Wednesday, January 28, 2015

3 Circles Life Conversation Guide Training in NE Ohio

This Saturday, January 31, 2015 from 9am – 12 noon, CVC will be hosting Jimmy Scroggins, Lead Pastor of Family Church (SBC) in West Palm Beach, Florida. Jimmy will be sharing his “3 Circles Life Conversation Guide,” a new evangelism tool that NAMB has embraced and endorsed. Jimmy developed the tool in order to help equip people to share meaningful gospel conversations with people in the hope that they will enter into a saving relationship with Jesus.

We welcome and encourage you to attend this insightful, effective half-day training with Pastor Jimmy Scroggins. CVC is underwriting the cost of this training. So, there will be no cost to you.

CVC’s address is 5055 Wallings Road, Broadview Heights, Ohio. We are on the NE corner of I77 and Wallings Road.

Chad Allen, Lead Pastor of CVC, says, “As part of CVC’s New Life 10|24 vision, I’m excited about this opportunity! In addition to his personal connection with Founding Pastor Rick Duncan, Jimmy brings his uniquely simple yet insightful and effective ‘3 Circles’ evangelism tool to CVC. This equipping session is a ‘must do’ for all of us so we may become even more effective in sharing Christ. Hope to see you there!”

CVCers who've been using the 3 Circles New Life Conversation Guide are raving fans. One CVCer says, "The 3 Circles is the best tool I have ever used in my life. It's a loving, easy-to-understand, concise, and Spirit-led tool. Once you have used it and see the effects, you will be convinced, too. Even if you're just planting the seed, the Holy Spirit will take it from there. We are just the instrument to play the sweet sound of salvation."

Click on any of the links below to learn more about Jimmy Scroggins and the 3 Circle: Life Conversation Guide:

How you can prepare to attend:

Please RSVP.  While not required, RSVP’s – especially for childcare, are helpful! But please know that “walk-ins” are welcome on training day.

Download the “3 Circles App” prior to Saturday’s training:  Simply:

·         Go to
·         Scroll down to AVAILABLE NOW.
·         Click on the appropriate download icon.

For questions or to RSVP: or Jane Rutti –  // 440.972.2204

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Father’s Longings For His Son...

A careful man I ought to be,
A little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray
For fear he’ll go the selfsame way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,
What e’re he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be—
The little chap that follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me? I repent and flee—
To lead that chap who follows me.

And when I sin, “Christ!” I cry.
“The cross You bore, for me You died.
Cleanse my soul. To You I cling.
And to Your cross, my son, I bring.”

I must remember as I go,
Thru summer’s sun and winter’s snow
I’m building for the years to be—
That little chap who follows me.

Author Unknown (verse 3 edited by & verse 4 written by Rick Duncan)

Friday, January 23, 2015

4 ways older leaders grow in influence with the next generations

Since passing the baton of leadership at CVC to a godly young man, Chad Allen, I have sensed that my leadership influence might be waning more than I expected. That makes sense. I don't have the same kind of positional influence that I once had. People inside the church and even outside the church perceive me a bit differently now. Terry Pluto, a writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, used to call me for insights about his faith column. He hasn't called me in the two years since I passed the baton.

One former Lead Pastor told me that he wishes his previous church would consult with him more. He said, "They have a tendency to think that what we did doesn't work anymore." When I asked him how he deals with that emotionally, he said that outgoing Lead Pastors must accept the fact that our "star fades a little."

A part of that is good for my soul. After all, it's not about me. It's about Jesus and His kingdom. I must decrease and He must increase.

But God did not wire me to be totally content with a diminished role in the lives and ministries of younger leaders. Part of what it means to be created in the image of God is to be a person of impact and influence.

So, our influence doesn't necessarily need to fade away and flicker out.

I am, hopefully, wiser than I was 2 years ago. I certainly have a bit more experience than I did. Plus, I should be even better at abiding in Christ and, therefore, bearing more fruit for His glory.

As long as I am seeking to crucify that fleshly part of me that sinfully wants recognition and appreciation, then I think it's good and even godly to pursue influence with the next generation of leaders. God has given me experiences and wisdom that should be shared.

With that in mind, how, then, do aging leaders in ministry continue to have relevance and impact? What can help us build an anti-dinosaur approach to leadership influence?

1. Ask younger leaders.

Make an appointment with three younger leaders that you, perhaps, had greater influence with in the past than you are currently experiencing. Tap into your relational curiosity.

Ask a series of questions, "How do you think I might become more effective as a coach or a mentor? How could our time together be more profitable for you? How do I, perhaps even unconsciously, communicate in ways that are not as encouraging or empowering as you would like for me to be? What might I do differently to bring added value to the life ministries of younger leaders?"

These could be risky questions to ask. You've got to be emotionally ready to receive the answers in a nondefensive way. But for the sake of your soul and your ministry, encourage younger leaders to give you gut-honest feedback.

2. Interview and imitate older leaders.

Make appointments with three older leaders that are currently having the kind of successful ministry with younger leaders that you want to have.

I recently called a Lead Pastor at a super mega church in the South. I asked him what the secret is to having an effective mentoring ministry to younger leaders. He invited me to attend a retreat in the spring where he will be pouring his life into several younger leaders. I am planning on going and will study the environment, the content, but most importantly, his heart and relational style.

He said that his last few years of ministry after his transition have been among the most rewarding in his life because he doesn't have the pressures of leadership and the "weekly term paper" and because he's figured out a way to have relationships with younger leaders who desires his counsel and influence.

3. Stay educated about current ministry trends and lingo.

We must stay relevant and learn to speak the language that younger leaders speak. I'm not talking about becoming an aging version of a hipster. That is sad to see. Avoid acting younger than you really are.

See, it's wise to cling to some old fashioned principles in ministry. Someone said that to be an effective pastor you must simply preach the word and love the people. It's not our goal to be hip. We must stick to the tried-and-true Biblically-grounded methodology for ministry. In every generation effective pastors simply take the Bible and live, teach, and preach it.

At the same time, we need to be students of the younger leaders we are seeking to influence. What leaders do younger leaders listen to? What books and blogs are they reading? What conferences and seminars are they attending?

It would probably be a good idea to sit down with three younger leaders (who are themselves influential) and ask the above questions. Then, build into your routine work week ways to access these resources so that you can better understand conversations and speak with relevance into their lives.

4. Abide in Christ.

Equipping, encouraging, and empowering younger leaders is part of the fruit that every older leader should want to bear. How do we bear such fruit? Jesus gave us the answer in John 15. We abide in the Vine and He produces His fruit through us.

Since spiritual/relational influence is much more important than positional influence, we need to focus on what will deepen our spiritual walk with Christ and our relational ability to love. The leader with the greatest impact is the one who abides in Christ most deeply, most consistently, most widely, and most purely. As someone wisely said, "If we will take care of the depth of our lives, God will take care of the breadth of our ministries."

Questions: If you are a younger leader, what do you think older leaders can do to be more effective in encouraging and empowering you? If you are an older leader, what are some things you are doing to help you grow in your influence with the next generation?

Related Posts:
9 reasons why seasoned leaders don't pass the baton until it's too late
Pass the baton
A deeper question behind succession planning: Is Jesus enough?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Faith, Fatherhood, and Football: The Pine Podcast interview with Ted Ginn, Sr.

I am proud of our son, Alan C. Duncan, who, along with Rob Walgate, has developed a new podcast initiative of the American Policy Roundtable on sports and faith called The Pine

In this podcast, you'll find great insights from Glenville's Ted Ginn, a storied high school football coach in NE Ohio.

I was able to preview this first interview. It's well done, very entertaining, and insightful. 

OSU fans will like the intrigue of the inside story regarding last Thursday's announcement from QB Cardale Jones that he is staying at OSU. 

Check out the first edition of The Pine here

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

10 simple ways to watch your joy skyrocket

Joyless Christians?

Too often, followers of Jesus approach life like God is a cosmic killjoy.

Yes, we are to be sober. The stakes are high. Our adversaries are many. And strong.

But joyless Christianity? Joyless followers of Jesus? May it never be!

Psalm 16 is a song about joy. Our joy. The joy that Jesus made possible for every one of God's children to have. Notice the phrasing toward the end of the Psalm. "My heart is glad." "My whole being rejoices." "In Your presence there is fullness of joy."

So, how do we get from joy-less to joy-full?

Look at the Psalm. And let's create 10 questions for ourselves.

1. Have I chosen the Lord Himself over the things of the earth? "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot" (Psalm 16:5).

2. Am I grateful for the many blessings I have already received and am I looking forward to my ultimate inheritance in heaven? "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance" (Psalm 16:6).

3. Am I seeking and receiving counsel from the Lord about what concerns me? "I bless the Lord who gives me counsel" (Psalm 16:7a).

4. Do I pray and meditate before I go to sleep so that God can speak to my heart at night? "In the night also my heart instructs me" (Psalm 16:7b).

5. Am I consciously seeking to keep my eyes on Jesus all day every day? "I have set the Lord always before me" (Psalm 16:8a).

6. Do I have confidence that the Lord will keep me sound and stable in spite of the turbulence of life? "Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken... My flesh also dwells secure" (Psalm 16:8b, 9b).

7. Do I see that the resurrection and ultimate victory of Jesus guarantees my own? "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).

8. Do I seek the Lord's guidance for my next step on the path of life? "You make known to me the path of life" (Psalm 16:11a).

9. Do I live "Coram Deo" - in the presence and before the face of God? "In your presence there is fullness of joy" (Psalm 16:11b).

10. Do I see that all the pleasure of God ultimately comes from Jesus who is, even now, at the right hand of God Almighty? "At your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11c.)

Our level of joy will increase based on our answers to these questions.

So, take a little time today. Reflect on these questions. Ask yourself, "What changes do I need to make in order to be able to say 'yes' in answer to these questions?"

Related Posts:

5 habits to find more joy
Great thoughts from great people about joy
Your Rx for more joy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why Urban Meyer won his 3rd national championship title as a coach in a much more healthy way

Urban Meyer stands at the pinnacle of his profession, having led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the national championship of college football.

But just a few years ago, he had resigned as the head coach of the Florida Gators as a burned out, stressed out man with significant health issues and, it seemed, a man who was not happy with the direction of his life and the impact that his coaching career had on his family.

At the time, Meyer, it seemed, might not ever return to the sidelines as a head football coach. The toll that the job had taken was just too great. So, Meyer left coaching and went to work for ESPN as a knowledgeable commentator.

But a few years later, Meyer took the Ohio State job. And he seemed different. The focus and intensity were still there in his life. But he now had a peace through the ups and downs of a game and a season that he never had before.

What changed?

In 2010 Meyer had a meeting in Akron, Ohio with a friend, Todd Blackledge, who recommended that he read a book, "Lead... For God's Sake," by Todd Gongwer, who was himself a former burned out basketball coach before he learned some secrets about healthy leadership.

After meeting with Blackledge, Meyer read the book on a plane trip to the West Coast to interview Andrew Luck for a piece he was doing on ESPN. The book is a quick read, using the Andy Andrews and Patrick Lencioni story-telling and principle-sharing approach.

Meyer began to apply the principles Gongwer shares to his life. And Meyer was able to get back into the game as a coach in a healthy way.

Meyer says, “It goes back to the why. The whole book is about why you do what you do. You can never forget the why. I forgot the why. The journey that life takes you goes in places that you may not expect. It gets back to the why you do this. You do this because of the players and the purpose. This gives me a sense of purpose that I needed to find.”

Through a story about a successful but selfish high school basketball coach who meets a school janitor with great wisdom, we learn that leaders must lead from a heart of love rather than from a reward/punishment mindset. The coach goes through a personal transformation as he learns to connect with God, who then enables him to connect with his family, his team, and his friends. The author, Gongwer, shares a pleasant surprise at the end of the book which explains how the janitor became so very wise.

Along the way, Gongwer helps his readers take stock of our own lives. As we read the book we are encouraged to ask, "Am I embracing my place, setting my priorities, fulfilling my purpose, and living with passion?" We are encouraged to see their job within their family and within the marketplace as a ministry every bit as important as a pastor's calling.

The simple, heart-felt, Christ-centered, and straightforward message impacted Meyer deeply. He found the author's email address and reached out. Now, he's developed a deep personal relationship with Gongwer and has allowed him to into his inner circle.

At the end of the book, Gongwer reveals that he had a wake up call from a doctor who told him that he just had six months to live. He writes, "Over time I began to realize that I had not been told when I was going to die; rather, for the first time in my life, I have been shown how I was to live... Life is indeed an incredible gift from God. Nevertheless, it is a gift he can snatch away in a heartbeat. It is a gift, undeserved, not a reward. And I found that God's gift of life was best understood as it related to his gift of internal life, made possible through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. And so, upon accepting his gift of eternal life, I made the choice to use what ever was left of my life on this earth for his purpose, and that is when I found true success."

Urban Meyer's new friend, Todd Gongwer, has made a solid contribution to leadership literature that resulted in helping a burned-out coach connect with Christ, the One who made us all for a reason.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A 5 step energizing process to get your plans off paper into practice

Once you have prayerfully established your personal growth plan and set some annual goals, it's important to develop a routine process so that the goals get off the paper and become your action steps, your to dos.

Over the years, I have been fairly effective in establishing goals but, too often, sadly ineffective in turning my intentions into actions.

I've come up with a new process that seems to be helping me. I have found this process to be... well, fun! Perhaps it would help you, too.

A 5 step process to get your plans off paper into practice

1. Review. Set a specific time each week to review your personal growth plan and your goals. A good time might be Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening. It can be a relaxed, low-pressure time to plan ahead.

2. Focus. Create a separate page for each one of your goals. This will give you the room on the paper that you will need for re-setting and recording progress. It also gives you room to set strategy and tactics relative to each goal.

3. Rejoice. Write down the progress you have made regarding each goal. This will give you a chance to celebrate the things that God has enabled you to accomplish in the previous week. Your celebration is a source of encouragement and motivation.

4. Strategize. Think through and write down next immediate steps regarding your goal. You need not think about the big things that will complete the goal. Instead, you need just think about smaller steps that will keep you moving toward the completion of the goal.

5. Activate. On a separate sheet of paper, create a to do list for the rest of the week based on the immediate next steps you want to take regarding each goal. This is the sheet you will work from as you develop and prioritize your daily to do list.

This doesn't have to be a laborious duty. Redeem some of the time as you watch a movie, a football game, a basketball game, a golf tournament, or a baseball game. If you feel you must focus more, then take 30- 45 minutes before you go to bed on Sunday night to help you plan the upcoming workweek.

See, your unreviewed and un-reset goals will, no doubt, go unrealized. So, use your Sunday as a day of prayer and preparation for the coming week

If you will follow this process 52 times a year, you will find that, by God's grace and for His glory, you will have turned your God- given intentions into Spirit-enabled actions.

May God bless you as you seek to actualize your personal growth plan.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Waging war and winning when it comes to spiritual warfare

Who do you know that seems to be facing major struggle and opposition? We are always engaged in a great spiritual warfare. We need to know how to pray biblically. We need to know how to resist the devil and watch God cause Him to flee. Here is a scriptural approach to prayer that may yield major results in your life, family, and ministry. 


Our Father in heaven, 

You are my Hope, my Victory, and my Peace. Because you are the only sovereign King who rules over all heaven and earth, I will be confident and unafraid today. My strength, my courage, and my joy come only from You, Lord. You alone are my Savior. (Matthew 12:20-21; Isaiah 9:6-7; I Timothy 6:15-16; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 12:2)

I come to You, Father, only through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross and shed His blood to forgive all my sins - past, present, and future - and who rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent His Spirit to live in me. (Romans 5:8-10; I Corinthians 15:3-6; Acts 1:8-9)

I come to You, Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit who has caused me to be born again, who now lives in me, and who intercedes for me with groanings too deep for words. (John 3:3-8, John 14:16-17, Romans 8:26)

I come boldly to Your throne of grace to find Your help in my time of need. I need You today, Lord. I am desperate for You. I trust You, Lord God, to defeat my enemies - the world, the flesh, and the devil - that wage war against the physical, relational, emotional, and spiritual health of my family, my ministry, and my soul. (Hebrews 4:16; Psalm 63:1; Ephesians 6:10-18)

I ask You, Lord God, to demonstrate Your great power over the enemy. Win victories this day in, through, with, and for me. I realize that I am not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

I am Your child, heavenly Father. Since I am Your child, then I am Your heir - an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ. Because I am in Christ, I can now resist the devil. In Christ, I claim the promise that no weapon formed against me or my family shall prosper. (Romans 8:15-17; I Peter 5:8-9; Isaiah 54:17)

Holy Spirit, lead me and guide me today. Fill me.  Bear Your fruit through me. Grant to me the ability to discern between righteousness and wickedness and the wisdom to choose the path of righteousness. (Romans 8:13-14; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:10; Joshua 24:14-15)

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for rescuing me from my sins and the devil’s stronghold by going to the cross for me. You have disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them through Your work on the cross.  (Colossians 2:13-15; II Corinthians 2:14) 

Thank You for clothing me in Your righteousness in Christ Jesus. I am Your property. I belong to You, Lord. Grant to me Your prosperity as I delight in Your law and meditate on Your Word. (Isaiah 61:10; I Corinthians 6:19-20; Psalm 1:1-3; Joshua 1:8)

I know that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion wanting to devour me. He and his demons are seeking to steal, kill, and destroy everything good and godly that I hold dear. Help me today to trust in You, to win today’s spiritual battles, and to bring glory and honor to Your name. (1 Peter 5:8; John 10:10b; Ephesians 6:12; Luke 10:18)

When the enemy causes me to doubt my identity in Christ - telling me I’m a worthless sinner, a lost cause, an embarrassment to You - remind me of whose I am and who You say I am - a saint, a new creation, Your beloved child, living new in Christ. (Ephesians 1:1; II Corinthians 5:17; John 3:16)

Lord, please forgive me for the ways I have given the enemy opportunities to gain any foothold or stronghold in my life, my family, or my ministry.  By Your grace and for Your glory, help me take back any ground he’s gained in my life, in my family, or in my ministry. Help me be aware of his schemes and to not be ignorant of his devices. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Psalm 139:23-24; Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11; II Corinthians 2:11)

Sovereign God, keep me from the enemy: the evil one, the tempter, the accuser. Protect me from his followers, fallen angels who are now the evil spirits who are seeking to minimize and neutralize my life in Christ. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one. (Revelation 12:7-9; Matthew 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Revelation 12:10, Leviticus 17:7; Luke 8:30; Luke 7:21)

Help me to submit again today to Your authority, Your control, and Your will. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in and through me. Lead me to say “no” to the devil and his temptations and “yes” to You and Your abundant life. By Your power, help me resist the devil and see him flee. (Matthew 6:10; Luke 9:23; John 10:10; James 4:7)

Lord Jesus, help me to live in the light of Your presence. Lead me in Your paths of righteousness and away from anything evil. (John 17:15; Ephesians 1:18-23; John 12:26; Psalm 23:3)

Mighty Lord, thank You for spiritual armor for the spiritual battle - the belt of truth; breastplate of righteousness; helmet of salvation; feet fitted with the readiness of the Gospel of peace; shield of faith; and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  By faith, I now put on each piece. Help me remain strong in Your mighty power and stand against the enemy’s wicked schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Thank You for such spiritual weapons as faith, truth, and righteousness that demolish strongholds.  Help me to keep my mind fixed on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  (II Corinthians 10:3-6; Philippians 4:8)

Holy Spirit, I know my own actions can open the door to the enemy. Lead me to be humble, not prideful; forgiving, not holding grudges; content, not striving for what doesn’t satisfy. (II Corinthians 2:10-11; Galatians 5:22,23; Ephesians 4:27)

I recognize that the devil is attempting to incite me to sin - to prompt me to do evil. I’m desperately dependent on You to fight off the enemy’s deceitful attacks. (1 Chronicles 21:1; John 13:2; Acts 5:3)

I pray as well for each member of my family and for my pastors, church staff, and fellow believers. May they also suit up in Your armor and experience victory by Your power. (Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; Hebrews 13:18; 1 Peter 5:8-10)

Assist me now, Lord, as I exert my authority in Christ over the enemy. (Because we wrestle against demons - spiritual forces of wickedness, this is an opportunity to address and resist the evil spirit behind particular sins or temptations you or your loved ones are facing such as unbelief, depression, anger, lust, fear, greed, despair, pride, sloth, etc.)

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who shed His blood on the cross and rose from the grave, I command you, evil spirit of ___________ to leave me, my family, and my ministry. Because I am in Christ and stand in His victory over you, you must flee. Evil spirits, rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of darkness, you are now bound from my mind, my body, my soul, my family, my home, and my ministry. In the name of Jesus, I resist the devil and all demons.  

Now, I ask You, Lord God, to build a hedge of protection around me and my loved ones throughout this day and night. I ask You, in the name of Jesus, to send angels to surround us and to protect us today and every day.  Guard our souls, bodies, minds, wills and emotions.  May Your holy angels protect us from any and all harmful demonic attacks. Because the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with me, I live by faith and know that You, the  God of peace, will soon crush Satan under my feet. (Job 1:10; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 34:7; Romans 16:20)

Almighty God, use me as a soldier in Your spiritual battles. I need not live in fear because greater are You who lives inside me than the enemy who is in the world. Enable me to fight the good fight and advance Your Kingdom into the enemy’s occupied territory.
(Colossians 2:15; 1 John 4:4; II Timothy 4:6-8)

Father God, keep me alert to the evil one with spiritual eyes wide open as You use me to make a difference for eternity by helping other people come to know You, grow in You, and live for You. (1 Thessalonians 5:6; Proverbs 4:23, 1 Corinthians 10:12; Matthew 28:19-20)

O Lord, thank You that absolutely nothing - not even the spiritual forces of evil - can separate me from Your love. (Romans 8:38-39; Luke 4:1-13)

I ask all of this in the name of Jesus.

Amen and Amen.


This prayer has been written as a result of my personal study and with help from Dean Ridings, author of the Pray!Prayer Journal (NavPress) and Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Friday, January 09, 2015

How to Make Sure You Reach Your Annual Goals

This morning, my discipleship huddle spent time thinking through personal growth plans, goal-setting, and goal-keeping. I wrote at the top of a Post-it “How to Make Sure You Reach Your Annual Goals.” Here's what the guys in my huddle and I came up with. 

1.      Keep your goals visible!

Make sure that you post your goals in places that will grab your attention. Put them in your journal. Post them in your bathroom. Hang them in your office. We just need to make sure they are not "out of sight; out of mind."

2.      Review your goals regularly.

Build into your schedule the opportunity to look at your goals on a routine basis. You could scan them once a day. You could spend 15 minutes with them on a weekly basis, perhaps on Sunday night before you begin your work week. Once a month, you might want to spend about an hour with your goals.

3.      Re-set your goals to make sure they are attainable.

After reviewing your goals, you might see the need to re-set them. Perhaps the goal was too easy to attain. Or perhaps it was too hard. Perhaps God is leading you to delete the goal altogether. Someone said, "It's the unexamined life that's not worth living." By extension, it's the unexamined, un-re-set goal that's not worth keeping.

4.      Be accountable to people who will help and encourage you.

Go public with your goals. You don’t need to share them with everyone. But you do need to share them with people who will pray for you, encourage you, and inspire you to live up to your potential in Christ. So, who will you share your goals with?

5.      Create small action steps related to each goal.

Get moving. Do something small toward accomplishing the goal. It may not seem like much, but small positive movements forward will make a big difference over the course of the year. "A journey of 1000 miles begins with the first small step."

6.      Seek the Lord’s guidance and enabling.

Make sure that your goal is not just a good idea but a God idea. This is where Proverbs 3:5–6 comes into play. Hopefully, you sought the Lord as you set the goals. Continue to seek the Lord as you review and re-set. And remember, Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing."

7.      Approach your goals as a Beloved Child.

As you seek to accomplish your goals, you will find yourself falling short over and over again. You can easily become discouraged and can accuse and condemn yourself for not measuring up. But you must never forget that you are a sinner who is saved by grace and, therefore, have become a saint of God. This is when it's good for you to remember that God loves you not because of what you have done for Him but because of what Jesus has done for you. You have great worth apart from your goal-setting and goal-keeping. Christ has given His life for you and imparts great value to you. You are deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally accepted, and complete in Christ. It's God's kindness that leads you to repent of not attaining His goals. Let the knowledge of the grace of God, which is yours in Christ, be the fuel to inspire you to do great things for Him.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

How just a little encouragement can make a big difference

"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25a).

The world can be a very discouraging place. We can be surrounded  by toxic, draining, demanding people at work or even at home. We can often feel like we don't measure up.

This is why we need to be involved in life-giving small groups of Christ-followers. 

None of us can make it alone. We weren't meant to. We need to belong to a small group of believers to help keep us get and stay fit for God.

In the first years of the Christian faith, church buildings didn’t exist. Church meetings were held in homes. That’s why we should be excited to participate in LifeGroups. LifeGroups get us back in touch with what the church is really meant to be.

One of the purposes of a group is to encourage each other – to help each other stay in shape spiritually.

I have a friend who had a very difficult year in 2014. There was a time in his life during the course of the year he found himself deeply discouraged. His ministry shut down. His finances were difficult. He experienced the death dream. He wondered if his life mattered.

Then, a text message came to him from a friend. As he looked back a last year, he realized that that that text message made a huge difference in his life. He thanked the sender:

"I want to thank [you] for staying in touch with us and loving us as family, and for being a constant encouragement to our family. At one of my lowest moments in 2014, you sent me a text message out of the blue, you said many wonderful things but at the end you urged me to not give up on God or myself or my calling... because [you wrote to me] the world needs you... That not only made me feel like a Super Hero (lol) for a brief moment, but it gave me a spark to begin dreaming again."

Wow. The life-giving power of encouraging words!

I wonder, "Who might need that kind of encouragement from me? And am I in deep relationships with people so that they could encourage me when I get discouraged?"

Who might need a text or a note or a card or a call or a conversation over a cup of coffee like this from you?

What are you waiting for?

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