Monday, January 12, 2015


"He grew a root out of dry ground."  Isaiah 53:2

Isaiah points out that Jesus sprang up "like a root out of dry ground."  Talk about tough circumstances!  God dressed up in a man's body, living among those who wanted to kill him simply because He wanted to save them.  He left Heaven - which we are hard-pressed to even imagine - to enter earth, a hostile environment filled with betrayers and religious stiff-necks, to go toe-to-toe with the devil.  So, He pulled away a lot. What a consecrated, set-apart life He had to live in order to survive among His own who despised, rejected and finally crucified Him.  He spent much time in prayer and came back from those visits with His Father encouraged and empowered.  Jesus always kept one thing in mind: He came to do His Father's will.  Just that!  And He said that as the Father had sent Him, "So send I you" [John 20:21].  So, we too should keep God's will in mind at all times as we endeavor to survive our struggles. 

We need to remember that He sent us, and that we have a job to do.  When we know that we are not our own, that our well-being and identity are not dependent upon the recognition of others, we can experience a level of peace, joy and contentment even in the toughest circumstances.  When we know that God appreciates us we can have a healthy self-esteem, not a weak dependent ego that constantly needs propping up like a loose character brings God's blessing. "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance" [Matthew 25:29].

Sunday, January 4, 2015


"Laying his hands on each one, he healed them."  Luke 4:40

When someone interrupts your task at hand for the sake of conversation, how do you react?  If you relax and converse until the chat has natural closure, you are people oriented.  If you squirm your way out with a bombardment of verbal and nonverbal clues, you are task oriented.

Jesus spent more time with people than in any other action.  Though He did only 3-1/2 years to train 12 men to change the world, He spent most of His time meeting needs, helping people amid the unbearable pressure to perform tasks - and that is the model He left us.  At the end of one of His busiest days it is recorded that, "When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying His hands on each one, he healed them."  What is ministry all about?  People or production? 

Obviously much of our paperwork and production is aimed at helping people.  But often there is precious little time or energy left for the people - because we are exhausted accomplishing all those tasks!  Whether we like to admit it or not, paperwork, deadlines and crowded day-timers often preoccupy us and create a barrier between us and the opportunity of connecting with people and meeting their needs.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


"Not that we are adequate in ourselves".  2 Corinthians 3:5

Have you ever watched someone walking a dog on a lead, when the dog does not want to go where its owner is going? The owner is constantly tugging on the lead, pulling the dog from here and there, telling it to "stop that" and "come back here."  That is the way a lot of us live.  We are on a "law lead".  Our lives consist of "Stop that; come back here; do not do that."  Only it is in terms of "Read your Bible; pray; go to church; pay your tithes; witness."  Now, there are certainly the things we should be doing, but God never meant us to do them at the end of a lead.  What a difference when you see a dog and its owner that have a strong relationship.  The dog does not need a lead to go for a walk.  Its owner can just speak a word and the dog responds.  Now, we are not comparing ourselves to dogs, we are comparing performance-based Christian living to relationship-based Christian living.  Big, big difference!

Paul writes: "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  "When God redeemed you, He wrote His law in your heart and mind [Hebrews 10:16].  That means He wants to relate to you from the inside.  You should not need an external system rules to "keep you in line," because you have internalized God's Word and you have a desire to obey and please Him from your heart.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


"Be Courteous...That You May Inherit A Blessing."  1 Peter 3:9

Common courtesy is becoming less common every day.  And that is not good, because the Bible says, "Be courteous...that you may inherit a blessing."  Sometimes, we are not sure how to go about pleasing God.  Preachers have made it complicated: a series of long-drawn-out, deeply painful acts designed to appease a God who delights in making us squirm.  The prophet Micah simplifies it: "What does the Lord require of love kindness" [Micah 6:8].  Could language be clearer? Here are ten 'not-so-common' courtesies you should work on every day, and teach your children.  After all, if they do not learn common courtesy from you, where are they going to learn it?

  1. Go out of your way to speak to people.  "Pleasant words are...healing' [Proverbs 16:24].
  2. Try to remember their names.  It shows you value them.
  3. Smile; it increases your 'face value'.
  4. Be friendly and helpful.  If you do, people will return it [Proverbs 16:24].
  5. Show genuine interest.  You can find something good in almost anybody, if you try [Philippians 4:8].
  6. Be generous with your praise and cautious with your criticism.
  7. Be slow to judge.  There are three sides to every story; your side, their side, and the right side.
  8. Instead of 'using' others, serve them: 'By love serve one another' [Galatians 5:13].
  9. Start trusting people.  It builds lasting relationships.
  10. Be humble. Oswald Chambers said, "When a saint becomes conscious of being a saint, something has gone wrong."
Courtesy does two things: 
  • It speaks well of your parents.  Jesus said, "Live so that people will...praise your Father" [Matthew 5:16].
  • It determines your level of blessing. "Be courteous...that you may inherit a blessing."

Monday, January 6, 2014


"Stephanas, Fortunatas and Achaicus...have been a wonderful encouragement to me." 1 Corinthians 16:17 - 18

Most of us have no idea how much other people's emotions, self esteem and hopes are influenced by what we say.  Paul said, "Stephanas, Fortunatas, and Achaicus...have been a wonderful encouragement to me."  If you have never heard of them, it is because most encouragers hate being the centre of attention.  They are happy to work in a supporting role.  But without them very little would get done.  The opposite of giving encouragement is spreading discouragement, and Paul says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up...that it may benefit those who listen" Ephesians 4:29.  Jesus said..."You will give your words you will be justified, and...condemned" Matthew 12:36 - 37.  What you say can never be taken back and it will be used as evidence for or against you one day.  

Dr. Thomas Blackaby points out, "Words...can leave scars for a life time, and many people will never forget some of the things you have said to them, both good things, such as words of encouragement, and bad things, such as criticism and rebuke...Make the best possible use of words so they bring blessings on others."  So, are your words encouraging? Can it be said that there is...nothing crooked or them" Proverbs 8:8?  Ask God to "set a guard...over your mouth..." Psalm 141:3.  So whatever you say glorifies Him and lifts others up.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



If you are a leader, try to avoid these pitfalls:

  1. Micromanaging vs. Leading.  Managing people requires an eye for detail, whereas leading involves vision-sharing, goal-setting and motivating.  And you must know the difference.  When you micromanage rather than lead, morale plummets because people need clear objectives and the freedom to figure out how to reach them.  Do not micromanage; it diminishes the sense of 'ownership' those under and around you need for good team dynamics and problem-solving.
  2. Confusing Individual Loyalty with Team Building.  It is good to work closely with key individuals, but it is also important for people to stay 'connected to each other' [Romans 12:5].  Make sure everybody gets to be on the team, feels valued and learns to interact with one another.
  3. Being Afraid to Try Things.  Stretching people into new areas means they will make mistakes.  While locking them into the same routine may keep them [and you] safe, it takes the motivational wind out of their sails.  Being a leader means risking other people's failures and biting your lip as you let them 'toddle' out into the unknown.  Like a parent who prays harder when their teen takes the family car out for their first drive, you must accept that some challenges which frighten you are liberating to others.  Solomon said, 'Work hard and become a leader.'  That raises a question.  If you are leading others, who is leading you?  The best way to lead, is to follow God and obey His Word!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


"The integrity of the honest keeps them on track...."  Proverbs 11:3

Joseph refused the advances of Potiphar's wife, not because he thought he could not get away with it, but because he knew he could not live with himself if he accepted them.  The world needs people who cannot be bought; whose word is their bond; who put character above wealth; who possess opinions and a will; who are larger than their vocations; who do not hesitate to take chances; who would not lose their individuality in a crowd; who will be as honest in small things as they are in great things; who will make no compromise with wrong; whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires; who will not say they do it "because everybody else does it"; who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity; who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning and hardheartedness are the best qualities for winning success; who are not afraid to stand for the truth even when it is unpopular; who say "no" with emphasis, even though the rest of the world says "yes".

In what he calls a compromise of integrity, Psychiatrist Leo Randall analyses the relationship between former President Nixon and some of his closest confidants in the Watergate scandal.  He records a conversation between Senator Howard Baker and Nixon aide Herbert Porter.  Baker: "Did you ever have qualms about what you were doing?" Porter: "No!"  Baker: "Why?"  Porter: "Group pressure.  I was afraid of not being considered a team player."  So strive for integrity, not popularity!