Sometimes I have Stinking Thinking

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-have-stinking-thinking/

Here is what I know:

Wrong thinking leads to wrong living

Here is another thing I know:

Manure happens

And, a third thing that I know:

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to spiritual life and spiritual growth is getting stuck in our negative, untrue, and impure thoughts instead of believing and living what God says in His Word

Our natural or built-in language is negative Read more

Loving Difficult People – Part Three

Another person who is difficult to deal with is the THUMB SUCKER. Thumb Suckers tend to pout, are full of self-pity, and try to get people to cater to their own desires. This pouting is used as leverage to manipulate others. If things are not going their way, they can create a heavy atmosphere that is as oppressive as a rain cloud. They can do this very cleverly. Often they employ the silent treatment to get what they want.

Here is a strategy in dealing with this individual.

First, make the Thumb Sucker aware of the fact that moodiness is a choice. This is essential. People become moody to manipulate people and gain control. They are very seldom moody by themselves. Teach them that they are responsible for the atmosphere they create, especially if they are in a position of leadership in the team or the church. Everyone in the world has problems; the Thumb Sucker has no right to add his or her personal petty grievances to the load. They can choose to be even-tempered and no longer impact a situation or others by their pity party approach to life. 

Sometimes it is helpful to expose Thumb Suckers to people who have real problems. Perhaps it will cause them to see themselves in a different light and to have a more grateful heart and positive attitude. 

It is important to never reward or give attention to moody people. Giving them an opportunity to publicly exhibit their negative attitudes gives them a sense of recognition. The best method of attack is to praise this person’s positive ideas and actions and ignore him when he is sucking his thumb.

Thumb Suckers are subject to mood swings; they’re negative only part of the time. However, THE WET BLANKET, on the other hand, is constantly down and negative. He is the classic impossibility thinker who see a problem in every solution. He is afflicted with the dreaded disease of Excusitis — finding problems and making excuses.

The most difficult thing about working with a person like this is that he or she usually takes no responsibility for his or her negative attitude and behaviour. It’s either “the other guy’s fault” or it’s “Just the way I am,” — a way of blaming God. Again, don’t reinforce the Wet Blanket’s behaviour by providing a platform from which to make excuses. Kindly but firmly point out that you have confidence in this person, but his or her present attitude is hindering progress. He needs to choose whether or not he is going to  risk being positive and responsible. If he chooses to change his behaviour, he’ll have a cheering section. If he chooses to not change, though, your best move will be away from him.

THE GARBAGE COLLECTOR is locked even deeper into the mire of negativity than the Thumb Sucker and the Wet Blanket. Garbage Collectors have surrendered the leadership of their lives to negative emotions. Oh, how they love to rehearse and replay the injuries they have suffered at the hands of other people. They nurse their wounds and hold onto their wounded ill spirits. Briefly and concisely, they stink! The fact that there is garbage in life is depressing enough, but to collect it and haul it around town in a dump truck for public viewing is downright sick.

How do you deal with these people? First confront them about the way they try to represent other people. I never allow a person to tell me “there are many others who feel this way also.” I won’t hear them out unless they give me names. That single requirement takes a lot of the “stink” out of their garbage because it usually boils down to just one or two individuals who have an affinity for garbage too. I challenge their statements by pinning them down when they make generalizations and exaggerations. If they have created a serious enough situation, it may become necessary to destroy their credibility by exposing them to a decision-making group.

THE USER is the person who manipulates others for his or her own personal gain. Users avoid responsibility for themselves, while demanding time and energy from others to benefit their own situations. They often use guilt to get what they want. The put on a weak front in order to get people to feel sorry for them and help them out.

How do you work with USERS? First, set predetermined limits on how far you will go to help them. Otherwise, they will push your guilt button and you will weaken. Remember that these people will not only take you the second and third mile, they’ll take you to the cleaners if you allow them. Require responsibility from the User. Even if you feel disposed to help him, make sure he is responsible for some part of the job. Otherwise, you will wind up carrying the load while he goes on his merry way — more than likely looking for another gullible soul.

Last, don’t feel obligated to Users, and don’t feel guilty for not feeling obligated. Most of the time a simple, firm no is the best medicine.

More next time …

Knowing the Bible Stories

A New England teacher quizzed a group of collage-bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible The quiz preceded a Bible as Literature class he planned to teach at what was generally considered one of the better public schools in the nation. Among the more unusual answers from these students were, “Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers,” and “Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey.”

Other students thought that the four horsemen appeared on the Acropolis; that the New Testament Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther, and John; that Eve was created from an apple; and that Jesus was baptized by Moses.

The answer that took the misinformation prize was given by a fellow who was academically in the top 5 percent of his class. The question, “What was Golgotha?” The answer, “Golgotha was the name of the giant who slew the apostle David.”

In case you think this is an isolated instance of biblical illiteracy, let me quote the finding of a recent Gallup poll:

    • 82% of the people surveyed believe that the Bible is either the literal or “inspired” Word of God.
    • More than half who responded to the survey said they read the Bible at least monthly — Yet half couldn’t name even one of the four Gospels.
    • Fewer than half knew who delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

USA Today reported a poll showing that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible every day. More than half read it less than once a month or not at all.

The Barna Research Group conducted a survey that focused only on “born again” Christians and came up with the following statistics:

    • Only 18 percent — less than two in every ten — read the Bible every day
    • Worse of all, 23 percent — almost one in four professing Christians — say they never read the Word of God.

The Bible is available in more than 1,800 languages, and yet someone has observed that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously. 

Sometimes I Live Without Hope

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-live-without-hope/

HOPE – A LIVING REALITY

In the last few weeks I have come to realize how many people – including believers – live without hope

They feel hopeless

They sense that they are hopeless

They live with this nagging feeling that no matter what they do nothing is going to change – hopeless

On my recent trip to Montreal I met with a man who is in his early forties … “without hope”

In his mind:

  • No future
  • No open door to a bright future
  • No way out
  • No potential for change
  • No possibility of overcoming “life”

In a recent visit with one of my sons: Read more

A Look Inside Yourself – Part Four

We are looking at questions we might want to ask ourselves several times a year when taking a good look inside our heart; when taking a spiritual inventory. A practice that all believers should adopt and implement in their lives. 

1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?

2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?

3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?

4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?

5> Am I sensitive to what God is saying to the Body of Christ, the Church?

6> Am I overly concerned with image building?

7> Am I overly impressed by signs and wonders?

8> Am I a loner in my walk with Jesus and service for the Lord?

Hebrews 10:23-25 admonishes us, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It is never healthy to be a “Lone Ranger” in our walk with the Lord and our service to the Lord. Bring others along with you – family, friends, colleagues. Not only is it more fun to share the joy of the journey with others, but being part of a team can provide a system of accountability as well. 

When we design our lives after the Lone Ranger concept, we are sure to suffer some unfavourable consequences. We develop a distorted perception of ourselves, our ministries, and other people. We are imbalanced and incomplete without the other members of the Body of Christ and their spiritual gifts. We become irrelevant because we don’t live where other people live. There is a sense of exclusiveness and an inability to relate to the real world. 

9> Am I aware of my weaknesses?

To be forewarned is to be forearmed! Perhaps we should ask an even more important question: Am I honest about my weaknesses? Most of us know our deficiencies, but we have a tendency to try to cover them.

Take a moment now and consider areas of weakness that could cause you to become sidetracked in your life. Realize that these are the very areas in which you will be tempted. Are you tempted by an opportunities simply because they may be ego-gratifying? Do you expect too much of others or not enough of yourself? Do you get your feelings hurt easily? Remember, that the first step to overcoming any weakness is to admit to yourself that there you have one.

10> Is my commitment constantly before me?

This is supremely important if God has called you into a position of Christian leadership. However, it is also important in all aspects of life as we are all called to live with integrity no matter what God has asked and gifted us to do and accomplish for Him. Every believer has a calling.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:24, “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” Remember when Paul stood before King Agrippa and said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Paul could have been tempted to give up, take other options, or yield to the persecution, but the thing that kept him on track was the vision before him.

The world continually thrusts opportunities at us which would distract us from what God has asked us to do for Him – God’s calling on our life. There is nothing more tragic than when a Christian allows himself to become sidetracked. There is no higher violation of God’s trust. 

Cavett Roberts, a great motivational speaker, once said, “If my people understand me, I’ll get their attention. But if my people trust me, I’ll get their action. People respond quickest and most ably when we have credibility and can be trusted. If God can maintain His faith in you, so will others. 

So, ten questions to help us be a person that others respect….

1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?

2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?

3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?

4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?

5> Am I sensitive to what God is saying to the Body of Christ, the Church?

6> Am I overly concerned with image building?

7> Am I overly impressed by signs and wonders?

8> Am I a loner in my walk with Jesus and service for the Lord?

9> Am I aware of my weaknesses?

10> Is my commitment constantly before me?

You might want to copy and save them your iPhone or iPad so you can ask yourself about them several times a year. 

A Look Inside Yourself – Part Three

We are looking at questions we might want to ask ourselves several times a year when taking a good look inside our heart; when taking a spiritual inventory. A practice that all believers should adopt and implement in their lives. 

1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?

2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?

3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?

4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?

5> Am I sensitive to what God is saying to the Body of Christ, the Church?

Are you sensitive to the fact that God speaks to others too? If you can’t answer an unqualified yes, you’re skating on thin ice. In the checks and balances of Christian integrity, the Spirit speaks to others in the Body who compliment and make up for our weaknesses.

Paul beautifully portrays this principle in 1 Corinthians 12 when he speaks about how one member of the body is not to despise another; rather, we are to compliment each other. Not one of us has the corner on God’s gift of hearing what the Spirit is saying to us as the corporate body of believers. And what we think He is saying to us should be in line with what He is saying elsewhere in the Body. 

6> Am I overly concerned with image building?

Too many believers have become more interested in image-building than in kingdom-building. Pretence has replaced passion in our lives. How we deal with the following four areas will reveal our authenticity, both when with other believers and when with non-believers; inside the church and in the world.

      • Character. Do I make decisions based what is right or what is most easily accepted? Do I follow the general flow of society ( or the Church in general) or do I flow with what the Spirit is saying?
      • Change. Do I change my personality, speech, or actions according to the people I am with?
      • Credit. When I do something for theLord, do people see me or do they see my God? And do I care who receives the credit?
      • Channel. Does God work through my life to touch others? If other lives are not changing as a result of mine, this is a good indication that the image I’m building is my own, not God’s. Only if you are open, honest, transparent, and vulnerable with others can God use you to change others.

7> Am I overly impressed by signs and wonders?

We all seek to experience revival. But more than seeking revival, we need to seek God. Then we will experience revival, healings, and miracles. But if we pursue revival for revival’s sake, we are seeking secondary results.

Luke 10:17-20 speaks to this. “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

God is not in the entertainment business. When He works miracles it is for one purpose only — the ultimate good of His Kingdom. A wise old minister once said to a younger one, “God can work miracles through anybody. If He made Balaam’s donkey speak by a miracle, don’t get puffed up if He decides to work a few through you.”

When God does a great work through you, does it humble you or does it feed your ego? The appreciation and fascination for God’s moving should never dim or replace our desire for holy living and righteous character.

A Look Inside Yourself – Part Two

We are looking at questions we might want to ask ourselves several times a year when taking a good look inside our heart; when taking a spiritual inventory. A practice that all believers should adopt and implement in their lives. 

1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?

2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?

3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?

What are the difficult and critical questions? The first one is, “Why am I doing this? Why am I spending time on this project, looking at this web site, or with these people? What are my motives? Did the Lord lead me here or did I just come on my own?

The second question is, “How should this be done?” In other words, whatever your life today brings your way you should be asking the Lord how to deal with it, handle it, accomplish it? This question is dealing with presumption. The danger of presumption is ever-present especially for those who are suppose to be guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. Moses strikes the rock to produce water on one occasion and them presumes quite wrongly that this is to be God’s method on a later occasion.

The third critical question is, “When should I do it?”  This question obviously deals with timing. When does God want His task accomplished? When is the best time to move forward on that decision you just made (to build a friendship, to buy a house, to switch jobs…. Again, aggressive believers have a tendency to run ahead of God’s timetable for their lives. Many Bible characters had this tendency. We have a tendency to want short-term success at the expense of God’s long-term will. 

4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 we read, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”

You are at peace in yourself when you are walking with someone who knows you well, has permission to ask you the tough questions, and to whom you have willingly submitted your life and are thus accountable to. This can be someone in official authority such as a pastor or a team leader. But it can also just be a friend or family member who sees and knows the real you and to whom you have given permission to check up on you and the way you are thinking and living and do so on a regular basis. 

One of the reasons I believe in the local church is because this can be a safe place to be open and accountable. Every Christian should be a member of a local assembly and should submit to someone in the group who they relate to and trust. In other words, someone you have a healthy and open relationship and connection to.

Here are the accountability questions I have adopted in both my life and my ministry…

  1. Have you spent daily time in God’s Word and in prayer?
  2. Have you flirted, or had lustful attitudes, tempting thoughts, or exposed yourself to any explicit materials which would not glorify God?
  3. Have you been completely above reproach in your financial dealings?
  4. Have you pursued the hearts of your wife and kids?
  5. Have you done your 100% best in your job, school, etc.?
  6. Have you told any half truths or outright lies, putting yourself in a better light to those around you?
  7. Have you shared the Gospel with an unbeliever this week?
  8. Have you taken care of your body through daily physical exercise and proper eating/sleeping habits?
  9. Have you allowed any person or circumstance to rob you of your joy?
  10. Have you lied on any of your answers?

A Look Inside Yourself – Part One

Too often believers don’t take the time or make the space for personal reflection and self-examination. I call this taking a ‘spiritual inventory.’ It means actually scheduling the time to take a deep dive inside your own heart or spirit and being honest with yourself about the condition of your inner life. This is important for many reasons but especially because Jesus stated clearly that “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” And, the Bible teaches that your heart defines how you live and who you are. It is from the heart that life flows. This then plays a major influence on what you accomplish in life.

Over the years I have practiced taking a ‘spiritual inventory’ during the New Year’s break from my regular routine and again during my summer slowdown from ministry. And, I have collected a series of questions that enable me to focus on my inner life and take an honest look at the condition of that “life.” Let me share them with you.

1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?

This question should prompt a quick and positive answer. If not, you are getting too close to the edge, too close to trouble. Each day you need to be hearing the voice of the Lord for yourself. His Words are spirit and life (John 6:63) and without hearing directly from the Lord regularly then you are drifting and in danger (Hebrews 2:1). So, the question you should ask yourself (or have an accountability partner ask you) is:

“Do I have a word from the Lord for myself that is current and up-to-date?”

“What have I been learning recently in my time with the Lord?”

“What aspect of my life has the Lord been speaking to me about in the last few months?”

The most active and alive believers are those who have a disciplined daily walk with the Lord. This walk is the best protection to keep us from falling into sin.

Why is this so essential to the believer? Because the Word of God convicts our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you …” It also helps us think like God. The things that we think on are the things that we become (Proverbs 23:7). 

If we are not spending time with God, we are spending that time with whatever it is that has become more important to us. When this happens we quickly become insensitive to His Spirit and therefore, we no longer have the strength to resist temptation. It boils down to the simple fact that I first learned when saved many decades ago: “Sin will keep us from the Word or the Word will keep us from sin.”

A person of integrity is one who has established a system of values against which all life is judged. The system of values is determined by a person’s walk with God. When we attempt to “talk the talk” without “walking the walk,” we are destined to failure. We can avoid this pitfall by keeping our walk With God vital and daily, close and consistent. 

2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?

Priorities have a tendency to sneak out of position when we are not paying attention to them. Countless number of believers have become busy living life only to discover the tragic price of their being so busy was a broken marriage, the loss of personal health, or the failure of their walk with God. At some point along the road, their priorities shifted and their journey changed. 

The first priority of any Christian should be his or her relationship with God. That means growing closer to Him, worshipping and loving Him, and being obedient to Him. The careful maintenance of this relationship is the surest safeguard against life ending up where it should not be. 

One of my favourite passages is John 21:15 where Jesus asks of Peter, “Peter, do you love Me more than these?” The question the Chief Shepherd most wants us to answer is not, “How much do you know about Me?” Or even, “How much are you telling the world about Me?” It is, “How much do you love Me?” Our relationship with Him must be a priority. 

Our second priority should be our family responsibilities and our third concern should be touching others with the love of God and the message of the Kingdom and salvation. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 

Such sober warnings in the Word of God should impress upon us the important of keeping our priorities straight: God first, family second, career and ministering to others third. 

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Six

As you grow more self-confident you will find your confidence has a contagious quality. It will spread throughout your sphere of influence. The Bible provides some interesting examples of “confidence contagion.”

For instance, how many giant-killers are in Saul’s army? None. When Goliath defied the armies of God, they quaked in fear (1 Samuel 17:11). David, who came to bring food to his brothers, sized up the situation, went out in faith, and killed the giant. After David the giant-killer became king, how many giant-killers arose in Israel? Quite a few. They were almost a common commodity in the army under David’s leadership. 

1 Chronicles 20:4-8 “And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued. And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”

Why do you suppose there were no giant-killers in Saul’s army? Surely one reason is that Saul himself was not a giant-killer. However, under David’s leadership they were numerous, because David was a giant-killer. This illustrates a tremendous principle, a principle that runs throughout the Bible — it takes one to make one! When you develop confidence, those around you – friends, family, fellow church members – will increase in their own confidence levels. Confidence breeds confidence. 

Everyone needs to be affirmed both as a person and as a believer. Affirmation allows our self-confidence to grow. It is easy to give a generic compliment such as “You’re great to work with.” But a comment that really means something to a person is specific and mentions a certain quality: “I appreciate your efficiency in relational skills, and this is very important to the success of the group.” We don’t help others by passing on empty compliments or avoiding the necessary task of sharing needed constructive criticism. Unfortunately too often we are stingy with honest praise. Built up those you relate to and encourage them by verbalizing their worth and value in front of others. Remember, praise in public and criticize in private.

Confidence can provide the momentum you need to be the person God meant you to be. It cannot substitute for character, or skill, or knowledge, but it enhances these qualities so that you can be a person who makes a difference in the life of others. When you have people knowledge and skills and the momentum that confidence brings, then things begin to happen in your relationships.

The largest locomotive in the New York Central system, while standing still, can be prevented from moving by a single, one-inch block of wood placed in front of each of the eight drive wheels! The same locomotive, moving at 100 miles-per-hour can crash through a wall of steel-reinforced concrete five feet thick. The only difference is momentum. Confidence gives you the momentum that makes the difference.

You remember the childhood story about the train engine that did because he thought he could. Some of the larger engines were defeated when they saw the hill. Then came the little train hustling down the track repeating to himself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” and he began to pass al the other locomotives who were saying, “It can’t be done.” As he got closer to the top his speed got slower and slower, but as he reached the crest, he said, “I though I could, I thought I could, I thought I could….”

The little engine made it, but not because he had more power or more skills. The little engine made it because he thought he could; he had more confidence. Many times we feel like little insignificant engines. But if we hone our skills and talents, then add a good dose of confidence, we can climb hills and overcome obstacles and barriers that could have stopped us dead in our tracks. Why pull off the track and stop when we can conquer those mountains with the momentum of confidence in our engines? 

Sometimes I Don’t Enjoy Praying

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-dont-enjoy-praying/

Before I was born again prayer was non-existent in my life

Oh, I prayed the prayers along with everyone else from the book of prayers during the Sunday morning service

Prayers that 50+ years later I can still repeat by memory (head) – but not from my heart

Then I met Jesus and prayer took on whole new dynamic (November 9th, 1976)

It was a very personal and private conversation between Jesus and me 

A time for solitude and stillness when I reconnected with my own heart and the heart of the Father who loves me unconditionally

A very special – and sometimes quiet – time when I experienced God’s peace and His presence that was different than what I experienced during any other time  Read more