#234: The Young Leader Who Lived Through Peace, Prosperity, Reformation, and Disaster

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Imagine turning a large company over to an 8-year old to run. A third grader! You wouldn’t do it, would you?!

Josiah Leader

Now, imagine turning a whole nation over to an 8-year old king? Well, that’s exactly what happened to young Josiah. He was made king over Israel when he was 8-years old after his father, Amon, was assassinated.

Fortunately, Josiah had two Godly people who shaped his young life; his mother, Jedidah, and Hilkiah, the high priest.

There’s a lot we can learn from this young king that parallels many of the situations we face as leaders today. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.

Peace & Prosperity

Josiah’s 31-year rule as king occurred during an unusual period. The Assyrian empire was in decline, and the Babylonian empire had not yet become a world power. The ebb and flow of power between the Assyrians and the Babylonians meant the Israelites had a time of relative peace in which they could govern themselves and pursue their trades.

Reformation

When he was 16-years old, Josiah turned away from the evil ways of his father and turned to God. When he was 20-years old, he began a campaign to rid Judah and Jerusalem of foreign idols and altars.

When Josiah was 26-years old, he ordered the cleansing and repair of the Lord’s temple. A copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple and read to Josiah. He realized how far the people had fallen away from God. Josiah assembled the leaders, and before the people, made a covenant with God to follow all of God’s commands. All the people of Judah entered into the covenant with Josiah to follow God.

Disaster

When Josiah was 39-years old, God instructed Neco, Pharaoh of Egypt, to march to the Euphrates to help the Assyrians in Battle against the Babylonians. Josiah went out with his army to confront Neco. Neco warned Josiah not to oppose God by engaging in a battle with him. Instead of heeding Neco’s warning, Josiah went into battle and was killed. Josiah’s death ended Judah’s 31-year period of peace and self-rule. They were conquered and ruled by the Egyptians, then the Babylonians.

The people of Judah endured four bad kings in a row for nearly 23 years until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were exiled.

Leadership Lessons for Us

Among the many lessons we might learn from the life and reign of King Josiah, here are my top five:

1) Godly Advisors. Josiah was indeed fortunate that he had two Godly advisors who helped shaped his young life. The important thing here is that Josiah listened to them and became a man after God’s own heart.

Leader Lesson. Surround yourself with Godly men and women who can give you sound counsel and listen to them!

2) Seek the Lord. Josiah made a personal decision to follow the Lord.

Leader Lesson. It is not enough to have Godly men and women speak into our lives. We must each make a personal decision to follow God.

3) Courage. Josiah was only a young man, but he had the courage to rid the country of the foreign idols and altars that had been allowed by his father and grandfather.

Leader Lesson. There will be times in each of our lives when we must have the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion when it is contrary to God’s will for us.

4) Humbled Himself. When Josiah heard the words of the Lord read from the Book of the Law, he humbled himself and vowed to follow all the Lord’s decrees.

Leader Lesson. A position of power or prestige often brings out our prideful nature, but true Godly leaders will humble themselves and always be ready to follow as God leads.

5) Keep Seeking the Lord. Josiah’s reforms brought the people of Judah back to the Lord. But at some point, he stopped seeking the Lord in every matter. Ignoring the Lord in the matter of Pharaoh Neco, brought about his death and the enslavement of the people of Judah.

Leader Lesson. There is never a good time in the life of a Christian leader to stop trusting and seeking the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these leadership lessons do you think is most important in your life right now?

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Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#229: Achieving Your God Sized, Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

Think Big, Start Small

As far as I know, Jim Collins was the first person to coin the phrase “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals” (or BHAG’s for short) in his 1994 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

Goals

Jim’ s idea spread quickly through Fortune 500 companies, including P&G where I worked at the time.

A BHAG is a visionary statement that is both strategic and emotionally compelling. At least in the case of P&G, we added the concept that to be a BHAG the idea must be so large, so visionary, that we don’t know how to accomplish it.

A perfect example of a BHAG from my youth was expressed by President John F. Kennedy. In announcing the United States’ intention to lead the world in space, Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Kennedy could have said “the United States will expand the space program,” but that would not have been visionary or emotionally compelling. Kennedy’s goal was certainly a BHAG because at the time, no one knew how to get a man to the moon, land, and return safely.

Long before Kennedy, another man proclaimed an even bigger BHAG. Jesus said to the disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The disciples, a rag-tag group of doubters and misfits, had no idea what was in store for them. Yet, through them, Jesus’ proclamation changed the world.

Not all of us can change the world through our actions, but we can change or corner of the world. To impact our corner of the world we need to establish our own BHAG’s.

Establish Your BHAG

To achieve a goal, you have to establish a goal.

To achieve a BHAG, you have to establish a BHAG. You have to think BIG! Think so big that it is beyond what you know how to do. Think so big that it is beyond what you are capable of doing. Think so big that the only way it can be achieved is through God’s power.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians said God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). That power at work in us as believers is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine!

Do you want to make a God-sized difference in your corner of the world? Then establish a God-sized BHAG; something that can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit working through you!

When you establish a God-sized BHAG, that is aligned with Gods’ will for your life, then you can be assured that “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision.

Get Started

But to achieve a God-sized BHAG you have to get started, and the best way to get started is to start small.

There is a Greek proverb that roughly translates, “the beginning is half of every action.” To accomplish any goals, let alone a God-sized BHAG, you have to get started. Getting started is often the hardest first step.

Here are three suggestions to get you started on your BHAG:

Start Small

Start with a small amount of faith and move against your God-sized BHAG.

Jesus told the disciples that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed they will be able to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). The tiniest amount of faith, combined with the power of God can and will accomplish great things.

Pray

Commit your BHAG to the Lord and reinforce your faith with prayer. James admonished believers saying, “You want something but don’t get it…you do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

Thank God

Thank God for who He is and what He is doing for you. God is blessing and enabling you to accomplish more than you could ever hope or imagine. So, follow the example of the psalmist who said, “You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you” (Psalms 118:28).

If you want to make a difference in your corner of the world,  establish a God-sized BHAG. Then get to work on accomplishing what God has called you to do by starting small, committing your efforts to the Lord in prayer, and thanking God for his blessings and provision in your life!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you established a God-sized BHAG to impact your corner of the world? If so, any suggestions for the rest of us?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#218: Is What You Desperately Need in Your Hand?

Is what you desperately need already in your hand and you don’t realize it?

Hand

I can’t begin to count the number of times someone has told me they can’t accomplish an objective because they don’t have (fill in the blank). The excuses are often some variation of:

  • “I don’t have enough funding.”
  • “I don’t have enough people.”
  • “I don’t have enough time.”

I’m not surprised by these excuses. I know I’ve used each of them myself at some stage in my career.

When we confronted with an enormous obstacle we can’t see our way around; we often give up mentally never realizing we already have everything we need.

This is not a new phenomenon. Moses was confronted with an enormous obstacle and didn’t realize all he needed was already in his hand.

Moses, What’s in Your Hand?

God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3). Moses offered up excuse after excuse to God why selecting him was a bad choice. God reassured Moses saying, “I will be with you.”

As Moses continued to make excuses, God said to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” replied Moses. God used this simple shepherd’s staff to perform miracles before the Egyptians and the Israelites. This ultimately led to the Israelite’s deliverance from the Egyptians.

Moses wasn’t the only example of a “what’s in your hand” miracle. Jesus performed a similar miracle in the feeding of the 5,000.

Jesus asked, “What do You Have?”

At the end of a long day, a crowd of some 5,000 men (probably 15,000 or more including women and children) surrounded Jesus and the disciples. The disciples expressed concern that the people did not have anything to eat, so they suggested Jesus send them away. Instead, Jesus told the disciples, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).

The disciples started with their excuses:

  • “This is a remote place.”
  • “We don’t have enough food to feed them all.”
  • “It would take a year’s wages to buy them all food.”

Jesus asked them, “What do you have?” The disciples said, “We have only five loaves of bread and two small fish.”

Then Jesus took the bread and the fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks. He directed the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to everyone. When they finished, they picked up 12 baskets full of leftovers, one for each disciple!

Jesus’ lesson for the disciples was that you could trust that whatever you have if you place it in God’s hands, it will be enough. In fact, it will be MORE than enough!

What is in Our Hand?

Moses learned that even the simple shepherd’s staff in his hand was mighty when submitted to the Lord.

Jesus demonstrated to the disciples how God would bless and multiply what they had not just to meet their needs but to exceed their needs.

The key for Moses was to surrender his will and submit to God’s calling. The key for the disciples was to place their trust and faith in God to meet their every need.

Leaders, the next time you face with what seems like an insurmountable obstacle look to see what is in your hand. Remember to submit and surrender to God’s will while trusting in faith that He can and will meet all your needs.

As Paul said, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have there been times in your life where you resisted God’s call on your life, or offered excuses to God, only to experience God’s miraculous provision?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

Have you ever been so discouraged you felt like giving up? You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was just another train about to mow you down.

Victory Defeat

It seems there is an epidemic of discouragement and uncertainty in our world today. We live in most uncertain times. Economies around the world are experiencing turmoil. More people live in poverty than ever before. Millions and millions of people have become refugees fleeing their ancestral homes to avoid war.

On a more individual level, a decline in spiritual maturity has been met with moral decay. Marriages are failing at record rates. More children are being born into single-parent homes than ever before. Crime in our inner cities is out of control.

How are we to make sense of it all? How can we avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat that has surrounded so many?

The answer lies in our faith. Let’s look at a few Bible characters whose faith allowed them to seize victory from the agony of defeat, who were down but not defeated.

Joseph Endured Difficulties

Joseph was his father’s favorite. He had a bright future, but his jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. Things were looking up a little when he became the house manager for a powerful man but then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Job Experienced Adversity

Job was successful and wealthy with a large family. In a period of days his flocks, his herds, and even his family were all taken from him. In the midst of his despair, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

Naaman was Ostracized

Naaman was a revered military commander. At some point in his life, he contracted leprosy and became a complete outcast from society and even his own family.

Daniel Faced Governmental Oppression

As a teenager, Daniel was taken prisoner by a conquering army. He was ripped away from his family and taken to a foreign land. He was ordered to worship the king, but Daniel refused, vowing to worship only the Lord God, even if it meant death.

Esther Faced Racism

Esther was a Jewish virgin who was taken to be part of the harem of the king of Persia. She found favor with the king who made her his queen. But Haman, a high-ranking official in the Persian government, hated Jews and hatched a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population throughout the Persian empire.

Ruth was a Refugee

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland with Naomi, her mother-in-law to travel back to Naomi’s homeland. She had no possessions and no money. She was forced to pick grain at the edge of the fields to survive.

Great Faith was Rewarded with Victory

Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth were all down but never defeated. Because of their great faith, they all rose above their persecution.

  • Joseph got out of prison and rose to second in command of the Egyptian empire. This put him in a position to save his father and brothers from starvation during a seven-year famine.
  • Job maintained his faith in God throughout all his trials. Because of his faith, God restored Job’s wealth and granted him more children. He lived 140 more years and saw four more generations born to his children.
  • Naaman believed his Jewish servant girl who told him if he had faith the prophet of God could cure his leprosy. Naaman had faith, sought out Elisha the prophet, and was cured of his leprosy.
  • Daniel survived certain death in the lion’s den because God protected him. The king was so happy that God had protected Daniel from the lions that the king wrote a letter declaring Daniel’s God to be the living God who endures forever.
  • Esther became aware of Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews, so she hatched her own plan to trap Haman. Her plan worked. Haman was hung, and the king issued an edict allowing the Jews to take revenge on all those who had threatened them.
  • Ruth followed the advice of Naomi her mother-in-law to seek out Boaz, her nearest relative. Boaz redeemed Ruth and became her husband. Their great-great grandchild was David, the king of Israel.

Paul said it well as he wrote to the Philippians when he proclaimed, I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever experienced difficulties persecution like Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther or Ruth? Has there ever been a time when God enabled you to seize victory from the jaws of defeat?  What happened?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

 

#207: What Can We Learn From A Courageous Slave Girl?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

What can we learn from a courageous slave girl with a simple message? As I’ve said before, I love studying lesser known characters in the Bible. Few of them are “lesser known” than the young woman described in 2 Kings 5:2-3:

Slave Girl Naaman

“Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.’”

Her place in history is short and not even marked with her name. We only know that she was a young Jewish girl taken captive in a Syrian army raid. She was forced to be the personal servant of the wife of Naaman, the Syrian army commander.

While Naaman was a highly-regarded military commander, he suffered from leprosy. Leprosy was incurable and made Naaman a societal outcast.

This young Jewish girl, serving as a slave to her mistress, boldly suggested that Naaman could be cured of his leprosy if only he would go and visit God’s prophet (Elisha), who lived in Samaria.

4 Lessons from a Courageous Slave Girl

Despite her brief appearance in the pages of scripture, we can take four important lessons from this unnamed slave girl.

  1. She accepted her situation without bitterness or rancor. We see no indication that being torn away from her family and forced to serve her captors made her bitter. In fact, this situation describes someone with a remarkably positive attitude.
  2. She retained her faith in God. She does not curse God for placing her in this situation. Rather, her actions demonstrate a strong faith in God’s power and grace.
  3. She acted on her faith. When the opportunity to act on her faith arose she took it. Her faith did not remain hidden in a closet but was shared with her captors as she witnessed to them.
  4. She wished her master would experience God’s healing grace. You can sense caring, perhaps even love, in her plea for her master to be healed of his suffering.

2 Important Conclusions

This unnamed young girl didn’t have much of an opportunity to serve the Lord, but when her opportunity arose, she laid ahold of it and acted. Without her courage, Naaman would have remained a leper the rest of his life.

  • How often do we allow an opportunity to serve the Lord slip away because we are afraid or we think the task is too small?

Along with courage, I see a young woman who was gracious. Despite her trials, she reflected God’s love to her captors. She did not stop serving God, nor did she become bitter because of her circumstances.

  • How often do we look away from someone who is struggling because we think they deserve it? How often do we refuse to share God’s love and mercy because someone disagrees with us?

Hurting people surround us in the workplace. As Christian leaders, we have the opportunity, no, the responsibility, to be courageous and gracious as we share God’s love and compassion with those who need it most.

If not us, who will shine God’s light on a darkened world?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you been placed in difficult situations in which you were able to shine the light of God’s love and grace to an unbeliever? What happened?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#206: The Seasons of Life

Seeking God in Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

On the farm where my grandfather lived his life, there were specific jobs that had to be done in each of the seasons.

Seasons of Life

During the fall of the year, the red winter wheat was planted. Winter was when all the equipment got overhauled in preparation for the next year’s work. Spring was when the white spring wheat was planted; weeds were plowed under, and the crops were fertilized. By early summer the harvester would emerge from the barn to be prepared for the work to come.

As the wheat would begin to turn golden brown, everyone knew that harvest was near. Every morning as the sun began to break over the horizon Grandpa would walk into the field, grab a head of wheat, rub it in his hands to remove the chaff, and then eat a kernel or two. “Not yet,” he’d say, “maybe tomorrow.” Farming is a risky business, but Grandpa was one of the best farmers around because he understood the reason for the seasons and did what was needed in each.

God has seasons for our lives as well. So, as we close out one year and begin a new one afresh, it seems fitting to consider what God has in store for us in the seasons of our lives.

Winter: The Season of Storms

In every winter season that I have lived through there have been storms. Regardless of the size of the storm, you can be sure in every winter season there will be storms. Storms tend to come upon you quickly without warning, and then just as quickly they fade away.

In our lives, we will face many seasons of “storms.” When we are faced with storms in our life, we need to seek the shelter of God’s love. When we do, God promises to comfort us and to deliver us. Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a storm call out to God in prayer and know that He has promised not only to comfort you but to deliver you.

Spring: The Season of Growth

For the farmer, spring is the time for planting and nurturing young seedlings. When you are in a spring season, you need to plant seeds. It’s a great time for making changes, building better relationships, focusing on new ministries, new businesses, or developing new habits.

Spring is a time of great energy. It is the best time to renew our perspective on life, review God’s purpose for our life, and praise God for all He has done for us. Remember, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Corinthians 3:7).

Summer: The Season of Waiting

After the seeds are in the ground, there is little the farmer can do. He must wait for the crop to grow. Things like wind and rain are beyond the farmer’s control; he must wait until the crop is ready for harvest.

We have similar times in our lives. We may have planted the seed of a new ministry or a new business, and now we must wait to see it grow. So many times, God tells us to wait for Him, but it is difficult because we are so impatient. The psalmist instructed us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

I believe that sometimes the greatest test of our faith is when God wants us to wait. Remember, God answers all our prayers. Sometimes the answer is “yes,” sometimes it is “no,” and sometimes it is “not yet.” It’s those “not yets” that challenge my faith. When I am faced with a “not yet” I try to remember Grandpa checking the wheat and saying, “Not yet, maybe tomorrow.”

Fall: The Season of Success

The fall is the time for harvest; bringing in the crop that was so carefully planted and nurtured in the spring, and so fretfully worried over in the summer.

It is in our seasons of success that we must be careful to stay close to God. It is the time when we think we can do anything, a time when we think we are solely responsible for the harvest. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).

Celebrate, share, and save. It’s a good formula for business; thank God for the success He has brought, share your success with others, and save for the future.

One Final Thought

God gives us seasons to build our trust in Him and to develop us into better people. During winter storms, we need to turn to Him for deliverance. In the spring, we need to be renewed in mind, body and spirit. In the summer, we need to trust in God, rest and wait upon Him. And in the fall, we need to celebrate our success, share our bountiful harvest, and save for the future.

No matter what season you may be in now, know that God stands beside you ready to comfort and deliver you if you will just trust in Him. Isaiah, referring to God, wrote, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6).

God’s foundation is a Rock, who will never leave us or forsake us. Who better to turn to during the storms of our life? Who better to look to for comfort and deliverance? Who better to build a solid foundation for our lives? Who better to trust and provide rest? Who better to share our love? The answer is simple. There is no one better!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

This whitepaper includes a discussion of God’s seasons in our life and a broader discussion of each season.

You can download the whitepaper here: The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What season of life are you in right now?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#196: Have We Forgotten the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving?

This week in America we will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a holiday steeped in America’s rich heritage.

Thanksgiving

The first formal Thanksgiving proclamation came in 1676 when the Charlestown, Massachusetts governing council voted unanimously to proclaim a day of praise and thanksgiving to the Holy God in recognition of His blessings upon them.

Some 113 years later in 1789, George Washington, at the urging of both houses of Congress, issued the first presidential proclamation calling for a day of thanksgiving. The first paragraph of Washington’s proclamation reads:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Abraham Lincoln formalized the holiday when he established the last Thursday of November as the date for all of America to celebrate Thanksgiving in 1863. His proclamation reads in part:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

Imagine that!

A governing council of a town set aside a day specifically to praise and thank God for His blessings to them.

Then, of all things, BOTH houses of Congress urged Washington to declare a day of Thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God. Washington said it was the DUTY of all nations to acknowledge God and be grateful for His benefits while they also prayed for His protection and favor.

Finally, Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, recognized in his Thanksgiving proclamation that the extraordinary bounties enjoyed in America were derived from the providence of God.

Fast Forward to Today

Today the Thanksgiving Holiday stands for a lot of things but rarely, if ever, does the idea of thanking our Almighty God for His blessings enter the picture.

Families gather together for a bountiful feast but more often than not, the purpose of the feast is not thanksgiving and prayer, it is centered around a television as we watch one of several football games.

Do you know of a single church that has a special service on Thanksgiving to offer prayer and thanksgiving to God? I don’t.

Given the acrimony and division I have witnessed this past year, it is more important than ever that we come together this Thanksgiving to spend a few moments in reflection and prayer as we thank Almighty God for His provision in this country.

While we have not achieved the ideals we might wish for; we have much to be thankful for. At the very top of that list is the freedom to worship as we choose.

So, let’s all do this, this Thanksgiving Day, let’s stop fighting amongst ourselves for a day, and spend time in prayer.

Let us lay aside our differences and love one another as Christ first loved us.

Let us thank God that we live in a country in which we can pray and thank God for His great provision.

Then, let’s be Christ-like and carry that love for our brothers and our thankfulness to God over to the next day, and the next. And let us live lives of love and thankfulness so that all the world will see our light and glorify our Father in Heaven.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What are you especially thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#193: How to Cast Worry Aside and Live a Tums Free Life

Plus a Bonus Whitepaper

I was a champion worrier in my younger days! If there were an Olympic team for worriers, I would have been on it—probably a gold medal winner.

Worry

When I was in my mid 20’s I worried about everything—so much in fact that I was eating two rolls of Tums a day. Then, one day when I was about 27-years old I went to the emergency room with severe chest pain, thinking that I was somehow having a heart attack.

After several days’ worth of tests, it was determined “no” I had not had a heart attack but that I had GERDs; Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder.

The doctor told me the GERDs was caused mostly by the stress in my life. The doctor went on to tell me if I didn’t change the way I handled the stress and worry in my life, not only would I likely develop an ulcer before I was 30, I would quite likely have chest pain that was a real heart attack!

We worry about so many things, yet most of them are a waste of energy! A study I found said that:

  • 62% of what we worry about will never come to pass or is completely inconsequential.
  • 30% of what we worry about happened in the past and can’t be changed!
  • So, a total of 92% of the things we worry about is a complete waste of time because they won’t happen or happened in the past!

We seem to be addicted to worry. Worry has a very real impact on our lives. It’s like we have this big bag and we throw all our worries about money, health, family, our jobs, and every other little thing into the bag.

After a while, the bag gets bigger and bigger, and heavier and heavier. And everywhere we go we are carrying this big bag of worry around with us. Pretty soon our bag of worry is so big and so heavy we crumble.

Why do we worry? We think we have to manage and control everything in our lives. Ultimately, we worry because we don’t trust God.

Paul’s Prescription for Life Without Worry

Paul had plenty to worry about as he sat in prison. Despite this, he wrote the Philippians a beautiful, joyful letter giving them encouragement and instruction for living a life without worry! His instructions regarding worry are included in Philippians 4.

What should we do with worry?

Paul says in Philippians 4:4 we must “rejoice in the Lord always.” Paul says we are to rejoice always—in good times as well as bad. When the sun is shining, and everything is rosy, and when dark storm clouds of life surround us.

Paul knew that worrying was a barrier to the young Christians in Philippi to be able to rejoice in the Lord, so he gives them three very clear steps to get rid of worry so they can rejoice.

Step 1: Right Praying

First, says Paul in verse 6, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Don’t worry about anything! Nothing! Large or small, don’t worry about it! Not only don’t worry about it, don’t even give it a thought!

Well, what are we supposed to do instead? Paul tells the Philippians and us to replace worry with something else. We need to replace worry with right prayer.

Paul tells us, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We are to pray about everything, not just the big things in our life!

Step 2: Right Thinking

The second step is to replace worry with right thinking. Paul says in verse 8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Paul summarizes right thinking by saying that we should think about morally excellent things: things that are honorable and just, pure, lovely and commendable in the sight of God.

Step 3: Right Actions

It is not enough to have a pure heart from right praying, or even a good attitude from right thinking. We must also be doers of the Word.

Paul said in verse 9, What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things. The word Paul uses for “practice” means to perform something repeatedly, to make a habit out of it. In others words, it is not enough to learn and accept what Paul is teaching we must do them!

The result of replacing worry—Peace

The result of replacing worry with the right kind of prayer, the right kind of thinking, and the right kind of actions results in what? This is the best part! Paul says if we do this we will have the peace of God! Wow! But, what is the peace of God?

Paul says in verse 7, And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul repeats himself in verse 9, What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” He’s saying if you learn and accept what you have heard and seen by his example, you will have the peace of God.

Conclusion—What should we do?

What are we to do about our worries? Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:7 that we should “cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.” The word for cast means “to throw” upon someone else. We are to throw our cares and worries upon God because he cares for us! We are to take all our cares and concerns and not just lay them, but throw them at the foot of the Cross.

Remember that big bag of worry? God never intended for us to carry that bag around with us! We need to take that bag of worry off our shoulders and hand it over to God! We need to come to God with our bag of worry, and say “Here Lord, you take this!”

Most of us come to God with good intentions, and start to unpack the bag. But one of our worries, maybe its “family,” is too hard to let go of. So we tell God, “You can have these others, but I’m going to keep this one!

Others of us will unpack the bag, but we keep the bag! And tomorrow we start to fill it back up again! No! You give it all to Him—bag included, so you won’t be tempted to fill it up again!

Are you like me eating a couple of rolls of Tums a day because of your worries? Are you tired of carrying that bag of worry around? You know what needs to be done, right?

  • Replace worry with right prayer to focus our hearts on God.
  • Replace worry with right thinking to focus our heads on God. And,
  • Replace worry with right actions to focus what we do on God.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from an 8-page whitepaper entitled, How to Cast Aside Your Worry and Live a Tums Free Life.”

This whitepaper is a much broader discussion of worry including:

  • Everyday things we worry about.
  • The physical, emotional, and spiritual impacts of worry.
  • The difference between prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and requests.
  • How what we think about impacts worry.
  • The importance of doing right.
  • What it means to have the peace of God in our lives.

You can download the free 8-page whitepaper here: How to Cast Aside Your Worry and Live a Tums Free Life.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! Are you a champion worrier? How do you deal with worry in your life?

 

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#192: Why Don’t Some People Step Into the Promise of God?

Have you ever heard or read the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery?

Promise, Fear

God miraculously protected them from the Egyptian army and led them toward the Promised Land. God appeared to them as a cloud during the day and a tower of fire at night so they knew He was always with them.

God led them right up to the edge of the Promised Land. Then he told Moses to send some men into the Promised Land. They were to scout it out so they could see first-hand how wonderful this land He promised to give them was.

The twelve scouts went into the land and returned with a report saying it was indeed a beautiful land flowing with milk and honey. But, said ten of the scouts, the people who live there are powerful and they live in fortified cities. We better not go.

Even though two of the scouts, Caleb and Joshua, said they should go in and take the land, the people listened to the ten scouts who said no, don’t go.

As a result of the people’s rebellion, God had the Israelites wander around in the desert for forty years until the next generation was old enough to go up and take the land.

Why is it that some of the scouts were ready to step into God’s promise while others were not? They had all seen the same miracles along the way. They had all seen God lead them in the cloud and the fire. Yet, 10 of 12 scouts came back with a negative report that swayed the entire Israelite population.

The Israelites were delivered from slavery but they never made it to freedom in the Promised Land.

Sadly, many Christians today are like the Israelites God led out of Egypt; they have been delivered from slavery but have yet to fully experience the freedom of a life devoted to Christ. They are, in a sense, still wandering in the desert.

Why Do Some Say “Go”, and Some Say “No” to the Promise of God?

Why is it that Caleb and Joshua said go, and ten scouts said no?

I think there are two primary reasons:

  • They were afraid. They saw the size of the people and their fortified cities and they were afraid. They described themselves as mere insects (grasshoppers), incapable of conquering these giants. They had been slaves for 400 years and had only been free for a few weeks. Their lack of confidence in themselves made them afraid.
  • They lacked faith. They saw the obstacles as being far greater than the prize. They saw their enemy’s strength and assumed they were too weak to conquer them. Despite God’s saving them out of Egypt, all the miracles, and His presence day and night the people were afraid because they lacked faith

Caleb and Joshua said “go” because their faith in God was bigger than any fear they might have had. They laid hold of God’s promise by faith. They said, in effect, “if God promised it, we can do it.”

Why is it today that some Christians hear God’s call and go, while others say no? The same two reasons apply to those who say “no” today; fear and a lack of faith in God’s promises.

The same reasons apply for those who say “go”; their faith in God is bigger than any fear they might have. When your faith in God is bigger than your fears you can say with confidence, “If God is for us who can be against us” (Romans 8:31b)?

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have there been times in your life when God said go and you said no? What happened?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#178: The King Who Achieved Much but Died of Pride

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

He should have known better. He was well educated. He had all the wisdom of the wise men available to him. He had wise counselors. At the very least, he should have learned from the bad example of his father. But he didn’t.

2 Chronicles 26:16, Pride

Pride, the sin that is so common to man, caused his downfall. Some 200 years before, Solomon wrote this stern warning to leaders, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Ahaziah should have had that Proverb written in big letters on a piece of parchment hanging on the wall behind his desk.

Ahaziah was only 16 years old when his father, the king of Judah, foolishly engaged in battle with the Israelites and was taken captive. Ahaziah whose name meant “Jehovah has helped” was made king of Judah. As king, he changed his name to Uzziah which means “Jehovah is strength.”

A Successful Starting Point

Uzziah started out great. As a young king, Uzziah did right in following the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:4), and sought God throughout the life of his counselor Zechariah (26:5), and the Lord gave him success:

  • He was an accomplished military leader.
    • Uzziah was able to recover the city of Elath.
    • He went on to secure military victories over the Philistines, Arabians, and the Ammonites.
    • He built up a well-trained army and equipped them with weapons and armor.
    • Uzziah built war machines that could shoot arrows and catapults that could hurl large stones.
  • He was a builder.
    • In addition to the war machines, Uzziah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the city.
    • He built cities in the territories he conquered and settled them.
    • He built towers in the fields and stationed guards to protect the farmers and herdsmen
  • He increased economic trade
    • The city of Elath gave the people of Judah a major seaport for trade.
    • The Philistine lands he conquered gave the people of Judah additional trade routes and seaport trade.
  • He supported agriculture.
    • Uzziah built cisterns for water.
    • He assigned people to work the fields, vineyards, flocks, and herds.

A Dangerous Turning Point

Over time, Uzziah became strong because of the Lord’s blessing on him and his fame spread throughout the land.

In arrogance and pride, Uzziah decided he wanted to not only be a king but also to be a priest ministering before the Lord. Only Levites were allowed to be priests and Uzziah was not a Levite.

The high priest and 80 other priests stood before Uzziah and bravely told him not to enter the temple to offer incense to the Lord.

Uzziah was furious with the priests and was intent on offering incense to the Lord when the Lord suddenly struck him with leprosy. The priests rushed him out of the sanctuary of the temple.

A Sad Ending Point

Uzziah lived the rest of his life in isolation with leprosy. He was not allowed in public. He had no access to the temple or even the palace of the king. His son, Jotham became king and ruled over Judah.

When Uzziah died, he was buried in the royal cemetery but not in the tombs of the kings of Judah.

Lessons for Leaders

Uzziah should have been humbled by the Lord’s blessings on his life and the people of Judah. The Lord blessed him with military victories, new territories, and the opportunity to rebuild the economy and infrastructure of the kingdom of Judah.

Instead of being humbled and gracious for the Lord’s blessings he became arrogant and prideful. He became so full of himself that he even angrily rejected the warnings of the high priest.

Then, when God struck him with leprosy he never repented of his actions. His stubborn pride caused him to live the rest of his days in isolation, cut-off from the very people the Lord had given him to lead as king.

Success is often followed by prideful arrogance and ambition. We forget it was the Lord who blessed us in the first place, and we think we achieved our success based on our own effort.

Solomon was right, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know leaders who pridefully believe their success accrues only to their efforts? Did their pride bring about their fall?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God