2 Things I Did Not Expect This Week At Orange Conference

And no, I’m not talking about things like hitting every green light on the way to work on a Monday.  (although those days are pretty epic)

My wife and I attend Orange Conference every year as volunteers, serving and assisting one of the regular speakers.  One of the things I have enjoyed most is the networking with other leaders.  Some are well-known and have significant platforms.  Others don’t necessarily have the same level of influence, but their contribution to Kingdom work is still very notable.  I learn from all of them!

So, here’s what I DIDN’T expect while at Orange Conference.

 

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Soulcare Praise – About a year ago, I had the privilege to speak at another Children’s Ministry conference in Kentucky. We ran into a young lady in a local coffee shop who was also attending the conference.  We were able to listen and pray with her about the challenges she was facing in her ministry position at the time.  Well, we just happened to cross paths again this week.  Among over 8,000 attendees, my wife spotted her across the lobby.  We learned that she had taken a couple of ‘nuggets’ of encouragement from one of my conference talks last year and really worked hard to implement them.  She shared with us that she is doing so much better as a leader now.  Amazing, and Jesus gets all the praise!

The Praying Caterers – I know what you are thinking.  The food service workers made it a practice during the conference to ‘Bless’ each person’s food before they sat down to eat.  While that would be quite cool, it wasn’t the case.  You see, my wife was getting dinner in the volunteer green room area and was simply asking about the menu over the next few days.  I’m having gall bladder surgery next week and she has been helping me be to be careful with my diet.  The caterers (all 6 of them) just happened to also be believers AND all attend the same church!  They gathered around Cailey and I and prayed over me and the surgery.  Can I just say…I really miss the Southern Hospitality in the South.

My takeaway?

“Jesus will often interrupt our journey of ministering to others so that OTHERS can minister to US.”

 

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How To Listen When God Begins To Speak

I’m just being real with all of you here.  In the past 5 days, God has intentionally placed the same passage / theme right in front of me.  Different messages.  Different devotional books.  Some might chalk it up to coincidence after 2 or even 3 times.  But FIVE?

I wrote about it just a few days ago when it first hit me.   Have you been there before?

When God sends me multiple signs, speaking the same thing to me over and over…..my natural instinct is to work hard at trying to figure out WHAT and WHY behind the message.  But I continue to learn that this is not usually effective.

Here’s what I AM learning, though still not perfect.

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  • God rarely yells.  He whispers.  What do you and I tend to do when someone is whispering at us.  We cup our hands next to our ear, turn our head toward them, and try hard to block out all other distractions to decifer what is being communicated.
  • God’s timing is NOT going to accommodate our need to know now.  We try to figure out what God is saying and then get frustrated when we don’t understand right away.  He reveals whatever it is to us at the right time…NOT the desired time!

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3 Effective Ways To Conquer The Giants In Your Life

What are the giants in your life?  We all have them.  They simply have different names.  Marital confrontation, financial stress, worrying about my kids, and following God’s direction in incredible uncertainty have been just a few of mine.

For David, his was Goliath.  At church on Sunday, the message revolved around this incredible true event. As he spoke, something caused curiosity in me that had not been there before.  Have you experienced this, reading a familiar passage and having something  jump out and grab your attention is such a way that you can’t let it go?

I began digging in to this passage of scripture a bit deeper.  I had just started a 24 hour Sabbatical, so the timing was perfect.  Here’s what ‘bothered’ me in this passage.

David collected 5 smooth stones (1 Sam. 17:40), BUT only used one stone to hit his giant in the forehead!  There is so much in this.  It sent Goliath crashing to the ground, allowing David to use the Giant’s own sword to finish him off.

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I thank God that his Spirit stirs curiosity in me like this.  Here’s what I discovered.

  1. Be ready to face the giant that is right in front of you.  In other words, don’t be caught off guard.  Recognize the giants in your life as the enemy that they are and that God will deliver you from them.  You and I typically view our giant like the Israelites did, terrified and avoiding it as long as possible.  The truth is that we should be sprinting toward it with bold confidence (v. 48) screaming a battle cry that actually causes our enemy to question their own intimidation.
  2. Arm yourself and prepare for related attacks that are to come.  This is speculated on why David chose 5 stones but only used one.  Additionally, he only had one in his hand when he approached Goliath (v. 49).  It would have been more logical to have had multiple stones in his hand to allow for quick reloading in case he missed the first time.  The remaining 4 backup stones were likely reserved for Goliath’s 4 brothers (2 Sam. 21:15-22).  Knowing that family sticks together and that one or more of these brothers might be close by, David was prepared with one stone for each of them.
  3. Be bold in proclaiming who your God is and what He is able to do.  David said to King Saul, The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37)  David remembered the times God had been there in the past, and he knew God would continue to show up in the future.  You and I must have the same approach with our giants! 

What would you add to this list?  I’d love it if you would leave a comment below.

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‘Godly’ Doesn’t Always Equate to a Good Leader

GODLY – Resembling the heart of God the Father and the modeled life of Jesus. This is my personal, simplified definition.

LEADERSHIP – According to John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence.” (this is my favorite definition) And then there’s Peter Drucker who says that, “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”

Now, I fully agree with both of these guys.  If you’re not familiar with them you need to check out their books!

I am blessed to work in a Christian environment at a 501c3 where I live.  Having mostly worked full-time in churches for over 25 years, I couldn’t have made that same statement about all the places I’ve worked. Recently, I heard someone at work state, “He’s such a godly man.” The person she was talking about was a leader too.

Allow me to make a statement from the opposite perspective.  It is entirely possible to lead well even if you are not godly.  You see, leadership also includes things like character, abilities, vision, morals, and discipline.  And for most of us, becoming a strong leader is a process…it takes time.

For example, I’ve known many board members and volunteer leaders in the church who had incredible hearts for God. They genuinely loved the Church, God, and others…BUT they were terrible leaders.  This issue boils down to one simple fact.

 

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Not everyone is called to be a leader.

I’ve witnessed the Church, with good intentions, put way too many individuals in leadership positions simply because they were willing and exhibited Godly character.  The problem is that if they are not called by God to lead in the Church, we are usually doing the Church and that leader a tremendous disservice.

What do you think?

Aside from godly character, what are other traits seen in solid leaders?

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Things to START/STOP in 2017

I hate New Year’s resolutions!  The problem is that they are usually too big (and vague).

Lose 100 lbs.  Run a marathon.  Write a book.  Blah, blah, blah.

I learned a long time ago that small, incremental changes in behavior lead to more sustainable accomplishments.  So my plans for 2017 are going to change throughout the year because I plan to have many small goals that will be checked off as they are met, thus being replaced by new goals.

I am a huge fan, however, of focusing on just One Word for the entire year.  One Word that provides constant encouragement and reminds me of what I’m supposed to be striving toward.

Proverbs 16:9 reads, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”

Making my plans for 2017 is one thing.  It’s a good thing.  But remembering that my effort alone is not going to be enough to succeed.  I must lean into God and ask him for accountability.

My One Word, then, for the next year will be to REACH!

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Reaching requires stretching.  It can relate to reaching a goal, or the the effort in striving toward something.  As it relates to the Proverbs passage above, I must constantly remember that it is the Lord who is lifting me up to help my reaching connect with my intended target or goal.

I have found that focusing on just a couple of goals at a time works best.  So here’s what I plan to begin with.

Start eating much healthier with intentionality

Stop eating in the evenings

What is something you need to START and STOP?  Comment below.  Also, don’t miss another of my posts.  Click HERE to subscribe!