Friday, February 25, 2011

Who Likes Milk & Cookies?

Milk that is cold is great especially when it is accompanied by chocolate chip cookies!  Milk that is hot is good too especially when it has chocolate syrup in it!  But milk that is LUKEWARM is just plain nasty.

In Revelation 3, Jesus talks about halfhearted people.  "I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot:  I would thou wert cold or hot." (verse 15)
God says, "I wish you were one or the other."  It's interesting to me that Jesus would say that he would prefer either cold or hot.  You would think He would have said, "I would rather you be hot. But if lukewarm is all I can get, it's better than nothing."
Isn't lukewarm closer to hot than cold?  Jesus said, "I don't want lukewarm, I don't want halfhearted commitments.  I want you to decide.  I want you in or I would rather you were out."
Here's why.  If you're hot, you're in.  If you're on fire, if you're walking with God, then you're where God wants you to be.  But if you're cold, hopefully you will at least realize you're cold and one day realize your need for Christ and come to Him.
But the lukewarm person is in the worst state of all because he is self-deceived.  The lukewarm person says, "I go to church.  I read the Bible sometimes.  I kind of believe in God - when it's convenient."  That is the worst state of all. 
What is your spiritual temperature today?  Are you fighting lukewarmness?  Being a lukewarm Christian is NOT GOOD.  God says He vomits lukewarm Christians out of His mouth.
10 Signs you might be a HALFHEARTED Christian:
  1. You think more about life on this earth (and how to be comfortable here) than you do about eternal life.
  2. You give out of your leftovers rather than making it a priority.
  3. You only seek God when you are in a bind.
  4. You say you believe in God, but live as though he doesn’t exist.
  5. You crave acceptance from people more than acceptance from God.
  6. You rarely (or never) share your faith.
  7. You say you believe in God, but you don’t strive to know Him.
  8. You base your morality on comparing yourself with others, rather than on what God says.
  9. Your life is really no different than others in the world.
  10. You want to know Christ just enough to save you from hell, but not enough have to change your lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Looks Like We Made It :-)

Isn't it great to hear about marriages that have lasted through the years?  I think about those couples who have made it for 40, 50 and 60 years and think, "I have so much more left to experience in my own marriage."  It makes me think, "If they made it, we can make it too!"

I want a long marriage.

Today, Beverly and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.  We married young - age 20 - after courting for nearly 5 years. 

It seems more and more that long marriages are becoming less and less common.  I wonder if Kaitlyn and our future grandchildren will witness as many marriages that have lasted 40, 50,and 60 we have.

I wear a wedding ring on my left hand.  It hasn't been off my finger in many, many years.  I do remember taking it off when it broke in half and I had to have it fixed.  When you look at it closely you will see nicks, scrapes and dings.  Those nicks, scrapes and dings symbolize the joy and pain from our years of marriage.  They represent struggles, hopes, dreams and promises.  Occasionally I take my ring in and have it cleaned and polished, but honestly, I prefer it to look like 20 years of marriage we've built.

The rings we exchanged on our wedding day represent so much more than a ceremony of marriage.  Our rings represent the family we've built.  At first just Beverly and I, a young couple in love, then came Kaitlyn and all the struggles that marriages and families endure.
  • My ring reminds me that all the tough times were worth it.
  • My ring reminds me I can hold her hand anytime, because she is mine.
  • My ring reminds me that we're a team and that we work better together than apart.
  • My ring reminds me that I'm totally committed to her and she's committed to me.
The value of my ring, purchased at Service Merchandise in
1991 when we were barely scraping by financially, was $99.

I paid $45 dollars to have it fixed when it broke.

Constantly having it on my hand to remind me that I'm the luckiest man in the world....PRICELESS

Awaken The Eagle Spirit Within You!

There is probably nothing more majestic than seeing an eagle soar through the air.  It is literally the king of the sky as it soars majestically through the air. 
Eagles appear to never have a bad day.  However, eagles can become exhausted and drained just like us.  Some days are good...some days are bad. 

We all have those kinds of days, even weeks, where we feel like we're barely hanging on, losing control or questioning our future.  They could best be described as "immobilizing" times. 

The truth is, all of us have felt like this at some point in our life.  There are moments in life that MAKE us and moments in life that BREAK us.  Friends...this is NORMAL

We get through those times when we awaken the "eagle spirit" within us.  When an eagle gets tired, it heads to a high cliff to rest and renew it's strength.

Not all birds face storms like eagles do.  Most birds will seek shelter in a tree or a bush when a storm approaches.  Not the eagle.  It will FACE THE STORM head on!  It will fly into the face of the storm and use the winds of the storm as stepping stones to climb higher and higher till it eventually rises ABOVE the storm. 

Facing the storm takes COURAGE and STRENGTH.  We too must do the same.  Sure, the winds will almost knock you down and create hesitation to our forward motion...but it's only momentary if we decide to press on!

We are either being "defined" by our odds or we are "defying" the odds!

How we perceive the storm will determine how we face it.  Look in the Scriptures and you'll see men and women who defied the odds and rose above the storm.  David brought down a "big" giant because he perceived a giant that was TOO BIG TO MISS.  Esther saved her people from a Jewish holocaust because she perceived FAVOR would be granted with her FAITH.

I have often said, "God is doing a work IN me so He can do a work THROUGH me."  When we allow God to do a completed work within us we are filled with faith to rise above even the biggest hurricane! 

Prayer Focus:

Consider what challenges you've already overcome.  Evaluate what you learned through the process.  With that in mind, you'll be better prepared to rise to the next level when faced with your next challenge.

I believe one of the best ways to face a storm is to examine it rather than explode into anxiety.  An eagle will find a high place to rest while "reading the wind."  By carefully examining the wind, the eagle determines the right moment to engage it.  When the moment is right, the eagle merely has to spread it's wings and the wind will carry it upward with rapid ease.

Two things are neededPreparation and Opportunity!  One thing is certain...the winds of this world will never stop blowing.  The key is learning to use the wind to your advantage to carry you above your current situation to a higher level.

Awaken the eagle spirit in you!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Does My Opinion Matter?

Serving the vision of a local church trumps my personal views and opinions.  Although my opinions and views may be utilized at some point to further the overall vision, they do not take precedence over the God appointed voice and visionary in that place, namely the pastor.

As I have served my leaders, I have done so with continual regard to their particular vision and direction.  My objective is to hold up their hands as we, together, achieve the vision.

Holding up someone elses hands can be tiresome if you are not disciplined in your own spiritual fitness.  One could easily begin to criticize their leader or find fault with their methods if they themselves become negligent in their own spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, reading the word and meditation.

Serving others can be draining and at times demanding.  However, there are great rewards and an increase of anointing that flows your way when you continue to serve faithfully and with pure motives. (i.e., Elisha and the double portion)

We all have our own opinion.  There's nothing wrong with having an opinion.  However, if our opinion impedes negatively on the overall direction of the defined vision, and is not communicated with layers of love and careful word choices, then our opinion causes seeds of destruction rather than construction.

For example...if I were teaching a class in a local church, it would be out of order for me to make personal, opinionated statements that are contrary to the teachings or viewpoints of the senior pastor in that local church.  It would not only be out of order it would also reflect a lack of spiritual maturity on my part.

It would be like me saying, "The pastor and I share similar viewpoints on a particular subject, but I don't really agree with his philosophy."  Or "I teach one thing, the pastor teaches decide."  This would be planting a seed of doubt and furthermore attempting to make ourselves appear more knowledgeable.

When we serve under a vision, whether it's corporate or personal, we are accountable to represent our leader's viewpoints, philosophies and heart at all times.  We become an expression of them to others.

The inability to carry this through is a reflection of our own spiritual immaturity.  It cannot be justified and cannot be allowed to continue.

David's son Absalom, had a canny way of undermining his father's leadership by his words and kisses.  "Oh, don't bother the king with that...I'll gladly resolve this for you.  No need to involve the king...he don't have time for you anyway...but I do."  Hence we coin the phrase "An Absalom spirit."

Representing my leader is a major priority in my life.  I also believe "what goes around comes around."  Remember, until Jesus comes, you'll be representing someone and someone will be representing you.  We would do well to remember this.

When I was a youth pastor, my pastor would send me to the hospital to pray for people on his behalf.  I had a choice of how I was going to represent my pastor.  I could be loyal or disloyal.  I could seek to gain an audience or point people to him.  It was my choice. 

I could say, "Pastor didn't have time to come pray for you today.  BUT I'M HERE!"  or I could say, "I'm here on behalf of my pastor today.  When I leave here I will be reporting to him your condition.  He sends his love to you, let's pray!"

It's an internal decision that can have external results in days, weeks and years to come.  I'm so glad I received the training I needed (and I heeded) so that I would receive a FULL BLESSING even to this day.

Remember, your opinion may be a good one. However, there is an appropriate time and place to release that opinion. 
  • A mature leader does not speak everything that comes to their mind. 
  • They hold their words till an appropriate time. 
  • They are careful not to offend others. 
  • They are mindful of how their opinion will affect others.
  • They seek to represent their leader with class, dignity, integrity and maturity.
There's nothing wrong with having an opinion...but just learn to bridle your tongue, remain teachable and seek to honor God and those He's placed over you.  You'll save yourself a lot of headache and you'll save your leaders a lot of damage control - as they try to salvage your public image.

Maturing in Christ, Reaching in Love;

Pastor Hylton

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One Year Ago...

One year ago today my hero, Rev. Robert Penny Sr., went home to be with Jesus.  I have missed my friend in many ways:  his wisdom, his smile, his laugh, his friendship, his presence, his preaching, his ministerial etiquette, his amens, his craftsmanship, etc.

BFWC continues forward today with a special piece of Bishop Penny in it's DNA.  A local church often thinks of it's past, present and future.  I'm happy that we had nearly 11 years together in Kingdom work.

Perhaps we can imagine Bishop Penny leaning over the balcony of Heaven today - cheering us on! 

Let's take a moment today to reflect on Bishop Penny's contributions and rejoice that we are a better church wth a richer heritage because of him.

Our thoughts, prayers and affection continue with Sister Penny and the entire family.


Russell & Beverly Hylton
Bethel Family Worship Center

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Integrity...Is It Really Necessary? (Part 5)

Probably one of the greatest examples of a man of integrity we have in the Bible is Joseph. Even though his brothers treated him wrongly, selling him into slavery, he maintained his relationship with the Lord, and continued to walk in integrity.
It is these two characteristics that caused him to be raised to the highest position in Egypt, as Pharaoh's prime minister (Genesis 41:40). Pharaoh saw the hand of God on Joseph's life, and saw in him someone with both wisdom and integrity; someone in whom Pharaoh could place his trust to do what was necessary.

Joseph didn't suddenly receive integrity as a gift from God when he needed it to serve Pharaoh; he lived in integrity throughout his life. We see this in the various things that the Bible records him doing.

After Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, he became a slave of Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guard (Genesis 37:28, 36). That must have been quite a blow to Joseph, going from being the favorite son of Jacob, a wealthy man, to being a slave. Yet Joseph was faithful in his new position. So faithful that Potiphar promoted him and put him in charge of his whole household (Genesis 39:4). His integrity was so high at that point in his life that his master trusted him to the point that he "knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat" (Genesis 39:6).

Unfortunately, Potiphar's wife also saw these characteristics in Joseph and was attracted to him. She asked him to "lie with her" (Genesis 39:7). Not only did she do this once, but the Bible says she did this daily (Genesis 39:10).

Joseph's response the first time showed his integrity.

But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand. 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
  • Genesis 39:8-9  8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Not only did Joseph refuse Potiphar's wife the first time, but it says in verse 10 that he "hearkened not unto her" even though she was offering herself to him daily.

Finally, probably in frustration, she lays a trap for him and gets him alone in the house. "And she (Potiphar's wife) caught him (Joseph) by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out (Genesis 39:12). He was so adamant about protecting his integrity, that he didn't let her hand on his clothing stop him, and she literally tore his clothes off him in his escape.

Although Joseph acted with integrity, it cost him. Potiphar's wife lied to her husband, telling him that Joseph had come to rape her. Scripture doesn't tell us what Joseph's response to this accusation was, but in this case, although he knew it would cost him, he refused to say anything against her.

Prayer Focus

Even in prison Joseph acted with integrity. Joseph found favor in the sight of the warden of the prison and he put Joseph in charge of everything in the prison. His time in prison, and the integrity he showed there, ultimately led to him becoming Pharaoh's prime minister.

BFWC, let us walk in the light of integrity each day.  A lifestyle of integrity will produce a life of promised promotion!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Integrity...Is it Really Necessary? (Part 4)

As believers, and Christian leaders, we are called to be different from the world.  I'm not necessarily saying our appearance, but in our character. 

We've already defined integrity...but here it is again..."the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty and sincerity."

Integrity is doing what God would say is the right thing...even if it costs you.  It means obeying God's law, speaking only truth, and putting the other person ahead of yourself.  It means displaying the character of God in your daily walk.
  • A man of integrity will always tell the truth, even if it makes him look bad.
  • A man of integrity will never take something that doesn't belong to him, even if there is an implied permission to do so, or it is "commonly understood" to do so.
  • A man of integrity will go back to a store to return the change if they give him too much.
  • A man of integrity will look for the owner of lost money instead of putting it in his own pocket.
  • A man of integrity would rather be cheated than allow another to be cheated in a business deal.
  • A man of integrity will do what he says he will do, even if it is difficult to do so.
  • A man of integrity will be where he says he will be, even if he has a problem doing so.  If he can't be there, he will call beforehand to let others know.
  • A man of integrity will put the needs of the whole before his own.
  • A man of integrity will "turn the other cheek" rather than hurt the other person.
  • A man of integrity would rather die than deny, or turn away from, his integrity.
Job 27:5 "I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity."

Throughout Job's ordeal, he was given many opportunities and temptations to deny God.  Yet in all this, the Bible says he "sinned not."  Why?  Because even in the midst of torment Job held on to his integrity.

Prayer Focus

God recognized Job's integrity and said to Satan "And he (Job) still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." (Job 2:3)

If someone has integrity, you can count on them in whatever situation.  Why?  Not because they'll do what you want, but they'll do the right thing, whether it is what you want, or not.  Again, they'll do the right thing no matter what it costs them.

Let us pray that integrity will be the "staple" of our Christian walk today.  If you have allowed your integrity to be the right thing...own up to it and confess your faults.  Do not blame others for your actions.  Come clean...face the music...go forward regardless of the consequences and learn from it. 

The Scriptures teach us that "we shall be healed and our sins forgiven." (James 5:16)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Leading People is Personal

I had a manager at one of the banks I worked for named Debbie.  Debbie was probably one of the best managers I've ever had.  Anytime our lines would become extra long, she'd jump in and help the team clear out the lobby.

Sure, she had responsibilities, that none of us could do, but what she could do for us made a huge impression to the morale of the team.

I've thought about her leadership from time to time.  She modeled a "servant-leader" style that made each member of the team want to emulate.

In my last blog, I shared Paul's recommendation of Timothy to the church in Philipi. 
  • Philippians 2:19-22 "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the Gospel."  

Paul modeled before Timothy.
Timothy watched Paul.
Timothy then emulated Paul's actions.
Paul recommends Timothy.

Before Timothy "did" leadership, he first "saw" leadership.  He then adopts Paul's style of ministry as his own.  Timothy's love for the people came first from his love for Christ in which he saw modeled in the life of Paul.

The gist of this passage shows us that Paul didn't sit on his "high horse" and bark orders at Timothy.  Paul got in the trenches, showed Timothy how to perform servant-leadership and then watched as Timothy did the same.

If a leader is going to disciple a follower, that leader must NOT be viewed only in the "manager's" role.  Jesus modeled servant-leadership before his disciples.  Thus His disciples modeled His actions

Leading people has to become personal.

Best regards to my former bank manager...Debbie.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Relational Equity - Article in Messenger Magazine (February 2011 Edition)

Relational equity to me is best described as a relationship in which time and emotional investment has been made that renders an increased value from which to draw.

  • Relational - expression of a relationship.
  • Equity built up value over time.

As a Pastor I have relationships with many people. However, I would have to say that each relationship is different based upon the individual. I guess it could be called “tiered” in some aspects. I have relationships with my staff, ministry leaders, volunteers, parishioners and acquaintances. The development of each is a process which requires trust, time and shared interests.

When I consider those closest to me in my leadership circle, even those relationships can be layered. Here’s an example of what a relationship with one of my staff members may look like:

Pastor/Parishioner – normally the relationship begins when a person embraces the vision of the church and then decides to make it their home. At this level, a pastor/parishioner relationship is established. I shepherd them and make sure they are fed the Word of God weekly.

Leader/Follower – as this relationship continues, often I begin to recognize leadership potential. Once I determine the desire of the individual, I extend an invitation for mentorship and leadership development. At this level, I meet with them weekly and pour into them leadership principles. An expectation is established of loyalty and faithfulness.

Father/Son – this may or may not happen. It is really up to the individual. I can desire to be someone’s spiritual father, but will never be till they claim me as such. If the relationship leans in this direction, I view them as a “son” and begin to speak into their lives from a fatherly perspective which will include spiritual and practical guidance. At this level, I will also correct areas in their life that need adjusted. I view them as if they were my own blood relative and look for ways to bless them.

Employer/Employee – Of all the paid staff I have on staff, all of them came to the church and started with a pastor/parishioner relationship first. Obviously, at this level, another dimension of the relationship is established. There are benefits for hiring within the church. There can also be disadvantages.
  • Benefits
    • A leadership culture is established where those who are excelling and growing are equipped into staff members.
    • They have already caught the spirit of the vision and fit into the culture of my ministry.
    • They are generally more loyal to the vision. Rather than being another rung on a ministry ladder, they see themselves attached to a life calling.
    • They can bring life experience.
  • Challenges
    • Limited ministry experience. They may be gifted and passionate but it’s still a huge step to move from secular work to ministry work. Development is needed in ministry basics.
    • If it doesn’t work out, it is generally more painful for everyone. If I hire from within, chances are I did so because I know and love the person. If they don’t succeed, moving or removing them can be costly on many levels.
    • It can be hard on families. The rhythm and schedule of the church is so unusual and different from secular work that it can be a difficult transition for spouses and children.

Friend/Friend – this can be the best part of the relationship. You have to know what hat to wear and when to wear it. I expect my staff to know how to flow in and out of relationship with me. When it’s time to for fun…we have fun. When it’s time to work…we work. In all honesty, how can I expect my parishioners to have authentic relationships with one another, if I can’t model it with a member of my staff?

With each level, deeper levels of relationship are established. By the time you reach the friend/friend stage there is enough groundwork laid for a true bond.

As the journey continues, all five levels will be tried and tested. Knowing how to balance each is vital to maintaining a healthy relationship.

There may be a situation that may call for me to speak as an employer. If so, the individual has to know how to wear their employee hat and roll forward without being offended. Since I’ve hired them to serve with me to fulfill the vision of the church, a certain level of emotional health and spiritual maturity is required.

Once we have established all five levels, it is my desire to see this function with a continual flow. Obviously, getting to the friendship level means four foundational levels have already been established. This has its advantages.
  • Intimacy – a sharing of heart and soul. This means a true transparency of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Mutual openness – free to speak openly, respectfully.
One of the key things for me is for my staff to be able to recognize what hat I’m wearing and what I’m thinking. This is discerned because of the amount of time spent together having our hearts truly knit. My speech and body language can be forth telling to what I’m thinking.

A misconception on the friendship level is to assume that the work that is done at the church is investing in the friendship. However, the work done at the church may be done for me (as unto the Lord) but it is actually performed in the role of employee not friendship.

Although a lot of time is spent together at work, it does not take the place of friendship time. True friendship investment takes place mostly outside of the church and work. This must be mutually reciprocated. In most friendships, there is an equal exchange of relational investment.Consider the exchange of giving and taking.

If this gets out of balance, then the relationship suffers. If one person does a majority of the giving on the friendship level and the other person does the majority of taking then the relationship his hampered on this particular level. Frustration can set it in which can even effect the original four levels already established.

Relational Equity
  1. Build Trust – there must be mutual trust built within the leadership circle. What is shared in private must remain safely within the confines of the relationship. When a commitment is given there must be follow-through. A mutual “looking out for one another’s best interest” must be honored at all times. That you can trust one another with anything. Trust is essential for relational equity.
  2. Apologize when necessary – saying “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” is powerful. We’re all going to make mistakes…everyone does. It’s how we choose to handle them that matters. When you fail, be humble, admit it, move on and try not to make the same mistake again. Mercy is normally extended if humility is visible and a person is continually trying to improve. On the opposite side – people tend to oppose those in whom they feel no remorse.
  3. Do what you say you will do – this really boils down to the daily practices of our life. Be on time, follow through, make the call or send the email when you were asked to or you said you would. Whatever you say you’re going to do…do it. It’s my personal opinion that it is the little daily things that rob us of relational equity. Be careful to be a person who does what you say you will do. The last thing you want is to gain the reputation of the person who can’t be counted on.

People First

I worked in banking for several years.  The two busiest days of the month were always the 1st and 3rd of each month.  These were the days that many government and state checks were issued.  I would prepare myself mentally for a long day that would include lines out the door and non-stop traffic.

One aspect of my job was to "cross sell." (Selling an additional product or service to an existing customer.)  One feature that we were encouraged to suggest was "direct deposit."  This would enable the customer to forgo standing in extremely long lines to deposit their check.  We would do the work for them electronically...instantly. 

The customer would win all the way driving to the bank, less gasoline used, no standing in long lines, more time to do other things, etc.

However, not everyone saw this feature as a benefit.  Mostly, our senior citizens.  It seemed like every 1st and 3rd of the month I would go through the same "sales speech" of why they should let their checks be direct deposited. 

Finally, one day after going through my routine speech, a dear elderly lady explained to me that she knew she could have her check direct deposited, it would save time, gas, etc.  However, she enjoyed walking to the mailbox to check for the mail.  She enjoyed getting ready to go to the bank.  She enjoyed handling her personal banking...signing her check, filling out her deposit ticket, standing in line and chit chatting with fellow customers and bank employees.  The "trip to the bank" was something she looked forward to each month. 

I realized at that moment this was not just about convenience or business for her.  She also enjoyed the social aspect of engaging with other people.

In the ministry, it's not just about's about people.  People who laugh and cry, smile and smirk, and hide their feelings like the old fashioned game "hid-n-seek" hoping for someone to find them.

People are what ministry is all about.

Are you a people person? 

Apostle Paul spoke of his son in the faith as a "people person." 
  • Philippians 2:19-22 "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.  But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the Gospel."
Timothy had proven he was a people person.  He proved that he was more concerned with people than he was with his own advancement.

Friends, if we're going to be in the ministry, we must look beyond our own desires and personal advancements.  The big picture is what matters. 

Too often, I meet people who say they want to be in the ministry, but if their heart isn't in it for the right reason, it will show especially when sacrifice is required. 

There comes a time when you'll have to put your needs last for the sake of others.  It will be a sacrifice.  You'll have to wait on your own goals and desires.  However, in the end, you'll be rewarded as you follow the footsteps of Pastor Timothy. 

Prayer Focus

Let us pray that BFWC will be more people-oriented than program-oriented.  Let us aim to meet the needs of the widows, orphans, sick, elderly, lost, and so forth.  Sure, we all have ideas for ministry, plans that are stirring in our heads and hearts, but let us not forsake the day-to-day operations that involve people. 

We pray for more people to minister to more people.

Are you relying on the pastors, elders and deacons to do this?  How about you?  Are you following after Timothy's example?

If you see a it.  That's real ministry.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Integrity...Is It Really Necessary? (Part 3)

Who are you?  Who are you really?

We discover our real identity when we come to grips with who we are on the inside.  Until we know who we are on the inside, our outside (image) is nothing more than a projected shell.

Is it possible to project an image for the world to see while being opposite on the inside?  Yes.  That's why it's so important to have your inside rooted to a strong character.  

Strong character will produce lasting fruit and longevity in leadership.  Strong character is a result of personal discipline. (Personal Integrity)

Are you disciplined? 

We consist of three parts:  body, soul and spirit.  A believer must live out of their spirit.  In doing so, our flesh has no choice but to obey.  A lack of discipline in our life comes from a decision to live from our flesh instead of our spirit. 

Personal discipline affects multiple areas of our life including our habits: grooming, diet, exercise, rest, study, finances and thoughts.  Integrity affects all of these areas in our life.
  • Grooming - Shabby or sharp?  We are in a day where casual is accepted more and more.  However, Christians shouldn't be the shabbiest person in the room.
  • Diet, Exercise and Rest - Respecting your temple in how you feed it, use it and maintain it.
  • Study - Reading is vital for a leader.  However, in this electronic age we must guard our hearts from Satan's snares.
  • Finances - credit rating, savings plan, learn how to say to "no" to additional debt, etc.
  • Thoughts - Keep your mind true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.  (Philippians 4:8)
Personal integrity is born in the practices of personal discipline.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice Storm 2011

This was after round one this morning. 
The second blast is coming in a few hours.
Pray church pray!  :-)

Integrity...Is It Really Necessary? (Part 2)

Integrity is not just something that we cling's something that clings to us.  Doing the right thing is not always easy but it's always the right thing to do.

Who do you think of when you say the word "integrity?"  Perhaps you're thinking of a Bible hero or a person who has made a lasting impression on your life. 

Once you've encountered a real taste of integrity, you'll never forget it.

A ministry of integrity will be marked by good and godly people.  Christian leaders must be known as people in whom there is no deceit.  Just like Philip's brother, Nathanael, you can't hide integrity.  It will keep showing up in your life.

If it's the only thing that can be said about your's enough.

Integrity is a garment we wear.  It is interwoven with threads of character that make our garment appear to be seamless. Thus, we allow the Holy Spirit to tailor stitch us for maximum coverage in all areas of our life.

"If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."  Alan K. Simpson - former US Senator

I'm persuaded that integrity should be at the top of the list for every Christian...especially leaders.  Honestly, you don't have to think about living a lifestyle of integrity if it's already in you.

"Christian leaders will never lead people to a height they have never climbed personally." Stan Toler
Webster's Dictionary says that "integrity" includes three aspects:  incorruptibility, soundness, and completeness.

Basically, personal integrity starts with your every day habits. 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says "Anyone can say he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character.  Your character determines who you are.  Who you are determines what you see.  What you see determines what you do.  That's why you can never separate a leader's character from his actions."

Is there anything you're lying about right now? 

Remember when your mom told you to wash your hands before dinner.  Sure, you ran to the restroom and turned on the faucet...but did you actually use soap, lather up and rinse?  When you came to the table and she asked, "did you wash your hands?"  You have a choice at that you say "yes" or "no?"  Only you know.  (Of course, if your mom was like my mom...she had eyes in the back of her the Lord always seemed to tell her about my actions and whereabouts.)

Why is she telling you to wash your hands?  It's a personal discipline.  She knows that you will need to develop good hygiene while eating.  Plus, personal integrity is born in the practices of personal discipline:  washing your hands today, telling the truth tomorrow.