What Are You Chasing

Forget you!

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

 

Do I seek to please men?

 

That is a tough question - because if I am honest with myself then I am guilty of this.  Sure, I wouldn’t say that I am a man pleaser in the sense that I am always wanting someone to approve of me… BUT, I am. Think about it – what happens when I do something that this great, but someone else gets the credit – why do I worry about it?  Only if I am a man pleaser am I fretting over that.  Or what if I have jacked something up and made a mess of things, am I more worried about what God’s thoughts on it are, or what my boss is going to say? 

 

I am tired of making the disclaimers that are simply excuses. “If I want a job I have to please man” or “As long as my goal is to please God, then I will please man”

- tell that to Jesus.

 

I have to grow up – I have to really realize that my goal in life is not a new house, or a good vacation.  My goal is not that I make it to a 6-figure income one day. NOPE, my goal is to be a …

 

God chasing, God fearing, God pleasing servant who won’t relent until God says so.  

 

 

 

That is my goal!!!

Lord, help me to make that my goal

 

 

 

Its only in that goal that everything else lines up in priority…

 

God ~ family ~ ministry

 …or…

Money ~ Boss ~ Work ~family ~ God

 

Isn’t God bigger than my non negotiables, or my comprehension?

…I think so

God, You are so much MORE than what my parameters are, my flawed small thinking.  You don’t have the laws of this universe controlling you, you hold the universe. You don’t have a shortage of missions, money, or ideas – you are the depth of every dream.  Inside of me, is the power to achieve – but that power is not innate and physiologically blessed.  Its not that my mind has more computing power than then next guy – nope!  It is that CHRIST in me, is the hope of glory, is the power of the resurrection, is the endless promise, and is the joy of my salvation and strength.  The fact is, this mortal body has one objective – die in its desires and then be energized and blown away with the supernatural.

 

Prayer:

God, blow my mind today.  Please help me to break off of the path that aims to please man.  Even in the small stuff of wanting to be liked.  When I make those my goals, I miss the position you have me in.  I am your sacrifice – help me to put aside my flesh today and be completely available for you.  I am yours – this is my day that I now hand to you and place at your altar.  Awaken my spirit, and stir up my spiritual mind to be ATTENTIVE to You all day so that I can learn where my pride and self-preservation are in the way.  Open my understanding to grow, so that more of me is able to be more of you.  I am yours all day – I love You – thank You for loving me!.

 

Challenge:

Don’t ask “what am I supposed to be doing in life” instead ask “what am I supposed to be doing, NOW”

 

 

Go take on your day!

 

HAMSTER-WHEEL

Are you stuck???

Ever feel like you are in a hamster wheel?

I am a go-getter type guy, yet I feel like that way ALL TO OFTEN.

 

So, I read a great blog from @nateturner and it has inspired me to share a little from my devotions this morning as well as a statement that I feel God gave me today.  While reading in Mark (the last chapter) I noticed that Jesus was very specific in his instructions to the disciples. They were the type of instructions that keep ANYONE from feeling like they are stuck.

 

Mark 16:15“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

 

GO

Makes sense right? but going isn’t just doing what you are doing, it is fulfilling the NEXT step in your call.  I think Jesus was telling this to the disciples because they were just sitting around afraid of what would happen to them, or just in shock at what just happened.  However, I believe that we do the same thing – we just stay there so long that the fear becomes our mode of operation or the shock of an event wears off into a pattern of life.  All because we didn’t continue to GO.

 

PREACH

Ouch - believe it or not this is not just for those in ministry – this was a call to ALL mankind to realize our primary goal.  Our primary goal once we have given Christ our lives is to tell people about the gospel.  The incredible testimony of how God sent his own down to be beaten and killed for us, so that our hurt and brokenness could be healed and comforted.  Its no longer the job that is our path of unstuckness, it is a passionate pursuit of HIS goal.  Now, I can hear my own mind saying, “that’s not going to get me anywhere in my passion”, or “surely God doesn’t want everyone to be in ministry?”. But it is true – priority is the direction of the ship.

 

Maybe the conflict hasn’t been getting that book done, or completing that next level of education, or even that promotion – maybe the conflict has been our priority?  As believers – I do not know a single person who wouldn’t agree with the statement – “God knows best”, or “keep God first” – but are we feeding His sheep?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you love me? Feed my sheep… (not, start that non-profit)

Do you love me? Feed my sheep… (not, start that business)

Do you love me? Feed my sheep… (move to another job)

 

Feeding his sheep WILL bring the new business idea, a new job promotion, or a complete change in your natural world – but it will because the priority is seeking HIS kingdom first.

 

So I guess I am saying that if we want to be UNSTUCK – the first place we should look is are we GOING and are we PREACHING – cause that person you are about meet after you read this blog needs someone to be Jesus in their life…

GO GET UNSTUCK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you sacrificing self, or others?

So, ever have a word come from the Lord that feels like it penetrates down to the soul (to the center of who you are).  The kind of word that makes you look back to the past few days (and life!) and go “wow, I’m pretty messed up” :)  Well this morning in my devotional time I was confronted with yet another area that I need to change.  Its all good though.  To clarify, its an area that I already know about me, but it was exposed deeper this morning (which is a great thing!).

Am I seeking to be the sacrifice for others, or am I looking to sacrifice others for me.
 Now, this could mean a lot of different things, but the particular area that I am referring to is self-promotion.
Webster’s Definition:  Self-promotion - the action of promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, esp. in a forceful way.
Ben’s Definition – choosing any action that builds the view of another about YOU, instead of about Christ or THEM.

Let me give an example.  

This past week, while in sunny Florida (which I hear they have not had to shovel snow out of their driveways at all this winter – or ANY WINTER for that matter), I was privileged to meet so many new people.  So many successful people in my particular group, and at every lunch and dinner.   Each first interaction the standard questions come flying out of our mouths (cause we do not know any other measuring tool of assessing the person we are about to meet). 

  • 1 – Whats your name and where are you from – the small talk opener that allows us to know more about the person.
  • 2 – What do you do – there is the beginning of finding out where we match up - Now, I know MOST of you do not fall into this trap – but I KNOW I do because of what happens after I hear the response.

      Are they are MORE successful than I am? —Immediately I start thinking of myself, how do I either get them to look favorably upon me, or how do I prove that I am worthy of this conversation.
      Are they are not as successful in MY eyes as me? –Again, I start thinking of myself and in comparison I decide “Oh, I can help this guy out and encourage him.

     Now, you may be thinking – wow, Ben you have a problem.  And you would be right.  See, I love people so much and i truly have a heart to see them grow and know Jesus.  I just FEEL like I have to prove my worth in order for them to hear what I am saying.  I feel like i have to measure up in order to be on the same plain as others who are more successful than I.  With those who are not (in my eyes) I also feel like I have to show what I’ve done in order for them to be able to deem it worthy enough to take anything I say as value.  But that is all part of the problem… I am looking to what I’VE done as a source of help.  Nope, not the source.  The source is God, the Holy Spirit. My experiences (if necessary for example or encouragement) is my RESOURCE to help.  Its not the measure of  worth that the ministry of the Holy Spirit wants to pour into the person through me.

     I sat at many tables where there were all the jockeying of positions and fighting for conversational leads.  The waiting for the moment to get their words in.  And all of this at a Coaching event.  The fact is, we have to be a sacrifice if we are going to add value to anyone.  I have to sacrifice my need to feel valuable or worthy, I have to sacrifice my stories and small talk if I am going to SEE in the spirit of what God is doing and wants to do THROUGH ME for THEM.  Not the other way around.
     Please, not for the sake of self-preservation, understand that its not coming from an ugly heart of selfishness, its actually just an mind that has not been renewed.  Every person I have met deals with self-promoiton, self-preservation, self-indulgence.  We don’t truly understand our worth in Christ, so we seek out to find worth in what others think.  


Today’s Challenge

     A new approach for today – when you start a conversation with someone today – GO INTO IT attentive to what GOD wants to say (that’s sacrificing self).  Don’t go into it looking to get your point across (that’s sacrificing them for you).  In fact, every meeting you have today take 5 minutes of purposeful prayer to prepare your heart to be selfless and to hear the voice of God.  Probably one of the most incredible parts of the meetings was when Dan Cathy (President of Chik-Fil-A) showed up unannounced.  He spoke to us for a few minutes and said the most profound thing of the week. “Unless we are bringing the words of God into our leading of others, we are missing out on the most influential position available”.  To that I say, unless my goal is to bring God into the situation, I am ignoring the purpose of my position in the situation (even working at a church:).

Today’s Prayer

     God, I don’t want to be selfish anymore.  I want You to be able to trust me in every situation to LOOK for YOUR entrance.  I don’t want to find my entrance into peoples lives. Help me to be trustworthy and dependable to HELP OTHERS SUCCEED today. Please give me spiritual insight in every conversation in order to help others be encouraged and loved.  I commit to you today to pray before every meeting, to think of others before I think of myself, and to listen more than speak.  I want YOU to be glorified today in all my words, my thoughts and my conversations.  I love you so much God.  Thank you for loving me and calling me your son.  I am yours, I am your servant – please use me any way you wish! Here is my day, please use me!


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My Calling…

Yesterday, I was at my coaching certification course with the John Maxwell Team Training —– had a moment that pretty much sums up my existence as a whole.  I know what you are thinking, “wow, what a moment”.  But to get the full experience I need to tell the back story.

WHAT A GREAT DAY!

Room Situation:

I am sitting at a table in the rear, right side of the room, with 5 other GREAT people.  There are about 90 other tables in the room.  At our particular table, we have two certified coaches instead of the standard one.  In addition, our table is positioned near the staff tables (near left of us).

Scenario:

Innocently sitting in my seat – I have no clue what is about to happen… BUT apparently there was a memo sent to all in attendance, explaining some of the expectations of the event. Now, either i didnt read this “said” memo (most likely), or I never received “said” memo.  Either way, I was about to unknowingly face what the FEAR of the majority of the people in the room, public speaking.  Our SENT assignment was to prepare a 5 minute presentation about a life story that would encourage the people in the room BEFORE coming to the even…  AND, this is revealed in our FIRST session, and that we will be doing those presentations right now.  Not this afternoon, not tomorrow morning – but at this very minute.

 
I quickly took a survey of our table and my heart sank as I realized the severity of my solitary position.  I truly was the ONLY person who had nothing prepared.  Papers started coming out of briefcases, pictures and props – all being placed meticulously on the tables around the room.
 My heart started racing, oh crap!
But my fears were quickly calmed as they announced the order of the presentations..I had 5 people before me. I have time… Thank God, I now have time to drum up some kind of semblance of self-preserving presentation that could mask me to look like a person who didnt know how to speak, (instead of a person didnt read their emails).  But – the instructions were not complete – no, I was about to be faced with an ethical and moral dilemma.
“Everyone has 6 evaluation sheets in your packet that you will use to evaluate the performances of those at your table.  While they are sharing, you will mark the appropriate boxes and then at the end of their presentation you will write comments to encourage them.”

“Im screwed”

 

Here I am, ready to misuse the time while someone is sharing their hard fought presentation to the group in order to prepare my message – instead of giving them my UNDIVIDED attention.  Now with this new assignment, I could no longer feel ok with dismissing their presentation, now integrity was going to expose my plan as I would have NO evaluation form filled out if I took the time to prepare my presentation.
I CANNOT DO THAT – I can’t disrespect the person standing in front of me by being selfish  - thats not my calling… See, this is where it started changing in me – a small reminder of what my call really is in life.
Here it is:  I am called to help others succeed.
               And I
                was about
                     to sacrifice my calling
                        to gain influence… to gain an applause?
No – not this time… I  bowed my head right there and prayed. “God, if there is any other way – please take the cup from me” – just kidding, it was more like “Oh, Jesus – seriously? Please help me to not look like a fool”  HEY - Just being honest, I was facing my humanity of the fear of man’s opinion and man’s acceptance.  I wanted to look good to those around me, but that wasn’t an option IF I was to look for a way in this situation to “help others succeed”.
The MOMENT:  So I set myself as flint before each presentation. Stirring up the gift of an encourager and helping others succeed, listed intently, and gave them glowing evaluations and reviews of their presentation.  There were verges of tears in some, lots of laughter in others, and heart strings being attached to a vision- all in each of their presentations…
It was in THOSE moments that God began to speak to me.  Not in full sentences, it was more like “here is your start”, and “Here is the story that I want you to share”…

<<<THE TIME CAME>>>

I am there…
        looking into the faces of those innocent subjects…
                what now…
                         what happens now God?
The bell rings
TIME to start my 5 minute presentation and it began like this…
“Have you ever been in a situation where something enters your pursuit of a dream, your passion to achieve a goal – and immediately you define it as disruptive, distracting?  Like today – the moment where you realize that you are being asked to share a 5 minute presentation, and its the FIRST time you’ve heard of it?  It says in 2 Timothy 4:2b that we are ready both in season in out of season…”
Here I was, completely thrown off and fearing failure… the WHOLE time God had been setting me up.  God had a plan to encourage people at our table AND use the calling on my life (to help others succeed). IT WASN’T A DISTRACTION – it was a shortcut to my dream…
I proceeded to brag on my bride (nili) and her story of realizing that disruptions and obstacles can be catalysts for shortcuts to the end goal.  However, it requires a different mindset: IN NILI’s CASE – instead of seeing the diagnoses of leukemia as stall to the FAST MOVING plan of God, using Leukemia as a catalyst for change in others. A SHORTCUT to fulfilling the call.  See, it was in those moments of “disruption” that Nili shared the love of God with countless patients, nurses, doctors and even an EMT in the back of the ambulance (leading him to Christ while running a 106degree fever being med-evacuated to the hospital) – Her calling and her dream givers dream…
Its not the problem that derails us, its our attitude about the problem that robs us from the blessing.  CHANGE OUR THINKING>>>God can write you a check to pay off your home anywhere, in a conference, at work, in your home, or in back of an ambulance… Its our job to always fulfill the CALLING that is on our lives.

Question for today:

What is your calling? I have finally written mine down, and it is very simple. In fact, it can be accomplished in countless ways (some of which I have made plans for, some of which I am doing now) and I choose to think that I don’t know all the ways HE wants to do it.  Instead, I want to fulfill the call of HELPING OTHERS SUCCEED in every situation, not just my PATH that I have crafted and label-maker stickered to prove its God.  No more worries about the path, and just stick to the calling.
I know, LONGGGG post, but I hope this really challenges you (and me) to become all the more selfless.  Want to change the world, quit chasing a dream and start obeying the dream giver (after all, he thought all of it up already :) .

My Prayer:

Here is my day, here is my heart – change me to be selfless like you – change my heart to beat with the passion you have for people – change my mind to be triggered by the call on peoples lives  - let me see everyone with the love that you have for them and in response love them with the same love (and void of my interpretation and disqualifications).  Here is my day, here is my life – use me please, in any way you see fit! I love you God.
Ben
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Even the crumbs give us healing!

Mark 7:26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Let the children eat all they want - for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs -

I think this is prophetic, Jesus was basically saying that the presence was just for the Jews to start with… and that we all get the leftovers…

BUT  leftovers of an endless supply is just an act of patience, not an act of limitation. In fact, that is especially true when the “crumbs” are just as powerful as the meal.

What is fair when none of us deserve? How can I feel neglected when someone else received and I do not, knowing that it was nothing they did to EARN it, and there is nothing I did to EARN it either?

In reflection of God's shadow, MY good deeds amount to nothing.

 

GOD, to think that I have done MORE to walk in your grace/love than someone else is hypocritical in relation to what you have done to walk in grace/love towards me. There is a negation of feelings that has to enter my emotional thinking IF I am truly seeing it as it is. You are everything and you have everything. You love us all, yet in my efforts to love you back I have a tendency to build a sense of entitlement. Not in comparison of what you do for me, but in comparison of those who seem to receive from You by doing nothing (or very little). I get discouraged, but it is only because I am placing value on what I am DOING or have DONE, instead of increasing the value of what YOU are worth and what YOU have done for me. In relation to all that you ARE and all that you’ve DONE – my actions are as filthy rags, my righteousness is nothing. I am in the SAME category as the gravest of SINNER – so what right do I have to become jealous, envious, or bitter about someone else walking in the blessing?

 

Simple Answer: It’s the enemies tool.

It’s my flesh being played like a violin to draw me away from the path that honors God (not the path that gets me a bucket of gold).

 

Today’s Challenge: We need to live selflessly to another level. Purposely find someone who needs a meal today, needs a bill paid, needs financial assistance – and without accessing their value, show compassion.

 

ANOTHER LEVEL: if you dare :)  Its no loner what car I can drive or what house I can have. If I do my part, my children will have a foundation to build on – and my 200 year plan of influencing the WORLD with my family begins with me. For far too long I have wasted finances on my pleasures, on my goods – its now a passion of Nili and I to build wealth for our grandchildens’ grandchildren. Setting up generations of influence in order to change this world through spiritual and physical reformation. To bring the love of God to everyone. Oh how I wish I had lived selflessly early on. I would not have purchased that huge house on the golf course, instead we would have purchased land to fulfill a vision. We could have paid off that land and built a mansion with the interest I have paid on homes in my first 17 years of ministry. Its not that I am saying the BLESSING is wrong – its fantastic and Nili and I LOVE walking in the blessing (cause let me tell you that we are BLESSED!!!). it’s that there is a higher place of blessing that we are realizing – it’s the selflessness of abundance. There is no hoarding or splurging when you have it all. There is NO need. Its driving what I have in order to set someone else up with a needed doctors appointment, or a bill paid. Its saying that GREAT is based on God’s standard, not the gold standard. My van is amazing, not because it is the newest but because it is affording me the opportunity to give more (because it’s paid off)!

 

God, here is my day… I am yours and I love you so much! I want to be your sharpest, best equipped tool to use today.  Please work through me, help me see through your eyes, and effectively love people the way that you love me.  No more jealousy or selfishness, help me break free from feeling like I am being passed up or overlooked – I rest and rely on You.  You are my source of worth, and my source of joy.  Whether its crumbs from the floor or a feast from your table, I KNOW you will meet and exceed my every need (and dream).  Here is my day, I am yours – send me, use me – please.

 

 

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Two areas that will EXPLODE our Influence

I was reading in Matthew a few days ago in chapter 25 where there are two parables.  With looking at 2014 as a New Year, I want  to do MY best to grow in Christ and grow as a Leader.  Chapter 13 clearly gives us two areas that we can change and see crazy results.

 

1 – Preparation. Short story.  The bridegroom is set to come, and we are told that there were 10 virgins (lets not even go there) waiting to be let in the party.  Five of the virgins came with extra oil to refill their lamps, the other five only had enough to make it through one cycle of lamp oil.  When it was close to time to go in to meet the bridegroom the 5 without enough oil ran out and had to go get more.  While they were out – the door was opened and they were left out.
The Question:  How prepared are you with you lamp?  There is a place in every call where God gives us the time to do OUR PART, before He does HIS PART.  For me, I think of some of the areas that I KNOW I am supposed to be working on but instead I waste time watching an episode of CHOPPED or getting nothing done.  Idle time that could be used in preparing my heart, talents, gifts to be skilled for Him. Am I spending my time waiting at the door of the bridegroom or do I act like I have ENOUGH oil to last til when He needs me?  Am I spending my time devoting to being close to Christ or entertaining myself?
There came a time when the bridegroom came to collect on the preparedness of the virgins.  The results for the 5 who were prepared included a feast and an inheritance.

The Challenge:  Spend more time with Him.  List down the areas that we have that are idle, wasted by doing things that don’t prepare us to be ready for HIM to use us.  Then, start replacing those with times of getting closer to God like worship, reading the word, studying, serving and praying.  I know, there is a part of us that is saying – “what about being to just have fun”… Lots more on that as this year passes, but it is ALL GOOD.  But preparation isn’t just spending time with God, its preparing those things that He has given you.  Those talents, gifts, and dreams.  What are we doing to hone in the gifts that he has given us so that when its time to USE them, we have practiced and prepared enough to be useful? Some specific areas for me are: writing, leading and worship.  I need to write more and practice putting into words what I FEEL inside.  I need to continue in learning more about leading people and loving them for where and who they are.  I need to practice the passion to worship God and finish writing the songs that he has given me.

2 – USE IT – the next parable immediately following shows us an example of when our preparation has an opportunity to shine.  When we have taken the time to HONE in the gifts that God has given us.Three servants are called in front of the master and GIVEN an opportunity to shine and work out a new place of authority.  All three servants must have demonstrated a history of being faithful to some extent as they were ALL given charge over increase. Its now in the DOING part.  When the master returns he is a rewarder!  Two of the servants were faithful with what God (the master) had given them and in response they became rulers over even more.  The 3rd servant took what God had given him and out of fear buried it.

The Question: Am I using what God has given me??? What gifts, talents and dreams in my life have I been burying, either because I don’t feel like its good enough to use (please reread the first part of preparation) or because I am not READY to use them?  The time came for the servants to have their opportunity to shine.  Two did.  The other one not only lost the talent that was given to him but was thrown out.
See this is when the preparation hits the road of readiness. When God gives us gifts, talents and dreams  - we have a responsibility to do something with it.  Not squander it away and be self-indulgent with it. It takes sacrifice and work, but the reward is to be able to share more of God with others.

My Prayer:
God, forgive me for spending so much time doing nothing, my foolishness. Please forgive me for foolishness. I need to keep moving forward, engaged in the vision you have placed in me.  Help my MIND to be renewed and disciplined to spend more time with YOU and with growing.  I want to be PREPARED – I want to journeying with YOU in this and not stuck in my routine!
I love You God – I am yours
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Selfless Discipleship

I was reading this morning in Mark 1 and saw something that we have ALL read, but it struck me different. Look at verses 16-18 below

16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

When Jesus looked for the disciples – he looked where they were, but he ALSO looked at what they were DOING!…AND then he placed them into a position that he LINKED to what they were doing.  I have a new understanding of what it means to be selfless in discipleship.

1 – Look for people

2 – Look at what they are doing

3 – DISCIPLESHIP: Connect what they are good at DOING to what they can do for GOD.

4 – Watch them change the world

People are not objects TO my success, they are not a means to the END (My place of feeling complete and accomplished) – nope, they are my success.

They are the object OF my success, not TO my success.

If I am not focused on the individualized success of those who are assigned to me to LEAD, then I am selfishly building my name. Sure, its not as cool to “let leaders do the FRONT work”, let them shine and while I just “support”.  And sometimes I find myself getting jealous of the success of those I lead – seeing the credit be received and no recognition of my part….

But then God

(YOU) remind me… I am not here for my success, I am not here for accolades or rewards – I am here to die.  I am here to sacrifice my life for the eternal life of others.  I am here to help (and watch) others succeed in God’s (YOUR) call.  Thats it – that is my purpose.

TODAY’S QUESTION.

How many people am I looking to place them where I NEED them, instead of CONNECTING what God has given THEM to DO to what we are DOING.

TODAY’S PRAYER (for me)
God, refresh my vision for building people – not into what I need done, but into what they are good at and are doing. Help me to see how they function and then find a way to connect that to getting the mission done.  Keep me focused on their growth and the responsibility you have given me to be their success.
God, help me to EMBRACE that purpose – help me to settle (not the bad kind, the foundational kind….let me change that) – help my foundation settle into a place that you can build on it – through building people.  Thank you for the opportunity and influence you have given me – help me to never abuse it.  I am the servant of all.
Unknown

Stony Ground

Matthew 13:3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.
Matthew 13:20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
Last blog we talked about the first leader, the seed sown on the path.  Today, we are going to talk about the see sown on the stony places.
Have you even had (or been) a leader who seemed to be a great listener, very teachable – but when tough times came it was like they FORGOT everything they were supposed to do.  These are the ones that have a season of getting things right, but then that honeymoon season ends and everything seems to have been “fluff”.  All of a sudden things are getting done, relationships start to fail and the leader who seemed like a “lifer” is now stepping down or worse having a moral failure.
We are still the sower in their life and it is important to see what causes this so that we can help them grow…
The 411:
this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
This kind of leader does NOT have a problem with learning, or being teachable. In fact their heart and ability to grow isn’t the issue at all.  They are typically learners and high level leader candidates.  They may even have a history of success in ministry or life, however there is a place in their life that they have not allowed God to renew.
21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.
The root in themselves is shallow, they haven’t taken the time to cultivate the ground of their life or a specific area.  In my relationship with God, there are seasons where He exposes things in me (tendencies, potential pitfalls, sin nature).  I have an option at that point, either to address the area or cover it up and delay.  When I choose to delay fixing it, then I have allowed stony ground to take its place. God tilled the ground, exposed rocks in the soil (now at the surface) and then I did nothing with it.  My heart STILL desires the seed, but my soul, mind and spirit are only SO deep to allow those truths to grow.
 
THE STUMBLE:
We will all mess something up.
We will all need the grace of God (it was freely given, so freely give it).
We will all need someone to accept us when we mess up (be that person)
The FIX:
When we see a leader who has this symptom in their life here are three things to do quickly with them.
1 – Expose the rocks – sit down and help them to see that they are not the only ones who see the rocks.  Help them see where they haven’t taken care of areas in their life.
2 – Remove the rocks – pray with them. Take away the shame and power of those rocks and help them to remove them out of their life.  Literally work out a game plan with them to remove the stony places and restore the soil in their life.
3 – Till the ground – Providing an accountability relationship is critical for this person.  They need someone who will take the time to help them recognize when God is dealing with them in an area, and not just brush over it.  Set up a period of time where you and that leader sit down periodically and go over progress and potential pitfalls.
It is our job to help the ground in peoples lives to be available to receive growth. Pray for those you lead, and recognize when the leader has stony ground (or areas in our lives that are stony).
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Hard Ground

So here is a new revelation that I am still receiving, but wanted to start sharing with you.  For those of us who are leading people, there has been an unlocking of the parable of the sower that I want to share with you.   I will sharing these insights in light of how we coach people and encourage them to grow, but at the same time realize that this parable is also applicable to you and me (especially me!).

Matthew 13:33 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
Matthew 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
When I looked up the word path I was intrigued by the meaning; way, highway, journey.  The word that is sown along the “common places” of our journey, both in mind and in our patterns of behavior.
I don’t know about you, but there have been often times that I work with a staff member or a volunteer, or life-coaching someone and it seems like they are just not “getting it”.  I share a needed change or even some correction, and HEAR me.  They may even say “yes, I get it” – but in practical application it is as if we never talked.  in vs 19, Jesus describes the receiving of the Word on the path as “not understanding it”.  In the original text, the word understand literally means to set, or to join with the patterns of the mind.  This parable is telling us that there are some areas in our lives that we are not RECEIVING the word because our understanding is set, or our path is not tilled to receive.
Later in the parable we see that the good ground is tilled up, ready to receive…  This part of the word being planted is hitting a worn down, commonly traveled portion of our lives that is so set in its way, that it cannot receive the word (correction, direction).  Thus, we don’t see the fruit of that word being planted.
LEADING:
In those we lead, if we are not seeing the fruit of what we are planting, we have to learn to recognize which type of ground it is being sown on.  In this section, we are talking about the common path, or the parts of their life that is a pattern of thinking, or doing.  It is the part of their life that they are set in their ways, and thus the words that are being sown are immediately dismissed.  I have found this is not a DESIRE of the person, rather it is almost unknown.  They want to learn, but they don’t SEE that it is an exposed seed that the enemy will come in and devour or snatch the seed away.
MY EXAMPLE:
I had been a youth pastor for almost 5 years (a LONG time for a youth pastor in america – unfortunately).  We were successful to an extent, had about 100 highschoolers at the national youth camp we were attending when a well known youth pastor/speaker came and sowed some seed. “Hey Ben, I bet your youth group hasn’t really broken the 100 mark, let alone the 1000 mark” – I remember thinking, hey man, 100 kids is a huge youth group, but I didnt dare say it out loud.  He proceeded to ask me a few key questions about getting parents involved and then laid into me that I was doing youth ministry all wrong (along with most of America). He shared a word with me that day that unless I get parents involved in youth ministry I will find that we will never reach the fullest potential of our youth department.  To this day I am thankful that he told me this at a camp where God had been tilling some ground me, and God must have known exactly which part of my field to till.  Instead of being defensive that day, I went from that conversation to my room and spent time with God to let HIM share with me.  We came back and started getting parents involved and in youth ministry our weekly student reach exploded to over 100 times where we had been before.
TAKE HOME:
Good ground will determine how well we (or people) receive the Word.  The Word is powerful, but we have to do our part to receive and to teach others how to receive.  So, when we are leading someone on our team and they just are not “getting” it – look into their lives through prayer.  Find out if there are any patterns or paths that God wants to use you to help them break up.  BUT remember, there is no power in SOWER, it is in the seed.  So this is an opportunity to help THEM grow.
Wait til we talk about the stony ground!
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Embrace the Day – quick reminder

So, in my Bible reading this morning I was reminded that there is more to this whole “life” thing than just getting MY day done.

 

 

 

Matthew 9: 12 They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth , I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Side note: Jesus was EATING with sinners – even Jesus liked to have meetings with food involved. In all seriousness – what is our purpose for today?  Is it to look good to our boss? To get something accomplished so that we can FEEL good about ourselves… or are we going to live for Jesus today.

Just a reminder for me – embrace the day, don’t just get through it.