Hammering Home Your Point

When I was younger one of the hit songs was “If I had a Hammer” by Trini Lopez. I know, I am dating myself. You can watch a live performance of the song at: https://binged.it/2oChE2H
I was thinking about that song a few morning back as I was thinking of some people I minister to who seem to use a hammer to solve all their relational issues. They enter into the situation and just hammer away at people, beating them down and, in some cases, destroying them.
It has been said, “Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head.” And often we enter into relational conflict to win the argument and not salvage or win the relationship. In other words, don’t put winning the argument over winning the relationship. Alexander MacLaren states, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” So the question we should ask ourselves and maybe others is: “Would others say I overreact to small things in a relationship?
We need to realize that having the right attitude is more important than having the right answers. We need to soften our approach, listen more, and stop making a big deal out of little things. In other words, put the hammer away.
To put the hammer away we need to consider four Ts…
1> Total picture
Do you come to conclusions long before the problem has been laid out before you? That is a common occurrence for most of us who have strong personalities. That is why we need to train ourselves to follow a process to keep ourselves from hammering people with answers before they are finished asking the question. When someone is sharing his point of view with you, try to:
Listen
Ask questions
Listen again
Ask more questions
Listen some more
Then respond
You will find that if you slow yourself down, see the big picture, you will be more likely to respond patiently and appropriately.
2> Timing
It has been said, “It’s what you do, not when you do it, that counts.” That’s not always true. If the general doesn’t order the attack at the right time, the battle is lost. If the parent doesn’t get the injured child to the hospital quickly enough, her life might be lost. If you don’t apologize to someone when you’ve wronged them, the relationship might be lost.
When you act is as important as taking the right action. Even knowing when not to act can be important. Someone noted: “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
It seems to me that the most common cause of bad timing in relationships is selfish motives. For that reason, when little things bother us, our number one objective must be putting our personal agendas aside and building the relationship. If you have examined your motives, and you can be certain they are good, then you need too ask yourself two timing questions:
Am I ready to confront? That’s a pretty easy question to answer, because that’s really a matter of whether you have done your homework
Is the other person ready to hear. If you have laid a relational foundation and the two of you are not in the “heat of battle” then the answer may be yes.
3> Tone
People often respond to our attitudes and actions more than to our words. Many petty conflicts occur because people use the wrong tone of voice. The writer of Proverbs states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Haven’t you found that to be true. If not, try this experiment. The next time someone says something to you in anger, respond with gentleness and kindness. When you do that, the person who spoke harshly is likely to tone down, if not soften, his attitude.
4> Temperature
As tempers flare, people are prone to dropping bombs when using a slingshot will do. And that can cause a lot of trouble because the size of a problem often changes based on how it is handled. In general…
If the reaction is worst than the action, the problem usually increases
If the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases
That is why we need to follow a simple personal rule. Take thirty seconds to share feelings – and then it’s over. Anytime we let a little thing create a big reaction (one that lasts longer than thirty seconds), then we are using a hammer.
We looked at the four Ts of preventing a crisis when dealing with relational issues. Let’s talk about trading in your hammer and then treating people with dignity and respect.
Some people seem to think that a hammer is good for anything and everything. I guess you could say they take a hammering approach to life. This attitude is most often observed among high achievers. When they give something their full attention, they go at it full bore. That’s usually a good approach to tasks. It’s a terrible way to treat people, however. As psychologist Abraham Maslow observed: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” People require more judicious treatment than that.
If you desire to develop a softer touch with people, take the following advice to heart:
1> Let the past stay in the past
Resolve an issue when it occurs And once you have done that, don’t bring it up again. If you do bring it back up later, you are treating someone as a nail.
2> Ask yourself, is my reaction part of the problem?
When a person’s response is greater than the issue, the response is about something else. Don’t make things worse by overreacting.
3> Remember that actions are remembered long after words are forgotten
If you have a high school diploma or college degree, can you recall the message the commencement speaker delivered at your graduation? Or if you’re married, can you recite your wedding vows from memory? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is no. But I bet you do remember getting married and receiving your diploma. The way you treat people will stay with them a lot longer than the words you choose. Act accordingly.
4> Never let the situation mean more than the relationship
I believe that if I had not made my relationship with my wife a higher priority than always being right, we might not be married today. Relationships are based on bonding. The more important the relationship, the greater the bond.
5> Treat loved ones with unconditional love
Because ours is a society with lots of broken and dysfunctional individuals, many people never had good models of unconditional love. In “The Flight,” John Whit shared his perspective on where we fall short in our treatment of important people in our lives: “We gossip because we fail to love. When we love people, we don’t criticize them. If we love them, their failures hurt. We don’t advertise the sins of people we love any more than we advertise our own.”
6> Admit wrongs and ask forgiveness
Chicago mobster Al Capone reportedly said, “You can get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Despite the humour, I can tell you this: forgiveness is better. Admitting you’re wrong and asking for forgiveness can cover a multitude of sins. That approach is also one of the best ways to try to make things right when you find that you’ve used the hammer when you should not have.
The problem with most individuals who use the hammer all the time is that they may not know that they do it. If you might be one of them – let some people who know you well hold the mirror and tell you what they see. If you don’t believe them, do the same with your loved ones and friends. If you do that, you will find out whether you treat others as people or as nails. If you do the latter, then you need to make a change.

Hearing God’s Voice

 

When I was born again I encountered and experienced God
This is what being born again means – a life-changing encounter with the living God
And, the beginning of a personal relationship with God called “eternal life”
Romans 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that you may know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent…”
To have a healthy personal relationship with God (Jesus) you need, as in any relationship, to see, hear, and touch the person you are relating to

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I’m Out Of Here

A hero of the faith died a week and a half ago quietly passing from this life into the next. Cecil John Glover of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan died at the age of 79. Although he passed from this life into the next quietly it was definitely not quiet in Heaven. All of Heaven broke into rejoicing as they welcomed one of their strong warriors into their presence. 

I met Cecil almost 40 years ago when he was sharing his testimony at a Full Gospel Businessman’s banquet. He often did share his testimony at their banquets in the many cities and towns where there was a group wanting to impact the business community with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Cecil would show up and just be himself. With guitar in hand he would lead worship, sing about his relationship with the Lord, share what the Lord had done for him as well as what Jesus was continuing to do through him.

For many years Cecil and his wife travelled extensively in Canada and the United States singing, preaching, teaching, and ministering. He had an amazing impact on many lives wherever the Holy Spirit took him. He was always sensitive to the voice of the Spirit and obedient to whatever he heard the Lord speak.

Cecil was an evangelist and a worshipper. But he also pastored a church in Moose Jaw for many years. A church that was a part of the network of churches that I founded and still lead. Many times Cecil would come to our church in Regina to minister, to teach, encourage, and to share. He was always upbeat, positive, and such a blessing to all of us. His music was amazing. Simple but amazing. A sample of his many songs is found in the link at the end of this blog – from his album “I’m Out Of Here.” I thought it appropriate as I remember this amazing man of God. For truly he is ‘out of here’ after having “fought the good (and long) fight of faith.” 

It was an honour to know Cecil, to have him minister to my people, and to minister on occasion to his people when he was pastoring. He was an amazing man of God and warrior for the Kingdom. Many people today are part of that Kingdom because of his sacrifice and ministry. As a result, he leaves a tremendous legacy behind. His funeral was help last Thursday and as I sat and listened it truly was a celebration of who Cecil Glover was and is. Enter into your rest Cecil. You of all people deserve it!

We will meet again …

Fight the Good Fight from Cecil’s “I’m Out of Here” album

            https://youtu.be/PAbyFIDdykg

Character Is Foundational

Just this week I spent time on the phone with another apostle and then a conference call with two apostles regarding a person in ministry who needs to step down from all leadership responsibilities. 

This is a man whom we have worked with and supported over a number of years. We have encouraged him to make changes in his character and even offered help in some areas to enable him to do so. Areas such as finances and family. However, he has not taken the necessary action to improve and change. So, he is being asked to step down and focus on the issues that are needing attention.

So often in ministry we look at gifting and anointing. We determine the person’s call and begin to move them in the direction of fulfilling their call. We disciple, train, equip, and even mentor those who have a definite call upon their life to enter the fivefold ministry. However, more foundational than giftings, skills, knowledge, anointing, and calling is character. It is foundational to everything. Not just for leaders but for all believers.

Character involves a number of things … Let’s list them for a quick understanding of some of the elements of a person’s life that we might look at when determining and working with a person’s character.

      • Family – How are they doing with their family members? Do they love and respect this person?
      • Finances – Is this person a good manager of their money, paying their bills on time, living within their means, and tithing as well as giving to the work of the ministry?
      • Friends – Who are they relating to as friends? as “Bad company corrupts good morals”
      • Fun – What does this person do for fun and how do they spend their spare time?
      • Fruit – Do they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
      • Fruitfulness – Are they influencing people and seeing people come into the Kingdom?
      • Faith – What are they believing God for – standing in faith regarding?
      • Faithfulness – Are they regular in their devotional life, church attendance, and ministry obligations?

As we work with people, see how they relate to and treat other people, and come to know them and their family better, we begin to see the character of the person. This character is the foundation for any and all ministry. Without it established and in place, functioning correctly, the person will not be successful in their ministry and in influencing others for the Kingdom. And, the Lord as well as the Church will, once again, be seen in a negative light in society and among non-believers. They do notice, by the way.

So, the most loving thing we can do is remove a person who, after a season of failing to develop and change these basic character issues – even when offered and given support and help – is to have them step down from all ministry. This frees them to focus on and work with these basic elements of their character. 

Of course, this action of removing someone from a leadership position may not appear to be a loving decision. Be that as it may, the removal is needed because the person has not cooperated nor responded to the help and direction being offered to them. They apparently are not teachable. They are not interested in being mentored. The leaders, in this case three apostles, have walked the extra mile or two with this person and spoken the truth in love many times. It is now time to move forward and release this person so they can decide what it is they really want to do and how committed they are to doing it. 

Character is foundational. God has called his children, not just His leaders, to be Christ-like in all of their behaviour and interaction with others. Our heavenly Father is desiring that we represent Him well amongst those who do not believe.

The Journey

I believe that life is a journey. And, that on this journey we should always be moving forward. That means we should be learning, growing, changing, becoming more mature. I am in my early seventies and I am continuing to change and grow. I have a hunger to read and learn. I am interested in so many things and want to experience new things on at least a weekly basis. I get bored really fast and this helps me to continue to move forward on the journey.

I recently read an amazing and candid book called “Becoming” by Michele Obama. I am not a political person and read it because it was recommended highly by my sister and her adult daughter. It was an amazing read. Michelle Obama is an amazing writer and has had an amazing life both before and after her eight years as First Lady of the United States of America.

In her book, the epilogue, she writes, “At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be. For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with anther person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are moments still when I feel insecure or unheard. It is all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigour. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” (Becoming by Michelle Obama, page 419)

One of my first mentors always said that many people suffer from “Destination Disease.” They set a goal and work hard to achieve it. And, when they achieve it they begin to live like they have arrived. They have reached their destination. They don’t set new goals. They don’t find a new vision for their life. They simply, at best, coast through the rest of their life … or park and stop growing.

When I first heard the teaching and then later read it in one of his books I determined that I would never “arrive.” I would never catch “Destination Disease.” I want to continue growing, developing, maturing, learning. So, I set goals. One consistent goal is to read a book a week. If the book is a shorter one – under 200 pages – then I read two during that week. I read because I need to. There is an inner hunger to learn more, to grow, to develop. And, there is so much one can learn from others just by reading. I make time to read. Anyone can do that as well if they want to. 

The current younger generation seems to not want to or like to read. I recommend books to the young men I disciple and mentor and they admit that they have not read a book in years. Some don’t try. Those that do quickly fall in love with reading and thus growing through reading. Those that don’t almost always stop the discipling / mentoring relationship. They just, at this stage in their life, don’t see the need to read. Maybe they are growing and maturing through what they watch on You Tube and listen to on their smart phone. Maybe not. But, there is such potential for growth and maturity if the individual will simply pick up a book, get alone, and immerse themselves in the discoveries of others. 

Of course, I drag a paper copy of the book around with me. I am never without a book in my car. You never know when you might find 15 minutes to read while waiting for someone or something. And, I have graduated to ebooks as well. Partly because I have run out of shelf space and am almost out of floor space so cannot stack many more paper books. Partly because of convenience and it weighs less when travelling by plane. The new eReaders are waterproof which makes reading while camping and kayaking a pleasure. 

So, we are all on a journey. Hopefully you believe that you never arrive but just keep learning and growing. And, books are my prime way to learn and to grow. 

Focus

 

FOCUS
I was researching “wave pools” this week…
In the middle of Texas – Waco, Texas – there is a Surf Ranch.
Every 90 seconds a new wave breaks in all directions of the pool
There is an actual guarantee that you will have waves that you can surf
The Wave Pool

(3.5 minutes)

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Gentle Heresy

I recently sat with a young man whom I coffee with when in the province east on my home province. He was a member of one of our house churches who has since decided to leave and attend the “going concern” church in his small city. However, I appreciate him and believe in him so I am keeping in touch. It was a good coffee conversation.

In the conversation he mentioned an author who he is currently reading. I had never heard of this writer. He mentioned that this preacher sees things in the spirit realm and teaches others to do the same. Now, I don’t have a problem with that. I also move in the supernatural gift of the Discerning of Spirits as found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. What concerned me was his comment that this man could do this since he was born. 

If a person who is not born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit can see what is happening in the spirit realm it is not a God-thing. His source would be the ruler of this age, the devil himself or one of the demons that constantly deceive believers. So, I did not say anything but my warning flags were raised and I decided to purchase this author’s books and read them to see where things stand. If the author actually says that then I will be deeply concerned and try to address the issue with my young friend. That comment would be a gentle heresy. Totally not biblical. 

It does not help that the author is part of a movement that I already have deep concerns about. So, I am treading gently and doing my due diligence reading what this man has written.

This is what I call a “gentle heresy.”

During the same week I was in a sharing session in a local church and another young man whom I know shared about a man he is following on You Tube and reading his books. He shared that this man teaches people how to get rich and, most importantly, the principles needed to handle the riches when they come. Again, my warning flags were blowing strongly in the wind. I am aware of this man’s teachings, his books, and his seminars. He is New Age and certainly not a believer in any way, shape, or form. 

The young man sharing was all excited about what he was learning about the principles needed to gain and maintain wealth. But it was all secular and New Age and not biblical in the least. The Bible states: “Beloved I pray that you may prosper and be in heath as you soul prospers” (3 John 2). Your soul – mind, will, emotions – propers only when connected to the Living God as seen and found only in Jesus. If your finances prosper beyond the level your soul prospers then you will see that specific person’s life enter confusion and end is disaster. I have seen it so often – especially with lottery winners. It is not just a matter of principles – it has to do with your connection with the Living God and letting Him transform your mind, your will, and your emotions. 

Another gentle heresy or wrong teaching. 

In some of the Facebook sharing of several people in the same local church as the “prosperity” guy above there are several who are directly and indirectly quoting the teaching of Joseph Prince. This one I have researched a lot and have seen the danger his teachings are to the Church. This man talks a good talk but when you scratch the surface even a little bit you have a much less than gentle heresy. You find a full-blown early church heresy called Antinomianism. This is any view which holds that Christians are freed by grace from obligations of any moral law – the Ten Commandments, for example. 

All these people sharing their thoughts and their theology are young people who love Jesus but are seeking out spiritual experiences and encounters. They are putting the subjective experiences – their own and that of others – ahead of the objective truth, the Bible. And, they have placed their opinions over the thoughts and the words of the Lord. And, in the process they have created a god that approves of their lifestyle and beliefs. And, they have built strongholds in their minds that need to be pulled down.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”

The young believers today are desperately in need of spiritual fathers and mothers who are mature and will “speak the truth in love”. We need to be discipling and mentoring the young people in the Church today or else they will continue to believe a lie and follow their own vain imaginations. Eventually leaving the Church and the Christian faith because they no longer see it as relevant or believable. 

The Basics of Healing

To understand healing we need to first look at salvation
Salvation or being born again…
The Bible states that God wants all peoples to be saved
1 Timothy 2:3b-4 “God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
“It is pleasing to our Saviour-God to pray for them. He longs for everyone to embrace his life and return to the full knowledge of the truth.” (The Passion Translation)
To be saved they need to believe and call upon the Name of the Lord

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Fentanyl

 I have just had the opportunity to be driving by myself for a total of 14 hours in the last five days or so. I spend some of that time thinking, praying, and sorting thoughts and feelings, filing them or assimilating them so that they become part of who I am and are “filed away” and no longer continue to cross my mind and heart requiring more attention. Driving long distances is a good time to examine life and where it is at currently. An ancient philosopher wrote, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I agree.

During the many hours of driving I occasionally listen to a specific program on PBS – Public Broadcasting Station – that is on the satellite radio system that my car is equipped to receive. This specific program often interviews some amazing people. This particular program was speaking with Ben Westhoff. He has just published a book called Fentanyl, Inc. It was an amazing interview. You can listen to it (in English) as well as see a full transcript of the interview at: https://www.kenw.org/post/fentanyl-dark-web-profit-center-chinese-labs-us-streets

The interview led me to purchase the book Westhoff had just written and that was the center of the interview and discussion. Fentanyl is a major issue in every nation where I work. The basic drug is known by many names on the streets – K2, Spice, 251-NBOMe – and is basic to the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our nations. The book deals with this epidemic on many levels – pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, drug dealers and even drug lords, as well as the families whose lives have been destroyed by this so easy to obtain drug.  

From the cover … “Through his courageous reporting Ben Westhoff takes us to the heart of the problem. In Fentanyl, Inc., he shines a light on the human wreckage and damage caused by the most powerful and dangerous of the opioids, fentanyl and its derivates. He shows us how addiction, mislabeling, and purposefully or mistakenly mixed drugs lead to tragic ends. The drug is often created out of factories operating with the permission of the Chinese government. To solve this epidemic, we must understand it. Make no mistake: the fentanyl problem is a global issue. Fentanyl, Inc., is a must read, pulling the curtain back and showing us how this human tragedy occurs and how insidious and addictive a drug can be.”

I am personally amazed at the number of believers who are unaware of what is happening in their world. Just after hearing the author interviewed I spent time with a number of believers – both one-on-one and with several groups. They were not aware of the problems we are all facing. And, some of them even bluntly stated that they don’t want to know all the “bad news” and thus don’t listen to the news or stay current with what is happening in the world and in their neighbourhood. I was astonished. I was amazed. I was shocked. I was deeply saddened. 

Jesus said that we were to live in the world – be in touch and involved with what is happening – just don’t get sucked into the ways of the world personally. In the world but not of the world. We are called to be light and salt … light needs to be in the darkness to make a difference. Salt needs to be in touch to change and preserve things. It is not wise to avoid knowing and understanding the bad news that is spoken about in real life every day. Remember, the Gospel is only good news because there is bad news. 

Isolating oneself from what is happening in the world is not what Jesus did. And, He does not want us to do it either. John 1:14 states that He came and dwelt among us. He became one of us. He lived as we live and where we live. We are to do the same. We need to engage with our culture and society, with all of its issues. We need to embrace those who are struggling with drug addiction and be there for them – loving, accepting, forgiving, caring. Anything less is not Christian. 

We have a cycle of addiction and death that is gripping many families and even nations. It is time for believers to become aware of what is really happening in the world – in their world. Don’t kid yourself, someone in your own local community and neighbourhood has an addiction problem. And, Fentanyl is not just a street drug that people buy illegally. Many people receive their initial introduction to this ‘drug problem’ through legal prescriptions and become addicted that way.

We need, as believers, not to be ignorant of the current social problems our world and our local community is facing. We need to care enough to become knowledgable and involved.   

The Art of Getting Along

As I look at the life and ministry of Jesus I am amazed at how well He got along with people
People felt “at easy’ in His presence
People felt ‘at home’ with Him
People felt that they could ‘be real’ when with Him
People were “open’ and ‘transparent’ when talking with Him
People knew that they were ‘accepted’ and ‘loved’
He had an amazing way of helping people relax and be themselves when in His presence and so people were attracted to Him
Drawn to Him
Engaged by Him
Captivated by Him
Fascinated by Him
And it didn’t matter who you were

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