Friday, June 20, 2014

Something I read today

Lead Better by Improving the Way You Communicate

Never Persuasive When AbrasiveYou can’t lead a church, evangelize a community, or do business without communicating. And the better you become as a communicator, the better you become as a leader, and the better the team you lead becomes as a result. That means to get ahead you’ve got to continuallywork on your communication skills. Probably 75% of the problems we face, at home, at work, and at church are related to poor communication with family members, church members, your clients, or your coworkers. Poor communication is also the most frequently mentioned problem in marriage counseling.
Here are three things you must give up in order to grow as a communicator. As you lead…

Give Up Your Assumptions

We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is – everything you hear goes through a filter. Your filter is determined by your past experiences and your unique personality. You may not be hearing what they are really saying. Therefore, it’s smart (and safe) to ask for clarification. There are 6 possible messages every time you speak:
  • What you mean to say and what you actually said.
  • What they heard and what they think they heard.
  • What they say about it and what you think they said about it.
Proverbs 18:13 says “It’s foolish to answer before listening.”
There is a second kind of assumption you need to give up on. Stop assuming people understand everything you’re thinking and feeling as you communicate. It’s only fair to clearly and completely share your expectations with people when you assign them a task or a project. You must find a way to be both concise and complete, and always clear when you communicate.

Give Up Your Accusations

You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. And you never get your point across by being cross. Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive… and defensiveness kills communication. Here are four common forms of accusation:
  • Exaggerating – making sweeping generalities like ”You never ” or “You always.”
  • Labeling – derogatory name calling. Labeling never changes anyone. It only reinforces the negative behavior.
  • Playing Historian – bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.
  • Asking Loaded Questions – which really can’t be answered, like “Can’t you do anything right?”
Ephesians 4:29 says Use only helpful words, the kind that build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Give Up Your Apprehensions

Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings, and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are: the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. But when you face your fear and risk being honest – real communication can happen. Freedom is the result of openness. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free!” (John 8:32)
Good teams communicate, or they disintegrate. It’s worth giving up our assumptions, our accusations, and our apprehensions to build unity and lead everyone forward.

That's a good word for us all. Thanks Rick Warren for your encouragement and faithfulness.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Time Means VBS

Some of my fondest memories are around Summer time. My family has done some really fun things during our summers together growing up. One of my favorite places to go growing up in Florida was a place called Strickland's Landing. It was on Kingsley Lake just outside of Green Cove Springs. They had slides, diving boards, 3 diving towers, and other crazy things to do. I can't tell you just how many hours and days we spent there, but those are precious memories I will carry with me forever. We would camp there for our family vacation from time to time, but it was close enough that we would go for the day a lot. I loved that place, and wish it was still open because I would love for my family to experience it the way I did growing up.

But growing up in a pastor's home means that many of my memories have the church and church activities, one of which was vacation bible school. VBS was always a favorite time in my life as a child. It gave me something to do after the excitement of being out of school had worn off. It also gave me an extra opportunity to be with my friends and to meet new friends to. It was a time of kids hearing and receiving Jesus as Savior. VBS was a wonderful time of ministry and outreach.

The good news is that those are not just days gone by, but are days of the present and future. VBS is still the greatest week of ministry, statistically, in the life of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. More people are saved and baptized as a result of VBS than any other things we as Southern Baptists do. So it is with great joy that I look forward to June 23-27 at Highland Baptist Church in New London, NC. We will be hosting VBS for the kids of New London and Stanly county. We can accommodate bed babies through 12th grade. Let's make some memories. Let's reach out to our neighbors and community. Let's boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and serve the Lord with joy while serving the kids of our church, neighborhood, and community.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One of those weeks.

Have you ever had one of those weeks?! I’m having one this week (it’s Wednesday) as I write this update. Please pray for my family as the Lord brings us to mind. My grandfather, Rev. Ed Madaris (97 years old) will be going home to be with the Lord soon. The Lord truly blessed me by allowing him to be my grandfather. He has spoken words of influence, correction, and encouragement into my life these 41 years, but especially since 1998 when I entered ministry. My life has been greatly shaped by my granddaddy, and I will miss him greatly when he is gone. On top of that, my mom has had to have a biopsy of a mass and the doctor is pretty sure it’s cancer. The final results are not in, but she, the doctor, was pretty confident in her preliminary diagnosis. We covet your prayers during these next few days. Life seems to be taking some unexpected changes. But I can say this with great confidence, the Lord is good, and He is so very faithful. Heaven is something/someplace to gain; death is not to be feared. Death is only a shadow of what it is for those who are in Christ Jesus because of the finished work of King Jesus on the cross. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” It is so comforting to know that He, the Lord Jesus Christ, is with me, with you, with us! Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Russell Moore's recent blog post

Posted: 01 Jun 2014 06:33 PM PDT
News reports have gone back and forth all weekend about whether or not Sudan will release our sister in Christ, Mariam Yahya Ibrahim. What’s not up for dispute is that Mariam, who just gave birth in prison chains, is condemned to die for “apostasy,” that is violating Sharia law by becoming a Christian. She’s also charged with “adultery,” because her marriage to a Christian man isn’t recognized. As we pray for her, I’d like us to reflect on what we see in her.

Mariam’s husband tells the press that she refused, despite all she has been through, to renounce the name of Jesus. For her, her freedom, even her life, aren’t worth tossing aside her allegiance to the Lord Christ. In this, Mariam is a true daughter of Sarah. The Apostle Peter commends such as those who do not “fear anything that is frightening” (1 Pet. 3:7).

It’s not just that Mariam is displaying the sort of fearless faith Peter commends. It’s also that she’s displaying the sort of fearless faith Peter himself lacked, at least at first. Simon Peter, when faced with potential execution, denied even knowing his Lord. Jesus didn’t leave him there, of course, but found him hiding out in Galilee, and fueled in him the sort of heroic faith that was willing to face even the worst thing he could imagine: being bound and taken where he didn’t want to go (Jn. 21:18).

And that’s just the point.
Mariam is a living picture of Jesus keeping his promise, made to us at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus said that he would build his church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. And sure enough. Nero Caesar couldn’t kill the church. Josef Stalin couldn’t kill the church. Even now, Sudanese tyrants and Chinese despots can’t eradicate this church.

When we see a heroine such as Mariam standing up for Jesus, even in chains, we are not simply seeing her. We are seeing the Spirit who blows where he wills, giving the kind of faith that fears not the one who can kill the body, the kind of faith that seeks first the kingdom of God.

Let’s keep praying for Mariam’s release and safety. Let’s keep pressuring the State Department to act. But let’s also remember to step back and thank God for the gospel to which she clings.
Mariam is not just fighting for her life. She’s fighting against hell itself. And how does she do it? She does it with the only weapons that work: the blood of the Lamb and the word of her testimony, for she loves not her life even unto death (Rev. 12:11).

Whatever the Sudanese authorities do, they won’t be able to stop Mariam from overcoming. Whatever their charges, she is justified before God. If they kill her, she is resurrected in Christ. They may terrorize her, but it seems this brave mother can hear another voice behind theirs, one that says, “Be not afraid.”
May we hear that voice, too.

I am so thankful that God continues to prove Himself faithful. Just like He has done in the past, working through the saints who have gone before us, He continues to do today. Mariam is not the only one. Let's pray fervently for the persecuted church.