Friday, August 30, 2013

Saying Nothing Says It All

Time, experience, etiquette and Godly mentors have taught me to remain quiet and fight off the urge to comment directly or indirectly about life's situations.

When you take time to PRAY about a situation, you'll be amazed at how differently you feel about it in a matter of days, weeks, and in some cases, a few years later.  Hindsight truly is 20/20.
  • PRIDE says, "Don't just stand there; say something!"  
  • WISDOM says, "Don't just say something; stand there!"
Our responsibility is to ask God for insight.  It's not a lack of faith to ask God "WHY" questions.  It's a matter of expressing your heart to Him and trying to understand why He allowed the heartache, pain, disappointment, betrayal, sickness, death, etc.

Time is the great leveler.  However, we live in an age of instant coffee and instant potatoes.  Therefore, we tend to look for instant answers.  When tragedy strikes, not only do we get the news immediately, but within minutes experts appear on television to tell us why it all happened.  But sometimes wisdom is SILENT.

What do you do when you're attacked, hurt, lied on, misrepresented or injured by people and assumptions?  You do what Jesus did.  Remember, He had the power to summon twelve legions of angels to defend Him, yet "He opened not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).  Pilate did all the talking.  Jesus just STOOD THERE QUIETLY, for He was not on trial; Pilate and the religious system were. Jesus knew His destiny, and most of all, He knew His Father intimately.

Like Jesus, sometimes all you can do is look in the whites of Pilate's eyes and SAY NOT A WORD!  Saying nothing takes STRENGTH, CONTROL and DISCERNMENT.

The Bible says in Proverbs 13:3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

Saying nothing and leaving it in God's hands is not always easy.  Your flesh wants to correct and shout the injustice from the roof tops!  But I've learned in my own life...ONE WORD FROM HIM CAN TURN THINGS AROUND IN A HURRY.  (God did it for me)

When you know God, you can face anything with confidence - and still be free to keep quiet. What a wonderful place to be!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Accepted by Abba

Everyone wants to be LOVED.  Our hearts yearn for love and acceptance.  In reality, thousands may love us, but if just one person doesn't we tend to focus on the one that doesn't rather than the thousands that do.  Have you ever held an argument in your mind with people who've criticized you, or worse, snubbed you?  What can fill that empty spot in your heart?

Here's the answer:

Romans 8:15 "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

It is God's Spirit that has confirmed who you REALLY are!  That's what the Spirit of God wants to do for each of us.
  • We ARE God's children!  
  • We ARE heirs to all He owns!
  • We ARE protected day and night by His love!
  • We ARE directed step-by-step by His Spirit!
  • We ARE given favor even in the midst of adversity!
  • We ARE His!
Think about what Apostle Paul says here, "You have received the SPIRIT OF ADOPTION."

Adoption isn't a word we use everyday.  And yet, this word carries with it the most amazing meaning: the act of PREMEDITATED love!

God is saying to us... 
  • BEFORE you saw Me, I saw you.  
  • I adopted you.  
  • I gave you My name, My nature, My family, and My inheritance!  
  • Now you can call me "ABBA," which literally means "my daddy."
It doesn't matter how many people reject you, when you realize your ACCEPTANCE by God has always been in place.

Today, you can run to Him, curl up in His arms and say, "My daddy!"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Encouragement Is a Shot In The Arm!

All of us desire to be approved, appreciated and affirmed.  Mark Twain expressed how much the affirmation of others meant to him when he said, "One compliment can keep me going for a whole month."

The need to feel appreciated and valued is rooted in our human nature.  Children desire it from their parents.  Parents desire it from their children. Adults desire it from their peers, etc. 

No matter how great, how famous or how successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for affirmation.

It's the need for encouragement that causes us to keep thank you cards, emails and letters of encouragement on file.  We refer to them during challenging or discouraging times.  It is said that Abraham Lincoln used to carry around a newspaper article in his pocket that described him as a great leader.
  • Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad."
Most leaders that I meet aren't seeking for "the glory of men" their merely like Apostle Paul who was:
  • ENCOURAGED by Titus (2 Corinthians 7:6)
  • REFRESHED by Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16-18)
  • STRENGTHENED by the brothers from Rome when they came out to welcome him to their city. (Acts 28:15)
I love the Amplified version that says, "When Paul saw them, he thanked God and received new courage."

Encouragement is a shot in the arm!  But what happens when people don't encourage us?  What happens when they don't appreciate our efforts?  Honestly, it's a little disheartening when you've poured your life into someone, only to discover that as soon as you've helped them through their crisis (or crises), they now feel "led" to another church. 

David learned that you can't always count on people to reciprocate your kindness appropriately.
  • Psalms 35:12 says, "They reward me evil for good, to the sorrow of my soul."
Apostle Paul said, "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved." (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Friends, we all benefit from the encouragement of others, but there has to be something far greater than human response that motivates us or sustains us in our ministry - especially when others do not respond with appreciation or gratitude for what we do.


There was a time in David's life when no one was encouraging him, as a matter of fact, everyone around him wanted to kill him.
  • 1 Samuel 30:6 "but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."
Sometimes you just have to talk to yourself!  Of course, make sure you're careful about what you say to you!

Ultimately, people will never be able to meet our deepest needs.  Only GOD can do that.  He is the ultimate rewarder!

I love Paul's words in Hebrews 6:10-12, "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

Feel free to enjoy the expressed appreciation that people give you.  However, realize that the accolades of men (or lack thereof) do not constitute your purpose for being or staying in the ministry.

The appreciation of people can give us momentary gratification, but it is the praise and the commendation of God that will give us lasting and eternal satisfaction!

Be encouraged today!  Heaven is cheering you on!  Take that knowledge and give some heaven to others through APPROVAL, APPRECIATION and AFFIRMATION!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Speak Blessing

What is a blessing?  Webster's dictionary defines it as: 
  • The act or words of one that blesses.
  • A thing conducive of happiness or welfare.
  • Grace said at a meal.
  • Approval.
  • Encouragement.
All of us desire a blessing in our lives.  We long for an agreeable consideration to the decisions we make and the actions we take.
  • As children we desire to receive a blessing from our parents.
  • As parents we desire to impart a blessing to our children.
The same desire is found in spiritual relationships, whether it be a Spiritual Father/Son; Pastor/Parishioner; etc.  We desire to SPEAK BLESSING over those we have raised up in the faith, birthed into the ministry or set over a work. 

We should seek a blessing in everything we do...BEFORE we do it.  Nothing muddies the water anymore than having to clean up someone's mess because they wouldn't "wait" (Romans 12) to be sent and just went. 

In my own experience, Beverly and I have always sought for a blessing in every transition or season of our lives.  We believe that your EXIT must be blessed so that your ENTRANCE can be.  We believe this, not because of theory but by practice.

How do you transfer a blessing to someone?  Here are a couple of suggestions from Gary Smalley, in his book "The Blessing":

1. Give meaningful touch
  • There's no substitute for hugs, kisses and contact.  Jacob hugged and kissed his sons and grandsons.  Jesus picked up the little children and held them in His arms.  In the early church, we see the "laying on of hands" to impart spiritual gifts, healing and blessing.  To "lay our hands" on something means to bless it.
2. Verbal Affirmation
  • Words are powerful 
    • Words can do great good or inflict incredible damage.  The Scriptures teach us that "life and death are in the power of the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21).
    • When we say things like "I'm proud of you or you did that well", we are sending a message of affirmation.  It's critical that fathers plant the seeds of unconditional love deep into his children's souls; it's their first taste of what God's love is like.
  • Attach value
    • To bless can mean to "to honor."  Honoring someone is as simple as looking them in the eye when they're speaking to you or stopping and listening when they want to talk.
  • Paint a picture of a positive future
    • Identifying their gifts and attaching value to them is SOWING seeds of faith for their future!  Saying things like "The way you draw means you'll always be creative in whatever you do" or "You want to be a policeman?  That means you have courage" or "you love animals so much, maybe you will be a veterinarian" or "you love to talk and communicate ideas, you'd be a good teacher!"
  •  Demonstrate Active Commitment
    • Today, kids spell LOVE two ways: T-I-M-E and M-O-N-E-Y!  We can't just say we love our kids, we have to demonstrate it through sacrifice.  Parents, who love their kids, will do without some things they'd like to have in order to raise and care for their offspring.  All true love has a sacrificial element to it.
Patrick Morely, in his book, "Man in the Mirror" tells about a fishing trip.  A group of fishermen had landed in a secluded bay in Alaska and had a great day of fishing for salmon.  When they returned to their sea plane, they were surprised to discover that it was aground because of the fluctuating tides.  They had no option except to wait until the next morning when the tides come in.  But when they took off, they only got a few feet off the ground and came crashing down into the sea.  Being aground the day before had punctured one of the pontoons, and it had filled up with water.  The sea plane slowly began to sink, and there were three men and a 12-year-old son, Mark.  They prayed, and then jumped into the icy cold waters to swim to shore.  The water was cold, and the riptide was strong.  Two of the men reached the shore exhausted.  They looked back, and their companion, who was also a strong swimmer, did not swim to shore because his 12-year-old son wasn't strong enough to make it.  They saw that father with his arms around his son being swept out to sea.  He chose to die with his son rather than to live without him.

There's not a real father/mother reading this that would not lay down their life so that their child might live.  

If you love your children enough to die for them...will you love them enough to live for them?

I want to encourage you to live like John The Baptist did as he prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus and the coming of the Kingdom of God to earth.  Here's what the Prophet Malachi said about John:
  • "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." - Malachi 4:5-6
Friends, the coming of the Kingdom is tied up in the FATHER'S BLESSING!  Seek blessing in all you do, wait for it...and speak blessing to all you can.

May we live our lives as a recipient of blessing and a dispenser of blessing!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Get Out of Excuseville

Are you the kind of person who always finds excuses for everything? 

When we constantly make excuses, it causes others to laughingly refer to us as "Mr. Undependable"!  Regardless of how well respected we may be in other aspects of our life - professional, personal and family - if we're always making excuses...a negative reputation is bound to develop.

You know your excuses are an issue, when people have to confront you about it...even in a joking manner.  Sadly, people may not seem to respect or trust you because you're known as the person who breaks promises, places blame on others or doesn't accept responsibility for their commitments.

REALIZE - We have power over excuse making.  We have the power to break this habit!
  • People who constantly make excuses develop a reputation that they can't be counted on.
  • Their friends and colleagues tend to view them as the last person they can ask a favor from.

DEAL WITH IT - Your friends and family have stopped accepting your explanations at face should you. Deal with it today.  
  • Determine to stop making excuses now.
  • Be on time.
  • Be faithful.
  • Be fruitful.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS - If you commit to only taking on tasks that you can actually accomplish, you won't be tempted to later account for your failings.

  • Know your time restraints ahead of time.
  • Don't feel forced to take on a project if you know you'll end up laying the blame on others when you fall short.

BE HONEST - Excuse making is as stressful as lying, because you have to remember exactly what you have told various people.
  • Excuse makers end up embellishing the facts to cast themselves in a better light.  In turn, this makes your family, friends and colleagues uncomfortable.
  • Avoid long winded explanations.
  • Admit your mistakes without hiding behind fictitious reasons.

TEAM UP - Make a pact with a friend who has the same excuse making problem.  Agree to point it out if you see them returning to their old ways and have them commit to doing the same with you.
  • Getting help from others is healthy!
  • Investing your energy into finding solutions, instead of creating justifications will catapult you further.

BOTTOM LINE - There is no excuse for living in EXCUSEVILLE.  We are responsible for making good choices in life.  We're entitled to choose to find excuses for ourselves, to blame other people and to sound paranoid.  But, we'll be happier and healthier if we opt for honesty, integrity and confidence.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Night of Worship Highlights Video

Hello Influence!

As a young man, sensing the call of God on my life, I knew that God was calling me to share the Good News of Christ to everyone within my sphere of influence.  At age 15, my sphere of influence was pretty much limited to my friends at school, church and in the neighborhood.  

I didn't have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account to blast my thoughts and feelings around the world, 24/7.  I didn't have a cell phone to text with or a computer to Skype with.

If I wanted to share my thoughts with my friends, I had to ask permission to use the old yellow rotary phone that hung on the kitchen wall and I had to be able to explain the purpose for the call. That old phone had a cord that seemed to stretch the length of a football field.  If I couldn't use the phone, I waited till school the next day to connect.  

I didn't realize what influence was. I really didn't comprehend how The Lord wanted me to share His Good News other than what I had seen modeled before me in our church. I simply thought that by getting behind a pulpit and doing what I had seen others do was all there was to it.  "Just opening your mouth and letting God fill it" seemed to be the accepted way of really communicating the Gospel, in the culture I grew up in.

The Holy Spirit, time, wisdom and mentors have helped shape my understanding of what influence is and is not. 
  • Influence is more than being the loudest person in the room.
  • Influence is more than popularity.
  • Influence is more than a position or title.
  • Influence is more than a credential. 
  • Influence is more than a family name.
  • Influence is more than your education level.
  • Influence is more than how many Scriptures you can quote.
  • Influence is more than the ability to name drop.
  • Influence is more than being the most liked person.
  • Influence is more than networking with the right people.
  • Influence is more than political maneuvering.
  • Influence is more than riding someone else's coat tails. 
  • Influence is more than knowing what to say at the right time.
  • Influence is more than having money.
  • Influence is more than how many attend your church.
  • Influence is more than how big your budget is.
  • Influence is more than how many books you've written.
  • Influence is more than your tenure.
  • Influence is more than your speaking schedule.
  • Influence is more than talents and gifts.
  • Influence is more than smooth talking.

Simply put, influence is
the ability to drive action!

Webster's Dictionary
defines influence as the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command.  
A person of influence has the ability to rally people to a cause without using their position as a controlling factor.  

We can expand our sphere of influence and achieve our calling with greater effectiveness when our actions and attitude match our speech.
  1. We must be the change we wish to see in the world.  If we aren't "walking our talk" we dramatically lessen our influence.
  2. We must take the initiative in using our influence to produce a positive outcome.
  3. We must paint a clear picture of the vision God has called us to.
  4. We must appreciate the efforts of those who are helping us.
A true test to see if you're influencing someone as a leader is to turn around and see who's following you.  If no one is following're not leading.

People may follow you for all kinds of reasons.  Here's three that I think of often:
  1. They follow you because they have to - you are an authority over them.
  2. They follow you because they need to - you have something they want.
  3. They follow you because they want to - you influence them in a positive way.
Obviously, influence is where it's at!  If we use it in the right way, it can help us overcome obstacles and move a group of people towards a goal!

God wants us to fulfill our calling!  A positive influence will go a long way in helping us get there!

More to come...