Tag Archives: discipleship

God’s Promise to Change You

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          Have you ever heard this old saying?

“God loves you too much to leave you the way you are.”

  Praise God there is scripture to back up that statement!

1Thessallonians 5:23-24

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

          We tend to assume that since He was so gracious to save us we now have the responsibility to “tow the line, shape up, do what is right, separating ourselves from carnal tendencies and worldly lusts.” While this is certainly what needs to happen, God never intended us to shoulder all the responsibility of sanctification and transformation. The truth is, we are no more capable of doing this on our own than we were before Christ.

          “Salvation is not an event as much as it is a process.”

Philippians 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

          Christianity is a glorious journey of salvation and transformation. Saving us from death and eternal damnation and transforming us more and more into His image. Paul exhorted Timothy to work this out in His own life with “fear and trembling.” Why? Because God is doing the heavy lifting here. HE is the Great Potter, and WE are the clay. Clay does not have the power to change itself, it can only be changed by another influence.

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So, what is our part?

          Lay our lives down on the Potter’s wheel, let the washing of water by God’s Word clean us and make us soft and pliable allowing the hand of God’s grace to shape us into His image.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

How to Deliver Truth

Love is the license to speak truth

            Sharing the truth of God’s word is an important part of the Christian life. At some point in our lives we responded to truth and made a decision to follow Christ. Now we have a responsibility to share that truth with others so they will have the same opportunity that we had. With that new responsibility we should keep in mind the manner in which we deliver that truth.

           Truth is received in the manner it is delivered. The Word of God is truth. It is also a sword, a double edged one at that. Truth should never be delivered with the intention of “straightening someone out,” or “correcting someone.” Scripture is profitable if it is delivered with the right heart. If it is delivered with wrong motives it can actually drive people away from God instead of drawing them to Him. This is a real problem in our generation.

Grace and truth came thru Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Delivering truth without grace is what Satan does when he comes as an angel of light, so let us not partner with him.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

          This passage is repeatedly misused to justify Bible bashing, finger pointing, and a judgmental approach to correcting people in the name of God. A self-righteous assault on people is a reproach on Christ and opens one up to the influence of religious spirits. Not to mention hurting the one we are supposed to be helping.

          Notice that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” God is love according to 1 John 4:8

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

          Therefore, all scripture is given by the inspiration of Love. When the Word of Truth is shared it should be inspired by Love.

          If the delivery of truth isn’t inspired by Love it is NOT profitable for doctrine, it will NOT reprove, it will NOT correct, it will NOT instruct, it will NOT complete, and it will NOT equip. It just cuts, and it cuts deep. Love is the license to speak truth. If we don’t have genuine love and compassion in our hearts toward the ones we are speaking to, we have lost our license to speak on God’s behalf.

            I really love a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak. It may be my favorite food in the world, but if it is served to me wrapped in a dirty diaper I am not going to eat it. It’s the same with delivering truth. The word of God is so powerful it can change a life, but it must be palatable, seasoned with salt, full of grace, and delivered in sincere love for it to be received.

          If we are not imparting God’s grace, communicating God’s heart, and being a vessel of God’s love, we should remain silent. If we can’t correct that on the spot, we may need to stop and reschedule the conversation for another time, giving us time to pray or seek council from another leader.

“Don’t be pressured into speaking when you know your heart isn’t right.”

            There is a simple rule that will keep us from a myriad of problems if we apply it.

“When we speak, lets be sure it’s an Improvement on silence.”

            Following this rule does a few things,

  • It slows down the conversation and keeps us mindful of the power and purpose of our words.
  • It diffuses conflict that arises from elevated emotions.
  • It teaches us the value and power of silence.
  • It gives us greater control over ourselves and the entire situation.
  • It allows us time to hear from our heart what the Holy Spirit is saying in the situation.

            Personally, I believe this is what was happening in John 8:1-11 when Jesus was writing in the sand with His finger while everyone pressed Him for an answer to judge the woman caught in adultery. 

            Not being willing to speak until He heard from the Father is a lesson we all should take to heart. There are few worse feelings than knowing we have hurt one of God’s children with our words.

            As disciples of Christ, we should think before we speak, selecting words that nurture and build up rather than tear down and destroy. When faced with hostility we speak gently to diffuse anger and emotions rather than feed them. When faced with uncertainty, we are slow to speak, letting silence do the heavy lifting while God speaks to us.

To really deliver truth that is living seed, we must give our hearts time to tell our mouth what to say.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Christian Leadership Development #4

  Developing Culture.

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Culture = the shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterizes any organized group of people.

Culture identifies what is important to a body of believers, reflecting the vision, values and purpose of the assembly. A well-defined culture promotes momentum, creates unity and provides stability.

            With culture, everything rises and falls on the leadership. Leaders provide more influence in shaping a church’s culture than any other factor and the senior pastor/leader is the key player when it comes to establishing culture.

3 ways leaders shape culture:

1) Leaders shape culture through personal influence.

            All leaders must embody the culture in which they are endeavoring to establish. Culture is always established within the leadership team before it can be effectively established in the congregation. Once there is unity of culture in the leadership team you can begin to cast the vision of culture to those following. Remember that establishing culture is a marathon and not a sprint.

2) Leaders set direction and cast vision.

culture2            The focus of the congregation on its future and direction is vital to the success and health of the ministry. The vision of the church must be well defined and consistently emphasized. Not with long wordy explanations, but with short concise statements that embody the culture of the ministry and speaks to who you are as a people. The skillful use of language and terminology is a powerful tool. Language impacts the way people think and behave, what they value, and ultimately what they begin to believe. It is the belief in the vision that the leader is after and being creative in how you cast vision and set direction shapes culture faster and more effectively.

3) Leaders equip the saints and hold God’s word in the highest regard.

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ          

            The purpose of 5-fold ministry is to equip the body to do the work of the ministry. Not all leaders are 5-fold ministry gifts, but all leaders are called to help equip the saints. Great leaders shape their church’s culture in ways that reflect obedience to the Word of God. The most powerful way to shape or change a church’s culture is through teaching what God’s Word has to say about the church. Associate pastors, team leaders and department heads should be knowledgeable in the Word, emphasizing what is spoken from the pulpit and inspiring the flock to run with the vision of the house.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            In order to change the behavior of a church, the values of the church must first be changed. To change the values of the church, the beliefs of the church must be changed. The most effective way of addressing people’s deeply held assumptions and wrong beliefs is to teach God’s Word. Many people will not change what they believe simply because the pastors and leaders believe it. They must be shown from the Bible why they need to change.

            Great leaders always demonstrate to the people that the change they are proposing is rooted in scripture. This helps them recognize the need for change and see that the authority to demand that change goes beyond the influence of the pastoral leadership and comes directly from God.

            Developing a culture where the Word of God is final authority is the only solid foundation to build upon. Taking time with your leaders to help define the culture of the house will produce much fruit in the future.

            Don’t be rushed into defining your culture. Have leadership meetings to discuss ideas and hold it up as a prayer target. Visit other successful ministries to experience their culture. Read books on church culture. Give a survey to the faithful, active members of your congregation and get their feedback. Allowing these people to have a voice develops influence. You don’t necessarily have to follow their suggestions, but allowing them input gives them a sense of belonging and importance that makes them feel like they are a part of the process and an important part of the ministry.

3 important questions to help you define your church culture:

1) What do you care most about as a ministry or congregation?

important            The truth is, you can’t care about everything. This doesn’t suggest that there are some things you actually don’t care about, but helps you understanding that each ministry and every local assembly has a specific role to play and a specific mission to accomplish. Your church/ministry is a part of the body, not the whole body, and each part needs to focus on, and emphasize the things that God has assigned to you specifically. Clearly defining God’s assignment is the foundation upon which culture is established.

Here are a few questions that will help identify what is important to your culture. 

  • What has God put on your heart and the heart of the leadership team?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What keeps you awake at night because you feel something must be done?
  • What ministries are currently thriving and effective?
  • What ministries are non-negotiable?

            2) What are you doing about what you care about?

            What you do is an expression of who you are. Selecting what ministries you do and don’t do plays a major part in setting the culture. It’s not enough to say “we have a heart for the homeless,” what are you actually doing about it?

James 2:18-20 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

  Culture is an expression of your faith, a reflection of your beliefs. What you do, and don’t do, from missions to local outreach, to how you embrace first time guests, to developing leaders all plays a significant role in shaping your culture. You don’t need to tell visitors what your culture is, they experience it. What you do from the parking lot to the pulpit shouts culture.

            Every ministry will find its own cultural expression. Culture is impacted by things like age demographic, location, and ethnic mix. Also, style and preference play a big part. Is your church more casual or formal? What is your style of worship? Don’t worry too much about these factors, they will develop naturally. It is what you do about what you care about that sets the culture.

3) How do you do ministry?

            It’s a given that churches do ministry differently. Leadership style, theology, ministry priorities, finances, etc. will naturally cause the leaders to practice ministry a little differently from church to church. How you do what you do sends a message about who you are.

            Every church should strive for excellence in ministry in every department, from the cleaning team to the worship team to the leadership team. Excellence is simply doing your very best with every task, every function, in every area, and every department. Your best is only your best until you can do better.

            If you are starting a ministry you may have all the responsibilities, from cleaning the toilets to preaching from the pulpit. This doesn’t excuse you from excellence. You should give Christ your best in every situation and if you start with this attitude it will be easier to acclimate others to a culture of excellence as they come on board.

Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

            This has a huge impact on culture. Excellence, as with most things, begins and ends with leadership. Leaders should regularly be asking themselves, “Can we do better?” As more staff and volunteers are added and more resources become available the level of excellence should evolve and become more apparent.

excellence

            Excellence is a mentality that requires constant training, emphasis and maintenance. People can easily slip into the “it’s good enough” mentality. This shows a lack of understanding about what they are doing and why they are doing it. A congregation will never rise above the level of excellence portrayed by their leaders so it is your responsibility to model excellence in everything you do.

When culture is healthy and well defined, it prepares you for growth and success in ministry.

3 things that happen with a well-defined church culture:

1) Evangelism will increase.

            People will love being there and talk to others about the amazing church they attend. It creates a desire within the body to invite others to get involved. Your church will become attractive to the community and make it easier to fulfill its vision.

2) Spiritual growth increases throughout the body.

            People flourish in the place of their assignment. A strong culture creates a sense of belonging and inspires people to get involved, taking ownership of some portion of the ministry. This allows people to develop and use their gifts and talents causing growth and strength in the individual. In turn, this develops strong, healthy relationships and edifies the body as a whole. One of the most rewarding things for leaders to witness is growth and health of their followers. This is what makes leadership exciting and rewarding.

3) It attracts great leaders.

            Up and coming leaders will join themselves to the ministry. This creates a pool of leaders to mentor and disciple which will prepare you for future growth and additional ministry outreach.

Question: Can you define the culture of your ministry right now?

Question: Who sets the culture of a ministry?

Question: What systems need to be in place in order to define your culture?

Question: What is happening right now in your ministry that does not reflect your culture?

Question: Is excellence in ministry a focus of the leadership?

Question: What areas of ministry can you do better with minimal effort, and why aren’t you doing it?

Question: What changes need to take place within your leadership team?

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC