Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing to the glory of His name; offer Him glory and praise! Psalm 66: 1-2
May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God our God will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him. Psalm 67: 3-7
Think about what is right and good in your life. Count the many, many blessings that God has given you time and again. Think about the thousands of meals He has provided you and your family over your lifetime. Think about the hundreds of paychecks and thousands of dollars that have already come your way. Remember the loving times that you have enjoyed throughout your life.
Think back on your long past. Remember the sicknesses and injuries that you’ve been able to get through. Tell God with your voice, “thank you, Lord, for all these things.”
Remember the rain that He brought to your land. Remember the warmth of a fire and blankets on your bed in the winter; and don’t take for granted the cooling of a shade or an air conditioner in the summer. Remember the laughter. Remember the kisses and the hugs. Remember the tears of joy. Remember the songs that moved you.
Think of your incredible freedom. Think of your wonderful loved ones. Think of those who have encouraged you and shared something of value with you. Think of the breath of air you’ve been freely given at this very moment – ah, and here comes another one. Think of the wonder of your body, your lungs, your muscles, your veins and arteries, and the strong heart that continues to beat totally outside of your control. These are all gifts – rich gifts that God has steadfastly and faithfully provided each of us. He has given you so many good things that you will not be able to remember them all. You won’t even be able to count them all!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing praise to Your name.” Psalm 66:3-4
Praise God with your voice for all these things. Praise You, God. Can you say these words? Say them out loud. Say them louder. Don’t withhold your praise. God is pleased with your praise – your finest praise. Give Him your very best praise. Think of what He has done and continues to give you day in and day out, and don’t forget to praise Him with all that is within you. Meditate in praise. Speak words of your praise for Him. Sing your praises to His holy name!
Instead of worrying about what the future will bring, think back on what the past has already brought. If you are honest and will think of all the good that has already happened, you will be able to see the truth that the past is the great indicator that many, many more great things lie ahead.
Don’t be like the 10 lepers that Jesus healed – nine of which didn’t even bother to thank Him. No, be like the one who praised Jesus and was so grateful for Him. Recognize your healing. Rejoice in what is good. Be like David, thinking of His Savior day and night and praising Him even when the enemy was stalking all around him. When enemies slandered David over and over, he turned to God and thanked the Lord that He was with him and protecting him.
God loves us. And He loves our praise. Acknowledging Him, thanking Him, and praising Him is the least we can do in the midst of His overwhelming gifts of love for us.
Don’t focus on what might not be perfect or not exactly the way you think it ought to be. Think instead on how great our God is and how much He cares for you. Being with Him is the greatest condition you could ever want or need in your life. His presence is the ultimate condition and thing you can ever desire.
You can count on His presence right now. He is with you exactly at this moment. You can count on His steadfast love and presence being with you today and tomorrow. He provided that abundant love and protection in the past and He will do the same in the future. So, don’t ever withhold your praise. Praise Him in a loud voice first and you will find that your disposition will brighten, your countenance will glow, and your attitude will soar.
God hates grumbling and complaining, but He loves our praise. So, let us without any inhibition choose to praise Him out loud. Praise You, Lord. (louder) Praise You, Lord. (louder still) Praise You, Lord. “Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of His praise be heard.” Psalm 66:8
“You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Praise Him in a loud voice first and you will see your harvest. Quit d.o.u.b.t.i.n.g. Stop fretting. Start KNOWING that you are loved greatly and you will experience that place of abundance, not because of what you were able to do, but because of what God will do for you when you praise Him.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
In the Great Commission, Jesus said that we were to make disciples, not converts. He didn't tell us to go out and just save people, but He said to make disciples, to reproduce ourselves.
As a pastor, I was constantly aware of two commitments: one, to have a congregation that understood discipleship; two, to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. These are the two things that I, as a leader, feel that I am accountable for. And churches that are growing have been able to successfully do both.
Spiritual Reproduction Is What Discipleship Is All About!
Discipleship is not:
1. Just a Christian education
It's not about implanting information for knowledge's sake.
In other words, it's not just going to Sunday school class. It's not just imparting information. It's not us just learning things mentally. That is part of discipleship, but that isn't the ultimate goal.
2. Cookies and punch
Fellowship is to take place in the church; discipleship takes place in the world.
We're good at coming together for food and fellowship, and we enjoy that, but discipleship is more than that. Fellowship takes place in the church, but discipleship is to take place in our church world to reach out to the people around us.
3. Scripture memorizationIntellectual exercise is not enough unless there is life change.
It's not just memorizing scripture so we can go around quoting what God's word says. Discipleship is more than knowing God's word. Discipleship is living God's word. It's applying the scriptural truths to our hearts.
Discipleship is not just imparting knowledge. What are we doing with what we teach on Sunday? What are we doing with the word of God? Do we take God's word and just read it and say, "Well, you know, I think that's good, people should follow it," or do we look at it and apply it to our own hearts and lives?
There's a passage of Scripture that just grabs me: John 7:17. Listen to these words. "If any man will do my will, then he will know whether my teaching is of God or not." Did you catch the sequence here? Did you notice that doing God's will comes before understanding God's will? The most popular messages I ever preached were on knowing God's will. People were always saying, "How do I know the will of God for my life?" Do you know how you know the will of God?
You know the will of God not just by thinking, not by just studying, not just by taking out your pen and writing notes, but God's will begins to unfold within us as we utilize it in our lives, as we walk in the light. We become disciples of Christ as we begin to take God's word and do something about it.
At the end of every message that I give, I usually scribble two words with a question mark: So what? I'm asking myself every time I speak to people, "So what?" "So what, John, you just gave a message. Was there something that needed to be applied? Was there something that needed to be shared? Was there something that needed to be exercised?"
I contend that we are educated as Christians way beyond our level of obedience. What would happen if, after I finished a Sunday morning sermon and gave an application, we didn't have church again until people did something about it? (Some people I wouldn't see until the next Easter!) Do we take God's word and really apply it?
My desire is to make disciples. That's the command that Jesus has given me, and in my view, discipleship is:
1. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:20)
It's a command, not a suggestion, to imitate what Jesus did with the twelve. He said, "Make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you."
2. Multiplication through reproduction (II Timothy 2:2)
We must "multiply" as Christians, because addition won't keep up with the population growth. Discipleship is us multiplying ourselves in the lives of others. "And the things that you have received from me in the presence of many witnesses, those entrust to the faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
3. Apprenticeship (I Thessalonians 2:7-8)
Jesus lived with His men and invested His life in them. Here's what Paul told the Christians. "We choose to be like children or like a mother nursing her baby. We cared so much for you that you became so dear to us that we were willing to give our lives to you when we gave you God's message."
I can’t help but be inspired by Jesus in these passages! In His time, there were two models of discipleship: the Greek model and the Hebrew model. The Greek model was teaching—we think of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Alexander the Great. It was an enlightenment, information that pleased the mind. But Jesus discipled according to the Hebrew model: on-the-job training. Jesus took his twelve disciples with him and they experienced things together.
Disciple-making involves a developmental relationship where a mature Christian invests and mentors a willing apprentice so that he or she not only matures as well, but also becomes a multiplying Christian.
Question: What do you possess, spiritually, that you can pass on?
Question: Do you know of any people who could benefit from your spiritual maturity?
Question: Although you are not perfect, would you commit to multiplying at least one spiritual discipline or quality in someone else?
Early in my preaching career, in my second church in Ohio , I decided that I wanted to be a disciple, and began to call the pastors of some of the great churches all over America . I wanted to learn something from men who had been very successful. I'd call them and say, "You don't know who I am, but my name is John Maxwell and I'm a pastor and you're a great man of God and you have a great church. I want to learn from the best."
For about the first five years of our married life, Margaret and I never could afford a vacation, but I’d speak at a revival somewhere near a city with one of those great churches. And when I called the pastors of these churches, because they didn't know who I was, I would say, "I'll give you a hundred dollars if you'll give me 30 minutes of your time." I was making $12,800 bucks a year, but I wanted so badly to be a disciple and to learn. I wanted so badly to sit at the feet of somebody who knew more than I knew.
I would go to these pastors for my appointment and walk in with my tape recorder so that I could record the answers. I had a legal pad with pages of questions, and I would ask my questions as fast as I could with that tape recorder on. When the 30 minutes were over, I would turn off the tape recorder, put my stuff back in my briefcase, stand up, reach in my pocket for the hundred dollar check already made out to that pastor and hand it to him.
Interestingly enough, in every single case, those pastors would look at that check and smile. They saw a kid who wanted desperately to build a great church for God. And they'd hand my hundred dollars back, and sometimes they'd ask me to go to lunch with them. I would accept, but usually I couldn’t eat. I would just ask more questions.
Often, I’d leave those lunches, get in my car, and bawl like a baby. For the last hour, I had spent some time with what I would call a great man of God; and a little bit of that spirit, a little bit of that man, a little bit of that sense of God that was in his life had begun to ooze into my life. Peter tells us that the elderly women should pour their lives into the younger women, that there ought to be a desire to enhance the body of Christ, where we become our brother's and our sister's keeper. And those who are more experienced in the word begin to help those who are younger in the word.
Younger Christians are so much fun! They don't have a clue, but they're fun! I had one come up to me and show me John 3:16. He said, "Look what I found." It's just so much fun to be around a new Christian because they're so happy; they're so joyful. Our problem, as older Christians, is that we get to a certain level where we've been there, done that, and we've kind of got our system worked out. All of a sudden we forget that our obligation doesn't stop with our own spiritual development, but our obligation is to begin to pour ourselves into someone else.
The Original Blueprint...
I desire for us as Christians to begin to pour our lives into one another. Jesus did such a good job of this. Jesus modeled for us a lifestyle of spiritual reproduction. It was "on the job training" in real-life contexts. Note Jesus' IDEA of spiritual reproduction:
I - Instruction in a real-life context.
D - Demonstration in a real-life context. He not only taught them in parables, but He was also always showing them. He was visualizing. He was incarnating, fleshing out truth before them. Remember the time the disciples came up to Jesus and they said, "Lord, teach us to pray." Do you know why they asked that question? Because they had watched Him pray. They had seen Him go up to the mountain. And when He came back after prayer, incredible things happened in His ministry, and it began to make the disciples hungry and thirsty to know what that man knew. So as they watched him, they begin to want to know more about God.
E - Exposure in a real-life context. It's where Jesus would take the disciples into these situations and they would try it.
A - Accountability or assessment in a real-life context. After they tried it, and after they experimented, they came back and they talked about it.
If you understand church history, you know discipleship did really well for the first 300 years. The church grew by Christians reproducing Christians. But in A.D. 313, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity a state religion. Worst thing that ever happened was that the head honcho officially ordered everybody to do be Christians. When he said that, he forced people that weren't even believers to be in the Christian church. And all of a sudden, it went from a vibrant body of Jesus Christ, a community thriving with reproduction, to a sterile institution. And we dropped the ball in 313. Since then, the church has tried to come back to this issue of reproducing itself.
This strategy worked right to the 4th century. Then we dropped the ball. Why?
1. Human nature
We tend to drift into comfort zones - the path of least resistance.
There's a tendency for all of us to kind of coast, relax, rest, to lay back. That's the truth for every one of us.
2. Clergy vs. laity distinction
A wide gap grew between clergy and laity.
This distinction basically says that there are professionals that should do all that, and we pay them – they’re the pastoral staff or leadership team. There's a tendency to say, "I sit in the pew and I let the leadership team do that. All we are is laity anyway." The word "laity," by the way, comes from the Latin root word "idiot." Clergy comes from the root word "church."
My desire for churches is to cut that clergy/laity stuff completely out. We don't need clergy and laity. Instead, aren't we all a part of the body of Christ? Don't we all have spiritual gifts? Shouldn't we all be using them for the glory of God? Don't you realize you're going to be accountable to God for your spiritual gifts? Just because I happen to be a "pastor" doesn't mean that I'm going to be anymore accountable for my spiritual gifts than you are for yours. You've got to go find out what it is and utilize it for Christ.
We must return to the original blueprint...
As we invest in people, we must be committed to three things:
1. A Person
2. A Process
3. A Purpose
Have you ever sat down with a more mature believer and been discipled one-on-one so that you can just grow in your Christian walk with God? If you've been discipled, have you received enough strength and to turn around and say, “I want to pour my life into someone else?”
Think for a moment, what would happen if every one of us reproduced ourselves even once? Staggering, isn't it? Let's decide to get involved in the kingdom.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Here is what Eric had to share as he quotes his mother, Brenda, "I am impressed to Dream much much larger dreams." God is doing a mighty thing. He is calling all kings and captains of industry who will to a significantly larger work than any that have come before.
Are you stretching your thinking? Are you daring to dream larger dreams? Are you looking for and expecting God to show up in mightier and mightier ways? If Jesus is coming soon, and I believe it and so do most who were at todays meeting, then why are you holding back? What good does it do any of us to hold back any reserve?
Man the sails, trim the fat, lighten the ship and tack into the wind! It is time for those who are going to, to make a difference in a HUGE way.
We have been giving many multitude of amazing opportunities and we are chosen for this generation to see the wonders no other generation will have seen and to see God do more through us than any other before. He has called us to "greater works than these" and we need to put feet and hands to those.
Don't waste time with the wrong approach or the wrong people. Don't wonder if you know that you know. Believe in the calling you had and step up to the plate. God is ready to knock it out of the park and we are all on the team cheering you on brother and sister.
Can you tell I am excited?
What excites you? Share that. They come to see what is the reason that you are on fire. Don't leave them guessing. Tell them. I am proud to call you brother and sister. I am humbled by the great things He is doing in our lives. I believe in you and what God wants to do in you and the dreams that He has laid on your heart. What are you going to do about it?
Thank you Eric for sharing this with me. You can be sure of this...I'm here cheering you on and God is on our side...no doubt.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
This excerpt is from a book by Rex Russell (a former youth pastor of Karen's) currently in the process of being published named "The Butterfly Effect of Grace". Karen's story was also published years ago in a book written by Bill Glass (former pro football player, now an evangelist and writer).
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of
trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened,
and success achieved.
Helen Keller 1880 - 1968
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the LORD
looks at the heart."
1 Sam 16:7 NIV
It seems like yesterday I sat in a board room surrounded by men staring at me. There were questions on my ministry philosophy and how I would "do better" than the last guy. Somehow I made it through those "confirmation hearings" and was offered the student minister position. Previously I had traveled and spoken to students, and I was looking forward to being with them up close and personal, which I knew would be very different and very challenging. I was right.
It was the first week, if not the first day, when someone said to me, "Have you met Karen?" It wasn't the last time I heard that question. The pastor wanted me to make sure I met Karen. The first time I visited with my secretary, she asked if I had met Karen. I had been in student ministry long enough that many thoughts went through my mind. Do I want to meet Karen? Are they warning me, or trying to prepare me for a junior high student from, well, you get the idea? Needless to say, I was a bit concerned about my first encounter with Karen.
Then I did meet Karen.
And it changed my life.
Let me introduce you to Karen. This is Karen's story, in her own words. With her and her mother's permission I share this with you.
I was born in April of 1975 with a condition known as Goldenhar's Syndrome. It affects people in different ways but it causes craniofacial deformities. In my case, I was born without a right ear, lung, or thumb. In addition I am missing some of the bones on the right side of my face including my right jawbone. This gives my face an asymmetrical appearance. I was born with a cleft lip and palate which were repaired when I was very young .. Although this wasn't discovered until a few years ago, I was also born with an atrial septal defect (hole between the top two chambers of my heart). Finally, I began to develop scoliosis (curvature of the spine) at about the age of five. This became and is still considered to be a severe curvature. I can't stand up completely straight or hold my head straight and there is a hump on my back. As far as surgeries go, I have had a total of seven operations. Most people with this syndrome have many more but my parents and I together with the physicians involved in my care made the decision not to pursue extensive reconstruction on my face. Because I only have one lung and also because it is extremely difficult to intubate me (put a tube down my throat during surgery to enable the anesthesiologist to maintain an airway during surgery), it was decided that the risks outweighed the potential benefits of reconstructive surgery in my particular situation. I should also mention that I have a growth hormone deficiency so even though I am now 32 years old, I am still only 4 feet 7 inches tall and weigh 75 pounds.
Karen attended a high school with over 2,500 students. Karen grew up in Dallas, Texas, where it seems that everyone is cosmetically and surgically perfect, no matter what the cost or pain. Plastic surgeons are touted in every newspaper and magazine promising eternal beauty and ageless miracles. Every ad on TV screams to our need, our desperate need, to look beautiful and appear healthy 24/7; even if we are not. Our vanity knows no end.
Karen understands and loves God more than you or I ever will.
Karen takes nothing for granted.
You and I do every day.
Every minute of every day.
Yes we do.
Karen's mother, Pat, tells a powerful story of when she was first approached by the doctor that delivered Karen. He began to tell her the different problems that Karen was born with. She said all she could think was, "Stop telling me these things!" The list kept going. Pat said she was headed to a bible study one morning as she was dealing with this overwhelming challenge of caring for this new born with so many medical and life challenges. She said she walked into the room and even though the teacher had no idea what she was going through she had written on the board this verse;
Isaiah 55:8 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways, declare the Lord'.
Can you imagine that morning how that sentence must have leaped off the board? Pat told me the passage of scripture that carried her through many difficult days and nights was Psalm 139:13-16;
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Read that again, and this time try and picture what it was like when Pat watched Karen fall asleep at night. There had to be more than one night when she stood on the edge of her faith, leaning over into doubt, wondering how this would bring Glory to God. It did. How many nights did her faith whisper to Karen, "God is great, and He is very, very good. You can trust Him. He makes no mistakes. You are a perfectly formed gift from Heaven."
I remember the first time I sat down with Karen for a one-on-one conversation. She told me her favorite passage of scripture was where Samuel is sent by God to anoint the new king of Israel. He goes to the house of Jesse, in Bethlehem, who has eight sons. One of the first sons brought before Samuel is Eliab, David's older brother. According to the text, Eliab is a strong, handsome warrior who Samuel thinks is the new King of Israel. But look at what happens:
"When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the LORD.' But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'" I Samuel 16:6-7
Karen said, "That passage encourages me, and it helps me to know that God always looks at my heart."
One year we went to a large camp with 1,500 students from all over the state. On a Tuesday night Karen got up and told her life story. She told how God was her source of strength. She said that even though she had many opportunities to question God for how she was born, she never did because she knew and understood that God never makes mistakes. She said she knew she was not an accident or just an incident; she was created by God, for God. She told about how when she felt afraid before a surgery or alone in a large crowd of people she remembered the unconditional love and acceptance of God. As she talked, Karen seemed to have a connection with God that was different and real. The thorn in her side, that would never go away, seemed to bring an intimacy and fellowship that was so deep.
She read her story from a piece of paper, never looking up at the crowd, and then quietly sat down. There was silence. You knew everyone there just heard truth. You knew this was a moment you would never forget. We didn't. After that brief silence, the entire place gave her a standing ovation. Karen always got a standing ovation. You could not remain seated after you heard her story.
It was as if in five minutes Karen helped every person in that place understand, for the first time, you have no problems.
You have much to be grateful for.
Life is precious.
Life is a gift.
God is good.
You and I are so self absorbed.
Yes, we are.
Karen didn't say that or even try to suggest it, but the message of her story said it very clearly.
Oh, by the way, Karen would tell you that she has no problems either. When Karen emailed her story to me, the title of the email was, "Romans 8:28, and we know that all things work together for good, to those that love God and who are called according to His purpose." You have to wrap your mind around that. Karen understands that everything has a purpose. Even for her, every day is a gift from God, to be lived with hope and joy. And someone, somewhere is always going through something much worse than you are right now. Wow. Perspective?
The speaker for the camp that week was a man named Dave Busby. If you ever heard Dave speak you know he was a very powerful speaker. Not much rocked Dave's world. He had his own valley of pain to walk through, having been born with cystic fibrosis and developed polio at a very early age. He lived and walked in a depth with God that staggered everyone's imagination. Dave was scheduled to get up and speak after Karen's testimony that night. He was sitting just a few chairs down from me and I remember he just sat there and stared at the stage. Karen had already sat down, to a standing ovation. When Dave got up to speak he seemed baffled and distracted. He asked his wife to come up on stage and pray for him before he spoke. She did and he delivered a powerful message.
Later that week at breakfast Dave told me that Karen's story disturbed him so much that he completely lost his train of thought. He told me that her "humility and transparency" were so "thick" on the stage when he got up he felt he needed to take off his shoes and run out the back. He told me that the "cloud" was heavy on stage when he got up to speak and that Karen had "rearranged" the platform. After hearing Karen speak the heart of God that night, he wasn't sure why he even tried to follow her.
I told him he should try and be her youth pastor. He said no thank you, last night was hard enough.
One student minister told me his group went back to their cabin and talked for hours about what Karen said. It set the tone for the week and even the summer for those students. They saw a living, breathing example of what it means to live life to the fullest, no matter what.
I remember one night Karen got up in front of the youth group and asked them to forgive her for not being a bolder witness at her high school campus. One of her friends looked up at me and just shook her head as if to say, "She is the most powerful witness on that campus just by the way she lives her life. How can she think she has let us or God down?" The bar had just been set much higher.
My favorite memory of Karen was her high school graduation. Her graduating class was enormous, 639 students. Karen was almost at the end of the list alphabetically, so by the time she walked the stage we all were pretty worn out. When the school official called out her name and she walked across the stage, her class began to clap. Then they stood up and gave Karen a standing ovation. The coolest sight was when one of the first people to stand up was Greg Ostertag, one of her class mates. Greg is the seven-foot basketball center who later played for the Utah Jazz. Greg was one of the students that began the standing ovation as if to say, "Karen, I've always looked up to you!"
I could tell you story after story of Karen—about how many times other students told me she made them think differently about their own lives and how they were challenged to live a life that was worthy of imitation. I remember driving home at night after a youth event that Karen was at and wondering what she would be doing years later—how her life would continue to bring life to others.
The thing I learned most from Karen was how simple it is to lead others to a deeper walk just by living a quiet, genuine, life. It doesn't have to be famous, or fast, or strong, or bold. It just has to be real.
Karen's faith had a color and a sound. It was bright and it was loud. If you knew Karen you would know this to be an odd description
of her. Karen does not draw attention to herself. Karen is not loud. She is quiet and soft spoken. But I believe if faith gives off a color in heaven, Karen's faith is like a rainbow that has no end and no beginning. And if faith has a sound; Karen's must sound like a 1,000 voice choir. So the next time you need a visual of what faith may look like to those of us who need to be reminded everyday that what we do, how we respond and react to the hand that is dealt to us here on earth ask yourself this question; What shade of faith does the world need to see in my life, and is my faith a whisper or a shout?"
Karen also taught me that life is sometimes difficult. Life is sometimes painful. It is sometimes confusing and harsh and unfair. But life is also a gift from God. It is a package to be opened every day. Don't look at what you don't have, but be thankful for what you do have; your life is His design.
It is His plan.
It is His purpose.
He has never second guessed a decision.
He built Karen from scratch; it was a good day.
It was a very good day.
If you've never met Karen, you've missed one of the most incredible people in the world. Karen reminds me daily of the simplicity of the good news of the gospel. If ever there was an icon for the butterfly effect of grace, it is Karen. Everyone who has come in contact with her will tell you today that she changed their life. Even today I will run into student ministry colleagues that met Karen and they will always ask about her.
Thank you, Karen, for allowing me to share your incredible life story. I know you are never one to seek out the spotlight. You need to know you changed my life. And now with your permission I have extended that reach.
Unfortunately I cannot remember all the students' names I worked with over the years.
I will never forget Karen Yates.
Karen, God used you to open my eyes to so much. I remember sentences you said to me. I remember where I was standing when you told me your favorite passage of scripture and why it was so special to you. I remember the look on your face when we had that awesome graduation party for you. I remember when you sat down after speaking at different events, almost baffled at why everyone was still clapping and still standing.
Karen, I have never told you this before, but every time I read the last chapter of Max Lucado's book The Applause of Heaven, I think of you. Max ends that book with a picture of what it might be like when we enter heaven for the first time:
"You'll be home soon too. You may not have noticed it, but you are closer to home than ever before. Each moment is a step taken. Each breath is a page turned. Each day is a mile marked, a mountain climbed. You are closer to home than you've ever been. Before you know it, your appointed arrival time will come; you'll descend the ramp and enter the City. You'll see faces that are waiting for you. You'll hear your name spoken by those who love you. And, maybe, just maybe—in the back, behind the crowds—the One who would rather die than live without you will remove his pierced hands from his heavenly robe and….applaud."
Karen, it won't be your first standing ovation.
But this one will last for what seems like an eternity.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Is what you are doing now getting you what you want in life? Why not?
I understand very well some of your thoughts you may have formed alread. I know, "Your dreams are much bigger, you want to do more than just have a nice motor home, you'd like one for each family member, what a great idea to have the car to go to the airport to get on your plane".
That's a ridiculous display of wealth. (who created it?)
The truth is we serve an abundant God who is a giving God and we simply can't out give Him nor out produce Him because He owns it all. Everything we try to take credit for is His. And, God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:19) I am a child of God and if He will provide such blessings for others, then why wouldn't He provide it for you or me? In most cases, it's because of the mindset we have developed since birth, the choices we have made, the priorities we placed on what we do and our lack of faith. Conforming to the ways of the world limits us but transforming ourselves with a renewing of our mind by doing that which is good and pleasing to God is unlimiting. (Rom. 12:2) Trust and Obey God, for there's no other way.
Would you like to get your priorities in order and develop a mindset that is not limiting but open to the abundance that God has available for you? If so, then ask God for discernment and direction. You can do all things through Christ which strengthens you. (Phil 4:13)
Friday, March 21, 2008
As we celebrate Easter, let's reflect on this powerful message. Have a blessed Easter with your family. He is Risen.
He Chose the Nails
John 11 & 13
"Live Like You Were Dying" was a number one hit several years ago in the country music world. It was a great record released by country star, Tim McGraw - the lyrics posing the commonly contemplated question, "What would you do if you knew that you were in the last few days of your life?"
Tim McGraw's song offers a few suggestions: sky diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and riding on a bull named 'Fu Manchu', among other exhilarating ideas. It's a well-written and well-performed song. It brings up the notion that we would want to go experience one last thrill, something that we'd thought about doing, but never before actually had the courage or inclination to do. Knowing you're going to die in the near future gives us a little more bravado than normal, reducing the fear regarding dangerous activities we may have avoided in the past.
Jesus chose to demonstrate how much He cared for His friends. He chose to humble Himself and serve others. And He chose to stay the course that would lead to arrest, humiliation, mockery, horrendous torture and death on the cross. In a society where 'comfort' and 'self' are our central, hotly pursued concerns, Jesus showed by example that there are greater choices that only a person of unfathomable love can make. He chose mission over survival, horrific pain over comfort; service and humility over pride; courage over instinct; and He chose others over self. He chose the way in which He would go and the kind of death that He would die. It was a resolute, determined path that would lead to the most incredible event the world has ever witnessed.
He chose arrest; and He chose brutal flogging that literally skinned Him alive. Jesus indeed purposely chose His fate – one that would glorify His Father and bring all mankind and nations to Him. He even chose the nails in His hands and feet that would add to His already intense suffering and pain – pain that few of us can or want to even imagine.
Did you hear that? He chose the nails. And in so doing, He chose you - and He chose me.
He chose to give you and me life and life to the full. He chose to take away all of the mistakes and shortcomings – the heavy burden of all of our sins that you and I have ever committed and ever will commit. He chose to show you and me the full extent of His love, just like He showed His friends at the evening meal, and the entire world by His death. And He chose to allow believers like you and me to share in His resurrection, the single greatest event to ever occur – the moment in time that opened the door to eternity with God in heaven – all of this for you and me.
Resurrection is new life. It is God's gift to us. Like the trees and flowers that are blooming at this time of year with their evidence of new life and vitality that can only come from Him, Jesus allows us to partake in this greatest of all gifts – a new beginning, a brand new life.
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
Resurrection, the transcendence and defeat of death, is an incredible option given to each of us. It is a choice that we each must make. I choose to answer Jesus' question in a bold affirmation: Yes, I believe in You, King Jesus – You who chose me. I choose to live both now and for eternity.
He chose the nails.
Prayer: Lord, your gift of love to us is greater than we can even comprehend. All we can do is fall at Your feet and say, "we love You – we thank You for who You are and the amazing choice You made for us. We proclaim You King of our lives." In Your precious name we pray, Amen.
If you would like to commit your life to Jesus Christ, you can do so, and thereby experience the most important gift ever offered to mankind! You don't have to be perfect – I'm certainly not and I know you aren't either. In fact, we all sin and fall far short of perfection. Won't you make the greatest decision you can ever make? I pray that you will do so today. By Tim D.\
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Here is a story about a South Florida man pronounced dead from a massive heart attack and then brought back to life. His doctor says the man was raised from the dead by a simple prayer. Watch the video or read the story from this link. (The video link is above the title at this link)
Do you believe in miracles?
Sunday, March 9, 2008
A full definition of success is the “unwavering and ongoing commitment to hearing God’s word, believing God’s word, and obeying God’s word.”
This definition has no time frame, but rather succinctly describes a way of life. We may never be able to quantify the fruit or full effect of our doing this, but Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man on earth, says that this is how your plans will succeed. Commitment to these three things:
Hearing, Believing, Obeying God’s Word - this is our success.
He said, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for His own ends – even the wicked for a day of disaster.” Proverbs 16: 3-4 You do need to make plans in your life, and you do need to establish something to do in life. But be sure that you have listened to God as to what that “something” is. That “something” needs to be of God and for God. And the “end” or result of your work will be brought about “for His own ends”.
Knowing God’s will for your life comes only by committing your life to Him and purposely and diligently listening for His direction. Committing to Him is not a temporary or seasonal condition; neither is listening for His revelation a one-time event. When you commit to watching for His revelation, He will deliver that essential knowledge to you in His timing.
Our commitment to God is not a sporadic “attempt” or a “trying”; and it is not something to undertake inconsistently. No, it is a dedicated life-long way of doing things.
Have I always succeeded in doing this? Hardly, but I’m getting better at doing so, and I do understand what I need to always be doing - and that is to “stand at my watch” as stated in Habakkuk 2:1 – “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me…”
The tower is the place of strength and safety. When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, we are standing on the very place of power – the rock, the fortress, the strong tower. We are standing on the place where we have the best vantage point for sight and insight – for vision, clarity, and discernment. We are given those rich gifts when we stand on the Lord. He is the place – in fact, the only place where we can view our surroundings with clarity, hear God’s Word distinctly, and where we can spot our enemies before they reach our gates.
We are to be vigilant – to purposely look for God’s will and Word in our life. We see that most clearly when we are positioned correctly – on His tower, His rampart. When you choose to do that, His mighty Word will be delivered to you.
Habakkuk says, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.” (2:3) God’s revelation is truth, and it will come to you when His perfectly designed time-table allows it to come to you. The appointed time will be the exact perfect moment designed for you and you alone. If you don’t wait for His revelation, and if you are not positioned correctly on the tower, you will not hear His word, and you will miss your “essence of life” revelation. His revelation is critical to your life; and it is also the powerful defense against the enemy that will come against you – not “if”, but “when”.
Tightly intertwined with the word, “commitment” is the word “patience”. Both words entail an open-ended length of time. That time-frame will rarely if ever coincide with your or my self-imposed, worldly time frames. I’ve found that my personal revelation most often arrives in the 11th hour, at the very last possible minute and second. At any point prior to receiving that revelation, if we become too discouraged, frustrated, or impatient, we will miss the most important thing we could ever have – the revelation that God has planned and set aside for us.
God knows what the exact best thing for you is – in detail. That best thing is designed for His ends. He has plans to prosper you (Jer. 29:11); and let’s not forget or omit the fact that the scripture forthrightly says there will also be a day of disaster for the wicked – those who haven’t committed to hearing, believing and doing God’s will. This is a stern warning stated as simple fact that even simple people can understand.
Some say the Bible is just too hard to understand. I say that the Word of God is actually very, very simple to understand. It boils down to a very simple choice for each of us - you, me, all of us. When we voluntarily and genuinely commit to Jesus Christ, accepting the gospel message as truth for our life, we have found and gained our true success. If we don’t, we can expect disaster. We find the ultimate, best and only “way, truth, and life” when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is then that we begin our journey of faith and enter a place of increasing revelation, wisdom and success.
Have you made that choice? Are you true to it daily, or do you venture off the tower too often? The good news is that Jesus has a specially reserved place for you on the tower. You can come back if you’ve strayed from your position. You deserve to be there - to maintain your rightful position on the Tower of Success. You will begin to plainly hear God’s plans for your life when you commit to standing watch on His rampart, His stronghold, His tower – as you patiently await and stand watch for His revelation and Word in His appointed time.
In Psalm 18:2, David says, “the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (also translated “tower”).
God created each of us for success. We must know what success is and where it can found. Stand watch with me, my friend. Make a bold, life-long commitment to standing firmly on the rock of Jesus Christ. There you will find your greatest rewards, standing strong on the Tower of Success.
Thank you Tim Darnell for this powerful message.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Driving back from Colorado through New Mexico at night while my 6 fellow travelers slumbered, I was struck by the dizzying, dazzling presentation of millions of stars across the sky. I normally don’t see that many stars from our home in the city due to the interference of city lights. They’re useful, but at the same time they disguise much of God’s amazing celestial light show.
Caleb, my eight year old woke up and asked me what I was looking at, and I told him, “look what God has made and put in the skies. He knows the name of every one of those stars.”
Caleb said, “Oh, awesome! That’s a lot of stars! I wonder why we don’t have this many stars in Allen.”
“We actually do have the same number, Caleb. They’re just harder to see from where we live.
If we would turn down the lights a little bit, we would be able to see more of the stars He made. God sure is amazing.”
“Yes, He sure is, Dad.”
The Psalmist in Psalm 145 says, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works.” vv 3-6
“They will tell of the power of Your awesome works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds. They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” vv 6-7
What are we sharing with our kids – our grandkids? That conversation with my son was simple, but it was rich in important truth and observation that can and should be handed down from generation to generation.
God is incredible. He made the stars. He made spider webs. He breathed life into a son in whom I could take tremendous delight and love so deeply, so many simple gifts, yet awesome miracles – each and every one.
Caleb gets God’s wonder – kids do. We adults often miss God’s presence and majesty due to an excess of man-made ‘stuff’. God’s splendor is everywhere, and for us to experience it better we’ve got to turn down our own noise – the self-concocted interferences that too often drown out His glory.
“Dad, I feel like we should say a prayer. We need to thank Him for all those stars.” Caleb folded his hands together and said a simple prayer. It felt good. We connected in a way that a dad and son can only do in God’s presence.
And I realized, amidst my many failures, that I had done one thing right; and that was to acknowledge the mighty, wonderful power of God to the next generation. I don’t know that I can do much better than that. Caleb is a great kid, and I’m sure that he’ll do the same with his kids.
“One generation will commend Your works to another; and they will tell of Your might acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works.” 145:4
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Father, forgive us when we allow Your mighty works to be overlooked and missed because of our busy schedules, silly television shows, monotonous newspapers, production deadlines, or anything that clouds our view of You. We praise You and thank You, Lord, for Your incredible works and for who You are. Allow us to never miss and always share Your awesome glory with our sons and daughters. We recognize the ability to do that with them is a tremendous gift. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Let's begin properly in prayer.
Dear Lord, we praise you and thank you for your living Word, the guiding light for our lives. We thank you for all the blessings that you give us and we give praise and honor to you. In Christ name, Amen!
We all have a tendency to avoid the uncomfortable, and I am expecting folks this morning to change some thinking, so they can change their lives.
I am going to begin this call with some basics regarding success and then get into the challenges and problems that each of us face, and more importantly, how to overcome them….not according to the world, but according to the Word.
Success is a choice . Failure is also a choice. When you understand God’s promises for your life as a Believer, the purpose of wealth and the lives we can reach, there is nothing that can stand in your way….at least not for very long.
OK, maybe I am the only one that has ever dealt with some of these limited thoughts, well, here are 5 key ones that most of us deal with at various times.
1. The first thought of defeat: You Can’t Do It. The root that empowers: Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me; I CAN DO IT!
2. Second thought: You Have the Wrong Motive. The thought comes to you ‘You just want to be blessed because you’re selfish. Who do you think you are? God says He wants me blessed! God calls me blessed, so that I can be a blessing.
3. Third thought: You’re not worthy –you don’t deserve to be blessed. Look at all the mistakes you made; you don’t deserve it. You say, I’m not worthy through my works; I am worthy through the BLOOD of Jesus. I do deserve it (not through my works) but through grace and because God is a good God.
4. Fourth thought: It’s not going to happen for you. It doesn’t work for everybody – You say, you shut up devil, He did it for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so He’s got to do it for me. God is no respecter of persons and He says whosoever believes shall have what they say, and I’m one of those whosoevers who believes!
5. The Fifth thought: It’s Too Late. You can’t recover. Look at how much ground you’ve lost. Everybody is ahead of you. BALONEY. You say NO! In Jesus’ Name He that began a good work in me is faithful to complete it! Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith. It wasn’t too late for Abraham, Peter, Sarah, or Rahab the harlot. We’re not too discouraged, too broken, or too sick to be healed. BUT JESUS can take every sickness, financial problem or negative situation and restore it.
Are you praying and believing for the Lord to direct your steps, your family, and your business?
Are you believing and expecting Divine appointments in your business? Believe for divine appointments. Let His appointments and schedule become yours. He can open doors you can’t open in the natural.
Are you believing for Divine solutions?
Are you believing for Divine favor?
Are you believing for Divine power?
Are you believing for Divine results?
His results multiply. A lot of us say, Lord, you’re in control, but we are still in control. We have to surrender and truly make Him Lord of our lives.
We are not just here this morning talking about money. Prosperity in the Bible is not just money folks. It means nothing lacking, wholeness, and abundance.
OK, just about now, if we were not on moderator mode, I could hear Joe is Ohio shouting to his wife, Mildred, I thought this was going to be a business call. You bet it is. We have the proper priorities of God, Family, Health and Business, in that order. The marketplace is a ministry and we are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Preach means to announce and we are to be the bearer of Good News wherever we are at, amen?
I have been in this entrepreneurial mentoring environment for 3 years now and some of my successes and failures over 20 years in corporate America and networking, are my gifts to you. They cost me dearly along the way, but it was a great investment in our success and now I am passionate about mentoring others. It was only 3 years ago, however, that I truly saw the opportunity and responsibility and co-mission that we all have in the marketplace, to share the Good News, every day of the week.
OK, let’s change gears to something the Lord place on my heart to share from this past Friday afternoon. How does the average person think about problems? The average person thinks negatively about problems and that is a reason why they are average. Wealthy people are opportunity oriented. An average person will look at a business with poor cash flow and sees a problem, the wealthy person will look for the opportunity. When people look at today’s economy, they see the real estate problems or a business struggling. The entrepreneur sees the opportunities created, real estate or businesses that can be purchased, or maybe some employees that they can add to their team that they were unable to hire prior.
I hope after today you may change your viewpoint of problems. All people have problems. If you have a dream or vision, you have problems. If you have this deep seeded belief that they are negative, you will do your best trying to avoid problems. I have spent the better part of 40 years trying to avoid problems. Successful people have problems too and the more successful they are, the bigger the problems, because they have a bigger vision. The difference with successful people is they get the problem at hand solved, then go search out more problems.
Why? Because problems create opportunity and value. Think about the last time you felt incredible. Most likely, it was when you solved the last big problem you were faced with. There is an old saying that a man or woman is paid in proportion with the problems a person can solve. If you are in real estate and can only sell homes that everyone can sell, your income is limited. If you can solve problems others cannot, then you will be rewarded.
Let’s look at one major challenge or problem in the Bible that we are all familiar with, the story of David and Goliath. David was young of age and small in stature taking on this huge giant. You can read the story in 1 Samuel 17. When Goliath gave his speech, everyone ran. It states everyone, even David. But what did David do next? David hears of the reward for the guy who takes Goliath down. Land, no taxes, he got to be a prince and you got to marry the princess. He had hope. He had a vision. Dreams are critical.
When he got turned on, he was attacked. Who put him down? His brother. Hey, do you guys realize this is just a sheepherder? Sometimes the people closest to us, are like this about our businesses and dreams, as most people operate out of fear. And we cannot let fear stand in the way of our dreams. You will be attacked. How did David handle being attacked? Did he get all upset? He turned from him to another. It could mean that David turned to God or to some person in the crowd. He turned away from the dream stealers and you need to find people who will support your dream too and turn away from the dream stealers. What did David do next? He rehearsed. He gets to the tent and nobody was there. Everyone wants to be a prince, but no long lines. A key point here is this. There is little competition at the top. Very few people are willing to pay the price. He who attempts the impossible, will have little competition. From my experience, the 80/20 rule is so overly generous. It appears to be more like 95/5 in most environments.
Goliath was the best thing that ever happened to David. Translate this to your own life. Maybe your super challenge is that you were just laid off, or your back is against the wall financially, or you are facing an impossible relationship that needs healing. Maybe you are facing cancer. What are you facing that seems impossible? Goliath brought out the best in David. David didn’t take Saul’s armor. You don’t have to copy someone else. You don’t need their fancy education or personality. You have your own gifts and strengths and the Word of God to face your Goliaths. Goliath studied his competition and the problem. David didn’t study Goliath; he focused on the solution and the reward. David didn’t even have a sword. Goliath didn’t have a chance with God on David’s side.
What are you trusting in? Are you trusting in research, what your competition is doing, or are you trusting that the Lord will direct you towards the vision He has given you.
Are you trusting in dollars; your company; your degree or education; are you trusting in the world’s armor and weapons, or are you trusting in God?
We all will be afraid of different things in life. But we have to have a vision, a dream. Many adults have stopped dreaming. Or they retire and then die within 3 years of retirement, because their initial dream was realized and they did not have another dream.
Here are 5 quick keys if you are taking notes.
1) We will all have fear at times
2) Have a dream
3) Make it a big dream—impossible dream—keep your eye on the dream, not the problem
4) Find People who believe in you and your dream
5) Have Faith and take action—without action nothing happens.
David’s final words. Be strong, be fearless and go do it. Go do your dreams.
When you are faced with problems and challenges, you want to speak those scriptures that advise and direct us to not fear. Here are a few.
Deuteronomy 1:21Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’
Deuteronomy 3:22You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.’
Deuteronomy 31:6Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
Judges 6:23Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.”
2 Kings 6:16So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Psalm 27:3Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident.
Psalm 46:2Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Psalm 56:4In God (I will praise His word),In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?
Psalm 118:6The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Isaiah 35:4Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”
Isaiah 41:10Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 44:8Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’”
Isaiah 51:7“ Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults.
Isaiah 54:14In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you
Daniel 10:12Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.
Daniel 10:19And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Joel 2:21Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvelous things!
Matthew 10:31Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Luke 12:7But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Luke 12:32“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Romans 8:15For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Hebrews 13:6So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.1
Do you want victory? Has fear stood in the way? What are you fighting for?
Do you want to succeed? Do you want to succeed as an entrepreneur? Truly succeed?
Then you better be willing to do battle, get in the game, and fight like your success depends upon it -- because it does.
Don't let anyone kid you... if you want to succeed you're gonna have to fight. What's more, you'll be fighting a very formidable enemy: yourself!
Here's what I'm talking about...
Whoever you are, you have the capacity to be your own best friend -- OR -- your own worst enemy. A lot of folks will blame the enemy, but we are to take every thought captive…..and our thought life is critical.
To create serious success you must be willing to go to battle with that part of yourself that says things like:
"I don't want to today"
"I'm not good enough"
"I can't find the time"
"I hope this is worth it"
"why can't I do this"
"just give up"
Most of these negative statements are obvious, but others like "I'll try" are more subtle, yet just as dangerous. And, make no mistake, they are all based in FEAR.
Thoughts like these WILL cross your mind... it's inevitable. It's what you do with them however that matters. You cannot fight this fight alone and that is why we have His Living Word to instruct us, guide us, and tell us who we are as a child of God.
You can not allow these negative thoughts to persist and turn into patterns of daily thinking... it's far too destructive. It is truly a gate for the enemy.
Instead, CHALLENGE any and ALL negative thinking, and take action...
Then... move out of the "thinking phase" and into the ACTION phase. Take consistent action and implement your ideas. When you fail (and you will), make small adjustments and go at it again, and again and again.
If you want it badly enough, exercise the mental discipline it takes to stay in action mode, doing what it takes to get to where you want to be.
Never question IF you can do it. Or IF you can make it. Make a decision that YOU WILL make it. YOU CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Believe it. Then, act on that belief and continue to act on it every single day until you get there.
If you look at the most successful people in the world, what's the common denominator? Is it how they speak? Their age? Their height? Their looks? Not usually..it's what's in between their ears... it's how they think. It's the ATTITUDE they bring to the table. The ATTITUDE that says failure is not an option. That "I won't settle for "I'll Try".... but only: "I'll DO."
When you hit a wall (and you will)... find a way over that wall, around that wall or right through that wall... Do whatever it takes to get past that wall.
Be resourceful, resilient, resolute.
Monitor your self talk. Watch what you focus on. Take care what you say to yourself. Ruthlessly examine your daily routine, and the action you take and streamline your approach so that when you're "doing business" you're doing it with maximum effectiveness and unto the Lord.
Do what others are unwilling to do, so you can achieve what others never will.
And never, ever underestimate the power of THOUGHTS ... because what you think will make you... or break you. Control your thoughts. If you don't, you can be quite certain "they" will control "you".
Fight the fight... and fight hard. It's worth it. Trust me.
I want to begin to wrap up with this as I know there are some folks on the line this morning facing major challenges and persecution.
What happens when your faith is on trial? When you are facing challenges and you are right in the middle of trouble and persecution? It’s great to be people of faith. We all know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word, but it is not saying that our faith is never going to be put to test. The Bible says this is the victory that overcomes the world even your faith. Just because the trial or persecution comes, doesn’t mean it is going o rob you of your victory. We need to know how to respond when things are not seemingly going our way.
Your faith is going to be tried and will be in the middle of persecution and you will come out of it with victory. We cannot give up, cave in and quit. Faith needs to be firm in distress, afflictions, or whatever comes your way. You need to make sure you have faith before the trouble comes. What have you identified from the Word of God—this book of promises to anchor yourself when that tribulation comes or you are facing trouble. It starts by getting into the Word and looking specifically for those scriptures for what you are facing. Identify the promises from the Word.
Faith needs to be firm in the midst. Outlast it.
To suffer for a Christian means to resist. None of us have to be nailed to a cross. Jesus’ suffering was to obtain the victory. He truly suffered for us. Our part is to take the victory that He has obtained, and we are to maintain. He obtained and we are to maintain. Our job is to resist anything that is trying to rob us from that victory. We need to get in God’s Word and our suffering is resisting. Where it states that By His stripes, we are healed….We are already “the healed” protecting our healing from sickness and disease. We are already “the prosperous” protecting our prosperity from anything not sound. Find the victory you already have, and our job is to resist and maintain our stance in that victory. I’m already blessed, victorious, already healed, already delivered and already prosperous and the enemy will do all he can to take that victory away from us. Stand therefore, stand there for until you get what you are standing there for. Take the time clock off God. This is what the Word says, this is what I believe, and I will not be moved.
God is faithful. We stay with the Word regardless of what report or fact comes against us. We walk by faith and not by sight. It may be a fact that you are struggling financially, but there is a difference between fact and truth. He didn’t say that the fact is going to set you free, but He said the truth will set you free. The truth will set you free from the fact. There may be a fact that you have cancer, but the truth says, that by His stripes you are healed. And if you stand on that truth, the truth can make you free from that negative fact. I hope you get this. This was revelation for me. We live by faith. We live by truth. We call those things that be not as though they were.
I have a question for everyone. Do you believe in miracles? Do you truly believe in miracles? If you are a Christian, you HAVE TO believe in miracles. Before you think what I just said is controversial (something in our nature—probably pride resists words like “have to” or “must” , or if you don’t agree with that, well the virgin birth was a miracle; the resurrection was a miracle. Case closed.
So, what can stand in our way of our healing and victory in all areas of our lives?
1) Unbelief, doubt—we have done several trainings on this subject
2) Unforgiveness—if you don’t forgive, you will be in prison. This will stand in the way of so much
3) Judgment—judging others. We need to love and pray for those who attack us. Not bad people, just being used to do bad things. This can go the other way too when you see wealthy people. We judge every day. Never judge a man’s harvest until you know his seed. Faith worketh by Love. If you are judging, you are not walking in love.
4) Strife—is there strife in your home. No peace. No power.
We are going to expand on Pride as I was blessed to hear Kevin Weaver, one of our mentors at our last conference, share some of these key points this past Saturday night during his Call to Battle session.
Recognizing pride—this is an area that I have dealt with over the years and I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who has not had challenges along the way, when it comes to pride.
Pride gets embarrassed
Pride gets hurt and offended a lot
Pride assumes things
Pride says I’m different
How do we overcome pride?
Remember that God detests it
Attack it when you see it in you—expose it
Don’t take yourself so seriously
Worship and praise Him
In closing, we need to think battleship, not cruise ship. On a battleship, every person has a critical role on the ship. God needs all of us to work together and we are not lone rangers. Too many entrepreneurs operate as such, really limiting the impact their businesses and lives can have for the kingdom. We need each other. Every joint supplieth. The key is found in two words, unity and accord. Unity means to be united as one with a single spirit, purpose, interest, or sentiment. The definition implies that individuals are bound together in oneness of heart. Accord has a similar definition. It means to be in harmony, with no one dissenting or disagreeing. If you have studied Bible history, you will know that unity (or accord) is the theme of the book of Acts. The word accord is used 11 times in Acts—a book that details the tremendous things that occurred during and after Pentecost.
When we in the Body of Christ and those in marketplace ministry begin to unite ourselves in the unity and power of God’s Word and the Name of Jesus, we’re going to see some supernatural things. I believe we are going to see unity in the Body of Christ that we have not seen before, and the power of God is going to be demonstrated as never before. Let us purpose in our hearts to lay aside all differences and walk in greater glory, amen.
Thank you Jack for these powerful teachings and words of wisdom and for your ability to share the living Word with us.