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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The "Close To The Pastor Syndrome" • Senior Pastor Central

After reading this article, this needs to become a core value for our churches if we want to reach people for Christ!!!

The "Close To The Pastor Syndrome" • Senior Pastor Central

The "Close To The Pastor Syndrome"

One of the primary reasons churches under 1,000 fail to grow is their Senior Pastors have never called into question, then systematically dismantled, the "close to the pastor syndrome" in their churches.
The "close to the pastor syndrome" is a wonky dynamic where long-time members feel that for "the church to feel like church" they need open, unfettered access to their Pastor at all times.
People in churches of 400 want to spend the same amount of time with their Senior Pastor as they did when the church ran 75.
People in churches of 1,000 want to go to the baseball game with their Senior Pastor like they did when they were 275.
Whatever relationship they had when they began attending the church, their expectation is that that same relationship will continue, even if the church recently added 300 new people.
The problem is as churches grow, access must diminish as the point leader focuses on leading staff and raising up high capacity leaders.
What Senior Pastors typically do as their churches face new growth barriers is they try to do both – they try to lead the congregation in growth (by narrowing their focus on finding high capacity leaders and mentoring staff) AND maintain the same relational patterns with long-time members as they had in the early years.
Why do they do this?
They don't want to hurt people's feelings.
They don't want to make people who have fought alongside the Senior Pastor in the "war years" to feel used, like they are being tossed aside as better and brighter people occupy their time.
They try to keep those relationships with longer-term members "trapped in time," and exactly the way they've always been, primarily because things are easier that way. Why cause undue stress and relational turbulence as long as they can "keep certain people thinking" that things haven't changed between them when, in fact, things changed quite a long time ago?
This, my friends, is the "close to the pastor syndrome."

Why the "Close to the Pastor Syndrome" Can't Be Ignored

Here are a few important reasons why this cannot be ignored.

1. You Will Never Have a Relationship with More than 120 People at Your Church.

I don't care what denomination you belong to. How extroverted you think you are. What unique philosophy of ministry you bring to the table that demands that the role of "pastor" means helping people in a one-on-one capacity ad infinitum.
You can memorize names, stand at the door and shake hands, and even call everyone in your church on their birthday like a friend of mine does – but none of those things will change the fact that you will never have a real relationship with more than 120 people at your church.
The quicker you accept that fact, the sooner you'll be able to set into motion what is needed to reach lost people and help them become self-feeding and reproducing disciples of Jesus.
At the end of Jesus' ministry – after speaking to thousands over three years – there were only 120 people left in a house in Jerusalem trying to figure out what to do next (Acts 1:15).
It is obvious these were the people who actually knew him.
His actual friends.
People he actually spent time with.
Those in which he actually invested his personal time and energy.
This group was comprised of his twelve apostles, their wives and kids, and a wider band of disciples like Stephen, Phillip and the others who comprised the 72 sent out in Luke 10:1.
Could there have been more? Of course.
But after coaching dozens of Senior Pastors – people intent upon expending themselves in the pursuit of kingdom expansion – I've noticed an interesting phenomenon.
After a Senior Pastor's schedule has been maximized, priorities aligned, and energy bolstered, the average Senior Pastor can juggle no more than 120 actual relationships.
My hunch is that Luke's recognition that there were only 120 people left in the upper room after Jesus' crucifixion was not just a trivial fact.
If Jesus could only manage to personally connect with 120 people, why would we expect to be any different?
Take your 2016 attendance and subtract 120 from that number.
Let's focus, for instance, on a hypothetical church: Community Christian Church in Topeka, Kansas, led by Pastor Steve Johnson. Last year Community ran 300 a week in attendance.
300 people (2016 attendance)
180 remaining
Every single attender at Community thinks that in some way they have an actual relationship with Pastor Steve.
The reality is they don't. They just don't realize that yet.
Steve, like every person reading this article, is not capable of having actual, personal relationships with 300 people at the same time. There is not enough time, nor does Steve have enough emotional energy (no matter how extroverted he thinks he is) to interact relationally with so many people on an on-going basis.
The problem at Community is they've been flat-lined at 300 for the last five years. Unless things change, they'll be running 240 or less in another five, so Steve knows he needs to act fast.

2. To Grow You Must Invest in Leaders.

If you haven't lead your staff and leaders through a study of the first chapter of Robert Coleman's The Master Plan of Evangelism, they're in for a paradigm-busting experience.
Coleman begins his book by saying,
"It all started by Jesus calling a few men to follow him. This revealed immediately the direction His evangelistic strategy would take. His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow… hence, as the company of followers around Jesus increased, it became necessary by the middle of His second year of ministry to narrow the select company to a more manageable number.
…Why? Why did Jesus deliberately concentrate His life upon comparatively so few people? Had he not come to save the world?…The answer to this question focuses at once the real purpose of His plan for evangelism. Jesus was not trying to impress the crowd, but to usher in a Kingdom. This meant that he needed men who could lead the multitudes."
And that, my friend, is the primary reason why we must call out, and dismantle, the close to the "close to the pastor syndrome" in our churches.
Jesus had his inner circle: Peter, James and John.
Then the disciples.
Then the broader 120, of which people like Mary, Martha, his mother, and others were a part.
And that's it.
That's all he had time for.
And he changed the world as a result.
Remember our figurative leader, Pastor Steve?
Steve realizes that if he's going to lead the church forward, he's going to have to lead like Jesus and invest in what I call "A Leaders" – leaders who can lead leaders. He's going to have to find and mentor 12 close leaders (his emerging staff and elder board) and a broader group of 100+ others.
Steve knows the future will come not by adopting some unique model of ministry, as much as finding the right people who, in the words of Robert Coleman, "could lead the masses."
He realizes that utilizing a chaplaincy approach to church leadership ("I'll just be a hands-on pastor to as many people I can as time allows") has kept the people who have been members for 10+ years happy, but few people are coming to Christ. Giving is declining. Momentum is gone.
Steve decides that given the limited time he has, he's going to devote a disproportionate amount of that time to seeking, leading to Christ, discipling and releasing high capacity leaders into the church's ministry who will, in turn, lead the future yet-to-be-converted masses.
When that happens, the 180 people who never had a relationship with Steve in the first place (and a sizeable number of the 120 people with whom he did), start to feel like Steve is unaccessible to them.
Steve doesn't have as much time for them as he used to.
Steve doesn't call them up to do things together anymore.
Steve doesn't get the wives together.
Steve just doesn't text like he used to.
People get frustrated.
The fact that the majority of the 300 church members "thought" they had a relationship with Pastor Steve, but did not, was never a problem, until now.

3. Your Pastoral Theology Is Terrible.

Sorry to say it like this, but it's the truth.
The average small church board is under the impression that to be a Senior Pastor who is "doing their job" we need to run around and be an on-call chaplain for every single pastoral care emergency.
Do you want to know who's to blame for this?
We must teach our boards that this is NOT what godly, New Testament servant leadership looks like.
God has called Pastors and Teachers to do what? "Equip God's people for works of service" (Ephesians 4:12). That means we can't "hoard" the works of service meant for God's people by doing it ourselves.
The entire body was designed to do pastoral care.
The entire body was meant to be there for people in a crisis.
The entire church body was meant to do 99.999% of the things small church Senior Pastors do themselves.
As Tim Keller so masterfully notes,
"The larger the church, the more decision making is pushed up toward the staff and away from the congregation and lay leaders. Needless to say, many laypeople feel extremely uncomfortable with this. On the other hand, the larger the church, the more the basic pastoral ministry such as hospital visits, discipling, oversight of Christian growth, and counseling is done by lay leaders rather than by the professional ministers."
In other words, as new converts emerge, our role shifts from a doer of ministry to a trainer of ministry.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of pastors in churches today grew up in churches under 200 and were trained by professors that grew up in (and led) churches under 200. It makes perfect sense why we've inherited a pastoral theology that reinforces a "ministry hoarding" approach.
As a mentor of mine told me years ago, "Throw away all your pastoral theology books. They were all written by people who have never been Senior Pastors, and if they were, their churches were never larger than 200 in size."
Am I saying that all churches must grow beyond 200? Of course not. I have a friend that leads a church of 100 in a rural area that has fifty people in a 10-mile radius. That's more impressive to me than megachurches of 20,000+.
What I am saying is that churches disobey Ephesians 4:12 when their point leaders refuse to lead their congregation for fear of being criticized.
In his book Reinventing Leadership, Warren Bennis puts it this way,
"You cannot personalize the things you're going to hear, because you can't do a job as a leader if you're not going to overthrow the system, if you're not going to open things up, if you're not going to rock the boat – and then you have to handle the criticism that such measures invite. I mean, if there's one thing that's true of leaders today, it's that they have to change the system."

How to Address "Close to the Pastor Syndrome" in Your Church

Why do we keep up appearances that we're "friends" with people when we're not? The answer is simple.
We don't want them to leave.
We don't want them to stop giving.
We don't want them to think we're trying to become celebrities.
We don't want them to create problems with other people.
I'm here to tell you that very little of this will happen if you are willing to address the "close to the pastor syndrome" in a truthful, but gracious way.
Here's how.

1. Make a List of Your 120, but Recognize That Your List Will Constantly Change.

These will be your staff, elders, key advisors, and high capacity leaders you are mentoring.
Keep in mind that WHO comprises this group constantly changes.
Who you spent time with at 200 is different than who you're spending time with at 400 and 600.
Who you spent time with at 2,000 is different than who you spend time with at 1,000, and so on.
Recognize that the larger you get, the more focused you must become on being intentional with your 120, but that group will morph over time.
In fact, as your church grows, you will not only spend less time with certain church members, you will spend less time with certain staff members.
I have a friend who is a Senior Pastor of a large church in Los Angeles. His Executive Pastor tells every new hire, "Please understand it may be a very long time before you even meet [Senior Pastor]."
As bizarre/sinful/weird/unhealthy as that might seem to some people, it's just a reality.
The larger you become, the less access people will have to you.

2. Increase Your Pastoral Presence for Everyone Else.

I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that while they will only be a hands-on pastor to 120 people, they will also forever be a "pastoral presence" to all of their people.
Each Senior Pastor must determine how best to accomplish this for themselves.
For me, that means trying to hug as many people as I can on Sunday morning, and standing at the front of the room after each service and praying for people as long as they need to talk. I stay until the last person is gone.
Do I do pastoral care? Of course, just like every other staff member. I visit hospitals. I do funerals. I perform weddings. Just like everyone else. The difference is I only do these things for people in that group of 120 (and again, that group is constantly changing).
For everyone else, I pastor them on Sundays.

3. Take Practical Steps to Divert Requests for Your Time to Other Leaders in Your Church.

Our goal is not to isolate ourselves, but to get our people the help they need.
That inevitably means that as needs arise, we must divert requests to other leaders in our church. This is nothing more than Acts 6 in action.
Here are some practical ways to make this happen:
  • Change your cell phone number and don't give it out to anyone who is not on that list.
  • Keep your current email address, but route that to either a paid assistant or to a volunteer, who will handle your communication. Consider this your "public" email address.
  • Create a private email address that you only share with your staff, leadership, and the leaders in which you are investing (your 120).
  • Stop setting up meetings with people who are not in that group, except for Thursday afternoons (see my article How Senior Pastors Can Schedule Their Week For Maximum Impact).
  • Push requests to meet with you to other staff and leaders.
  • Don't let people guilt you to death for making these changes.

4. Have the DTR ("Define the Relationship") Talk When You Receive Pushback.

What happens when someone who fought alongside you in "the war years" is now someone that you're thankful for, but is not someone you feel God is leading you to invest in going forward?
What happens when, let's say, a man named Jim approaches you after service one day and tells you "The weirdest thing happened this week! I tried calling you, and it said that you have a new, unlisted phone number. What's your new number? I want to text you the information for a golf outing."
What do you say?
The old you – the one focused on keeping everyone happy – would have given that number to him on the spot.
But not the new you – the one who realizes that future kingdom expansion necessitates that you're honest with him.
The new you says, "Jim, to be the Senior Pastor this church needs moving forward, I have decided to get a new number and give it to only our staff, elders, a few leaders, and my family. If you need to reach me just send me an email. My assistant is now managing that email for me and will get me the message."
Awkward silence.
Temptation to buckle.
You want to blurt out, "Just kidding."
But for the sake of reaching lost people…
For the sake of obedience to Ephesians 4:12…
For the sake of healthy boundaries…
…the new you resists the temptation to give in.
You smile, tell him you love him, give him a hug, and then leave him to deal with the fact that your relationship has changed.
Jim now has two choices.
First, he can leave the church because "things have changed" between the two of you.
Or second, he can stay and adjust to the new reality.
My experience has been the majority of people will stay, a few will complain, and a handful will leave.
The result?
You will have addressed one of the single greatest threats to kingdom expansion at your church.
Your relationship with this valued child of God has just changed, and the more you do this with others, the more your church will be able to grow as a result.
The bad news is you will never have a relationship with more than 120 people, no matter how hard you try.
The good news is you can corporately pastor as many people who will buy into your vision.
There is no limit to that number.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

04232017 - 1st Sunday After Easter - "We can believe in God's testimony!"

April 23, 2017
“We can believe in God's testimony!”

What joy to behold as last Sunday we heard and proclaimed the triumphant proclamation, “He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!”  Here at Emmanuel we had 171 people joining us in our proclamation of the Easter message.  Many people near and far have personally commented to me about how great that was for our church.  After church the kids engaged in the annual, joyful and energetic Easter Egg Tradition, with the joyful squeals of the children and the adults reconnecting with one another and sharing and making memories with one another.  All of this comes simply because one Man was willing to die in order that we might live and have eternal life.  This is the fulfilled promise of God that we have heard clearly from Holy Scripture.  This truth we can hold dearly simply because, “We can believe in God's testimony!
Holy Scripture, the Bible, we here at Emmanuel give to our children as part of our promise and responsibility when they are baptized.  Holy Scripture we as individuals affirm at our Confirmation and we as a congregation reaffirmed our belief in the Promise of the Gospel at my ordination.  And we Emmanuel Lutheran read and hear from Holy Scripture and the Gospel weekly in worship.  Holy Scripture points us to the simple fact that “We can believe in God's testimony!”  For God is not a liar and God does not mislead us, for God’s testimony is true, because God’s testimony in Holy Scripture points to God’s Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice on Golgotha is the centrality of the Gospel message and is the one event looked for from the Garden of Eden and that we look back to even today.
With our pointing to Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ clearly not only sacrificed Himself, but we remember yearly, monthly, weekly and should daily think upon and thank God for His Son’s payment on the Cross of Calvary for the sin of all of mankind.  This is why ‘God’s testimony’ not only is central, but treasured, solely, because it is with an eternal perspective in mind.  Our being with God for all eternity.  And we are promised our entrance into eternity, simply because of Jesus Christ willingness to go to the Cross of Calvary and die so we can live eternally.  And this reality becomes ours because “We can believe in God's testimony!
In and of ourselves we are incapable of belief in the promises of God, but by grace and through the work of the Holy Spirit as Martin Luther reminds us in the Explanation of the Third Article, God ‘calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith’.  This work that the Holy Spirit does for us is a direct result of the grace that God offers us freely and without our own merit from Jesus going to the Cross for us.  These reminders for us are in order that we can as one of our themes from Pre-School VBS a few years ago reminds us, we can ‘Fully Rely On God’!  And “We can believe in God's testimony!
In the latest installment of the Marvel movies of the Avengers arc, “Captain America: Civil War” Steve Rogers, Captain America is reminded clearly what truth really means and what and why he was willing as a young man during World War II to fight for his country and his God.  At the funeral of Peggy Carter, his first love of his life, Peggy’s niece reminisced with the following advice she was given from her aunt.  “Compromise where you can. Where you can't, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, 'No. You move.” 
We to as children of our heavenly Father through our Baptism into Jesus Christ, life, death, but especially His resurrection are similarly called to plant ourselves ‘like a tree’.  For just as the tree on Calvary was planted and Jesus refused to be removed, but was willing to die to set us free.  We to are called, to be planted like a tree and refuse to allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Grace to be soiled because of self-interest and self-serving goals.  This is why Jesus Christ died for truth to set us free from bondage.

Since “We can believe in God's testimony” as truth and God is faithful, we are empowered to stand and be faithful to what God’s testimony is and has been from Creation to today.  We look back to the truth of Jesus willingness to die on the Cross of Calvary and we are emboldened to be the Church and stand up and testify of God’s faithfulness on the Cross and His death to set mankind free from sin, death and especially the devil.  These are the promises of God for us and clearly, firmly and faithfully we, Emmanuel Lutheran Church are called as the Body of Christ, gathered as a community of faith and enabled to be the Church of Jesus Christ, by the grace of God so “We can believe in God's testimony!”  AMEN.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Children of Slain Robert Godwin Display Forgiveness of Jesus in CNN Interview •

This is FORGIVENESS in action through Faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross of Calvary!!!!!

Children of Slain Robert Godwin Display Forgiveness of Jesus in CNN Interview •

Children of Slain Robert Godwin Display Forgiveness of Jesus in CNN Interview

April 18, 2017


Steve Stephens, the suspect in the case of Robert Godwin's murder, has committed suicide in Erie, Pennsylvania following a police chase.

The children of Robert Godwin, the gentleman who was murdered on Sunday, April 16, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio, spoke with Anderson Cooper live on CNN. In their short interview, they told Cooper what their late father had taught them: "About God…how to fear God…how to love God and how to forgive."
The Godwin children explain how they have forgiven their father's killer and want to "wrap our arms around him." Cooper is shocked that this family could forgive the man who murdered their father, but they explain that they harbor no animosity against him. Furthermore, they would not be able to forgive if they did not know God as their God and Savior.
Their display of forgiveness didn't end there. They went on to explain their brokenheartedness over the grief the killer's family is going through. Cooper responds "That is incredible, Tonya, that you are thinking about that even in your time of grief—that you are thinking about them." "It's just what our parents taught us," Tonya responds.
"It's just what our parents taught us," Tonya responds. "[Our parents] just didn't talk about it, they did it….they lived it….they lived forgiveness."
This type of forgiveness can only come from the power of Jesus Christ.
The siblings' example reminds me of the fact that Jesus died for us on the cross, when he didn't have to. He had every right to claim his innocence and refuse to take our punishment upon himself. Yet, he chose to endure the cross for our benefit. Essentially, we have been given a free pardon by Jesus. With this knowledge, I can only conclude that I must rely on the supernatural mercy and grace of Jesus to lead me to forgive even what seems unforgivable. In these moments, I too, wish I could be a Godwin.
As I watch this video, I ask myself: Are you living today like you have been forgiven?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cultural Preaching - April 19, 2017

Cultural Preaching April 19, 2017

Welcome to Cultural Preaching
April 19, 2017
Welcome to this week's edition of Cultural Preaching. I am honored to share this resource with you. Know that I am praying for all who receive this email with gratitude for your service and faith.

This week, the "Preaching" section discusses a teenager killed by a shark, a Dancing With The Stars contestant who learned to forgive his father, and Prince Harry's grief over his mother's death. I've also attached my post-Easter sermon, Keys to Serving the Kingdom.

In "Pastoring," you'll find an invitation to one of the most powerful devotional resources I have ever encountered. In "Personal," we'll consider wisdom for dealing with the busyness and stress of pastoral ministry.

In addition, I tweet on current news occasionally throughout the day. I invite you to follow me @JimDenison.

Shark Kills Teen Surfing With Family Off Western Australia's Coast

A girl was killed by a shark while surfing off the coast of Western Australia on Monday. She was bitten on the leg and rushed in critical condition to a hospital, where she died. The teenager was with her parents and two sisters in the popular surfing area of Wylie Bay. While authorities have not said what kind of shark they believe was responsible, a great white had been spotted in the area twice in the last week.

In our fallen world, no place is truly safe. The girl who died could have been killed in a car accident on the way to the beach or riding her bike the next week. While it's tempting to stay out of the water, and while we should always be careful around danger, life is too short to stay on the sidelines. I once saw a poster that pictured a ship in the midst of a storm with the caption, "Ships are safest in the harbor, but that's not what ships are for."

Jesus warned us: "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33a). But he also promised us: "Take heart; I have overcome the world" (v. 33b).

'DWTS' football player Rashad Jennings explains how his faith changed his life

Rashad Jennings, currently an NFL free agent running back, displayed his faith and the remarkable power of forgiveness this week on national television. He is currently a guest star on ABC's Dancing With The Stars. After completing a dance in the competition, he ran to the audience and hugged his wheelchair-bound father, a double amputee. His father's alcohol use and abusive behavior in Jennings's youth strained their relationship for many years. According to Jennings, faith helped him forgive his father: "We love together, pray together, make mistakes together. There's something about having family and keeping God in it that kind of unites us."

Unforgiveness often leads to bitterness and resentment, creating a dominion of darkness that clouds judgment and behavior. Billy Graham: "Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.'

God's word teaches and even requires us to forgive: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31–32).

Who needs your forgiveness? Whose forgiveness do you need to seek?

Prince Harry 'in total chaos' over mother Diana's death

None of us old enough to remember the tragedy of Princess Diana's death will forget the image of her sons walking with their family behind their mother's casket in the funeral procession. The impact of that event indelibly impacted Prince Henry, a fact he recently revealed in an interview. Unresolved grief carries an enormous price in a person's life.

In a message to British citizens directly impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attack, Prince Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, wrote, "Grief is the price we pay for love." It may seem easier not to love, lest we lose the one we love and are left to grieve our loss. But we were made to love God and each other (Matthew 22:37–39). Love is the first "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). When we refuse to love, we refuse to live.

And we know that, in Christ, those we "lose" are not truly lost. Their last breath on earth was their first breath in heaven. They are home and they are well. As we will be, one day.

Keys to Serving the Kingdom

This Sunday I am honored to preach at First Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas as they celebrate their 150th anniversary. Since my message will be specific to them, I've attached here a sermon I preached last year on the first Sunday after Easter. I hope it will be helpful to you.

One of the most significant spiritual resources I have ever encountered is a devotional written by our younger son, Craig Denison. Craig is an amazing worship leader, musician (he spent more than a year on the road playing the guitar professionally), song writer, and speaker. He and his wife lead the spiritual formation initiative for our ministry.

Craig has written First15, a daily devotional that I use every day with great gratitude. He provides a worship video, devotional, guided prayer time, and practical next step. Craig explains: "I created First15 to help believers encounter God in the first fifteen minutes of their day. What I didn't realize was that God would use First15 in the lives of so many pastors. Pastors like Travis, who sent me this amazing testimony: "As a senior pastor constantly in the Word (for others), absorbing the First15 is like coming to the well for myself each morning. They are a perfect balance of powerful Scripture and challenging thought."

If you'd like to know more about First15 and how it can help you and your church, click here.

Several years ago, I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of my pastoral ministry and turned to a very wise older minister on our staff. He told me something I've never forgotten: "Their need does not constitute your call."

You and I are not called to do everything that everyone wants us to do, though this fact will surprise many in our congregations. If you're like most of us, you're too busy. Many in your church know this and want you to slow down, except when it comes to what they need. They want you to go to less meetings, except for their meeting.

I was impressed recently by this paragraph in Exodus 35: "Then Moses said to the people of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer" (vv. 30–35).

Here was the insight that came to me: God calls us, then he "fills" us with his Spirit, then he uses us. Note the order. If we do not do what we are called to do, we cannot expect God to "fill" us or use us. But if we do what we are called to do, we will have all we need to be used by our Lord.

Warren Buffett: "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything." If you say yes to God, what else matters?
It is a great honor to share this ministry with you. May the Lord empower and encourage you as you serve him today. 

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