Don’t council people…. unless!!

Don’t waste your time counseling people…unless…

Not everyone who wants counseling wants help. They might say they do, but they really don’t. At a core level, many people don’t want to change. They simply want relief from their felt pain.

I’ve been counseling people for nearly 50 years. I have studied counseling, my degree is in counseling, and I have written about counseling. Truthfully, and sadly, I’ve wasted a fair bit of time in counseling people whom I could not help- because they only wanted relief, not permanent change. 

I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor. I’m a counsellor. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I have no issues with professionals in these fields. I am thankful for them. But I am simply a counsellor.

My primary role is to bring people into relationship with God through Jesus Christ and point them to the Word of God as the standard for human behavior. 

I always assign some homework in my counseling sessions. On the follow-up meeting, my first question is, “How did you do with the assignment I gave you?” So often i hear this response, “Well, I didn’t get around to it. I was just so busy this week.” 

My reply will be this, “Alright, let’s stop here. You go home and finish what you were assigned, and let’s pick it up again next week.” This sounds harsh, but this is my modus operandi. Here’s why.

What has the counselee just told me? “I want you to fix this for me- but I don’t want to put any effort into it.” Their refusal to cooperate with me has told me, “You should pray over me and I’ll be changed without having to work at it.” 

But here’s the catch. When I as the counselor assign you to look into God’s word and do some homework, I am reminding you that His standards are the standards of human behavior. If you don’t want to learn and embrace Biblical behavior, nothing that I can say and no prayer that I pray will help you.

Paul told Timothy about “terrible times,” describing people as lovers of themselves, proud, abusive, disobedient, and unforgiving. He finished the passage by saying, “Have nothing to do with them. Don’t waste your time coddling people who don’t want to change or who don’t want to embrace the Bible as their way of living.” 

I have worked with some very sincere, struggling believers who really do want to become more like Christ, get over their present issues and see life become better. For them, I have lots of time! In fact, all the time that is necessary.

I am never rude or disrespectful with uncooperative counselees, but I am always truthful. If you really want to change, there are not enough devils in hell to keep the power of God from transforming your life. 

But you have to want it. You have to be willing to take responsibility for where you are and be willing to do your part. Then powerful things can happen.

As a counselor, discern whether the one you are counseling  wants help or relief. Make sure you are not wasting your time “coddling” someone who won’t conform to God’s word. Be patient, but be firm with your standards. Uncompliant counselees can waste your time and energy, and you are not helping them be enabling their problematic behavior. Invest your time in those who truly want to change!

Winning People

DEL  Leadership 

You are enrolled in the DEL training program for a reason. I am assuming that you sense God calling you to ministry, or you have some inner pull that says, “I want to do something for God.” Or perhaps someone advised you to do this and maybe even talked you into it. Another possibility could be that you are still trying to figure out why you enrolled!

The focus of this teaching is getting back to the basics of the essence of ministry. Only by understanding this, will you fully understand your motives for being in this training program.

The  starting point of all ministry is winning souls. It is reaching people who are without Christ. Think about it for a moment. If you want future leaders to reach the nations, you must have disciples. In order to have disciples, you must have someone who has been led to Christ.  If you cannot or will not lead people to Christ, you cannot and will not build a ministry. If you have no interest or passion to bring people to Christ, your ministry will go nowhere, no matter how talented you are.

Listen to Jesus in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Jesus said in Mark 16, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel (good news) to all creation.” Matthew quoted Jesus by saying in Matthew 28:19, “…Go and make disciples of all nations…” The starting point in disciple-making is bringing people to Christ.

The word Gospel means “good news.” What is the good news? The good news is simply this: repent of your sin and believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour. You can be forgiven. You can begin a new life. You can have a relationship with God. 

Jesus is saying, “Go and tell everyone the good news! You may have to contextualize it, you may have to adapt the words, you may have to rephrase it in a way people understand,  but however you must, go and do it!!”

To get some perspective on Jesus’ emphatic command, we must realize His passion to save everyone. He knows that the condition of mankind is bringing judgement upon every soul that dies without having believed in Him. All who do not know Him are doomed to eternal judgment in hell. This may include our family members, our friends, our work mates and our neighbors. This includes the wealthy, the poor, the powerful and the insignificant, the strong and the weak. On this point there are no exceptions.

Romans 3:23, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no, not one.” In other words, every single person is a sinner. Then Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

What kind of death was Paul writing about? Was he speaking of physical death? Obviously not, because all humans eventually die. Paul was describing the second death- the death of the soul. This second death is clearly defined in Revelation 20:6 and 21:8:

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

It is so clear that all unsaved humanity will end up in the fiery lake of hell. It’s a horrifying thought, but it’s reality. Put some faces on this today. As I walk the streets in the cities and the hallways in airports, I find myself praying for people who pass by. I don’t know them. How many are on their way to a second death?

The wages of sin is death – eternal death. Once you go to hell, it’s permanent. There is no escape.

The gospel of Jesus challenges Satan’s right to the people of this world. Jesus paid the price of their salvation. He died for them. But what if they don’t know? Paul wrote in Romans 10, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How will they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

This is my life verse.

This is why it’s called good news. The good news is that God loves you. Jesus died for your sin. If you do not know that you can bring your life to Him and turn to Him in repentance and be forgiven,  you will die in your sin.

The Great Commission is the second-last instruction of Jesus to His followers. The last one was to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit,  because once you have been filled with the Holy Spirit,  you will be equipped to witness. The Holy Spirit supported the Great Commission. The fundamental purpose of being Spirit-filled was empowerment for witness. That’s Acts 1:8- read it for yourself. 


Listen to Jesus again. Matthew 18-12-13, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”

This is still the happy place for followers of Christ- to bring someone to Christ. This is still the happy place for one who is born again. When Denie led our oldest daughter to Christ at the age of 5, her immediate reaction was joy. That little 5 year old said, “I’ve got to tell someone!”

The happiest people on earth are always soul winners. Soul winners never need much encouragement- they are literally full of joy. The most joyful churches are the churches full of new converts.

Jack Whitesell, our church growth advisor, would always say, “It’s not about the grain you have in storage. It’s about the grain still standing on the field.” It’s not about what we already have in the church – it’s what still needs to be brought to Christ.

I’ve often stood in churches and before I have preached I have asked, “How many of you have been saved 5 years or more?”Many hands go up. “How many 3 years or more?” A few hands go up. “How many of you have been saved less than 1 year?” This last question is the present indicator of that church’s health.  If there were no hands, or just a few hands,  I’d say, “Based on the present condition of this church, I prophesy that it will die. Some of the present members will eventually die, move away, backslide, or otherwise be gone. This church has no new converts. This church is already dying. It’s just a matter of time- unless you change something now.”

Let me be clear. If you will not bring people to Jesus, you will lead a dying ministry. This applies to any ministry you are involved with. If there are no new converts, that ministry will die. 

Effective christian leaders are all soul winners. They create an environment where souls are coming to Christ. Why is this? Because they have the true Spirit of Jesus. 

The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost. As the angel told Joseph and Mary, “You will call him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus modelled that principle. Leadership is showing the way, then teaching the way, and then motivating others to walk in the way.

Rhinehard Bonkke, the great German evangelist who gave his life for Africa’s evangelization, said, “The church is not a restaurant for spiritual gourmets. It is a canteen for workers.”

Are you a soul winner? If you teach soul winning and want your followers to win souls, you’ll have to win souls and bring them to church. Your followers will see that happening. Only then have you earned the right to teach others about bringing people to Jesus. Then you have earned the authenticity to motivate. Preaching about soul winning is a waste of time unless you can model it.

Can you explain the process of coming into faith in Christ? Do you know the Biblical basis for new birth in Christ? What if I asked you right now to show me the gospel and lead me to Christ, could you do it? How about I said to you, “Show me 5 ways to start a conversation that will lead someone to talk abut Christ? Give me three ways to take a problem, any problem and turn it into a gospel presentation.” Could you do it?

I’d like to share with you 9 reasons why we must preach the gospel.

  1. We are commanded to do so.

We have been commanded to preach the gospel to all creation. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The word “gospel” starts with GO. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what the book of Acts is all about. If this were the only reason to go and preach the good news, it would be enough. So why don’t you go? Show me your converts!!

2. The Bible teaches that Hell exists.

Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5) Jesus spoke of hell more than any other person in Scripture, and three times more than He did of heaven. This is no joke. If a Bible teaching is mentioned once, it can be misinterpreted. But when a teaching is mentioned and illustrated over and over in the Bible, it is an absolute reality. Judgement is coming. Think of everyone you know who is without Christ, and realize that if they died tonight they would spend eternity in hell. There is no purgatory and there is no second chance.

3. It is a sign we love others as ourselves.

“And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 22,23). We are told to have compassion on the lost. Fire awaits them. We are called to be as a firefighter literally pulling people out of the fire. Is it not a sign of love to pull one from the flames of certain death?

4. Obeying Christ is a sign of following Him.

The Bible says that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him (see Hebrews 5:9). We are not saved by our obedience; we are obedient because we are saved. Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). To choose to represent Christ is the greatest demonstration we can show that we follow Him. In what way do you represent Christ today?

5. To be silent is a sin.

As soon as the Holy Spirit was given, the apostles began to preach the gospel. They were never called to stay in the upper room. Somehow when the reality of salvation comes to your soul, the reality of eternal judgement becomes real. Sometimes it is the reality of eternal judgment that motivates you to come to Christ for yourself,  and then to share Christ. “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17 It is morally wrong not to engage pre-Christians in conversation about their souls. 

6. Evangelism deepens our relationship with God.

“…hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” Philemon 5–6 The happiest Christians in any church are always the soul winners. I have known of no joy equal to leading someone to Christ. On many occasions it has brought tears of joy to my face. 

7. It causes us to study the Scriptures.

Wanting to know how to answer every question from pre-Christians will send us to God’s Word. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. I began as a teenager to memorize Bible verses about salvation. I diligently memorized these verses without any instructions from anyone. I wanted to influence people for Christ. 

8. It deepens our gratitude for the cross.

As we continually preach about the cross of Jesus Christ, it will deepen our understanding of what God did for us through His sacrifice. We will find ourselves practicing what we preach. We will be frequently thinking about the cross. “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The wonderful message of the cross ensures that the power of sin is broken.

9. It increases our prayer life.

If you catch the vision and the responsibility of being a real Christian- and the consequences of ignoring Christ’s Great Commission- you will be driven to God in prayer for the power to be what He has called you to be. Listen to Paul’s words, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Romans 10:1. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

These are but a few reasons why you and I and every believer must engage others in evangelism. It will transform your life. Have any of you led anyone to Christ in the past year? If not,  my question is, “Why not”?

How can I win souls?

  1. 1.Begin and continue to pray “the prayer of 3” every day. Get three names and start praying salvation prayers for them.
  2. 2.Pray the ministry prayer everyday. “Lord, bring someone across my path today that I can touch for you.”
  3. 3.Initiate ministry through conversations. Offer to pray for people wherever and whenever you find a need. Connect with the needs and problems of those around you. 
  4. 4.Equip yourself. Ask yourself this question, “Why do I not share my faith and why do I not lead anyone to Christ? Is it  that I don’t have the ability or knowledge? Is it that I don’t know where to start? Is it that I’m afraid?” By answering those questions, you will know what you need to do now.
  5. 5.Be creative. There is no one way to win souls. Use all your resources. Ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration and insight and the word of knowledge to know what people need. 

THE BIBLE SAYS, “HE WHO WIN SOULS IS WISE.” WIN SOULS! 

Supernatural Faith II

Hebrews 11:1-2, 5-6

Our present world is so different than it was a year ago. What if things never fully get back to the way they were or what if it takes a long long time? What if your life actually gets worse instead of better? What will you do? How will you survive, and even more, THRIVE- in this strange world?

I am talking about supernatural faith today. Faith that is supernatural in its foundation, expression, and results. How many of us really really need something supernatural working in our lives today?

Hebrews 11:1 NIV “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for. And certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients (fathers) were commended for. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”

Enoch’s life is recorded in this chapter. He pleased God through his faith!

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Years ago, sailing used to be my favourite activity, and it illustrates what faith is like. There is nothing like being on the open ocean in a sail boat. The majesty of the waves, the vastness of the water, the wind in your face. I love it. But occasionally the wind dies and you are “becalmed”- the sails lie still and the sailboat just rocks on the waves going nowhere.  However, a seasoned sailor will watch the ocean far off in the distance and see ripples on the water- a sign that the wind is coming. Lifting your face to the sky, you wait for the feel of a slight breeze on your face, knowing the wind is on the way. And when it comes, you adjust your sails and let the wind move you forward!

Faith is much like that. When life is not moving and you feel becalmed and helpless, you must look into the distance and expect God’s “wind” to come. 

It is impossible to please God without faith. The wording describes an ultimate impossibility. There is no other way to pease God. It’s  absolutely impossible to get God’s attention without faith. 

“He must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” That too is faith.

Faith needs a focus. Your mood today could very well be an indicator of the focus of your faith. 20 times in this chapter God is referred to as the main character, and His people believed, obeyed, trusted, followed, listened to His voice and thrived against all odds. They witnessed supernatural miracles- because they had faith!

Let’s get some perspective on God.

GOD REALLY IS A BIG GOD!

Psalm 104:1-5 NIV “Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot  and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

This is such picturesque language. “Oh Lord you are very great! Stretching out the heavens like a tent, setting the earthen its foundations so that it can never be moved, riding on the wings of the wind…” This earth is as alive, as vibrant, as solid as its Creator.

Psalm 135:5 NIV “I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.”

The psalmist recognized the existence of false alternative gods, along with the differences, and wrote that the Lord is greater than all of the alternatives that mankind could trust.

Psalm 145:3-5 NIV “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another;  they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.”

Like the psalmist, we should declare, “I am so in awe of God and His greatness that I think about Him all the time. Whenever I have a minute, I just pause and think about how great the Lord is. “

Isaiah 12:4-6 NIV “In that day you will say:“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Isaiah wrote these strong words. I like to say it like this,  “Let everyone know how great the Lord is! Do some joyful singing! Do some joyful shouting! God is so great!”

This has nothing at all to do with what’s going on in our lives. Lay that aside. The bottom line is that He is great.

Its time for some pandemic celebration- 

a celebration of the greatness of God!!

When we come to God, we must believe that He exists. That is faith. He exists. He is real. He is powerful. He cares about me. 

Faith in God can move a mighty mountain but before your faith will become supernatural, you will have to believe in a supernatural God-  you will have to think like it, speak like it and act like it. You will have to sing it, dance it, jump for joy, lift your hands, and even weep for joy.

This kind of physical behaviour is faith in action, real faith. It demonstrates in a very physical way that you actually believe that He exists and you are happy about it! None of this is about you. None of this about your circumstances. It’s all about Him!

Great faith, supernatural faith starts with a great God. If you don’t see God as big, it will be impossible for you to live in supernatural faith.

GOD WILL REWARD ME FOR MY FAITH!

Habakkuk 2:4 “…the just shall live by faith…” This phrase burned into Martin Luther’s soul and on this rock he launched the Reformation! God revealed to him how that revelation works: belief in God and belief in His reward. Whether we have to wait a week,  a year, or an eternity, God will always come through. 

This is the only way to please God. Not with your works, but with your heart being expressed in the way you live.

  • Faith is not believing that God can, but that rather that God will!
  • Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
  • Faith in God is is what leads to joyful life.

That’s why when we live by faith in God, we are joyful, peaceful and incredible secure. 

Faith actually follows hope. We are “sure of what we hope for.” You know, hope is a wonderful thing. It is that vision, that expectation of good things coming. Wendell Smith writes, “Some of us never move from hope to faith. Faith is what turns dreams into substance, into the tangible.”

Faith is being sure (substance) of what we hope for. Thats what our text says. “Hupostasis” is a Greek word coming from two other Greek words, one meaning “to stand” and the other meaning “under.” Faith is both the title deed that proves ownership and the foundation holds the building up.

200 years ago there lived a businesswoman named Dionysia. She was described as a woman with a set jaw and serious determination. One day she lost a case in court over a piece of land, which she claimed to be hers. Dionysia determined to take her case to a higher court and sent her slave to the city of Alexandria with a stone box containing all her legal documents. On the way, the slave was killed in a fire at the house where he stayed overnight. The house collapsed. 2000 years later, archeologists uncovered the remains of the inn and found the stone box. Inside was Dionysia’s note to the judge: “So that my lord the judge will find my appeal in order, I attach my hupostasis.” The enclosed documents were her title deed for the property in question – the evidence of her ownership.

If you do not stand in your faith, you will not stand at all. Faith is the foundation- the whole “body of documents-” that prove ownership. Faith is the confident assurance, solid ground, title deed of all we hope for. It gives substance to our hopes because in our minds and hearts we can see what we’re hoping and praying for. We refuse to see it any other way.

Faith is trust, absolute and complete trust in God. It is not an option in your life. Without it, you cannot and will not please God. 

Rhinehard Bonkke, the great evangelist who spent his  life evangelizing Africa, expressed it this way, 

“Faith is not a leap into the dark; it is a leap into the light. To have faith is to act on the strength of what we know, expecting God to be to us what we know He is. When we risk everything on God, He proves to be faithful to what He has told us about Himself.”

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. “ 

Should we pray for faith? Did the apostle Paul ever pray for faith? No, he did not. But this is what he did pray:

Ephesians 1:18 “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Paul prayed that we would see just how big our God is. He prayed “that your heart may receive the brightness of hope that comes when the wealth of God’s intentions in you is understood.”

Oswald Chambers wrote the famous devotional book “My utmost for His Highest.” What a man he was! His biographer describes him as a man “full of the Holy Spirit.” This was the secret of his happy service. He was absolutely free from worried living. He lived what he liked to call a restlessly restful life. He was a man full of faith. His biography was called “Abandoned to God.”

When the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts, we will be able to see all these great truths. Oh Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see the potential life you have called us to!

NOW FAITH

I want you to focus on the word “NOW” in Hebrews 11:1. NOW is the time to trust God. Now is the time to be saved. Now is the time to know God and His power. How do we use “NOW” faith?

In crossing the ocean, there are several ways to do it. One is to use paddles. Just paddle your boat. Paddle and paddle and paddle. Work at it, work at it, work at it.

A better way would be to use a sail. The wind exists. It blows, but to benefit from the wind, you must put up a sail. God exists, even without your faith. But plan your journey of faith in God, believe that He exists and that He rewards everyone who seeks Him.  Lift the sails of your faith to heaven and watch what the wind of God can do.

Once you have hoisted the sail, you head out for open water. Soon you lose sight of land, and there is nothing ahead of you but the open ocean. But you know what? It doesn’t matter that you can’t see land. The wind will still blow, the sails will billow and the boat will sail along just as it was designed. You will cross over!

Where are you going in 2021? Is your hope in destiny? Is your hope in some kind of karma? Is your hope in some form of positive thinking? Or is your hope- and faith- in the Lord?

What if things never fully get back to the way they were? What if it takes a long, long time? What if your life actually gets worse? What will you do? How will you thrive in this strange world? Can you stand up today in faith? Can you go out today in faith? Can you speak up today in faith?

Let’s use some faith, right now. I have preached to you the word of the Lord for your life today. Let’s stand up, lift our hands and shout for joy. Let’s give thanks to God for his past, present, and future  work in our lives.

Let’s speak faith. If there is no future in the road we’re on, then let’s believe God will give us another road. With faith, there is ALWAYS a way.

ACT IN FAITH

There was once a church congregation that had met to pray for rain because of the severe drought in the area. As they gathered, the preacher looked very skeptically at his flock and said: “Brothers and Sisters, you all know why we are here. Now what I want to know is—where are your umbrellas?”

Why waste your time praying if you don’t plan to act like you believe? When things look impossible, start speaking to that situation and declaring what you believe the Bible says about it. And then take action.

We are going to take this year by faith and not by works. We are going to face challenges believing for the wisdom of God not the experience of man. We will prevail against all opposition, all discomfort, all fear, all uncertainty by declaring our faith in God. I have the title, the right, the promise of God and I am expecting God’s blessing and miraculous provision in every situation!

“Faith is not a leap into the dark; it is a leap into the light. To have faith is to act on the strength of what we know, expecting God to be to us what we know He is. When we risk everything on God, He proves to be faithful to what He has told us about Himself.”

Supernatural Faith 1

Today I want to speak to you on supernatural faith for 2021. This is a word the Lord put in my heart a few weeks ago. We will be reading from Hebrews 11. So get ready!

The mood of our present world is not good. Like me, are you weary and just plain tired of the way things are? It’s hard to relax when fear and anxiety stare us in the face. For many of us, it feels like living on the edge- the edge of catastrophe, the edge of disaster, the edge of uncertainty.

It can feel like everything is out of control. Who among us feels in control of our future? “I’ve lost my job! I might lose my job! I might get sick!” Well, no guarantees that I won’t. And then if I do get sick, what if I die? I really don’t want to die…at least not right now.

Some people put on a brave face. “I’m not afraid of anything. The Lord will protect me. I’m ok.” Then one morning your nose runs a bit, or you have just a slight tickle in your throat, or you woke up with a slight fever…”Oh no, I have it, I’m going to be sick.” And the unsaid words…“What if I die?”

What bothers me the most about our times is the mixed messaging- the inconsistencies between health care professionals, governments, politicians and media. What is the truth, the real truth? This lack of consistency makes almost everyone feel just a little confused and insecure.

Here’s the question. What if things never fully get back to the way they were or what if it takes a long long time? What if things actually get worse? What will you do? How will you thrive in this strange world?

The Lord has given me a Word for you from Hebrews 11- a word about Supernatural faith for 2021.

Hebrews 11:1 -“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

You may have never heard of a man called Rees Howells, possibly the greatest intercessor of all time. His ministry absolutely changed the world. He lived through two world wars, troubled times and pandemics. He knew how to pray and he prayed. He knew how to believe and he believed. He prayed and bought buildings with no money in his pocket yet bought them for cash. 

He prayed for sick people and would send word to them individually. For example, “On Sunday the 24th at 5 pm you will be healed.” Guess what? That is exactly what happened. 

Rees Howells started “The  Bible College of Wales, “ where hundreds of intercessors learned this life of faith. So great was their impact on the world that during the Second World War there were a number of strategic things that happened due to the prayers of Rees and the Bible school students. 

When the German Army was marching through Russia, they were approaching Moscow. The Russians were being slaughtered and wiped out as the Germans advanced. The Germans had been unstoppable. If they took Moscow, it was over for Russia. Howells and his team interceded for Russia, declaring that Germany would be stopped. Suddenly, on the verge of complete victory, Adolf Hitler inexplicably ordered his army to go another direction- just as the Howells team had prayed. This happened many times during the war.

One of his students of the Bible College of Wales was Reinhard Bonkke, a 19-year-old from Germany. While at the college, God called Reinhard to be an evangelist. After graduating, he began to evangelize to Africa. I personally heard Bonkke preaching, and he said, “Every crusade I have held in Africa has cost me 1 million dollars. I have never cancelled a crusade because I lacked money. I raised that 1 million dollars every month every year.” Bonkke’s crusades led 79 million people in Africa to Christ. I love his mission statement which was this,  “I am going to plunder hell and populate heaven.” 

What an example are the lives of both these heroes of supernatural faith!

So what is faith? Faith is being sure of God,  who He is and what He says. Faith is being willing to trust God no matter what you see. 

In reality everyone has faith in something or someone. No one believes in nothing. Everyone has faith even though it may not be in God. The only difference between you and others is the focus of your faith and the depth of your faith.

My favorite illustration of faith is the story of a South Seas missionary translating the Bible into a dialect in which there was no word for faith. He struggled with this, until one day one of his native students came in to his house.  He offered the student a seat. The young man sat down, sighed contentedly, and said, “it is so good to rest my whole body on this chair.” Bingo! The light came on in the missionary’s mind and he realized he had found the expression for faith: “Placing my whole weight.” 

Faith in God is placing my whole life, my entire ambition, my complete salvation and security, my total physical health and my whole future on God. Faith is making that decision to place your life in His hands and absolutely refusing to worry at all.

Reinhard Bonkke would say, “Faith is an attitude.” How’s your attitude today?

Notice verse 6. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” God wants you to totally depend on Him. Test yourself today. Do you have faith in God? List your fears and anxieties, and listen to the words of your own mouth. Possibly you should write them out and lay them before the Lord, and know that every one of those anxieties and fears shows where your faith has been misguided. 

Fear is misguided faith.

The story is told of a man crossing a desert on foot. He ran out of water and was dying of thirst. Then he spotted a pump near an abandoned shack. This was back in the days when the seals on water pumps were made of leather. When they were not used, the leather dried out and the pump did not work. I remember that from my grandmother’s well years ago. 

This very thirsty man found the pump and then noticed a jug of water near the pump with a sign. “Pour the water into the pump to seal the leather. Then pump the water you need and refill the jug for the next person.”

What a decision to make! What if he poured the water in and the pump does not work? Wouldn’t it be safer to drink the water and be sure he’d live another day?  However, if he “primed” the pump , there would be water for him and also for the next person in need! He had to choose.

This takes faith. Will God preserve me if I pour my life into God’s hand – prime the pump, so to speak,-instead of gratifying my urgent need right now?

What would you do?

God will not be mocked. What you sow, you will reap. You will reap where you sow, in the way you sow, and with the intensity you sow. When you place your whole life in that chair of trust in God , you will be living in supernatural faith. 

Whether you sow into the kingdom of God financially, with your energy, or with your talents, you are going to reap. That faith invested in God will bring you a huge harvest. 

We are in a time when the devil has bound up much of the church with fear. Few churches are adding souls to the kingdom. We appear more worried about our own lives- which already have a secure eternal destiny- rather than a multitude of lives that have no heavenly hope.

We have the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. These words describe the most troubled times you can imagine. There will be wars, famines, and earthquakes in many places, persecution that even leads to death, false prophets and deceptions. It speaks of very troubled times in a world full of trouble. But what does Jesus say is God’s agenda?

In this chapter of turmoil you will hear God’s agenda. It’s not the rapture! It’s not the deliverance of the people of God!

Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

This is what is on God’s mind today. As most of us fixate on the troubles of our lives, God’s heart is for the world. The peoples, the nations, the gospel, the good news…that’s what God remains focused on. Does this occupy any space in your mind? If not, what is your life focused on? In which direction are you focusing your faith?

The gospel is never preached by those whose focus is on themselves or on this world. It is preached by people who may have troubles and who live in troubled times.  But they have an eye on the kingdom. They see a God who is working and will continue to work. They see an eternal, all knowing, all powerful, almighty God into whose hands they have put their lives.  

The world today is reeling under the stress of our times. Denie has a friend in her prayer group who is a nurse in one of the large Calgary hospitals. She said, “The morgue is full, stacked with bodies. We have a just a handful of Covid deaths; the rest are all suicides.” People are dying from fear- misplaced faith! Their faith is in the negative spiral of this world and the doom to come. They see no hope. So they end their lives.

I want to reinforce what the Spirit is saying to us  through I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not I vain.”

This is living by and walking by faith. 

WHAT CAN FAITH DO? 

Read this entire chapter of Hebrews 11. As you read, remind yourself that these are real people in real life challenges, with a real life faith in God. Read about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sarah, and Abraham. Read about Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. There are many more. The reason they are listed in the “heroes of faith” chapter is because of their lives of active faith, not because of what they said. What they did was a sign of what they believed. Our actions tell what we believe.

Here’s what Jesus said in Mathew 17:20, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Here’s what Jesus said in Mark 9:23, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Hallelujah, What looks impossible to us is easy for God.

Back to Hebrews 11- Here’s what the heroes’ faith did:

Through acts of faith in God, the heroes toppled kingdoms, made justice work, and took promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and swords. They turned disadvantage into advantage, won battles, and routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead, others stood up under torture and persecution, and some became homeless, friendless and powerless. The reason they ALL are listed is that everyone of them prevailed and overcame by faith in God, even the ones whose promises did not come in this lifetime. They had their eyes on God.  They had decided there was no other way. There was no turning back. 

Faith has a focus. For us that focus is Jesus. 

He  remains our champion. 

This is what pleases God. You are convinced that what Jesus has done and has promised is where you will stand. 

The Lord Jesus has given us a mission in this city and this nation and the world. We are here to fulfill the Great Commission. It has never expired. For some of us our faith has expired, but it’s time to renew our subscription to a life of faith.

A life of faith will not be interrupted by demons, devils, difficulties, pandemics, circumstances nor  inconvenience. This gospel of the kingdom must be preached by faith in faith and through faith in all the world.

Can you see this today? I hope you are not so misguided to think that Jesus is all about you. Jesus is about the world! God loved the world. God loved you in order to lift you up to become what you have been called to be.

Supernatural faith is what we are all called to live by. “The just will live by faith.” Circumstances have nothing to do with our mission. Convenience has nothing to do with our calling. Faith must stand alone.

As we look into 2021, what exactly have you planned to do by faith this year? What exactly have you determined you will do for Jesus and the kingdom? 

Faith sees no mountains it cannot climb. Faith sees no rivers it cannot cross. Faith sees no difficulty it cannot overcome. Faith sees no disease that God cannot heal. Faith sees nothing is impossible to God.  Faith sees no one is impossible for God to save. Faith sees no shortage that God cannot supply. Faith sees no evil spirit that cannot be cast out.

Faith is an attitude of the spiritual champion. Faith is the man or woman who sees that Jesus overcame and made it possible for us to overcome. 

Faith always speaks. Faith always acts. Faith in God always wins.

What is the guiding presence of your daily life? Is it worry, hopelessness, fear, financial insecurity? 

Or is it the presence of Jesus, never leaving, always abiding, every quickening, and forever empowering?

Take a stand today. Make a faith declaration today. Say it out loud so that the spirit world can hear you, God can hear you, and YOU can hear you.

“I am a child of God. 

My faith is in Christ alone. 

I determine to live 

by supernatural faith 

in 2021. 

I will not be moved. 

I shall not be shaken. 

I will not be defeated. 

I place my entire life by faith 

in the hands of God.”

This is the Word of the Lord for 2021.

We talk to much

We Talk Too Much

This could be a problem. Consider this. You have seven holes in your head. (Interesting – the number of perfection.) Two for smelling, 2 for hearing, 2 for seeing, and ONLY ONE for speaking.

Here are some Scriptures about talking too much:

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23

“He who guards his lips guards his soul, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” Psalm 34:13

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21

All of these Scriptures are about what we speak, not what we hear. What we see and hear does affect us, but it’s not a life and death issue like what we speak.

Now here’s a question: is “writing” the same as speaking? I think it is. It is your words going out to someone else. A venomous spirit has cut loose in the world today, a sense of license that we can say anything or write anything we want and it doesn’t matter, because it’s our right to “free speech” and anything else is censorship.  But it’s not really “free” if it brings bondage.

Every word we speak and every word we write represents our heart. It represents our motive. We actually release “spirit” when we speak. It’s our spirit, but when it is in agreement with the evil around us, this can very easily represent evil spirits as well. There is evil present in our world trying to affect us. Satan is never far off. The evil stirring in our thoughts and feelings comes from him.

When we cooperate with the evil spirit of the age in our speaking or in our writing, it is destructive! Regardless of our moods or our feelings, we should control our words. If not, there will be consequences.

Every time we release evil form our lips or our pens and computers, we empower that evil in our own hearts. We cannot excuse this evil as mere words. “Life and death” is not in our ears – they are in our speech, whether spoken or written.

Do we really want to bring death to ourselves and to others? We cannot utter evil without that evil assaulting our own souls.

We talk and write far too much that is not thought out. We are so comfortable speaking, we have forgotten that every word we speak we will give an account for. Jesus said, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” Matthew 12:36-37.

We Jesus-followers might be talking too much. We might be “shooting ourselves in the foot” with our careless words. If we will listen to the Holy Spirit, He will help us control our speech and our writing.

Life and death are in our words. It’s our choice what goes out of our mouths and out of our devices. Maybe we should say less and listen more!

Leadership – Taking Initiative

Leadership by definition is simply taking the lead.  The dictionary says that to lead is “to guide, to march ahead of, to go before as a guide, or to show the way.”

When you really look at those phrases, you understand that to lead is an action, a going. “To go,” even if no one else is coming. You go. Yet the very fact that someone will go ensures that others will follow. Most of this world is waiting for someone to go, to initiate.

When we were new missionaries in the Philippines, Denie and I discovered something very interesting about Philippine culture. We were invited by the pastor of Union Church in Makati to conduct a marriage retreat. In our past marriage retreats, we would take couples through a process of several evaluations, one of which was a personality survey. This was based on the four major personalities profiles known as Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholy and Phlegmatic.  

Before we conducted this survey we gave a detailed explanation of the characteristics of each personality type. We had done this numbers of times in the past, but never before in the Philippines. As the couples filled out their personality profiles, what we discovered was a shock. There is a huge shift in personality composition between western culture and the Philippines, as well as other parts of Asia.

In the western churches and broader culture, there are a significantly higher number of Choleric personalities. Westerners are born and raised to be independent, strongly individualistic people. Denie and I learned quickly that in our Philippine context, the opposite was true. People are raised to be group-centric, to be cooperative, to not “rock the boat.” The percentage of choleric people was very small in that marriage retreat, and we have continued to find that in our leadership trainings. 

Cholerics are the initiators, the forward-moving people, the pushers, and the take-over personalities. Often these people just by virtue of their personalies are asked to be or promoted as leaders. To be clear, personality alone does not cut it as a leader. You may be an initiator by personality, yet that does not make you a leader. But a choleric personality definitely is common in a leader. So how do we find and develop leaders in a culture that values “group-think” and frowns on boat-rocking?

I listened to John Maxwell several years ago teaching on the role of personality and leadership. He was discussing the subject of American mega-church pastors and their personality profiles. One of the questions asked of John was, “What kind of personality does it take to pastor a mega-church of many thousands?” John’s reply was this: “I can show you successful mega-church pastors from all four of the major personality profiles.”  

Some folks might think that all the pastors of thousands of people must be choleric personalities. But that is not necessarily true. We can’t ever say when discussing leadership, “I can’t be a leader because I’m not a strong choleric person. I’m not comfortable with this or that. I’m not an aggressive person. That’s not me.” Rethink this attitude. You don’t have to be aggressive and pushy to be a leader.

We have learned that leadership is a skill. Other than character qualities, all functions that effective leaders perform are things that they have learned and developed. If you put someone into a leadership position solely because they are choleric in personality, they will likely just do all the work themselves and get a lot done, but may not have many following them.

Let’s go back to our discovery of our Asian context. So why is there such a huge difference between East and West? There are several possibilities.

  • Education. Most Asian educational systems are based on memory work or learning by rote. Exam study is based on intensive reviews. In the western model, the learning from earliest grades is interactive and encourages critical and analytical thinking. Each student has a say. This type of education pushes you to ask questions and speak up. In Asia we likely would not disagree with the instructor nor would we challenge anything the teacher says. We are taught to “group think.” A friend of mine visited an American school where my daughter was attending and commented how well-behaved and quiet the children were. They lined up to go to the playground in military precision and were silent until they reached the playground where they were released to play. I explained that along with the ability to question and the freedom to speak up, the teachers taught obedience and listening. No voices were raised. Everyone was “heard.” 
  • Individualism. In the west we are raised from earliest childhood to “do our own thing” and launch out at a young age in our own homes and careers. Parents almost never choose the path or the spouse their children will take, nor so they interfere with their choices. Most western young adults leave home at 18 and never move back home. They raise their families independently and elderly parents are very seldom part of the family but rather live in senior centers and are very proud of their independence as they age. Asian culture is very different from this. Many young adults go into a career dictated by their parents. Spouses are screened and either encouraged or discouraged strongly by the parents. The children as they grow are often clustered around the aging parents’ home, sometimes even in compounds, and are often expected to financially support and care for their elders. 
  • Confrontation/Disagreement. Asian models of interaction value getting along, keeping things smooth, not getting people upset, and being a good team player as a crowning point of good relationships.  Western interaction values open and honest dialogue and polite confrontation or disagreement as a sign of strength and leadership potential. Getting along with everyone is considered a sign of weakness and being a “yes-man.”

To be clear, if you are obnoxious and cannot get along with people, you will not last in leadership anywhere in the world unless you are feared as the dictator. On the other hand, if you are a leader and no one ever gets upset with you, you are not much of a leader.

  • Independent thinking. In Western cultures, there is high value placed on striking out in an area that is unfamiliar and difficult. The “pioneer” spirit is strong in the history of westerners, where you learn as you go along and making mistakes is acceptable and honorable. In Asian cultures, most people are quite happy to be in a group but reluctant to lead that group lest they make mistakes. “That’s not my personality” is the excuse. Also in Asian thinking, training is the first necessity of leadership, rather than a call or opportunity. To do something new means “I need to be taught first. I need a course, some training, more classes before I will feel comfortable doing something new.” 

I’ve taught courses on leadership at the Asian Seminary. My conclusion was that most of the students were there for the wrong reasons. They were there for knowledge. But unless you have highly developed analytical skills, you will not be able to turn mere knowledge into something you can implement. Often as I attended graduations of Bachelors and Masters level students, I grieved to hear their future plans, “I plan to continue in my studies.” Rarely did I hear, “I’m graduating and I’m going to plant a church, open a ministry or I plan to build something.”

I have nothing against knowledge. But no amount of knowledge will automatically turn into leadership skills. Skills can come by observing someone else’s effective work and behavior and then figuring out how to do something similar. Then doing it! Skill-learning involves experimentation. Trying, failing, trying again…over and over and over. That’s how most people become good at something. I wish someone had taught me that when I started. I’d have tried a lot more things!!

  • Aloneness. In the western mindset, being alone is a sign of strength and ability. For example, in Sweden over 20% of the population lives alone. 14% of Canadians live alone. 15% of senior Americans live alone. In Asia, being alone is not something usually desired. Great joy is found in being part of a group or a family. Can you personally imagine living alone? But westerners view it as something to be proud of. One thing I guarantee you; these people living alone are used to making decisions and managing their lives. This is a leadership skill that is lacking in Asia: it’s really hard to manage others if you are not in the habit of managing yourself. If you require permission or input from those around you to step out into something new, it’s a handicap rather than a blessing. 

As you consider the possible reasons we lack leaders in Asia, ask yourself the question, “Do I want to make a difference for God?” The greatest contributions to Kingdom work are made by Kingdom leaders.  

This school of ministry is under the heading of DEL– Developing Effective leaders. That says it all. Not just leading, but effectively leading. Not just learning or adding knowledge, but stepping out and actually doing something afterwards.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” Roy T. Bennett.

All that I have said so far is to attempt to make you aware of cultural mindsets that cause you struggle in leadership. If John Maxwell is right when he says that everything rises and falls on leadership, then without leaders who are initiating positive healthy action, every home, church and ministry will fail.

I like this definition of leadership: “Getting things done.” A leader will get things done. A leader will take the initiative to get things done. Their highest value is not merely going through the motions of the work, but rather the actual accomplishments. Their highest value is not perfection; it’s the trying, the making mistakes, the DOING.

Someone says, is this Biblical? Well, let’s give some illustrations. Take some time to think about the characters in the Bible. Most are known for the initiatives they took. Yes, of course God often instructed them or they inquired of God. But they didn’t sit on those instructions; they initiated a visible action.

The Apostle Paul is known for taking the gospel to the Gentiles- where no one had dared to go before. He took the lead.

When Andrew met Jesus, the first thing he did was go and find Peter. He took the lead.

Philip the Evangelist approached the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch. He offered to explain the Scriptures, led the man to Christ and then baptized him. He took the lead.

Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos preach. They knew he needed doctrinal help, so they took him home and explained to him “the way of God” more perfectly. They took the lead.

Was David asked to face Goliath, or did he insist on Saul allowing him to fight the giant? He took the lead.

Was Caleb asked to take the mountain in Kiriath Hebron or did he demand it for himself? “Give me this mountain!” he said. He took the lead.

Was Isaiah asked to run with the message of God or did he volunteer? He said those powerful words, “Here I am; send me.” He took the lead.

You may be a good and obedient follower. But can you now become a good and obedient leader? Leaders are all independent thinkers. I could not follow those leaders who will not think for themselves. For you, this may take a change of mindset, and some great discipline. It’s so much easier to ask someone else to tell you what to do. It’s hard to think it through, pray it through, and make a decision. 

What if you make a mistake? I’ll tell you what. You keep going. Mistakes are a sign of effort. The leader who does nothing makes few mistakes, but accomplishes nothing, nothing, nothing! The leaders who do something make mistakes, but they are willing to learn. They never waste a mistake. They FAIL FORWARD. They learn something for tomorrow.

Where do we start learning how to “take the lead” when we have been raised in a culture that values good followers and “groupthink?”  

1. Lead your own life. Take personal initiatives.  Set some goals in your own life towards growth and skill. Don’t ask for input or advice or permission. Then complete them on your own.   Practice leadership with yourself first.

2. Find a need and fill it. Identify a need. Write down possible options to meet that need. If it is greater than you can do alone, enlist some people to help. They will be your followers and you will be the leader. Be enthusiastic. Write a plan and start. Set small step-by-step goals.  Keep going and follow through.

3. Accept an assignment joyfully. Leaders do not complain about assignments. They love a challenge. All the rewards come after completing a challenge. If you never complete a challenge, you never have any rewards. Never let your first thought be, “I don’t know how to do that!” So what?  You are not stupid. You can learn. “But I don’t know where to start!” Start by defining the finished project and work your way backward. 

4. Consider starting something no one has ever done before in a way no one has ever done it before. If the mission is noble and just, if the vision is godly, if it is for the glory of God, if it grows the Kingdom and the local church, then do it. Ignore all the critics. The critics are not doing anything. That’s why they have time to criticize. 

“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” 
― George Eliot

“It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunities come he is ready.” 

Theodore Roosevelt

LEADERS TAKE THE LEAD. BE A LEADER! START TODAY!

Why God answers prayer.

The Who, What, and Why of Our Prayers

The first part of this question is easier to answer than the second. Of course we know whom we are praying for, but do we know the why? What is the real motive? And then there’s the “what”, which is often more common and much closer to the heart. Before you object to this, take a look at your prayer list if you have one. Divide the “who’s” from the “what’s,” and analyze them. How many people are on your prayer list? Or is it just “blessings, protection, provision, healing, etc.” for yourself and yours?

Our prayer is often fueled by emotions such as worry, fear or anxiety. Have you noticed that personal prayers definitely increase in intensity when you are emotionally struggling?

So then the question might be, what fuels our prayers? If it is primarily emotional distress, the entire foundation of our prayers may be wrong. Conversely, our prayer time is often reduced when we prosper! This would suggest a very selfish basis for most prayers.

Before we leave the “what,” be assured that bringing your needs to God is acceptable and proper. Jesus said, “Ask in my name, in faith, and I will do it, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” This concept of glory to God is found 23 times in the book of John.

So when you pray for the “what,” how will the Father be glorified or how will you choose to glorify God when the answer comes? The focus is faith in God for your provision so that God is honored. The benefit to you is secondary and is not really the focus of these prayers.

Now we come to the “who” of our prayers. If Jesus came to save people who don’t know Him, then praying by name for lost people should be a function of all Christ followers. Jesus prayed for unity in the “family of God,” so this too should be important to us. Paul taught us to pray that our understanding would be opened to see what Christ has provided. That too would be proper.

The “why” of our prayers should be simple. That the world might be saved, that the church may be one, and that the believers would see and encounter Christ in His fullness.

These are the prayers God desires and will answer. You can add the many needs of health, direction and provision, but they are a distant second to God’s agenda. I strongly believe more things would happen in the lives of those we pray for if we were praying for God’s agenda first- people, people, people! The “what’s” should follow.

We are to seek the kingdom of God first and His righteousness, and not worry about the other “stuff.” As Kingdom power and righteousness grows in our lives, there will be miraculous provision and changes. But God’s agenda – the souls of men – must be first in our prayers! Lift them up by name. Call their names before the throne of God. Ask for the Holy Spirit to come and reveal Jesus to people – by name. This is the heart of God – let’s pray it out!

You are not a victim!

I see this quite often. This attitude is not limited to gender, race, social position, financial status or life accomplishment. It does not seem to be connected to the size of the problem. It is not related to failure. It is not determined by whose fault the situation is. Let’s call it the “Victim Mentality.” 

This “victim” attitude is a mindset that will stunt any future growth. Victim thinkers see themselves as being unfairly treated. They view themselves as persecuted, misunderstood, or abandoned. When they can’t find anyone to blame, it’s just a life of bad luck!

To be fair, we may all be truly victims of someone’s anger, revenge or malice. Life happens, and people can be cruel. But that does not mean we need to embrace the feeling and attitudes associated with this.

The victim feels helpless, feels like his hands are tied, and feels like things beyond his control with no positive solutions in mind. If you have any of the above thoughts there is little hope for your future.

If we have indeed been victimized, we must choose a different life perspective.  We must move from victimization to responsible leadership. Leadership is about creating positive change. No excuses, no complaints, no fault finding. “I’m in charge of my life and it’s up to me to make a difference.”

Some years ago I was visiting my doctor due to some health issues. I said, “Doc I appreciate all you do to help me. Just understand I am responsible for my life. When I can’t change what needs to be changed I come and visit you. However show me how I can help myself.”

Where there is no leadership, nothing changes. That is the key. If nothing is changing for the good, no one is leading.

You can turn things around if you have been living with victim mentality. The Bible is rich with promises of power. Here’s what to do.

  1. WHERE. Take a long serious look at where you are and how you got there.
  2. WHY. Identify why you are there- what you did or did not do that got you there.
  3. HOW. Consider your options out. There is always more than one solution. Write down every possibility. Then Pray and do something about it.
  4. POSITIVITY. Do not complain about where things are. Look ahead.
  5. MOVE. Make a decision to do something that moves your life, business, or people forward.
  6. STOP WITH THE BOOHOO. Stop crying over what is not right. Joy comes in the morning. Our spirits are often lined by just taking a small step

Jesus spoke to the crippled man and said, “Rise up and walk!” He listened, and he did. Jesus says the same thing to you today; will you rise up? Will you take a step of faith and walk out of the victim mentality into leadership of your life?

Guess what? If you do, something will change. You will be energized, positive, and powerful. Best of all, YOU WILL NO LONGER FEEL LIKE A VICTIM.

We need Wisdom more than Comfort.

Wisdom, Not Comfort

No one person has all the answers to the pain we experience in life. No one of us knows all the ways to cope, to heal, and to move on. But there is a lot of wisdom out there that we can and should seek out and tap into. 

Here’s the story of a young man who refused wise counsel. Solomon is known as one of the wisest men who ever lived, but his son Rehoboam was somewhat of a fool. (It is possible to mingle with very wise people and not catch wisdom.) Rehoboam was challenged by his people to give some consideration for the workload King Solomon had placed upon the people. The wise older counselors suggested that Rehoboam be humane and compassionate by showing mercy to the people. But his contemporaries advised him to show his toughness, to be a man, to stand up and show who was King! Rehoboam followed this advice- and as a result he lost two-thirds of his kingdom. 

Bad advice, like good advice, is always available. So how do you find good counselors when you need them? Start by listening to people whose lives demonstrate a deep love for God and whose lives have a history of order and peace.  Consider people who have succeeded in the areas you currently struggle. Seek relationship advice from people who have healthy happy relationships. For ministry advice, look for people who serve joyfully and appear well-balanced and consistent. In every counselor, look for the spirit of Jesus. That is wisdom. 

When you do find a counselor, their advice must be interpreted. You can’t always do what someone else did and get the same results.  Listen for the principles and values expressed in the counselor’s advice. Older people may be culturally separated from you but may be principally relevant. Take your time and talk to more than one. Notice that Rehoboam talked to Solomon’s older counselors, but rejected their advice. When you listen to your contemporaries, is it because you are culturally connected or because they are connected to wise principles?

The bottom line in all advice is the answer to this question: “How do I move forward after trauma and honor God with my life?” Sometimes that means short-term pain for long-term gain- foregoing the shortcuts to healing and pressing in to Jesus with forgiveness and grace for those who have hurt you. You will save yourself a lot of pain in life by looking for wisdom rather than comfort. Wisdom is at times the harder road, but always results in the happy ending.