Decisions

There’s a story about a young man named president of a bank. That was a goal he had set for himself when he graduated from college, but he never dreamed he’d be president so quickly. He realized that he needed wise counsel, so he approached the Chairman of the Board and asked, “I was wondering if you could give me some advice about how to be a good president?”

The old man came back with just two words: “Right decisions!” The young man had hoped for a bit more than that, so he asked, “That’s really helpful, and I appreciate it, but can you be a little more specific? How do I know if I’m making right decisions?”

The old man simply responded, “Experience.” The young man said, “Well, that’s the point of my being here. I don’t have any experience at being a president of a bank and you do. How do I get it?” The older man replied, “Wrong decisions!” By that time the young man was somewhat frustrated: “And how do I avoid wrong decisions?” The old man said with a smile, “Right decisions.”

I can assure you that you are going to make plenty of both right and wrong decisions. It’s gratifying when you make “right decisions.” It’s frustrating when you make “wrong decisions.” The question is: What are you learning from those decisions?

Let me offer some advice. When you make “right decisions” don’t let them go to your head because a wrong decision is looming just around the corner. And when you’ve blown it _ when you have made yet another “wrong decision” _ don’t let it paralyze you. My point is simple: Learn from your mistakes then press on, but don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

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Who Are You Following?

‎John Maxwell who has written several books on leadership has written, “People tend to become what the most important people in their lives think they will become.” The Apostle Paul used a phrase several times in the New Testament “Imitate me.” He’s saying: Do what I do, say what I say, follow my example. That’s a bold thing for a person to say but Paul said it because he had decided to follow Jesus.

Truth is that any leader might as well say it because it happens. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “You’re just following a man,” or “You’re just following a preacher,” and, of course, we need to be careful about that — we’re to be followers of Jesus Christ because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. But the simple truth is that in every area of life, especially the area of being a Christ-follower _ you’ll find yourself yielding to the influence of certain leaders and authority figures.

So be very careful when you choose those who influence you. If you choose crabby people there’s a good chance you will become an old crab. If you choose people that constantly find fault there’s a good chance you will become a grumbler. If you choose people that willingly serve there’s a good chance you will become a faithful servant of Christ. If you choose a loving, kind, caring, godly person there’s a good chance you will become a rock-solid Christian.

So I ask _who have you been listening to? Who have you followed? Who are you imitating? What do those you are listening to want you to become? First and foremost I hope you’re being influenced by Jesus _ by the Word of God _ by godly men and women _ those who are walking closely with Jesus _ those whose lives reflect his presence _ those whose example is worth imitating as they imitate Christ.

And here is one more question for you… Are you living a Christ-honoring life that is worth being followed?

The Road That Leads to Success

It’s been said that successful people are successful because they’re willing to do the things that the average person isn’t willing to do. If someone were to ask you what your reason for living is, what would your answer be? Sometimes people have trouble answering that question truthfully. Oh, they’ll say what they think the answer should be. But what does their lifestyle reveal to be their true reason for living.

Here are three questions: I want you to take a moment to think about. You don’t have to tell anyone else, you only need to answer for yourself.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you think about?
  2. 2. During the day, what do you spend most of your time thinking about?
  3. 3. As you fall asleep at night, what tends to dominate your thoughts?

If the answer to all three questions is the same, THAT is your reason for living. If not then you need to decide which is more important to you than the others. Whatever it is that dominates your mind may determine how successful you become.

For instance, a great Christian life doesn’t occur by merely attending church on Sunday and making a half-hearted attempt to live by the 10 Commandments. A great Christian life occurs when a person becomes radically committed to following Jesus Christ and doing his will.

Now if we are going to achieve greatness in any area, not only are there things we need to do there are also certain things we will need to abandon. When two people get married, they abandon their past, with a vow that says, “Forsaking all others, I pledge myself only to you.” When a couple has their first child, they abandon some things as well. Such as, silence _ sleeping through the night _ watching a TV show all the way through. These things all involve sacrifice, and yet, they’re all worth the rewards they bring.

It works the same way in the Christian life. If you’re serious about being a Christian _ if you want to live a life that has a positive impact on the world around you _ then there are some things you’ll have to not only do but also abandon. Here are 3 of the things we need to abandon…

Empty promises: Jesus doesn’t buy them anyway so get serious about committing your life to him.

Lame excuses: Jesus won’t accept them anyway so take action today.

Limited Faith: It only stands in the way of experiencing Jesus’ power _ the kind of power that raised Jesus from the dead. So, stretch yourself to a no-limits faith in God’s ability to work in your life. And start now.

It Takes a Team Effort to Win

Steve May, a missionary in Brazil, shared this article and I felt it was worth sharing.

“On May 26, 1959, Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Harvey Haddix accomplished something no one else in baseball has accomplished: He pitched 12 perfect innings in a game against the Milwaukee Braves. It was enough to set a record, but it wasn’t enough to get a win.The score was tied at zero in the bottom of the 13th when the Braves’ lead-off hitter reached first on an error. Two batters later, Joe Adcock knocked in the winning run. The Braves took the game, 1-0. And Haddix took the loss. The Pirates had men on base all afternoon — more than a dozen altogether — but they couldn’t manage to get anyone across home plate. And so, with no help from the offense, Haddix’s brilliant record-setting performance wound up on the LOSS side of the ledger.

“Today many leaders are convinced if they themselves can maintain a certain level of brilliance, it will be enough to guarantee the success they’re looking for. While brilliance will certainly never work against you, neither can it take the place of teamwork. You’re not enough by yourself. Whatever it is you’re hoping to accomplish, you can’t do it alone. You need a team.

“Solomon wrote… Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:10, 12)

“I encourage you today to remind those on your team that you’re committed to doing your part, that you’ve got their back, and you’re thankful that they’ve got yours.”

Well said Steve. Hmm, I wonder if that’s why Jesus prayed for unity. Now remember no matter how good the team is the owner of the team has the last say. So, church make sure you pray and check the instruction manual called the Bible and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That is a winning combination _ a perfect team that has Jesus as its Captain _ a team that the gates of hell will not overcome (see Matthew 16 13-18).

Peace on Earth

I know that Christmas is more than four months away but the message of Christmas “Peace on earth, good will to men” (Luke 2:14) is needed more than ever. Conflicts rage all around us. Families are fractured.  Friendships are strained.  Nations are at war. Hate groups are active.

The absence of peace is a sign that something isn’t right. We live in a fallen world; a world broken by sin, and many times innocent people are caught in the crossfire. So peace is needed more than ever _ peace with people and peace with God.

Scripture is very realistic about the church’s role in the quest for peace on earth.  The writer of Hebrews said: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy…”  (Hebrews 12:14) Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Unfortunately, even when the church is doing their best to bring peace there are going to be peace-busters at work. So, with this conflict going on there needs to be something or someone that will swing the pendulum toward peace and the good news is that there is SOMEONE that can do what seems impossible for us.

The peace of God comes when there is a right relationship with God and that comes through Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what the angels proclaimed. It’s also something that Jesus promised His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27) Now that is one extraordinary promise, and one that everyone can have.

No one will ever be able to please everyone, but do what you can to do what’s right. You may be dealing with a strained or broken relationship but don’t let your imperfect relationships with people deprive you of enjoying peace with God

I don’t know the full circumstances of your life however, I assume that some of them are not so good. You may be facing a health problem or a financial problem or a relationship problem.  You may be living with an inner ache that comes from the death of loved one, or the death of a dream or the devastation of a personal betrayal. Life can deal out some pretty tough stuff. The Lord told us that we would all have trouble however, He also told us that in Him we would find peace, as we focus not on our troubles but on our Savior. (John 16:33)

So church, let’s be peace agents by proclaiming Jesus in all we do and say.

 

Where Are You Headed?

Jesus calls everyone into a personal relationship with him. It begins with that call and leads to salvation, and then it continues through the rest of a journey called life. It carries on until we see Jesus face to face. Jesus wants you to encounter him, to know him, to experience him, to become like him. He wants to fill your life with meaning.

I hope you will be on a quest to know Jesus as you’ve never known him before _ to follow him more closely than you ever have before _ to love him more deeply than you ever have before _ to have a close encounter of the very best kind.

No matter where we are at in a relationship with Jesus it always seems to begin with a decision about whether to follow him or not. For two brothers that we read about in the Gospel of Mark it was that way. “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1:16-18)

Now their decision about whether or not to follow Jesus wasn’t that much different than ours. He called them like he calls us today. It is when we answer yes to that call that we fully discover who Jesus is. When all we do is read about Jesus we will only see him from a distance and chances are that we will only know him casually. We get to know him intimately by following and serving him. Jesus’ invitation wasn’t come learn about me _ it was come follow me _ do what I do _ go where I go _ live how I live.

We really like the idea of golden streets and no more pain or suffering or death. However, we don’t always like the path that leads us there. I challenge you on this day to leave whatever it is that takes you where you want to go and to follow Jesus wherever it might take you. Oh, and by the way Jesus promises to make the walk with us. He also promises to fill us with the Spirit of God to help us along the way.

So I ask,  where are you headed and who are you going to follow?

We Can Do It!

In 1926, by an act of Congress, inventions were put up for sale that had been accumulating in the patent office for over 125 years. They sold things like an adjustable pulpit for preachers. It was supposed to automatically lift the speaker up or down so that he could be seen. One preacher in Ohio was supposedly using the adjustable pulpit while preaching a hellfire and brimstone sermon. He was really into it when he slammed the pulpit with his fist and shouted, “What about you, where will you spend eternity?” Unfortunately, the slam also triggered the device and down he went!

Inventors have always dreamed about the great potential for their contraptions but, what about the dreams _ the goals _ the hopes for your church? The good news is that we don’t have to rely on gimmicks to reach our potential. We simply need to use what God has already given us. So I wonder: What does God have in mind for your church? How can it be accomplished? How can it be paid for? Who will do the work? How is the power of Christ being unleashed? How do we fit into God’s plan for making our church a great church? What will we do when opposition arises?

Those are questions we ask because the church has been given a huge responsibility _ go, make disciples, baptize, teach _ summed up _ prepare people for The Day. That is quite a daunting task especially when there are so many who stand opposed to the church. In the face of such opposition sometimes it’s tempting to throw in the towel and quit.

When Winston Churchill was Prime Minister of England he was asked to speak to a kindergarten class. After a long introduction, the Prime Minister stood _ went to the podium and gave this great speech: “Never give up _ never, never, never!” Then he sat down _ he had said all that needed to be said.

Sometimes we need to be told the same thing. Now if you don’t think Winston Churchill is the right person to quote then how about the Apostle Paul? “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) And so, I ask: Are you living up to your potential _ as a family, as an individual, as a church? And, a second question: If you aren’t then why not? There are all kinds of excuses: shyness, fear, lack of resources, lack of ability, not enough time, someone besides the person we looked at in the mirror this morning is not doing enough _ on and on it could go. Well church, those excuses just won’t cut it.

When Joshua was about to lead the Israelites across the Jordan and enter the Promised Land God told him: “I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:5-7) Does that sound familiar? It should. When Jesus gave the great commission to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach He said this: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) So, when we get knocked down, and we will get knocked down from time to time we must get back up, brush ourselves off, and get after it again and while we’re at it we may as well throw the excuses in the dumpster.

Church, stand strong, follow the Lord’s lead because as it says it in Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.” And in Isaiah 41:13, “I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” And nothing is too difficult for God.