Family, Leadership, Personal Development

Living by Priorities

priorities-3

Sometimes I have so many things to do I get really stressed.  I made a list a year or so ago of “Things Other People Want Me to Do,”  “Things I’m Obligated to do Because of My Work or Role in the Organization,” and “Things I Want to Do.”  I have been ruthlessly making every effort to get myself into a position where I am doing the things I want to do.

I’ve lived for many, many years with a sense of the value and brevity of time.  Our days are limited.  We all are called to do a great work for God during our lifetime.

Psalm 144:3-4

Lord, what is man that You take notice of him?  Or the son of man that You think of him?
Man is like a mere breath;  His days are like a shadow that passes away.

On the last day, which may be the day we die or the day Jesus returns to earth, we will be asked about what we have done with our time, opportunities and talents and skills in  this life.  Our rewards in the Afterlife will be determined by this (not our salvation, but the rewards for those who have already received God’s salvation through true faith in Jesus Christ).

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

So how do we determine what to do and what not to do from day to day?  Everything begins with the end in mind!  Many, many years ago (everything seems like “many, many years ago” nowadays!) I took a Time Management Course that was really helpful.  The course started by making me think about the end of my life in certain areas and what I wanted it to look like:

  • Family
  • Finances
  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Health

I’ve faltered on some of these over the years, nevertheless they have been a compass for me.  This is the key to Time Management and Living by Priorities:  Know what the end result is supposed to look like.  

When I came to Cambodia I knew the kind of church I felt God wanted in this nation.  I made a list of those qualities and characteristics and this determined my preaching, my personal appointments,  and all my activities on a daily basis.

So for you, I highly recommend getting alone with God and the Bible and thinking through what you want the end of your life to look like.  Write it specifically and put it in a place which can remind you daily.  In certain Seasons of Life we cannot control our schedule because we are under someone else’s authority.  We must work for them.  However, I urge you to keep your focus on the end goal and yearly, monthly and daily do what you can to move yourself toward your end goal.

One tool that helps me is the A, B and C Priority Checklist.  When I feel overwhelmed and too much on my plate I categorize my Task List into:

A = Essential to my Future Goals or my Job Description at my workplace

B = Important and still associated with my Future Goals or Job Description bu not as important as A.

C = I’d like to do them but if I don’t it won’t be the end of the world.

In my Task List I’ve always tried to schedule something associated with my personal, long-term goals I feel God is directing me towards.

By the way, it’s my opinion that every person should have a daily or weekly Task List.  If you don’t you will wander aimlessly and either won’t come near your long-term destination in life or you will waste a lot of God’s Time and your energy.  You can use a piece of paper, a 3 x 5 card or an app in your smart phone nowadays.

I’ll conclude by a few quotes:

  • If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
  • Nobody is just too busy, we all have the same amount of hours and minutes in the year, month and day…it’s a matter of priorities.
  • Change your priorities and change your life.
  • In order to say “Yes” to your priorities you must be willing to say “No” to something else.
  • You’re priorities aren’t what you say they are, they are revealed by your daily activities.
  • The key is not to  prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

I wish you the best in this life!

 

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Church Planting, Evangelism, Family, Missions, Uncategorized

It’s been a great year!

Cynde and I moved ourselves and our four children to Cambodia in April 1995.  We lived here for 12 years then went back to the United States for 5 years.  We returned in November 2011.  We moved here to do our part in bringing blessing to the people of Cambodia in seven spheres of society:

  1.  Religion – Lead them into a relationship with the Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. Social Relationships – Help them develop healthy relationships among husbands and wives, family members and friends and neighbors.
  3. Education – Help them achieve an education that will give them job skills to support themselves and their families and help move Cambodia out of the Killing Fields into the 20th/21st Century.
  4. Business – Help Cambodians learn biblical business practices that will put them in a position to receive God’s blessings and prosper their business.
  5. Government – Have influence with government to help them establish and run their government according to biblical principles.
  6. Arts and Entertainment – Help Christians and the Christian Church have a voice in dance, music, drama, sports and the entertainment world to bring a positive and moral influence in the nation.
  7. Media – Help Christians and the Christian Church have a voice in radio and TV to bring a positive, moral influence in the nation.

We have had varying degrees of success in this endeavor but after more than 20 years of investing in Cambodia and now in our early sixties we can say we are still passionate and excited everyday about what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do.  We are still involved in the church that we helped plant, New Life Fellowship, which now has about 2,000 people in attendance in Phnom Penh and 180+ congregations in 14 provinces.  We have a strategy to plant 500 more congregations in the next five years including 7 city churches.  New Life School has more than 225 students and our Children at Risk Ministry supports more than 250 children to stay in school through out Cambodia.  All thanks to your faithful prayers and generous giving.

Thank you so much for your personal donations that keep us in Cambodia.  We have sold everything in the USA and all of our possessions are now in Cambodia.  God willing, this is where we will live and die – investing our strength and experience to help bring positive change in this nation of Smiling People!

Below is a montage of photos from 2015.

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Church Planting, Evangelism, Family, Leadership, Missions, Personal Development

Birthing Prayer

Fervent Prayer

Obstacles and Resistance

We know that there are obstacles and resistance to establishing God’s Kingdom on this earth.  Among human and natural obstacles and resistance there is primarily spiritual resistance.  The devil – Satan – and his demonic force have occupied every village, city and country in the world for thousands of years (since Adam turned over his authority to the devil – Genesis 3) and will not relinquish his authority easily.  One of the foremost weapons God has given us to establish His Kingdom on this earth is through prayer:

“This, then, is how you should pray: Matthew 6:9-13

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

However, most of we Christians are too lazy to engage in this kind of prayer that breaks through barriers.  May the Lord help us to repent and engage…for the sake of Jesus and those whom He died for.

Read about the demonic spirits that oppose us: Ephesians 6:12

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The Power of Prayer

The God of the Universe has chosen prayer to be one of the primary methods of establishing His Kingdom on the earth.  James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Note the characteristics of effective prayer:

  1. Offered in faith
  2. Fervent
  3. From a righteous person

Birthing Prayer

There are different kinds of prayer, but Elijah modeled a powerful kind of prayer I call “Birthing Prayer.  Birthing Prayer is the kind of prayer that gets a Word from God and persists until we start to see results.  This is a kind of breakthrough prayer when we’re trying to birth a new truth into someone’s life or create something new or establish something God wants established.

1 Kings 18:41-45

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” 44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” 45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.

Note the process:

  1. Elijah speaks the revealed will of God before he sees it established.
  2. He put himself in a “birthing position” (squatted, head between the legs)
  3. He continued to cry out to God until he saw the answer start to come
  4. He began to order his daily behavior according to what he knew was about to happen as a result of God’s will, God’s Word and his faith

Breaking Through Obstacles

It’s been my experience that from time to time in my life and ministry I’ve come up against something I really feel is the will of God, but just can’t seem to get a breakthrough.  It’s at that time I feel I need to get serious with God in a renewed way.  For me, this means getting a Rhema Word of God.  A fresh Word from God regarding the situation.  That Word then becomes the Living Word of God burning in my heart and becomes the Sword of the Spirit.

Romans 10:17

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word (Rhema) about Christ.

The second primary Greek word that describes Scripture is rhema, which refers to a word that is spoken and means “an utterance.” A rhema is a verse or portion of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention with application to a current situation or need for direction.

Every word of God is inspired, and “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). It is the Holy Spirit Who illuminates particular Scriptures for application in a daily walk with the Lord.

The words of Jesus are significant on this point. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus also stated, “The words [rhema] that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

http://ati.iblp.org/ati/family/articles/concepts/rhema/

I commit myself to focused, consistent prayer and fasting until I receive a Rhema Word from God about that situation.  Then my prayer changes – I start commanding.  I start calling into being what God has willed.

Romans 4:17

17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

2 Corinthians 4:13

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,

Mark 11:24-24

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

This is the Process:

  1. Face an obstacle
  2. Set yourself to prayer and fasting
  3. Get a Rhema Word from God
  4. Began spiritual battle by declaring God’s will over the situation
  5. Invite His angels, who are our helpers in establishing His will on the earth, and His Holy Spirit to join us in establishing His will in this situation
  6. Keep at it until you start to see results
  7. Give glory to God
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Family, Leadership, Personal Development

Obadiah: Lessons in Humility

2298031231_3c86482a46_mThe source of power is God.  The purpose of power is to establish God’s will in the sphere of society over which one holds power.  When we abuse the power God gives us, the God of the Universe who allowed us to gain that power, will do what is necessary to set things right.

God delegates his power and authority to mankind.  There are four areas of society in which God delegates his authority:

1.  Family (parents)

2.  Employers (over employees)

3.  Government (presidents and prime ministers all the way down to the local government officials)

4.  Church (pastors and church leaders at all levels)

The problem with mankind at every level is we assume we obtain positions of authority and power because of our own cleverness or skill, but it is God who raises up and casts down leaders according to His sovereign plan.  The purpose is to establish His will, purposes and righteousness in every sphere of society.  When we leaders are self-centered, angry, abusive or prideful we abuse God’s purpose for giving us power or authority.  This is the problem we have in the Book of Obadiah.

Much of the following notes are from the John Maxwell Leadership Bible.

Obadiah, an obscure prophet in Israel, writing to the descendants of Esau (Edom) about 587 BC, addressed their issue of pride and abuse of power and influence.  Esau was Jacob’s twin brother.  He was an outdoorsman and a hunter whom God scolded after he succombed to lust for immediate gratification (Genesis 25:27-34; Hebrews 12:16).  Esau neglected his priorities and lost sight of God’s eternal purposes.  God endowed Esau with power, authority and skill to further God’s agenda in his sphere of influence, but Esau became self-centered, angry and arrogant, which became a Generational Curse upon his descendants, the Edomites.  The Edomites lived in the high, rocky cliffs and supposed their ingenuity and location made them invincible.  They hated their relatives the Israelites and rather than protecting Israel when invaders attacked they gloated, laughed and even joined in on the attack.  The prophet Obadiah wrote about this pride.

The prophet’s timeless lesson applies to leaders everywhere throughout history.  Pride and treachery lead to destruction, but humility and loyalty gain God’s blessings.

We learn from Obadiah that personal gain, honor, rivalry, competition and comparison are not a good motivation for leadership.  Those attitudes affected the descendants of Esau to the point that they lost perspective on the Eternal God who created them for His purposes.  They therefore sabotaged their own destiny.  How often does this happen to leaders in the four spheres of leadership today?

God hates pride.  Through Obadiah He promised to humble the Edomites for their arrogant attitudes and their self-centered world view.  They thought they had achieved the success they enjoyed by themselves.  Leaders must never buy into the thinking that “they did it all themselves.”  There is a Sovereign God working behind the scenes of our life positioning us as a parent, business person or employer, supervisor at our work, government  or church leader to accomplish His purposes within our sphere of influence.  The higher leaders go (believer and unbeliever) the more we must humble ourselves and declare what King Nebuchadnezzar learned – “The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever He wills, and sets over it the lowest of men.”  Daniel 4:1-3, 47.

Our success should not deceive us.  Leader blinded by pride should be pitied.  God will raise up situations to humble them. He will not allow arrogance to continue indefinitely.  Generally He gives a warning to leaders through a word from another leader, a failure, a broken relationship, a personal weakness or a plan that fails.  If the leader does not respond with humility God sets the wheels of justice in motion.  He will execute His justice by whatever means He chooses.

When leaders have the power to do good and extend God’s Kingdom within their sphere of influence and don’t use it, God holds them guilty.  James 4:7  Edom misused God’s power and authority and suffered the dire consequences.  Lord, help us learn.

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Church Planting, Evangelism, Family, Leadership, Missions, Personal Development

Casting a Clear Vision

NorthMiddleSistersSomeone once told me that if the leader is not absolutely clear on his vision his followers will not be clear at all.  To move forward and accomplish a task one must have a clear vision, then add to that SMART Goals and Action Steps.

Here are a few thoughts on Vision:

1.  A clear vision must communicate a principle for the head and a picture for the heart.  This means we must communicate a sentence or a purpose in a statement but we must also describe that principle, or describe our vision in practical terms. This may mean a story, a picture or describing what the future will look like when the vision is fulfilled.

2.  Leaders must be men and women who encourage others.  There are many, many obstacles and difficulties on the road to fulfilling vision – Finances, People who oppose the vision, Supplies.  However, we must commit ourselves to focus on the positive, the potential and the outcome rather than the difficulties.  We must always be a person who encourages others.  Even when we correct someone we can do it in a positive and encouraging way.

3.  Where there is no hope in the future there is no power in the present.  If people do not have a future hope they will not be motivated to discipline themselves, learn, sacrifice and do what is necessary to achieve that future hope.  Leaders must hold a future hope out for people to see clearly and tell them what they must do to achieve that hope.

4.  If you stop learning today you’ll stop leading tomorrow.  We can build on what we learned in previous years, but we must also continue to equip ourselves by learning more.  We must read, attend seminars, listen to lectures and learn from others to enlarge ourselves to become the person and leader whom God wants us to be.

5.  A big vision without core values is like a winding road without guardrails.  The guardrails on a narrow mountain road keep us from falling off into danger.  The same is true about Core Values.  We must have core moral values of what we believe. About what we must do.  About what we will never do.  These keep us focused morally as we seek to fulfill the vision God has given us.  Will we do ANYTHING to fulfill our vision?  Cheat?  Lie?  Cut corners on quality?  Take the short cut in developing others?  What are your Core Values as a leader?

6.  When you communicate vision, always give people something to act upon.  Don’t just communicate a vision or  declare what you believe about the future, but tell those who listen to you or follow you what they must do – step by step – to move toward that vision.  If you don’t know the steps or process to fulfill the vision, you are not clear yourself, therefore, those who are following you will not be clear either.  Figure out the vision and at least figure out the general steps to see that vision fulfilled.

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