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Archive for September, 2013

One day a new chicken was introduced to the farm.

The duck, who was the main bird in charge, shows the new chicken around.

“This is where you go to get fed, this is the water trough and that is the coop.
Chickens hang out near the fence, us ducks near the pond and the geese near the
gate. We’re pretty friendly but we keep to our own.”

“Oh but whatever you do, DO NOT cross that road. You’ll never hear the end of
it.”

[forwarded by Steve Sanderson]

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You should never hit a guy with glasses. Always use your fist.

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MIKEYSFUNNIES.COM

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Each Providing a Useful Function

Romans 12:4-5a

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body…

This is the first time Paul has used the concept of the body to describe the church. It is a theme he will continue throughout Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians. Paul tells us the church — as the body of Christ — is to function much like a human body. In the same way, although we are all members of the same body, we do not have the identical functions. Think about how many members there are in your own church. Hundreds maybe even thousands, each with their own specific and unique purpose. It is really a mind-bending thought, especially with how much science has taught us about the intricacies of our own bodies.
For example, consider the cilica: tiny hairs in your lungs. What is their purpose? They act like tiny brooms, sweeping dust and dirt particles from the air we breathe. A necessary and critical function, yet for the most part completely hidden from view.
Many times we look at the people around us — the gifts God gave them and the way He made them — and we think “he’s too aggressive”, “she’s too sweet”, or “they’re too loud.” We can’t imagine how they could possibly provide any useful function. But then again, we are not the designer of the human body, nor the body of Christ, God is. It is from this perspective we come to realize there are many members of the church’s body, and each one was designed by Him with a very specific part to fulfill.

Who are we to judge the value of another part of the body of Christ? Is one more important than another? No. One thing I enjoy doing is looking around and talking to people trying to discover the reason God placed this particular person in our church. Try it sometime. It really changes your perspective on the contributions of each individual member to the body.

POCKETPOWER.ORG

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Discovering the Character of Your Church: Personal vs. shared Valuesby Phil Ware on September 29, 2013

As a church leader, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What makes our church tick?
  2. What values lie behind the decisions we make, where we spend our money, and where we place our emphasis in ministry?
  3. Are these operational values consistent with our stated, shared values?
  4. What are the hidden conflicts in our congregation over our shared and personal values?
  5. What are the hidden, subterranean, conflicts among our leaders that are connected to their personal values as they rub up against our personal values?
  6. What shared values do we have that don’t seem reflected in our congregation’s mission, functioning, spending, and allocation of people resources?
  7. Am I causing conflict because I am letting my personal values become more important than our congregation’s shared values?

These are terribly important questions church leaders must ask themselves. Their personal values may not be a reflection of the congregation’s shared values — which invariably leads to tension and conflict.

Let’s clarify a few things before we look more closely at personal values and shared values. Hopefully, we all share a basic and core set of discipleship values. Notice how the apostle Paul speaks directly to these issues:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).

To put this into cornbread English: all our values as disciples of Jesus are rooted in our desire to please God and to submit to his will because of all God has so graciously done for us in Jesus.  Later in Paul’s message to these same brothers and sisters in Christ, he spells out what this ultimate value looks like in daily life:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9-21 NIV).

Paul’s words about discipleship values are remarkably similar to what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29) … what Paul taught about the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-26) … what Peter taught on living for God (1 Peter 1:13-25; 2 Peter 1:5-11) … and what is taught in a host of other passages on Christian living. These shared discipleship values are the behavioral norms for Jesus’ followers as they live out their ultimate value of pleasing God and living according to their Father’s will.

Again, to put it in cornbread English: as a disciple, a follower of Jesus and a child of God, I will live out God’s call for holy character and gracious compassion through clear and concrete ways that honor God and bless others.

However, each of us has been created as a unique disciple. We each have:

I refer to this as God’s SIGnature that he has placed upon us as his masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).

This means that we all have personal values that are rooted in God forming us to be unique parts of Jesus’ Body, the Church. These personal values will not override discipleship values — we can’t forego submitting to the will of God and living in holy and gracious ways simply because we have (for instance) the gift of teaching. It does mean, however, that we are going to see some things differently from a personal, individual perspective than anyone else in the congregation. We will be passionate about areas of ministry that don’t excite others. We will honor different priorities in ministry than others in Christ’s Body.

Again, to put this into cornbread English: God specially formed me to have something unique to bring to the greater good of my congregation, Christ’s Body, and that unique formation creates unique perspectives and priorities.

As leaders, we must acknowledge that our personal values are important: after all, God formed them in us. We bring these values to the table as a gift to the congregation. But, we do this in the context of a larger whole — we are but one body part in the Body of Christ. We are not the head… Jesus is head of his Body (Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:19). We cannot be the tail — or hand or eye or nose — that wags the dog!

A congregation, based on its calling and sense of mission, will have a shared set of congregational values. When these values and this sense of mission are clear, operational, and emphasized, the congregation will allocate its resources, focus its ministry, and call its people to serve on the basis of those values. They become the hub around which the life and ministry of the congregation turns. These shared values are necessary for the unity and proper functioning of the congregation. The only alternative is a set of competing visions that destroys any sense of being a Body of connected and vital parts that disempowers the congregation and blocks the church from incarnating the bodily presence of Jesus in its community.

Paul put it this way:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (Romans 12:3-8 NIV).

To put this into cornbread English one final time: my values, formed out of my unique experience as a disciple of Jesus, are just one part of the whole: it is not appropriate or godly for me to place greater importance on my unique role than the roles others play just as it is not right or spiritually healthy to place my values above the shared values of the congregation — I am a part of a bigger whole: a vital part of the bodily presence of Jesus!

Ignoring this last principle, of course, is the place where the real battle to live out our values can rub us raw!

As leaders, we can work our own agendas, based on our personal values that are permitted to transcend the shared values of the congregation. This erodes any sense of shared values and produces division in the congregation. Groups seek out leaders who share narrower values and have shown a willingness to sacrifice the many for the few. This creates a back channel flow of politics. Before long, there are no shared values in a congregation; any unified sense of mission is lost; coalitions are formed; and ministry becomes more about people getting their way than about functioning as the bodily presence of Jesus.

So what are we to do?

First, we must remember the key principles about values we learned from Paul (Romans 12):

  1. Our ultimate value is to honor God, submit to him, and live according to his will.
  2. We live out that ultimate value by behaving in ways consistent with God’s holy character and gracious compassion in our daily lives.
  3. We offer our unique strengths, interests and insights, as well as our spiritual gifts to the whole Body, as a vital part of Christ’s Body, and for the benefit of the body.
  4. We each recognize that we are just a part of a bigger whole, and that the shared values of the whole must transcend our own desires rooted in our personal values.

Second, we must be honest with ourselves as leaders and congregations as we ask hard questions similar to the ones found at the beginning of this article. So much church conflict arises out of ignoring the tensions between personal and shared values. While many find it frightening to address these issues, the real danger lies in ignoring them and allowing the resulting division, dissension, and rivalry to destroy the witness of our congregations.

Third, when in times of transition — hiring a minister, choosing elders and deacons, determining budgets, handling conflict — we need to make sure we align those critical decisions with our shared values. Asking some clarifying questions can help us:

  • Do the personal values of a prospective minister align with our congregation’s shared values? Do a minister’s personal gifts and passions enhance or threaten our shared values and sense of calling from God?
  • Will a prospective elder or deacon exercise leadership based on unique gifts or the shared values of the congregation? Will this potential leader’s giftedness and personal passions enhance or threaten our shared values and sense of calling from God?
  • Does this projected budget really reflect our values as a congregation and our sense of mission and calling from God? How can we better align our budget with our shared values and this sense of mission and calling?
  • Are our conflicts rooted in a clash of shared and personal values among key leaders or members? Do our shared values actually reflect our operational values? Do our stated values need to be modified or changed to reflect our operational values or vice versa?

Conflicts arise in our churches and coalitions form because we feel so strongly about what God wants us to do. Strong feelings are good, but they must be channeled through the principles Paul teaches in Romans 12. At the same time, many tensions are the result of not living our shared values; having unclear shared values; not openly discussing the differences between our personal values and our shared values; and not submitting ourselves and our personal values to God and to the good of the whole Body of Christ.

As leaders, we can and must do better. Our congregations need us to build a healthy sense of unity around genuine shared values. Even more, our world needs to see united congregations functioning as the bodily presence of Jesus, living with each other and our neighbors with holy character and gracious compassion.


This is the first of four articles related to determining a congregation’s core values and how these values — hidden or stated, operational or aspirational, personal or shared, and used with integrity — work in the life of a congregation. The series is called “Discovering the Character of Your Church” and is found with other resources for churches, especially churches in ministerial transition, on the Interim Ministry Partners Website. The articles in this series are:

  1. Core Values

http://www.heartlight.org/articles/201309/20130929_personal_shared_values.html

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Some of you are aware that there is a restoration and re-align taking place with the apostle of over our church, with our church itself and with many individuals in the church. We see this as a period of restoration and revival. Great things have been taking place around us as the power of God continues to manifest anytime any of us get together.
It is also a challenging time, and sometimes painful as the Spirit deals with things that need to be dealt with in our lives. This past weekend was such a moment for me.
Many years ago I was asked to pastor our church through a troubling time. Many leaders abandoned the family and it was a difficult time for people to hold on. Those who did, matured in the process and gained a profound understanding of the family of God. But there is a definite chain of command in the Body of Christ. Although we are all equal in importance and relationship in Jesus, there is a certain establishment of authority that he has created. Read Ephesians 4 as well as 1 Corinthians 12 to gain a beginning understanding of these matters.
This comes as bad news for those free radicals who do not want to be answerable to anybody but God. These are the type of believers who often dis-associate themselves from the Body for various reasons or spend their lives going from church to church, avoiding accountability. But they are also the ones who sit with a smile on their face in the pew, rejecting much of what is being preached because they believe they know better. But the Word demonstrates that the responsibility, vision, and leadership falls on a few that we know as apostles and prophets and it is the responsibility of the Body to support, encourage, and submit to these leaders. We have the responsibility of carrying the vision God has given to them.
On the weekend some of these things started coming together for me. The Spirit pointed out that things were not aligned properly in the headship of our church. My pastorship, which started 9 years ago, came under the authority of a man who had no authority over our church, thus my pastorship had no authority. Although we had placed the church under an apostle, that apostle had never appointed me as pastor, never laid hands on me, and I was not in alignment with his authority. The Spirit clearly made the point with me that I had to resign because mine was not a correct authority and it was blocking what God wanted to do.
This news came with no guarantees. I was to put aside the mantle of pastor, lay it at the feet of the apostle over the church and sit down. I was not permitted to walk away from the church. In fact, it was clearly my responsibility to become a man of valour to the apostle as David’s men were to David. It was my responsibility to support, encourage, lift up, defend, serve, and humbly obey, carrying out the vision God had given to him. Not as a pastor but as a man of valour.
Sunday morning came and it had all been laid out in the spiritual realms what was to take place. I saw it clearly but I did not know if I had the strength to do this. How could I walk away from my calling, the only thing I knew how to do, my purpose on this planet? Yet it was the will of my Father and my only desire was to walk in his will. No guarantees. But as I stood in worship in our pre-service prep time, Jesus stood beside me.
I’m not kidding. I saw him in the Spirit stand beside me, put his arm across my shoulder in a physical act of encouragement and said very clearly, “I will give you the strength you need. I am proud of you.” I was overwhelmed by gratitude and love. I felt his strength, his power and I was warm all over by the burning that was taking place in me. A burning I could not control. A burning I could not contain. I wept all the way through worship, not out of sorrow or fear of what I had to do but out of gratitude for the compassion of my King, for his presence and my awareness of it. I wanted to dance, shout and sing all at the same time. I was being renewed and re-established in this one single act of submission to my Father’s will. Why had it taken me so long to understand?
The moment came quickly, the Word was preached easily, and in a single act of total surrender, I laid my Bible, representing my mantle, at the apostles feet. Peace filled my soul. I pledged myself to this man of God, to lift him up, to defend him, to carry his vision, to serve. Strength flowed into my limbs, my heart, my soul. Then my wife and I sat down.
It was done. Finished. Completed. I was no longer pastor. No guarantees.
And then something incredible happened.
The apostle took my Bible, had my wife and I stand, handed my Bible (mantle) back to me and laid hands on us, appointing us as pastors of the church under his authority as apostle. If no one else understood the significance of this moment, the man of God, my apostle did. Everything suddenly came into alignment with the Father’s heart. Everything from the past was washed away. Everything was made right, proper, and in the will of God. The authority in the church was established according to the will of God. Everything in an instant was healed and made whole. The church gathered around with affirming words and prayers.
Now it was done. Now it was finished. Now it was completed. Now I was truly pastor. Guaranteed.
Today I am more than I was yesterday. Today I am truly a man of authority under authority. Today I stand healed and made whole in my leadership in the church. Today, the mountain is removed and the path made clear for the free flowing blessings and power of Jesus. Today is the first day of a new season for me, my family and the church, and I think for our apostle as well. Today my apostle has a man of valour by his side. May God use us all mightily in this dying world as we minister in his appointed manner.

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And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Phil Ware

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Jesus wants us to seriously look into our hearts and surrender those things that hold us back from fully following and serving him. We know what they are. He comes to us with his now nail-scarred hands and reminds us that he gave up everything to redeem us. He now wants us to surrender to the Cross the things that hold us back. Let’s do it today!

Prayer…

Father God, Almighty King, I am sorry for the areas of my life that I have kept hidden away from the righteousness that your Spirit is working to cultivate in me. I now confess those secret areas of sin to you and ask that you cleanse me and liberate me from Satan’s power that binds them to me and holds me back from wholehearted service to your Son. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

http://www.heartlight.org/cgi/todaysverse.cgi

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NOW YOU KNOW/ YOU MUST SOW TO HAVE A HARVEST TO REAP

To be able to reap, we need to plant seed.  That seed has to come to harvest for us to reap.  The following are the definitions of sow, reap, harvest.  Understanding the meaning of these words will help in understanding what is means to reap what you sow.  Without a harvest, after you sow, there is nothing to reap.
Sow-to scatter [seed] over the ground for growing-to impregnate [a growing medium] with seed-to propagate: disseminate-to strew or cover with something
Propagate-to cause to multiply
disseminate-to scatter widely- to spread abroad-to become spread out
Reap -to cut [a grain or pulse]- or harvest with a scythe, sickle, or reaper-to harvest [a crop]-to harvest a crop from-to obtain as a result of effort-to obtain as a result of effort-to obtain a return or reward
Harvest-the act or process of gathering a crop-the crop that ripens or is gathered in a season-the amount or measure of the crop gathered in one season-the time or season of such gathering-the consequence or result of an action
God gives us seed and tells us where to sow it.  God does not sow for us or make us sow.  We don’t have to make our seed grow, God does that.  He is the one that grows the harvest, then we are to reap.
God Bless
recj/LJG

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GOLD STAR MOTHER
By Keo R. Gathman

As she stands beside his grave
On yet another Memorial Day,
She remembers the boy she sent away
And how he became the man resting here today.
His heroes didn’t become famous playing ball.
In fact most of their names were never well known at all.
They went to work wearing camouflage green and desert brown,
Earning their reputation as the toughest warriors around.
When he first saw them in dress blues
The heart within her little boy knew,
That nothing short of becoming one of them would do.
Time all too quickly passed by
As childhood things were put aside,
And his heart’s desire would not be denied.
“I love you, Mom” he said one day
“But the time has come for me to go away,”
And she knew his decision she couldn’t sway.
Through tears she tried so hard to keep inside
She told her baby boy goodbye.
Writing him letters nearly every day
She often took the time to pray,
“Lord be with my boy today.”
“Help him clearly see the man I know that he can be,
Grant him his most cherished dream,
Let him come home, a United States Marine.”
When the time came for him to go to war
She feared as she had never feared before,
Prayed there would be no knock on her front door.
They came that day dressed in their blues
And though in her heart she already knew,
She cried out “No, it can’t be true.”
The man child she had sent away
Was at last coming home to stay.
He never doubted what they did was right,
And he never wavered in the fight.
Forever and always as in his childhood dreams,
Her boy remains a United States Marine.

Copyright 2006 Keo R. Gathman ( beakerless@hotmail.com ). Permission is granted
to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

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A friend is someone who reaches for your hand, but touches your heart.

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www.mikeysFunnies.com

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