Sunday, 30 January 2011

How to overcome dark valley’s by Rick Warren

I have valued the input and wisdom of Rick warren over the years in my life. This is an excellent post and fits in very well with my message on Sunday morning this week

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

How do we handle the dark valleys of life? These facts about valleys can help.

1. Valleys are inevitable. They are a normal part of life. Don't be surprised by them. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33)

2. Valleys are unpredictable. They’re sudden and unexpected. Jeremiah 4:20 says, "In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment."

3. Valleys are impartial. No one is insulated from pain and sorrow. No one gets to skate through life free of problems. Problems don’t mean you're a bad person. They mean you’re a person. In Matthew 5:45, Jesus said, "He … sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

4. Valleys are temporary. A valley is something we go through – a situation that has a season (see Ps. 23:4). 1 Peter 1:6 says, “Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Life is tough, but it's only for a while. There is joy ahead if we know the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no dark days in Heaven.

5. Valleys are purposeful. God has a reason for taking us through them. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "These [trials] have come so that your faith … may be proved genuine.”

Pain can be productive. God wants to build our faith in the valleys. We love the mountaintops, but we build faith in the valleys. When we come face to face with a dark valley, we get on our knees.

Prayer guidance: Ask God to walk with you and teach you through the inevitable valleys of life.

To think about: Recall dark valleys of the past. Were they temporary? Were they purposeful?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

So you want to lead others!

The Bible records for us that David was a man after God’s heart and also that he fulfilled the purposes of God in his day and generation and then fell asleep. From an early age, I wanted to be like that. What about You? The heart is crucial territory in our desire to lead God’s people well.

It is important that leaders develop the ‘skills’ in order to lead effectively. But there are several important qualities of the heart that every great leader should consistently build into their life.

Here are some things that I believe is 'The heart' of a Leader that God Uses:

1. Has a great sense of PURPOSE in life

2. Is committed to removing any HINDERANCES from his life

3. Places himself completely at God’s DISPOSAL

4. Has learned how to PRAY constantly

5. Is a student of GOD’S WORD

6. Has a vital, life changing MESSAGE for a lost world

7. Has a FAITH that expects results

8. Chooses to SERVE in attitude and action

9. Stirs up the GIFTS in themselves and in others

10. Is SECURE enough to empower others

11. Lives under the ANNOINTING of the Holy Spirit

12. Has been chosen to be an EXAMPLE before he leads others

So how is your leadership heart?

Action: select a couple of these areas over the next month and work them through

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Leadership Principles

Here is a condensed version from Henry & Richard Blackaby’s book, “Spiritual Leadership” on the 21 Principles For Spiritual Leaders.

21 Principles For Spiritual Leaders

1. No experience, good or bad, is ever wasted.

2. People may apply for various leadership positions, but God is the one who ultimately determines which leadership roles they will have.

3. God’s assignments are always based on character – the greater the character, the greater assignment.

4. The role of spiritual leaders is not to dream up dreams for God, but to be the vanguard for their people in understanding God’s revelation.

5. The real key to God’s promises is not people or physical resources, but God.

6. The definitive measure of leaders’ success is whether they moved their people from where they were to where God wanted them to be.

7. In God’s eyes, how something is done is as important as what is done. The end does not justify the means in God’s kingdom.

8. God has a specific agenda for every person and every organization.

9. The single most important thing leaders should do is pray.

10. The reason there are not more great spiritual leaders in our day is that there are not more men and women willing to pay the price.

11. Effective leaders are sensitive to the nuances of their words.

12. A pessimistic leader is a contradiction in terms.

13. Leaders should pay close attention to their attitudes, for these serve as barometers to the condition of their hearts.

14. Spiritual leaders are not discouraged by their circumstances – they are informed by them.

15. Spiritual leaders make every decision with the awareness that one day they will give an account to God.

16. Once leaders clearly understand God’s will, deciding how to invest their time becomes much easier.

17. God does not give people more than they can handle, but people regularly assume responsibility for things they should not be doing.

18. The quantity of work leaders can accomplish is in direct proportion to their ability to delegate work to others.

19. Spiritual leaders cannot rush in and out of God’s presence.

20. Leaders don’t jump to conclusions. They process the facts and seek to determine the truth of their situation.

21. Spiritual leaders are not haphazard people. They are intentional.

“Where there is no leadership the people fall,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Proverbs 11:14

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Team work works!!

Just love this by Blue Man Group. Reminds mean of what can be achieved by a team when no one cares who gets the credit!!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Great post on courage - check it out!

Find Your Courage!
12 Everyday Acts of Courage to Create the Life You Really Want!
By Margie Warrell

1. The Courage to Take Responsibility
Whilst you can't always control your circumstances you can always choose how you will respond to them. No matter what challenges you face you have the power to make the ultimate choice about whether to let the world affect you or to go out and affect the world. Resist the impulse to blame your woes on others but instead to make the decision to own your life and own it fully.

2. The Courage to Live with Integrity
Integrity is the only path in life upon which you will never get lost. Placing integrity at the cornerstone of every decision you make requires a willingness to do what is right above what is convenient or politically expedient. At times this means veering off the safe and comfortable path onto a less traveled one where the risk of failure or disapproval may run high. At other times it calls you to forge your own. At its core, integrity is about wholeness and alignment between your deepest values, what you are doing and who you are being in the world. Integrity calls forth greatness.

3. The Courage to Challenge Your 'Stories'
You do not see the world as it is, but as you are. Too often people live in answers to questions they have never asked and claim a monopoly on the truth. The fact is you do not own the truth, you just your version of it. Whilst it takes courage to question the assumptions and beliefs you've been living by up until now and opening your mind to alternative perspectives, doing so opens up new possibilities for yourself and your life that you otherwise may never have seen. Ultimately being willing to challenge your stories unleashes you to experience live in a whole new, more exciting and more meaningful way.

4. The Courage to Dream Bigger
You will never be able to have your dream job nor live your dream life unless you first find the courage to dream big enough to identify what it is. Dare to create a vision for your life that is bigger than the one you've had until now in your relationships, your career, and your life in general. Don't let fear keep you from connecting with what it is that inspires you most deeply for the greatest danger is not that your dreams are too lofty and you fail to reach them, but that they are too small and you do!

It is the aim, if reach or not, that makes great the life. Your life is as big as you dare to dream it!

5. The Courage to Be Who You Are
In a world that pressures for conformity it takes courage to be who you are. So express yourself fully and authentically in every relationship and in every encounter you have with others giving up pretending to be more or less or different from who you truly are. When you fail to be authentic you keep from others that which makes you most attractive; when you conform all that you have to offer others is your conformity. Be genuine, humble and, unpretentious but most of all, just be yourself. There is nothing more valuable or attractive.

6. The Courage to Speak Up
Dare to speak up, to give voice to your concerns, your feelings and thoughts and to engage in conversations that you've been hesitant to have before. Don't choose the certainly of never addressing an issue or fulfilling a need over the possibility that you may have an awkward conversation or a request declined. After all, things that aren't talked out get acted out as unfulfilled needs and unresolved resentments fester. Speaking up in ways that honor the dignity of others provides a means of building trust and deepening the quality of the relationships. It also enables others to know who you are, what you need, what you are care about and what you are capable of more clearly.

7. The Courage to Step Boldly into Action
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Have the guts step boldly from your comfort zone to make the changes and take the chances that call you forward to fulfilling the potential within you. Trade procrastination and excuses for a commitment to being a person who is willing to do what it takes to live the life to which they aspire. Whatever the risks you face in your endeavor, the greatest risk is to take none at all. Fear regret more than failure for life always rewards action.

8. The Courage to Persevere
Overcoming the setbacks and failures that present themselves on the way to your goals is what brings the greatest sense of achievement. Face your challenges with a deep determination to staying the course. Resist succumbing to resignation in the face of adversity for any goal worth pursuing will require its share of determination and perseverance. Connect with that which makes your spirit soar and remember that it matters not that you reach the summit, but that you had the guts to try. It is through perseverance in the face of adversity that the ordinary become extra-ordinary.

9. The Courage to Say No
Sometimes we need to say no to the good in order to make room for the great. However finding the guts to say no first requires first being clear about what you most want to say yes to. Doing so will help you to set boundaries in the midst of being pulled simultaneously in conflicting directions and teach people what you will and will not tolerate. Saying no when you need to may never be easy but the price you pay for not doing so far exceeds any momentary discomfort.

10. The Courage to Open Your Heart Fully
Life's richest fulfillment comes from being as open to experiencing life's pain as deeply as its joy. Opening your heart fully to the depths of emotion that a life well lived calls forward takes great courage but it is the only life worth living. By letting down your defenses and making yourself vulnerable to the anguish that life can sometimes bring, you can experience the joy that comes from connecting with others openly, intimately and compassionately. Drop the barriers that are creating distance and isolating you from others, reveal your humanity and make yourself available for others to know, to love, to care for and to connect with. Nothing is more nurturing to the spirit.

11. The Courage to Let Go
As human beings we like to feel in control. However peace of mind only comes through giving your best to life whilst simultaneously detaching yourself from the outcome of your efforts knowing that everything in life has a purpose. Put your faith in the wisdom that created you, know that who you are is not defined by the outcome of your efforts and trust that you have within you all you need at any moment to take on the challenges life presents to you. Giving up resisting what you cannot control and going with, rather than against, the flow of life makes available to living in the present moment. Finding the courage to let go will not impede you ability to achieve what you seek most from life, it will enhance it.

12. The Courage to Be a Leader
Leadership is not a position; it's a choice. Every day you have opportunities to be a leader for the essence of leadership is inspiring people to move in a direction they may otherwise not have gone, to accomplish more than they may otherwise have sought to accomplish and to grow into someone they may otherwise not have become. By choosing the path of integrity, personal responsibility, and courage you will automatically shine your light so brightly that it will reveal to others the majesty of their own. Ultimately only by living with courage yourself and being the leader you are capable of being will humanity, as a collective, find it's courage and lead the world into a future filled with possibility.

Nothing is going to stop me from doing what God has called me to do!

Here is a little more information about the life of Gladys Aylward who was a Missionary To China. (Many wanted to know a little more about her as I mentioned her in my preaching on 2nd January 2011)

Gladys Aylward was born in London in 1904 (or a few years earlier). She worked for several years as a parlormaid, and then attended a revival meeting at which the preacher spoke of dedicating one's life to the service of God. Gladys responded to the message, and soon after became convinced that she was called to preach the Gospel in China. At the age of 26, she became a probationer at the China Inland Mission Center in London, but was failed to pass the examinations. She worked at other jobs and saved her money. Then she heard of a 73-year-old missionary, Mrs. Jeannie Lawson, who was looking for a younger woman to carry on her work. Gladys wrote to Mrs. Lawson and was accepted if she could get to China. She did not have enough money for the ship fare, but did have enough for the train fare, and so in October of 1930 she set out from London with her passport, her Bible, her tickets, and two pounds ninepence, to travel to China by the Trans-Siberian Railway, despite the fact that China and the Soviet Union were engaged in an undeclared war. She arrived in Vladivostok and sailed from there to Japan and from Japan to Tientsin, and thence by train, then bus, then mule, to the inland city of Yangchen, in the mountainous province of Shansi, a little south of Peking (Beijing). Most of the residents had seen no Europeans other than Mrs. Lawson and now Miss Aylward. They distrusted them as foreigners, and were not disposed to listen to them.

Yangchen was an overnight stop for mule caravans that carried coal, raw cotton, pots, and iron goods on six-week or three-month journeys. It occurred to the two women that their most effective way of preaching would be to set up an inn. The building in which they lived had once been an inn, and with a bit of repair work could be used as one again. They laid in a supply of food for mules and men, and when next a caravan came past, Gladys dashed out, grabbed the rein of the lead mule, and turned it into their courtyard. It went willingly, knowing by experience that turning into a courtyard meant food and water and rest for the night. The other mules followed, and the muleteers had no choice. They were given good food and warm beds at the standard price, and their mules were well cared for, and there was free entertainment in the evening--the innkeepers told stories about a man named Jesus. After the first few weeks, Gladys did not need to kidnap customers -- they turned in at the inn by preference. Some became Christians, and many of them (both Christians and non-Christians) remembered the stories, and retold them more or less accurately to other muleteers at other stops along the caravan trails. Gladys practiced her Chinese for hours each day, and was becoming fluent and comfortable with it. Then Mrs. Lawson suffered a severe fall, and died a few days later. Gladys Aylward was left to run the mission alone, with the aid of one Chinese Christian, Yang, the cook.

A few weeks after the death of Mrs. Lawson, Miss Aylward met the Mandarin of Yangchen. He arrived in a sedan chair, with an impressive escort, and told her that the government had decreed an end to the practice of footbinding. (Note: Among the upper and middle classes, it had for centuries been the custom that a woman's foot should be wrapped tightly in bandages from infancy, to prevent it from growing. Thus grown women had extremely tiny feet, on which they could walk only with slow, tottering steps, which were thought to be extremely graceful.) The government needed a foot-inspector, a woman (so that she could invade the women's quarters without scandal), with her own feet unbound (so that she could travel), who would patrol the district enforcing the decree. It was soon clear to them both that Gladys was the only possible candidate for the job, and she accepted, realizing that it would give her undreamed-of opportunities to spread the Gospel.

During her second year in Yangchen, Gladys was summoned by the Mandarin. A riot had broken out in the men's prison. She arrived and found that the convicts were rampaging in the prison courtyard, and several of them had been killed. The soldiers were afraid to intervene. The warden of the prison said to Gladys, "Go into the yard and stop the rioting." She said, "How can I do that?" The warden said, "You have been preaching that those who trust in Christ have nothing to fear." She walked into the courtyard and shouted: "Quiet! I cannot hear when everyone is shouting at once. Choose one or two spokesmen, and let me talk with them." The men quieted down and chose a spokesman. Gladys talked with him, and then came out and told the warden: "You have these men cooped up in crowded conditions with absolutely nothing to do. No wonder they are so edgy that a small dispute sets off a riot. You must give them work. Also, I am told that you do not supply food for them, so that they have only what their relatives send them. No wonder they fight over food. We will set up looms so that they can weave cloth and earn enough money to buy their own food." This was done. There was no money for sweeping reforms, but a few friends of the warden donated old looms, and a grindstone so that the men could work grinding grain. The people began to call Gladys Aylward "Ai-weh-deh," which means "Virtuous One." It was her name from then on.

Soon after, she saw a woman begging by the road, accompanied by a child covered with sores and obviously suffering severe malnutrition. She satisfied herself that the woman was not the child's mother, but had kidnapped the child and was using it as an aid to her begging. She bought the child for ninepence--a girl about five years old. A year later, "Ninepence" came in with an abandoned boy in tow, saying, "I will eat less, so that he can have something." Thus Ai-weh-deh acquired a second orphan, "Less." And so her family began to grow.... She was a regular and welcome visitor at the palace of the Mandarin, who found her religion ridiculous, but her conversation stimulating. In 1936, she officially became a Chinese citizen. She lived frugally and dressed like the people around her (as did the missionaries who arrived a few years after in in the neighboring town of Tsechow, David and Jean Davis and their young son Murray, of Wales), and this was a major factor in making her preaching effective.

Then the war came. In the spring of 1938, Japanese planes bombed the city of Yangcheng, killing many and causing the survivors to flee into the mountains. Five days later, the Japanese Army occupied Yangcheng, then left, then came again, then left. The Mandarin gathered the survivors and told them to retreat into the mountains for the duration. He also announced that he was impressed by the life of Ai-weh-deh and wished to make her faith his own. There remained the question of the convicts at the jail. The traditional policy favored beheading them all lest they escape. The Mandarin asked Ai-weh-deh for advice, and a plan was made for relatives and friends of the convicts to post a bond guaranteeing their good behavior. Every man was eventually released on bond. As the war continued Gladys often found herself behind Japanese lines, and often passed on information, when she had it, to the armies of China, her adopted country. She met and became friends with "General Ley," a Roman Catholic priest from Europe who had teken up arms when the Japanese invaded, and now headed a guerilla force. Finally he sent her a message. The Japanese are coming in full force. We are retreating. Come with us." Angry, she scrawled a Chinese note, Chi Tao Tu Pu Twai, "Christians never retreat!" He sent back a copy of a Japanese handbill offering $100 each for the capture, dead or alive, of (1) the Mandarin, (2) a prominent merchant, and (3) Ai-weh-deh. She determined to flee to the government orphanage at Sian, bringing with her the children she had accumulated, about 100 in number. (An additional 100 had gone ahead earlier with a colleague.) With the children in tow, she walked for twelve days. Some nights they found shelter with friendly hosts. Some nights they spent unprotected on the mountainsides. On the twelfth day, they arrived at the Yellow River, with no way to cross it. All boat traffic had stopped, and all civilian boats had been seized to keep them out of the hands of the Japanese. The children wanted to know, "Why don't we cross?" She said, "There are no boats." They said, "God can do anything. Ask Him to get us across." They all knelt and prayed. Then they sang. A Chinese officer with a patrol heard the singing and rode up. He heard their story and said, "I think I can get you a boat." They crossed, and after a few more difficulties Ai-weh-deh delivered her charges into competent hands at Sian, and then promptly collapsed with typhus fever and sank into delirium for several days.

As her health gradually improved, she started a Christian church in Sian, and worked elsewhere, including a settlement for lepers in Szechuan, near the borders of Tibet. Her health was permanently impaired by injuries received during the war, and in 1947 she returned to England for a badly needed operation. She remained in England, preaching there.

In 1957, Alan Burgess wrote a book about her, The Small Woman. It was condensed in The Reader's Digest, and made into a movie called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman. When Newsweek magazine reviewed the movie, and summarized the plot, a reader, supposing the story to be fiction, wrote in to say, "In order for a movie to be good, the story should be believable!" Miss Gladys Aylward, the Small Woman, Ai-weh-deh, died 3 January 1970.

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Gladys Aylward, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of China. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may make proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

If God is calling you to do something, adopt the Nike principle and 'Just do it'. Yes it may be risky and it may cost you everything but be strong and courageous knowing that God will be with you wherever you go. Make a decision and a set up a plan to go for it this year.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Daily Rules from God for 2011

1. Wake Up. Decide to have a good day. 'Today is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.' Psalms 118:24

2. Dress Up. The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. 'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance; but the Lord looks at the heart.' I Samuel 16:7

3. Shut Up. Say nice things and learn to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking. 'He who guards his lips guards his soul.' Proverbs 13:3

4. Stand Up ... For what you believe in. Stand for something or you will fall for anything.. 'Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good...' Galatians 6:9-10

5. Look Up... To Jesus.
'I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.' Phillippians 4:13

6. Reach Up... For something higher. 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, And He will direct your path.'
Proverbs 3:5-6

7. Lift Up!!... Your Prayers.
'Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING.'
Philippians 4:6. Remember that God answers Knee-Mail.