THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING
Wayne Swift reminds leaders that negative thinking is powerful – and not in a good way:
In a May blog Michael Hyatt wrote, ‘Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952. But it’s only more recently that we’re learning about the destructive power of negative thinking.’
Relentlessly negative people
He went on: ‘A few years ago, an author cornered me at a publishing conference to complain about his agent, gripe about his publicist, and grumble about his publisher. It was beyond awkward. I tried to change the subject, but he persisted. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. I was trapped, and I couldn’t escape!
‘Some people are relentlessly negative. It’s like they derive their significance from feeling wronged, put on, and persecuted. You know what it’s like to be around people like this. Everyone is an idiot but them. Nobody can do anything right. Life is rigged. And so on.
‘Whatever satisfaction people get from being negative, I hope it’s enough – because it’s about the only benefit they’re getting. Meanwhile, it’s costing them plenty.’
Leaders – beware!
Hyatt’s warning is noteworthy particularly for leaders whose work is ‘people.’ People can be demanding, difficult, ungrateful and unreliable. (They can also be, and often are generous, inspirational, grateful and faithful!).
Leaders who are constantly exposed to humanity’s negatives can themselves become negative. Negativity is symptomatic and the chief symptoms can be cynicism and criticism.
Solomon’s warning to ‘guard your heart with all diligence’ is always timely (Prov. 4.23). He is right when he concludes, ‘for everything in life depends on it.’
Despite the challenges of ministry, do your best to maintain a positive outlook. It works out best for you and for those you lead.
Wayne Swift pastors The Church@1330, Scoresby, Victoria and is National Leader, Apostolic Church Australia. Links: Wayne.Swift@1330.com.au / Church: www.the-church.org.au
STAYING ON COURSE THROUGH THE ‘PERFECT STORM’
Ed Delph, in Perth this month enjoying the clouds, light rain, 17(C) degree temperature, the people and ocean, shares another thought-provoker…
The beginning of Christianity was full of challenges. This was reformation. This was a whole New Covenant given a New Testament by a new supernatural leader with new group of people indwelt by God’s Spirit who were going to reform the way life and culture was perceived and lived. They were there for liberation, not domination; contribution, not conquest. It was an upgrade for humanity.
Christianity challenged the norms of existing governments, cultures, philosophies, humanities, religions and societies of that time.
These very young Christians and young churches were going to have a hard ride for a while. You can’t be a reformer and stay friends with everyone. They were going to learn by experience difference between the old human power model and the new power of Christ model. They were going to learn firsthand the verse, ‘Greater is he who is in us (the church) than he that is in the world.’
Hebrews – tough times!
Such was the narrative of the church and people in the book of Hebrews. Its writer helps them to navigate tough times they were experiencing. The church in Hebrews was under siege. Members were being imprisoned and ‘ill-treated.’ Some were enduring great sufferings, being made public spectacles of and their property being seized, some were going to jail… (Hebrews 13:3; 10:32-34).
Ouch… the perfect storm!
These new Christians were really getting bitter about it. They were getting mad at God. ‘How could he let this happen?’ And the people were getting mad at other people too. Maybe they thought everything would be perfect when they became Christians. The outcome of this was many were getting ready to check Christianity in, give it up.
They were becoming dull to God. The hurt, bitterness, disappointment, anger and just plain drama, was driving them from God, not to God. They were about to turn off…The God Channel.
The writer of Hebrews notes some signs of becoming dull toward God. They were …
• Forsaking the assembling of the brethren, not going to church (Heb. 10:25)
• Closing their homes to Christians who were strangers and homeless (Heb. 13:2)
• Forgetting to visit Christians who had been imprisoned unfairly (Heb. 13:3)
• Letting bitterness destroy their marriages. (Heb. 13:4)
• Looking to the security of their money or the insecurity of the loss of their money and property rather than looking to Jesus. (Heb.:5).
We would probably feel the same way too. That is a lot of ask anyone to go through! But the writer of the book of Hebrews writes them a letter of ‘exhortation,’ not a letter of warning or condemnation. He exhorts them, keep on keeping on! Don’t give up. Christ will turn this mess into a message.
Five steps to the dark side
The book of Hebrews shows us how we can go to the dark side if we get bitter at God or Christians or churches or Christianity.
The first step is drifting from the word of God (Neglect). ‘For this reason we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it’ (Hebrews 2:1).
The next step is doubting God’s Word. We get hardhearted. We start asking like the snake in the garden… ‘Hath God said?’ Hebrews 3:13 exhorts: ‘But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today” lest anyone of you be hardened.’
The third step is dullness of God’s word. We become sluggish. ‘…concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing (Heb. 5:11).
The fourth step is despising God’s word… willfulness and caustic. ‘For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth…’ (Heb.10:26).
The last step is defying God’s word. That means intentionally refusing to hear. ‘See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking’ (Heb. 12:25).
Do you see the progression of slip sliding away from God listed in the ascending chapters?
The church and people had a dilemma. In the midst of the perfect storm, they could draw near or draw back. The Christian life is like riding a bike. Keep pedaling or fall. Our only safety is going on. That’s the main idea of Hebrews…endurance, not shrinking back, persevering, holding fast.
Let me finish with the lettuce (‘let us’) of Christianity in Hebrews 6:18, 12:1 and 12:2. ‘Let us go on to’… ‘the hope set before us’ (salvation)… ‘the race set before us’ (sanctification), and …’the joy set before us (glorification).
Storm over, safely in port…on earth or in heaven. Act 27:8 (Message) speaks of early disciples who successfully ‘docked at Good Harbor (appropriate name!).’ May leaders endure and preserve and encourage their church people likewise.
Dr Ed Delph is president of Nationstrategy, an organisation with the strategy of envisioning and empowering today’s leaders in the church to be some of tomorrow’s leaders in the community. Links: email@example.com / http://www.nationstrategy.com
A SHELTERING GOD
Norman and Margaret Moss, UK, email this encouragement …
When the mainsail of our boat is not in use, it is kept protected with a canvas bag called a boom cover.
On the water recently on a very hot summer’s day, we were puzzled by a chirping sound coming from within the cover. To our horror we realised that we’d sailed away with a nest inside the boom cover, and a chick was missing its parents.
Fortunately we managed to return home in time and the delighted parents resumed their services at the end of the day. The chick was still chirruping cheerfully the next morning.
God delights to shelter
The incident led us to meditate on Revelation 7:15-17 – ‘They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence (will spread his tent over them).’
We felt the Lord was saying:
The tents of men are frail and may be blown away in a moment. My tent is impregnable, a glorious shining and a brightness before which all darkness flees. Those whom I bless are blessed indeed and no evil thing can destroy or spoil them. Believe this with all your heart and know that God is for you and that nothing can separate you from my love.
My tent is spacious; it is vaster than the whole universe, yet so near that its shelter is real and comforting. It is not made of animal skins like the tabernacle of old, but rather it is a glorious canopy of beauty and splendour, majesty and authority. It is the place of love and of intimacy where you may draw close and nestle in the embrace of your God.
Stand then in joyful freedom, lift your praises to my throne. Fix your eyes on the all victorious Lamb, and let gratitude well up within you. By faith walk with me in the enclosed garden of the King. Drink the royal wine, celebrate and be glad for I am with you.
Even now you are before my throne. Even now you are sheltered with my presence. Even now I am your shepherd, leading you and giving you springs of living water and bringing you my comfort day by day. And even now I call you to serve me day and night and even now I desire and bring you close to me, so close, that you can feel the beating of my heart of love. For you are part of my body in this dark world.
Even now you bring the light of my life within you so that where you go the darkness is dispelled, and even now you take the living water that is within you to the thirsty that they might drink deeply too and come to know me.
Reaching out from our own safe shelter
From such a safe shelter we can boldly care for those in their darkness and share the freedom and love of our great God.
In these dark days, let’s be active… there are a lot of needy chicks outside churches that need cheering up.
Norman and Margaret Moss pastored Queen’s Road Baptist Church, Wimbledon for over 30 years, experiencing charismatic renewal since the 1960s and bringing the congregation into renewal in the 1970s when the church grew significantly. Now travelling widely around the UK and overseas, their desire is to encourage ministers, churches and groups – regardless of size – who are hungry for more of the Holy Spirit. Link: CNMoss@btinternet.com
ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP
Timothy Jack, Apostolic Church Australia National Leadership Team, shares an inspirational thought…
Jesus’ disciples had a front row seat to the greatest demonstrations of power, love, grace and mercy that had ever been seen. They saw acts that rewrote their understanding of reality. They heard truth that had never before been spoken.
Of the twelve, three had special opportunities to see and hear Jesus when no one else was around. This gave Peter, James and John a unique insight into Jesus, his intimate relationship with his Father and the revelation and motivation that emanated from it.
Matthew records that Peter, James and John were with Jesus on a high mountain when he was transfigured before them. There was a brilliant radiance about Jesus as he spoke with Israel’s ancient heroes, Moses and Elijah. Peter offered his thoughts and Matthew records them for us; ‘It is good for us to be here; if you wish, will make three tabernacles…’ (Matthew 17:4).
A moment of revelation
Peter’s words reflect common human values. We perceive most things through the lens of ‘what is good for us’. We tend to interpret what we see in terms of its effect on us. Seeing Jesus arrayed in unusual glory was really to reveal and confirm him and his preeminent place in time and space.
It was a moment that could never be captured by the building of a monument, as Peter thought would be a good idea. It was a moment of revelation to be captured in the heart, even as Peter’s heart was captured in moments like that.
In a moment of high climax, the Father spoke to endorse his Son. This was not about heroes of the past, or fishermen with their own agenda. It was an endorsement of the Son who would, by his life, death and resurrection, open the door to sonship for everyone.
‘Taken’ and ‘brought’
Peter would come to know that moments of revelation may happen on ‘mountain tops’ but they need to be fleshed out where people live, hence Jesus brought the disciples ‘down from the mountain’ (v 9)…into the valley as it were.
The three disciples were there because Jesus ‘took’ them with him and ‘brought’ them to the mountain (v 1).
Every unfolding moment was a surprise to Peter, James and John but Jesus knew exactly what was to happen.
And, he intentionally included these disciples – as good leaders include those whose lives they are shaping – to carry the responsibility of leadership into the future.
Inspired by a mountaintop experience, Tim Jack is moving into the next God-prepared exciting opportunity for his own ministry! News and links – firstname.lastname@example.org / mobile: 0412 277 918
LEADERS – WANT SOME REST? TWO BIG DECISIONS FOR YOU!
Dick Hardy, pastoral leadership invites leaders to watch an encouraging video…
Tired…present, past and future!
Either you are tired, used to be tired or will be tired, says Dick. I want to take a few minutes to talk with you about how rest plays out in ministry.
If you are serious about the two decisions I discuss in the video, you’ll be amazed at what happens. Enjoy!
Dick Hardy is the founder and president of The Hardy Group, an executive consulting firm for senior pastors of churches
Recommended – link: email@example.com
GLEANINGS FROM AROUND THE WEB …
STIFLING THE URGE TO CORRECT OTHERS
Joe McKeever… ‘One of the biggest challenges you and I must face in this life is to subdue our own spirits.’ Church Leaders Update (ChurchLeaders@nc.churchleaders.com)
CHURCH ATTENDANCE TRENDS EVERY LEADER SHOULD KNOW
Thom Rainer… ‘Why do you think church members are less committed to their churches today than they were several years ago?’ Church Leaders Update
SOMETHING ABOUT THE CHURCH AND THE LGBT COMMUNITY THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU
T D Jakes …‘I think the argument has to be theological and not sociological. The fact that the world has turned that way does not mean the word has changed that way.’ Church Leaders Update
SIX THINGS I’VE LEARNED HANGING OUT WITH ADDICTS
Josh Daffern…’Stepping out to the margins blew up my ministry.’ Leadership Journal (http://www.christianitytoday.com )