Are You Leading Yourself?

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I have been re-reading Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders.  This has been an influential book for me.  I had forgotten how many times I use a phrase or an idea from it.

“We can only lead others as far along the road as we ourselves have traveled” is one such principle.  It challenges me to continue to grow in my faith in Christ and in my leadership of others.  We all have areas that need improvement and growth.  The question is, are we committed to continued growth?

One of the questions I often ask in interviews and regularly ask friends and staff is, “What are you reading?”  Listening to what a person is reading is often a good indicator for me if they are growing.  I know some people just don’t like to read and for them learning happens in other ways.  But, for me, reading well is essential to my continued growth both as a follower of Christ and a leader.  In addition to Spiritual Leadership I am also reading God in My Everything by Ken Shigematsu, When God Comes to Church by Ray Ortlund, Jr. and finally, My Near Death Experiment written by my son, Caleb.

Another critical area for our continued growth and development revolves around who we spend time with.   Do you have friends, colleagues or mentors who demonstrate and speak truth into your life?  I have a few such men in my life that I have known for years.  I usually refer to them as the guys I can’t lie too.  We have walked life together for a long time and they have been with me through the most trying times in my life.  I don’t know what I would do without them.  Those men along with my wife, Gina, not only keep me out of trouble but help me grow.

I would encourage you to seek out some friends like them.

So before you worry too much about who you are leading, take some time making sure you are leading yourself.

 

Blessings,

 

Larry

 

How many Marbles are in that jar?

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I can still recall the jar of gumballs on Mrs. Wilson’s 5th grade class desk where it sat in the middle, so that everyone could clearly see it.  Mrs. Wilson was drawing equations on the chalkboard and talking, but I was staring across my wooden desk and the 2 sharpened pencils that rested in their groove at the top, counting and recounting the blue, yellow, green, and red gumballs.  A paper in front of the jar listed the names of students and their guesses as to how many gumballs were in the jar.  It had to do with learning how to equate volume, or something like that.  I was too distracted by the idea that one person would get that many gumballs all to themselves.  I was also sure that the person in possession of this many gumballs could solve many of life’s problems, because who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone in possession of that many gumballs?  Ultimately I guessed a number much higher than the actual number, and someone else, who understood volume equations, ended up with the prize.

To illustrate our church’s theme for the upcoming months, Every Week Matters, the staff at North started talking about another jar, this one full of 936 marbles to represent 18 years.  When Pastor Larry used the jar of marbles during his sermon 2 weeks ago, I felt unsettled.  How was it possible that one jar, held between 2 hands, could hold a representation of the number of weeks in 18 years?  It should be more like a big tractor-trailer bursting from the immeasurable amount of marbles inside.  But there it was, a jar too small, too light, and too fragile, to represent 18 years.

I thought about this over the next 2 weeks while I helped the kids with homework, went to work, and lived life.  Then I started to think about just 1 marble, and 1 week.  If every week matters, I needed to think about this week, the one I was living.  If this week matters than what is important this week?  A verse comes to mind, “God is my refuge and strength”(Ps.46:1).  During a typical week I will encounter parenting issues that I have no answers for, I will get tired, I will become impatient, and unexpected twists and turns will change what I expect from each day, but, I will remember this week that God is my refuge and strength.  I will be thankful and at peace knowing that in trouble or good times, God is in control.  The unsettled feeling in my stomach is starting to go away as I let my control of life fade away and it is being replaced with a settled assurance as I give it to God.

The jar on Mrs. Wilson’s desk was a jar to figure out with complicated equations.  The jar of 18 years worth of marbles isn’t something to equate, but a reminder that we can’t do life ourselves, and that God is our refuge and strength and that He has it all figured out.

Have a great week!

Tina Stephens

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Are We Having Fun Yet?

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I was sharing with a friend this week that I believe we should laugh at least once every Sunday during our service.  Then I added, “Of course, it is always more fun if people are laughing with me.”

That got me thinking about my life and the life of our church.  Are we having fun?  Are we enjoying this walk with Christ?  Do we find ourselves smiling for no apparent reason or ready laugh and enjoy a random moment?

As I reflected on this there were two things that jumped out at me.  First, am I grateful for my life?  Do I understand how much the Father loves me?  How do I respond to the miraculous grace I have been given?

Preach the gospel to yourself everyday.

Everyday I need to be reminded of my need for Christ.  I need to preach the gospel to myself and be reminded that I am a greater sinner than I care to admit, but more loved than I ever dreamed.
If you want to put a smile on my face ask me about my family and I start to smile (just thinking about my grandkids makes me smile!).  Do you know that your Heavenly Father smiles when he thinks about you?  You are his child and he loves you.  Zephaniah 3:17, tells us that our Father rejoices over us with gladness and even sings when he thinks of us.

How can I keep from smiling when I am loved like that?

Second, when I know how loved I am by God it makes me grateful.  It is easy for me to lose my gratefulness.  When my mind is focused on me, what makes me feel good and fulfilled and prosperous, it is easy to forget God’s love and grace.

Yet it is when my heart is filled with gratitude that I am most happy.  It is out of gratitude I smile and that is when life starts to get fun.

Bless you.

Pastor Larry

Welcome

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Welcome to the North Bible Church blog.  I hope this will be another tool to encourage you as you grow in Christ.

North Bible Church has a mission.  We are a Christ-centered community equipping every generation to love God, love one another and love the world.  So before anything else we are a Christ-centered community.  Everything we do centers on who Christ is, and his work in the world.  In the simplest terms, we want to grow into the likeness of Christ.  We want to look like Him and we want to love who and what he loves.

In addition, we know that the most effective and meaningful growth happens in community.  We are a fellowship of believers and share a strong commitment to live and serve together.

This has caused the North staff to adopt a commitment of our own.  It is what we call our 80/20 Rule.  We believe that 80% of our ministry is invisible.  Who we are in Christ is more important than anything we do and the effectiveness of the twenty- percent of our ministry that everyone sees will be determined by our preparation and planning.  We want our work at North to flow out of our own personal walk with Christ.  We also want to be well prepared and planned in everything we do.

What is the principle you work out of?  Have you determined to see your work, whatever it is, flow from a life that is full of Jesus?  I think the 80/20 Rule works for everyone not just those of us in ministry.  What do you think?

Bless you.

Pastor Larry

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