Thanksgiving is a great holiday. To take a day and remember to be thankful. We really should do that more often. To spend time with family and friends is also a lot of fun. Here is my short list of things I am thankful for:
Here are some pictures of our Thanksgiving day at Paul & Lynne Hershberger’s place in Canton. Lynne is Vikki’s Cousin. They are nice enough to host this every year. Thanks Paul & Lynne, we had a great time
This past Sunday the Sermon topic at NewPointe Community Church was about Sex. We are in a series called “Worlds Apart”. You can listen to past messages on line or download them from iTunes. Basically we are looking at some of the hot topics like, sex, money and suffering from God’s perspective as compared to the worlds perspective.
I recently finished reading two books on the topic of sex. I highly recommend both of these books. The first is called “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. They also have a version out for women, young men and young women. Every man should read this book. My men’s group has been reading this and we are trying to grow in this area of our lives. This book is about sexual temptation and how to have victory over those temptations. In today’s world, sex is everywhere you look. Sex sells and people know it. It is used in advertising, in entertainment on TV and in the movies. It is everywhere you turn.
For men, sex has a very powerful pull. Most men are very visual and therefore our eyes can get us in a lot of trouble. The book gives a simple 10 question test to see how you are doing with sexual temptation:
“If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re lurking at the door of sexual addiction. You’re inside that door if you can answer yes to the following questions”:
I know these are pretty heavy questions, but this is a huge problem. Not only in the world, but in the church. Many Christians are addicted to sex. That bondage is slowly destroying men, marriages and families. I am serious that every man should read this book and get real about the temptations we are facing. You have to make a decision about whether you want to be pure or not. If you want to know God’s standards on sex, here are some Scriptures to go read:
Matthew 5:28, Mark 7:21-23, Acts 15:23, Romans 13:12-13, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 6:18, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:16,19, Ephesians 5:3-4, Colossians 3:5-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5,7, Hebrews 12:16, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Peter 4:3, Jude 7, Revelation 2:14, Revelation 2:20 and Revelation 21:8.
Here are some takeaways from the authors on these Scriptures and God’s Standards for Christians:
OK, so that is a pretty high standard. On our own we cannot do it, but if we plug into God’s power he can help break the chains that keep us in bondage. The first step is to really want to be free from this and make that decision to obey God’s commands.
Guys, this battle is real and it is hard. Don’t take it lightly, because it can sneak up on you. It starts with some very innocent things and slowly begins to creep into our lives. Many men were exposed to pornography at young ages or influenced in a negative way toward sex growing up. It has become so common place that we are immune to many of the warning signs. Before we know it we are in over our heads. If you are struggling with this, go get some help. Find an accountability partner, Get some counseling from your pastor or Christian Counselor, get rid of the computer, burn the magazines. Whatever it takes to start back on the road to purity. Purity paves the way to intimacy, and that is what we want in our marriages.
Ladies, your man is in a battle every day. He is facing an enemy that uses sex as a way to take out as many men as he can. This is something you should talk about together as a couple. How can you help him to resist those temptations and have victory. Sex is a wonderful thing, when it is done in a marriage relationship. God created sex for our enjoyment! Having a healthy sex life in the marriage relationship will go a long way in helping a man win the battle of sexual temptation.
The other book I just finished is “Sheet Music – Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage” by Dr. Kevin Leman. More on that in a later Blog.
I think it is great that churches are choosing to speak up on this topic of sex. Many churches are addressing this and exposing the truth about sex. I am thankful that NewPointe is one of them.
One of the things I do to try to keep learning and growing is to visit other people that are doing what I am doing. I try to find people that are further ahead of me as far as experience and education. Even when I was in the business world I tried to work this principle. I would set up a meeting with someone and then ask them a bunch of questions and find out about their systems and how they work. I would look for people that are successful, have shown results and are growing as leaders.
On Thursday I had one of those meetings. I drove almost two hours to meet with a pastor from another church. I had been referred to him by my Executive Coach. On the two hour trip I used that time to listen to a couple of CD lessons on leadership and Pastoral Care. I also cranked out some good tunes. The road time helped me to relax and learn. I listened to an amazing tape by John Maxwell call “In celebration of the imperfect leader”. Good stuff, that I am going to share with some other people.
My meeting went very well. I immediately connected with him and we began sharing with each other. He asked me some good questions to find out a little bit about me. Then he shared some of his background and experience and what they have been doing to help and equip people to thrive in their relationships. The meeting really encouraged me, because we are doing many very similar types of ministries to care for and equip people. It is exciting to me to find a like minded person and to be able to talk about things that are on my mind every day. Our leadership styles seemed to also be similar. I can see why he has been successful in helping and equipping people to grow in their walk with God and other people.
I walked away from this meeting with some great resources and some really good ideas on how to improve how we are doing things at NewPointe. This simple road trip has given me new energy and vision for the areas that I lead. I hope this new relationship will continue for many years to come.
So here are my take aways on doing road trips:
1. I need to find more mentors to keep my vision growing and my passion hot.
2. I need to get the appointments on my calendar.
3. I need to use the time wisely, by asking lots of questions and keeping my mouth shut.
4. I need to make sure I get out of the office on a road trip once per quarter.
5. I need to stay connected with my mentors and coaches on a regular basis.
6. I need to take some people with me.
I hope you will consider finding a mentor or a coach to help you take your next step as a leader, manager, husband, wife, friend or child of God.
I just finished a short book called “Drawing Close” by Graham Cooke. This is the second book I have read by Cooke. The first was “When the Lights Go Out”. Both of these books have been a great help to me. The book helps you to have a new perspective on “being with” God. No matter what is going on around you, you can always be with God. Cooke reminds us to be like Mary, not Martha in how we approach and spend time with God (see Luke 10:38-42). He talks a lot about how to experience peace, even in the storms of life.
Here are some quotes I really found challenging and helpful:
“What you take in with you comes out and is distributed. If you enter a room with bitterness, bitterness is what you distribute. If you enter a room with peace, peace is what is given away. Whatever is in you comes out.”
“God likes to hide-in fact, He invented the game of Hide and Seek. In certain seasons, He will reveal Himself to us; in others, He will hide from us. God only hides because He wants to teach us to look for Him. We all want Him to be manifest in our lives, all the time, but God sometimes wants to hide and draw us deeper into His presence.”
“God is hiding in plain sight, teaching us to look for Him in different ways. God is unpredictable but completely consistent. We always know where we are with God because He never changes, but we seldom know what He’s going to do next.”
“God hasn’t called us to do the reasonable, the possible or the attainable. He has called us to do the outrageously impossible.”
I hope those quotes inspire you today to go deeper with God. He is waiting for all of us to get closer to Him.
My favorite book in the Old Testament is Nehemiah. This is an incredible story that is packed with wisdom, leadership principles and examples on how to live life and get things done. Nehemiah had a good life, he was comfortable, had a good job, made plenty of money, had influence with his boss and was well respected by many. Things were good, until God revealed to him the situation his home town was in. His home town was Jerusalem, and it was a mess and the people that were trying to rebuild it were under attack and being taken advantage of.
When Nehemiah heard what was going on he was deeply troubled and impacted. He was never the same again. He felt deep compassion for the people and their situation. But he did more than just feel for them, he immediately began fasting and praying for how he could make a difference.
I love that about Nehemiah. He started by seeking God with all his heart. He focused fully on God by fasting and not getting distracted from praying for this situation. He did this for months, before God opened up an opportunity for him to make a difference. What I really love about Nehemiah was that during those months of praying and fasting, he also began to make plans. He thought about what it would take to go and help the people that were in Jerusalem. He put a plan together and began gathering resources and thinking through what it would take.
What I take away from that, is that we need to pray and seek God with all our hearts. We also need to continue to work hard and make plans while we seek God. If we do both of those, God will open up the doors to help make things happen. It may be as simple as giving you favor with your boss, like he did for Nehemiah. When Nehemiah got that chance to go, he had a plan on how to get there.
Has God put a burden on your heart? Are you deeply concerned for a person, a family, a people group, a country, a leader? If you are, then start fasting and praying for them. Also start making plans on how you can make a difference. Maybe it is building a better relationship, maybe it is doing some research, maybe it is giving some money, maybe it is writing a letter, maybe its getting involved in your church. Whatever that burden is, pray and make plans, be ready when God gives you that opening.
If you have not read Nehemiah lately, I suggest you read it. Nehemiah didn’t complain about what was going on around him, he did something about it.
I have been spending a good bit of time planning lately. I try to spend time every week planning out what I want to accomplish that week. I lay out the main areas I oversee and then spend time thinking about each of those areas. It helps me to decide where I need to focus and who I need to meet with. It is kind of like sharpening the axe before cutting down the tree.
I also have been working on the strategic plan for my department for 2009. This involves developing a budget, laying out some goals and formulating the systems that will help me accomplish those goals. I love to think ahead and make plans. I also know that the best laid plans can change in an instant. I always try to stay flexible and ready to make changes if needed. Especially working in a church environment, things can change quickly. Sometimes even priorities can shift for a period of time.
The other thing I have been working on is my personal growth plan for 2009. I spent some time thinking about the things I can do to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually. I also tried to think of some systems that could help me achieve those personal goals.
You might say, what good does it do to make all those plans and spend all that time thinking ahead. For me, it helps me to lead people better. It also helps me lead myself better, which is even more important. The best leaders out there spend a good bit of time leading themselves. Working on their areas of strength and managing their areas of weakness. If it has been a while since you made plans, I suggest you start today.
If you want to have a better marriage, you better make some plans on how you will make that happen. If you want to lose weight or get in shape, you better decide how you are going to go about doing that. If you want to grow your business or stay in business, you better start making some strategic plans. This is what some people call working on it instead of in it.
It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day stuff of work and family and never step back and look at the future. If you don’t do that, you can’t see the changes you need to make, the adjustments you need to be successful and the mistakes you are heading for. So take an afternoon, get away from the office or the house and do some planning. I highly recommend you include your personal with your business planning. That way you are looking at your whole life and not just the work portion. If you include your personal planning with business, it helps to keep your priorities in place.
Make sure you write it all down and then review it and make adjustments. Then take it one step further and start putting those plans on your calendar at work and at home. Schedule the things that are important to get done both personal and professional.
I just posted this article on Leadership to the Leader’s Edge website. Leader’s Edge is a monthly meeting for business people in our community. Each month on the first Wednesday of the month we hold a breakfast meeting at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek from 7:00 am to 8:00 am and a lunch meeting at the McDonald/Marlite Conference Center in New Philadelphia from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm.
Then on the third Wednesday of each month we have the same meeting in Canton at Lolli’s Restaurant. The first 30 minutes is a time of networking and eating a meal. The last 30 minutes is a talk designed to help people grow as leader’s.
To check out the website and my article click here.