Archive for: October, 2013

A Look in the Rear View Mirror

Oct 28 2013 Published by under Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Rev. Gary J. Blanchard

Blanchard29One evening as I was preparing to leave the office I was going through my normal end of the day routine.  I’m sure you have one.

I neatly collected all of the papers that had accumulated on my desk, made a “to-do” list for the next day and stuffed it all in a drawer (I like to see a clean desk at the end of the day).  Then I turned to my computer and began logging out of open programs.  My home page is the St. Louis Post Dispatch website…and I did my usual last minute scan of the page.  That’s when something caught my eye.

It was a quiz on fast food restaurants.  As a veteran road warrior, I consider myself an authority on fast food restaurants, so I decided to take the quiz.  As the page opened I found a warning written in big bold letters; “Warning – sounds accompany each answer, if you are at work adjust the volume now.”  At first I found the statement rather odd, but upon reflection I realized it was a warning regarding integrity in the work place.  They didn’t want to be responsible for someone getting caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing on company time.

Integrity is usually described in terms of morals or ethics.  We’ve all heard the simple definition that says integrity is who you are when you’re all alone.  But there’s more to integrity.

One of the best books I’ve read on the topic is “Integrity: the courage to meet the demands of reality” by Dr. Henry Cloud.  He created an effective analogy for integrity in the workplace by describing it as the wake of a boat.  Dr. Cloud believes you can learn a lot about a person by observing the wake they leave behind.  He identifies two sides to the wake; tasks and relationships.  In other words, integrity in the workplace has a lot to do with what a person accomplishes and how they deal with people.

What does the wake look like in terms of tasks?  A perfect wake includes a mission accomplished.  Goals reached.  Tasks completed in an effective and timely manner.  Creativity.  Better systems and processes.  A wave creating wake may look like a failed mission.  Unreached goals.  Incomplete tasks.  Disorganization and chaos.  Inactivity and nothing happening.

Results do matter. You can learn a lot about a person from their track record.  Dr. Cloud comments, “When we look at results, the wake, we are really looking at ourselves and learning something about our character in the same way that the wake of a ship tells us a lot about the ship. The wake is the results we leave behind.  And the wake doesn’t lie and it doesn’t care about excuses.”

The same is true on the people side. What are the results of our encounters with people?  Have people grown as a result of being around us?  Are they more productive?  Are they stretched and challenged to go on to greater things?  Did they learn from us and feel encouraged? Or do we leave people wounded?  Less trusting?  Feeling put down or cheated, disappointed or lied to?

Integrity touches every aspect of our everyday life.  Luke 16:10 in The Message reads, “If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in the big things; If you’re a crook in small things; you’ll be a crook in big things.  If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?”

Every now and then we need to look in the rear view mirror. What kind of wake are we leaving behind?

Rev. Gary J. Blanchard serves as Assistant Superintendent & Executive Secretary of the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God.

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The Battle Cry of the Believer

Oct 18 2013 Published by under Life, Ministry

By Rev. Efraim Espinoza

Efraim2012pic-smallTeam sports are an integral part of our world today.   Many teams – professional, collegiate, and even national, have their own unique cheer.  The team is easily identifiable by their “battle cry.” At times, the actual participants on the field of play will wave their arms to encourage the fans in the stadium to loudly express their cheer/battle cry in support of the athletes that are totally involved.

 

As a believer, I have frequently identified with the apostle Paul when in the midst of the storm, he expressed a “battle cry” that clearly proclaimed his trust in God.  In Acts 27:25, Paul declares, “I believe God…” while they were still struggling in the boat.  It was still “I believe God…” when Paul and his fellow passengers experienced the shipwreck and miraculously arrived safely to shore.  Paul’s battle cry, “I believe God…” was still a reality when the poisonous snake bit his hand.

 

Today I am privileged to pray with individuals through their storms, shipwrecks, or injuries from “poisonous snakes” with words and deeds that result in serious and at times, life-threatening situations.  “I believe God…” is still the Biblical battle cry that stirs faith in our hearts to continue our spiritual journey.

 

Paul’s testimony and his declaration of faith, his battle cry, in the midst of the storm has been an encouragement in my personal walk with God.  The Scriptures record his declaration as follows:  “For I believe God.  It will be just as he said” Acts 27:25 (NLT).  It continues to be my anchor in many ways.  Three key words stand out as I reflect on these powerful statements from the life of the apostle Paul:

  • Security:  I know that my trust in God and His Word is a stable foundation that cannot be destroyed.  Many things in life change and circumstances may vary.  God’s Word never changes.  I am secure as I trust in His promises.
  • Significance:  I know who I am in Christ.  Because I have put my trust in Him, I am a new creation.  I may never achieve recognition by earthly standards, yet God’s Word clearly describes my status.  I am a child of God.  I am not perfect, but I am forgiven and daily I am being perfected in Christ.
  • Strength:  I know that I am able to walk through the challenges of life because God has promised to be with me.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.  I may not be able to take another step in my abilities.  I may not be able to supply the next crisis need with my own resources, but my trust in God gives me all that I need.

 

“I believe God…” is not merely a recorded phrase in a book.  It is an expression of faith in God.  It is our “battle cry” as followers of Christ.

 

Efraim Espinoza serves at the Assemblies of God National Leadership & Resource Center as the Director of the Office of Hispanic Relations and as coordinator of Evangelio Pentecostal (Spanish Pentecostal Evangel).

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Navigating Through the Storm

Oct 14 2013 Published by under Life, Ministry

By Rev. Doug Clay

Clay_Douglas_Casual_100I ran across an article entitled, “178 Seconds to Live.” It’s about the results of some pilots training in a flight simulator. Each pilot was a skilled aviator, but had not taken instrument training. As long as the weather was good, they were experts and had no problem operating the plane. But when they were placed in the flight simulator, and asked to keep their plane under control as they flew through simulated clouds and bad weather, their good performance tanked. They all lost control of their planes and crashed in an average time of just 178 seconds!

They could fly well in good weather, but they couldn’t survive three minutes in bad weather.

There are people like these pilots, who are skilled in living when the weather is good, but when conditions worsen, they are ill-equipped to navigate and eventually crash.

There is no such thing as a problem-free life.

2 Corinthians 4:8, LB

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.

If you are trying to “fly” through or just survive a current storm, you need to:

1.      Relax and keep in mind that God is good:

Psalm 27:13-14, NKJV

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!

2.      Slow down and keep in mind that God is strong:

Psalm 69:13-15, CEV

But I pray to you, Lord. So when the time is right, answer me and help me with your wonderful love. 14 Don’t let me sink in the mud, but save me from my enemies and from the deep water. 15 Don’t let me be swept away by a flood or drowned in the ocean or swallowed by death.

3.      Close your eyes and keep in mind that God is near:

Psalm 34:18, NIV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

We all travel at different altitudes and speeds. We all will experience some turbulence in this life. So buckle up and consider Paul’s flight plan advice:

2 Corinthians 4:18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Rev. Doug Clay serves as the General Treasurer for the Assemblies of God.

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Where Have You Come From and Where Are You Going?

Oct 07 2013 Published by under Life, Ministry

By Rev. Keith Heermann

Heermann,Keith_MG_3135 croppedGenesis 16:8

“Hagar…where have you come from, and where are you going?”

A bee stung my sister when she was just a little girl. And to this day, she has a “flight” (“It’s going to sting me!”) reaction when a buzzing bee gets close to her.

Recently, I had a “fight” encounter. I bumped our stone retaining wall with my mower and the stones fell. Rats. What a mess; why was I so careless; how am I going to fix this? I confess, I mumbled a bunch to myself all while I tried to reassemble that wall…and it still doesn’t look right…so the mumbling continues.

Flight or fight memories…some haunt while others trigger a warm smile, a chuckle or a red-faced blush. It’s the memories that keep the internal conversation going.

Flee from your avengers: Hagar did this. Abraham’s unborn child was in her womb as she fled from Sarah’s revenge–adrenalin raced through her body as she tearfully ran into the harsh desert alone (Genesis 16:6 NIV).

Fight your enemies: David felt rage toward people who hated him–“See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!” (Psalms 25:16-21 NIV).

What are some things that fuel “flight” or “fight”?

First, telling yourself, “I’m not going to stay around and take this hostile abuse.” Or, “I’ve had enough; I’m gonna leave God’s people altogether.”

Second, telling yourself, “I’m going to get revenge for this hurt and humiliation… you just wait and see!”

So, what do you say to yourself in times of “flight” or “fight”? And, what can you do?

First, tell yourself this – I must immediately manage my thinking and words or I’ll succumb to a crummy attitude and negative behavior. If you choose to humble yourself and ask for God-enabled control over your thinking and words, you can find the courage to win these battles time after time.

Second, tell yourself this–If I run from God’s people, God’s presence, and God’s promises it will only lead to more hurt and humiliation. Your goal must be to “stop, think, and make a resolve.” Resolve that you will ask God to help you get a grip on the right thing(s)…all of His resources. Then depend on those resources and that grip until your spirit dominates the “flight lifestyle” of Hagar and the “fight lifestyle” of David.

And lastly, tell yourself this, you must avoid the snare of violence against yourself or others. No good can come from engaging in aggressive, abusive behavior since it emotionally, physically, and spiritually violates God’s principles. Full stop!

So, here’s the point.

Say “No” to flight and fight and “Yes” to God’s resources (His promises and His grip on you). John said it plainly. “…you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory…because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT).

Where are you coming from, and where are you going? Dealing with “flight and fight” behavior can help you where you are and where you are going.

Rev. Keith Heermann serves as the Executive Vice President for Global University.

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