Archives For Rick Warren

God has called us to lead in a world that’s often preoccupied with immediate gratification and short-term goals. Every problem has an immediate solution. Every bit of pain needs to be removed right now. 

But God looks for something different in Christian leaders. He is looking for far-sighted, eternally focused leadership. That’s leadership that always keeps eternity in mind. It isn’t easy. Often we have immediate issues that we must be focused upon. But when we don’t keep eternity in mind, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the frustrations and stresses of life.

The Bible teaches us what’s most important won’t come and go tomorrow. It lasts forever. That’s why we must focus  on eternal matters. Paul tells us this in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (NIV). 

Living in light of eternity changes your priorities. Jesus modeled this for us perfectly. Just read his first and last words. Jesus’ first recorded words were, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 NKJV). His last words were:

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We all have years where it’s hard to be grateful during Thanksgiving.

How can you thank God when the doctor has just diagnosed you with cancer?

How do you thank God when the love of your life has just left you?

How do you say thank you when your ministry dream has crashed?

Those years are tough, and the holiday season seems to make it worse. But guess what? You can still be grateful. In fact, the Bible tells us, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT).

The key to this verse is the word “in.” The Bible doesn’t say we have to give thanks for all circumstances. The difference between the word “in” and the word “for” is the difference between maturity and masochism. 

God doesn’t expect you to be grateful for everything in your life—because there’s a lot of bad in your life. We all know there’s a lot of sin in the world. It would be…

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I grew up in small churches where we prayed long and sang hymns. When Saddleback began, that was the kind of world I felt most at ease in. 

But here’s an important lesson I’ve learned in 50 years of ministry: If I’m comfortable in a church, then non-Christians most likely are not. To reach people for Christ, you (and your church) need to step out of your comfort zone and take risks. 

“The way we’ve always done it” can’t be our reason for standing still as a church. Churches die because they refuse to change. Many churches are doing ministry the same way they did 25 years ago—the same order of service, the same prayers, the same sermons.

I encourage you to plan worship services and ministries in a manner where you feel uncomfortable, but non-Christians do not. We serve a God of newness. Jesus famously once said, People don’t pour new wine into old wineskins(Luke 5:37 GW). Too often, we’re trying to do just what Jesus warned us against.

But taking risks as you…

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God wants to do something incredible through your ministry. No one can take that away. Your critics can’t. Neither can Satan. 

But that doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait for it. Sometimes God cracks a door and lets you see your future before you’re ready to walk through it. 

Why does he do that? First, if God showed you all your future at once,it would scare you. You’d take one look and say, “Oh no, God wants me to do that?” You’re simply not ready right now to see everything God wants to do through you. 

God also wants to keep you close to him as you trust him to do what he is calling you to do. It’s like he writes his plan for you on a scroll. You unroll the scroll a bit and do what he says. Then you unroll a bit more, and he gives you a little more of the vision. 

You’re not the first leader God has let glimpse the future long before it’s become reality. In fact, he has done that over and over again throughout history….

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Great leaders have at least one common denominator: personal discipline. 

Take the Apostle Paul as an example. He had tremendous self-control. He talks about it in this passage:

“Don’t you realize that everyone who runs in a race runs to win, but only one runner gets the prize? Run like them, so that you can win. Everyone who enters an athletic contest goes into strict training. They do it to win a temporary crown, but we do it to win one that will be permanent” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 GW).

Paul wanted to be successful and understood he couldn’t live haphazardly and accomplish what God called him to do. He showed self-discipline throughout his ministry, and so should we. Here are six specific areas of our lives where leaders need to show self-discipline.

Their mood: Most great things in the world are achieved by those who don’t feel like doing them. The Bible says, “A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” (Proverb 25:28 TLB). Without discipline, you’re at the mercy…

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You can mass produce many things—cars, furniture, plastic bottles, etc.—but you can’t mass produce disciples. One-size-fits-all simply doesn’t work when you’re trying to help people become more like Jesus.

God wired each of us with a unique SHAPE. The Bible says, “You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 MSG). Our creator specially designed each and every one of us. The unique ways God made us affect everything about us—including how we fulfill God’s purposes. 

SHAPE is an acrostic that describes our uniqueness. God gave us Spiritual gifts, Heart (passions), Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. No one else in the world has the same mix of those five attributes as you do.

A person’s God-given SHAPE helps them identify where they can best serve the body of Christ. 

But our uniqueness is about much more than how we serve. In fact, our SHAPE affects how we worship, fellowship, evangelize—and how we grow.

There’s a myth that maturity is measured by how much Bible knowledge you have. 

Of…

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I can tell you who your church is reaching right now without ever visiting your church.

I just need to hear your music. 

Music is the number one positioning factor in your church. No music reaches everyone, but every style of music will reach someone. The kind of music you use will greatly impact who you reach. 

Music is a powerful tool for evangelism. Psalm 40:3 says,

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD”

(Psalm 40:3 NLT).

Early on in my ministry, I devalued music, but that has changed. Over my decades in ministry, I’ve learned many important lessons about music and its power to impact people toward the Gospel. I’ve often learned these lessons the hard way, but now I want to share them with you.

Here are six of the most important lessons I’ve learned about music. 

 

Preview all your music. You don’t want to have…

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When tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him because he is a liar and the father of all lies.

JOHN 8:44 (GNT)

You need a game plan to overcome destructive thoughts. At the root of every one of these thoughts is a lie. Where do these lies come from?

Satan told the first lie. He sold it to Adam and Eve by wrapping it up in false promises, and he’s been telling lies ever since. Satan can’t force you to do anything, but he tells great lies. He knows exactly what we want to hear, which makes his suggestions extremely powerful.

Satan has set the trap, and he knows what bait to use. Once he gets one person to believe his lies, he’ll work through that person to influence others, creating a domino effect. Satan is constantly working to plant destructive thoughts in your mind.

Here’s the truth: You can’t stand up to Satan on your own. Jesus was tempted by Satan with three different lies. Each time, Jesus responded with Scripture. God’s Word has the truth you need!

The person you lie to the most…

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Good news for discouraged pastors

Discouragement is universal. Everyone gets it from time to time, even those of us in ministry.

Maybe you’re going through a relationship struggle. Maybe you’re having a tough time seeing where God is at work in your ministry.

Discouragement happens. It shouldn’t be surprising.

But for leaders, it can be destructive. Discouragement is contagious. Your discouragement will spread to those you lead.

Discouragement is also curable. Your focus determines your happiness. Peter wrote his first letter in the New Testament to a discouraged community of believers. Rome had burned, and Nero was blaming Christians. Christians at the time were being fed to lions. 

So, in the first few verses of the letter, he urges believers to focus on three things as they face discouragement.

 

  1. God has chosen you to be a part of his family. “Dear friends, God the Father chose you long ago and knew you would become his children” (1 Peter 1:2 NLT).

    You’re not an accident. Your ministry isn’t a mistake. No matter what you’ve done,…

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What if the best days for your church are still ahead?

Sure, you’ll face challenges. But you can’t imagine what God has in store for your church in the years ahead of you. 

Last week, I shared with you the giants you’ll battle as you pursue God’s vision—delay, discouragement, disapproval, and doubt. They’re tough. But the story of David and Goliath teaches four ways to overcome these giants so you can embrace the future God has planned. 

  1. Remember what God has done in the past. 

Remembering how God has worked in your church in the past will boost your confidence. It will encourage you toward how he wants to work in the future. (This is the time to call on people who have a long history in the church. They remember the tough times and can offer perspective!)

God helped you in the past; he’ll do it in the future. David understood this. When everyone else said David stood no chance, David said, “I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has…

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God has a dream for your church. 

I’ve noticed through the years that the common denominator in every growing church, regardless of denomination or cultural context, is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. 

It’s the faith factor. Nothing happens in a church until someone dreams.

But just because God gives your church a dream doesn’t mean you won’t hit roadblocks along the way. David is a great example of this. Right after Samuel anointed him, David faced a major roadblock—a literal giant. Before he would ever lead Israel, before he even endured Saul’s harassment, David had to face one of the fiercest warriors of his time.

But before David faced Goliath, he had already battled giants that tried to derail what God wanted to do in his life. They are the same four giants that your church must defeat before God’s dream for you becomes a reality.  

 

1. Delay.

God won’t fulfill his dream for your church instantly. God may give your church a dream in a day, but he won’t complete it in 24 hours. It’ll take years.

David’s dad held…

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You Can Forgive Others

By Rick Warren

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

God calls us to forgive others, but how do we do that? Here are four choices that will help you let go of your pain, hurt, or bitterness.

Recognize that no one is perfect. When we’ve been hurt, we tend to lose our perspective about the person who offended us. But we need to remember that we are all imperfect people.

Relinquish your right to get even. Trust God to confront the person who hurt you and trust him to work things out for you. Choose compassion over your desire to retaliate.

Respond to evil with good. Getting even only brings you down to the other person’s level. Take the high road instead. The Bible says to treat your enemies with kindness. It’s nearly impossible to do this on your own. That’s why you need the love of Jesus to fill you up.

Refocus on God’s plan for your life. When you are focused on the people who hurt you, you’re actually letting…

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