Category Archives: Author

Alone in a crowded room: In ministry, some are around you, but not necessarily with you

Photo Apr 13, 6 23 36 PMListen, let me start by saying, you won’t have it all. You won’t always have the support you need. You won’t always have people that see the vision as you do. That may not be your desire, but that is the divine plan, because nothing happens outside of God. However, if you remember who you’re working for, you’ll have a better chance at maintaining your focus, especially when it’s just you and God.

There’s a statement that I posted on social media last week and it was reiterated on my weekly radio broadcast. I said: “Sometimes God will get you alone just so that you can see that you were getting lost in the crowd”. The point I was trying to make was there are times when we feel as if we need to be around everybody in order to be somebody. We get so caught up in being positioned that we fail to be in position, and being in position is being where God placed us, not necessarily where we think we can generate the most buzz or get the most exposure. The deeper I go into ministry, the clearer this message gets for me.

Such is the case with ministry at times. Sometimes we’re more concerned with being on the scene, creating a scene, or just being seen, than we are with the actual call to ministry. Something else I stated on that broadcast is this: “The call has always been greater than the called”. That means that what I’m called by God to do will always be more important than I am, more essential than what I have to offer, and bigger than I am.

However, even as God has called many of us to something bigger and something greater, the actual work we’re called to do may be more focused and concentrated. We may not be called to minister to the masses, but we may be called to pour into one mind that will minister to the masses. We may not be called to be on the grand stage, but we may be called to set the stage for what’s to come. Jesus Himself said that we would do greater works than He did (John 14:12). That doesn’t make us greater than Christ, but Christ set the stage that we could and should perform on.

Where this gets difficult is when we inject our own ambitions into the equation. Where we lose focus is when we decide what our ministry should look like, instead of following the directives of God. Where we wind up wasting energy is when we decide where we want to have the most impact, as opposed to allowing God to build the audience for our gift.

When this happens, we can find ourselves around people that care little to nothing about what we have to offer. We can end up trying to position ourselves so that our gifts can be noticed and utilized, but to the purposes we have in our own heads. We try to make ourselves available to people that, quite honestly, see us as a threat to what they’re doing (even though we’re all supposedly on the same team). We believe that we’ve come to a place of sharing, encouragement, and brainstorming, when in fact, we can find ourselves in places of resentment because we’re viewed as peculiar (even though that’s what God called us to be).

Where we can find ourselves alone in our ministry is when we’re really and truly about The Kingdom, but we’re mixing with people that are about the opportunity. It’s easy to go to a place with “What can we do for them” on your heart, but the agenda of the room is “What can you do for me”. At some point, you look up and realize that you’re in a crowded room, but you’re all by yourself.

You may find it difficult to find support in rooms like this because often times, true ministry is not at the heart of the room. However, what you can’t do is fall into a state of discouragement or start having a pity party for yourself. Don’t confuse people not actively supporting you with their not wanting or appreciating your gifts. Some people aren’t supportive because they’re trying to figure out from a distance how you do what you do, and how to incorporate it into what they do.

The reality is some people are just like the people in the lottery line. They wanna sow as little as possible, but get the windfall of your talent. I know it’s tough to swallow because of the path that you’ve been chosen to walk. I know it’s hard to understand how we can be so anointed, and yet, so opportunistic, but this isn’t the time to lose faith or hope. This is the time to remember your role model. This is the time to remember Jesus!

Jesus did not have a quid pro quo ministry. It wasn’t do for me and I’ll do for you. We are saved by grace. It’s free. Sure, we ought to run for Jesus because of what He did for us, but faith is all that’s required. And yet, there are some rooms you can’t be in if you don’t have anything to offer but you. There are some circles you’re not allowed in without a title or status. There are some places where you can buy your way in, but can never serve your way in. Some rooms are just more monetary than missionary. And yet, you must go forward in your call anyway. You must persist for The Kingdom.

So, how do we carry on when it seems as if we have to carry the load alone? Understand that we can never claim to truly know the hearts of men, but discernment is still available to us. We may not know their hearts, but we should know our own. We should know what it is that God has placed deep inside of us. Rest assured, the easiest way to lose your faith is to lose sight of your who and your why.

The most important thing for us to remember about our gifts and our talents is they were never just for us. God equipped us to serve others. When we remember what we’re called to be, the rooms we desire to be in will change significantly. We’ll find ourselves in places where there’s no fanfare, no pretense, and no ego or arrogance. We’ll find ourselves in places where there’s a need. That’s why we can’t give up. Because someone is counting on us to follow through!

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) tells us: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”.

There’s a space between sowing season and due season that can test even the most faithful of God’s servants. I have to believe that those words in that text were written by the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, because God knew we would get tired. He knew that the road would be rough at some times, and lonely at others. Yes, it is a word of encouragement, but it’s also a word of warning: There will be times when you want to quit!

But I want to encourage someone that’s on the verge of quitting to stop that line of thinking. Trust me, your work is not in vain. What you’re doing isn’t for nothing. God has never made an empty promise to His servants or anyone else for that matter. The harvest is coming. You can still do ministry exactly as God planned it, even if you have to do it alone. I’m a witness that God will bring you back into focus after you’ve exhausted all of your efforts (be sure to examine that last sentence). I’m a witness that God has a special and unique ministry for all of us. Some involve crowds, and some involve a lot of small efforts that yield major results.

I’m a firm believer that God is still moving in the remnant and small groups. What that means is you don’t need everybody to be somebody. Your voice doesn’t have to be in everybody’s ears, just the ears of your God-intended audience. Your gift doesn’t have to be appreciated by everyone, it just needs to help the person or people that it was designed to help. You can walk in your assigned ministry, in a crowded room, or in a room by yourself. You are peculiar for a reason. You were never meant to be like everyone else. Be what you’re called to be. Even if it’s just you and God working. He’s more than a crowded room against you.

Advertisements

Get Ready For Your Elevation!

There comes a moment when God wants some alone time with His children. Away from where we think we should be, and certainly away from where we used to roam and from what we used to be. Maybe He called you out of a bad relationship. Maybe He called you out of physical or spiritual bondage. Maybe He called you off of an unfulfilling job or out of a church where you could no longer produce. Or maybe, just maybe, He called you away from who you’ve been, so that He can bring you to be what He wants you to be.

It’s during this time of isolation that God will shape you and mold you into what He wants you to be and what you need to be for the next level of your journey. It’s during these moments when God will cause you to re-evaluate your life and whether or not you’re effectively operating in your purpose.

It’s during these times that even those around you may seem as if they’re “funny acting”, they have no time for you, or they’re kicking you out of their circle. But 2 Corinthians 6:17 says “Come out from among them and be ye separate, says The Lord”. So, know that they’re not kicking you out, they’re kicking you up! God has a new you waiting at the next level!

Know that your isolation is preparation for your elevation. Enjoy your alone time with God. Don’t despair when your phone calls go unanswered. Don’t worry when the enemy attacks you for leaving your former place. Be not dismayed when you had more company in bondage than you have when your chains fall off. Get ready, child of God. It’s time for your elevation!

(Like that “Isolation for Elevation” t-shirt Rev. Jackson is wearing? Click here to order yours in support of the “Your Life with Purpose” radio broadcast!)

Rejecting God: We ignore much more than we miss

Did you really miss your blessing or did you just ignore it when it came? I’m a writer by nature and by profession, so I’m a stickler for words. It’s popular for us to say things to people like “You missed your blessing” when they seem to have bypassed God’s provisions. But I want to challenge that thinking, because upon further inspection, I find that we don’t miss God with anywhere near the regularity that we actually reject Him.

It’s really very simple to me. As an example, if you miss a bus, you either weren’t there when the bus showed up or you arrived as it was pulling away and you couldn’t catch it. However, to reject a bus means that you were standing there when it arrived, you knew that it would take you where you wanted to go, but for whatever reason, you refused to get on. 

Maybe it was too crowded. Maybe you didn’t like the style of the bus because it was an older model and not a brand new bus. Maybe you didn’t like the driver. Whatever your reason for not getting on, there’s no doubt about it, the bus came. You just rejected it and now it will take you longer to get to your destination.

The truth is God is always placing blessings right in front of us. The lie is that we somehow know better than God. Often, the blessing doesn’t look like we want it to look or it doesn’t come when we expected it or from where we expected it. We fail to see that God designs the blessing to fit its purpose, not necessarily to be pleasing to our eyes or our other human sensibilities. Can He design such a gift that’s pleasing to us? Of course He can. But we’ll often only see it that way when we use our vision as opposed to our sight.

The point here is this: To suggest that you missed something from God is to suggest that God’s timing is somehow off. Now, you may be saying, “Wait Rev, if I say I missed it, how am I blaming God?” Well, let me hit you with another Christian catchphrase: “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always on time.” That says to me that if you’re early, God will be there. If you’re running late, God will be there. You can’t miss what God has for you, but you sure can reject it trying to do things according to your own understanding. 

Even if your aim is off, God’s aim is true. And even though we may miss out on some things, we won’t miss it in its entirety. But you wanna know what else is awesome about God? Even when you reject Him, He’s so full of grace, that He’ll bring that blessing back around and give you another chance at it. However, I must warn you. You don’t wanna keep ignoring God. You may find yourself stuck with your plan instead of His, and that’s a mess you don’t want. My suggestion to you? When the bus comes, don’t outsmart yourself. Your best bet is to just get on.

Read an excerpt from the upcoming book “Overcoming Your Pharaoh”

Overcoming10 (1 of 1)Click here to order now! In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt from our Chapter on failure:

Character is formed in adversity

The adversity that we face during our trials and our failures is in fact what develops us. It’s in the adversities of the long and winding road to success that we learn just how fragile our dreams can be. It’s during those times that we develop not only what it takes to be successful, but also what it takes to stay that way. However success is defined for you, you’ll need some grit and determination to maintain it. Nothing can teach you that like falling on your face can.

I understand that none of us like to fall short, but there are so many lessons that can be learned from our failed efforts. I often tell people to learn to see God in everything, and where you can’t see God, you should seek God. Believe it or not, there are times when God made it hard for us, just as He did for Moses by the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. There are times when we claim a faith that hasn’t been tested, so God puts us through it by allowing a few no’s to come our way and allowing a few doors to be slammed in our faces.

The question must be asked of us as we pursue our life’s dreams: How bad do you want it? That question must be answered in what we’re willing to go through to get to where we say we wanna be. If you’re ready to give up at the first sign of trouble (we’ll discuss that in the next section), then you should be wondering whether or not what you’re pursuing is for you. It’s not enough to just be talented or gifted in something. You have to be courageous enough, tough enough, and mentally strong enough to endure. Whenever you’re chasing your calling, your purpose, your passion, or your career, know that it will be a marathon and not a sprint.

Excitement will only take you so far. Enthusiasm will only take you so far. Just wanting it so bad will only take you so far. Even drive has its limitations. It’s what you do with opportunities that matter, and even more so, it’s what you do when there are no opportunities or when opportunity is snatched away from you by forces that are working against you.

It’s not just about God’s promises to you, but it’s also about whether or not you’ll let God mold you into the person that you need to be in order to live out the promise He’s made to you. If you read your Bible carefully, God often promised prosperity to the unprepared, the uncertain, the unwilling, and often the unqualified. It wasn’t until He molded them to fit the promise that He’d made to them that they were able to live out their purpose.

The benefit of your adversity is in the fact that it often prepares you for the next challenge. Even if the next challenge is unique in nature and something that you’ve never seen before, if nothing else, you come to rely on the fact that God brought you out before, and He can do it again. It’s during those times when things aren’t working out that we learn to see God working it out.

During those moments when it seems that nothing will ever go right, that’s the time when we must draw on the strength that God has been developing in us through our various trials, disappointments, and failures. James 1:3 tells us that the trying of our faith brings patience in us. Even if God isn’t the cause of your adversity, it is God that can make you stronger through your adversity. It is God that can help us to overcome when we feel overwhelmed.

To purchase other works, please click here to visit our bookstore!

#DontDieWithIt!

20479896_10209858942290115_499856648006117189_n (2)

#DontDieWithIt is a movement. It’s a statement. It’s a call to action!

Whatever it is that God has called you to do and be, your mission should be to not leave this earth without giving it your very best. It doesn’t do anybody any good in the grave. Whatever you do, don’t die with it!

That business idea He gave you, that dream He woke you up in the middle of the night to tell you about, that talent, that gift, that anointing, that undying desire to be something other than what “they” said you could and should be, don’t you dare take it to the funeral home. God didn’t give it to you for nothing. You can’t leave it undone.

This is an encouragement movement! This a motivational movement. This is a God-ordained movement. You have the time. You have the talent. You have the call. Be courageous. Be active. Be progressive. Be aggressive. God is on your side and He’s gifted you and purposed you. Do it all and do it now. Don’t die with it!

Purchase your #DontDieWithIt t-shirt here!

Faith don’t come easy!

There’s a common misconception about faith that exists not only in the world, but even inside the church. There’s this thought that a life of faith is a bed of roses. It’s an idea that people of faith are blissfully blind and neither worry nor concern ever darkens our door. Not only is this idea of superhero Christians incorrect, but it’s also damaging to new converts who get frustrated because they never reach that state of Christian bliss. 

I do my best not to worry about the ills of life and I’ve grown a lot since my younger days. However, I’d be lying if I said I never looked to God and wondered. When I’m tried and I don’t quite understand, I find myself thinking as Job did when he said “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). However, it’s the trying that is the challenge. 

In the vein of Job, many fail to realize that some of the things that add to the trying times are the people around us. It’s the people that don’t always understand the ways in which we trust in God. They’re the people that can’t see past the right now, so they push our spiritual buttons. They assume that faith is simple, and yet they complicate it for us quite often. 

Their thinking at times is that we just decided to follow God without any concerns or trepidation. The thought is that we know where we’re going and what we’re doing at all times, but that’s not faith. There is a struggle to faith and while we accept it at most times, there are days when it’s difficult to understand and embrace. And yet, we do it anyway because the other option isn’t encouraging. We talk about faith glowingly because we know and trust God. But the road is anything but easy, even though God is worth every bit of the struggle.

Contrary to popular belief, faith doesn’t just come from people deciding to blindly follow God. Faith doesn’t always come when we decide to do something. Sometimes, it comes when we’re forced into something. When you didn’t leap off the cliff, but you were thrown. When you didn’t jump into faith, but you were pushed by people who were behind your back, but didn’t have your back. When you were showered with “We love you and support you”, but you realize you’re in a room full of strangers that you’ve known for years (let that sink in).

When you’re bombarded with advice from people that have absolutely no experience in what you’re going through. When you have to abandon what you’ve been doing for years because you now realize that you were wrong and God was right and He tried to tell you five mistakes ago. No, faith isn’t always what we decide. Sometimes, it’s all we have left.

Read an excerpt from “Are We Still Making Disciples”: “Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible”

 

fullsizer.jpg

Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible

So many of the rules of the church have been loosened because we want to seem welcoming to an ever growing segment of society that doesn’t see the need in physically coming to church. While I understand that we need different methods in a different world, there are some things about the church that should be non-negotiable.

I once preached a sermon entitled “When Jesus Is Your Draw”, taken from Luke 5:1-10. In the text, Jesus goes out into the boat with Peter to catch fish. Peter had gone out the night before, as he explained to Jesus, and had caught no fish.

However, even after explaining to Jesus that the fish weren’t biting, Peter says to Jesus, “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net”. Once Peter followed Jesus’ instructions, he caught so many fish that his boat couldn’t hold them. There were so many fish that the text says his net broke and he had to call another ship over to take in the overflow of fish.

The text also states that there were so many fish that both boats begin to sink. However, what I always noticed in the text was what didn’t happen. While the net was broken and the boats began to sink, nowhere in the text does it say that any fish got away. Peter had gone back to the same place that he had gone the night before to catch fish, but to no avail. The difference was that Jesus was now in the boat. After this, Jesus told Peter, “From henceforth, thou shalt catch men”.

This text is a great lesson in what we as disciples need to draw people. All we need is Jesus. We’re in a day and time where we’re “marketing” the church in an effort to reach a new generation. I have no qualms about this as this generation responds differently than generations past. You have to reach them through their phones, either by text or social media, and you must do so in ways that grabs their attention.

I’m very active on social media platforms and I use them to promote books, ministry events, and I even post a live video feed from the studio during my radio broadcast. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with different methods to draw people to church.

Where I have a problem is when Jesus comes up missing in the marketing plans. Where I have a problem is when we’re promoting services, but we aren’t promoting the Savior. Jesus is the center of the church, so how do we expect to make disciples of Christ, without promoting Christ?

When what you used to do doesn’t work anymore, you have to come up with a new strategy. Yes, believe it or not, there is a strategy to discipleship. When Jesus sent His disciples out in the 10th Chapter of Matthew, He didn’t do so without giving them instructions. He told them what to do, how to do it, and He even told them what their demeanor should be as they did it. Yes, God is intentional!

However, in the midst of new strategies and new approaches, we can’t water down the Word of God or Jesus in the process. No matter what our approach is, it must be centered on The Word. No matter what we’re doing to grab people’s attention, we must always make Jesus the center of attention. We can think outside the box, but we should never think outside The Bible. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what we’re doing is in vain.

The world has convinced us that crowds matter when we’re putting on a program. Where we used to believe in “where two or three are gathered”, we now don’t believe it’s worth it unless there are two or three hundred. We’ve been convinced that the flyer can’t be too churchy, or the wording can’t be too Christian. We have buzz words like “fire”, “anointing”, and “breakthrough” that causes people to run to our churches.

We make sure that we have the praise team or the preacher of the moment. In the name of creativity, we do all that we can to draw people to our flame. However, when you’re doing something for The Lord, the who and the why are always more important than the number of people that show up.

No matter what program we put on in church, there ought to be three objectives:

  1. Glorifying God
  2. Getting someone saved
  3. Keeping someone connected to God

I know we like to fill the room, but our main objective should be filling the people up with Jesus. Again, this isn’t to disparage anyone that’s looking for creative ways to fill up the church. In fact, I encourage every church to have some sort of marketing plan that targets the people that are current members (we can’t be so concerned with the fish we don’t have that we neglect the ones that we do), as well as the people that you’d like to see at the church. The point here is that Jesus must still be the main reason we do any of it.

As we see in that Luke 5:1-10 text, when we take Jesus into the world, even in places where we were once unsuccessful, He draws where we once failed. And He’s so powerful, that even when we fill up our churches and people begin to overflow, because He’s the draw and He’s what people came for, no one will get away.

When we make Jesus the center of any program that we’re putting on, we are fulfilling our purpose as the church. When we draw people to Jesus with Jesus, they will stay because of Jesus.

Whatever we do in the church must begin with The Bible. When we come up with ideas, we should ask:

  1. Is this Biblical? – Are there any Scriptures that supports what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re doing it?
  1. Who’s getting the glory? – Is what we’re doing lifting up the name of Jesus or our particular ministry, our cause (if the cause isn’t Christ), or even our invited guests?
  1. Is there an opportunity for someone to be saved? – This is beyond simply opening the doors of the church. Is what we’re doing actually being done to draw people out of the world and to Christ?
  1. Does it point to discipleship? – For those that are in attendance that are already saved, will it cause them to go out and witness to someone else about Christ or just witness about the event?

I know this may seem a little stuffy to some people, and maybe we’ve gotten to a point where we believe we don’t have to mention the name of Jesus every time we invite someone to our church. But if you don’t want to mention the foundation of the church in what you’re doing in the church, supposedly for the church, then one has to wonder if any of it is really about the church. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what are we really doing?

If we really want to fill the church, there are some tried and true methods that we can use that will ensure that the people that are coming are there for the right reason. Evangelism still works. Witnessing still works. The testimony of your personal life when you’re in the world still works. But no matter what the method, we should all be doing as Peter did. We need to get Jesus in the boat, or in the case of our discussion, in the marketing plan.

Then, we need to develop a nevertheless spirit. Maybe we tried some things the old way and didn’t get the response that we wanted, so then we have to ask ourselves, did we drop the net on our word or on the word of Jesus?

By simply obeying what Jesus said and when He said it, Peter did what he always did when fishing. But when he did it at the command of Jesus, the outcome was completely different. If we’d only follow His Word, we’d catch more fish than we could hold.

***

To order your copy of this work, click here! To download an eBook version, visit Amazon.com!