Friday, May 31, 2013

Radical Tansformation

There are a lot of self-help videos, books and seminars that are available that provide some assistance when it comes to enabling change.

We all want to change whether it is losing weight, spending less money, getting out of debt, being a better father or mother or simply waking up on time.  Almost any advice will work if the advice is followed and a person is truly earnest and determined to make the change.

The problem with most of these self-help techniques however is that they never get to the heart of the issue.  Our very nature needs to change.  We need more than a tune-up; we need to be transformed. 

Some theologians and even some famous philosophers like Rousseau and more contemporary philosophers like Abraham Maslow teach that man is inherently ‘good’ and that if we are bad it must because of some societal cause or perhaps a mental illness.

I've read these philosophies and often thought they may be well-meaning but actually quite nieve.  Instead of looking at the obvious they search for some other explanation. 

Most of us that are parents know from experience that the nature our children are born with is not altogether good.  My children, no matter how cute (and they were) didn’t need to learn selfishness or how to easily become jealous when attention was directed anywhere other than them.  They didn't need to learn it because they were born with it like every other little baby that cries for their mother or takes shiny toys away from siblings. 

The Bible is truth, not philosophy and is actually quite clear.  The Apostle Paul speaks eloquently of a ‘sin nature’.  The Bible says that there is a propensity for men and women to follow their heart that the Prophet Jeremiah called “deceitfully wicked”.

At the core of our issues and our need for change is that we need a radical transformation. The Bible calls this a ‘new birth’.  Jesus said that we needed to be “born again” no matter how religious or how good we may think we are.  Fortunately for us, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that causes this radical transformation.  

We however do get to participate.  When God offers His grace we simply respond.   We embrace the forgiveness that Jesus provides and lean towards this new relationship that has reconciled us back with our God.    As we have been changed, we no longer conform any longer to the world as we no longer belong to this world. 

The Apostle Paul encourages us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Leading Through Encouraging



A few years ago, I met the head of a successful software company at a conference in Los Angeles.  His business card had his name and his title, “Chief Encouragement Officer”.  This was a man who understood a lot about leadership and what it meant to become an encourager.


Studies have shown that people are naturally attracted to positive people.  When we have the opportunity to encourage and speak words of affirmation and praise, we draw people into our circle of influence.  Leadership is all about influence and we earn it when people are drawn to us.


Leaders also know that in order to be able to coach and provide correction, it’s important to earn trust and support.   By accentuating the positive and encouraging people we earn the right as well to identify course corrections and improvements in task and process.  Leading through encouraging means that we always find the positive, we always affirm, we always bless.  


Ephesians 4:29 gives us some great advice, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Character Development



Child development is a major focus of our society; so much so that the term “child development’ returns over 226 million articles on the web.    Even in the church, much of our efforts are directed to our children and students in developing moral character, teaching the ethics, Christian principles and values that are so important as children move into adolescence and early adulthood.


However, character development is not supposed to stop in our 20s.  Quite the contrary, almost everyone I know understands how much of their character has been continuously developing as they continue to grow and learn and mature.


Every day we make choices.  Character can be defined as the decisions that have been formulated and secured long before the choice is presented.   Joseph showed that in the decision that he had made not to violate himself and offend the Lord and his earthly master when Potiphar’s wife came to tempt him.   In the same way, Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” by eating at the King’s table.


It’s our mission in life to continually develop our character.   The Apostles and disciples of Jesus were merely human.  Their character was flawed, they argued over who was greater and were jealous of each other.   However over time, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, these men and women became strong and victorious.  The Lord had built their character through example and through experiences including suffering.  In Romans chapter 5, the Apostle Paul explains the process starting with our coming to faith:

 “ Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”


When we realize how much we have to learn, how much our character needs to be developed we can resolve to keep our eyes and our heart on our personal character development.  In the Book of Hebrews we are encouraged, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith"

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