Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Most Loving Place in Town

Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges hit a homerun with their book, The Most Loving Place In Town. There are so many great principles in the book. I have listed a few below:

The first time Jesus mentioned the church was in Matthew 16:18, when He said, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." p. 84

Jesus said, "I will build my church," He was talking about more than a building or organizational structure. He was talking about creating a living, breathing, community of people. [Note it is His church, not mine, the Pastor's or anyone else] p. 84

. . . seven characteristics that define the church Jesus had in mind:
  • First, love was to be the distinct characteristic that guided the lives and relationships of the church community. John 13:34-35
  • Second, His church would be an everlasting community of interdependent people called in time and circumstance to glorify God.
  • Third, His church would have all the resources it required to fulfill its mission. Matthew 28:18-20 p. 85
  • Fourth, His church would have prayer as the most distinctive practice of its daily life and relationship with Him Matthew 21:13
  • Fifth, His church would have an ongoing access to an unimpeachable source of knowledge, wisdom, and power to guide its actions. John 14:26
  • Sixth, His church would have His guidance. Matthew 18:20
  • Seventh, He would sustain the church. John 15:5 p. 86
Real servant leaders love to hear what others think. They know the only reason they're leading is to serve, and if anybody has any suggestions on how they can serve better, they want to hear them. They consider feedback - even when it comes in the form of criticism - a gift. p. 95

. . . self-serving leaders are unwilling to develop other leaders around them. They fear the potential competition for their leadership position. p. 96

Another trait of servant leaders is that they want to bring out the best in others. p. 96

The scholar of servant leadership, Robert Greenleaf, said that the true test of a servant leader is this: "Do those around the servant leader become wiser, freer, more autonomous, healthier, and better able to become servant leaders? p. 96

He [Jesus] habit of solitude empowered Him to stay on purpose and follow God's will rather than do the popular thing. p. 97

. . . it's important to have habits that keep us focused and moving ahead on God's plan rather than our own. p. 98

God's never late but always on time! p. 102

. . . a compelling vision tells people who they are, where they are going, and what will guide their journey. p. 102

. . . vision is the leadership part of servant leadership and implementation is the servant aspect. p. 103

Lord, clean me out of me, fill me up with You, and then clothe me with humility. p. 104

Nine Components of Love
1 Corinthians 13
  • Patience: Love as patience endures evil, injury, and provocation without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge. It will put up with many slights and neglects from the person it loves and wait long to see the kindly effects of such patience on him.
When do I demonstrate love as patience?
When do I struggle to demonstrate love as patience?

  • Kindness: Love as kindness is active. Kindness seeks to be useful. It not only seizes on opportunities for doing good but also searches for them.
When do I express love as kindness?
When do I struggle with expressing love as kindness?

  • Generosity: Love as generosity does not envy the good fortune or accomplishments of others. If we love our neighbor, we will be so far from envying her and what she possesses or accomplishes that we will share in it and rejoice at it. The prosperity of those to whom we wish well can never grieve us.
When do I express love as generosity?
When do I struggle with expressing love as generosity?

  • Courtesy: Love as courtesy is love in the little things. It behaves toward all people with goodwill. It seeks to promote the happiness of all. It avoids profane and indecent language and coarse and vulgar expressions that pain the ear and offend the hearts of others.
When do I exhibit love as courtesy?
When do I struggle to exhibit love as courtesy?

  • Humility: Love as humility does not promote or call attention to itself, is not puffed up, is not bloated with self-conceit, and does not dwell upon its accomplishments. When true brotherly love is exhibited, we will find things to praise in others and will esteem others.
When do I express love as humility?
When do I struggle with expressing love as humility?

  • Unselfishness: Love as unselfishness never seeks its own to the harm or disadvantage of others, or with the neglect of others. It often neglects its own for the sake of others; it prefers their welfare, satisfaction, and advantage to its own; and it ever prefers the good of the community to its private advantage. It would not advance, aggrandize, enrich, or gratify itself at the cost and damage of the public.
When do I express love as unselfishness?
When do I struggle to express love as unselfishness?

  • Good temper: Love as good temper restrains the passions and is not exasperated. It corrects a sharpness of temper and sweetens and softens attitudes. Love as good tempter is never angry without a cause and endeavors to combine the passions within proper limits. Anger cannot rest in the heart where love reigns. It is hard to be angry with loved ones in good temper but very easy to drop resentments and be reconciled.
When do I exhibit love as good temper?
When do I struggle to exhibit love as good temper?

  • Guilelessness: Love as guilelessness thinks no evil, suspects no ill motive, sees the bright side, and puts the best construction on every action. It is grace for suspicious people. It cherishes no malice; it does not give way to revenge. It is not apt to be jealous and suspicious.
When do I model love as guilelessness?
When do I struggle to model love as guilelessness?

  • Sincerity: Love as sincerity takes no pleasure in doing injury or hurt to others or broadcasting their seeming miscues. It speaks only what is known to be true, necessary, and edifying. It bears no false witness and does not gossip. It rejoices in the truth.
When do I demonstrate love as sincerity?
When do I struggle to demonstrate love as sincerity?

. . . love is lived out in the day-to-day choices people make in their relationships with each other. pp. 127-131

To order this book click here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ordering Your Private World

I have read several articles by Gordon MacDonald but this is the first book on his I have read. In his book, Ordering Your Private World, he teaches many principles about your spiritual life being in order. I hope you will enjoy and be challenged by the quotes below:

Sadly, we do not have a Christian culture today that easily discriminates between a person of spiritual depth and a person of raw talent. Like the wheat and the tares of Jesus' parable, they can be difficult to distinguish. The result is that more than a few people can be fooled into thinking they are being influenced by a spiritual giant when in fact they are being manipulated by a dwarf. p.6

. . . keeping or guarding the heart . . . is a deliberate and disciplined choice a man or woman must make. Am I being heard? We must choose to keep the heart. Choose! Its health and productivity cannot be assumed; it must be constantly protected and maintained. pp. 23-24

Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. p. 24

Are we going to order our inner worlds, our hearts, so that they will radiate influence into the outer world? Or will we neglect our private worlds and thus permit the outer influences to shape us? This is a choice we have to make every day of our lives. p. 24

Although he wasn't trying to make a uniquely Christian point, I nevertheless find the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson quite provocative. "It is easy in the world," he wrote, " to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." p. 25

Charles Spurgeon once said, " Success exposes a man to the pressures of people and thus tempts him to hold on to his gains by means of fleshly methods and practices, and to let himself be ruled wholly by the dictatorial demands of incessant expansion. Success can go to my head and will unless I remember that it is God who accomplishes the work, that he can continue to do so without my help, and that he will be able to make out with other means whenever he wants to cut me out." p. 34

Here in North America we now live in what I call the era of the visionary church. Almost every pastor is judged on the basis of whether he/she has a vision. And this usually means a vision of how the church can grow, grow, grow. The pastoral care of the people - which for hundreds of years has been the aim of a church - is less important in comparison to the gathering of more people. Because more people means more programs, more building, more employed staff. Doubtless this is not all bad if it results in bringing unchurched people into the kingdom of God. But one wants to watch a lot of this "vision" and ask how much of it is satisfying the need of a driven leader who has to see things expand at all costs. p. 35

Driven people get things done, but they may destroy people in the process. p. 36

For an inner life fraught with unresolved drives will not be able to hear clearly the voice of Christ when He calls. The noise and pain of stress will be too great. p. 44

Many churches are fountains gone dry. Rather than being springs of life-giving energy that cause people to grow and to delight in God's way, they become sources of stress. p. 45

Driven people often project a bravado of confidence as they forge ahead with their achievement -oriented life plan. But often, at the moment when it is least expected, adversities and obstructions conspire, and there can be personal collapse. Called people, on the other hand, posses strength from within, a quality of perseverance and power that are impervious to the blows from without. p. 58

Look again at the men Christ picked: few if any of them would have been candidates for high positions in organized religion or big business. It is not that they were unusually awkward. It is just that they appeared to be absolutely ordinary. We have to keep reminding ourselves: No headhunter in his or her right mind would have vetted most of them for leadership in the kingdom of God. But Christ did, and that made all the difference. pp. 58-59

The task of a steward is simply to properly manage something on behalf of the owner until the owner comes to take it back. p. 61

For his (John the Baptist) crowds may be our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health. So - and think before answering! - are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them? Driven people consider them owned; called people do not. When driven people lose those things it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance has changed. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger. p. 62

. . . time must be properly budgeted for the gathering of inner strength and resolve in order to compensate for one's weaknesses when spiritual warfare begins. p. 84

Would we involve our time in doing what people most liked for us to do? Or would we buckle down and give our attention to what was most important . . . p. 93

It once seemed enchanting to be at the head table of some politician's prayer breakfast or to be interviewed on a Christian radio program, but it may not have been a high priority use of time. p. 93

. . . even man and women of great talent and energy have to run the complete course before they can claim the victory. To be in front at the first turn is meaningless without the endurance to finish strongly. pp. 104-105

Such mindlessness can be seen in an unbalanced - and ungodly - family, where one person intimidates all other family members into letting him or her do all the decision-making and opinion-forming. We have many examples of churches where laypeople delegate the thinking to a highly dominant pastor. The epistle of 3 John speaks against a man named Diotrephes, a lay leader who, like Jim Jones, had virtually everyone under his control. The Christian simply surrendered their thinking to him. p. 106

Our worlds are filled with the noise of endless music, chatter, and busy schedules. In most homes there is a stereo in almost every room, in every car, in each office, in the elevator. When I The act of meditation is like turning the spirit to heavenly frequencies. One takes a a friend at his office I am offered music over the phone until he comes to answer my call. There are cell phones with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony theme for a ring, Walkmans with mega-bass, and MP3's all invading the mind with noise. Pretty noise, most of the time. But nevertheless noise. With the intrusion of so much noise, when can we withdraw and monitor the still, small voice of God? p. 151

The act of meditation is like turning the spirit to heavenly frequencies. One takes a portion of Scripture and simply allows it to enter into the deepest recesses of self. There are often several different results: cleansing, reassurance, the desire to praise and give thanksgiving . Sometimes meditation on something of God's nature or His actions opens the mind to new guidance or a new awareness of something the Lord may be trying to say to us. p. 168

I have had many opportunities by now to see that the things I want God to do in response to my prayers can be unhealthy for me. I have begun to see that worship and intercession are far more the business of aligning myself with God's purpose than asking Him to align with mine. p. 177

To order this book click here!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Island of Saints

Andy Andrews is becoming on of my favorite authors. In his book, Island of Saints, he helps the reader understand what forgiveness is all about. Hope you not only enjoy the quotes below, but I pray they will challenge you to live a Christ-like life!

It means giving something up. To relinquish something means to give up whatever power it holds over us. If you forgive somebody for something he did to you, that means you choose to never again allow that event to determine how you feel or how you act or even how you treat that person. You may remember the wrong, but by choosing to forgive, you have disarmed it. Then it can no longer determine what you think, what you say, or what you do. p. 120

. . . whenever you get hurt by somebody, you can either think about 'em all day long and let 'em keep hurting you inside . . . or give them to God. pp. 129-130

If you forgive them, it doesn't mean they get away with what they did . . . it just means that you don't have to think about it all the time. You can't do anything anyway, except be mad. See? You just give 'em to God. Then you can be happy. p. 130

In 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, noticed a continuing pattern in the advance and decline of the world's democracies.

He stated then that a democracy would continue to exist until such time that the voters discover that they can literally vote themselves gifts from the public treasury. From the moment that revelation is made, the majority proceeds to vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury. The final result is that every democracy finally collapses due to loose fiscal policy. That collapse is always followed by a dictatorship.

Tyler charted the ages of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history . . . an average existence of about two hundred years. Every single time, these nations progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from great courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and finally from dependence into bondage. pp. 141-142 [ I realize there is no proof that Alexander Tyler said these things; however it does make sense. This is one reason we must make sure that the USA remains a Constitutional Republic.]

. . . we are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it. p. 149

. . . I must practice forgiveness. It is less an act than a determined way of living. I think that is why we are suppose to forgive "seventy times seven." True forgiveness comes only at the conclusion of an inner struggle. p. 149

. . . where is it written that for one person to forgive another, the offender must ask for forgiveness? Where is it written - not in the Bible, for sure - that for one person to forgive another, the offender must deserve it? p. 157

. . . where is it written that for one person to forgive another, the offender has to approve it, accept it, or even know about it? p. 157

. . . No man is an island if we choose not to forgive. Not to forgive means we yield ourselves to another person's control - another person's governing values and his attitudes and actions. We are forced by someone else into sequences of act and response, of outrage and revenge, and you know what? It always gets worse. Our present, when we refuse to forgive, is endlessly overwhelmed by the past. But we become an "island" when we forgive. The act sets us apart from the burdens of people we generally don't like in the first place! Forgiveness frees the forgiver p. 158

Sometimes we attach our entire lives to the moment we were hurt and allow it to define and consume our very existence. We travel with that hurt - that offense - and brood over it every time it comes to mind. We sleep with it, eat with it the "wrong" that has been done to us dictates how we speak to our children, our spouses, our friends . . . p. 158

Even when those who have mistreated us, abused us, cheated us, or oppressed us . . . even when they die, our anger and resentment do not have the decency to do the same! Our hurt continues to live. Until we forgive. There is no such thing as managing one's anger. It simply can't be done. The only answer is to forgive . . . and get rid of it forever. p. 158

. . . you are not concerned about what he is . . . only about what he can become. p. 189

Ephesians 4:32

32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
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The Family

The Family
Braves Game 2012