principles for how to move forward when God calls you to take a step of faith.

  • Get the facts.

Faith requires risk, but those risks shouldn’t be foolish. It’s important that when you’re making a big decision, you follow the wisdom of Proverbs 23:23: “Get the facts at any price” (TLB).

Getting the facts at any price means reading a book, attending a seminar, or searching the Internet. You could also talk to someone who has already been where you want to go and ask them some questions. 

As I was finishing seminary,…

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Taking risks is a vital part of ministry. You don’t need to take every risk in front of you, but you do need to take every risk God calls you to take, even when you’re afraid. 

Maybe you’re uprooting your family to go somewhere new to serve the Lord. Or you’re starting a new ministry, and you have no idea how you’ll fund it. Opportunities like these will require you to take faithful risks, because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). 

Why is it important to God that we learn to take risks? Because he wants us to learn to trust him. And we can’t lead others to live by faith if we refuse to do it ourselves.

Throughout the Bible, God calls people to take risks in faith. In Exodus 14, before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea with the Egyptians in pursuit, they became fearful. Here are four things we learn from the Israelites about fear.

  1. Fear makes us skeptical. 

“ said to Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out…

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The Path Back to God

By Rick Warren

“When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

Jeremiah 29:13 (The Message)

When you’ve drifted away from God, how do you get back to him? What does it look like to “get serious about finding” God again? 

Be honest with yourself because nothing is going to change until you admit that things aren’t working as they should. Finding God requires your full commitment—half measures won’t work here! You will need to want it “more than anything else.” 

God wants to be first in your life; if you are distant from him, something else has taken the number one spot in your heart. You will need to do some significant soul-searching to discover what has taken God’s place. Then you need to confess your sins to God. He loves you unconditionally, just as you are! But you need to ask for his forgiveness for the things you’ve done that have taken you away from him. 

Once you’ve said yes to Jesus, you’ll never lose your relationship with him. However, when God isn’t…

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