Archives For Focus on God

If you’ve ever worked or volunteered much at a church, you know there are many aspects of ministry to balance.  It can be overwhelming and balls can get dropped.

There are four major components to my personal philosophy of ministry.  There will be aspects of ministry that may not be included here, however, the following helps me organize my thoughts and efforts.

 

Image credit: 6kor3dos DepositPhoto.com/11826108

 

Focus

Based on John 10:10, as well as ministry and life experiences, I am convinced that in any Christian endeavor two supernatural beings are always at work. God is at work to promote life and our enemy is at work to thwart life and growth and sabotage spiritual progress. Therefore, we need to actively choose to focus our attention on what God is doing in any given situation rather than on what Satan is doing. I am firmly convinced that our attitudes in life are greatly controlled by the one on whom we set our focus. That is the one we actually serve. Therefore, my personal philosophy of ministry is to first maintain my own focus on what God and what he is doing and then to help others stay focused upon God and be an asset to what He’s doing in their lives.

Feed

In the practical outworking of the above principle, I see God entrusting a flock to a pastor’s or teacher’s care with the expectation of their being returned to Him having been well fed, strengthened and protected. Col 1:27-29 speaks of bringing the flock to maturity for God in Christ’s strength. Eph 4:11-16 paints a picture of believers being equipped for works of service so that the body would be a built up, unified, mature, loving and growing organism. I believe these goals are best achieved by sound biblical instruction given in an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion.  Efforts will likely include:

  • Opportunities for people to evaluate where they are in their walk with God along with suggestions and resources to grow during the upcoming season.
  • Expository preaching of Bible books and occasional topical, yet expository, messages.
  • Relevant and engaging teaching during Sunday School/Adult Bible Fellowship or other opportunities (seminars, webinars, workshops, conferences, etc.)
  • Small Groups that help people discover God’s word and his people in a deeper way.
  • Specialized small groups designed to offer a forum for the questioning and a support for the struggling.
  • Well-planned prayer meetings would also help maintain focus in, and excitement about how God is working in and through the various ministries of the church.

Find

The choice of the word “find” for ministry to unbelievers is deeply rooted in my philosophy of evangelism. I often view the evangelist as a kind of spiritual midwife. We are not the parent, but we are there to aid in the birthing process. The relationship of the pre-natal child and the parent has long been established and the midwife would not think of doing anything to hinder that relationship. Therefore, rather than striving for a decision or to manufacture spiritual sensitivities, prayerful efforts should be made to discern those in whom God is already working and seek to be an asset in that process.

We need to teach evangelism as a lifestyle proving ourselves good stewards of God’s grace. Teaching on evangelism should be careful to equip the experienced without overwhelming the novice. Telling people about God’s involvement in our lives should be a natural outflow of a child in love with her Father.  We must also reinforce the truth that we are in partnership with God and not resemble a multi-level-marketing strategy.

While many choose to focus their efforts on the saved or the unsaved, I am greatly indebted to training from Child Evangelism Fellowship who taught that you may never really know where your audience is spiritually. Therefore, each Bible teaching should include a point of application for the saved and a point of application for the unsaved.

Family

I am thoroughly convinced of the communal nature of the Body of Christ.  Not only does God save us, he also adopts as children into his family where we can be encouraged, nurtured, and developed to maturity.  The sheer volume of “one-another” passages in the Bible clearly show that Christian fellowship is not just a nice fringe benefit but an essential dynamic of God’s plan.

Hebrews 10:19-25 also show how this should be a key component of our regular gatherings.  I am concerned that this could be a missing ingredient in many churches in our day.  Beyond the obvious reason of meeting to worship God, the author of Hebrews helps us to realize one of the purposes of meeting together is to encourage one another.  We are to follow Jesus’ example and come together to serve rather than be served.  Interestingly, if everyone comes together with that mindset each member will leave having served and having been served as well.

“Let us encourage one another” is not just an empty or fluff command.  Webster defines encouragement as “to impart courage.”  Then defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, and difficulty.”  This is exactly the spirit the author is trying to instill in his readers.  As we encourage each other, we are to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  I can’t help but wonder what God could do in our world through bands of believers who regularly leave our gatherings encouraged by the body and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

In this post, I want to start a dialog.  We may not find all the answers in one post.  In my experience, answers that come that quickly tend to be deceiving.  Quick answers ignore the complexities of an issue.  They make us feel that we’ve addressed the issue, but in reality, nothing has changed.

Credit: iqoncept Depositphoto ID: 32472607

Systems

I have been thinking a lot lately about Time Management.  Systems that have worked for me in the past aren’t having the same impact they once had.

  1. Perhaps the current roles and responsibilities require different systems.
  2. Perhaps the systems I used in the past are no longer available because the technology has moved on rendering prior tools “obsolete”.
  3. Maybe today’s environment has more distractions than the old system was designed to overcome.
  4. Or maybe we just got bored with a system that worked and moved on to the latest shiny object that promised deliverance from our distractions.

Dis (oh look) tractions

I am reading The ONE Thing

(So let’s be honest.  In the course of writing the sentence that begins above and concludes below, I checked an email account, read and thoughtfully replied to a Facebook post, while having successive YouTube videos playing in the background, “Liking” half of those videos, “Sharing” one of those YT videos on my Facebook timeline (https://youtu.be/ecUU6AWJj-4), started to share it in a group but decided not to, and answered a phone call from my son.  OK, I’m back.)

by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan as I get ready for a group chat with one of the authors.

(Hold on.  The person replied to my FB reply.  I’ll be right back.)

One of the key takeaways from The ONE Thing was how they took the time to explain and teach the underlying concepts behind some of the productivity axioms we’ve heard for years.  For example, they discuss the impact of interruptions in the workplace.

Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions. And yet amid all of this we still assume we can rise above it and do what has to be done within our deadlines. (Page 46)

The Myth of Multitasking

I remember listening to cassette tapes of Dr. Charles Hobbes in the mid-1980s telling us about the myths of multitasking.  Thiry years later, Keller and Papasan, among many others are still trying to get the message across.

It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have. (Page 46)

At the heart of the matter is not that we have too much to do.  Rather, we have trouble being honest enough with ourselves or employers to say 75 hours of work really can’t be done in 40 hours—not well at least.  Instead, we try to do the impossible.

Changing Situations

I recently took a Productivity Assessment from Michael Hyatt, a NY Times Best-Selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  The result was that I am “The Circumstance Surfer.”

Right now, you’re facing challenges that come with a transition or a certain set of circumstances. You would love to be able to create a solid routine, but predictability is just not an option right now. So you ride the waves that come your way. You need something flexible, a way to keep the peace throughout all the chaos in the midst of your current circumstances.

This was interesting and insightful.  You can take the assessment at http://freetofocus.com/WLEAFS/2017assessment.

Currently, I wear a few hats:  Pastor, Writer, Speaker, Wedding Officiant, Counselor, Videographer, and Graphic Designer.  These are not subcategories of my role.  They are all separate categories for which I am hired currently.

I remember hearing Jim Collins talk about the importance of having a Not To DO List.  At the time, I had one job and I thought that it was pretty easy to identify the things I should not do.  Now that’s a bit more challenging to do.

It’s a New Day!

While I still reflect on principles I learned from Charles Hobbes decades ago, today’s challenges seem to call for new strategies and systems.  I participated in an online training this morning led by Michael Hyatt on The 7 Deadly Sins of Productivity: The Hidden Habits Undermining Your Performance (And How to Change Them).  

One of the many takeaways for me was the reminder of the importance of taking time to plan.  If we are faced with an overwhelming workload, we can be tempted to just dive in the deep end and start splashing around.  When I slow down long enough to get perspective, I still have a big workload but it may not be quite as overwhelming.  I can identify the top priority for that period of time.  I may also identify some parts of the load that could be done by others or maybe shouldn’t be done by anyone.  I can see Jim Collins smiling now.

You can sign up for Michael’s training here.

I enjoyed the training and found it helpful for dealing with the realities of being productive in today’s world.

Please let me know your thoughts and journey in the comments what works for you.  I will probably write more in the coming weeks.  This is a critical topic that impacts the time we have to spend with God, with our families and friends, and the time we have to enjoy life.

 

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Perspective Matters

September 15, 2017

Have you ever considered that the way we view ourselves impacts how we use the gifts we have received?  Secondly, have you ever considered that the way we view other people would impact how we serve them—or how we ignore or use them?

If we are truly seeking to love God with our whole being and to love others like ourselves, we need to wrestle with these two questions.

Copyright: Mattz90 DepositPhoto ID: 50713175

I have to admit; I wasn’t planning to write a post here today.  But, after reading two allegedly unrelated blog posts from friends in a Facebook group, the wheels started turning.  I knew I just had to share something here.

I have always been amazed at the power of self-deception.  So when I saw the title of K L Greenwalt ‘s article, I couldn’t help but click to read “Why You Can’t Trust How You See Yourself.”  She shared a personal story with a big lesson. Continue Reading…

What comes to mind when you hear the term, The Battle Is the Lord’s?  or The Battle Belongs to the Lord?

Does the military imagery trouble you? Are you OK with the military imagery but troubled that our part seems to be too passive?

Image by 3dconceptsman DepositPhotos #19467907

Do you ask yourself, if the battle belongs to the Lord, then what do l DO?  Do I just sit here and do nothing?  Well, sometimes the answer is yes.  Other times, the answer might be different.

Be Still

When the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt, God was setting a trap for their captors that would include rescuing His chosen people while punishing their captors but His own people couldn’t see past the obstacle in front of them.

When they saw the vast Red Sea before them, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt. Continue Reading…

Three Parenting Wins

September 15, 2016

It made my day when my daughter, Grace now 25, mentioned something that I repeatedly tried to teach my kids. She said something close to, “like you always told us …” It made my heart all warm and fuzzy inside for quite some time to realize that something I considered a foundational value or principle got through.

Young girl on dad's shoulders at the shore.

I’d like to share today three parenting wins that at least one of my kids heard and continues to have as a core value. In the next few days, I hope to elaborate on each of these principles. For now, here is a brief overview of the three principles

1.  Don’t Scream Unless It’s an Emergency.

For some reason, young children especially girls, can have a tendency to scream as they’re having fun. I remember trying to help my kids to realize that if they were always screaming when there is no danger, it could be hard to know when they were really in need of immediate assistance.

Now parents might be saying I can tell the difference between the screams. You might be right but I didn’t want to take the chance. Plus, a little less noise pollution in the world is always a good thing.

2.  Stop Means Stop.

This was a rule that we had especially when the kids were young. Inherent in the rule was the idea that even the youngest or smallest was empowered to stop whatever activity was going on if they were getting hurt in the process. Continue Reading…

The Supreme Court delivered another major decision today. Some of my friends will be Partying like it’s 1999 and other friends will be thinking “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”. What an opportunity to Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Matt Wade's Picture of the U.S. Supreme Court

By UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

  • To those who are celebrating, may you enjoy your new freedom to move around the country and the rights that accompany it. Please be patient with those who will be processing what this will mean in the long term. I’ve seen people in both camps voice concerns over the impact.
  • To those who mourn today, my other friends, who are wondering how this decision will affect your ministries or churches, can I share a few thoughts?

Continue Reading…

“I love You, O LORD, my strength.”
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer…
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.

Sunday Verse: Psalms 18:1, 2a, 3 (NASB)

Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Sunday Verse: Matthew 14:27 (NLT)

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

Sunday Verse: Deuteronomy 4:39 (NIV)