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Family Christian

  • A Leader Worth Following

    Boyd

    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:11

    Some questions that humble me as a leader are; “Am I a leader worth following?” “Do I model the values of our work and home culture?” “Do I do what I ask the team to do?”  “Am I willing to give up my own interests for what’s best for everyone else?” And the question that looms largest, “Will I lay down my life for my family and friends?” For me to be a leader worth following, I will answer affirmative to these revealing questions. Mostly though, I must follow the good shepherd,Jesus.

    Jesus is the ultimate leader worth following. He is not “a,” but “the” Good Shepherd. He is good because He is God, and He grows good leaders. The good shepherd Jesus defends the sheep from aggressive enemies. Just as the shepherd David battled the lion and bear on behalf of his flock, so Jesus engages the enemy on our behalf. He sees danger coming before we do, so what may seem an unnecessary diversion may be His protection from a bad decision or bad people.

    “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 27:12).

    A leader worth following protects his or her people. He lays down his life, his interests, and his ego for the greater good. The other centered leader also invests in her team. She spends time in mentorship. Over lunch she systematically  helps the less experienced process their pressure points. The leader is vulnerable about her own issues and how she learned from others. A safe culture invites honesty, and the opportunity for professional growth.

    Furthermore, what are some ways you can invest in the character of those who look to you as their leader? You have to be good in order to teach others how to be good. Your generosity enhances a culture of generosity. Your care creates a caring culture. Expose your team to books, trainings and conferences that challenge and grow their character and skills. Begin a weekly or monthly educational process that infuses the values of the culture throughout the enterprise. A leader worth following is out front as an example, among the team to learn, and behind in prayer.

    “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father grow me into a leader worth following. Lead me to lead like Jesus.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 14:16; 1 Corinthians 4:16-17; Philippians 3:17, 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:2

    Post/Tweet today:A leader worth following is out front as an example, among the team to learn, and behind in prayer. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • The Story of the Running Father

    Sherri

    "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

    Everything was quiet. I sat very still with my Bible and journal on my lap by my front window in a picture of perfect peace. But my heart was heavy with familiar grief.

    I had been in church my whole life. "Amazing Grace" was as familiar to me as the lullabies my mother sang over my crib, yet somehow my image of God was less of a kind and gracious Father and more of an angry, distant judge. How could a holy God ever accept me, one so flawed?

    I bowed my head and began to weep and pray with the kind of honesty that only comes when we are at the end of all our strength.

    I know the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but I just can't seem to believe it. Every time I turn to You, my first impulse is fear!

    I give up. I can't do this on my own. Will You please heal my heart?

    Over the next year, God did for me what I had been utterly helpless to do on my own. He revolutionized my image of Him.

    One of the stories that meant the most to me on my journey was the story many of us know by the title, The Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. I discovered that in the Middle Eastern Church the story goes by another name: The Story of the Running Father. The difference in the title reflects important cultural knowledge that the people to whom Jesus spoke would have known.

    In the biblical story, the son demands his share of the family's wealth, leaves home and breaks his father's heart in the process. Eventually the young man finds himself destitute in a foreign land and determines to return to his father's house with the hope of working as a servant.

    Scripture tells us the father sees his son a long way off and runs to him. It's the image of this running father that was so powerful to the hearers of Jesus' story.

    First, it was considered extremely undignified for a Middle Eastern man to run anywhere. Running was for children. Also, running required men to hike up their robes and expose their legs, which was considered humiliating and disgraceful.

    The reason he was running was even more significant. It was a very serious matter for a Jewish young man to lose his family's inheritance in a foreign land. If he did, and he had the gall to actually return to his village, his entire community would then bring him to justice through a custom called the Kezazah. Once the community discovered the money was lost, they would surround him and break a pot at his feet. Then they would announce that from that moment on he was cut off from his family and community ... as if he were dead.

    But this young man's father had been watching, and even though his son had broken his heart, he had been hoping for his return. He knew all too well what would happen when the villagers saw his boy. His son would be shamed and then the pot would fall, break, and his son would be lost. So, the father did what no first-century Middle Eastern man would do: he hiked up his robe and ran.

    He ran through the village streets as his neighbors stared in horror. He ran as young boys began running along behind, shouting and mocking him in his shame. He ran ahead of the crowd as they moved toward his guilty, filthy son. He ran ahead of all that was reasonable and fair. He ran ahead of justice, taking his boy's shame upon himself.

    When he reached the boy, the father quickly gathered his son into his arms, kissed him on each cheek and called for a banquet in his honor.

    This, Jesus tells us, is what God is like.

    For too long my image of God was one of a tyrant, or a cold and callous judge. But now whenever I think of God, I see Him running toward me, gathering up my shame in His wake, to redeem me with His costly love.

    My Father, thank You so much for running toward me. Help me rest in Your grace and trust Your great love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'" (NIV)

    Psalm 103:13-14, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What do you honestly believe about the nature of God? Take time to prayerfully consider this.

    What belief do you have that is holding you back from resting in God's love for you?

    © 2014 by Sherri Gragg. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Being and Doing

    Boyd

    I [Jesus] am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  John 10:9

    The Christian life is a prayerful mixture of being and doing. Some days or seasons seem like  relentless service, unsustainable without breaks for just being. Yet, daily our Lord calls us to come into His presence for comfort, and go out in His power to engage the world. We first entered the gate of God for salvation, and once saved we enter for sustenance. We go in to be with Jesus, and we go out to give Jesus. Contemplation on Christ leads us to care for Christ.

    Our Lord Jesus is our great shepherd who protects us from the enemy. He leads us beside still waters, He feeds us His green pastures in prayer and He lays down His life for His sheep. Christ provides a circle of safety we can rely on for peace and security. Since our Savior is 100% trustworthy, we need not wonder or worry. Some misfit ministers pseudo shepherd God’s flock. Don’t be led astray by their doctrinal or moral mayhem. Keep your eyes on Christ’s secure staff!

    “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:1).

    How can you best be and do for God?  Be who you are and do what you do best. God shows you your real self when you rest and relax in His presence. For example, His Spirit may say to your heart: I have made you to love. More specifically, He may say: Love leaders, love children or love the poor. Contemplation with Christ  clarifies your purpose for Christ. Being breaks down your biases, purifies your motives, and gives you confidence to be you. God educates you.

    Doing applies what we learn from the Lord. For instance, the Holy Spirit could enlighten us to support our spouse or friend by being patient, not frustrated with their disorganization or overcommitment. We gain influence with individuals when they feel we really know, understand,  and care for them. Being prepares our hearts to be magnanimous with those who misunderstand or mistreat us. When we go in to be with Christ prior to going out into the world, we are able to do for others what He has done for us. Being gets us to God, before we go out to serve with God.

    “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my faith by my comings and goings with Christ. I desire to be with You, so I can do for You.

    Related Readings: Psalm 27:14; Luke 24:49; Ephesians 2:1-13; 2 Peter 1:1-11

    Post/Tweet today:Contemplation with Christ is meant to clarify our purpose for Christ. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • No, After You

    Karen

    "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13 (NIV)

    "I call shotgun, Mama Karen!" the strapping teen yelled as he approached my car after football practice.

    "No way, Javari! Get in the back. She's my mom, dude. I get the front!" my son Spencer hollered back, trying to jockey for the prime piece of vehicle real estate known as the front passenger seat. Then, while the two of them playfully argued over whose turn it was to ride next to me, their friend Grant quietly slipped in front, grinning with a smile of victory.

    Kids like to get their own way. So do adults. During my substitute teaching years, I spent many days getting children to take turns at recess or not cut in line at lunch. I broke up fights over seats in the library and over who was going to be captain during flag football.

    A morning commute in traffic will showcase how adults also like to get their own way and be first. Horns honk and nasty looks are exchanged as drivers vie for their spot on the road, sometimes speeding or cutting others off in the process. But how refreshing it is to meet a kind person in a traffic jam, one who waves you on and allows you to move over a lane. And when they do it with a smile, this rare gesture restores faith in the human race.

    I used to read today's key verse about laying down our lives, and thought of it as a person actually dying for another, which of course is the greatest love of all. But I have also come to think of "laying down my life" as the little choices which put others first.

    Putting others first doesn't come naturally to us. Our innate tendency is to reach for the biggest slice of pie rather than offer it to a family member. It takes a conscious effort to allow others to go before you or to let them have what you really want. This is why I have always been impressed at those who seem to do it regularly.

    My mother is one who made selfless choices, when as a single mom on a tight budget, she would wear the same threadbare coat winter after winter in order to make sure her children had warm jackets.

    I also think of Alma, whom I've known since she was the Sunday school teacher for the preschool class when my adult daughter was young. Conversations with this sweet woman are sure to revolve around you and your family. She rarely talks about herself, but instead wants to know how she can be praying for you and your loved ones. She is known by many as "the nicest woman in the world."

    Then there's the man at church who opens doors for others, helps visitors find a cup of coffee or locate a classroom, and does it all with a genuine smile. He is not an official usher. Just a kind soul.

    But I also know people who've given more. Like Andrew, my friend Tami's son. I first knew Andrew as an energetic toddler. Throughout his life he wanted to serve. To protect. To save. It was evident in his play as a child and with his future goals as a teen. Then one day, as a 19-year-old soldier, he laid down his life for his country on a battlefield far away.

    Most likely we won't ever be called to make the ultimate sacrifice, but could we vow to put others first a little more often? To intentionally look for ways to meet their needs while we put ours on hold? To, in a sense, lay down a little of our lives daily for another?

    When we do, we will be modeling Christ to a watching world as we learn to live a life that says, "No, you first."

    I'm in. Are you? If we ever meet in person someday, I'll hold the door open for you with a smile. Why, I just might even let you take the biggest piece of pie. {Maybe.}

    Dear Lord, help me to be unselfish, to intentionally look for ways to put others first in the little things in life. Maybe even in making the ultimate sacrifice if ever I'm called upon. When people look at me, I want them to see You instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 3:18, "Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action." (HCSB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In America, today is Memorial Day, the day we honor those who have given their lives in service to our country. Take time to attend a parade or ceremony in your area or join in a call to pause, pray and remember with others around the country.

    Pray about a way you can put others before yourself today. Then, go and do it.

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Menial Tasks

    Boyd

    After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  John 13:15

    Jesus was the master of menial tasks. He was not afraid to get His hands dirty—literally. There was nothing and no one beneath Him, for He valued everyone. Jesus put Himself into the shoes of others so that He could relate to their world and serve them well. Success did not shield Him from the ordinary. His heart was all about service; He knew that service around menial tasks unlocked opportunities to influence. Jesus expects you, as a follower of His, to follow His example. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

    No level of authority exempts you from serving others. Pride or dignity may cause you to resist things such as working in a soup kitchen, tutoring an underprivileged illiterate, vacuuming the house, unloading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, washing clothes, running errands, maintaining the house (though better stewardship may be to hire someone else!), making photo copies, or returning phone calls. Yet, when you execute these menial tasks, you reflect Christ.

    Through your service to others, you truly lead. Otherwise, people are just intimidated into producing results for fear of your hostile reprisals. How much healthier it is for family, friends, and work associates to be motivated by your service than by your threats. It may start out awkwardly; it may take time for people to get used to the sight of you helping out. But when you start managing by walking around your computer instead of hiding behind it, people will be amazed. Encourage by engaging personally with people, not just sending impersonal e-mails. At first, they may resist, wondering what’s come over you. But your willingness to roll up your sleeves will win them over. Start with a handwritten thank you note to your direct reports. Value them as your most important “customer.” Wash their feet by constantly caring for them first.

    Menial tasks can become mundane over time. They can become boring and predictable, so stay fresh and challenged. Do not be satisfied with the status quo. Challenge the system and execute in a more excellent way. If you take for granted your position or technical skills, you may become sloppy in your service and lazy in your work. Always become better at what you do. Anybody can do anything for a short period of time. But it takes stamina and character to continue mastering the menial over the long run. Take continuing education classes. Improve your speaking and writing skills by engaging a speech or writing coach.

    Use technology to enhance and accelerate the menial. Nothing, however, will ever replace your need to give personal attention to important details. The devil is in the details, so give attention to them. This keeps him from taking you hostage. Yes, delegate, but do not make the mistake and abdicate. People appreciate your thinking of the details that affect them. Your accountability to carry out the menial makes others want to do the same, so plan ahead. Serve others where they least expect you to get involved. Then it becomes infectious. So be a contagious carrier who reflects Christ. There is no task too menial for your Master. Join Him where He serves.

    Post/Tweet today: Wise leaders delegate, but they don’t make the mistake of abdicating. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Management by Objectives

    Boyd

    Aaron and his sons are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry. Numbers 4:19

    God believes in delegation and follow through. He expects leaders to manage. This is the right and responsible thing to do. If a job is to be done well, you as the leader, have to be a part of the process. Effective managers make expectations crystal clear. Clarity comes through repetition, hands on explanation, written instructions, and follow-up. It is important for team members to understand from different perspectives, how their role is critical in accomplishing the overall vision. Inspect the results you expect from them.

    On-the-job training is also important so team members have the opportunity to watch you or someone else, complete the work with excellence. This gives the trainee an opportunity to ask questions and interact with the trainer. Avoid the temptation to hurry and not be thorough in hands-on training. Ineffective training costs you in the long run. It costs you time, money, frustration, and personnel turnover. So how can you, as a manager, grow and improve your management skills? How can you be a good example for the team?

    First of all, make sure you are managed well. Invite your supervisor or board of directors to hold you accountable. You have a much better chance to manage well if you are managed well. Then have regular performance reviews. We perform better when others are watching. The review needs to be relational, specific, and results focused. Next, walk around among your team. Seek to understand each person’s role and what is expected, taking the time to follow up with tasks you have delegated. Follow through with your commitments, and you will maintain your moral authority to manage. Effective leaders manage in person, not in isolation. A recluse is a poor manager.

    Lastly, challenge the management process. Do the systems of your enterprise facilitate or stifle management? In other words, do you get the proper data needed to evaluate a person or situation, or are you guessing and making assumptions not based on facts? Excellent managers produce processes that move toward the best results.

    “Paul instructed Timothy in this way, ‘Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others’” (2 Timothy 2:1–2 nlt).

    Prayer: How can I become a more effective manger and empower our team to manage well?

    Related Readings: Exodus 18:17–26; Exodus 39:32; Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 6:1–7

    Post/Tweet today: Effective leaders manage in person, not in isolation. A recluse is a poor manager. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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  • Succession Planning

    Boyd

    Elijah said to Elisha, “‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’” Elisha replied. 2 Kings 2:9

    Succession planning is an opportunity to steward well a founder’s lifetime of work, developing an organization’s ongoing effectiveness. Like death, steps of succession do not solicit ongoing conversation, unless a process is in place to implement a prayerful plan. Important questions are, “How can the founder show good faith that they hold the enterprise with an open hand?” “Should the founder be compensated after they transition out of their executive role?” “How will the board stay engaged in the succession planning process?” Yes, succession matters.

    Founders who hold an open hand trust the Lord as the owner of the organization. Hence, he or she is not necessary to carry on a Christ-centered culture. Lord willing, He will sustain the work in His way. Mature leaders also place their security and identity in Jesus, not in their jobs. They understand their ultimate value is not measured by what they do, but by who they are. Leaders who are secure in the Lord, see globally how God brings in those best for the organization’s health.

    “To Titus, my true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4).

    Who are you raising up to take the team to the next level? Are you intentional in your prayers for the profile of the person to take your place? We are not objective enough in our discernment to pick the most effective successor without the input of other wise advisors. Thus, we submit to the wisdom and accountability of the board to bring about the best outcome. Succession done well can gel the team and infuse excitement in anticipation of God’s choice. It is a journey of faith.

    Therefore, all in charge wisely look to Christ for His choice. Perhaps the requirement is to compare and contrast three excellent candidates. We learn a lot when we compare the strengths and weaknesses of very competent people. Moreover, it may be a worthy strategy to watch potential successors over the course of a year of work within the organization. Assign them to various departments and then assess their skills and abilities to work with the team. Also, take a prospective successor and their spouse to dinner. Observe how they treat their sweetheart and the server. Their attitude in an informal environment is an indicator of their real self. Most of all, look to the Spirit to confirm His person. His peace is preeminent in pronouncing the next leader!

    “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me in leading our team through a process of discovering Your choice to take us into the future.

    Related Readings: Genesis 41:37-40; Job 41:1-2; Ephesians 1:11; Philemon 1:20-25

    Post/Tweet today: Founders who hold an open hand trust the Lord as the owner of the organization. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Enjoying the Seasons of Parenting

    Tracie

    "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

    "Are they going to laugh all night long?" my husband jokingly asked. "I don't know," I said, chuckling at his question. "But I hope so. It's a sound that makes my heart happy."

    My teenage daughter had invited her entire cheerleading squad to sleep over at our house after a basketball game. When they arrived, the house immediately filled with laughter and conversations as they gobbled up pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

    Later that night, sleep seemed to escape me. Not because of the cheerful noise billowing down the stairs from a house full of girls, but because I wondered how many more laughter-filled sleepovers I might have the blessing of hosting. Knowing my children are growing up quickly, I couldn't help but face the reality I was entering a new season of life.

    I began to ponder all I would miss with two daughters living away at college this fall, instead of just one. Although my son still has a few years left at home, I had to face the reality that this season of my parenting was coming to a close. And my heart felt heavy.

    I remember feeling these same emotions when my babies outgrew their cribs and moved to big-kid beds. When my daughters tucked away baby dolls and hair bows and focused on nail polish and fashion. When my son grew too old for his teddy bear. When they left elementary school behind and entered the scary world of middle school. When they stopped riding their bikes and instead, got behind the wheel of a car.

    As I lay in the dark pondering this changing season of my life, a warm tear trickled down my face. Yet I felt God's sweet comfort and His reminder that although life is ever-changing, He is constant. I started to pray and sensed God was showing me the importance of treasuring the current season of parenting, rather than mourning the ones already passed, because every moment with our children is a blessing.

    The idea of seasons of life is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, authored by King Solomon. After becoming king of Israel following his father King David's death, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he wanted. Instead of asking for riches or victories, Solomon asked God for wisdom and received the blessing of understanding life (1 Kings 3:5, 10-13).

    Although Solomon doesn't directly speak about parenting in Ecclesiastes, his wise advice certainly applies to this subject.

    Today's key verse reminds us life is a progression of seasons, with everything happening in God's timing and under His control: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

    Then Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 highlights many of life's experiences that we find in the seasons of parenting, such as times to plant and uproot. Times to cry, laugh, grieve and dance. Times to embrace and turn away. Times to search and quit searching. Times to tear and to mend. Times to speak and to keep quiet. Times to keep and to let go.

    We find pieces of our parenting experiences scattered between the lines of this passage. As we accept there will be different seasons of parenting, we allow God to whisper specific encouragement to our hearts, fill our spirits with perseverance and understanding, and pierce our minds with the spiritual wisdom needed not only to make it through the seasons, but to appreciate them as gifts from God.

    No matter which season we find ourselves in, let's treasure it and bask in the blessings it brings. Embracing each season as it comes brings peace because we know we are right where God wants us to be and that He is preparing us for the season to come.

    My house may not always be filled with laughter in the middle of the night, but if I trust God is with me, I will always have joy in my heart.

    Lord, thank You for the privilege of being a parent, grandparent or caregiver to the little ones You've entrusted into my care. Help me enjoy every day of every season and lean on You when my heart aches for seasons gone by. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ecclesiastes 3:11a, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Ever wished you were in a different season of parenting, rather than treasuring the one you are in? If so, reflect on the blessings you enjoy in your current season of parenting. Ask God to help you focus on these things when your heart feels discouraged, tired or sad.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

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