Archive for December, 2010

How to Find Peace in this Busy Season!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The devotional I received from Wisdom Hunters by email today couldn’t have come at a better time. It speaks of finding peace in the midst of the Christmas rush; deadlines, meeting the expectations of others, and more. Take a look:

Peace On Earth

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Peace on earth begins with peace in the human heart. It is the result of an inner transformation in you that affects all of your external conditions. So, for example, if a home is conflicted with angry adults, then peace will only come when their hearts have been captured by their peace with God. When Jesus enters the arena of life, He brings peace to those who submit to Him.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2a). Are you stressed out over meeting everyone else’s expectations during this holiday season? Is the pressure of buying gifts, planning menus and making year-end financial decisions pushing your patience to the edge? If so, inhale the peace of God and exhale the expectations of others. Be careful to not miss the joy of Jesus during this celebration of His birth. Focus on His desires, not those of others.

Peace on earth does not mean all wars will cease. As our Savior taught, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Mark 13:7). In fact, many times following Christ means a clash with the mores of society, a discomfort with family members or a conflict with your work culture.

However, in the middle of our situations of unrest, we can rest in the Lord. The calming presence of Jesus was illustrated as He lay in swaddling clothes yet He was the world’s Savior. His peace pursues impure hearts—He came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). So begin by surrendering to your Master Jesus who began His reign in a humble manger.

Worship the glory of God in all of His goodness, mercy and grace. Wise men and women still seek Him, because He is the originator of wisdom and peace. His favor rests on those who rest in Him, who love and obey Him and who follow Him all the days of their lives. So settle down and seek Jesus. Replace your frantic pace with calm faith and make a loud noise of celebration  but with quiet resolute. Invite the peace of God to enter into your hurried heart. His peace settles all stress.

Lastly, use this season of celestial celebration to celebrate your salvation in Christ. Maybe bake a birthday cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday to your Savior. Dress up in His honor and read the Christmas story. Encourage the children and grandchildren to take on Bible character roles and act out that special day in Bethlehem. Most of all, by grace, be a model for a world without peace—the world of peace Jesus gives you.

Back to Basics: Lessons from the First Christmas!

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

I’m including a reprint of a message I received this morning from Wisdom Hunters, one of the Daily Devotionals that I study each morning. It’s timing during this busy Christmas season couldn’t be better! If you enjoy the reading, you may wish to check out the wisdomhunters.com website.

The First Christmas

The focus of the first Christmas was Jesus. It was His day. There was no competition from commercialism seeking economic gain. The gifts were given to Him. God was the recipient of gratitude and generosity. He was glorified on this day of salvation for all who would come to believe in Jesus as God’s only Son.

There was an appreciation for the Almighty’s descent into the decadence of humanity. There was no feuding from other faiths jockeying with each other for time in the Savior’s spotlight. On the contrary, there was a religious respect and humble worship from those who traveled great distances from their diverse origins of belief. On this day, Jesus unified sincere seekers of truth.

The first Christmas, however, was not without controversy. Politically, He was a lightning rod (some things never change). Government leaders felt threatened, as if a traitor had infiltrated their influence over the masses. Involuntary spies were sent to validate His presence. Once His birth had been verified, the powers-that-be went to work. Insecurity and fear drive people to commit irrational acts, and it was no different back then.

So what started as a celestial coronation for the Prince of Peace ended with jealous leaders taking severe and deadly action. The Christ-child was driven from their pitiful, but powerful presence. They destroyed other God-fearing people in the process. The community was cast into chaos when Christ was removed from their culture.

We can learn from the first Christmas to keep Christ central in our worship and our society. He is the wonder of our worship. He is the reason for our giving gifts. It is because we celebrate His birthday that we pause to pray, reflect, and plan to follow His will in a more robust and intentional manner. Our Master came to earth and made Himself like man.

He took on the form of a servant, though He could have crowned Himself as King. He pointed us to the love and forgiveness of His heavenly Father. The Christ-child was born of a virgin. He was God who dwelt among us; but sometimes we forget Him, even on His birthday. One reason we have failed to keep Christ in Christmas is we have failed to keep Him in some of our churches.

Why should the culture embrace the Christ of Christmas, when some of our churches have marginalized their Master? Let’s start by inviting the Almighty back into our churches with fresh and revitalized reverence in worship, evangelism, and discipleship. Let’s prayerfully and responsibly only “lay hands” on leaders who fear God, hate sin, love people, and teach the Bible. Christmas is losing its luster for the Lord because Christians have forgotten to fear God.

His birth is only significant if His death and resurrection are significant. The Christ of Christmas becomes compelling when we, as followers, flock to Him in faithfulness and obedience. Let all of us who name the name of Jesus revisit Him in the awe and worship of that first Christmas. Let’s exclaim, with enthusiasm to a hurting world, that He has come to heal broken hearts and revive sick souls.

We unapologetically celebrate His birthday with passion, because God is with us. He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son. Let’s make this Christmas like the first Christmas. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, and love while we worship our Lord together.  The first Christmas fuels our faith and recalibrates us to Christ.

Day 156-159 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Finish! Dedication! Acknowledgments!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

I received word this morning that my publisher, Wiley, has received the Fed-Ex’d manuscript for How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables & Principles to Tackle Your Fourteen Toughest Business Challenges–one day ahead of the December 15th deadline! Now, I can move on to revise and expand, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK, with a deadline of February 15th.

Here’s how the process will now work with Wiley. They will do the following:

1. Read and review the book and make additional proofing changes as needed.

2. Make me aware of any objectionable content they would like me to soften or reconsider.

3. Send the manuscript back to me for final revisions.

In the opening pages of a book the author has an opportunity to write a “Dedication” and “Acknowledgments”. Here’s are the special people I’ve decided to include in this book:

Dedication

This book is dedicated to Jesus Christ and His persecuted followers in “closed” countries throughout the world, and to exceptional organizations like EQUIP, 222 Ministries, and Voice of the Martyrs who serve and support them.

Acknowledgements

It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the following family, friends and co-laborers who have helped me with this book:

* To Rhonda, my wife and business partner. You are the love of my life and if you ever leave me, I am going with you!

* To Russell, for your exceptional work running LearnToLead with Rhonda so that I had the time to write this book.

* To Ryan for your diligent labors in proofing and formatting this book…and for tolerating the many, “Oh, by the way, could you add this to chapter so and so” after it was already complete.

* To Dan and Matt at Wiley for your enthusiasm and support for the By THE BOOK brand.

* To my beautiful and brilliant daughter Ashley, for your recommendations which I have happily included. How did you get so smart?

* To Christian giants of faith like Spurgeon, Simeon, Henry, and Gothard who have added incredible richness to my understanding of the Scriptures.

Now…I’ll get the manuscript to the kind folks who promised to consider writing a cover quote for the book, so they can begin to read it. I need to get all cover quotes to the publisher by February 1!

Day 151-155 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Fish for Men!

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables & Principles to Tackle Your Fourteen Toughest Business Challenges is finished! In fact, my outstanding team has completely proofed and formatted it so that it is ready to Fed-Ex to our publisher on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery. This will hit the deadline on the nose!

In my next post, I’ll include the Dedication and Acknowledgments that will appear in the book to recognize the special team of influencers and friends that helped me complete this work. For now, I want to share an excerpt from “Closing Thoughts.” These are the last pages of the book that include my final words to the readers:

Closing Thoughts

Billions of dollars are spent each year to research why people behave in the dark manner they do, and why the world is in so much trouble. It is not an oversimplification to answer that we have lost our will to submit to God and His ways. A Christian who does not submit to God is not much different than an atheist. While it can be argued that many atheists refuse to acknowledge the existence of God so they have an excuse to submit only to themselves and become their own god, what is a Christian’s explanation for disobedience? If you believe in God but do not obey Him, are you more useful to Him than one who does not believe at all? Evangelist Charles Spurgeon wisely observed: “Worldly people may be of some use even if they fail in certain respects, but a counterfeit Christian is no longer good for anything, utterly useless to anybody and everybody” (Carter 1998, 106).

As this book concludes, here are two fair questions to consider. In your daily walk at work, in your community, church and home, do you live your life in a way that makes you a fisher of men, or is your life as a Christian failing to turn heads? Do you understand exactly what that means to be a fisher of men? It is exciting indeed!

In Jesus’ day, fishing was much different than now. Fishermen, like Peter, Andrew, John and James, would fish at night by shining lights into the water to attract fish. Once the fish were drawn to the light, they would drop their nets on them and sweep them into their boats. Thus, Jesus’ command from Matthew 4:19, “Follow Me and I’ll make you fishers of men,” takes on new meaning.  Jesus wants us to act as a light in the world that draws others to Him, through our actions, attitude, character, and love.

When you first meet Jesus, you begin to reflect His light. But after you place Him at the center of your life, build an intimate relationship, and follow His commands, you emit direct light that draws others to you and to Christ. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He declared, “You are the salt of the earth” in Matthew 5:13. Salt creates a thirst. When you lead and live by THE BOOK at work in all areas of your life, you provoke a thirst in others that can only be quenched as they come to Christ’s living water (Gothard 2005).

Thus, it is important to aspire to this lifestyle as described by FB Meyer: “We ought to be Christians in large type, so that it would not be necessary for others to be long in our society, or to regard us through spectacles, in order to detect our true discipleship. The message of our lives should resemble the big advertisements which can be read on the street by all who pass by” (Richards 1990).

Aspire to be a “Christian in large type!” Remember what Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Thank you for taking this journey through How to Lead by THE BOOK with me. I have no doubt that there were sections that challenged you, even perhaps that you disagreed with. The fact that you persisted despite potential differences demonstrates a Christ-like attitude that celebrates unity, and a willingness to focus on what we have in common rather than on what makes us different.

May God guide you as you continue your Christian journey to live and love like Jesus in all sectors of your life; to be light; to be salt; to subordinate your own wisdom, desires, and agenda; and submit to our all-powerful and flawless Lord.

Day 147-150 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Handle False Accusers!

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Just nine days until the deadline for How to Lead by THE BOOK! I’ve decided to stop at fourteen chapters–I’ve run out of word allotment! I’m at the publisher-prescribed 50,000 words! The others strategies I wanted to include will have to wait for the next book.

Any leader who takes a stand for something is going to encounter false accusations. False accusations normally come as the result of an attacker not having anything legitimate to accuse you of, so they resort to lies. As an author, I endure my fair share of disgruntled comments. Normally for every fifty positive emails, I’ll receive one on the irrational side. It normally has no factual basis and makes false claims. Here’s how I’ve successfully handled these occasions in the past. Perhaps these thoughts can help you remain productive when you endure similar attacks:

1. Stay calm and stick to the facts. Don’t get personal and don’t exaggerate, insult or try to beat down your assailant. Let your mature manner, and the facts you present, do that for you.

2. Your reply should address the concerns they throw at you, but don’t say any more than is necessary. Get to the point and move on.

3. Acknowledge their right to disagree, but not their right to be wrong or to lie. In other words, if they’re expressing a different opinion, fine. However, if they’re accusing you of something false, set the record straight.

4. Stay on a high road. Conclude your response cordially and again–resist the temptation to get personal and put the nuisance in his place! You may have the intellect and ability to chew him up and spit him out. Don’t. Use only what is necessary to disarm their attack and make your defense. The last thing you want is a prolonged dialogue with someone who has nothing better to do.

The lesson: if someone offers you legitimate criticism, listen to it and see what you can learn from it. But when they falsely accuse you, take the more proactive steps listed above.

Day 144-146 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Your Three Biggest Threats!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

As the December 15th deadline looms for How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’m on track to finish right on time. I’ve got less than two full chapters to write, and my proofers and formatters are nearly caught up with what’ I’ve written thus far. The book will present a total of fifteen key organizational challenges, along with in-depth biblical remedies. Here is a preview of chapter 14:  What are the three biggest threats to my success?

Man’s Wisdom and Way

The business landscape is filled with mine fields: aggressive competition, government regulation, economic meltdowns and the like. These persistent threats are always circling like vultures, looking for an opportunity to devour your organization. To make matters worse, you remain vulnerable to the defection of big clients or top performers. And, in case that’s not enough, you’ll really discover what stress is all about the day the bank or your vendors  decides to withdraw your credit line! The combination of these forces and others like them is what should keep you on your toes and prevent you from ever becoming too comfortable. They loom as the biggest, most persistent threats to your success.

The BOOK’s Wisdom and Way

The threats triggered by adverse outside conditions mentioned above in “Man’s Wisdom and Way” are genuine. But the biggest threats to your organization do not come from the outside; they come from within. Often, they manifest from within the character of the leaders in charge of the organization. While the impact of adverse outside conditions is important and cannot be ignored, a leader can marginalize the effects of such factors by making the right “inside decisions” and character choices. On the other hand, poor character decisions by a leader can “train wreck” their organizations despite how robust and favorable outside conditions happen to be.

While there is a seemingly endless menu of possible poor character choices a leader can make that cause personal and organizational self-destruction, this chapter will focus on three of the “majors:” greed, sexual immorality, and following false teachers and their ungodly counsel.