Friday, August 29, 2008

Perfect Love

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

Every day I receive different types of devotions via email. To be honest with you, most of them I delete. Every now and then I get one that really speaks into my heart. Today was one of those days. I received a devotion from Max Lucado's ministry that resonated within me. I would like to share it with you today.

Isn’t it good to know that even when we don’t love with a perfect love, he does? God always nourishes what is right. He always applauds what is right. He has never done wrong, led one person to do wrong, or rejoiced when anyone did wrong. For he is love, and love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6 NASB). God passes the test of 1 Corinthians 13:6. Well, he should; he drafted it.

So where does this leave us? Perhaps with a trio of reminders. When it comes to love:

Be careful.

Until love is stirred, let God’s love be enough for you. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him. Michal, his wife, betrayed him. Jonathan and Samuel were David’s friends, but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. Betrayal and circumstances left David alone. Alone with God. And, as David discovered, God was enough. David wrote these words in a desert: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.… My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:3, 5 NIV).

Be prayerful.

What if it’s too late? Specifically, what if you’re married to someone you don’t love—or who doesn’t love you? Many choose to leave. That may be the step you take. But if it is, take at least a thousand others first. And bathe every one of those steps in prayer. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to help you love as he loves. “God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love” (Rom. 5:5 CEV). Ask everyone you know to pray for you. Your friends. Your family. Your church leaders. Get your name on every prayer list available. And, most of all, pray for and, if possible, with your spouse. Ask the same God who raised the dead to resurrect the embers of your love.

Be grateful.

Be grateful for those who love you. Be grateful for those who have encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did. Do you have people like that in your world? If so, you are doubly blessed. Be grateful for them. And be grateful for your Father in heaven. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Sinful nature vs The Fruit of the Spirit

God has been dealing with me for several days now on the importance of living by the "NUDGE" of the Spirit. As you live like this, the Spirit of God will begin to develop character qualities into your life that are called the "Fruit of the Spirit." I would like to share with you today the difference between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit."

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

No passage in the Bible draws a clearer contrast between the lifestyle of the Spirit-filled believer and that of the person controlled by the sinful human nature than Gal. 5:16-26. Paul not only discusses general lifestyle differences by emphasizing that the Spirit and the sinful nature are at war with each other, but he also includes a specific list of both the acts of the sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit.

THE ACTS OF THE SINFUL NATURE. “Sinful nature” [Gk sarx] pictures the human nature with its corrupt desires. The sinful nature remains within Christians after their conversion and is their deadly enemy [Ro 8:6-8,13; Gal 5:17-21]. Those who practice the acts of the sinful nature cannot inherit God’s kingdom [Gal 5:21]. Therefore, this sinful nature must be resisted and put to death in a continual warfare that the believer wages through the power of the Holy Spirit [Ro 8:4-14; see Gal 5:17]. The acts of the sinful nature [Gal 5:19-21] include:

1) “Sexual immorality” [Gk porneia], i.e., immoral sexual conduct and intercourse; it includes taking pleasure in pornographic pictures, films or writings [cf. Ex 20:14; Mt 5:31-32; 19:9; Ac15:20, 29; 21:25; 1 Co 5:1];
2) “Impurity” [Gk akatharsia], i.e., sexual sins, evil desires and vices, including thoughts and desires of the heart [Eph 5:3; Col 3:5];
3) “Debauchery” [Gk aselgeia], i.e., sensuality; following one’s passions and desires to the point of having no shame or public decency [2 Co 12:21];
4) “Idolatry” [Gk eidlolatria], i.e., worship of spirits, persons or graven images; trust in any person, institution or thing as having equal or greater authority than God and his Word [Col 3:5];
5) “Witchcraft” [Gk pharmakeia]i.e., sorcery, spiritism, black magic, worship of demons and use of drugs to produce “spiritual” experiences [Ex 7:11, 22; 8:18; Rev 9:21; 18:23];
6) “Hatred” [Gk echthra], i.e., intense, hostile intentions and acts; extreme dislike or enmity;
7) “Discord” [Gk eris], i.e., quarreling, antagonism; a struggle for superiority [Ro 1:29; 1 Co 1:11; 3:3];
8) “Jealousy” [Gk zelos], i.e., resentfulness, envy of another’s success [Ro 13:13; 1Co 3:3];
9) “Fits of rage” [Gk thumos], i.e., explosive anger that flames into violent words or deeds [Col 3:8];
10) “Selfish Ambition” [Gk eritheia], i.e., seeking of power [2 co 12:20; Php 1:16-17];
11) “Dissensions” [Gk dichostasia], i.e., introducing divisive teachings not supported by God’s Word [Ro 16:17]
12) “Factions’ [Gk hairesis], i.e., division within the congregation into selfish groups or cliques that destroy the unity of the church [ I co 11:19];
13) “Envy” [Gk phthonos], i.e., resentful dislike of another person who has something that one desire;
14) “Drunkenness” [Gk methe], i.e., impairing one’s mental or physical control by alcoholic drink
15) “Orgies” [Gk komos], i.e., excessive feasting and revelry; a party spirit involving alcohol, drugs, sex or the like.

Paul’s final comment on the acts of the sinful nature is stern and forceful: any so-called Christians who engage in these types of activities shut themselves out of the kingdom of God, i.e., they do not possess eternal salvation

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. Contrasted to the acts of the sinful nature is a single-minded lifestyle called “the fruit of the Spirit.” This is produced in God’s children as they allow the Spirit to so direct and influence their lives that they destroy sin’s power, especially the acts of the sinful nature, and walk in fellowship with God [see Ro 8:5-14, 8:14,2Co 6:6; Eph 4:2-3; 5:9; Col 3:12-15; 2Pe 1:4-9]. The fruit of the Spirit includes:

1) “Love” [Gk agape], i.e., a caring for and seeking the highest good of another person without motive of personal gain [Ro 5:5; 1Co 13; Eph 5:2; Col 3:14];
2) “Joy” [Gk chara], i.e., the feeling of gladness based on the love, grace, blessings, promises and nearness of God that belong to those who believe in Christ [Ps 119:16; 2Co 6:10; 12:9; 1Pe 1:8;Php 1:14];
3) “Peace” [Gk eirene], i.e., the quietness of heart and mind based on the knowledge that all is well between the believer and his or her heavenly Father [Ro 15:33; Php 4:7; 1Th 5:23; Heb 13:20];
4) “Patience” [Gk makrothumia], i.e., endurance, long-suffering; being slow to anger or despair [Eph 4:2; 2Ti3:10; Heb 12:1];
5) “Kindness” [Gk chrestotes], i.e., not wanting to hurt anyone or cause them pain [Eph 4:32; Col 3:12; 1Pe 2:3];
6) “Goodness” [Gk agathosune], i.e., zeal for truth and righteousness and a hatred of evil; it can be expressed in acts of kindness [Lk 7:37-50] or in rebuking and correcting evil [Mt 21:12-13];
7) “Faithfulness’ [Gk pistis], i.e., firm and unswerving loyalty to a person to whom one is united by promise, commitment, trustworthiness and honesty [Mt 23:23; Ro 3:3; 1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 2:2; 4:7; Tit 2:10];
8) “Gentleness” [Gk prautes], i.e., restraint coupled with strength and courage; it describes a person who can be angry when anger is needed and humbly submissive when submission is needed [2Ti 2:25; 1Pe 3:15; for gentleness in Jesus, compare Mt 11:29 with Mt 23 and Mk 3:5; in Paul, compare 2Co 10:1 with 10:4-6 and Gal 1:9; in Moses, compare Nu 12:3 with Ex 32:19-20];
9) “Self-control” [Gk egkrateia], i.e., mastering one’s own desire and passions, including faithfulness to one’s marriage vows; also purity [1Co 7:9; 9:25; Tit 1:8; 2:5].

Paul’s final comment on the fruit of the spirit indicates that there are no restrictions to the lifestyle indicated here. Christians can – in fact, must – practice these virtues over and over again; they will never discover a law prohibiting them from living according to these principles.

My prayer today is, "Lord, help me to crucify the works of the flesh, and cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit!" Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Victory over the "Wiles" of the Devil

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

I would like to share with you some thoughts that I believe will help you in your spiritual warfare against the enemy of our souls. Many of you know that I love Rick Renner's Sparkling Gems from the Greek. I would like to share with you some of his thoughts today.

In Ephesians 6:11, Paul explicitly tells us how the devil operates. He writes, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." I want you to especially pay attention to the phrase "the wiles of the devil."

The word "wiles" is taken from the word methodos. It is a compound of the words meta and odos. The word meta is a preposition that means with. The word odos is the word for a road. When the words meta and odos are compounded into one word, as in Ephesians 6:11, it literally means with a road. You've probably already figured out that the word methodos is where we get the word "method." Some translations actually translate the word methodos as the word "method," but the word "method" is not strong enough to convey the full meaning of the Greek word methodos.

Let me make the meaning of this word real simple for you. As I said, the most literal meaning of the word "wiles" (methodos) is with a road. I realize this seems strange, but when you connect this to the devil as Paul does in Ephesians 6:11, it means that the devil is like a traveler who travels on a road. He is headed in one direction and has one destination.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. If you're going to take a trip, the logical thing for you to do is get a map and chart your journey to your destination. You don't take just any road; rather, you strategize to find the best and fastest way to get where you're going. Right? It would be pretty foolish for you to jump in the car and take off with no sense of direction. Taking any road could lead you in a multitude of wrong directions. It's just better to use a map and stay on track. Correct?

This is precisely the idea of the word methodos. The devil isn't wasting any time. He knows where he wants to go. He has chosen his destination. Rather than mess around on a bunch of different routes, he has mastered the best way to get where he wants to go. He is not a mindless traveler. And when he arrives at his place of destination, he has one main goal he wants to accomplish: He wants to wreak havoc and bring destruction. Therefore, we must ask: "Where is the devil traveling, and what does he want to do once he gets there?"

Paul answers the question about Satan's destination in Second Corinthians 2:11 when he says, "we are not ignorant of his [Satan's] devices." Pay careful attention to the word "devices" in this verse. It is the Greek word noemata, a form of the word nous. The Greek word nous describes the mind or the intellect. Thus, in one sense Paul is saying, "we are not ignorant of the way Satan schemes and thinks."

But the word noemata also denotes Satan's insidious plot to fill the human mind with confusion. There is no doubt that the mind is the arena where Satan feels most comfortable. He knows if he can access a person's mind and emotions, he will very likely be able to ensnare that individual in a trap. One writer says that the word noemata not only depicts Satan's scheming mind but also his crafty, subtle way of attacking and victimizing others' minds.

I personally like this because it identifies the primary destination of the devil — to get into a person's mind and fill it with lying emotions, false perceptions, and confusion. It was for this reason that Paul urged us, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The words "bringing into captivity" are from the Greek word aichmalotidzo, which pictured a soldier who has captured an enemy and now leads him into captivity with the point of a sharpened spear thrust into the flesh in his back. The captured enemy knows that if he tries to move or get away, the Roman soldier will shove that spear clear through his torso and kill him. Therefore, this captive doesn't dare move but remains silent, submissive, and non- resistant.

However, when Paul uses the word aichmalotidzo in this verse, he writes in a tense that describes the continuous action of taking such an enemy captive. This is not a one-time affair; it is the lifelong occupation of this soldier. He constantly has a spear in his hand, and he is always pushing it against the flesh of an enemy's backside as he leads him away to permanent captivity.

Because the devil loves to make a playground out of your mind and emotions, you must deal with him like a real enemy. Rather than fall victim to the devil's attacks, you must make a mental decision to seize every thought he tries to use to penetrate your mind and emotions. Rather than let those thoughts take you captive, you have to reach up and grab them and force them into submission! You must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ!

But if you're going to beat the devil at his game, you have to put all your energy into taking every thought captive. If you're not really committed to seizing every thought the devil tries to inject into your mind and emotions, he'll strike you again! So once you make the decision to do it, stick with it. It's time for you to take charge of your thoughts and drive his lying insinuations right out of your brain! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't give place to the devil

God spoke into my heart today the importance of not "giving Place to the devil." What does that mean? Let me share with you some thoughts from Rick Renner in his "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" book.

You and I never have to fall prey to the devil! If we can shut every door, close every window, and seal every place in our lives through which the enemy would try to access us, we can prevent him from getting into the middle of our affairs.

One of the "entry points" the devil tries to use to enter our lives is relationships. If there is an unresolved issue or an ugly conflict with a loved one or friend, these conflict points often become entry points through which the devil tries to get a foothold in our relationships with those we love. Once the enemy is able to slip in through one of these "cracks" and build an offended place in our minds, then a wall has already begun to be constructed that will eventually separate us from the people we need and love the most.

In Ephesians 4:27, the apostle Paul writes, "Neither give place to the devil." The word "place" is the Greek word topos. It refers to a specific, marked-off, geographical location. It carries the idea of a territory, province, region, zone, or geographical position. It is from this word that we get the word for a topographical map. Because the word topos depicts a geographical location, this lets us know that the devil is after every region and zone of our lives — money, health, marriage, relationships, employment, business, and ministry. He is so territorial that he wants it all. But to start his campaign to conquer allthose areas of our lives, he must first find an entry point from which he can begin his campaign of unleashing his devilish destruction in our lives.

We often throw open the door to the devil when we:

Refuse to let go of old hurts and wounds.
Refuse to acknowledge what we did wrong.
Refuse to forgive others for what they did.

Refuse to stop judging others for their grievances.
Refuse to admit we were wrong too.
Refuse to say, "I'm sorry" when we're wrong.
Refuse to lay down our "rights" for others.
If you and I do any of these things, we leave a "marked-off place" through which the devil can enter to accuse others in our minds. But we don't have to fall victim to the enemy's tactics.

We can say, "No, you're not going to do this!" We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, so we don't have to let the devil run all over us. The Bible boldly declares, "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

The apostle Paul told us, "Neither give place to the devil." The Greek makes it clear that we must choose to give the devil no territory. You see, we have a choice: We can choose to "give the enemy place" in our minds and emotions, or we can choose to walk in the Spirit. If we choose the lower road, we will end up doing and saying things we later regret. Those regretful things are usually what opens the door for the devil to wreak havoc in our relationships.

There are many people who don't know how to recover from conflicts. Rather than face the situation head-on and either apologize or openly forgive, they hold their failure or their offense in their hearts, never forgetting it and never getting beyond it.

What about you? Have you ever given place to the dil by allowing anger, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness to have a "place" in you?

But let's look at the word "devil" for a moment. The word "devil" comes from the Greek word diabolos, an old compound word that is made from the words dia and ballo. This name is used sixtyone times in the New Testament. The first part of the word is the prefix dia, which means through and often carries the idea of penetration. Because dia is used at the first of this word, it tells us that the devil wants to make some kind of penetration.

We've already seen that the devil is looking for an entry point. Once a point has been located through which he can secretly slip into people's lives, he begins penetrating the mind and emotions to drive a wedge between those individuals and the other people in their lives. The enemy's objective is to separate them from each other with his railing, accusing, slanderous accusations.

You'll know when the accuser has gone to work in your mind because your whole perspective about the person you are upset with suddenly changes. You become nit-picky, negative, and fault-finding. You used to have high regard for that person, but now you can't see anything good about him at all. It's as if you've put on a special set of eyeglasses that are specially designed to reveal all his wicked, ugly, horrid details. Even if you do see something good in him, all the bad you see outweighs the good.

This is clear evidence that the work of the "accuser" has found an entry point to penetrate your relationship with that other person. He is trying to disrupt what has been a pleasant and gratifying relationship in your life. Don't allow that conflict, disagreement, or disappointment to cause you to pick up a wrong attitude that will ruin your relationship. That's exactly what the devil wants you to do!

Rather than allow this to happen, stop and tell yourself, Okay, this isn't as big of a deal as I'm making it out to be. The devil is trying to find a place in my mind to get me to start mentally accusing that person, and I'm not going to let him do it.

Instead of meditating on all the bad points of that person, look in the mirror yourself ! Consider how many times you've let down other people; how many mistakes you've made in your relationships; the times you should have been held accountable but instead were shown unbelievable mercy. Remembering these things has a way of making you look at an offensive situation a little more mercifully.

Ask the Holy Spirit to take the criticism out of your heart and to cause the love of God in you to flow toward that other person or group of people. Pray for an opportunity to strengthen that relationship so all the entry places to your life and to that relationship remain sealed. Stop the devil from worming his way into the middle of your relationships with people you need and love! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hand delivered bouquets

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

I received a devotion in the email yesterday from Max Lucado, and it was so good and inspiring I thought I would share it with you guys today.

Through Christ, God has accepted you. Think about what this means. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you.

Rejections are like speed bumps on the road. They come with the journey. You’re going to get cut, dished, dropped, and kicked around. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you. How? By letting his acceptance compensate for their rejection.

Think of it this way. Suppose you dwell in a high-rise apartment. On the window sill of your room is a solitary daisy. This morning you picked the daisy and pinned it on your lapel. Since you have only one plant, this is a big event and a special daisy.

But as soon as you’re out the door, people start picking petals off your daisy. Someone snags your subway seat. Petal picked. You’re blamed for the bad report of a coworker. Three petals. The promotion is given to someone with less experience but USC water polo looks. More petals. By the end of the day, you’re down to one. Woe be to the soul who dares to draw near it. You’re only one petal-snatching away from a blowup.

What if the scenario was altered slightly? Let’s add one character. The kind man in the apartment next door runs a flower shop on the corner. Every night on the way home he stops at your place with a fresh, undeserved, yet irresistible bouquet. These are not leftover flowers. They are top-of-the-line arrangements. You don’t know why he thinks so highly of you, but you aren’t complaining. Because of him, your apartment has a sweet fragrance, and your step has a happy bounce. Let someone mess with your flower, and you’ve got a basketful to replace it!

The difference is huge. And the interpretation is obvious.

God will load your world with flowers. He hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day. Open it! Take them! Then, when rejections come, you won’t be left short-petaled.

God can help you get rid of your anger. He made galaxies no one has ever seen and dug canyons we have yet to find. “The LORD … heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103:2–3 NIV). Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger?

Do you think God could heal your angry heart?

Do you want him to? This is not a trick question. He asks the same question of you that he asked of the invalid: “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6). Not everyone does. You may be addicted to anger. You may be a rage junkie. Anger may be part of your identity. But if you want him to, he can change your identity. Do you want him to do so?

Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so, enjoy your life on your desert island.

Take the flowers. Receive from him so you can love or at least put up with others.


Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Consider one another

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you are as well. Once again today, I would like to share a thought from Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek."

Do you ever get so busy and self-consumed that you forget there are people all around you who have needs and challenges too? It's true that we are often so concerned about ourselves that we forget or bypass people who are struggling terribly, not realizing that they need a special act or word to encourage them. This is especially sad when it happens inside the church, because we are supposed to be a spiritual family who genuinely cares for one another and who helps meet each other's needs. This is why Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."

The word "consider" is from the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata depicts something that is moving downward; the word noeo (from the word nous) depicts the mind and means to think. When the two words are placed together, the new word means to thoroughly think something through or to ponder something from the top all the way to the bottom. It is the idea of mulling something over; carefully contemplating a matter; pondering and carefully looking at a particular issue; or examining and fully studying a subject.This word pictures someone who is so concerned about someone else that he has taken the time to really consider that other person. He has observed the person's ups and downs and his highs and lows. He has studied to find out what helps that person feel encouraged and what events tend to pull him down. Because he has determined to really know and understand that other person, he invests a great deal of time and concentration into studying and getting to know that other person. This kind of knowledge doesn't come by accident, but by determined pursuit.

In light of this understanding, we must remember that although the local church is to be a place where we can come to worship and hear the Word of God preached and taught, it is also a place where believers should "consider one another" as this verse commands. The writer of Hebrews uses this word to convey the picture of a loving community where people are vitally concerned about each others' welfare. In fact, they are constantly observing and contemplating each other to know how to encourage and provoke each other to love and to good works. Not only are we to consider one another, but the Bible goes on to say we are also to provoke one another unto love and good works.

The word "provoke" is the Greek word paraxusmos. The word para means alongside, and it carries the idea of being close. The second part of the word is the Greek word xusmos, which means to sharpen something, such as a knife, and indicates a very sharp situation. When you put the two words together, the compound word describes someone who has come alongside of someone else for the purpose of prodding and impelling that person to do something. You may have already guessed that "provoking" one another can be either a positive or a negative thing! One translation for this word paraxusmos would be to call into combat. Throughout the New Testament, the word paraxusmos is usually translated to mean to irritate, to incite, to anger, to inflame, or to enrage. Obviously, this kind of provoking is very bad!

But in Hebrews 10:24, the word "provoking" is telling us that our relationships with other believers should incite us to become better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.
How can you provoke other believers in a positive way? How can you stimulate your brother in the Lord in such a way that you make him want to walk in love and do good works? How can you sharpen and inspire the fellow believer who is in need of endurance?

You can come alongside that person and love him enough not to leave him in discouragement and defeat. You can sharpen him, prod him, impel him, and inspire him to keep on fighting the good fight of faith! All believers need to be provoked at times, no matter what their position is in the Body of Christ. Everyone needs a loving push in the right direction now and then!

A paraphrase of this verse might be the following: "And constantly be observing one another, seriously contemplating, studying, and examining each other, until you know exactly how to incite and stimulate each other to love and to good works."

"Lord, who do you want me to consider today?" Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Being Led by the Spirit

I would like to share with you today some thoughts from "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" author Rick Renner. As I read today's devotion, it ministered to me and I hope it will you as well.

It may be hard for you to believe, but most of what we have done in life has been initiated by us, not by the Spirit of God. After the ball is rolling and we've already started "doing our thing," that's usually when we pray and ask God to bless what we have initiated. We just assume that it is His will because it seems like such a good idea. No wonder we have such poor results!

We must learn to put on the brakes, stop ourselves for a while, and learn to wait until the Holy Spirit speaks clearly to our hearts. It may seem as if this way of doing things takes longer; but when He does speak, the results will be more rewarding and longer lasting. Furthermore, we can avoid pitfalls that would have cost us a lot of time and effort in the long run.

Believers must learn to let the Holy Spirit lead them. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit is important if we want to see successful results in any sphere of life, including healing, family, business, and leading a church congregation. Only the Holy Spirit sees and knows everything that should be done; that's why it is so imperative to learn how to follow His leadership if we want to be successful in life.

I think a classic example of being led by the Spirit can be seen in the account of the two blind beggars in Matthew 9:27-31. These two blind beggars heard that Jesus was walking by, so they waited for Him to heal them. However, Jesus walked right past, never stopping to heal them. The two blind beggars were so upset that Matthew 9:27 tells us, "And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us."

The word "followed" is the Greek word akoloutheo, which means to follow after someone or something in a very determined and purposeful manner. Even though these two men were blind and couldn't see where they were going, they were determined to follow Jesus until they got His attention! The verse continues to tell us that they were "crying" out. The word "crying" is the Greek word kradzo, and it means to scream, yell, exclaim, or cry out at the top of one's voice. In other words, they were screaming as loudly as possible to get Jesus' attention! What a dramatic picture! Think about it - here were two blind men, desperately wanting to be healed, who were screaming, shouting, and yelling, trying to get Jesus to notice them. But He just continued walking on as though they weren't even there. Pursuing Jesus relentlessly, they groped along in their darkness, still screaming, yelling, and crying out for Him to heal them.

Jesus couldn't have missed these two blind beggars because they were yelling so loudly; yet still He didn't stop. So they just kept screaming at the top of their lungs, over and over again, "Have mercy on us! Have mercy on us! Have mercy on us! Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on us!"

Have you ever wondered why Jesus wouldn't acknowledge the two blind men? Why didn't He immediately turn around and heal them. They were so determined to get His attention that they followed Him all the way to the house where He was staying, crying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!"

Finally, Jesus came to the two blind beggars and asked, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They answered, "Yea, Lord." Matthew 9:29 says, "Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you." But why didn't Jesus stop and heal the blind men when He first saw them? Why didn't He immediately turn to heal them when He recognized their blind condition? And why did He answer them, "According to your faith be it unto you"

I believe the only explanation for the fact that Jesus didn't stop to heal the two blind beggars is that the Holy Spirit wasn't leading Him to heal at that exact moment. The good news is that the two blind men could use their own faith to be healed anyway - and they were healed!

As for those whom the Holy Spirit led Jesus to heal, He healed them with a perfect, 100-percent success rate. The Bible describes His healing ministry this way: "And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him and, healed them all" (Luke 6:19).

You see, when that healing virtue was flowing, everyone got healed. But when it wasn't flowing, Jesus didn't attempt to heal. There are other instances like Luke 5:17 where Jesus was busy teaching the Word of God. Suddenly He sensed that "...the power of the Lord was present to heal them."

When Jesus sensed the anointing to heal, He put aside His teaching and followed the leading of the Spirit. As a result, multitudes were healed that day, including the paralytic whom a group of friends lowered down into the room through an opening in the roof of the house.

I love this example in Luke 5:17, for it shows Jesus' pliability in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Although He was busy teaching at the moment, suddenly He felt the anointing shift. The power of God was suddenly present to heal the sick, and Jesus knew it was time to set aside the preplanned program and go with the flow of the Holy Spirit. He faithfully followed wherever the Holy Spirit led, and He did what the Holy Spirit told Him to do. If the Spirit told Him nothing, then nothing was the right thing for Him to do.

In John 5:30, Jesus told of His complete dependency upon the Holy Spirit. He told the disciples, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just." Notice that Jesus said, "As I hear, I judge" You see, Jesus was constantly listening to the voice of the Spirit, waiting for that divine signal to act, to heal, to deliver, or to cleanse someone who was sick.

Then Jesus said what He did as soon as He was confident of the Spirit's direction to act: "I judge: and my judgment is just" The word "judge" and "judgment" are both from the Greek word krino, a legal term meaning to make a decision on the basis of information, like a jury who has heard all the evidence in a trial and now possesses all the information needed to take action.

This word is used in John 5:30 to let us know that Jesus never acted until He had all the direction He needed from the Spirit. Once that direction was given and Jesus had all the information He needed, He acted. Because He acted on directions given by the Spirit of God, He was able to say that His actions were always right. In other words, Jesus had a 100- percent success rate because He followed the Spirit's leading!

Jesus didn't go with a preplanned program or act mechanically every time He was confronted with a need. Therefore, we need to learn from His example and depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit just as He did. If we will listen to the Spirit and do what He tells us to do — if we will learn to wait until we hear Him speak — we will have powerful results just like Jesus had in His earthly ministry.

So what about you, friend? Are you ready to let the Holy Spirit become the Leader in your life today? Blessings!


Pastor Rusty

Friday, August 8, 2008

Living a Fulfilled Life

Next time your day goes south, here is what you do.

Steep yourself in the grace of God. Saturate your day in His love. Marinate your mind in His mercy. He has settled your accounts, paid your debt. Because of these facts, you can live a fulfilled life!

"Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross." 1 Peter 2:24 NCV

Fulfilled. What a word! Two simple syllables and yet so elusive for our frazzled and restless hearts. Who among us hasn't yearned for something even faintly resembling fulfillment in our frantic, demanding, "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world?

Fulfilled is a great word—the only problem is finding it. Oh, we can crack open a dictionary and "find" is easily enough, right there between "fulcrum" and "fulgent"…but the trick is moving beyond Webster's and finding it in the pages of our lives. Can you find fulfillment while living an "ordinary life?" I believe that fulfillment comes through Jesus Christ. You can live your life focusing on your finances, your job, your education, your family and never find true fulfillment. When you focus on Jesus, he can give you purpose for living and hope for tomorrow. I would like to share a thought with you from a devotion that I read today from Max Lucado. I believe it will bless you, as it blessed me.

An hour of contentment. A precious moment of peace. A few minutes of relaxation. Each of us has a setting in which contentment pays a visit. Early in the morning while the coffee is hot and everyone is asleep. Late at night as you kiss your six-year-old’s sleepy eyes. In a boat on a lake when memories of a life well lived are vivid. In the arms of a spouse. At Thanksgiving dinner or sitting near the Christmas tree.

An hour of contentment. An hour when deadlines are forgotten and strivings have ceased. An hour when what we have overshadows what we want. An hour when we realize that a lifetime of blood sweating and headhunting can’t give us what the cross gave us in one day—a clean conscience and a new start.

But unfortunately, in our squirrel cages of schedules, contests, and side-glancing, hours like these are about as common as one-legged monkeys. In our world, contentment is a strange street vendor, roaming, looking for a home, but seldom finding an open door. This old salesman moves slowly form house to house, tapping windows, knocking on doors, offering his wares: an hour of peace, a smile of acceptance, a sigh of relief. But his goods are seldom taken. We are too busy to be content. (Which is crazy, since the reason we kill ourselves today is because we think it will make us content tomorrow.)

“Not now, thank you. I’ve too much to do,” we say. “Too many marks to be made, too many achievements to be achieved, too many dollars to be saved, too many promotions to be earned. And besides, if I’m content, someone might think I’ve lost my ambition.”

So the street vendor named Contentment moves on. When I asked him why so few welcomed him into their homes, his answer left me convicted. “I charge a high price, you know. My fee is steep. I ask people to trade in their schedules, frustrations, and anxieties. I demand that they put a torch to their fourteen-hour days and sleepless nights. You’d think I’d have more buyers.” He scratched his beard, then added pensively, “But people seem strangely proud of their ulcers and headaches.”

We can learn so much when we take the time to re-examine the life of Jesus, and the way he lived a fulfilled life, and took the time to be content with the purpose of His time on earth.

"Is not this the carpenter?" (Mark 6:3).

Jesus' neighbors spoke those words. Amazed at his latter-life popularity, they asked, "Is this the same guy who fixed my roof?"

Note what his neighbors did not say:
"Is not this the carpenter who owes me money?"
"Is not this the carpenter who swindled my father?"
"Is not this the carpenter who never finished my table?"

No, these words were never said. The lazy have a hard time hiding in a small town. Hucksters move from city to city to survive. Jesus didn't need to. Need a plow repaired? Christ could do it. In need of a new yoke? "My neighbor is a carpenter, and he will give you a fair price." The job may have been common, but his diligence was not. Jesus took his work seriously.

And the town may have been common, but his attention to it was not. Mountain flowers in the spring. Cool sunsets. Pelicans winging their way along the streams of Kishon to the Sea of Galilee. Thyme-besprinkled turf at his feet. Fields and fig trees in the distance. Do you suppose moments here inspired these words later? "Observe how the lilies of the field grow" (Matt. 6:28) or "Look at the birds of the air" (Matt. 6:26). The words of Jesus the rabbi were born in the thoughts of Jesus the boy.

The maker of yokes later explained, "My yoke is easy" (Matt. 11:30). The one who brushed his share of sawdust from his eyes would say, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:3).

He saw how a seed on the path took no root (Luke 8:5) and how a mustard seed produced a great tree (Matt. 13:31–32). He remembered the red sky at morning (Matt. 16:2) and the lightning in the eastern sky (Matt. 24:27). Jesus listened to his common life.Are you listening to yours? Rain pattering against the window. Silent snow in April. The giggle of a baby on a crowded plane. Seeing a sunrise while the world sleeps. Are these not personal epistles? Can’t God speak through a Monday commute or a midnight diaper change? Take notes on your life. Next time your life feels ordinary, take your cue from Christ. Pay attention to your work and your world. Jesus’ obedience began in a small town carpentry shop. His uncommon approach to his common life groomed him for his uncommon call.

Now that is the best example of living a fulfilled life! I would like to close this blog with the same words that I opened it with: Steep yourself in the grace of God. Saturate your day in His love. Marinate your mind in His mercy. He has settled your accounts, paid your debt. Because of these facts, you can live a fulfilled life! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Enter into your Closet

I have spent the past couple of days in Charlotte, NC with our youth group at the National Fine Arts Festival. I have been so impressed with the conduct of our students. They have represented our church and Christ very well. Each of the young ladies that ministered did a great job, and I was very proud of all four of them.

I had a fellow minister call me at my hotel room last night and expressed to me how God has put his marriage and family back together after being divorced for nearly five years. He kept telling me how powerful prayer is. That got me to thinking about prayer, and I decided to blog today on our "closet" of prayer. I would like to share some comments with you from Rick Renner's book, "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" as we discuss this important subject.

If you would like to know the Holy Spirit more intimately, it is important for you to understand what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6. He said, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

When Jesus said that you are to "enter into thy closet," was He actually telling you to get up every morning, open the closet door, shove all your shoes and clothes to the side, crawl inside that dark room, shut the door, and pray? Of course not!

The word "closet" is taken from the Greek word tameion, an old word that has an interesting progression in history. At first, the word tameion was used to depict a secret place where one would hide his or her most valuable possessions. But as time progressed, the word tameion came to describe a secure place where a person could put money or treasure, such as a safety deposit box or a vault at the bank. It represented a place so secure that no one would be able to break in to disrupt or steal these valuable possessions.

But by New Testament times, the word tameion had evolved even further. First, it depicted a secret place where one hid his prized possessions. Then it referred to a secure place such as a safety deposit box or a vault at the bank. Finally, tameion came to describe a bedroom.

Because a bedroom is a secret place where a treasured relationship takes place between a husband and a wife, it makes perfect sense that the word tameion would eventually describe this most private place. Intimate moments shared between a husband and wife occurs in the bedroom. Although the husband and wife love their children in nearly every other sphere of their lives, this is one sphere that isn't available to anyone else. It is a private place and experience to be shared only between husband and wife.

Thus, this verse could actually be translated: "When it's time for you to pray, enter into your bedchamber, and when you have shut the door behind you and secured a
place of privacy, then pray."

The word tameion is used in this verse to convey the idea of intimacy with God in prayer. Jesus was figuratively saying, "Just as a husband and wife enter into their bedroom and shut the door so they can bare their hearts and souls to each other in intimacy, so also you should have a relationship with God that is so tender, so special, and so intimate that it is shared only between you and Him and no one else. Therefore, find a secure place where you can go to share your heart and soul with God in prayer."

Jesus portrays prayer as something so precious that it should occur in a bedroom with the door shut. This does not literally mean you must pray in the bedroom any more than it means you must pray in a closet. The concept of a bedroom is only used to convey the idea of an isolated and solitary place where you can be alone with the Lord.

When we enter into a time of prayer, it should be done at a place and time when we are not interrupted so the Holy Spirit can speak to our hearts and we can bare our hearts to Him. It should be a time of a sweet mingling together of human spirit with the divine Spirit. Each of us should make it a daily priority to have this special time of communion with the Father through the Holy Spirit. It doesn't matter where you and I spend this private time with God; it just matters that we actually do it. Of course, it is best to find a time of the day when we can put everything else aside and concentrate only on Him, for the time we give to seeking God is a sacred time.

When we read the Gospels, we find that Jesus often arose early in the morning to pray when the other disciples were still sleeping. He often prayed on a mountaintop or out in the wilderness, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is nothing in the Bible that says the early morning hours are more holy than other hours of the day, and nowhere does the Bible teach that praying on a mountaintop is somehow better than other places. Jesus chose those early morning hours because it was a moment when He could find solitude and quietness with God. He prayed on those mountaintops and in the wilderness because He could pray in those isolated places without the interference of others.

Your place of prayer — your quiet place — may be in your car when you are driving to work alone every morning because that's the only time and place you can find to be alone.
It may be in the shower as you prepare for the day. It may be early in the morning when everyone else in the house is still sleeping. Or perhaps you find it better to pray late at night after others have gone to bed and you are finally alone. The point is this: Each of us must have a quiet place and a sacred time when we can give ourselves fully to God in prayer.

You may say, "I know I need to spend quality time with the Lord, but my schedule is so busy that it's hard for me to find a time to do it." But the truth is, you find time for everything else that is important to you. So if you really want to be with the Lord, you will find time for that as well. Think about it. Don't you have time to read the newspaper? Do you watch the morning and evening news? Do you watch television programs or find time to go to the theater or movies? Do you make time in your schedule for recreation?

You see, you always make time for whatever is important to you. If you really wish to have an intimate, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, you will make time for it.

So select a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Once you go to that place, shut the door to outside interference and to the voices that are constantly calling out for your attention. Focus on only one thing: this very intimate and private time with the Father. This is so important that you shouldn't delay in acting on it! You need to start enjoying times of intimate fellowship with the Lord today! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

God believes in you

I read the following devotion from Max Lucado, and wanted to share it with you guys today. I hope it ministered to you as much as it did to me:

The tale involves a wealthy father and a willful son. The boy prematurely takes his inheritance and moves to Las Vegas and there wastes the money on slot machines and call girls. As fast as you can say "blackjack," he is broke. Too proud to go home, he gets a job sweeping horse stables at the racetrack. When he finds himself tasting some of their oats and thinking, H'm, a dash of salt and this wouldn't be too bad, he realizes enough is enough. It's time to go home. The gardener at his father's house does better than this. So off he goes, rehearsing his repentance speech every step of the way.

But the father has other ideas. He "had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."

We don't expect such a response. We expect crossed arms and a furrowed brow. At best a guarded handshake. At least a stern lecture. But the father gives none of these. Instead he gives gifts. "Bring out the best robe … a ring … sandals.… And bring the fatted calf … and let us eat and be merry" (Luke 15:11–23 NKJV). Robe, sandals, calf, and … Did you see it? A ring.

Before the boy has a chance to wash his hands, he has a ring to put on his finger. In Christ's day rings were more than gifts; they were symbols of delegated sovereignty. The bearer of the ring could speak on behalf of the giver. It was used to press a seal into soft wax to validate a transaction. The one who wore the ring conducted business in the name of the one who gave it.

Would you have done this? Would you have given this prodigal son power-of-attorney privileges over your affairs? Would you have entrusted him with a credit card? Would you have given him this ring?

Before you start questioning the wisdom of the father, remember, in this story you are the boy. When you came home to God, you were given authority to conduct business in your heavenly Father's name.

When you speak truth, you are God's ambassador.

As you steward the money he gives, you are his business manager.

When you declare forgiveness, you are his priest.

As you stir the healing of the body or the soul, you are his physician.

And when you pray, he listens to you as a father listens to a son. You have a voice in the household of God. He has given you his ring.

God believes in you. And, I wonder, could you take some of the belief that he has in you and share it with someone else?

You and I have the privilege to do for others what God does for us. How do we show people that we believe in them?

Do not withhold encouragement from the discouraged. Do not keep affirmation from the beaten down! Speak words that make people stronger. Believe in them as God has believed in you.

Aren't you glad that God believes in you? Don't allow the enemy to speak lies into your spirit today. You are a child of the king! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

“I have LEARNED to be content…”

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope that each of us will pause and rejoice in this new day.

This past Sunday, I preached a message entitled, "Six steps to Joyful living." I would like to share a part of that message with you during today's blog.

Philippians 4:11 "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." It wasn't natural; he had to learn it. It's easy to be content when you're living on Easy Street. But Paul's life was not easy. It was very difficult. 2 Corinthians 11 Paul tells us a little of his biography. He says this, "I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received forty lashes minus one [in other words, he was whipped 39 times in five different experiences. Add that up and you can figure out how many scars were on the back of Paul.] Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I've been in constant danger. I've labored and toiled. I've often gone without sleep. I've known hunger and thirst. I've often gone without food. I've even been cold and gone without clothing. Besides everything else, I've faced the daily pressures of my concern for all the churches. In spite of all this, no matter what happens, rejoice. In all situations rejoice in the Lord. Always rejoice." He says "I've learned to be content."

Bottom line: Joy is a decision. You are as joyful as you choose to be. If you're discouraged today, it's because you're choosing to be discouraged. You can choose to be joyful because there are many things you can be joyful about. God is saying, If you learn to be content and you choose to make the right decision, you can be joyful.

We get caught up in "When and then" thinking. "When 'this' happens in my life, then I'll be happy. When I get married, then I'll be happy…. When I get a job then I'll be happy. When I graduate then I'll be happy. When…." fill in the blank, "then I'll be happy."

No you won't. You are as joyful as you choose to be. Because joy is a choice. God EXPECTS us to living a life of joy. Joy is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:19-24 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, (21) envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If you are going to live a joyful life, and allow the "fruit of the Spirit" to be developed in your life, then you are going to have to CHOOSE to crucify "the flesh with its passions and desires." Again, that is a choice that you have to make daily.

Please understand that I am not talking about HAPPINESS, because it is determined by your "happen stance". Whatever circumstance you find yourself in will determine whether you are happy or not. If it is a good circumstance, then of course you can be happy. But what about the storms of life, than you will not be so happy. But Joy is something that will stay with you through the good and bad times of life if you choose to put your trust in God and His sovereignty. Some of you are facing some not so happy circumstances right now. You may be going through some very tough times; it brings up some very hurtful memories. Some of you have to swallow a bitter pill right now financially or physically or in a relationship. You think, "There's nothing in my life worth being joyful about. How can I be joyful when everything is wrong in my life?" Two reasons:

I can always be joyful no matter what happens because I know God is in control. Paul says "I'm going to keep on being glad [remember he's in prison awaiting execution] for I know that as you pray for me and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is all going to turn out for my good." He says I've got a couple of encouragements here: you're praying for me and the Holy Spirit's helping me. But here's the real issue: God sees it all, God knows it all, God cares about it all, God's in control of it all, God will use it for my good, God will give me the power that I need. So what am I worried about? Nothing.

Granted, this isn't the way that Paul had planned it. Paul wanted to go to Rome, rent the coliseum and have a Billy Graham crusade with him being Billy Graham. He wanted to share God's love with all the Roman Empire. Instead he goes with his hands and feet shackled, put in a dungeon for two years with a 24-hour guard. I'm sure he shared Jesus Christ with every one of those guards. They changed every four hours – that's a couple thousand guards over a two-year period. Who was the real prisoner? Paul had a captive audience. The Bible tells us that some of these guards took the Good news back and even members of Nero's own family became believers. That's what you call a chain reaction!

Not only that, he did something else while he was in prison. He wrote most of the New Testament. Aren't you glad God made Paul set still in prison? We wouldn't have the New Testament. If he'd gone out, Mr. Evangelist, and been traveling all over he would have never slowed down long enough to write what we now know are the inspired New Testament books. Paul had a plan but God had a better plan. Paul said, I trust God's plan better than my own. Therefore I am full of joy because I know God has a better plan. I also know that God's going to write the final chapter. "I am sure that God who began the good work within you will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ comes back again." We get so frustrated and discouraged because we don't know what God's doing in our lives but God knows. What we need to do is trust Him for the things we can't see how they're going to turn out because we know that what God starts, He finishes. God has your best interest at heart. Therefore no matter what happens, you can be joyful. Because what He starts, He finishes.

You may think that joy is some kind of characteristic for naturally upbeat cheerful kind of people. And your personality type isn't the joyful type. You're wrong. The Word of God talks about the importance of joy for all of God's children. I read recently that there are over 500 joyful words in the Bible. Five hundred references to words like joy, rejoicing and gladness and merriment and mirth and laughing. In contrast there are only 158 references in the whole Bible of sadness and mourning and tears. So, why don't you today make the choice to walk in joy, and to LEARN to be content. You really can do this, with God's help! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Friday, August 1, 2008

Leadership Quotes

I love to read different blogs. It is a hobby of mine. I have found some awesome leadership quotes while surfing blogs that I would like to share with you today. Please read these quotes and think them through. I like some more than others, but they all speak something to me. Whether you are a pastor, business man/woman, student, or parent, I believe the following will enrich your life:

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, 'We did this ourselves.'" — Lao-Tse

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall in the ditch."— Jesus Christ

"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry."— Winston Churchill

"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."
— Henry Kissinger

"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already."— John Buchan

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand."— General Colin Powell

"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better."— Harry Truman

"A leader is one who influences a specific group of people to move in a God-given direction."— J. Robert Clinton

A leader is a dealer in hope. -Napoleon Bonaparte

"All Leadership is influence."— John C. MaxwellInjoy, Inc.

"You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too."— Sam Rayburn

"Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others may receive your orders without being humiliated."— Dag Hammarskj√∂ld

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on."— Walter Lippmann

"People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives."— Theodore Roosevelt

"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant."— Max DePree

"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall."— Stephen R. Covey

"He who has great power should use it lightly."— Seneca

"As a leader, you're probably not doing a good job unless your employees can do a good impression of you when you're not around."— Patrick Lencioni

"The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do."— Andrew Carnegie

"I think leadership comes from integrity - that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there are non-obvious ways to lead. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a friend, a neighbor makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets blaring, activity."— Scott Berkun

"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." --- Jack Welch

Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. - Warren Bennis, Ph.D. "On Becoming a Leader"

The best example of leadership, is leadership by example. - Jerry McClain of Seattle, WA

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Leadership in today's world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table. - Hubert H. Humphrey

Leadership consists not in degrees of technique but in traits of character; it requires moral rather than athletic or intellectual effort, and it imposes on both leader and follower alike the burdens of self-restraint. - Lewis H. Lapham

In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions. - Margaret Wheatly Leadership and the New Science

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters. - Albert Einstein

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. - Karen Kaiser Clark

The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization. - Fred Fiedler & Martin Chemers Improving Leadership Effectiveness

Don't be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small steps. - David Loyd George

Excellence is not an accomplishment. It is a spirit, a never-ending process. - Lawrence M. Miller

When what you are doing isn't working, you tend to do more of the same and with greater intensity. - Dr. Bill Maynard & Tom Champoux Heart, Soul and Spirit

A new leader has to be able to change an organization that is dreamless, soulless and visionless ... someone's got to make a wake up call. - Warren Bennis

I used to think that running an organization was equivalent to conducting a symphony orchestra. But I don't think that's quite it; it's more like jazz. There is more improvisation. - Warren Bennis

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done - Peter Drucker

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers - Ralph Nader

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans. - Peter Drucker

Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them. - Adlai Stevenson

Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead. - Ross Perot

We must become the change we want to see. - Mahatma Gandhi

The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. - Vincent T. Lombardi

Where there is no vision, the people perish. - Proverbs 29:18

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. - Mother Theresa
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar. - Helen Keller

We know not where our dreams will take us, but we can probably see quite clearly where we'll go without them. - Marilyn Grey

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. - Albert Einstein

You may have afresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down. - Mary Pickford

The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more. - Erica Jong

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. - Andrew Carnegie

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. - Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald's

In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock. - T. Jefferson

When nothing is sure, everything is possible. - Margaret Drabble

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced. - James Baldwin

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may also be only the beginning. - Ivy Baker Priest

My prayer is that God will help us "burn the ships" and commit ourselves to be the best leader that we can be! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty