January 18 – Playing Favorites

Playing favorites has dangerous consequences for any parent, boss, or anyone in any kind of authority. This lesson goes all the way back to the first book of the Bible.

THE RIVER WALK

playing favorites

So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:3-4)

Read: Genesis 37:1-38:30, Matthew 12:22-45, Psalm 16:1-11, Proverbs 3:27-32

Listen:

 

Relate: Which is your favorite class? While not common, this is a question I have been asked more than a few times. Right up there with it is, “Who is your favorite student?” Over the course of a week, I have eleven different classes I will be teaching. A couple years ago at this time, in Istanbul, I was in seventeen classes covering four grades with about twenty students in each class. This year I have twelve classes in first or second grade with 24 students per class. You can imagine how often such a question might occur. The grade teacher…

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Toxic effects of sugar

Sugar is so sweet, but do you know what it is doing to your body? Read this and find out.

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Whole 30 day nine and all is well, for the most part. According to what I have come to refer as The Calendar, my pants are supposed to feel tight and I am supposed to be experiencing some gastrointestinal distress. Well, without going into graphic detail, one of those things is true and a tad inconvenient to say the least. Neadless to say, I can go without too many more days of having to know exactly where the bathroom is everywhere I go, just in case.

Anyway, and if nothing else, this program has caused me to think about food in a whole different way specifically, sugar and it’s toxicity.

Evidence that sugar is indeed toxic continues to grow – sadly, as does the global health crisis, from obesity and diabetes to cancer! It’s time to block the harmful effects of too much sugar and increase the level of…

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Propaganda

What a powerful post about how the church in North America needs an awakening! This read will be worth your time.

Live 4 Him

…the infusion of small amounts of truth into a batch of lies told over and over again until the lies themselves become truth. Propaganda is a weapon of war that should never be underestimated. If the evilest of dictators and the defenders of freedom both effectively use the twisted words of manufactured truth with some degree of success, then it would be wise to assume the Father of Lies has perfected its deployment.

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How to Treat a Church Newcomer

I have had the chance to visit or be on staff in many churches for over 20 years. My saddest observation is that churches do not either adequately train or understand the ministry of a greeter or usher. I cannot tell you how many churches I have walked into where the men stand around in the foyer and look manly, hand you a bulletin, and tell you “It’s good to see you” if they are “friendly”. What kind of impression will you get if you are a young family with a baby and a few young children?

Honestly, I knew within a few minutes that I did not want to go back. The impression that they give is that they are happy with the people they have and do not want to put forth any extra effort to acquaint you with their ministry.

What should have been done differently?

  • They should have engaged the family in real conversation. Introduce yourself. Find out their names and use them. Find out the ages of the children. Find out if they would be interested in utilizing the nursery or children’s ministry. If so, walk them to it. Introduce them to the children’s ministry workers and the workers to them. Once again, use their names. It makes them feel important.
  • Try to engage with them after the service. Introduce them to others within the church, especially others in their age bracket or life stage. Don’t let this just be the pastor’s job! They expect this from the pastor, so it just seems like he is “doing what he’s supposed to do”.
  • Don’t just put men in as ushers or greeters! There is NOTHING in the Bible that says an usher is supposed to be masculine. In my personal experience, ladies are much better at greeting and engaging people. Anybody can pass a plate. It takes someone who really wants to make people feel welcome to be an usher/greeter.
  • Help them find a seat (especially if they’re late). There is nothing more embarrassing than being late and having to hunt down a seat. For our church situation, we have folding chairs we set up and take down. We set up a certain number. If we have more people show up, we have to be ready to set out more chairs on the spot.
  • All people should engage a guest in meaningful conversation. Don’t overwhelm them but at least act like a normal human being rather than a “church alien” (the kind whose language changes when they walk into a building with a steeple on top).
  • One final word: THE ONLY THING IN CHURCH THAT SHOULD BE SAVED ARE THE SOULS IN THE BUILDINGS NOT THE SEATS!!!!!!!!!!!

World’s Worst Advice

I hear people give advice ALL THE TIME! A lot of it is horrible advice. They will give it whether you ask or not. Here is my list of horrible advice that will screw you up every time.

  1. Do what makes you happy! Sheryl Crow sang, “If it makes you happy, then why the **** are you so sad?” She was no theologian, but she had enough sense to know that happiness is based on circumstances which fluctuate. What makes you happy today probably won’t make you happy tomorrow.
  2. Follow your heart! Really?!? Your “heart” can be on an emotional roller coaster, and you plan on following your heart? The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
  3. Do something for yourself! I am not denying that we should care for ourselves, but most people go overboard and buy themselves a boat or spend money they don’t have. If doing something for yourself will cause World War 3 when you get home or put you in massive debt, do a small kind gesture for someone else and find out how truly fulfilling that is.

If you get your advice from a fool, you’re likely to do something foolish. Get your advice from a wise person, and you are likely to make a wise choice. Whatever you do, don’t go getting advice from someone who will tell you what you want to hear. I speak from experience on this one!

Pride, Pride, and More Pride

Excellent post on pride and its more subtle expressions!

See, there's this thing called biology...

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

pirate2I’ve written a fair amount about pride, here, here, here, here and here.  Actually, I’ve written at least a dozen more, but I’m too lazy to search for them all.

So why the big obsession with pride? Because it tends to be very painful and it separates us from God. Proud men aren’t just looking down on things and people, they are often looking down on themselves, too. As CS Lewis points out so well, if we’re looking down, we aren’t looking up.

It’s a bit funny, one of the fastest ways to win friends and influence people is to speak about pride…

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Missions Begins at Home

I better go ahead and put out the disclaimer that I have no issues with God calling people to minister in foreign countries. I have friends who are foreign missionaries and are being greatly used of God. However, my thinking about foreign missions changed when a former pastor with whom I worked exposed me to the idea of supporting nationals (people who are from that particular country) training their own people. The church’s missions money began to have a greater return.

When I went to pastor my first church, I began to focus on the need to share the gospel at home. I have seen so many churches parade church members who went out of the country to share the gospel but would not share the gospel with their next door neighbor. There is a serious problem with this picture. Why do churches raise thousands of dollars to send these people to foreign countries and do nothing at home?

Acts 1:8 is clear about a missionary strategy – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jerusalem is Home. Begin there! Share the gospel with the meth addict, the homeless man, the prostitute who works the corner down the road from your house. Spread out a little further to “Judea” (whatever is a little further out geographically), “Samaria” (a little further out and a place of racial tension), “and to the end of the earth” (which does not exclude foreign missions).

When Your “Friends” Forsake You

I have been hearing a lot recently about how people have thought they had great friends and are discovering that the friendship is very one-sided. We all have these types of people who are in and out of our lives. You may be reading this, and you are disheartened. That friend who meant the world to you now acts like you don’t exist. I would like to share with you some things God taught me as people exited my life.

  • Some people are toxic and need to go. They are they to drain your energy and pull you down so they can feel better. Let them go while praying that they will see how self-centered they truly are and become selfless.
  • Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season. They will serve a purpose in your life for a brief time and move on. You and I have to learn how to understand these seasons and purposes and accept God’s timing for their exodus.
  • Some people must go because they are unintentionally keeping you from your purpose. This has been the case with many who have exited my life in the last few years. I cherished some friendships and put people on pedestals. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with these people, but I would not be on the path I am today had I continue to walk with them. Their exodus from my life ultimately led me to greater compassion and understanding for those who are hurting. I would have never stepped out to start Overcomers Church and would have been sitting safely within a denominational comfort zone feeling like a fish out of water.

I discovered that the ones who stayed love me despite the different path I have taken. I have received such encouragement from them. We may not see eye to eye philosophically, but those who love you will be there through disagreements and all.

The Bible has many great things to say about friends. My favorite is this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NKJV). When a friend will go through the fire with you and sacrifice anything for you, you know you have a true friend. I am glad to tell you today that the greatest Friend you will ever have is Jesus Christ. Others will betray you; He will never forsake you.‬‬

Ghethsemane Is Not A Place, It’s A Thing

Many of us take a surface look at Gethsemane. This takes us beneath the surface. It will be worth your time to read this.

The Way Online

Ghethsemane is an olive press, not a garden or actual geographical location. It’s true meaning unlocks so many truths about what our Savior went through that it is a story that must be retold until it’s true biblical meaning replaces the one we have accepted for years. That there is a Garden of Ghethsemane somewhere is a misconception.

When I was a little girl I used to love the painting of Jesus in the Garden of Ghethsemane praying over the rock preparing for being the ultimate atonement and sacrifice for all mankind. In fact it’s an image I often thought of during my own trials in life just knowing that my Savior faced far worse on my behalf and that if anyone could understand my minor earthly sufferings, he could. This mental picture has gotten me through every situation that I was afraid to face and mentally it was tied…

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