O’ Leader, Where Art Thou?

You want to go to a great leadership seminar but don’t have the money? Well, I can’t float you a loan, but I can give you some advice in a few short minutes that saves you from three days of training. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not being an arrogant know-it-all. This advice comes from scripture and from training I have received over the decades in sales and church ministry training.

The first thing
If you are having success in a certain ministry, does it make you feel good to be recognized? Really, who doesn’t appreciate recognition for a job well done? Putting hours on end into service, and then dealing with those difficult “children of the Lord,” ought to be rewarded with at  recognition if nothing else, right?
WRONG!
Paul had to write the Corinthian church, reminding them they were still “carnal” because of the report he received that the church was dividing itself by boasting about which “big time evangelist” baptized them.

…”one of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’, still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?”…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel-not with human words of wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be EMPTIED of it’s power.” 1 Cor. 1:12-13, 17 (read the whole passage 10-17)

Die to applause, don’t worry about who gets credit. You are only leading by God’s grace in Christ. Needing praise for your “ministry” is “you centered” and will cause a power outage in your spirituality. “But it is my ministry, what God gave me to do.” you say. Really?

“All of me, none of God. Some of me, some of God. None of me, all of God.” anon.

The number two reason
Leader: Here is what we are going to do.
Helpers: I don’t know about that.
Leader: This is not subject to discussion.
Helpers: That’s messed up…that won’t work, I think I’ll find another church to attend.

Why have leaders that have no part in the ministry? Here’s why. You need them to lead the groups to follow YOUR agenda…WRONG. If you are here, return to Go, directly to go and do not collect $200. (monopoly players get that) It is not about you. If you think it is, resign immediately and get to celebrate recovery for your megotistic approach.

“For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.” Prov.24:6
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Prov.27:17

Please hear what I’m trying to say. Give your ministry a real nice burial. Take what God has given you in talent as a seed to plant in others. The idea is to multiply your talent, magnify Christ, glorify God, and the Holy Spirit will lead people to what God is doing in your group. You plant, another waters…and God gives the increase. Paradoxically, you give praise away, God increases you.


We give nothing that God does not honor, when we give it to, or in honor of Him.

I hope you give these two reasons some thought. There are others, perhaps for another time.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

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Stay in the Fight

Giving up is easy. Standing your ground, refusing to accept defeat is hard. Are these statements accurate? People have this tendency to hang on to things they need to let go of, and let go of things they should really fight for.

Recovering from a bad addiction, or alcoholism is worth fighting with everything within you. No one plans to die alone in some back alley, or having a loved one find them dead having over-dosed. It happens daily. Why would anyone give in? Mainly they have had  too many failures, little support, or too many helping them when they should stop.

Arrogance is another problem. Many who like the dog returning to chow on his vomit, pride gives them this feeling of being unique, and this time it will be different. (Yep, I’m very frustrated)

I don’t want to give up, nor do I even look to that old way with a desire to drink or drug. I know with God’s help I can stand. Where I struggle today is from those I know personally who are so full of self-diluted pride that they don’t want help, or want to give help to others. They learned one thing well in their addiction…how to con, they think. But there again, that’s an illusion, their con is plain to all.

Don’t give up. Fight it out, fight to win. Take advice. Believe God will help you. And for you who follow my blog, pray for me, like Paul asked the church to pray for him:

“And pray for me too. Ask God to give me the right words so that I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jew and Gentile alike.” ( for everyone) Eph.6:19

Recovery is for all too, but only works for those who want it, not those who need it. Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Giving Ideas (some surprises)

This is the time of year we dig into our pockets through the lint and pull out a few cents for charities. Generosity throughout the year to remember the needy is noble and important, and comes with promise when done with cheerfulness, and out of love and concern.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and the best part of everything you produce. Then He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.” Prov.3:9-10

We should also be good stewards of what God gives us, whether it is your salary, or donating your clothing and items of value. For example; the name Goodwill Stores indicates a place for donations, where the proceeds go to needy people. Goodwill is privately owned and 0% goes to help needy or poor people. Here are some others:

UNICEF
Less than 5 cents from each dollar goes to the cause. The CEO has a 1.2 mil salary, perks, including a Rolls Royce to drive.
The United Way
CEO gets nearly $400k and many perks…and the larger percentage of donations goes to controlling the population, especially in the poor and middle-classes.
In spite of what you believe, The American Red Cross and the March of Dimes, also have highly paid CEO’s and pennies go to help from every dollar.

Be smart, give to worthy causes. The ones to give to are like The Salvation Army. Their CEO receives a $13000 salary per year, plus an apartment. Samaritan’s Purse, Matthew 25 Ministries, Operation Blessing, as well as local food banks are all worthy causes.

The American legion, Amvets, Make A Wish, St. Jude’s hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and The Lions Club Int. all are worth giving to with 100% of donations going to the causes.

The main thing is give, give wisely, not off-the-cuff, or uncaring. There are many worthy causes to donate to that I haven’t mentioned, some unworthy…even some “ministries” you do not want to give to. Be wary before generous.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

How to Live a Long Life

 
Mom, dad, and my wife Judy holding baby Georgia, 10 of 11 great-granchildren

    How do you explain someone living to be 83 years old, having been diabetic for 47 years? Most people with that disease are fortunate to see 70 years. My mom turned 83 yesterday, and still takes care of herself, her home, and is actively serving others. Happen-stance, longevity in her family, remarkable strides in medicine, living a life smoke free, no drinking? These may all contribute, and are facts of living healthy. But I want to submit this truth to you as well:

“My child, never forget the things that I have taught you. Store up my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.” Prov. 3:1-2

“Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commands you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land your God is giving you.” Deut.5:12 (This is the first of the 10 commandments that has a promise attached)

My mom accepted Christ into her heart at 9 years old, and has never looked back. She has never stopped loving God, and serving Him by serving others. She and dad are givers, not just money to their church, but to the needy, giving to spiritual and physical needs.

Don’t think for a moment her goodness made her this way. It is God’s grace alone, and she knows it. To see the two of them, along with Audrey, a sainted woman, so dear to our family, go out and visit the elderly in retirement homes, sing to them, pray with them, and just talk to them, is the radical, furious love of God in action. Mom, dad, and Audrey are aware of this, and do this ministry quietly, without attention.

My mom, honored her parents. She stored up God and His Word in her life, and has been obedient to Him. God has given her long life. Raised poor, but unaware. Raising her children to know God, without question. Serving others, without thought. This is a life well lived and I hope not over for a while to come.

I don’t want anyone to think that she is perfect. She gets put out by the lack of manners and kindness of this age. She will never understand weekend sports tournaments that interfere with church attendance. She will tell you what she thinks if you ask, but will refrain if she knows it won’t help, or will hurt you. To our family, she is worthy of sainthood. Blessings to you mom, I love you very deeply.

I really believe that her life, dad’s too, has been preserved by God from their obedience to Him, their honoring and doing whatever God directs them. I also don’t have all of the answers why people like them die younger, and do. But just maybe the difference is action…not just a hearer of God’s Word, but doers of His Word.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Being Dad: A Shepherd

I wrote pages of thoughts about fathers. What does it mean to be a good dad, a bad dad, or an M.I.A.? The thoughts may have been many, but would they make a father pause and think, maybe make a change? I couldn’t really come up with a comfort zone in my thinking, what makes me feel I have the answers? We do have the answer book in scripture. By following what we read about a father’s instructions in Proverbs, we can also read through biblical accounts of fathers in the Old Testament, which are examples of how to, or how not to father children to live extraordinary lives. and that is what I suggest, read those accounts. In nearly every account, Bible fathers weren’t good at fathering, perhaps lack of knowing “how to,” performing the same mistakes of their fathers, expecting different results.

One character was named Eli. He had two sons, and they were priests like Eli. Eli knew his sons were bad, fornicating with the young females who served at the temple, doing as they pleased with the sacrifices, disobedient to the laws. They were what we would consider bullies, using their ministry to please themselves. When Samuel came to live with Eli in the temple, God gave Samuel a dream telling him what would happen to Eli and his sons if they didn’t turn from their evil ways. Eli knew about the dream, and asked Samuel to tell him what is was all about:

“What did the Lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!” So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is the Lord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best,” 1 Sam.3:17-18 ( you can read the entire account in 1 Sam.1-2)

Eli refused to discipline his sons. Hearing what God said from Samuel’s dream, he responds, “oh well, go ahead God, have at it.” I think Eli was fearful of what his sons would do to him if he had them removed from their position. In short, they died, Eli died, and their posterity was removed from the earth. Discipline is a must for a father. Ignoring a child’s bad behavior is wronging the child, or children in ways that are nearly un-reversible. You must discipline, but you must do so in love, or out of a heart of love for your child and their future. That is not using physical, or verbal abuse. It is shepherding your child, steering the course of their life.

The Shepherd of our souls, Jesus, gave man a whole different picture of God as Father. The people of his day didn’t like Jesus calling God his father, that to them, was blasphemy. But Jesus wanted you and I to see God for what He really is…love. He could have consumed Eli and his sons without warning, but even these bullies, He loved and warned them. The beauty of God as Father, knowing that the Almighty Creator wants to be “Abba” to all people everywhere, is astoundingly unthinkable. This revelation of Him is rejected by even the believers who want to see Father as Judge only, fueled by traditional knowledge, and by our darkened understanding. Abba, (daddy), wants us to crawl into His lap like a child in adoration of His multi-faceted character of grace, mercy, and love. He desires to grant us our needs, even our wants, because we are brought near to Him again by the blood of Christ.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.” Eph.5:1 NLT

As I stated, I had pages written about dads, that may be just my opinion, not so printable. Being a good dad may not be easy to “ace.” If we take accounts from scripture, real truth, we can improve our ability to father are children with good discipline, not abuse, but by boundaries. Through the Word, we can learn to teach our young, listen to their needs, and lead by example. Devour the scripture, hunger for direction from God in rearing children. above all, thirst for a relationship with Abba, He will direct every step you take in His love.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Heavy Hands

I spend a few moments nearly every morning on Facebook, wishing Happy birthdays mainly, checking personal messages, etc. I always check out the news feed too. I notice quite a bit of gloom in many of the posts. I also look over my own blogs, noticing how many seem dark and reflect the misery of people wrapped in addictions. Turn on the morning news and you get slapped in the face with world and national sorrows, seldom do the networks share joy. Off we go about our day carrying the weight of the world. So when we get to our jobs, there is no smile, no encouragement to share with others that need a boost.

I have an exercise you may want to try. Clap three times, stretch your hands toward the ceiling. (This is not a magic formula like clicking your heels together three times, you’re not in Oz, you’re not Dorothy) Now, when you do this add these words, “for God is good, his mercy always endures!” Do this several times. If you don’t feel better…go see a physician.

Why carry the weight? Why be downcast and miserable?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…bind up the broken…proclaim liberty to the captives…release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all that mourn…provide for those who grieve in Zion…a crown of beauty instead of ashes…oil of gladness instead of mourning…and a GARMENT OF PRAISE, instead of a spirit of despair!” Is.63:1-3 NIV

“Wash your face every morning in praise.” Chas.H Spurgeon

“Come everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! Ps.47:1 NLT

“Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down”…Heb 12:12 KJV

Make a joyful noise unto God, all the earth!” Ps.66:1 AMP

Coming out from under the load of life struggles may require some strange activity on our part. One day I was at work and had the blues so bad, such a sense of oppression, that I felt I could not work. My partner and I were given a job that required me to ride the back of the rail cars, while he ran the locomotive ten cars away. I boarded the rear car and suddenly, through the heavy despair, I sensed to spend this alone time in praise of God for His omniscience, His omnipresence, His omnipotence. As we moved along and I worshipped in praise…the heaviness lifted, entirely! People may have thought me insane, talking to myself, but I didn’t care. God is worthy of praise no matter if I am in a crowd or alone.

Jehoshaphat sent the singers and praisers ahead of the army in a battle they could not win. (2 Chron.20) As they began to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness…God sent angels to confuse the enemy, the enemy turned on each other, praise works.

Clap, sing, stretch your hands toward the heavens saying to God, help, Abba! Tell Him how great He is in your eyes. Like Jehoshaphat…He will roar out of Zion in your defense, He will strip the yoke of heaviness off of your shoulders!

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Birthing and Breakthroughs

God is about reading to give you that breakthrough.” the media ministers exclaim. Not one, but many on Christian TV and radio ministries use this expression. I received an email some time back of a skeleton sitting at the computer with the caption, “still waiting for the miracle” below the picture. I thought that was hilarious after hundreds of emails promising a miracle would happen if I would send that email to 20 friends. The miracle was real if I would forward the email. Those 20 people would miraculously end up on a mailing list they didn’t want. I learned no matter how cool the email was not to forward it if the mail had a message at the bottom like that. I especially hated the email that said, “if you are not ashamed of Jesus, you WILL forward this.” Really? I group those emails with the evangelist’s breakthrough promises.

Business as Usual

I am concerned that we, followers of Christ have heard so much rhetoric from religious programming over the years, that we take for granted that what is preached by someone famous on the boob-tube is truth. First of all, God is not a procrastinator. He is not “getting ready” to do anything for you or me. Jer. 29:11 doesn’t say “I’m getting ready to have thoughts about you”…it says this:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” nkjv

He already has a plan for you and I. Before we arrived on this planet, He already had the plan laid out, the perfect plan. It is our coming into conformity with the Word of Truth that brings us in line with His perfect will in our lives. Not the promise of sending in a faith offering to Brother so and so, and keep his faithless ministry going. “Folks, if you don’t send in the money we need, we are getting ready to go off the air!” Adios! Tata! See ya! Go off the air then! If God called you into that ministry, it’s a shame to think He isn’t strong enough to keep you afloat. Quit playing on the emotions of people and misleading them so you get to take the first-class ocean cruise instead of the coach-cruise. Please stop embarrassing the body of Christ in the media, and bringing reproach on Jesus. It is okay to ask for financial help for your ministry, but please stop begging, stop promising a “breakthrough.” I do believe 1 Tim. 3:1-9 and 2 Pet.2, is speaking of some of these “waterless wells.”

Intentions and Truth
Many of those, perhaps the majority of media ministries are good, wonderful people who love God and have all of the integrity you would expect. But even they can choose wrong ways of expressing their needs for financial help, and people are mislead in a pay-to-play gospel, contorted in their minds by the enemy.The second thing I feel leaves an ugly scar on the body is that, I’m not getting any “breakthroughs” from God. I received THE breakthrough when I accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. According to scripture, I have been adopted into God’s household with full privileges because of what Jesus has done through His death, burial, and resurrection, the only breakthrough needed.

Birthing (real breakthrough)
I love to listen to many of the radio and TV broadcasts we are blessed to have today. They are there for edification of the body of Christ, and for God’s glory. But the breakthroughs, or answers to prayer, and the conforming to the image of Christ comes from birthing such in prayer in travail, and intercession, in tears and trial, in dying to self and servicing the body. ( I am speaking to me, more than you here) Fasting from ourselves, and from certain foods, or totally fasting with water only, going into the prisons, visiting the sick, and all of the things Jesus spoke of in Matt.25:34-40, is where we birth spiritual fruit into the physical world, not purchased with money.

Final Word
I am not trying to speak in a condescending manner, or be a spiritual know-it-all. God, in my thinking, does not give us breakthroughs, we birth them in spiritual practices, or through the workings of the Spirit of God in us. We experience breakthroughs through brokenness. I thought of a man watching a TV minister tell the audience God is getting ready to give them their breakthrough if they are obedient and send a “love gift” to his ministry. It really doesn’t matter that the man is a critic, a gossip, and verbally abuses his family. He wants that breakthrough so he can be blessed by God. Give it some thought, what do you think?

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

A Merry Heart

This post is a page from my book “Under The Influence.” I wish to thank all of you that have obtained your copy, and thank you for all of the kind remarks. Most importantly, it is helping those struggling to stay clean and sober as they grow in Christ, and oddly enough, those without addictions to substances are using it, and benefitting daily as well. It is a very simple daily guide written by a very simple person, proving God uses simple things and people to achieve His purpose and confound man’s wisdom. I feel this work will enhance any recovery program, especially Celebrate Recovery, AA, NA, and the like. Here we go:

Today’s verse: “A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you fit as a fiddle.!” Prov.15:13 MSG
Quote:
“A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.” Mignon McLaughlin

I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? I love the company of those who love to be jovial all of the time. When I’m around an elderly person that is spry in spirit and has a twinkle in their eyes, I could listen to them talk for hours. What a blessing they are! Whenever we get a chance to, we need to be around laughter and merriment because it edifies us and builds us up.
Remember those times before Christ entered into our hearts. Never forget how addiction to drugs and alcohol stole the joy from our lives. By our keeping those memories alive, we avoid the thoughts of living in that misery ever again. Laugh everyday. Laugh for no reason, just laugh! Life today is glorious, even in trials, because we know where we are going, and the joy that awaits us there.

Prayer: God, You are so awesome! You have given me joy for sorrow and given me a reason to laugh. Thank You, amen.

Today I am grateful for these things:

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all! If you would like to get a copy of “Under The Influence,” go to www.tatepublishing.com or you can get it from your local bookstore, order from www.skeithbarnes.com or Amazon, Nook, Kindle. Get it and make it your daily devotion!

The Hurting and the Hidden

I really had intended to lay off the blogs for a time, you know, I was kinda looking at how many hours I spend weekly on these posts, and if it were not for the stats I receive from my web host, I would think I’m talking to myself. Thanks again for those of you who read my blogs, I hope they are helpful to you. A new year has arrived and my intent is to work harder to serve more while staying balanced body, soul, and spirit. I’ll need God’s strength for that goal to be realized.
I went to the Hope House tonight and told my story to the men living there. The youngest of these was a young man of 18, struggling for hope, reaching his hearing for words of inspiration that may change the direction of his life. There were many others in the room and some listened intently, others were there to maybe just get out of their room. All of these bottomed out from a life of self-serving, or pushed to the bottom from their upbringing. That is a strange word, isn’t it. Down-casting may be a better way of describing the lives of some these dear men’s lives. Yeah, I know, they had a choice, they chose wrong, you didn’t, so it becomes easy to point out how their life went south.
My previous talk to a group was in a golf clubhouse in a neighborhood of which the low-end homes were probably a half a mil, easy. I sensed their sincerity and concern for the bottomed out and broken, and in that room as well, there was hurting and brokenness from addictions and co-dependency. The rich, the poor, and the in-between, problems seem insurmountable. All of us need help from our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We must have direction, leadership, parenting by the godly to return to this country, or heaven help us.
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 25:21
Do you sense the hurting of the drug and alcohol addicted? the porn addict? the gambler? the co-dependent family and friends? It’s their choice, right? I wonder who has the greater addiction, the one using drugs, or the one passing the judgment so easily. I am disturbed in my spirit by my own insensitivity towards the judgmental crowd, their addiction to their opinions and personal haughtiness. And disturbed I should be…I’m in their number. It isn’t just the drug user or the alcoholic that do what is right in their own eyes. We all do, thinking we’re above reproach. Mercy, humility, concern…where are you?
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Looking Ahead

 

2012 is nearly in the history books and I can say, goodbye. I think that this past year has been the most challenging year for me personally, great in many ways, and disappointing in others. Things I planned to do remain to do because of time, mainly. In ways, I feel that I have been able to have an effect on some in a positive way, in others I have more than likely disappointed them…there’s just not enough time. People can be gracious, thank God. If they have a hurt feeling as a result of my lack of attention toward them, I apologize sincerely.

The Plan
2013 looks like a carbon copy of 2012 from a natural standpoint. But I don’t care to view the “natural standpoint” as normal for me personally. I want to attain a higher quality of service to those in recovery from addictions, spend more time with my wife, my aging parents, the children and grandchildren, writing, promoting my book through speaking engagements, and keeping spiritually fit. This is a tall order when you add 40+ hours per week on the job that is shift work. None of what I am saying is an excuse if I do not accomplish these things. I know whoever is reading this probably are thinking about their busy life, and how they can self-improve as well.

How is this possible?
The fact is, this is not an attainable goal. Too much on the plate can cause one to overeat. Overeating makes one lethargic and seeing how much they need to choke down. Less will be accomplished. My head says, I can do it, my family needs me, there are people to help…for crying out loud, “Lord how do I do all of this?” He is silent. He knows the exact answer to this dilemma.

“Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of his father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters-yes, even one’s own self!-can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27 MSG

This statement by Jesus cause many to think the cost is too great to get serious about following him too closely. God wants us to take care of what he has entrusted us with, be a good steward, they think. This gives us the excuse we need to not do his will because we are busy doing his will. A bigger dilemma. Most of us have an issue with this passage, because we don’t understand what Jesus is saying. His statement here is the answer we are looking for.

Willingness, Attitude, Surrender
He is saying this: You just be willing, surrender trying to hang on to the controls, and please change your hopeless attitude. Those things that overwhelm you, impossible lists of things to do, and trying to please everyone, blinds you to the most important thing you need to pay attention to…time with me. I have to respond to him…yes you are absolutely right. All of the insane attempts to serve the world of problems of others and my own, must be put to death in my mind, surrendered. I have to be willing to ignore the important things in my head, change my attitude completely about being “there” for everyone. I need to only be “there” for One…Christ Jesus. My long list of improvements, my concerns about 2013, must come second to Him. So I die daily to my ambitions, to know Him in the power of His resurrection, and in the fellowship of His sufferings…not my sufferings.

The funny thing is this: Those things placed at his feet get accomplished with less effort on my part. He finds the way to their fulfillment when you and I place our focus on Him. So spending more time in communion with Him is the goal for the upcoming year, at least for me.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!