Category Archives: Christian

#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!

Can you clap?: How we can support people in ministry when they’re winning

img_3357If there’s anything that keeps ministries from thriving as they should, it’s this false idea of competition that we have. It seems odd to say that, as the church ought to be a place of support, but universally, we struggle with this. We struggle to clap when we see someone else winning. Something that should inspire us to greater heights, seeing God bless the hands and the works of our contemporaries, often sends us back to our perspective labs in an effort to outdo one another.

I know, this isn’t true with everyone, and if this isn’t you, you shouldn’t be offended. In fact, I caution you from being offended by proxy because someone you’re close to is like this. But we all know people that just don’t know how to clap when other people are winning. And it’s not just about being a “hater”. Maybe they’re impatient. Maybe they’re frustrated because their time hasn’t come yet. Honestly, they may be jealous because they desire a gift that someone else is thriving in. Whatever the reason, we in the Christian community have to get rid of this spirit.

There’s enough of us doing enough things that we should never have to go far to support one another. But if there’s something that I’ve found as I’ve gone into business for myself, it’s that people would rather support the name of a total stranger than someone they see each Sunday. Not in all cases, but definitely in many cases. This spiritual hostility isn’t new, however. In fact, Cain killed his brother simply because he didn’t have the capacity to clap for him instead of slaying him. Even after being warned by God, he allowed sin to overtake him. So a pertinent question then becomes, how many of us would rather kill the dreams of our brothers and sisters, through word of mouth or lack of support, rather than support it? Something to think about, for sure.

So with that being said, other questions become clear: Can you clap? Do you have the capacity to support, even when your time hasn’t come? I’m not asking you to get behind something that isn’t godly or isn’t being done in spirit, in truth, and with an effort towards excellency, but when you see a godly work going forth, one that represents God properly, can you clap?

Here a few suggestions on how we in various ministries can clap when someone else is winning:

Support with your presence and your finances – This is so very important as it pertains to helping others to succeed: Don’t just send out invitations to what you’ve got going on, attend something! And not just the major events so that you can be seen. Attend some small events, even when you’re not on program. And when you do show up, be engaged. Don’t drop in and then drop out. Your presence matters! Now, it’s understood that we can’t be everywhere doing everything. It’s also understood that financial situations sometimes prohibit us from supporting things with money. But when you can, do. It’s disappointing when you see people in places that cost 10 times what you asked for, but never supporting your endeavors.

If you see something you like, say so! – When did we become so particular about complimenting one another? People will see what you’re doing and will genuinely be impressed, but won’t say a word. You’ll post online about your latest efforts, and it seems as if it kills them to click a “like” button. Or, better yet, they’ll share random things on social media all day long, but never share your upcoming event or your product. We just ignore one another, sometimes out of jealousy, and sometimes just being oblivious. It costs us nothing to say “Well done”, “Nice job”, or “I’m praying for your success”.

When you don’t need it, refer, refer, refer! – As a writer, I come into contact with people that just aren’t avid readers. I respect that and I don’t expect them to buy books. But do you know someone that reads and would enjoy a book like mine? If I fried chicken for a living and you’re a vegetarian, does anyone you know eat good chicken? The point here is that even when we don’t need or use certain things, we know somebody that does. Even when you don’t know somebody offhand, sometimes people will ask you about a product that you know a brother or sister offers. Why not refer where you can’t support personally? There’s more than one way to sow and I believe we miss many opportunities to support in other ways.

Your only competition is you! – Once you realize that another’s success doesn’t hinder yours, you free yourself and you’re able to support. Too many of us are under the impression that supporting someone else takes something away from us. But I’m here to tell you that there’s enough room for all of us, even if our gifts are similar. God made us just unique enough to be similar, but different.

Don’t attempt duplication when you don’t have the anointing! – We sometimes don’t know how to collaborate. This goes both ways. It’s true on the end of the person with the gift and the person that’s being asked to support. First of all, if you know someone that does what you need, use them! You don’t have to start your own thing just to spite them or to prove that you can do what they can do, because sometimes, you really can’t. Sometimes, that’s not your anointing.

At the same time, if you’re gifted, don’t try and overcharge people. Be firm on what your gift is worth, but be fair. Word of mouth can be a blessing or a burden. Also, I know we all like to make a splash, but instead of always looking for big names, why not help someone build a name. We must never forget that we all started somewhere and someone had to take a chance on us. There’s something in us that desires to reach certain levels so that we can be in elite company. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there is something wrong with us when we don’t desire to see people come up the same way we did.

Avoid token or quid pro quo “friendships” – There is a difference between business and friendship, and we must be clear about what we want from people. If it’s business, then support is determined simply by whether or not you have what I need and whether or not the price and quality is right. However, friendship is much different. Friends support your startup work as well as work you’ve perfected. I have friends that have bought every book that I’ve ever written. I don’t know if they’ve read them or not, but when they’re released, they buy them. That’s friendship to me. We shouldn’t choose our “friends” based on what we can get out of them. That’s not friendship. That’s a business arrangement.

 

Overall, we must understand in ministry that we don’t lose when someone else is winning. The only person that loses is the devil, and we should all be praying for his downfall. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that time and chance happens to us all. Simply put, even if it seems as if someone is ahead of you, God will offer you a chance at prosperity one day. Don’t waste your time of preparation being jealous or non-supportive of others. Don’t be like Cain, with a poor countenance, plotting your brother’s downfall. Listen to what God told Cain and do well so that you too may be received.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 tells us that there should be harmony among those that are in the Body of Christ. That if one suffers, we all suffer, but if one is honored, we should all be glad. We must remember that we’re all on the same team and there’s enough for us all to be well fed. 

If we really believe that there’s plenty room at the cross as it relates to salvation, then the same God that is making room for us in Heaven will make a prosperous way for all of us here on earth. If we really believe that Jesus could feed the multitude with the bare minimum, then we should believe that He can supply every need to every entrepreneurial endeavor, sustaining us all. But He won’t do it without our involvement.

The key is for us to support one another. There’s no room for competition in ministry. After all, it’s not our Kingdom that we’re working for anyway. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and they that dwell therein. So be a good steward. Work on your dreams. Support others as they do the same. And clap when they win.

Monday Morning Disciple: “Following His Righteous Lead”

(Be sure to watch the video above)

“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” – Psalms 23:3

There’s something about God going before us that makes all the difference in the world. Just look at it as if there’s someone that’s always making sure that whenever you go, things will work out in your favor. Just imagine having a feeling that no matter what the day brings, things will always be alright.

However, we can’t be naive about life. There are difficult days, difficult situations, and difficult people to encounter. Being saved doesn’t mean being trouble free. Having gone to service on Sunday, shouted your heart out, and threatened the devil doesn’t mean he won’t try and get the best of the rest of your week. Your Monday morning discipleship needs to be even stronger than your Sunday morning praise.

As this text says, after a Sunday filled with soul restoration, by Monday morning, God is ready to lead us into the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. He leads into right places because He is a righteous God. So even when we find ourselves in rough places and in the wrong company, we can still be right as long as we’re following God’s lead.

If there’s anything that you can get from our theme verse or even Psalms 23 in its entirety, it’s the fact that we don’t have to become a product or a victim of our surroundings. Don’t leave your Christianity at the benediction. Stay on the path of righteousness all week.

If you would like to receive an email alert whenever the Monday Morning Disciple is posted, please enter your email and hit the “follow” button on this  page.

God knows your heart, and that should concern you 

Whether we really believe it or not, God really does know who we are. That may seem like a strange opening line, but sometimes, I think we forget. When spend so much time trying to put our best foot and face forward to our fellow man, that we forget that God knows the truth about us. And when I say the truth, I mean the WHOLE TRUTH!

It should encourage all of us to know that God loves us in ways that the vast majority of the people we come into contact with in our lives don’t. Some people can’t deal with our habits, issues, and shortcomings, but God is different. Even with all that is wrong with us (and there’s something wrong with all of us), God has the ability to look past it and love us anyway. But, let’s be clear: Just because God loves beyond our flaws doesn’t mean He excuses our flaws. 

Herein is our human problem while dealing with a spiritual God. We want our fleshy ways to be acceptable to God, and that’s just not how it goes. We’re approaching God as we do our fellow man. “I’m not perfect, just accept it!” That’s fine when we’re asking for a little bit of grace from one another, but not when we’re dealing with God. There isn’t a “have to” anywhere in a sovereign God, which means He doesn’t have to put up with any of us. He does what He wants, when He wants, and only has to accept what He wants. 

One of our favorite phrases is this: “God knows my heart”. However, this statement isn’t the defense mechanism that we think it is. It’s a warning. It shouldn’t be a statement to get others off your back, instead, it should be a revelation to whoever decides to speak those words. It’s a reminder that if no one else knows the deepest recesses of your thoughts, your feelings, and yes, your motives, it is The One Being that controls it all. 

Understanding that God knows the heart means understanding that no matter what you try and cover up, it remains exposed to God. No matter what you speak, God knows what you feel. No matter what you do, God knows whether or not you’re sincere. God knowing our hearts means God knows the lie in our lives whether anyone else ever sees the truth or not. Saying that God knows our hearts is saying that His opinion is the only one that matters. Believe it or not, that should actually make us uncomfortable! 

I don’t say this to scare anyone because God is a forgiving God, whereas man will never let you forget. However, I do say this so that we can be clear. God’s forgiveness doesn’t mean He’s going to pacify our wrong. God still punishes, whether new age religion wants to believe it or not. 

He’s not going to look the other way when we mistreat one another. He’s still jealous, so He knows when you’re doing things for Him and when you’re doing them for show. He knows when we reverence people more than we reverence Him, and that’s evident by who’s able to get us to move. Again, He doesn’t know the truth we want others to see, He knows the WHOLE TRUTH! 

Once we realize how serious that statement “God knows my heart” is, not only will we stop saying it to other people, we’ll actually adjust our behavior. Because God really does know our hearts!

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.

Dissemination proper: The power is in God, not us

Before we reach, teach, or preach, we must know and understand what we’re talking about, and who has the authority.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us”. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

20141012_194349 (2)Sometimes we misunderstand what it means to have this treasure in earthen vessels. The Word of God wrapped in our fragile humanity. In our arrogance, we assume that whatever slips through the cracks of our brokenness will always represent the goodness of God. The truth of the matter is we ought to take great care when we speak on behalf of God. Because of our brokenness, we’re capable of great information and misinformation.

Something I shared in my latest book, Are We Still Making Disciples, is the fact that all transformation isn’t godly transformation. Meaning that everyone that claims to be transformed isn’t necessarily transformed by God. Every thought that comes to our mind isn’t God’s gospel just because we’re saved. After being dipped in Scripture, we’re still very capable of acting in the flesh. In action and in speech, all while claiming to speak from the Scriptures and for God. I would caution, as we operate in these earthen vessels, that we get an understanding with our memorization.

We’re in a day and age of Scripture bashing with limited study and/or understanding. What’s often missed by the world that hates to hear from the church on any controversial issues, is the fact that the church actually beats up on one another with Scripture just as much as they do the world, if not more. And they do it the same way: with a lack of understanding.

We’re under the impression these days that because we do things a little different than days past, that we are somehow different. We have some updated Bibles and viral ministries, and now we think that we’re progressive. In some cases, we are, but in others, we’re very much the same. We’re not openly pronouncing hell on everyone that we don’t agree with as they did in days past, we’re just a little more subtle now.

We have new school platforms with old school sensibilities, and we think no one knows the difference. We’ve invited everyone in, hoping that they don’t catch on. Where we’re no longer Bible thumping, we’re tablet tapping. But clever judgement in still judgment, and the world isn’t fooled.

One of the primary motivations for me writing Are We Still Making Disciples is the fact that we have so many that lack understanding that are on an evangelism crusade in the name of the church, touting a few memorized Scriptures as though they not only understand, but are living by them to the letter (Romans 3:23 comes to mind).

However, it’s not so much the church sending people out as it is people going out on their own. We have so many social media evangelist, prophets, and scholars, that the church can’t keep up or contain them. People have forgotten the difference between testifying about what God has done for you and the responsibility of leading people to Christ.

With leadership comes great responsibility. If we’re standing on Scripture, throwing it around on our pages, in our friendship circles, in our families and so on, all with the idea that we’re leading people to Christ, we must remember where the power lies. It’s not in our snappy statuses, it’s not in our spiritual high mindedness, it’s not in the fact that we’re memorizing more than we’re applying, and it’s certainly not in our ability to throw Scripture better than we can catch it. The power is in God!

So our responsibility isn’t to be smug or clever with His Word. Our responsibility is to rightly divide it. To keep quiet about what we don’t have a grasp on. To remember that the treasure is in contaminated earthen vessels, and if we’re not careful, the contamination of these vessels can spoil the contents, so that when it’s poured out and it’s consumed, it makes the recipients sick and not healed.

It’s so vitally important that we pay more attention to the fact that God has the power concerning His Word. We are the conduits. Have a zeal of God, but according to knowledge. We must rightly divide before we disseminate. In all thy getting, get understanding.

But did YOU die?: You’re still here for a reason!

Let me start by saying that 2016 presented a lot of different challenges for me in ministry, in finances, in church, and in family. And just like many of you, some of my favorite celebrities passed away, most notably for me, my musical hero, Prince. Yes, the preacher loved Prince, but that’s another story for another time.

If there is anything that marked 2016 for many of us, it was those celebrity deaths. In addition to that, many of us experienced some deaths of people that were close to us. In my former church, there were 3 significant deaths of long time members, all within a few months. We also witnessed more mass shootings and pointless murders in this world, where compassion seems to be more and more scarce with each passing day.

As if that wasn’t enough, our country elected a man to the White House that at worst is a racist and a misogynist, and at best is one that has no issue with anyone that is racist or misogynistic. There’s a lot that happened this year that had many people that were once hopeful and optimistic feeling as if there was no more hope. But before you give up and give in, there is a question that must be answered: Did YOU die?

I’m gonna be the first to admit that I didn’t like 2016. While it started off great with me publishing my 7th book (Going Through to Get Through), by April I was mourning the death of my aforementioned childhood hero. Shortly after that, those deaths started happening in the church. Along with that, there was all types of issues and strife in that church, where I was born and raised. Trying times, indeed. But as we come to the beginning of a new year, the fact that I’m still here is not lost on me.

What we often miss in the midst of struggle and loss is the fact that God has purpose hidden in the midst of it all. No matter who died in 2016, you didn’t. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mourn, even if you mourned a celebrity that you didn’t know personally (because I mourn for anyone that can only show compassion to people they know). What it does mean is that God has spared us, and that’s not an accident. It’s on purpose. It’s WITH purpose!

If there’s anything that all of us need to take from any year or any time in which we experience multiple tragedies, including what happened on election night, it is an understanding that God left us here to answer back. There’s something that God still wants to get out of us, and that’s why even in the midst of the seemingly unspeakable, God expects us to speak!

Whether it’s with your talents and gifts, through your ministry, or just in how we need to show more love to one another because we don’t know when the last time is the last time, God expects us to go forward with life and be a voice. No matter who dies, we still have to live. Not to mourn perpetually, not to be afraid of politics and policies, and not to be concerned about who’s next to go, because none of us has any of those answers anyway. 

Did YOU die? If you’re reading this, the answer to that is an obvious one. The more pertinent questions to answer becomes why not and what do I do with the chance I’m still given. Do you have all of 2017? Who knows. But what you do have is right now. You didn’t die. So, what do you plan to do now?

Happy New Year!