Random Thoughts

Looking Ahead!

If you were in church on Sunday, Scott Stevenson, our Student Pastor, delivered a message on the danger of looking back and the power of looking ahead! It was a great Word that started me thinking about the power of visioneering into the future!

It is a mistake, I believe, to always turn back and dig up the past. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when we need to “turn the soil,” if you will, and do the hard work required to dig deep and heal from the past and bring closure for the future. However, that is totally different from those who tend to ALWAYS live in the past! Have you ever met someone like this? You might be that person, always feeling guilty of some regret, hurt, or broken relationship? Maybe you just always feel like you let God down?

Listen, beloved, the call of Christian living is not backwards, but forward! The call of Christian living is not for regrettable experiences that lie behind, but doing the will of God, which is always ahead, beckoning us to follow Him into a bright new future!

The apostle Paul put it like, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

This Sunday, I will bring closure to the Finding Favor series! I want to encourage you to keep letting go of the past, in order to fully embrace the favor of the future! It has been one wild ride for 6 weeks. I intentionally saved this message for the last installment. Sunday promises to be a powerful wrap up and I hope you will invite someone and do whatever it takes to make sure you are at one of our campuses! Trust me, you do NOT want to miss this weekend!

In addition, Amy Lynn and I plan to share some really BIG news with the entire church. It is time for us to go global with some important happenings taking place in and through the Kelley family. It’s all good!

Let me encourage you to leave some things behind and reach forward to the God-size goals and FAVOR that are before us a church! newhope has a great future and I am so thrilled you are part of the journey!

John Wesley, a hero of mine and 18th Century Preacher and revivalist, while lying on his death bed in 1791, sang a great old hymn and right before he died declared, “The best of all, God is with us!” What an amazing thing to say right before you die! As we look ahead, I pray that kind optimistic outlook will be yours and that God’s Favor follows you all the days of your life!

Attitude Wins!

As you read this, I am in Oklahoma City, at a small round table discussion with Pastor Craig Groeschel and a small group of pastors. It has been the most incredible week of growth and vision enhancing with regards to newhope and the Multi-site movement God is blessing! I will be boarding a plan late Friday morning to return to North Carolina. I can’t wait to see my family.   

I have been thinking this week about the power of attitude.  In our current series, we have been examining the various ways in which we Find Favor.  I think our attitude is extremely important in this process.  If Favor is not always for us, but is also a way in which God gets glory to those around us, than why would He waste His favor on someone with a sour pus attitude?

Clement Stone said: “There is a little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” 

I see this in my children, in my co-workers, in the people at church, in other pastors throughout our land—those who approach their work with a positive attitude accomplish much more, and are happier in the process.

Charles Swindoll said: “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude in life. Attitude is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It will make or break a company…a church…a home.”

He continues: “The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the past…we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we do is play on the one thing we have, and that is our attitude…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Don’t we all want our lives—and our ministries—and newhope church to be defined by a good attitude? Don’t we want to be able to look back at our performance and see that we attacked every job with enthusiasm and commitment? Holiness and Favor—which we long for, which we need, and which God wants from/for us—begins with an attitude!

Paul gave us the same reminder in Philippians when he said this: 

Do everything without complaining and arguing so that you may become blameless and pure…(Philippians 2:14)

May you take charge of your attitude this day and may God’s grace and favor fall all over your life! I am praying for you.

 

What Matters Most…

So, one of our pastors, Chad Lunsford, sent the leadership lifter below to all of our life group leaders, apprentices, and hosts. It is so good, and because I’m such a fan of Dave Ramsey, I thought I would put it on my blog today. If you lead anything in any capacity, read this carefully and apply to your leadership. Dave used these principles to grow his ministry from the ground up!  Enjoy and lead well!

Peace and much love…

——

WHAT MATTERS MOST?
By Dave Ramsey

New York Times best-selling author, Dave Ramsey, presents his common sense debt reduction and wealth-building strategies LIVE in Atlanta, Saturday, January 21, from 1p.m. to 6p.m. ET at Gwinnett Arena. The Total Money Makeover LIVE! packages all of Ramsey’s financial principles and philosophies into one entertaining and action-packed event.

I should have been annoyed. As I drove into the parking lot of my office, there weren’t any spaces left, and I had an important conference call scheduled that morning. Instead, I just sat in my car and smiled.

At that moment, I was reminded that I am truly living the American dream. I have been blessed with more than 300 team members and a strong national brand that has helped millions and millions of people around the country. So realizing that parking was becoming a problem was less than annoying. In fact, it was awesome!

As I put together my newest book, EntreLeadership, I began thinking about our success. I asked myself, What are the fundamental principles that caused us to win? I can think of six that have brought us to where we are. Whether you’re leading a business or congregation, these core values will work for you too.

People Matter

Your business is people. Whether it’s your congregation, ministry team, community, other pastoral staff, or even the vendors who print your Sunday bulletin-every individual around you is unique and uniquely important. They all have hopes and dreams. They all have fears and struggles. They are all people, and every single one deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and a caring heart.

Your Team Matters

My friend, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, wrote a wonderful book you need to read called Thou Shall Prosper. In it, he says God is inordinately pleased when we are obsessively, compulsively consumed with the needs of others. As ministers, that’s an easy one to understand as far as your church members go. But do you apply this principle to your own team members? Are you doing what’s best for them?

I’ve seen too many pastors preach love, patience and community to their congregations, all the while driving their own staff members to the brink of divorce and nervous breakdowns with ridiculous hours and unreachable expectations. The pastoral team is in the flock too! Love your team well; treat them like family, and they will act like family.

Excellence Matters

When it comes to your team, having the right people in the right positions allows you to do your best work. Take plenty of time when filling positions. Pray for God to bring the right people in-and keep the crazy people out!

At my company, each prospective team member goes through an average of eight separate interviews, including one with his or her spouse. They are also required to send us a personal budget and take a personality test to make sure their style fits with the job. We take hiring very, very seriously, and we look at the whole person, family and all.

Slow and Steady Matters

Want to know the best way to grow your ministry? Take a lesson from The Tortoise and the Hare. Every time I read that book, the tortoise wins.

We live in a fast-and-furious, microwave-cooking, gotta-have-it-now world. Stop. Slow down. Take a breath. You won’t save the world overnight. You won’t win over your entire congregation with one sermon. You’re running a marathon, not a sprint. Make long-term plans and short-term course corrections as you go.

Financial Principles Matter

American churches as a whole are in debt-to the tune of $33 billion! That’s money that could be spent to spread the gospel, help the homeless, do mission work, or do a million other ministry projects. Instead, that money is going out the door in the form of payments.

We’ve got to start managing God’s money God’s way. That means operating on a budget and avoiding debt. The Bible says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” If you’re in debt, whether as a church or as a household, you’re a slave! And don’t get mad at me; God said it!

A Higher Calling Matters

If you play for something bigger than yourself, you play much harder and smarter. You will be surprised by how hard you work because there’s a sense of calling. What’s your higher calling? Why do you do what you do? Every church and business talks about their “what;” I think it’s time for us as a body to start identifying our “why.”

Success comes in many, many different forms. For me, my achievements come from my family, my team members and the number of lives that have been changed by what we do. It should be the same for you. When you get to the end of your life, what will you look back on and smile about? It won’t be about material things. Stuff doesn’t matter. Accomplishments matter a little bit. But people? People matter most.

—–

Dave Ramsey is a personal money-management expert and best-selling author of EntreLeadership, The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace and More Than Enough. He is also host of the nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey Show. You can see Dave in Atlanta on January 21 at his Total Money Makeover LIVE! event.

Soaking and Preaching

I ran across this article this morning from Charles Spurgeon and thought it was well   worth posting here.  With Christmas coming, and lots of sermons to prepare and   deliver, I think this is golden for all the teachers out there.  Enjoy and preach well!

—–

One thing more, and it is this. Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the  gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my  text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then,  after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me. It softens  me, or hardens me, or does whatever it ought to do to me, and then I can talk about it. You need not be very particular about the words and phrases if the spirit of the text has filled you; thoughts will leap out, and find raiment for themselves. Become saturated with spices, and you will smell of them; a sweet perfume will distill from you, and spread itself in every direction; — we call it unction. Do you not love to listen to a brother who abides in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? Even a few minutes with such a man is refreshing, for, like his Master, his paths drop fatness. Dwell in the truth, and let the truth dwell in you. Be baptized into its spirit and influence, that you may impart thereof to others. If you do not believe the gospel, do not preach it, for you lack an essential qualification; but even if you do believe it, do not preach it until you have taken it up into yourself as the wick takes up the oil. So only can you be a burning and a shining light.

-Charles Spurgeon

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