The wise

It’s in their own eyes, in their own heart. They have built up a great body of knowledge, but it’s within limits. It’s within their sphere of existence here in this physical world.

God understands their limitations and continues to be merciful to them. But God isn’t challenged by their greatness. Sometimes their great knowledge creates a sense of arrogance against God. But God isn’t moved. Here’s what the book of Job says:

“The Almighty – we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit [heart]” (Job 37:23-24).

By all means, gain knowledge and be wise. But recognize that you haven’t scratched the surface of God’s knowledge. As the creator, he exists in a different realm.

Maybe as we gain knowledge, we need to look to God for wisdom beyond our age and beyond our realm.

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Too much encouragement?

It’s never too much. You can never give too much encouragement. In fact, there are so many people who never live up to their full potential because they’ve received more discouragement than encouragement.

This doesn’t mean that we should never correct people. But that correction can be enveloped in a deep desire to encourage them to do even better. Let them clearly see that you wish to see the best in their lives.

During times of difficulty, encouragement is critical. Your words of encouragement may be the lifeline that keeps them afloat, rather than sinking them into further depths.

While going through the day to day tasks of leadership, your encouragement is strategic. It sustains them. It provides that extra sense of hope and faith that they can move forward. No, encouragement can never be too much.

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Speaking on God’s behalf

Those who have experienced God and his love surely have things to say on his behalf. There are others who’ve enjoyed the benefits of his power and might in their lives. Surely they also have something to say.

Then there are those who speak in defense of God using a systematic method often called Apologetics. They use a blend of tools such as Philosophy, Theology, Logic, and Science. Apologetics is quite a thorough systematic approach that has been used for a long time.

Job’s neighbor Elihu said: “Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have something to say on God’s behalf. I will get my knowledge from afar and ascribe righteousness to my maker (Job 36:2-3). Elihu spoke extensively in defense of God.

Finally, I wonder if God needs our help at all. Now I do acknowledge the value of those who defend the faith. But has he asked for help? Just a thought.

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Create culture

To establish a certain culture, you need to teach it, practice it, and maintain it. Culture works better than a written rule book or position paper.

Without teaching it, no one will have a clue about why you do things the way you do. Teach it with clarity, teach it with substance, and teach it with passion.

Make sure you practice what you teach. If it’s culture, you do it. If you do it, then it becomes culture. By doing it, you enjoy all the benefits of what that culture produces within your organization.

If the culture you create is good enough to teach and practice, then you’ve got to maintain it. If you are not consistently focusing on it and maintaining it, then it will “slip” out of your hands quickly. You’ve got to keep the entire team focused on that culture you’ve created, teach it, practice it, and maintain it.

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Empty talk

Sometimes we can’t help it. We’ve got to use words to express the turmoil we feel inside. For some, this is more prevalent during the younger years. But for others, this runs into the later years as well.

Elihu was probably Job’s neighbor who spoke these words: “Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge” (Job 35:16). But we know of Job as a man of wisdom and with a great reputation.

Internal turmoil certainly has an impact on our thoughts and words. The older ones may have better control of words, but if the suffering is so extreme, words may be plenty.

Yet the next step is crucial. It is vital that we hold on to God and continue to trust him. That is one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face in life: trust.

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When assumptions become fact

It seems to be some part of a group dynamic. Someone makes an observation that results in an assumption. They share it with others – often with passion and a sense of conviction. The force of this, coupled with the group dynamic causes this idea to spread.

Once it goes beyond the initial group and individual who had the assumption in the first place, it somewhat becomes “fact” in the minds of the listeners. No one knows where it started, but everyone seems to believe it. Everyone seems to accept it.

Now, don’t you dare try to change it. Because who can change facts? Who will question the age old, accepted, tried and tested “facts”?

The assumption has become “fact.”

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But I’m too impatient to wait. I am too busy to wait. I just don’t want to wait. So why should I wait?

Sometimes our lives are put on “hold” for a season. For some people, that period of time is meant for growth and learning. For others, God is developing character within. But for others, God is testing them.

Job went through such a time of testing (Job 35:13). His suffering was so extreme that we cannot imagine it. The testing was meant to reaffirm and strengthen his commitment to God. This was a painful waiting time for him.

Maybe your waiting time extends for several years. Remember: Waiting is not wasting.  God is building you in ways you may not grasp. Trust in his wisdom and faithfulness.

Even when the pain continues – wait. You may be confused – but wait. Wait on God’s plan for your life.

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Why do some church plants fail? (13)

I don’t know. But I know that those who’re in it for the long run have a better chance.

While a student in California, I had the opportunity to learn Tennis at our college. The instructor taught us about “follow through” when hitting the ball. The idea was that if you retract the racquet soon after it engages the ball, you’ll have less power and control over the ball. But if you follow through, you’ll have better aim and the ball will move more powerfully.

Some church planters start with a time limit. “I’ll try this for five years.” Others take an extension. “Ok, I’ll do two more years.”

But “follow through” implies that you continue till the goal is reached, regardless of the cost. I know, it’s easy for me to say. Yet I realize this may not be the singular reason for failure.

People have taken various steps in the process of planting. They have moved into the town they’re reaching. Some purchased a home, got a job, put the kids in school there, and some even purchased a burial plot in that community (for themselves). So, the “investment” is not small. Let’s follow through to complete what we started.

Read the entire series: Why do some church plants fail?

  1. Trail of failures
  2. Persist in the process
  3. Stick to your values
  4. Continually share the Good News
  5. Seek out training
  6. Find fellowship
  7. Become a voracious reader
  8. Ask questions
  9. Leave a trail of influences
  10. Learn from criticism
  11. Learn from your mistakes
  12. Constantly raise up leaders
  13. Be in it for the long run

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Test, taste, choose

Ideas are many, and opinions are even more diverse. But we must learn to choose what is good and right.

“For the ear tests words
as the palate tastes food.
Let us choose what is right;
let us know among ourselves
what is good” (Job 34:2-3).

It is our responsibility to test, taste, and choose what is right and good. According to the situations of people, they will formulate opinions about God. Their pain and struggles will cause them to doubt or even reject God.

Some say that God doesn’t care. He Created the world and just let it go. We just have to figure things out as we go along. Others say God is active and concerned about all that we face.

Test what you hear, taste it like food, and choose what is right and good.

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Value in existence

Think of the billions who currently live in this world and so many who have passed on before us. Each generation comes and goes. For a small number of people, their memory continues in the history books. But for most people, their memory may only remain for a few generations of their descendants, but that also dies out.

So, what in the world is the value of your existence? After you’re gone, you’ll be completely forgotten in a few years. Your memory may only live on for one or two generations. Do you have any significance other than to live and to die?

First, you have a unique contribution to make. That contribution is initially in your immediate and extended family. Your love, care, and any other means of expression is a contribution. That contribution also extends to the community around you. Your contribution is unique and valuable.

Second, you have a unique place in the heart of God. He is the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb. His love for you began even prior to that when he thought of you before the earth was created. You have the opportunity to love him and to live in relationship to him. That’s your greatest value.

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