Who Else Wants a Life of Power?

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Life of Power
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Do You Want a Life of Power? 

Of course you do.
The Bible says a lot about power, after all.  This includes the Power of God— both God Himself and His power lived out through people’s lives.

Then it’s important that you understand the nature of a person’s power. It may surprise you that “purity” begets personal power.  Purity is moral integrity.  It’s lifestyle consistency.

Interestingly, people can have a life of spiritual power even when mistakes have been made.  We’ve all made them.

Of course,  the fact that we’re not human doesn’t “excuse” the mistakes… it’s just to say simply that…. that we’re human.  But if there’s one resource I love that speaks to the issue of power coming from personal brokenness, it has to be the amazing website, I am Second.  WOW.   Let that be the first website you visit… AFTER you finish reading this post!!  (It can wait 3 minutes, right?)
But personal power comes from integrity. Integrity creates inner strength, which manifests itself in strong character. This ‘character’ increasingly produces unmitigated power in the life of the person possessing it– and such a person is fueled by nothing other than pure conviction.
Inner integrity manifests itself as a type of unstoppable force.
Put another way– the inner realization of a pure conscience leads to boundless personal power. So, BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT OUR HEARTS DO NOT CONDEMN US, we come to possess an absolute sense of internal integrity. This sense of personal “cleanness” instills an inner witness inside of us that creates utter liberation.
As a result of this liberation, the believer can truly (and finally) live with abandon– fearlessly, in fact.
Holy Spirit Power
Ironically, instead of this liberated abandon (which SPENDS OUR ENERGY) leading to the loss of vitality and strength (the type of thing that would leave the average person burned out and burnt up), because of the power of God that is able to flow through such a person, the totally spirit-empowered believer finds himself surprisingly refurbished… moment by moment. And this experience (really… it’s more of an encounter than an experience) makes us the recipient of an ever-renewing and “just-made” or, may I say, fresh-squeezed brand of genuine Holy Spirit power.
Moreover, because of the integrity of the Spirit and the genuine honesty in the conscience of a person with a pure life, the power begotten by that pure life simply cannot be manufactured. And since few believers exhibit this type of consistent Christian living, this type of pure power is seldom seen. That’s by virtue of the fact that it cannot be produced apart from the life of Christ.
But if we will consciously and consistently submit ourselves to Him– we will be fueled by that clear conscience just mentioned… and that’s when we’ll begin to experience this unremitting surge of Supernatural Pneumatic vitality moment by amazing moment, viz., The Power of a Pure Life.

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The Green-Eyed Monster: How to Get Rid of Envy and Entitlement

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Green eyed Monster
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Envy. Entitlement. Those are two words I hate.
That isn’t to say I haven’t ever practiced those vices. But I really do hate them.
Envy is, of course, inward turmoil stimulated by a heart that cannot celebrate another’s good fortune. It involves wanting what another has. Jealousy, envy’s evil twin and hellacious handmaiden, involves personal resentment toward the one in question. Whereas an envious person wants what another has, jealousy [at least] simply doesn’t want the other person to have it.
Clearly, both usually go together: The envious person sometimes, if not usually, becomes jealous. The results of envy-jealousy includes the dropping of one’s countenance toward the fortunate (or blessed) person, then self-justifying (and sometimes-irrational) frustration which often deteriorates into further ungodly manifestations.
Self contamination
If I can take a bunny trail here— let me share a word about those ungodly manifestations. It seems to me that jealousy-envy often contaminates and/or wounds both the perpetrator and its victim(s). What I mean is that, once envy erodes into jealousy, it is not unusual for the jealous person to be contaminated by seething anger, internal rage, and finally contempt. Sometimes these emotions are accompanied by abuse and violence– verbal, physical, or both. As a result, the jealous person often ends up suffering a sense of guilt, personal condemnation, self-loathing, and, at worse, despair.
And if that were not enough, the victim of jealous envy also suffers, wittingly or not.
But this post is not only about envy; it’s also about entitlement. But I mentioned both because envy is often accompanied by entitlement. But entitlement can also be an “independent vice.” So entitlement doesn’t require the presence of envy though, like women who go to public restrooms in groups, they often appear together.
So, what of “entitlement?”
Entitlement is a perspective… a mentality. It usually manifests itself as an assumption that one DESERVES something– an expectation of a perceived (or moral) right. Now keep in mind that there ARE legitimate entitlements. But those are not my concern, nor are they the topic of this post. Rather, I am concerned about the general and pervasive “entitlement mentality” that hangs like a dark cloud over many people, including certain sections of the American populous. And just as “groups” of people develop entitlement mentalities, individuals do it as well. Those who do so consider it an outrage that they sometimes must “do without” or otherwise should actually “do something”– rather than doing nothing but having an expectation of receiving something nevertheless.
All this serves as a long introduction to the central idea of this post: The Elimination of Envy and Entitlement.
In the past, I assumed several things… Things like:

  1. BLESSINGS SPOIL PEOPLE
  2. MATERIAL NICETIES STIMULATE THE BASE INSTINCTS OF OUR HUMANITY AND DRIVE ENVY INTO PEOPLE
  3. THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN MUCH ALWAYS DEVELOP AN ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY THAT SPOILS THEM, AND FINALLY…
  4. BLESSINGS PRODUCE ENTITLEMENT IN THE PERSON WHO RECEIVES THEM AND ENVY IN THOSE WHO DO NOT.

 
But I no longer think those things.
Oh, sure, we’ve SEEN EXAMPLES of those ideas– but I have come to believe that no cause-effect relationship exists between blessing and entitlement or envy.
 I remember when my elder son, Dakota, turned 11. For his birthday he got this insanely great gift that virtually no child his age has. To boot, Dakota enjoys a life foreign to my own early years. He (and his brother Christian) is, in many ways, a child of plenty. He has never known “need.” He would hardly even understand the concept of “want.” And yet, the enormous blessings he enjoys are (a) not “expected” by him, nor (b) have these opportunities and experiences soiled or spoiled him. Dakota is genuinely thankful and grateful. And though all the results aren’t in– his life and demeanor has shown me that envy, entitlement, and blessing CAN BE mutually exclusive.
So what makes the difference?
I believe that envy and entitlement are eliminated from blessed people when those people possess character.
Character (or its absence) is, I believe, the single arbiter of envy and entitlement mentalities. With character, those bad character qualities are not present. Without character, those vices breed, mutate, and multiply.
So now, instead of withholding “good” from my child/children, I feel the freedom to bless them liberally. And rather than spending all my energies regretting my generosity and battling their growing envy and entitlement, I work on ensuring that they are developing character. I think that’s the way God intended it to be, and it helps me enjoy being a generous father– just as my Heavenly Father is.

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The Surprising Truth About Truth

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The Truth About Truth

A leading Christian thinker, Dr. Perry Downs, is known for an important but surprising quote: “Truth-telling is an act of violence.”
Who knew?
Regarding violence, anyone who has ever been victimized and that has suffered the resultant trauma knows its resonant results. It is like the proverbial pebble which causes a disproportionate effect– rows of ripples that circumnavigate far from the point of impact, long after the rock has settled in the silt below.
In this sense, violence forever affects those it touches. It should not be confused with a momentary, punctiliar event… violence is the initiation of an altered and completely re-arranged reality for all those it touches, be it directly or indirectly. Violence changes people’s lives. Some of that change is painful… and some of it, ultimately, can bring redemptive meaning and hope.
Now back to the central idea– truth.
Truth-telling can be a blunt object. I’ll never forget the words of a physician to me in the winter of 2006 when my mother was ailing in a Knoxville, Tennessee hospital. “Freddy, your mother is dead.” No mastery of language could ever help me communicate the thoughts and emotions I experienced in that moment. The statement, however true, was horribly blunt. Cold. Hurtful. Awful. That shows what is meant by the violence of truth. That statement forever affected my life and the lives of so many others.

Some Consolation

The death of my mother caused profound hurt, but as the gaping wound has slowly begun to heal, God has used it to bring ephiphanies and moments of meaning that, apparently, I would have been unable to perceive otherwise. Does that mean that mom’s passing was ‘for the best?’ I don’t know if I could ever utter such a thing– it seems inconceivable. But since death is an irrevocable and necessary evil since the Fall (Genesis 3), the meaning and insights I’ve received are at least a modest consolation. And, at least for my mom, this discussion is academic. She wouldn’t return even if given the chance. If that’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.
With these broad and sketchy ideas strewn about, I return to my original concept. The Violence of Truth.
Jesus said, “I came to bring a sword” (Matthew 10:34). The truth of God, like violence, affects everything. It impacts people to different degrees, depending on their proximity to it. The effects of truth continue on and on. Truth alters and dictates reality. And though it can be painful, once it does its important work, truth brings intuitive insights and meaning. For those reasons, however painful truth sometimes is, knowing it is better than ignorance– because only the truth can set us free.

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Fear and Danger

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Fear and Danger
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Fear can be rational or irrational.

That said, there’s a ‘sense’ in which it doesn’t always matter whether one’s fear is rational or not. That’s because even if a particular fear happens to be irrational, that doesn’t necessarily make it any less troubling. In fact, irrationality doesn’t “negate” fear in the least– and, in some cases, it can even breed terror.
In the context of this discussion, it is important to remember that fear and danger are not one and the same. Fear is an emotion. Danger, however, is an actual threat to one’s safety.
Though fear and danger should appear together (and often do), interestingly, they can also be inexplicably separated. Note that a child may be in actual danger of physical harm, but have no fear whatsoever. In addition, a grown adult may be in absolutely no danger, yet be deathly afraid.
In the case of my dear mother who passed away a years ago (February 25, 2007), there was a time prior to our losing her that she struggled with a fear of death. She (like me… and you) did not want to die. Sadly, the fact that she was a Christian believer did not assuage her insecurity, nor did it eliminate her fear of the unknown. In fact, my mother was in the condition of many Christians– she “feared” though there was no “danger.”

In Christ, my mom’s eternal fate was absolutely secure– something she now knows full well. Yet that reality and fact never calculated into spiritual peace and inner security. So though my mother’s fear did not affect her destiny, she was still emotionally imprisoned—at least for a short time. The only thing I wish is that she could have lived free from what I wish to call the “dangerless fear.”

God is Sovereign
Similarly, in spite of the fact that God is sovereign, many Christians today live in fear. And though the world sometimes presents genuine threats where fear is not completely unfounded, in light of the Omnipotent Sovereign we serve, disciples should increasingly embrace and then embody the security and confidence which is very much found in Christ. As we do, we will become powerfully emboldened and increasingly learn to live with fearless abandon. This type of courageous Christianity is the only brand of faith that is capable of pushing back the darkness and advancing the light. As such, Christians must decide whether to cave… or to be brave.

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You Don't Have to Be a Philosopher to Understand the Nature of Truth

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Understand Truth
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You Mean Your Middle Name isn’t “Socrates?”

I get it.  But we all need to have a handle on truth.  After all, we must “live!”  It’s important to understand that “truth” isn’t just the stuff of people with really long Greek names like:

  • Pythagoras of Samos

  • Zeno of Elea

  • Democritus, and

  • Diogenes of Sinope

What is the nature of truth?

Truth is what “is.”
Truth is that which is real, true, or truth. Truth is that which is actual.
It’s another way of saying that ‘Truth’ isn’t simply “what is ‘believed.’ ” What is ‘believed’ is subjective and may or may not have anything to do with reality. Sometimes belief is nothing more than fantasy.
So ‘belief’ may not have a 1 to 1 relationship with reality.
The only time belief is legitimized is when that which is believed is objectively true. Truth (or actuality) legitimizes belief. Anything less isn’t really “truth”– it’s just belief.
The Point: Belief does not equal truth. And just as ‘belief’ doesn’t create truth… neither does disbelief destroy truth.
Truth is ‘truth’ because it is ‘true,’ not simply because it is believed.

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What is Podcast Seminary?

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Podcast Seminary offers audio-based biblical and theological courses where learners listen alone at their own pace or study with others in an exciting online learning community. Podcast Seminary features guided interactive discussion forums on weekly course content and helpful digital resources in a members-only online community. Podcast Seminary is ideal for growing and mature Christians, Bible teachers, and ministry leaders wanting to be equipped with a more comprehensive and systematic approach to developing their biblical knowledge and deepening their theological understanding.

Overview

Podcast Seminary provides substantial spiritual food to Christians hungry for God’s Word. It is a fun and meaningful learning experience designed to help you build a more comprehensive knowledge of the Bible and Christian Theology. It is meant to quickly broaden your awareness and deepen your understanding of a wide range of Christian subjects. This is done by exposing you to condensed versions of content typically covered in full-time seminary degree programs.
Podcast Seminary educates, edifies, equips, and encourages Christian learners, regardless of their level of educational training or spiritual maturity. Podcast Seminary fosters an environment of inquiry and discovery. It is thought-provoking but non-threatening. It’s academic but accessible. It’s fun but not frivolous. It’s non-accredited but achievement-based.

Curriculum

In the New Testament Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul spoke of the importance of his teaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). In doing so, Paul was communicating the absolute importance of teachers helping disciples become fully informed about divine truth and the Word of God. One of the great challenges within today’s Christian churches is the growing problem of biblical illiteracy. Similar to that is the related issue of many Christian’s general ignorance of the biblical worldview.
What does this mean, and why does it matter? This means that many Christians are not fully equipped when it comes to knowing the Word of God and, as a result, the Will of God (Romans 12:2). The result is that believers often live without the confidence, courage, and convictions they need to be “more than conquerors” as the Bible promises we can become (Romans 8:31-39). Ultimately, this problem leads to less-fulfilled lives, avoidable mistakes, and a lack of spiritual legacy by many believers. Podcast Seminary is built to address these common problems in discipleship.

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Podcast Seminary curriculum provides comprehensive, systematic, and on-going training that covers both the breadth and depth of Christian truth. Podcast Seminary covers a broad area of curriculum comprised of nine key areas. These areas represent the areas of knowledge that comprise a Christian worldview. When a person understands these areas, he or she is able to live with more spiritual power, with increased confidence, and with greater joy.
As you take your first course in one of the following nine areas, you’ll begin to understand how important it is to develop thought structures, theological perspectives, and familiarity with the many areas of truth. Before long, you’ll begin to have a working knowledge of all the key areas important to understanding how life works. We encourage you to continue to build your mind through the content and learning available through Podcast Seminary. Below are nine areas all Christians should study for more comprehensive discipleship.

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Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

Teach with your strengths

Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen
In my last article (Teach with your Strengths part 1 of 2), we discussed the Biblical Reasoning of Teaching with your Strengths. This sequel article outlines the practical gifts that teachers may have according to the research team at Gallup. I highly recommend you purchase a book right now, and get the Strengthfinder 2.0 test for free!! Otherwise you will be paying $13/license. After I took this test, it has open my eyes to a whole new world of developing new skills in the teaching world.
What about the other assessments like DISC or Meyers-Brigg? Well these are personality assessments that focuses on the general demeanor of a person. But Strengthsfinder gives an accurate assessment on your teaching strengths and then follows up on practical steps on enhancing your top strengths.
After I (Kevin Nguyen) took my assessment, the results spits out 5 of my top strengths of the 34 listed. Most of us would want to zoom down to the bottom and focus on the bottom 5, but the results will only show you the top 5. Curiosity may kill you, but don’t worry, it didn’t kill me knowing my fatal flaws. Instead, I am zoned in on the top (see below of my top 5): Arranger, Significance, Strategic, Command, Communicator.
or you can just skim through this…then go take your assessment! What is your strength?
 

Signature Theme Definition in my own words
Arranger Organize with flexibility, figure out how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for max productivity Conductor, in complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible, You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project.
You are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. — because, after all, there might just be a better way.
Ex. Games – Risk, Tetris, tower defense, real-time-scenario (RTS)
Command Presence of Person, take control of a situation and make decisions Command leads you to take charge. Unlike some people, you feel no discomfort with imposing your views on others. On the contrary, once your opinion is formed, you need to share it with others. Once your goal is set, you feel restless until you have aligned others with you. You are not frightened by confrontation; rather, you know that confrontation is the first step toward resolution. Whereas others may avoid facing up to life’s unpleasantness, you feel compelled to present the facts or the truth, no matter how unpleasant it may be.
You need things to be clear between people and challenge them to be clear-eyed and honest. You may even intimidate them. And while some may resent this, labeling you opinionated, they often willingly hand you the reins. People are drawn toward those who take a stance and ask them to move in a certain direction.
Ex. Where do you want to eat? Where you want to go?
Communication Easy to put their thoughts into words, they are good conversationalists and presenters. You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public.
Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.
This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.
Significance Want to be very important in the eyes of others? Independent and want to be recognized???? You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on.
An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave.
(driving motivation)
Whatever your focus your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.
Strategic Create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. Sort through the clutter and find the best route, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner,
Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward.
Ex. Odyssey of Mind