Archive for January, 2006

BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE

My family and I are blessed beyond and above all measure in the name of Jesus, Amen. Speak it, write it and live it over your life today.

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Band of Brothers Part 2…

Why Leaders Need a Band of Brothers

More than anyone else, leaders need authentic friendships. Not only are leaders in special need of accountability because of their position (James 3:1), but leaders need even more encouragement and support because of the difficulty of their work.

Leaders also need to be part of a shared mission. Your effectiveness as a leader will always be limited if you strike out on your own to do things by yourself. You need to learn to compromise, submit, and ally yourself with the mission of others. This is what it means to be the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12).

Biblically, God’s calling on you to be part of the body is equal to his calling on your life in your area of passion. There are things we learn by being in a team that we cannot learn any other way. And there are things that God does through us in a team that He will not do any other way.
It may be that God’s first call on your life as a leader is to bind yourself with other men, and then to pursue the passion He has given you. Most leaders do it the other way around. They have a dream from God and they pursue it above all else. If other men want to join them, fine. But if those men don’t agree or aren’t headed in the same direction on the same time frame then these leaders leave them behind without a thought.

The scriptures teach something else. The scriptures teach that we should work together as a body to help every Christian become mature in Christ. It’s almost certain that God won’t give you a dream without providing the context of relationships for it to be lived out.

Don’t abandon relationships quickly or easily. Perhaps God has things for you there that you won’t get anywhere else. Perhaps your ideas aren’t as good as you think. Perhaps you need to be on a different time table. Whatever the case, submit yourself to a band of brothers for the glory of God.

Band of Brothers Part 1…

You know it occurred to me that if I could say this any better I would. But I can’t so whay not just blatantly plagarize. You know I always thought we needed a band of brothers…

Why You Need a Band of Brothers

Tom (remember him?) recently shared with me the story of Bill, an old friend of his who he reconnected with about a year ago. Bill was at a turning point in his life and expressed a desire to get together. Since then, Tom has been meeting with Bill every week. During that time, Bill has consistently taken two steps forward and three steps back in his spiritual life. Tom has felt frustrated, taken for granted, angry, and ambivalent – and sometimes all at the same time.
The other day Bill and Tom were at lunch and Tom shared again with Bill the joy of complete surrender to Jesus Christ. Bill was at the breaking point. At 57 years old, he finally shared how sexual addiction was ruling and ruining his life. In a spirit of brokenness, he’s now ready to move forward. Tom and he are going to attend a group meeting together for Bill to begin the process of healing. What did God use to break through strongholds that had been present for thirty years in Bill’s life? Was it some brilliant theological insight? Or perhaps a new counseling technique honed from years of research studies? Was it the perfect book that opened Bill’s eyes? It was none of these things.
God used a friendship.

Men and Friends

Men today battle an insidious loneliness. The world tells them to fill this void with success, power, activity, sex, money, building the perfect family, living through their kids, technology, toys, and on and on. Every time a man realizes one substitute is empty the world puts another one forward as the answer to his longing.
Most men are surrounded by people. They work with men. They have neighbors on both sides. They may attend a church on Sunday mornings and sit in the crowd. They may even call some of these people friends. But in most cases they are not friends in the biblical sense. Most men have many acquaintances but lots of men have no real friends.
And the truth is that it is impossible for a man to stay on track without friends. It’s not that he will probably get off track. It’s absolutely certain that a man who does not bind himself to other men will lose his way.

Made for Relationships

Why do we have such a deep-seated need for friendships? Consider Genesis 1. In that chapter five times – at the end of each day – God says the things he made were “good.” And at the end of the sixth day, after he had made man, he said it was “Very Good.” So if you were listening to this account, you would hear the repetition – “it was good…it was good…it was good…it was good…it was good…it was very good.”
So imagine your surprise when you got to Genesis 2:18 and heard “…it was not good.” What was not good? “It was not good for man to be alone.”
God is three persons in one being. He has existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from eternity. They are an eternal band of brothers in the trinity.
Adam as a single person could not fully live out the image of God without being in a relationship with another person. Marriage is the most intimate of these relationships, but the scriptures teach the power and necessity of other types of relationships as well. So if you are not living in authentic relationships it is impossible for you to do what you were made to do – to reflect the image of God through your life. And in a world of temptation and struggle it will be impossible for you to stay on track.

What God Does Through Relationships

God uses relationships to encourage us to keep the faith and walk with Christ. You need friends who can “stimulate you to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). You need men in your life with whom you can “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). The great commandment of Christ is to “Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Having casual acquaintances isn’t good enough – we need to bind ourselves to a few other men who can help us become all God intends for us to be. This can be difficult. It’s often easier to just do our own thing without taking the time and energy to let another man get close. But like many things that are convenient, it’s also counterfeit. God uses real friendships to shape and mold us for His glory.

Well I must be off, stay tuned for part II, coming soon to a blog near you.

IDYBT…

Pray for a plan, the most recent from my favourite sportswriter….

Posted on Sat, Jan. 14, 2006
Prayer is important; so is a planBy Terry Pluto
Prayer is not a plan.
That was the theme of a sermon given by the Rev. Ronald Fowler at Arlington Church of God on Wednesday.
It has become one of Fowler’s favorite themes. At the age of 70, he so wants to see lives changed. Prayer is important, but how many of us pray for a plan?
“Some people pray for God to give them money and get them out of debt,” Fowler said. “But they don’t want to cut up those credit cards. They don’t want to go on a budget. They don’t even want to hear what God wants them to do to become a better person.”
Too many times, we pray for God to clean up our own messes.
“It’s like we ask God to excuse us for being lazy and greedy, and then we ask God just to fix it,” Fowler said. “We really don’t want to change.”
Bishop Joey Johnson has been dealing with the same theme at Akron’s House of the Lord.
“We throw up all these prayers to God and just expect him to somehow work it all out,” Johnson said. “They want to lose weight, but don’t want to get serious about a diet. Not a lot of people want to be responsible. Not just in the church, but in the country. It’s the syndrome of not wanting to feel any pain.”
Or as the Rev. Bob Combs from Norton Grace Church said, “God is not Santa Claus.”
Part of the problem is some religious leaders have sold faith as an interstate to the easy life. It’s a con job that often leads to heartbreak and spiritual disillusionment.
“It’s the prosperity gospel that you often hear preached on TV,” said Johnson. “It’s a good idea to pray for a new job, if you need one. But guess you better get out and start interviewing. You better prepare.”
Prayer backed by preparation and discipline often becomes a formula for success. Suppose you want to lose weight. You can pray for God to show you the right diet, to lead you to the right doctor, to give you the right attitude and exercise plan.
Then you have to follow through and really believe your prayer has been answered by being given a plan.
“I really believe that we need more practical preaching in church,” Johnson said. “I’ve been reading a lot of Stephen Covey, and he’s right when he writes that common sense is not very common these days.”
We are a society with more wealth and better health care than any in history, yet so many of us are so deep in debt and feeling sick.
Johnson mentioned the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, about a man who prayed for God to put things in motion for him to help rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. Through prayer, he developed a method to make it happen.
Fowler mentioned Luke 14:28, where Jesus said, “Suppose you want to build a tower. Will you not sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
It’s a fact that people spend 15 percent to 20 percent less in stores when they pay cash rather than by credit card. That’s because they are counting the money as they stand at the cash register, handing it away and feeling the pain.
At Johnson’s church one Sunday, people came forward to cut up their credit cards as others prayed for them. Some stayed credit-card-free; others just ordered more.
“We have to address these issues in our churches,” said Johnson.
Part of prayer should be for God to give us a realistic view of our situation.
“We’ve got to own our junk,” Combs said. “When we admit we’re part of the problem, then we are more open to following the plan God has for us.”
Combs mentioned the verse from the New Testament book of James: “Faith without works is dead.”
“We should pray as if it all depends on God, then work as if it all depends on us,” said Combs. “I tell people that we need to attach legs to our prayers.”
Messages for Terry Pluto can be left at 330-996-3816 or terrypluto2003@yahoo.com. Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at www.ohio.com