Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Free Gift from Stir the Fire Ministry

Free gift from Stir the Fire Ministry. If you know of a pastor who may be discouraged I would love to send them the new book, For Those in Dry Places: Hope for Ministers in the Wilderness. Just send me the pastor’s name and address and I will get it to them (no strings attached). Thanks with your help in strengthening those that lead.      
J. Craig Ashcraft writes, “Yes, and I highly recommend this well written and easy to read book! When you’re walking in the wilderness, there’s nothing quite like knowing others have been there too!”
Charlene Hahn writes, “This is a very handy guide for anyone going through depression or dry places in their life not just pastors or ministers. It is that little seed of faith and hope. It gives direction through scriptures and practical advice. I thought I would read a little each day but once I started reading I could relate to so much of it I ended up reading it in one sitting. It also serves as a reminder that our pastors are people too. They make mistakes and have their own shortcomings. We are so caught up in our own struggles that we forget they not only take on ours but everyone else’s in the congregation. I know it has its rewards but it also has its burdens. This book would make a wonderful gift for any pastor you know.”

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dealing with Difficult People by Eddie Mayfield

Whether you work in a secular job or in a church setting, this blog post and podcast by Eddie Mayfield are for you. I personally know Eddie Mayfield and value his friendship and business principles. We were classmates in high school and have stayed in contact for the past 48 years.

This morning Eddie shared five important characteristics of "difficult people" in the workplace. I listened to his radio program and listened with "Church ears." I knew this needed to be shared now with those who read my blog.

Here is the website to listen to the podcast,
and Eddie's blog post,

Leadership: Dealing with Difficult People
“Oh no, here she goes again.” The “difficult” member of your staff has starting being difficult again, discouraging and angering your team members, derailing your vision and plans, and requiring you to devote your time to dealing with her. If you have any leadership experience at all, you’ve had to deal with difficult people within your organization. If you’re just entering leadership, you will, sooner or later, be dealing with difficult people.
If difficult people were all non-productive and untalented, it would be easy to just bypass, ignore, or get rid of them. But the fact is, difficult people are often the most talented people in your organization. They can have very high IQ’s, have great work ethics, and are truly committed to the organization’s success.
At the same time, however, they can be argumentative, bullying, negative loners that have a devastating effect on morale. These are the people that often “brighten a room by leaving it.”
You may be surprised, when you confront them, that your comments deeply hurt. Many don’t see themselves as difficult at all, and for a leader, this can be truly frustrating. Difficult people take inordinate amounts of a leader’s time, and they can consume much of an organization’s energy. They aren’t stupid, and in most cases, aren’t purposely disruptive. So what is it?
Daniel Goleman, science writer for the New York Times, has written a book on what’s called “Emotional Intelligence.” EQ is defined in general terms, as the ability to read non-verbal feedback from others, and to adjust yourself accordingly. It’s understanding how you are perceived by others, and caring enough about that perception to change. It’s the ability to be self-aware, to love and be loved, to build long-term meaningful relationships. It’s a measurement of empathy and altruism. It’s a predictor of teamwork, attitude, and long-term value to an organization.
I don’t know enough about either psychology or pathology to argue one way or the other on Goleman’s finer technical points, but I do know from personal experience that people defined by others as difficult exhibit most of the characteristics that Goleman and others list.
Let’s look at a few examples of difficult people, and how you deal with them.
The Negator (often self described “realist”)
This is the person, that always sees the glass half empty. These folks will completely suck the joy and energy out of a planning session. They feel justified because, after all, “Don’t we want to be realistic?” “You’re not just looking for ‘yes-men’ are you?” “I just want us to walk into this with our eyes wide open.”
There is room in any situation for a frank appraisal, but the Negator goes far beyond that. The tempting, and common response is to just stop inviting him to the meetings. The problem with that approach is that often his industry knowledge or technical insights are valuable and needed, and meeting without him is not in the best interests of the company.
There’s a great saying, attributed to Ben Franklin that applies here. “Any fool can tear down, criticize, and complain and most do.”
Here’s a possible approach. “Fred, you’re one of the most knowledgeable people in the company, and we need your insights. But, Fred, at the last meeting, you spent 30 minutes telling us why the new campaign could not work. Any of us can detail the problems, that’s not hard at all. We need you to help us find solutions. Fred, IF you have concerns about this project, I want you to express them to me privately, and not in the meeting, because its discouraging to the other folks. Can we agree on that?”
The Scowler
These folks are just simply unfriendly. What I’ve found amazing is that they seldom view themselves that way. I heard a speech on customer service years ago where the speaker was asked, “How do you get your employees to be friendly to customers?” His answer was, “Only hire friendly people, and it won’t be a problem.” That’s actually great advice. But if you already have a talented Scowler aboard, what do you do about it. (As a side note . . .AVOID hiring Scowlers)
While you can’t dictate emotions, you can dictate behavior. These types of people respond best to a very direct approach. “Gail, you are perceived here as being very unfriendly, and I need for you and I to change that perception. (be prepared for disbelief, have examples, and don’t waiver) Here’s what we’ll do. You must smile, and greet every single person that passes your desk. You need to say please and thank you with a smile. IF you have a disagreement with another employee, I don’t want you to handle it yourself. I want you to talk with me first. Gail, we MUST change this perception because it is hurting both you and the company.”
Then write all of that down in list form and give it to her. You will have to provide very direct feedback. “Gail, the communication you sent to Bill could have been phrased a lot more politely. Please try and avoid sending communication like that. Remember what we talked about?”
As I said, you may not be able to dictate attitude, but you can dictate behavior. The Yaskawa company, in their Chicago area manufacturing plant, actually has policies that apply to being friendly. They insist that employees not pass one another without a friendly greeting. If an employee drops something, anyone near them is to stop their work and help pick it up. Yaskawa, with an incredible commitment to excellence in manufacturing, says that part of that excellence is a friendly work atmosphere.
Demand that your team is friendly, and as the leader, be sure that you are setting the example.
The Bully
Bullies have to be dealt with immediately and forcefully. Bullies use their position, or knowledge to attempt intimidation. They will excuse the behavior by saying, “look, we have high standards and there is no excuse for him not living up to them.” Bullies will cost you talented employees, and they won’t just leave, they’ll leave angry. You can’t ignore this.
Leadership, in the words of John Maxell, is influence, and influence is leadership. Position and knowledge can also be forms of leadership, but on a much lower level.
First of all, tell the Bully to stop. and don’t sugarcoat it. Tell him that his behavior is out of line, and that you want it stopped and not repeated. Allow him no wiggle room here at all. If you waiver, he will take it as acceptance of the behavior.
After that, you can put on your softer hat, and try to help him. Explain that the highest form of leadership is influence, and that with his knowledge and experience, he’s in a position to exert great influence. Tell him that if people are motivated to avoid him, his influence is greatly limited.
Some Bullies are fully aware of what they’re doing, but surprisingly, many are not. They just see themselves as enforcers of standards, and they are simply trying to motivate others to perform better. They just lack the EQ to recognize how they’re being perceived.
In either case, as the leader, demand that the bullying behavior stop at once.
The Optioneer
These are folks, usually very intelligent folks, that rarely ever make decisions, because they continually see more options. “Well, we could do this, but on the other hand, we could try that, or how about going about it this way…” and etc. If this person were in charge of a rifle range, it would be: “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim,”
The Optioneers will drive other folks in your organization crazy.
Andy Stanley, pastor and founder of a very large church near Atlanta, says, “If the vision is clear, the options are few, and the decisions are easy.” The problem with most Optioneers is that they lack a clear vision. As the leader, you have to cast a very precise and clear vision to them. These people, just like most people that lack EQ, do not read between the lines. So by clear, I mean clear. Once you’ve done that, keep pulling the Optioneer back to the vision. They often have valuable insights, you just have to keep them focused. Try to have them give the options to only a small group of people, possibly just to you. Then tell them clearly which options you will consider, and forbid them from bringing up the remainder. Keep them focused.
It may help to remind them that the perfect can be the enemy of the good. There will never be a case where one has ALL the facts, ALL the information, or ALL the bases covered. You have to eventually pull the trigger.
The Contrarian
Contrarians are usually nice folks. They just naturally take the path that no one else is on. They can be extremely valuable to an organization in part, because they don’t mind “marching to a different drummer.” They are often natural leaders, and can have a good following within the company. However, they can be frustrating to both you and your team at times. And worse, they can push their personal vision to the point of undermining the corporate vision. They can even do this without malice, and without intentionally hurting you.
Contrarians will do their best to avoid team functions. They can be quite creative in coming up with reasons why it’s in the interest of the company that they stay and do other work instead of attending. If everyone else decides to wear your company shirts on Friday as a team building exercise, this is the one that shows up dressed differently.
Contrarians have to be dealt with carefully. You don’t want to stifle their leadership or creativity, but you need them fully engaged with your team. Start by recognizing their gifts and talents publicly. This demonstrates to them and to your team that you consider them valuable.
Then privately express your frustration with them always backing away from the team. “Susan, I spend a lot of time planning our weekly production meeting, and you appear to work hard at avoiding it. Why?” They will probably tell you that while others may need that encouragement, they are getting their work done, and don’t need it.
You then have to say, very clearly, “We are a team, not just a group of individuals. When one team member is absent, it hurts all of us. You have insights to share that will help the group, and frankly, Susan, you need the insights the other team members have as well. No one knows everything. ” Tell her that you want to see her engage with the team, and that you expect nothing less. Then follow it up with another compliment. These are valuable people that just need a bit of guidance. Don’t discourage them.
Here’s some good news; Goleman says that EQ can be learned, at least in part. So, difficult people can sometimes be coached into being less difficult. Here’s the bad news, ignoring difficult people can destroy your organization.
There are instances when the only course of action is to terminate. Jim Collins in Good to Great says that you should ask this question about a problematic employee, “If I knew then what I know now, would I still hire this person?”
If the answer is no, then termination is probably the wisest course.
Eddie Mayfield
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Friday, February 20, 2015

As in the Days of Noah

It is interesting that Jesus described the days before His return would be like the days of Noah. Look carefully at His words in Matthew 24, “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Life for Noah and the people of the earth continued day after day without little change. The same things they did back then we do today. Our children get married, and we eat and drink. However one day God intervened directly with Noah’s pattern of life and for him Noah’s life was radically changed!
Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch…Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark– you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.  Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.”
We also are told in the New Testament that Noah preached that a flood was coming, and it was time to prepare. No one but his family believed his message. When the flood came only Noah, and his family were saved. The ark was their safety.  
This could be the days Jesus referred to when He talked about Noah’s day. I truly believe it is. The ark is Jesus Christ, and He keeps those who believe His words and acts upon them. We are to come into Him while there is still time. God does not desire that any perish. His ark is large enough for all.
Notice that even though God provided the plan for Noah’s deliverance He still told him to gather food for yourself and the animals in the ark. God told Noah to prepare. Jesus is telling us to prepare for what will come upon the earth. My advice is to make preparations for you and those you love. Moreover, share Christ with those who will hear.  Tell them a loving God has made a way for their security and eternity. Prepare and preach.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Leaky Faucets & the Kingdom of God

large_leaky_faucet 2
I received a powerful insight today as I was repairing leaking faucets. It was very practical, yet a teaching moment from Holy Spirit. I ordered new stem unit assemblies for three leaking faucets. I am not a plumber! I just believed I could do it. I read the instructions and removed the old stem units and installed the new ones. I turned the water back on, and the faucets still leaked. I went through the process of removing and reinstalling. Still leaking! As I was going again to turn off the water I had this thought, “take the old stem and put it in the new casing.” I did and the leak stopped!
I believe the Spirit revealed that because of “old” church structures, much precious truth (water) has been wasted. The Lord wants to stop the leak. He is not throwing away the old but is taking the old and using new methods of carrying the water (truth). God is not throwing out the baby with the bath water! God is not doing away with the church but instead is now utilizing the Kingdom of God to be a conduit of the truth of Jesus’ Church. No truth will be leaked away in this day. The Kingdom faucet will be opened, and Kingdom truths will flow. No more waste!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Insights from Motorcycle Trip-Part 4

4. When we break out we are more open to the awesome greatness of God.
The Grand Canyon- “Then Sings my soul, How Great Thou Art!”
2,500 miles on two wheels- “Then Sings my soul, How Great Thou Art!!”
Breaking out to break in- “How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art!!!”
I am stronger now and willing to trust God more since breaking out. I’ve learned I can depend upon the Lord. I am now breaking in with my faith renewed.
I am like an owl of the wilderness (pelican in the desert), like a little owl of the waste places. I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.
Not a bad description for breaking out to break in.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

More Insights #3 from Motorcycle Trip

3. When the storm overtook me God protected me with shelter in an unexpected place.

Isaiah 25:4 For You have been a strong-place for those who could not help themselves and for those in need because of much trouble. You have been a safe place from the storm and a shadow from the heat.
I saw a road off of the highway which led me directly to a storage bldg with a front porch. I was sheltered from the rain and hail.
God is our Safe Place!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Insight #2 During Southwest Motorcycle Trip

Adversity takes no vacation and can care less that you are on one.
Violent storms threatened my itinerary. This was at the same time tornadoes were moving across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. I thought of Jesus saying, And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Each day I learned to discern the weather and not travel where the weather was threatening. But I could not avoid the winds which accompanied the storms.
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
30 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph buffeted my bike.     
I developed greater faith in the Lord to keep me safe.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Insights Learned on Southwest Motorcycle Trip

billonbikerocks        There are times when we need to break out to break in. Our lives are very routine and it is healthy to break out of the routine from time to time in order to break in to a new dimension of living our routine life.                                                                                                    
     I had the opportunity to break out during the last two weeks as I traveled to the Southwest on my motorcycle. I had many eye and heart-opening experiences and I asked the Lord to speak to me through what I experienced. I want to share several of the insights.
1. Even when you break out it doesn’t mean you will be free from challenges.
     My brother-in-law and I had planned this trip for months. We planned our tentative itinerary and plans. On the third day of the trip he went home. I decided to continue my planned break out. I was alone and my plans had to be adjusted.
I am like an owl of the wilderness (pelican in the desert), like a little owl of the waste places. I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. Ps 102:6-7
     Being alone like a pelican in the desert and a bird on the housetop allowed me to put more trust in God for my safety and direction.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Worldviews at Odds with One Another

Islamic Extremism

"Islamic extremism is driven by a totalitarian interpretation of Islam that believes in a global Islamic state."          

"Islamic extremism is driven by an interpretation of Islam that believes that Islamic law, or sharia, is an all-encompassing religious-political system. Since it is believed to be proscribed by Allah (Arabic for “God”) sharia must be enforced in the public sphere by a global Islamic state. As such, Islamic extremists consider it to be the only truly legitimate form of governance and reject democracy and human rights values."  BY RYAN MAURO

Friday, February 6, 2015

Patience Rewarded

Joel 2:28 Your old men will dream, your young men will see visions
There is no shelf life for dreams!
Patience Rewarded by Mark Capurso
Every day, dozens of people line up along the edge of the canyon to watch the sun set. As soon as the sun sinks below the horizon, people rush back to their cars and hurry back to their hotels. Few people realize that often time the real show does not begin until 15 minutes after the sun is gone. The sky can explode with color, in turn bringing out a warm glow in the canyon below.
From a recent trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What Methodists Believe About the Holy Spirit

There seems to be some confusion concerning what United Methodists believe. One of the most misunderstood topics is what United Methodists believe about the Holy Spirit.

     In November 2010, I made a 2-minute video clip about the Holy Spirit. Personally, the Holy Spirit has and is a very important person in my life. I met Him in 1973 and asked Him to fill my life with all that He is. Holy Spirit teaches and guides me. He is my comforter and my holy shock absorber. He makes Jesus real to me.

     Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." Acts 1:8

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Analyzing the Season

I want to know the spiritual season in which we are now living. Seasons in Alabama are easily discernable. Summer is very hot and muggy, but the fall is cool and crisp. Winter is often cold while spring is warm. The time of seasonal change is a noticeable time for me. My favorite season is fall because of the cooler temperatures and the beautiful colors of nature.

    So it is with the times, and seasons related to the things of the Spirit. Today we are in the midst of a seasonal change in the world. This change is something, which can be sensed in our spirits. Jesus said it this way,

When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, "A shower is coming," and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, "It will be a hot day," and it  turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?  Luke 12:54-56

     As we analyze this present time it is obvious that something big is about to happen. Not only do believers sense this change, but even those not given to religious interests. We hear secular people on television, radio,and the Internet speaking about possible coming events on the world scene. It is evident that people everywhere are sensing an event of extraordinary proportion is close by.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Commit Your Way to the Lord

This week I began writing a new book about personal prophecies that I had received since 1974. I started the book at that period in my life; the year I was called to preach. As I was walking up the stairs this morning to my office, I remembered something that preceded my call the previous year. It was like the Lord was replaying the event in my mind.

Dr. Stephen Olford
     I believe the year was 1973 when Dr. Stephen Olford preached at the Second Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham. He preached that night about letting the Lord lead and guide our lives. For several months, I had been sensing the Lord was about to do something in my life. When Dr. Olford gave the invitation to surrender our lives totally under Jesus' Lordship, we went to the altar. We were sitting in the balcony, and it took several minutes to get to the front where he was about to pray with those who had responded. He waited until we got there. Dr. Olford prayed a prayer for guidance in our lives. I knew that the Lord was calling us, but we didn't know what it was. Following his prayer, he said, "This verse will help you come into God's plan for your life." Psalm 37:5 "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." This went down deep in my heart, and I prayed this prayer daily.

     I committed myself and my need for direction. I trusted in the Lord and knew that Jesus had it covered. I had the confidence that He will make it happen. Less than a year later, I was called by God to preach the Gospel. Thanks be to God!