Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finding Your Fit

by Tim Howard

Back in 1982 a television show called ‘Cheers’ debuted and ran for 11 successful seasons. It displayed a pub where people gathered frequently and revealed a camaraderie that was desirous by all who watched. It was a place where everyone knew each other’s name and a place where people felt like they belonged and ‘fit.’ It’s something we all desire!

If you’ve ever been in a place where you felt like an outsider looking in rather than an insider looking around, you know what I mean.

Finding a right fit with other people is more complicated than finding clothes that fit you properly. If you are like me, you can go shopping for clothes and find the article you need and one that fits in a matter of minutes. My wife, however, will often visit 7 to 10 stores, shop for 7 to 10 hours and spend more than 7 to 10 dollars before she finds 1 to 2 articles of clothing that is acceptable and fits properly to her specific taste. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that - Just in case my wife is reading this! Finding a right fit in the clothing arena, however, is a lot easier than finding a fit with other individuals.

Why is it so hard to find relationships that fit us, to make meaningful connections with people? To find a place where you feel like you belong? Part of the answer may be wrapped up in unrealistic expectations. Here are 5 things you can’t expect if you want to find your fit.

1. You can’t expect everybody to like you. It’s unrealistic! St. John chapter 1 tells us that Jesus came to His own people and was rejected by many. There were some, however, who received Him and to those He began a relationship. Give people the freedom to choose without coercion, force, pressure or manipulation. You don’t need everyone to like you!

2. You can’t expect to get something when you give nothing. It’s unrealistic!  There are too many takers in the world. Life is about giving - not only getting. Ephesians 5:2, “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” When you are a giver, you become a fragrance that attracts rather than an odor that offends.

3. You can’t expect to fit in by trying to be someone else. Even if you do find a place that accepts you, there will never be a sense of belonging because the one they embrace isn’t the real you.

4. You can’t expect people to embrace you when you make everything about YOU. People don’t fit because they often think life is all about them.  With one small exception, life is all about others. Philippines 2:3-4 “ Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as before yourself.  Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. 

5. You can’t expect people to care about you, if you don’t really care about them. The old cliché: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s true!
Your chances of finding a place where you fit like that which is portrayed on Cheers increases when you have expectations that are realistic.

Why not check out one of the many Church families in Kings County this weekend. You might find a place where you fit!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Family Responsibilities

by Andrew Cromwell

Being a member of family comes with privileges and responsibilities. Depending on what family you are a part of, the perks might be fantastic (think what it would be like to be a Rockefeller or a Walton) but the responsibilities might be rather serious too. Most of us are connected with a family. That family gives us a name and forms a significant part of our identity. And when it comes time for holiday gatherings or family meetings, we are expected to be a part.

The family of God is no different. Being a son or a daughter of God is full of wonderful privileges. Among other things, we get to spend time with the Creator of the universe. We are empowered with His resources. We are forgiven of our past and we are promised an incredible future. There are some amazing benefits to being part of God’s family.  

But just as there are expectations in an earthly family, there is also a part for us to play as members of our heavenly family. When we do these things we make our family a better place! If you want to be the black sheep of the family—no problem—but I tend to think that it is much better to be right in the thick of it.

Over the next few articles, I want to explore the part that we have to play in our spiritual family. My hope is that, even if you do not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and do not consider Him to be the linchpin upon which the whole universe hangs, you will come to better understand this part of the Christian faith.

Next time we will discuss the responsibility to show up! You know you always make mom happy when you show up at family gatherings! It’s kind of the same thing when we show up in God’s house.  

The pastors in Kings County would love to have you join them this weekend.  It may have been a long time since you have connected with God’s family.  There’s no better time than the present.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taking Care of the Environment

by Tim Howard

I‘ve followed several great men and women over my years and have been helped greatly by them in the process of maturity. They led in such a way as to elicit from me loyalty, faithfulness, a willingness to sacrifice and a strong desire to follow them.

How do you develop a team that people want to play on? A better way of putting it might be to reword the question. How do you become a leader people want to follow?

One key word is “Environment.” We all create a certain environment, atmosphere or aura if you will, that other people can see, sense and react to. How many of you find yourself rejoicing when a certain co-worker calls the office to say they won’t be in on a specific day? Be honest!  You rejoice when they are not present because they create an environment that’s not very pleasant. The opposite is true also. We miss someone because they create an atmosphere that is enjoyable.

A sign I recently read said: “All people bring me joy, some when they come and others when they leave.” That sums it up.

A good atmosphere or a good environment keeps the morale high and when the morale is high, people want to follow you. They look forward to playing on the team. Your goal and greatest challenge as a leader is not merely to complete a task but create an environment conducive to growth.
Here’s 4 ways to destroy a good atmosphere on the job, in the home, at the school, in a meeting and a myriad of other places.
1.               COMPARE people with others rather than ACCEPT them on their own merits. When you do, an environment of favoritism flourishes.  Jacob did this in Genesis Chapter 37. He loved one son more than the others and the family hated the climate this created. Whenever you compare people, you value one above the other.
2.              The environment drastically changes when you CRITICIZE people more than COMPLEMENT them. How many of you would admit: When the boss asks you to step into his office, the first thing to go through your mind is this question: “What Did I Do Wrong?” Focusing on the good and giving some praise now and then can build the morale and create a positive attitude.       
3.              TALK TO people and not COMMUNICATE WITH them. You will see how quickly things deteriorate. You can talk AT people, TO people or WITH people and it’s best to talk with them.                                                                                                                                                                   
4.              COMPLAIN about everything but don’t CHANGE anything. People don’t want to follow a leader who chooses not to deal with the ‘elephant’ in the room.
God’s looking for leaders who will accept others on His terms and not their own. Leaders who will focus on the positive and give praise regularly rather than criticize continually. Ones who communicate with people and love people enough to correct a wrong.
Why not check out one of the many church families in Kings County this weekend. You just might find an environment you can enjoy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Solving Problems

by Andrew Cromwell

One of life’s most important skills is the ability to solve problems. Why? People have and always will have problems. Truth is, problems and challenges for human beings are like water to a fish. Without them we cease being who we were created to be.

The next time you begin to think life would be so much better without any of your problems, remind yourself of the youngster who came across an old man sitting on a bench looking lonely and depressed. He asked the old man, “What is life’s heaviest burden?” The old man sadly replied, “Having no burden at all.”

Am I suggesting that every problem is a wonderful thing? Of course not! Many of our problems are caused by our own stupid behavior and decisions. In a letter to Timothy, Paul writes “because of the love of money...many have pierced themselves with sorrows.” Many of us have created for ourselves serious problems because we haven’t been able to say “no” to the “I want” bug.

But every problem—whether created by our own selfishness, by the actions of someone else or simply by the very nature of our broken world—can also be seen as opportunities. Problems present opportunities for personal growth. They also give us opportunities for advancement at home and at work. The quickest ways to gain favor is to fix a problem!

Just remember, not every problem can be fixed. Sometimes we fail to differentiate between a problem and a fact of life. We then spend way too much time trying to fix something that is just the way things are. Your mother-in-law is just your mother-in-law; don’t expect that you can transform her into something else! Please note, this does not apply to my mother-in-law, just yours.

And don’t waste time fixing problems that don’t make a difference. Don’t polish the brass on a sinking ship. Focus instead on things that really matter. My guess is that there are a few key problems that you have in your life. These problems are big ones—they involve relationships or deep financial issues or both. These things are not easily fixed. But if you begin to address these issues effectively, your whole life will move in a positive direction.

We all face huge challenges in life. The good news is, we also have a Father in heaven who is bigger than any of them and He wants to help. He wants His children to experience life at its fullest. The question for each of us is, do we want His help?

This weekend, the pastors in Kings County would love to speak to you about the resources God has for you. So when you begin to face down those problems that keep you awake at night, you’ve got Somebody big standing next to you!