Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Got Ingrates?

I have found something very interesting through the years of my counseling experiences and that is, people in causes that are self defeating or cause chaos to society are started, run and staffed by people who are very ungrateful ( have not seen any study on this subject, just my observations). Ingratitude produces a firm desire to destroy and cause havoc to others out of jealousy or contempt or for whatever reason. Ungrateful people hate and desire to destroy. For example when I was involved with “operation rescue” in the 80’s we would go to abortion clinics to pray and hand out literature showing pictures of unborn fetus as a “proof” for their humanity, showing it as a person. But such people who perform abortions or work with those who carry them out do not see the humanity of the unborn. They demonize or rationalize that a fetus is like a tumor; even though the biological evidences clearly show it is fully human. While rational and honest even some grateful people will think through this issue and say it is human but the mothers’ rights supercede its rights (which is flawed logic and I strongly disagree with). The same arguments and rational were used by Nazi Germany to show the Jewish people as inhuman and disserving of extermination. And having met some of the doctors who experimented on the Jews and researched this (“Logotherapy Center” run by holocaust survivor Victor Frankel in San Jose in the early 80’s, a goldmine for such research!), I found these people were extremely ungrateful in their character makeup and they also had entitlement issues. Ingratitude can produce great amounts of evil and rationalize a lie as a truth. The ingratitude mindset is extremely dangerous personally as a Christian, because it stagnates us, we will never realize what we have, nor will we be able to grow in faith or worship God. And if we remain in this mindset we may even become evil in our thinking and eventually in our actions. It is essential that this discipline is pursued for the sake of contentment and for the sake of humanity.

Be aware, when we become infected with these age-old diseases of ingratitude, ungratefulness, thanklessness that leads to apathy, envy, anger, lust, misplaced ambition, greed, aloofness and bitterness, it will blockade the growth in our relationship with Christ and cut us off from the character and reflection of Christ to the world. It has been said we cannot control our circumstance, but we can control our attitude. And what I have found from Scripture backed up by my personal experiences and research is if we forget who we are in Christ, we will actually dismiss God from our life and replace Him with the god of our self and ingratitude.

The reason why the Discipline of Gratitude is a discipline is because it comes easy theoretically and actually, all we have to do is recognize Christ and His work in our lives, but the “practice” seems to come hard, we have to work at it. To cover ourselves in the call and blessings that Christ has for us should be easy, He says so, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:29-30). Christ actually offers to you His love in place of His wrath. Grace takes the Law off our shoulders when we turn to Him, and away from all that is false, this means freedom (Jer. 6: 13-20; 27:2; Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 1:26-31)! But we complicate it, so we must discipline our focus and work at it.

Take this subject seriously as a church growth consultant and a pastor I have seen lives destroyed as well as churches by ingratitude! A church that allows the ungrateful Christian to run amok will cause enormous damage that may never be repaired. They will quickly turn to legalism and or connive their ill begotten feelings and agendas to manipulate others and in turn produce the various forms of discontentment toward others. Because they are unwilling to see the love that Christ has for them, and then they are unable to give it out to others. They do not see the appreciation from others or even from God, so the focus is entitlement or the poor me attitude. And this attitude will reciprocate discontentment in a very powerful and focused way. And if you want your Christian walk disarmed and muted, be ungrateful and if you want your church destroyed all you need to do is allow people who are ingrates to be in leadership and soon your pews will be empty or you will be a festering haven for ingrates who fuel off one another. Ingratitude is a serious disease that must be cut out like malignant cancer, healed the sowing of love and serious counseling and awareness of Christ. If you or another person refuses to heal, then you must remove yourself from others until you are able to heal, forgive and get help. If you are in leadership it is essential to help these people at the same time keep them away from others until they are able to be people of gratitude. If they refuse, they need to be under church discipline and be cut off from the rest of the flock, if necessary, until healing and forgiveness takes place. If not they will bring their disease to others!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Plan to Know His Word Better

Below is some ideas that I leaned and put into practice that has helped me greatly. This is not study, or sermon preparation or a long drawn out exegetical analyses, we have those too on our how to study the Bible Channel (,,PTID34418%7CCHID629816,00.html), but this plan will help prepare you to walk with Christ closer and if you are a leader, lead for His glory, and if you are a pastor to teach his Worn and know who Caleb is and how we can be like Him too.

The Simplest Way to Learn the Bible!

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. Psalm 119:10

(This process would fall in the first steps of any exegetical or inductive approach.)

· The Basic “win-win” plan: If you just took a Bible book, any one, such as Matthew and read it every day for a month, you will know it beyond measure!

· The Basic “easy” plan: Listen to your book on tape several times, as you drive, at a beak when you get up, before you go to bed as you shop…

· The Basic “synergistic” plan, do both! I have from this is the simplest easiest way to learn and know the Bible!

The more you expose yourself to His Word the more He will expose Himself to you! And this can be done in less time than it takes to watch a half hour TV show! You will have far more knowledge of His Word and be more active and involved in our Lord than perhaps 90% of Christians who usually just “pew sit” and do nothing with their faith. What will you do?

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. Psalm 119:9

How well do you know the Bible?

Most Christians may say fairly well, and us pastors will say very well, but secretly we may be in fear that others will find out that we do not know His Word so well after all. Many of us may rationalize it, fake it or ignore it, but for some reason we do not make the efforts and diligence to really get to know it. Perhaps it is too much work for some, perhaps the fear factor is too high and it is easier to say yes, I know, basically lie, than actually get to know Christ and His Bible. Who am I talking about, me… the guy who started a international ministry teaching people how to study the Bible. Because when I first stated this endeavor, some 25 years ago, I was very biblically illiterate and faked my way through it. Bit I had some good mentors who called me on it, so I undertook the endeavor more seriously to get to know the Bible and found it is not so fearful and daunting as I thought. In fact it was fun and still is fun. But many of Christians and even some pastors are still in the dark with His Word.

I have to own up to some judgmental feelings I have from time to time with this.

When I give a seminar or consult with a church every now and then I am absolutely astounded by some pastors who lack basic Bible knowledge. Just the other day, a pastor at a very large church asked me if I heard of Caleb? I thought he must mean a person, so I am raking my mind who could he be talking about so I do not look dumb. Then he asked if it was in Genesis? It was one of those moments when my mouth opened but no words came out. I can understand why some Christians who may not know that Caleb was one of the original few people of the Exodus who was faithful and allowed to enter the Promise Land, found in Numbers and Deuteronomy, but a pastor who did not know? I can also at times understand when Christians say they do not have the time, or it is too hard to read the Bible, but pastors? Pastors, whose call and job is to proclaim the Word? I think we have a big problem with biblical literacy in America today. A lack of Bible Knowledge (and application you can’t apply what you do not know) will lead to very significant problems, such as a lost focus for the church locally and internationally or the spread of apostasy or false teachings, which we have, all of the above.

Now I have to say upfront that I did not end up knowing the Bible overnight, it took me many years, decades in fact. And when I first entered into ministry the only reason I knew who Caleb was is because I knew someone with that name. I was lazy with the Bible, figured it was more important to connect with the youth then learn His word or be disciple or make disciples. But, I had not been to seminary yet or had years of experience and time behind my belt as that pastor did. But I came to a point that I had to own up to my frailty in Bible literacy and buckle down and engage it. That pastor feels it is unimportant and irrelevant to his role as a pastor!

Many years ago my great uncle taught me the importance and relevance of knowing God’s Word. He kept me accountable and told me it does not come overnight or at ease it is a life long process and journey and it is hard work. There are no shortcuts to any important endeavor whether it is learning music or becoming a doctor or becoming a pastor or any skilled vocation or hobby. Undertaking something important is serious, it is commitment and it is hard work. At the same time I had great fears to know His Word. I felt I would not be able to do it, which is why I faked it. I had significant learning disabilities such as dyslexia and learning for me was a tough challenge. And with my uncle’s encouragement and suggestions I learned how to study and gather information. I even developed a process that works and is even fun that you can use too. In fact I have been teaching this in my seminars since the early 80’s to put people at ease, when exegetical and inductive methods seem to too daunting.

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