A Picture of Forgiveness

READ
Take some time before you begin to rest in silence. Let your mind settle. Silently read the passage.
Genesis 50:15-21
[If you want to read more, like I did today, read these chapters in Genesis, too: 37, 42, 45 & 50]
 
THINK
Read the passage again, this time aloud, listening specifically for a word or phrase that touches your heart. When you finish, close your eyes. Recall the word or phrase, taking it in and mulling it over. After a few moments, write it down. No need to write anything else, yet.
 
PRAY
Read the passage aloud again, searching for how forgiveness is illustrated in the text. Think about what it feels like to be the forgiver, as well as what it feels like to be the forgiven. How is this expression of love meaningful to you? Briefly note your thoughts. 
 
Stop and listen for what God is inviting you to do or become this week. Perhaps his invitation will have to do with a new perspective on who you are in his eyes, or maybe you sense an action he is calling you to take. After your prayer, write down what you feel invited to do. 
 
LIVE
Take time to meditate on the following quote from the Book of Common Prayer, and let it become your own, “Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; nor the hope of the poor be taken away.”
 
 

Read more...

Praying for Bhutan

For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your prosperity, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
Hebrews 10:34
 
Until the 1980’s, Bhutan was largely isolated from the rest of the world by its Himalayan geography, poor infrastructure and poor international relations. In 2008, the country adopted a multiparty constitutional democracy and implemented a new constitution that officially protects freedom of religion. Most Christians in Bhutan are of Nepali heritage; however, believers are focused on reaching ethnic Bhutanese people with the message of Christ. The few Bhutanese Christian leaders in the country are focusing on biblical and ministerial studies. 
 
Christians make up about 1.5 percent of the population. The king is considered to be the defender of the Buddhist faith. The government works covertly to discourage the spread of Christianity. Christians are considered followers of a Western religion. There are not church buildings in Bhutan.  Christians often lose their jobs, are passed over for jobs or are not able to find jobs because of their faith. Many Christians must practice their faith in secret – burying their dead at night or deep in the forest in hidden locations. 

Read more...

Like a Firework…

Read: Matthew 6:19-23

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples not to store up treasures for themselves on earth, but to store up treasures in heaven, “where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.”

St. Augustine once said that since every creature is made ex nihilo, it carries with it the heritage of nonbeing. There is a kind of penumbra or shadow of nothingness that haunts every finite thing.

This is a rather high philosophical way of stating what all of us know in our bones: no matter how good, beautiful, true, or exciting a thing or state of affairs is here below, it is destined to pass into nonbeing. Think of a gorgeous firework that bursts open like a giant flower and then, in the twinkling of an eye, is gone forever. Everything is haunted by nonbeing; everything, finally, is that firework.

But this is not meant to depress us; it is meant to redirect our attention precisely to the treasures of heaven, to the eternity of God. Once we see everything in light of God, we can learn to love the things of this world without clinging to them and without expecting too much of them. Think of how much disappointment and heartache could be avoided if we only learned this truth!


Read more...

A Picture of Forgiveness

READ
Genesis 50:15-21
 
THINK
Was there a word or phrase that touches your heart? You can always go back and read the passage aloud. Now recall that word or phrase and take it in and mull it over – you might even close your eyes to just focus on this. After a few moments, write it down. Don’t write anything else. 
 
PRAY 
As you pray, you may even pray through this passage again – searching for how forgiveness is illustrated. Meditate on what it feels like to be forgiven. How is this expression of love meaningful to you? Briefly note your thoughts. 
 
Ask God to show you what you need to show or become in light of this for this day. Perhaps his invitation will have to do with a new perspective on who you are in his eyes, or maybe you sense an action he is calling you to take. After your prayer, write down what you feel invited to do.
 
LIVE
Take time to meditate on the following quote from the Book of Common Prayer (1979), and let it become your own: “Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; nor the hope of the poor be taken away.”

Read more...

Cynical or Successful?

Right now, you are becoming either cynical or successful. One thing will determine which you will become. Over my decades as a leader, I’ve seen influencers whose hearts have grown cold or were set on fire. When I noticed what made the difference in these leaders, I made a commitment to follow the example of those whose hearts were on fire. Here’s how to do it…

We’ve all been around cynical people and influencers. They are no fun. They are a downer at parties and in conversations. But what makes them like this? As an influencer yourself, you will need to understand what makes people become this way.

And here is how they became cynical…THEY DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE THEIR HURT.

You will become hurt in ministry leadership and in life in general. Many times this hurt will catch you off guard. Someone will say or do something or NOT say or do something that will hurt you. I’ve found that many times in my own life, the people who have hurt me had no idea or intention to do so. And let me be clear, I’ve done my share of hurting others too.

But, I have also had many experiences of people intentionally trying to hurt me. Make no mistake, there are some mean people out there. There are some people out there who don’t like me and talk bad about me. People may consider me their enemy, but the feeling is not mutual. I remain steadfast in my position: I have no enemies.

I could tell you some of my own horror stories. I’ve been cheated, stolen from, lied to and about, betrayed, and on and on. And if you’ve been leading for any amount of time, you have your own horror stories too. Some are worse than others. My point is we all will become hurt in life and leadership.

Do you know what the #1 reason is people leave ministry leadership in my experience? They get hurt, and they don’t know how to handle it. They allow it to derail them from leading and influencing. This is tragic because I’ve seen great leaders fall away from being an influencer because they didn’t know how to respond to hurt.

If you DO NOT handle hurt the right way you will…

…quit

…become critical

…become cynical

…feel sorry for yourself

…allow your heart to grow cold

If you DO handle hurt the right way you will…

…go on

…become tougher

…become tenacious

…show grace and mercy

…allow your heart to grow stronger

In my next post, I’ll share the 3 ways you can handle hurt.

Keeping leading!

Jeff Eckart, CEO
Never The Same


Read more...

What are we celebrating?

I REALLY just have to say to the CHURCH: this is anyone who claims to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, received him as savior and has been baptized.
 
>We should not celebrate a chosen lifestyle of sin. We also should not condemn those who live lifestyles of sin because we all were there before Jesus. I’m not saying that we don’t acknowledge struggle, rather I’m saying we don’t celebrate the choice of giving in to that struggle.
 
>The moment you’re saved, you no longer get to just do whatever you want to do. Not because of rules or religion, but because of relationship to God and because of protection from yourself. Because we are the children of God called and chosen by him, because we represent Christ, we don’t celebrate sin.
 
>The world celebrates sin and I must say, they can do that. How do they know any better? My cry is for those of us who know better to never waiver from the truth of God’s word. Sometimes it’s hard to be the light, but we must.
 
This isn’t my opinion, it’s the word of God.
 
1 John 2:15-17
•••
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
 
-Amonte King

Read more...

Wrestling in the Night

READ
Genesis 32:22-32
 
THINK
Reread the passage, but aloud this time and pause after each of the questions in the text (verses 27 & 29). Jacob, whose name means ‘manipulator’, had made elaborate plans to reconcile with Esau in a generous, peaceful way. Then he stayed behind, which  was uncharacteristic of such a quintessential deal maker. There with the night sounds and the smell of the brook, Jacob encountered ‘a man’. Was the man an angel, a God-man, Jesus? (It’s OK that we don’t know for sure.)
 
Picture yourself in this passage. Are you Jacob? Are you an invisible bystander watching it all?
 
What moment in this passage resonates with you the most?
 
Do you find yourself wanting desperately to be blessed?
 
Do you want desperately to know more of God?
 
PRAY
Depending on what resonated with you, pray about what you desperately want from God. To avoid letting your mind wander, try writing down your prayer, listening for words form God in response.
 
LIVE
Sit quietly before God, imagining the night sounds and the smell of the running stream. Try to be comfortable with God in this wild atmosphere. What does it feel like to trust and to reveal the desires of your heart? Be honest if you feel uncomfortable. What would you like it to feel like? Rest in that. 

Read more...

Praying for Bahrain

“I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you have so that no one may seize your crown.”
– Revelation 3:11
 
This small island nation, which includes a mix of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, is connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway and is frequently referred to as the “Saudi Playground” because Saudis can leave their oppressive homeland and enjoy more freedom in Bahrain. While maintaining a distinctly Muslim identity, Bahrain has experienced significant religious, political and economic division.  This unrest, coupled with the faithful witness of Arab and immigrant Christian workers, has led to a season of openness in some response to the gospel among those indigenous to Bahrain.
 
What it means to follow Christ in Bahrain: Christian converts from Islam often lose their jobs, families and positions in society however, some still gathered to worship in secret.
 
Access to Bibles: Bahraini’s have access to scriptures through the Internet, bookstores and churches.

Read more...

Praying for Afghanistan

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  – Luke 9:23
 
The Gospel of Jesus reached Afghanistan by the second century, but today there are no physical church buildings in the country. This ancient central Asian country is full of cultural and religious opposition to the gospel that, along with the serious lack of security, continues to greatly challenge all missions efforts. Indigenous, near-culture Persian and expatriate believers are using every possible opportunity to see believers gathered, discipled and integrated into house churches. A unique unity exists among Christians laboring here. Church growth has been slow among more than 50 unique people groups. However, there has been significant Christian growth among the Hazara people.
 
Afghans who are followers of Jesus must hide their faith and cannot worship openly. Evangelism is forbidden. Waves of Christians have emigrated to neighboring countries in order to worship openly. Still, Afghan house churches continue to grow. A small number of believers are martyred every year but numbers are not published as Christian converts from Islam are often killed by family members or radicals before legal processes are utilized.

Read more...

Desire for Reconciliation

READ
Genesis 3:1-10
 
THINK
For many of us, these are familiar verses. The first two chapters of Genesis speak of God’s amazing Creation. Chapter 3 speaks of the rebellion of humankind. And the remainder of the Message details God’s intricate and loving plan to redeem, restore and reconcile creation back to Read more…

Read more...