Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Are You an Example or Exception?

July 11th, 2018

Example Provides the Power for Persuasion.

“Christ, Who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today ask a question,

“Are You An Example Or Exception?”

When I was a young man preparing for ministry, my Dad gave me invaluable advice for success. His wise counsel applies to all areas of life and leadership. Out of his own experience and personal example, my Dad taught me practical wisdom for every day life. It was simple enough that I have recalled his words for more than fifty years.

He said, “Never ask or expect others to go where you have not gone, nor expect someone to do what you have not been willing to do, nor expect anyone to give what you are not willing to give.” “Do as I say,” never works as well as, “Do as I do.” Think about this for a moment. Example provides the power for persuasion.

Jesus is the best example. He sacrificed much more than He requires of you and me. To those who wanted to know how to live well, He kept it basic. He simply said, “Follow Me.” Anyone can do that if they want to do so. To be an effective leader of people, you must first be an example of what you expect of others. To be influential, you must be an example.

As Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in the night before His sacrifice, He established a pattern for theirs and our service and sacrifice for others and toward one another, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.” Read John 13:15-17 NKJ. For a moment, think about Jesus’ example and yours.

Whether talking about parenting, relationships, business dealings, or any arena that requires leadership, your involvement should be exemplary and inspiring to others, whether big or small. Many years later Peter wrote of Jesus’ example,“Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NLT.

The Apostle Paul was direct, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10 NKJ. For the times when you grow weary and people seem to take your kindness for granted, remember the Bible’s counsel to keep your eyes on Jesus, “Consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3 NIV. Jesus’ example always inspires. Yours should do the same.

The Bible’s intention is about your living a holy consistency of life before God and others. Let’s be practical about this: doing the least you can neither produces the satisfaction you seek nor the expected result in others’ lives. God asks you to be an example while never allowing yourself to be an exception, giving up your right to make excuses and not expecting more of others than you require of yourself.

Your Biblical responsibility and God’s expectation of you is this: “Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NLT. Being an example is good; excusing yourself to be an exception to that is not.

Today I pray for you to live a life that glorifies God and edifies others.

Christian Communications 2018

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Rules and Standards

April 12th, 2018

God’s wisdom is the path to His richest blessings.

 “[God’s] discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace

for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “rules and standards.”

Life is better with rules. Rules are essential, establishing boundaries and measuring achievement. Yet, very few of us appreciate rules in the way we should. People seem to bristle when too many rules seem restrictive and imposed. We all tend to resist when we feel less free to do as we want to do. Consider this. Without rules, athletic competition would be havoc. That’s why there are rules and referees, grades and graduation requirements, right and wrong, rewards and penalties.

I can’t imagine a world without rules. With no rules of the road, driving would be dangerous. In daily interactions, the bold would overpower the timid. The strong would take advantage of the weak. The wealthy would neglect the poor. For a clear reason, the Ten Commandments were not called the, “Ten Recommendations.” Nor were they meant to be. Out of His love for you, not His love for law, God commanded those rules to live by.

Marriages are best with mutually understood rules. Families need clearly stated rules. Friendships succeed with mutually accepted rules. Employers and employees require agreement on rules. Individuals need to establish standards by which they are willing to be evaluated. I am grateful that my Dad believed in rules. Admittedly, I didn’t appreciate those as much while a teen. But Dad’s rules were always clear and fair – and enforced or rewarded. They made me wiser and better than I would otherwise have been. Rules establish safe boundaries for your benefit, not to limit or restrict you, except for your guidance and protection. Rules can protect and keep you safe. Maybe it would help to think of standards rather than rules. I see three occasions for rules and standards.

You need people in your life who help you learn and establish Godly standards. That is the value of parents, teachers, friends, civil and governmental authorities, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit. They establish rules that benefit all. The Bible reminds us that, “The authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” Read Romans 13.3-6 NIV. Respect rules, embrace appropriate boundaries, and appreciate their practical need for making your life better, measuring your achievements, rewarding your efforts, and keeping you safer.

The rule of law protects the lawful and restrains the lawless. “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 NKJV. In your life, whose opinion and counsel offer you trusted guidance, Godly wisdom, and a spiritual haven in uncertain times?

True liberty is not without restraints, and never without limits. I had a fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cook, who taught our class a simple principle about boundaries and liberties, “Your liberty to swing your fist without restraint ends at the tip of another’s nose.” What a great rule for fourth graders, as well as kids, teens, and adults of all ages. Friends and family help set standards of behavior for one another. Often it is more kind than cruel to say no. Choose wisely the bounds you will honor, and associate with friends who respect them, and thereby respect you.

At all times, you must require and embrace boundaries for yourself. The best decisions you make were made before any situation needing rules presented itself. The right decision is never too late, but it’s best when made early. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. Everything is permissible, but not everything is edifying.” I Corinthians 10:23 NAS. Choose what is profitable, in order to edify others and glorify God. God’s Word marks the places where you will find your greatest liberties, and where you and others find safety.

When I was first preparing for ministry, my Dad taught me a very practical and valuable lesson about establishing non-negotiable, personal boundaries, for success in pastoral ministry. My Dad’s advice was invaluable, “Many who look to you for leadership will likely exceed the liberties you permit yourself; so be wise and measured in all you allow yourself to say and do. And others who follow you may stop short of your disciplines, so be careful, always seeking to excel.”

There will always be others observing and following you. Jesus was clear, “I have set before you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NIV. You are always safe when following Jesus’ example. Paul was clear as well with his instruction to young Timothy. ”Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV. Be sure that the rules you expect others to observe are a priority in your own life and relational interactions.

Even when you do not think so, someone is always following you, Many years ago, a man made this observation of me, “Pastor, you are not hard to follow because you do not make sudden turns.” I am not sure whether he meant that as a compliment, but I accepted it as one. I want to be easy to follow for my family and for those who trust my leadership. My objective is simple. I want my family and friends to know what my values are, where I am going, Who I am following, and how to get where God is leading.

“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, [His] discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11 NIV. I like that. In your life, His rules produce a, “harvest of righteousness and peace,” for those who accept and follow the Father’s instruction and disciplines. Anything that God requires of you is for your benefit, not His. Embracing God’s wisdom is the path to His richest blessings.

Today I pray for you to establish Godly standards. His rules are given to protect, not confine you.

Christian Communications 2018

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God Cares

December 6th, 2016

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are that God cares.”

People won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

When I was fresh out of Bible College and in my first years of ministry, my friend and a seasoned pastor, Kenny, offered me some priceless advice. His exact words were these, “Allen, people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is an incredible truth for all relationships – marriage, parenting, friendship, business, and especially pastoring. After more than fifty years of pastoring now, I still believe that may have been some of the most important and practical counsel I ever received.

I well remember a particular Mother’s Day service. I was standing near the entrance when a friend entered, took my hand and simply said, “Pastor, would you pray for me today?” Not an altogether unusual request normally, but as I held her hand and saw the pain in her eyes, I knew this was much more than a simple request. Her eyes were red and moist from tears. When I asked, “What’s wrong?” her story tumbled out. The night before her son, a pedestrian, was hit by a car. He died along the roadside. Her words were, “I knew this is where I needed to be this morning.” She didn’t come for a sermon or songs; she came for the comfort of those she knew would care about her and begin the healing of her unbearable pain. In reflection of her words, I am reminded of my friend’s advice, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

A lack of practical caring can create an unrecognized distance between yourself and others. Caring may begin as an emotion, but must become so much more. When Jesus was asked to explain how to, “love your neighbor as yourself,” He told a wonderful story that is called, The Good Samaritan. Read Luke 10:25-37 NKJV. A traveler was attacked by thieves – beaten, robbed, and left helpless and suffering. Sad to say, two religious people sympathized with this stranger’s dilemma but hurried on their way without bothering to help.

Sympathy for others must extend empathy toward others. Soon after, when the Samaritan saw the fellow traveler, beaten and robbed by thieves, he empathized with his misfortune. “When he saw him, he had compassion.” The Samaritan identified with a stranger’s distress when he realized it could just as easily have been himself, accosted and left helpless. Then his emotion turned to practical actions; he got involved.

Caring is a benevolence that notices and responds to another’s need in meaningful ways. “So he went to him, bandaged his wounds, set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” And at personal, financial expense, he arranged for ongoing care until he was well. Caring is costly and inconvenient. Caring will cost you time, expense, and involvement.

Peter gave this instruction, Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV. It can be challenging to trust your cares and concerns to God unless you know assuredly that He cares for you as truly as His Word says. And at times, it is hard for others to understand how much God cares unless they experience God’s love being expressed through you and others.  “That the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with them; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with them.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NKJV. Remember my friend’s advice, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Today, I pray for you to transfer all your concerns into your Savior’s care.

Christian Communications 2016

Will You Trust Me, CHawley

Will You Trust Me, C. Hawley

Will You Trust Me  by Cliff Hawley, Artist

My gratitude to Cliff Hawley for his permission for EDL to use this inspiring piece of Christian Art. I have personally known the artist for more than 40 years and served as his pastor for a major part of those years. If you would like to view or purchase any of Mr Hawley’s Christian art, I refer you to view his work at his website,




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Prayer and God’s Providence

March 5th, 2014

“Our Father . . give us our food for today.” Matthew 6:11 NLT.

With providence, God provides sufficiently for daily needs.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s providence.”

We are such worriers; having enough for today, we still prefer a little extra to be more sure we will have enough tomorrow. So how much is enough? Since you cannot know what tomorrow will bring, you really cannot know what tomorrow will require. There is wisdom in balancing spending with a little savings. My Dad’s advice to me about finances was both practical and to the point, “Trust God’s provision; give generously; spend sensibly; save wisely; never spend all that you earn.” I do not recall my Dad spending foolishly nor worrying needlessly. Our family never had much, but God provided all we needed and my Dad set aside a little extra as he could.

Jesus addressed needless worry about material things. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or . . what you will wear . . your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Read Matthew 6:25-33 NIV. Providence is a great word describing, “the foresight of the care and provision of God.” You cannot foresee tomorrow, but God does. With providence, God provides sufficiently for each day’s needs – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. The way your God does so is by prayer, not presumption. Prayer is trusting each concern to God’s providence, without worry or doubt. Jesus said, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . give us our food for today.’” Matthew 6:11 NLT. Jesus’ words may seem so simple but are profoundly significant. 

There is a spiritual progression in Jesus’ model prayer. First, prayer acknowledges God, elevates His Name, and submits to His authority and will. Only then does your prayer rightly turn to your needs, all well-known in God’s providence. Prayer celebrates the appropriate trust of an intimate relationship. Here are some observations about prayer. Prayer invites God’s provision, not informs Him of your need (Matthew 6:8 NKJV). Prayer asks, not assumes (1 John 5:14-15 NKJV). Prayer acknowledges God as source, not yourself (Philippians 4:19 NIV). Prayer asks for what sustains, not what is frivolous. (James 4:3 NKJV). Prayer asks for enough, not excess – “our food for today.”

The Psalmist remembered when God, “rained down manna for [Israel] to eat; He gave them the grain of Heaven . . He sent them all the food they could eat.” Psalm 78:23-25 NIV. According to Moses’ instruction, each family was to gather only enough for each day, “some gathered much, some little . . he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.” See Exodus 16:14-26 NIV. Whatever they gathered was enough; nothing extra they gathered lasted beyond that day. On the sixth day, their trust was further tested and proven. Only then were they to gather enough for that day and the Sabbath as well.

Maybe there is a lesson here for those who want to have more than enough for the day, needing no further faith. Your needs are new each day, as must your faith and prayer be. Here is why you pray, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed . .  Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask . .” 2 Corinthians 9:10/Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

My prayer for you is that you come confidently to your Father with your needs today.

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April 2nd, 2012

“I am not able to bear all [this] alone.” Numbers 11:14 NKJV

Life is filled with responsibilities well beyond your abilities.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “responsibilities.”

Sometimes you are equal to the task; at other times your responsibility seems larger than your abilities. That latter reality can be quite daunting. When you face such situations, you are not alone; you are in pretty good company. Life is filled with responsibilities well beyond a person’s own abilities. Paul wondered, “Who is equal to such a task?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV. God’s answer is, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.“ See Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. With God in you and others with you, you are sufficient. See 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV.

Remember Joseph who was asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and then devise and administer a government program for all of Egypt for seven years of abundance and seven years of drought? Or David, just a shepherd boy, who accepted a mortal challenge to face a giant of a warrior? Or Daniel who was asked to discern a King’s dream as well as interpret it, with the threat of his and others’ deaths for failure? Or consider a devout Jewish girl, likely a young teenager, who is told by an angel that she would supernaturally bear the long-promised Messiah? Good company, indeed.

On more than one occasion, Moses told God that his task was too great. As the leader of several million people whose history was generations of slavery, Moses felt a weight of responsibility he found overwhelming. “I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If you treat me like this, please kill me here and now.” Read Numbers 11:1-17 NKJV. Not able, too heavy for me! Sound familiar? There is an answer. “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the Godly to slip and fall.” See Psalm 55:22 NLT. Every overwhelming situation is your invitation to rely on God’s faithfulness and sufficiency, not your own.

That was not the first time Moses felt inadequate. When God appeared to him at a burning bush with the assignment to liberate a nation, Moses could see no way he could accomplish that. So God said, “I will be with you.” See Exodus 3:1-12 NKJV. When God sent him to tell Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” He claimed disqualification because of his inadequate speech. So God said, “I will send Aaron, your brother with you; I will speak to you; you will speak to him; and he will speak for you to the people.” Do you notice a pattern? God will be with you and has put the people around you that you need to do what God asks you to do.

God was not shocked by Moses’ inabilities, nor is He by yours. Apparently, God never intended for Moses to do it all on his own, nor does He intend that you do so. God was faithful to provide Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ brother and sister; later Joshua, a young warrior; then Aaron and Hur; then Jethro, his father-in-law. God’s answer to Moses is the same answer for you – God’s presence and direction, along with a company of people necessary for your success, equip you for the Godly responsibilities you are given. It is rarely about what you can or cannot do; it is always about what God is faithful to do for you and through you.

God’s solution for Moses? “Bring seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to be leaders and officials among the people . . that they may stand there with you . . I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.” Numbers 11:16-17 NIV/See Exodus 18:13-26 NIV. Some responsibilities cannot be accomplished alone.

Those who help others will find the help they need when most needed. See Galatians 6:2 NKJV. Sowing and reaping is at work at such times. Who needs some help from you today to carry their heavy load? You can pray for them; give a helping hand; share a word of encouragement; be a friend who cares; offer companionship on their journey; write a note of comfort and care; spend some time listening; mostly, show them someone cares so they will believe that God does. It’s often the little things that help the most.

My prayer for you today is that life does not overwhelm you when God is alongside you.

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