Category Archives: Initiative

Tension Is Cumulative

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes” (Song of Solomon 2:15).

For many couples, holy wedlock has become an unholy deadlock.

There are many reasons why marriages experience tension, but it usually begins with, what may be regarded as, little offenses. Severe damage is then done to the relationship over a prolonged period of time when these offenses are ignored or even considered irrelevant. Every husband and wife needs to be aware that any offense committed against their partner – no matter how small – has the potential of producing devastating consequences in their marriage.

One little offense after another produces tension in the relationship. That tension is cumulative; and this is the reason why a list of minor offenses over a period of time produces a build-up of tension that can destroy a marriage.

If offenses are not dealt with properly, and forgiveness is not sought or given, then that tension will not go away! The cumulative tension has the potential to break and destroy that relationship.

Marriages are not destroyed overnight. They break down and are destroyed, many times, because of this cumulative effect of tension in the relationship. Past hurts have not been properly resolved, and added to that is the guilt from the wrong responses to those hurts.

Ask the Lord to bring to your mind past word, actions, or attitudes that may have hurt your spouse. And no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, humble yourself and take responsibility for causing that offense and ask forgiveness.

Morris Hull, Home Life Ministries

God Loves Humility

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6)

God loves humility. He hates pride – but He loves humility. This is the starting point for rebuilding broken relationships in your family.

One of Satan’s most effective ways to destroy or weaken your effectiveness as a parent is to erect barriers between you and your children. Some of the most difficult words we will ever have to say are, “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

Most family conflicts could be resolved and even avoided right here! If you have wronged a member of your family, humble yourself and ask their forgiveness.

James 4:6 says, “God resisteth the proud…” If God is for you, it doesn’t make any difference who is against you; but if God is resisting you, it doesn’t make any difference who is for you. And when does God resist us the most? When we’re proud!

But James goes on to say that God “giveth grace unto the humble.” Grace is the desire and the power that God gives us to do His will (Philippians 2:13). The way then to deal with pride and to get more grace (more desire and more enabling power to do what is right) is to humble ourselves by taking responsibility for our wrong actions and words and attitudes.

Some of the most successful marriages and families are those that follow through and ask each other forgiveness several times each week. There is no such thing as the perfect family. We all make mistakes. But God wants us to develop the Christ-like quality of humility. He wants us to humble ourselves; and through that demonstration of humility, He will bind and knit our hearts together.

Don’t wait for the other person to make it right. Take the initiative by taking responsibility, and help restore that broken relationship today.

Morris Hull, Home Life Ministries

Webster’s Greatest Thought

Someone once asked Daniel Webster, “What is the greatest thought that you have ever had?” He said, “The most awesome, the most terrifying, the most shattering thought I’ve ever had, is my personal responsibility to God.”

The Bible makes it clear that we are each responsible for five things. Each one of us as Christians will be held responsible for every thought (2 Cor 10:4-5), word (Mat 12:36), deed (2 Cor 5:10), attitude (Phl 2:5), and motive (Jer 17:9-10).

In our culture of blame and civil law suits, people refuse to accept responsibility for anything. I heard one pastor say, “I could be a great pastor if it wasn’t for my congregation.” I suppose we could also say, “I could be a great father if it wasn’t for my kids” or “I could be a great husband if it wasn’t for my wife.”

But if there is ever going to be any hope of restoring broken relationships, we need to take full responsibility for our own wrong actions and words and attitudes. As long as we are focusing on the offenses of others, our conflicts will never get resolved.

Don’t wait for the other person to make it right – it may never happen. He may be 95% to blame and you may only be 5% responsible; but take responsibility for your 5% and fully forgive his 95%.

Two Frogs In Cream

Two frogs fell into a can of cream,
Or so I’ve’ heard it told:
The sides of the can were shiny and steep,
The cream was deep and cold.
“O, what’s the use?” croaked Number 1,
“Tis fate; no help’s around.
Good-bye, my friends. Good-bye, sad world”
And weeping still, he drowned.
But Number 2, of sterner stuff,
Dog-paddled in surprise.
The while he wiped his creamy face
And dried his creamy eyes.
“I’ll swim awhile, at least,” he said –
Or so I’ve heard he said:
“It really wouldn’t help the world
If one more frog were dead.”
An hour or two he kicked and swam,
Not once he stopped to mutter;
But kicked and kicked and swam and kicked.
Then hopped out, via butter

-Unknown

Three Types of People

As we rejoice in the Lord and seek not to quench the Spirit we will be enthusiastic. What exactly does it mean to be enthusiastic? There are three types of people in the world, energy-givers, energy-wasters, and energy-takers. God not only loves cheerful "givers" of our finances but also our energy.

Energy-Giver

  • Helps others
  • Says kind words
  • Smiles
  • Shares with others
  • Stands for what is right
  • Tells the truth, even when difficult

Energy-Waster

  • Helps if convenient
  • Says nothing
  • Does not smile
  • Keeps things for self
  • Stands for nothing
  • Tells the truth most of the time

Energy-Taker

  • Helps self
  • Says unkind words
  • Frowns
  • Takes from others
  • Stands for wrong
  • Lies when it is convenient

Enthusiasm is being an "Energy-Giver" in every area of life.

The Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Prayer Targets – A Little Known Resource for Victory over Temptation

If Satan has a stronghold in your life, particularly in the moral area, and you are overcome time and time again by this particular sin, the following plan of action using designated prayer targets can help bring victory.

The first step is to assign temptations to specific prayer targets. Think of three individuals you know. Think of someone you know who isn’t a Christian, but if they were to trust in Christ as Saviour they would make a great impact for the kingdom of God. Next, think of someone you know who is a backslider or carnal Christian but who could be tremendously used of God if they would only repent of the sin in their lives. Third, think of a Christian leader – someone on the front lines of spiritual conflict such as a pastor or missionary. Assign these individuals to specific temptations which you regularly face.

For example, if Satan tempts you with impure thoughts, assign that temptation to your non-Christian friend and start praying for his salvation. If Satan tempts you to be angry, start praying for the Christian you know who is a backslider – pray the God would convict him and that he would repent of his sin. If Satan tempts you to be fearful, start praying for your pastor and pray that God would strengthen him and equip him for the conflict.

Begin to take the offensive whenever you are tempted. When Satan tempts you in a certain area, take the initiative by praying offensively for a predetermined prayer target. The next time you are tempted by a particular sin, that will be your queue to start praying for these individuals using prayer as an offensive weapon against the kingdom of darkness. Now whenever you make this a consistent regular practice, two things will happen: 1. You will see answers to your prayers 2. You will experience less trouble with temptation in that particular area because Satan is not going to tempt you in that area if he knows that the temptation will be met with an immediate offensive attack upon his kingdom of darkness.

Hindrances to Initiative

  • Leaving unfinished projects and unnecessary clutter
  • Assuming someone else will do it
  • Allowing busy-ness to interfere with responsibility
  • Losing others’ trust by failing to act or acting without thinking
  • Meddling in the affairs of others without respect to proper jurisdiction
  • Laziness
  • Waiting for a perfect time which never comes

Character First! Education Series 2

Taking The Initiative To Heal: Winning A Friend

It happened when I was a very young Christian, and while it might not seem to have large proportions to some, it was the first large trial which confronted me, and it seemed to be of the utmost importance.

Wesley had been my friend for a year or two, and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, he avoided me, and even refused to speak to me. To make matters worse, he was transferred to a night position, and I remained on a daytime job. I had no opportunity to see him, and yet I was aware that something should be done about it.

One evening the man with whom I worked asked me if I would return and work until midnight. This I did, and I discovered that Wesley’s position required him to come to work that night in the same building. He was employed on the second floor and I on the first.

Some time during the night I was required to go to the third floor for some information. It was necessary to pass close to Wesley’s desk. He did not even look at me when I went by. I wanted to speak to him, but I didn’t have the courage.

No one was at work on the third floor. I remember kneeling by a chair in that quiet office building, and there I prayed earnestly that God would help me to go to Wesley. God came and helped.

Going down to the second floor, I walked up to Wesley’s desk, and putting out my hand I said, “Wesley, I am a Christian, and I want to be your friend.”

I shall never forget the look that came into his face. To say that he was surprised is putting it mildly. His face turned red. He stuttered and stammered, and then he extended his hand to grip my outstretched one.

“Cliff, I want to be your friend, too,” said he. “This is the first time that anyone has ever done anything like this to me. I have been jealous of you, but I’m not now.”

Can you see the picture? Just two young men with clasped hands in the midst of a gigantic steel plant. But it was more than that! It was a picture of what Christ can do for a life He has entered. It is a painting of one “going the other mile.” It is a picture of the renewing of a worthwhile friendship.

I left Wesley that night with a happy heart. That incident did something for him, but it did much for me. We became friends, but I became a more established Christian.

I have had to do similar things for the past twenty-nine years. But the same God who met me on my knees at a chair on the third floor of the Physical Testing Laboratory that night has met me many times since, and has always given me grace enough to meet comparable life situations.

It is the intention of Satan to create breaches that cannot be bridged between friends. Friendships are ruined and homes broken up in this manner. But if we remember that “our brother has aught against us,” and if we will go to him, God will help us win those who might be eternally lost to us.

Do you face a similar life situation? Take the initiative and do something about it today.

-C.B. Strang – Meeting Life Situations

His Eye for Sale

He had two good eyes. Never had either of them given him any trouble. But he could see with one. He had tried it, and although his vision was limited to some extent, he could still get around.

Why not offer one of his good eyes to the hospital in the south? They would pay him good money, and he could-well, what could he do with the money? Buy himself a car? Get a new house? Make sure that he lived well for months to come?

No, he wanted to give the money to repair the church building in which he and a handful of his fellow Christians met from Sunday to Sunday. It was badly in need of some repairs. When it rained, the people inside were soaked. When it was cold, they were exposed to the bitter wind.

That’s it! He would sell one of his eyes and give the money to the Lord. That would mean, of course, that he would be permanently disabled and disfigured; but he loved his Lord, and he wanted to do something for Him and for His people.

Arriving at the hospital, he offered his eye for sale; but the hospital authorities would not hear of such a thing. They immediately discouraged him and sent him back home, telling him that the members of his church should save in order to repair their church buildings. He should not have to sell his eye for that.

After this demonstration of love and sacrifice the members of his church did rally around, and although they were poor, desperately poor, repairs were duly made to the building.

Repairs were made, but it took one man to provide the incentive-one man with an eye for sale.

-The Prairie Overcomer

“Here’s My Hand”

F. B. Meyer told of a revival meeting that was dragging along without signs of success until one evening an elder arose and said, “Pastor, I don’t believe there is going to be a revival as long as Brother Jones and I don’t speak to each other.” He went to Jones and said: “Brother Jones, we have not spoken for five years, let’s bury the hatchet. Here’s my hand.” A sob broke from the audience. Soon another elder arose and said: “Pastor, I’ve been saying mean things about you behind your back and nice things to your face. I want you to forgive me.” Many arose and confessed their wrongs and God began to visit them. A revival swept over the community for three years.

-Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations

The Ladies’ Question

Six young ladies linger a while after church and ask each other, “What can we do?” They decided to meet that afternoon for a little prayer meeting. There a beautiful idea was born.

The next day they went to their pastor and asked if they could have printed some calling cards with a picture of the church on them and an invitation to come and worship with them. Then they went out two and two, ringing all the doorbells in the community.

At a rooming house near the church, a man read the card and listened to their little speech, shook his head and answered, “You don’t want me, I’m a vaudeville actor. No Baptist church would welcome me.” After being assured he would be welcome, he finally promised to attend one time, just to prove that they were mistaken. He did attend, again and again and again. He finally gave his heart to Jesus and joined old Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Later he became pastor of a church in Boston, and it was through his ministry that Russell Conwell felt the call to preach. Conwell has led thousands to Christ and inspired other thousands to a closer walk with God.

-Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations

Doing Something About It

Two strangers attended the same church for several Sundays. None spoke to them. One said, “I will give this church one more chance. If nobody speaks to me next Sunday, I’ll never go there again.” The other said, “I don’t like this no-speaking in church. If no one speaks to me next Sunday, I’ll speak to someone.”

Next Sunday, the usher happened to seat both of these men one in front of the other. As usual after the service, no one greeted the other. The first man rose to stalk out forever. The second man turned, put out his hand and said, “Good morning, Sir. I’m glad to see you. Fine sermon wasn’t it?”

Both were pleased at having made a friend and continued to come.

-Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations

General Grant Leads the Way

General Grant was to be entertained at a banquet in the city of Houston, Texas. All that money could do to make the affair a success was done. The most notable men in the Lone Star State were present. After all were seated, the headwaiter approached the place where Grant was seated and was about to pour out the first glass of wine for the guest of the occasion. Quietly and unostentatiously Grant reached forward and turned his glass down. With the true spirit of Southern chivalry, every Texan present, in the same quiet manner, reached forward and turned his glass down, and for once in the history of banqueting in the Southwest a famous dinner was served without a drop of alcoholic liquor being drunk.

H.L. Smith

Initiative in the home includes:

  • Accepting the challenge of being an example for other families and looking for ways to encourage them through lessons learned
  • Parents visualising achievements for each of their children and planning ahead for training opportunities that would apply
  • Sons and daughters seeing and doing chores around the house that need to be completed

Achieving True Success by Building a Character Family, IACC, Oklahoma City

Ways to Invest in Younger Brothers and Sisters

Take the initiative to invest in the lives of younger brothers and sisters. Here are a few ways to motivate younger brothers and sisters to spiritual maturity. A parent’s guidance is also invaluable in working with brothers and sisters.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)

  • Praise your siblings in public; never correct in public.
  • Only correct if absolutely necessary; earn the privilege to correct through praise.
  • Be what you want your siblings to be.
  • Pray together for your parents each day.
  • Fast and pray together during a mealtime.
  • Make a prayer list and record God’s answers together.
  • Challenge them to rise early with you to pray and study God’s word.
  • Choose a specific country to pray for together and research this country at the library.
  • Memorise Scripture together and then give appropriate rewards.
  • Go for a walk each morning, sharing with each other your rhema for the day.
  • Make a tape of a passage of Scripture for them to listen to at night.
  • Share your struggles and ask them to pray for specific prayer requests.
  • Receive God’s grace by asking them to point out your blind spots.
  • Clear your conscience and create projects to counteract the damage of past actions and poor examples.
  • Memorise the names of God together and choose one to focus on each day.
  • Memorise the 49 character qualities and their meanings and choose one to focus on each day, being accountable to each other.
  • Discover the meaning of their names and look for ways that they are demonstrating this and them praise them for it.
  • Find out the spiritual gifts of your family members and discuss how they affect the way each one responds.
  • Research together the four types of smiles and them reward them for demonstrating a consistent smile.
  • Sing hymns together and learn hymn histories.
  • Teach them how to present the gospel.
  • Treat them better than you treat your best friend.
  • Plan a special time each month to take them out individually for a time of fellowship (i.e. dinner, picnic, the park, zoo, etc.)
  • Spend five minutes a day with each sibling talking, reading, or doing whatever they would like to do.
  • Write notes of encouragement telling them how much you appreciate them.
  • Choose a relative to whom you can express gratefulness and write a thank you letter.
  • Teach younger sisters how to sew or bake for neighbours, friends and church members.
  • Show younger brothers how to be good stewards by teaching them basic auto mechanic skills (i.e. how to change a tire, the oil, and sparkplugs.)
  • Plan special times to meet the needs of a widow in your area.
  • Teach orderliness by instructing them how to properly care for their clothes (i.e. polish shoes, do laundry, hang them up)
  • Volunteer to clean your church or take care of your church grounds together.

Christianna Reed – COMMIT

How to Demonstrate Initiative

at Home

  • Praise younger brothers and sisters for even the smallest display of character.
  • Look for ways to help your parents around the house without being asked.
  • If you break or damage something, don’t hide or cover it up, but quickly admit your wrong.
  • Encourage your brothers and sisters to pray together for your parents each day.
  • Memorise Scripture verses together with younger brothers and sisters and give them appropriate rewards.
  • Teach younger brothers and sisters how to present the Gospel.
  • Teach children how to initiate conversation with guests in your home and making them feel welcome.
  • Don’t go to bed angry.
  • If you have the opportunity to baby-sit for friends, play games rather than watching videos, look for dishes to wash and other ways to demonstrate initiative.

at Work/School

  • Make sure assignments are completed on time.
  • Look for ways to invest in the lives of others.
  • Pray for opportunities to present the Gospel.
  • Look for ways to praise classmates/workmates.
  • Offer to help classmates who are struggling with a particular subject.

at Church

  • Introduce yourself to visitors and help make them feel welcome.
  • If a job needs done, check with the pastor and offer your help.
  • Volunteer to clean the church or take care of the church grounds as a family.
  • Take the initiative to pick up paper trash or return hymn books to their proper place.
  • Give your pastor the freedom to call upon you if a job needs to be done.
  • Deal with known weaknesses and sins.

Character Definitions of Initiative

  • Taking steps to seek after God with our whole heart. Making the best use of opportunities to witness. Assuming responsibility for the physical and spiritual encouragement of those around us. (Character Clues Game)
  • Recognising and doing what needs to be done before I’m asked (Character First!)
  • The action of initiating something or of taking the first step or the lead; an act setting a process or chain of events in motion; an independent or enterprising act (The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary)
  • init’iative adjective serving to initiate; introductory. noun the lead, first step, often considered as determining the conditions for oneself or others; the right or power of beginning; energy and resourcefulness enabling one to act without prompting from others; the right to originate legislation, or a constitutional method of doing so.  (The CHAMBERS DICTIONARY on CD-ROM)

Bible Verses Related to Initiative

Spend an evening (or several) looking at just one of these verses at a time. Don’t forget to ask your children the questions: Who? What? Where? Why? When?and How? Discuss with your family what each verse or story teaches about the character quality; and give vital application of how this quality can be applied to your family. Choose several verses to memorize together as a family during the month.

Since the English word “initiative” does not appear in the Authorized Version, we have included a list of verses which relate to this important character quality.

Proverbs 3:27-28 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do [it]. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.

Proverbs 6:1-5 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, [if] thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand [of the hunter], and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not [in him] the lips of knowledge.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Proverbs 25:21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

Proverbs 27:12 A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, [and] hideth himself; [but] the simple pass on, [and] are punished.

Proverbs 28:23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Matthew 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. {quarrel: or, complaint}

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.

Hymns and Choruses Related to Initiative

  • I Surrender All (Judson W. VanDeVenter, 1896)
  • Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken (Henry F. Lyte, 1824)
  • Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim it (Fanny J. Crosby, 1882)
  • Rescue the Perishing (Fanny J. Crosby, 1869)
  • Soldiers of Christ, Arise (Charles Wesley, 1749)
  • Take My Life and Let It Be (Frances R. Havergal, 1874)