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How to be a Wise Decision Maker

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Making decisions has always been hard for me. I have often found myself in the middle of the office supply aisle at Wal-Mart agonizing over which pen is really going to serve my needs best, and if getting a higher quality pen outweighs the higher cost. Or sometimes it’s Amazon. I have scrolled through countless pages of iPhone cases, searching for the one that has the best reviews, the best cost, and best eye-catching design. In some ways, living in Haiti has laughably made that trait worse! Coming from a place where the menu is predictable and unchanging week to week to a cereal aisle in America where the options are limitless can be paralyzingly overwhelming at best. I say that partially in jest, but to a certain extent it’s true. My lengthy decision-making can be amusing for some people to observe. One of the first times I came back to the States after moving to Haiti, on a road trip with my parents and sister, I found myself wide-eyed and immobilized by the vast quantity of candy bars to choose from at Quick Trip. I chose one, second guessed my decision, put it back, chose another, put it back, and finally, after a few more candy bar exchanges, decided to opt for the chocolate covered doughnuts instead. A good 10 minutes after entering the store I returned to the car, finding my family chuckling at my inability to simply choose what snack I wanted to eat.

How does one make wise decisions? I don’t mean choosing what shoes to buy or choosing what drink to order at Starbucks. I mean the decisions that have the capacity to change the shape of your life; the decisions that are forks in the road; the decisions that become monuments in your life. I recently found myself in a position of having to make one of those decisions. And the most difficult part wasn’t that I wanted one choice over the other or that one was blatantly wrong. It was that both choices laid before me were good and that God was giving me a choice. He was trusting me with a choice. 

Sometimes we come to forks in the road and we know, based on Scripture, which direction to turn our feet. Scripture is the first test and filter in making a decision. 2 Timothy says that God’s Word is profitable, making us complete and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We measure the choices we have against the Word of Truth, and if a choice falls short, then it must be scratched off our list of options. Simple.

But sometimes in weighing options against divinely inspired Scripture, we come to find that all the options in front of us align with the words of God. And it is then that we find ourselves flummoxed. How can I be expected to make a wise decision if Scripture is silent on my specific dilemma? How can I know I am choosing the right path if there is not one that is blatantly wrong? Stress and anxiety begin to press in at the corners of our minds, and fear of making a wrong decision can easily overwhelm the heart. And it’s paralyzing! It is in those moments that I find my own heart begging for wisdom, pleading for an answer. But God doesn’t often give audible answers or guidance. He does, however, mold and shape us into people of wisdom and equip us with what we need to make decisions. This is the guidance he “does” in our hearts and lives, the guidance that is perhaps not as clear cut as we would sometimes like, but is nevertheless better for the sanctification of our heart.  

While Scripture may be silent on the specific dilemma you and I may be facing, it is abounding with references of what wisdom looks like and where to get wisdom. Proverbs 19:20 says that a person who listens to counsel and receives instruction will be wise. We need to surround ourselves with wise, trusted people and hear the advice and admonition they give – even if we think we know better. Proverbs 11:2 tells us that arrogance and pride has no place in wisdom, but is rather made up of humility. We need to foster a heart of humility. Ephesians 5:15–16 says that a wise person is one who is making the most of their time, taking advantage of every opportunity. We need to open our eyes to see the opportunities placed before us and act on them. James tells us in James 3:17 that wisdom is pure, peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without pretense. This is wisdom and this list is by no means exhaustive. So often, I waste time being frustrated and fearful when faced with a difficult decision, when I should actually be focused on cultivating wisdom and reveling in the freedom and gift God gives in choosing between multiple good options. That He would even deem to give me, the sinner that I am, one good choice is enough to make my heart sing with thanksgiving.

We can also rest in the knowledge that while God does give us the freedom to choose, He also has absolutely determined what our lives will be. I plan my way, but the Lord determines my steps (Proverbs 16:9). It’s not one or the other. It’s both – at the same time. And I know that He will work each step that I take for my ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

The Bible is not silent on what wisdom looks like, nor is it silent on where to find wisdom. James tells us to merely ask – ask for wisdom from a God who delights in generosity and we will receive it (James 1:5)! Proverbs 2:6 tells us that the words of the Lord are full of knowledge and understanding. Paul tells us in Colossians 2 that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom comes from time and experience, yes, but the best and most treasured wisdom comes from gazing intently at Christ and endlessly studying His Word.

The past several months have given me multiple opportunities to practice this truth and hone my decision-making skills. I pray that as fellow believers and followers of Christ we are able to purposefully cultivate, through the Spirit’s work, a heart of wisdom so that when difficult decisions do arise, we can make them with joy and freedom in Christ. 

The Problem of Anger

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This week in our continuing study of 1 Samuel, we will see David fall into one of mankind’s most deadly traps–anger. In fact, we see the deadly nature of anger almost immediately after the fall when Cain’s anger toward his brother Abel causes Cain to kill his brother (Genesis 4). Like Cain, David’s anger in 1 Samuel 25 causes him to take 400 men and set out to kill the man who caused David’s anger to flash, a wealthy farmer named Nabal. Fortunately for David, Nabal’s godly and wise wife interceded on behalf of Nabal and gave David the opportunity to cool down, and he did. 

As we know from the Bible, there are two kinds of anger: sinless anger and anger that causes us to sin. The Apostle Paul notes in Ephesians 4:26 that we can be angry yet not sin. But that’s the trick, isn’t it? After all, In Galatians 5:19, Paul identifies anger as a work of the flesh. Perhaps the simplest line of demarcation between sinful anger and righteous anger is the root cause. Sinful anger is always rooted in self-serving motives; righteous anger is that which seeks either God’s good or God’s will.

As much as we might like to think that our anger is righteous anger, it’s usually not. Attempting to walk that fine line is equal to trying to light a candle in a room filled with natural gas hoping not to ignite the gas. To complicate matters even more, those of us who try and act from a righteous anger position find ourselves stepping into God’s shoes, which also is sinful. It is not our place to seek vengeance for the Lord; vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19). Anger, like the sin of lust/adultery, is a sin of passion. Once ignited, it takes on a life of its own. It quickly leads us to sin. Proverbs 6 is describing the danger of adultery, but I believe the same reasoning applies to anger when Solomon asks, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). 

How Can We Learn to Control Anger?

Anger is not something you can hope to rid yourself of and be free from for the remainder of your life. As we see in this week’s text and the example of David, anger ignites in the most godly people. So, while we can’t rid ourselves of anger, we can learn to control anger and not let it become a sinful, destructive pattern in our life. 

  1. Recognize the spark that ignites anger. As we observed above, the spark that leads to anger is almost always rooted in a strong sense of injustice, and the focus is always on either ourselves or those we love. We have a strong inner sense of what is right and wrong for us, and when someone crosses that line, it sparks anger within us. Learn to spot the small spark landing in your heart and quickly extinguish it. Don’t let it simmer until it becomes an uncontrollable flame.

  2. Watch for the physical signs of anger. You may not think you have them, but if you ask your family or those close to you, they can tell without question when you are getting angry. The signs may be subtle (e.g. your face or ears get red), or they may be obvious (e.g. you start to pace or your voice gets louder). Whatever are your signs of anger, learn to detect them and observe the warning.

  3. Learn to trust those who love you and know your patterns. Just as Abigail rushed to derail David’s anger in this week’s text, learn to trust those around you who attempt to derail your anger before you sin. Understand, however, that depending on your past history, this may take a lot of time. If you have vented your anger at your family and others close to you over the course of many years, they have likely learned to retreat from your presence rather than walk toward you when you are angry. Few things can sow more mistrust and relationship destruction than anger. Solomon warned, "Make no friendship with a man given to anger” (Proverbs 22:24). If you have subjected those in your family and circle of influence to the heat of your anger, you will need to walk in humble repentance for a long time as you re-earn their trust.

  4. Guard your physical and emotional health. As we noted above, anger is an emotion of passion, and we tend to be most vulnerable when we are physically and emotionally depleted. In our text this week, David and his men have been out on patrol, protecting the flocks of Nabal while running for their lives from Saul. They were tired and hungry. When Nabal refused to give his men food David felt they had earned, his anger sparked and he was off to the races to kill Nabal. We are no different. We are most vulnerable to sinful anger when we are tired, hungry, or lonely. In fact, a key tool used in 12-step programs is summarized by the acronym H.A.L.T., which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Those are triggers that make us vulnerable to sin. It’s important be extra cautious with our emotions when we know we are vulnerable, because it’s at moments like this when anger can go from 0 to 100 in seconds.

 

Bible Verses Concerning Anger 

As you wrestle with the problem of anger, here are some helpful bible verses to meditate on:

  • Proverbs 14:29–Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
  • Proverbs 15:1–A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Proverbs 15:18–A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
  • Proverbs 16:32–Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
  • Proverbs 19:11–Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
  • Proverbs 22:24–Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,
  • Proverbs 29:22–A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
  • Ephesians 4:26–Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
  • James 1:19–20–Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 

Free Downloadable Bible Study

Do you need help getting control of anger in your life? We are offering a free 44-page Bible study titled “Anger: Facing the Fire Within” by June Hunt. You can pick up a copy of the Bible study at the info wall or download a digital copy at http://myffc.co/2pCISVe.

Trending Topics | April

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How Can Anyone Know About Life After Death?

How Much of You Does God Get?

5 Ways Not To Return From a Mission Trip

Mission trips can be exhilarating. If it weren’t the case, so many wouldn’t be signing up and going out. More Christians than ever seem to be serving abroad in some capacity, whether constructing buildings, or prayer walking, providing a VBS, or doing disaster relief.

While voices have begun to question the necessity, viability, and even benefit of embarking on these trips in the first place, I’d like to address the manner in which we return. We make mistakes not only in the way we go on mission trips, but also in the way we come back from them. Here are five such ways.

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What is Gospel Truth?

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Are you tired of merely existing? Does your heart yearn to be a part of something meaningful? Wouldn't it be great if you could start living today like a champion?

The Devil wants you to suffer, but God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He wants all of his children to experience peace and happiness. At this moment, you are just getting by, but God wants more for you than minimum wage. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Did I forgot to mention that this life of prosperity is absolutely free? All you need to do is believe. What are you waiting for? With nothing to lose and the world to gain, trust in God today and watch Him turn your relationships, health, wealth, and life around!

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” The above is an example of an almost-right gospel. In our day and throughout the record of human history, nothing has been more distorted than the saving message of Jesus Christ. Many people with good intentions buy into the pack lies that I just fed to you. Even in our churches today, there are people who would unwittingly entangle themselves in a web of deceit such as the one weaved in the previous paragraph. My aim today is to show you from the scriptures a clear picture of Christ's salvation so that we might not fall for its pathetic counterfeits.

The first masterpiece in the gallery of gospel truths that we must consider is God Himself.

You see, although the gospel floods our life with blessings, it is primarily not about us. Understanding God's character in relation to the gospel that's sort of right versus the gospel that's actually right is the dividing line between heaven and hell. Often times God is treated as a divine butler who's total reason for being is to make you happy, but Santa Clause is not synonymous with Yahweh. Isaiah writes: “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:9–11 NASB)

God does not restrain his wrath because His people deserve it. He does so ultimately for the glorification of His name. However, why is God even angry with people in the first place? An equally forgotten truth about God is His goodness.

God is good. Let that sink in.

The LORD of glory is impeccably righteous, absolutely just, and incapable of doing evil. David writes, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.” (Psalms 7:11). Being the unchanging standard of good, God won't sweep your iniquity under the rug. His sleepless eyes witness the exhaustive extent of human activity and it invokes His wrath daily.

Why?

Here's the simple answer: God is good, and you are not.

All men are born wicked. This is the bad news of the good news. Contrary to the popular idea that says there's something good in everybody, the Bible says that there isn't anything good in anybody. I think its hard to misunderstand Paul when He is so clear: “As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.'” (Romans 3:10-18)

Notice that this condemnation of our race is universal. It does not say that some or even most have sinned. It says that no one is righteous and that all have turned aside, becoming worthless.

Thus far, the question becomes not "how can I have my best life now", but rather "how can I stand before a just and holy God?" If God is just, then He can't forgive you, for that would be unjust. All men have sinned and therefore they ought to be paid the wages of their work: death (Romans 6:26).

However, look at this seemingly contradictory description of God: “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.' And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.” (Exodus 34:6-8 ESV)

God forgives all types and kinds of sin, yet He will not leave the guilty unpunished. How on earth can this be? How can God uphold His justice while at the same time justifying those who deserved to be punished?

The answer to this critical conundrum is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Before the world was made, the Father planned to redeem a people for Himself from every language, tribe, and nation. However, His wrath towards sinners would not be abated unless the demands of justice were first met. Thus, the Son is sent into the world. Taking on humanity, this Divine person lived righteously under the law so that He might redeem those who could not live up to its standards. On the cross, all of God's righteous indignation towards His people was poured out on His Son, His only Son, whom He loved. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). His death was the payment, and His bodily ressurection was it's vindication. This is why Paul was able to say that God is just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).

Lastly, we must consider our response to such good news. Notice that Paul says that God justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Christ accomplished a great salvation, but it is only those who exercise trust in His redemptive work that benefit from all that was bought in Calvary. By the way, did I forget to mention that it's free? However, this free gift will cost you dearly. Unlike the gospel counterfeits of our day, Jesus doesn't promise health and wealth. Jesus is not a means to an end.

The awesome reward of the gospel is God Himself.

Paul writes, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8).

What is the gospel? “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

This is the one and only message of salvation. Let us, by God's grace, labor to protect it from it's man-centered imposters. After all, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).

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My Front Row Seat to Gospel Transformation

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Life transformation can come in all different shapes and sizes. 

There’s superficial, shallow, and trivial life transformation. Like when I sink my teeth into one of Patisserie Justina’s fresh out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls on a Thursday morning, the icing making my fingers a sticky mess, and the comforting warmth of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon melting in my mouth. Those moments make me sigh in contentment and think, “My life will never be the same again.”

Then there’s actual, substantive, and legitimate life transformation. Like when I receive a diploma for years of study that open endless doors of possibility to me. Or like moving to a new country, a new home, a new people group. Those moments make me flinch and think, “My life will never be the same again.”

But then there’s deep, profound, and lasting life transformation. Like when the Creator of the cosmos breathes life into my heart of stone, draws me out of the pit, and gives my life purpose. That moment, dwelt on again and again, makes my heart cry out, “My life will never be the same again!”

Last week was full of life transformation. Some moments were inconsequential (like eating one of those cinnamon rolls for the first time), but the majority of the days were filled with moments that have the capacity to reshape lives. Through the local church in Haiti, deaf families were given goats, which provide them with a source of food. Deaf families received solar lights, giving them safety and the ability to communicate after the sun goes down. Deaf families received water filters, giving them access to clean, safe drinking water.

But the weightiest transformation took place in a dimly lit room with drapes askew and knick-knack porcelain figures scattered on a shelf. A chaos of colorful paintings clothed the table and the medley of colors melted into an odd assortment of pots and pans stacked under the table. Yoyo (the man on the left in the image above), a deaf man from the village of Leveque, stood leaning against his doorframe, his relaxed body language belying the intense focus and attention he was giving Mike, a deaf man from Canada. In one hand Mike was holding a small slip of white paper, three small tears defacing its otherwise smooth surface. In the other hand, Mike held a small slip of white paper, whole and unmarked. One hand held a life broken and marred by sin. The other hand held a life of righteousness to be freely accepted. I sat back and watched as Mike laid out the gospel, giving visual representation to what Christ had done for the world He so greatly loved. My eyes flitted back and forth between Mike’s face, intent and joyful in the truth of the gospel, and Yoyo’s face, intent and pensive in the decision that was laid before him. Mike’s hands stilled as he came to the end of the gospel story and Yoyo stood, unmoved for several beats. And then a broad smile stretched across his face. “I have heard people talk about the Bible, but I have never clearly understood what Jesus did for me. I want that. I want His righteousness and forgiveness.” And in the space of that tiny room, with only the buzz of mosquitos breaking the silence, Yoyo’s life was transformed by the power and love of a great and gracious Savior. 

That gospel life transformation doesn’t stop in that moment of belief; not for Yoyo, not for me, and not for you. Our journey of life transformation will not be over anytime soon. The good work that was started when Yoyo humbly placed his faith and trust in Christ is only just beginning (Philippians 1:6). What hope there is in that promise! The reshaping of my heart when I bowed at the foot of the cross is continuing degree by degree, from glory to glory (1 Corinthians 3:18). What assurance there is in that truth. The bruises and hurts your heart has sustained since that joy-filled salvation moment are all being turned to God’s gospel purposes to grow in you hope, perseverance, and the character of Christ (Romans 5:1-5, 8:28-29). What a blessed assurance. And, Believer, we were not drawn out of the mire of sin to stay safely within boundaries of comfort. No, we were created in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2:10). We were saved to be sent, to be stewards and ambassadors of a message replete with reconciliation and hope (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). 

Having a front row seat to life transformation this week made my heart pause in thanksgiving and reflection. What beautiful, simple truth the gospel is. And how powerful it is to transform lives. Be encouraged that it has transformed yours. Be challenged to continue that transformation through the Spirit. Be willing to be used by the Spirit in the transformation of others. And be overwhelmed by the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice. Let it transform your life.

Laying Aside Your Past

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It's a new year, so naturally, everyone is talking about new year’s resolutions! I know, I know, some of you are saying “I made a resolution last year to not make anymore resolutions,” but I’ve got great news for you. Since resolutions are “never kept,” you can make some this year! What can I say, I like lists, so I can’t resists writing down a few things I want to try to accomplish in the new year. If it makes you feel better, you can call them goals (it does make me feel a little better).

As I was reading, I came across a verse that I thought would help me not be discouraged about things I had not yet accomplished because of one difficulty or another.  

I’m sure many of us have heard the encouragement given by Paul in Philippians 3:13: “Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it [the goal = fully knowing Him]. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

It's considered that that part about “forgetting what is behind” is the idea of forgetting hardships and moving past them, but interestingly enough, the context of this passage can also imply Paul not wanting to allow his past accomplishments to hold him back. He didn’t want to live in the past. He didn’t want to allow himself to use his past successes as excuses for why he didn’t need to continue striving toward knowing Christ fully.

I find that quite fascinating. Quite opposite of what I would think. However, if I consider the times I’ve talked myself out of listening to the extra sermon material because “I already went to the service. We go every week.”, or explained away the idea of doing a short-term mission trip because “I’ve already done missions overseas,” or skipped being involved in a Bible study because, “I’ve already studied that book of the Bible,” I can start to identify with Paul a little. It can be easy to let past “good things” get in the way of future ones that would help us toward the goal of knowing Christ more fully.  

Paul seems to have a way of shedding new light on things (or maybe I should credit the Holy Spirit). Here I was wanting a verse that patted me on the back and said not to worry about past hardships or broken resolutions and keep pressing onward. Instead, my opinion would be that Paul is speaking to the mature in the faith and saying “Hey! Stay active! Be on the move. God has done great things through us, but He isn’t done with us yet.”

So, as you consider some of the things you would like to do this coming year, try not to rule out things that would help you know Christ more fully just because you’ve already done it. Sifting through our past successes can give us perspective, but we don’t have to let it stall us in our walk with Christ.

A New Year. A New You?

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How did you do last year? Think back to the resolutions you made last January and for just one moment evaluate how you did. Did you fail, succeed or somewhere in the middle? Maybe you decided to never make those blasted resolutions ever again. But, for those of you who haven’t sworn them off for the rest of your lives and are willing to give it another shot, here are some things to consider.

How to make sure you are successful with your resolutions:

1. Don't make goals. You can’t fail if you don’t try. Isn’t that a Wayne Gretzky quote?

2. Make things you are currently doing your new goals. Examples- brushing your teeth, going to work, drink coffee every day.

3. Keep them super vague and unspecific. Examples- be kinder, be more grateful, eat less fast food. 

Honestly though, this time of year it is very convenient to decide to turn over a new leaf and get serious about things we may have been neglecting. So I offer you a few things to remember when making “New Years Resolutions":

1. God's love isn't dependent on your new you. Every year I get super excited about what I am gong to do spiritually. Maybe it's just subconsciously, but I usually think that this year God is going to be really proud of me. Then a month or so in (when the wheels have fallen off), I start to think, “Oh no, now God must really be disappointed in me." Let’s start this year remembering that Romans 8:1 is true today. Because of Jesus, we already are fully loved. We can’t gain more of the Father’s love and we can’t lose any. No matter how this year goes, God is fully pleased with us because of our imputed righteousness that Christ gifted to us when we believed. That is great news and a solid foundation to begin a few new habits.

2. The goal is making good things a priority. Each year I tend to set the bar so very high. I start each year thinking, “This year is going to be amazing.” Yet again I set myself up only to fail. The bar is set so high that there is no way I can keep up with my own demands at the pace I set them. As you set goals this year, remember the purpose is to do a little better than we did last year, to become more consistent with our spiritual habits. We believe that God changes people and he is the only one that can change us. Our job is to cooperate and be obedient. Also, set goals that aren’t affected when you get behind. Make goals that on June 1st, after a month of inactivity, you could get back into. An example would be to read through the Bible in a year. That goal gets harder as time goes by. A better goal would be to read your Bible 5 days a week. That way even the last week of December you can still fulfill your goal instead of completely giving up.

3. Accountability is the key to success. Just like any goal, if you have someone in it with you, your success rate goes way up. Find someone who will team up with you to do these things along with you. We understand this strategy when it come to fitness, but so many of us think our spiritual life is an individual sport. One of the greatest things I have ever been involved in was a small group of guys who met weekly for encouragement and accountability. That weekly gathering was so beneficial for so many things, one of them being positive peer-pressure. So right now, think of a few friends you could ask to join you. I bet you they would love the challenge/opportunity. 

A few resolutions to consider in case you are coming up blank:

1. Read the Bible daily. Maybe get a devotional to go along with it.

2. Eat 1 meal a day with your family. This time is so meaningful and precious. Sit around the table with no electronics and talk about your day.

3. Make community a priority. Join a lighthouse or stay active in your lighthouse. You need them and they need you.

4. Serve in a ministry. There is so much joy in serving and many times you don’t understand until you experience it.

Write your own recommendations in the comments below. I would love to get some from you!

The Key Ingredient in God's Personal Development Program

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When we are presented with a problem, an opportunity, or a challenge, our instinct is to do something. Even Nike has adopted as its company slogan, "just do it." Words like "action" and "proactive" fill our modern-day books and teaching on leadership and management. The fact is, few of us would attribute concepts like waiting and patience with the image of a strong leader. Strong leaders are men and women of action!

Unfortunately, waiting and patience are qualities the Lord often asks of us as His people. In fact, it could be argued that waiting is the chosen way God uses to prepare someone for leadership. Joseph waited (in prison) for years before the Lord elevated him to a position of leadership in Egypt. Moses waited 40 years before he started leading Israel out of Egypt. David waited many years between when he was chosen as king of Israel and when he became king of Israel following the death of Saul.

In Acts 1, we find the disciples waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. They have been given a strong commission by Jesus to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). They are also experiencing the transition of leadership left by His ascension. What we find is a group of people waiting and praying. Commentators believe the Apostle Paul spent more than 10 years between his salvation and the start of his apostolic ministry.

Waiting and praying. Praying and waiting. Mix in the challenges of life's trials contrasted with the truths of God's word, and that is the curriculum the Holy Spirit uses in God's School of Leadership Development.

In truth, the Bible has much to say about waiting on the Lord. Here is a sampling:

  • Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.--Psalm 25:4–5.
  • Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! -- Psalm 27:14.
  • Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way. -- Psalm 37:7.
  • I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. --Ps 130:5–6.

Learning from FFC's Waiting Periods

Even in the short history of First Family, we have experienced the process of waiting upon the Lord. Todd has shared that the seed to plant a church in Ankeny took root in his heart in 1998. While Todd was ready, this was not the Lord's timing. In fact, it would be six years before the Lord opened the door and First Family Church was birthed.

Through our search for a permanent home, we learned the value of waiting on the Lord. In the early years, we met at the Nevelyn Center, Ankeny Christian Academy, and Parkview Middle School. We were prepared to build on Ankeny's northwest side. We purchased and paid for land, and started the process of planning and designing a building. But, our Elders discerned the timing was not right. They heard the Lord telling us to wait. The building was put on hold and our church prayed for direction. Not long after making the decision to stop our building plans on NW State Street, God opened the door for us to purchase our current property on SE Magazine Road.

Waiting Makes Sense in Hindsight

As is often the case, when we view life through hindsight, everything seems to make perfect sense. We often see God's sovereign hand leading us and we see the wisdom of His waiting for His providential will. While walking through that valley, however, the waiting process can seem pointless.

Does God have you in a period of pause in your life? Maybe you are in job that is taking its toll on you or you are watching your children go through a difficult year at school. Perhaps your marriage is in trouble or you are growing weary of praying for the salvation of a spouse who is lost.

Take courage. Place your trust in the Lord and in His Word. Pray faithfully. If you need some encouragement, read in the book of Psalms. Here are a few chapters to get you started.

Posted by Chris Eller with 0 Comments

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