That Moment When Your Faith’s True Size Is Revealed!

Date May 18, 2017

Have you ever come to an obstacle in life and decide to bail instead of press forward? Perhaps because the path grew unfamiliar and uncomfortable you chose to take the easy wrong instead of the difficult right.

Going to a life group or mid-week study was just too much to ask of you and so you stayed home. Then, people invited you out to eat or to their home and you had all the energy you needed.

Maybe you simply allowed the fantasy of Cinderella to overcome the reality that you married the Beast. Now, with the sparkly glasses removed, you see you married a flawed person – much like yourself. And, frankly, you wanted him to fulfill you. Since he doesn’t do that anymore and watches too much ESPN2 or plays too much on his PS4, you’ve chosen to walk away.

You know you should stay the course. You remember the verses from your high school graduation cards …

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NLT)

But … this is an unhappy hard and you want a happy easy.

That, my friend, is the moment you realize your faith is too small.

How do we grow our faith? We open God’s Word every day … not some cheap devotional imitation … and listen to God speak as we read it aloud!

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV)

If you don’t have our reading schedule and reading helps use the link under “Resources” and download ours today. Start reading God’s Word daily and do the things you learn from Him there.

It’s in the doing that our faith grows!

Invasion Requires a Life of Endurance!

Date May 16, 2017

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:1–2, NLT)

Fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash! Over time, if we stay the course, we will be victorious. When I ran the 880-yard dash in high school I was part of a team, three other teens ran 220 yards each. Our task was to run “full out” on an even track for the duration of our part of the race. However, when my friends ran cross-country, they ran for miles on an uneven course. They paced themselves and allowed for the differences in terrain and distance.

If we are to be effective on the mission of invasion into the dark territory in our communities, we will need to follow the long-distance runner’s example. Living a life “on mission” succeeds when we …

  • Pace ourselves against the leader! When running a long distance, pacing yourself means keeping in step with another runner in front of you! Jesus is our Leader – He is running with us, ahead of us. He sets the pace and the course. We must follow Him closely if we are to win!
  • Pay the price of pain! So few people are willing to suffer for the prize these days. These “couch-potato” athletes are quick to offer their opinion and critique, but you won’t find them breaking a sweat on the course. The church needs no more “arm chair quarterbacks.” Like Jesus, we need to be willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. Our mission is that vital!
  • Plan on the victory party! Why did Jesus suffer so much? His love for those who needed release from captivity stayed in the forefront of His mind. Jesus knew the party in heaven would be a great celebration once these people were released from their bonds. (Luke 15.7)

By staying focused on the lead runner, the mission and the celebration, our sacrifices will pale in comparison! Jesus has sent us on a mission – to set the captives free. That mission takes time, sacrifice and personal costs all along the way. Is it worth it? Let me ask you this – Do you appreciate the sacrifices others made so you have life eternal? Then it’s worth it!

 

If you enjoyed today’s leadership post, you can read the rest of it in Dr. Smith’s book, Gathering Missional Leaders: Creating a Biblical Environment for Exponential Leadership DevelopmentYou can purchase the book by following this link

Hope For Today – God Waits to Be Gracious to You!

Date May 14, 2017

Are you in the midst of tough times right now? Seems like most of the people I know are. Whether it’s finances, work issues, relationship issues at home or your car isn’t running well, it seems like most everyone is struggling with something these days.

With all the other problems you are having right now, the last thing you need to worry about is whether God is interested in you and your problems.

I’m Dr. Matthew Lee Smith and I want to share some Hope For Today about the fact that God Is Waiting to Be Gracious to You!

In (Isaiah 30:18–19, ESV) the LORD Himself gives us Hope For Today as HE says, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for himHe will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.

Did you hear that? “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.” Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve! We saw grace when He sent His Son to be our Savior. Grace is often costly … and usually changes things we cannot change ourselves. And God is waiting RIGHT NOW to be gracious to you!

A little skeptical? Then hear this again, he exalts himself to show mercy to you. God is waiting to SHOW OFF by giving us mercy! What’s the difference between grace and mercy you ask? Mercy WITHHOLDS what we deserve. I make enough mistakes over the course of a month that most of my relationships would end if it wasn’t for the mercy of others … do you know what I mean? A harsh tone, a critical look … BUT mercy … and God wants to shower you in grace and show off His abundant mercy to you … RIGHT NOW!

Are you thinking, “How do I sign up?” God says, blessed are all those who wait for himHe will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. God tells us that we have to get vocal. We will have to be transparent. We will need to get alone and cry out to Jesus! As we unload the pain and the pressures, as our tears flow down out faces and our cries fall from our lips, God hears and brings grace!

Do you remember God’s promise? As soon as he hears it, he answers you.” These aren’t silent prayers … they are vocal, vibrant and voluntary. There is hope For Today in your life … get alone with Jesus, unload the emotions verbally, vocally. Cry out to Jesus! He WILL hear you! He WILL answer you!

 

Hope For Today is a part of the ministry of Eagles In Leadership. If you would like to know more about the hope God gives and His abundant life through Jesus Christ, I would invite you to check out Eagles In Leadership . org; that’s Eagles In Leadership .org.

I Will Not Be Shaken!

Date May 9, 2017

As Hurricane Frances bore down on the Caribbean, I was living in Miami. So many emotions go through you when you realize that all that you own, and have accumulated over the years, could be destroyed in a matter of hours. And yet, this Great and Mighty God we serve has allowed us to experience His presence each and every day to this point. And in that experience, there was no fear that day – only peace.

As we prayed with a friend the day before the storm, I found the Spirit of the Living God well up within me. I heard these words from my lips: “Lord, You are the Weather Man! Turn this storm and cause it to miss us here.” With faith that can only grow through a daily walk with our God, I found the Spirit within me responding to the world around me.

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:7–8, NLT)

As leaders, God has called us to lead. So many times God allows us to discipline ourselves to do the things that make for great leadership! Security in this life comes from intimacy with God. You have to be before you can do. You cannot lead people where you yourself have not gone! Long before the crisis occurs, the godly leader has been in preparation for the storm that will eventually come. When the storm passes through, it simply reveals the truth that lies deep within each leader. Spiritual convictions and depth are demonstrated in the midst of the gale-force winds of life! David shares three reasons why we can be joyful in the midst of life’s squalls.

  • God guides us individually! God freely gives the information we desire when we seek His will and way in our lives. What’s more, He does so as our personal escort! He walks with us hand-in-hand, so to speak. (Deuteronomy 23:14; Joshua 1:5, 9; Hebrews 13:5) The more we desire His way, the greater the joy in His heart. As we ask Him, “Where should I go? What should I do? Who should I love? How should I share You and Your leadership with them?” God answers! And since we delight in doing His will, He offers us bonuses others could only hope for: Side trips that bring incredible pleasure are ours when God’s mission is our deepest desire.
  • God instructs us personally! God gets so excited about our open heart that He can’t wait until the next morning to tell us new things, according to David. As I have seen this happen so many times myself, I know God loves to instruct us during the night. At my bedside is a stack of 3” x 5” cards for just such occasions! Since I remember so little from the wee hours of the morning, I write down what God shares with me and toss the cards on the floor for retrieval in the morning … often God talks fast and furious about what He is up to and instructs me in the way I should go. This is where the Christ-life yields incredible joys!
  • God accompanies us constantly! David’s assurance comes from God’s immediate presence with Him. So often people say, “God feels far from me.” I often respond, “Why? Did you move?” God never leaves us or forsakes us. (Joshua 1:5, 9; Hebrews 13:5) When we want to be in God’s presence, we simply follow God’s command and, once again, we sense His presence …

Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” (James 4:8, NLT)

When the hurricanes of life finally do come, the Godly leader has already walked so long with the Almighty One that they fear no evil. God will stay right beside them and He will tell them what to do all along the way!

 

If you enjoyed today’s leadership post, you can read the rest of it in Dr. Smith’s book, Gathering Missional Leaders: Creating a Biblical Environment for Exponential Leadership DevelopmentYou can purchase the book by following this link

Hope For Today – Celebrate His Peace!

Date May 7, 2017

Peace – we are all looking for it! The reality is, as we have learned from this past election cycle, peace is FAR from the hearts of Americans these days. And while the pointy finger of blame is flying, the Bible tells us why there is no peace: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14, ESV)

I’m Dr. Matthew Lee Smith and I want to share some Hope For Today to remind us that God gives peace to anyone and everyone with whom He is pleased!

But peace is a “heart thing,” not a head thing. So many of us are looking for solutions to bring peace to our lives … on Amazon.com I can buy:

  • Books on peace
  • Peace pendants
  • Peace sign vinyl decals for my car
  • Peace flag to display
  • Mugs with peace quotes on them
  • Peace jewelry
  • Peace and Harmony calming scent
  • Sterling silver stud peace earrings
  • Peace locking pencil box

And that was just the first two pages of 20 pages of products. However, I was UNABLE to buy what we all really want: Peace itself!

Hear me now: Only God Gives True Peace. If we learn nothing else this Christmas, let us understand that

Peace is found only through God’s Son, who came to Earth to gift us with the one thing we do desperately need and want!

So, how does God give us this peace?

  • God points us to HIS SON (2.11)

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Whatever else you hear today, please hear this: God sent His Son for you!

God knows you have a need, and He knew the only solution to your need was His Son!

Peace isn’t a formula; It’s a person!

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

God is asking you to invite Him in to take charge of your life and BE YOUR GOD!

You can ask Him to do that today, right now.

God will hear your heart as you ask Him to take charge of your life and BE YOUR GOD.

 

Hope For Today is a part of the ministry of Eagles In Leadership. If you would like to know more about the hope God gives and His abundant life through Jesus Christ, I would invite you to check out our website: Eagles In Leadership . org; that’s Eagles In Leadership .org.

Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive

Date May 4, 2017

by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, PhD

An estimated 7,000 churches in the United States close their doors every year, never to open again. And, as staggering as that fact is, tens of thousands of churches across America are close to the same demise.

Thom S. Rainer has written the book I had thought of writing many times while working in broken and dying churches over the past four decades.

Consider Autopsy of a Deceased Church a diagnostic tool to discover how close to the ER or morgue the church you are serving in really is! Rainer grasps that the dying or dead church has lost its missional heart. It focuses on the “good old days” and considers the past “glory days” something to be enshrined.

Fossilizing the past, the dead church refused to change with the times and the community. As a result, the people who held the power decided that they were the focus of the finances and programming. Autopsy of a Deceased Church reveals what happens when the preferences of the decision makers within the church neglect the needs of the broken outside the campus.

One sure evidence of a church on its way to the morgue is its inability to keep a pastor for a long time and the size of the gaps between pastors. Autopsy of a Deceased Church explains how the preferences of the people and the “Great Omission” become the toxic poison that brings about an unwillingness to follow the new leader and accept that change much happen for life to blossom again.

When the church’s focus becomes itself instead of reaching the people for whom Christ died, prayer times are more biological – Jack’s back and Jane’s pain – instead of missiological – reach one more for Jesus. Autopsy of a Deceased Church demonstrates how this lack of clear purpose on the Great Commission spells the end of its existence.

As the church becomes more of a small group, it grows increasingly obsessed with its facilities – many times the very anchor that has been dragging itself into the murky abyss for years. Since the facility eats up most of the budget dollars, Autopsy of a Deceased Church shows how the mission is under- or non-funded to the extinction of that Gospel center.

In the remainder of Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Rainer posits twelve responses if one finds themselves inside a dying church. Broken into three segments of increasing urgency, the reader is given hope when there are symptoms of sickness, when the church is very sick and when the church is dying.

EVERY leader and member of EVERY church in America should read this book and the concerned should lead a group in their church with this book. The truths here – even if you are in a healthy church – will be so eloquently and boldly stated that they will make an indelible mark on the heart and soul of even the more jaded reader.

Autopsy of a Deceased Church is a must read and you can order your copy by following this link.

Mark Out a Straight Path!

Date May 3, 2017

Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” (Proverbs 4:24–27, NLT)

As God seeks to transform me into the image of His Son, Yeshua, I am amazed at the specificity He brings to my life’s actions. Remember, the lives of the people in our communities are our responsibility.

Recently, at a conference on small groups, the speaker talked about the importance of reaching out to our neighborhoods with God’s love. He didn’t give us the traditional “win them to Jesus” speech. He simply took a marker and a transparency, drew his cul-de-sac, and began to tell us the people who lived in each home, where they worked, what they liked, their children’s names, their schools, and their sports or academic interests. House after house, family after family this presenter simply told us of the people he loved in his neighborhood and their spiritual condition. Did he make an impact that day – yes! Did he have a missional heart? Yes! How did he do this? This passage shows us four critical keys to help us reach them in our generation:

  • Who I am listening to and how I plan out my day are vital to my missional health. Scheduling my days around my mission will change how I look at life. Preparations and plans flow from the mission of Jesus, the work of the Spirit and the lives of my neighbors as I interact with them in each encounter.
  • Preplanning (intentionality) is imperative to my effectiveness. Knowing my neighbors and praying for them constantly allows me to step into their world, feel their struggles and trials, and address those when they come up in conversation.
  • Distractions are to be avoided at all costs! My focus on the mission of sharing Jesus’ love and leadership is primary to everything I do and say.
  • I must forbid any hint of sin! A hypocrite has forfeited their platform for sharing God’s love and leadership.

As I follow God’s Word, He provides life and health, direction and mission! As Solomon promises, “for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” (Proverbs 4:22, NLT) In other words, we have a choice every day!

 
If you enjoyed today’s leadership post, you can read the rest of it in Dr. Smith’s book, Gathering Missional Leaders: Creating a Biblical Environment for Exponential Leadership DevelopmentYou can purchase the book by following this link

Hope For Today – The Wisdom God Puts In Our Minds!

Date April 30, 2017

It’s happened to you recently … you were at a temporary loss for words, not knowing how to respond. And then, seemingly our of nowhere, the ideas came, the words flowed, and the person you were speaking with was helped, encouraged and lifted.

I’m Dr. Matthew Lee Smith and I want to share some Hope For Today to remind us that God puts wisdom in our minds!

Let’s face it … most of us are average, at best. We struggle with those who seem to “have it all together” and “know just what to say.” In our alone times, we look in the mirror and see someone very plain, very ordinary. And we wonder, sometimes aloud to ourselves, “God, could you ever use someone like me?” To this, we need to remember, “And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.” (1 Kings 10:24, ESV)

“Oh thanks – now I feel even worse!” you say to me? Well, don’t. Remember, Solomon wasn’t very bright until God put the wisdom into his gray matter! And how did Solomon get that wisdom? He asked for it!

Today, before you step out the door, before you go to that lunch meeting or that dinner event, take a few minutes alone with God. ASK Him for wisdom – His wisdom, supernatural wisdom, the wisdom you do not possess. Ask God to step in and transform your mind, allowing you to remember the things you have read, the truths you have heard from His Word and use those in your decisions and discussions starting right now. God answers prayers like that! He did for Solomon! He will for you as well!

 

Hope For Today is a part of the ministry of Eagles In Leadership. If you would like to know more about the hope God gives and His abundant life through Jesus Christ, I would invite you to check out our website: Eagles In Leadership. org; that’s Eagles In Leadership .org.

A Resource Tool You NEED Now – A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels!

Date April 27, 2017

Sometimes a tool for Bible study comes along that simply is indispensable … and, for the Gospels, I believe THIS is it. Combining all four narratives into one story line, A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels, truly makes understanding the chronological unfolding of the life of Christ.

Combining and adapting the often multiple lines of the Gospel writers, George W. Knight, has chosen to “mesh” the accounts while noting the locations of such adaptations. The “flow” of reading is only slightly impaired with the adjustments.

There are 223 segments to the Harmony, broken into 8 major sections of the life of Jesus allows for more in-depth study. Throughout the chronicles of Jesus life and ministry, George W. Knight has added a running commentary to aid in the understanding of the text in focus.

Bringing clarity to the message of the Gospel combined with ease of reading makes this a MUST-have resource. To order a copy of A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels from Amazon, simply click this link

What a Mighty God We Serve!

Date April 25, 2017

Often our lives grow heavy with the burdens of life. When debilitating sickness comes unexpectedly, many grow despondent and wonder what to do. Some grow suicidal and feel like life is over. However, when life grows difficult, we know this is a test, sent from God, so that we will be able to demonstrate the power of our faith and choose the path of victory and life (James 1.2-4).

Since we are told to ask God for wisdom when these seasons overcome us (James 1.5), Melodee and I have done just that. And, as James promised, God is answering! What follows are some thoughts from my prayer time recently:

“He said, “If you will

1) carefully obey the LORD your God, 
2) do what is right in His eyes,
3) pay attention to His commands, and
4) keep all His statutes, 

I will not inflict any illnesses on you that I inflicted on the Egyptians.

For I am Yahweh who heals you … (כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה רֹפְאֶֽךָ׃ ס”)
(Exodus 15:26, HCSB/LHI)

“.yehōwāh,” can be translated, “I am the One who is life .יְהוָֹה”

“רָפָא rāp̱aʿ” can be translated, “healer, rebuilder, repairer.”

Hence, “For I am the One who is Life; I am the One who heals you!”

Have you thought about the amazing implications of Jesus’ ability to hold together, put together, create?

Couple this verse with the thoughts in these:

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER.” (Colossians 1:16–17, ESV)

The One who heals us is the One who holds all things together. And when we break down, consider calling on the God who …

“… gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17, HCSB)

So, in summary, our God …

1) Is Life!
2) Heals us!
3) Creates us (and in us)!
4) Holds us together!
5) Gives our dead parts life!
6) Calls into existence the nonexistent for and in us!

What a MIGHTY God we serve!
Praise Him where you are when you read this … He is worthy of our praise!

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