Tag Archives: Christianity

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.

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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.

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#DontDieWithIt!

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#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!

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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.

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

 

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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.

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Have you considered the tree?

FullSizeRender (4)Nobody questions the tree. How it came to be, what it endured during its growth, or what it takes for it to maintain. You just know a tree when you see one. You have no idea what it took growing from a seed to the tree you see before you. You have no idea about the storms it has endured, limbs being broken away by strong winds that would’ve taken down a lesser tree.

People carving names and symbols on it, things that don’t represent who the tree actually is, but now it’s branded forever. Cars crashing into it, damaging its bark, and yet the tree is often left to supposedly heal itself (but we know that God is the healer). Dogs doing their business on it, and yet the tree continues to stand, renewing its leaves every year.

The message here is very few people will actually witness your growth, but that doesn’t change who and what you are. Many have enough vision to know that even though they didn’t witness the growth, their eyes aren’t deceiving them. You are what you are, whether they want you to be or not.

At the same time, some people know exactly what you are, they just refuse to respect it. They will brand you with names. They’ll dump on you. They’ll mercilessly crash into you and then blame you for being where you’ve always been, doing what you’ve always done. They resent you being in your calling! They’ll even desire to cut you down and cast you into the fire.

But don’t be discouraged! You are what God called you to be. Even when people don’t understand how you came to be, even when they didn’t witness your evolution, even when they wish to uproot you in the name of new development, stand strong. Just as God created you. He planted you and He will allow you to continue producing in your season.

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf also shall not whither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” – Psalms 1:3

The church is not a destination, it’s a launching pad

Rev JacksonWhat I find most fascinating about the growth of the church in the Bible (Acts) is that it was never accomplished be people that stood still. As Jesus gave His disciples that Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the operative thing for them was to be mobile. They couldn’t spread the Gospel standing still. They were to tarry for the Holy Spirit, but once the Spirit came (Acts 1:8), they were to get moving. If this is in fact the mandate for Christians (followers of Christ), why are we fighting so hard to stand still?

As I look at the state of some churches today, particularly those without pastors, it seems to me that the Commission has become less important than the building itself. There isn’t as much emphasis on who’s getting up out of their seats and taking the Gospel out into the world as there is on who’s sitting in what particular seat within the church. We’ve forgotten that the church was never meant to be a breeding ground for people that want to stay seated and maintain control of the building. The church is supposed to make disciples that are willing to go.

So how did we get here? Well, it isn’t any one person’s fault. We as a congregation of believers lost sight of what is important. Those that are in leadership became more enamored with what they were doing at home than what they were called to do in the world. Pastors have decided that building bigger churches is the answer to drawing more people, as opposed to making disciples that can go out and draw (sheep will get other sheep).

We’ve placed people in key positions in our churches that don’t do much more than Sunday morning service, so they don’t know the value of ministry away from home. As churches, we’ve focused more on insolation and isolation than we have on exploration, exclamation, and salvation. That mentality is counter to what Christ Himself told us to do.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. It’s imperative that we take care of church business, but we should never do so at the expense of or in place of God’s business. What we’ve failed to realize is that just because we’re taking care of something in the church, that doesn’t necessarily make it God’s business that we’re handling. God’s primary business is salvation. God’s primary business is drawing people to Christ. This isn’t done in business meetings. It’s done through preaching, teaching, and evangelism. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a pulpit or a church building to do either of these things.

When the Word of God takes a back seat to our personal interests in the church, we cease to prepare people for discipleship. Our membership becomes afraid to invite people to church because an argument might break out or the Word isn’t going forth. Opportunities to save souls fall by the wayside because every attempt at ministry is thwarted by “business” and “protocol”. And if teaching is secondary, knowledge is as well. You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t learn what’s not being taught.

If any church is more concerned with who’s in charge than who saves souls, it is in fact a church that’s in peril. It’s human nature to want to be in charge of everything, but it’s spiritual nature to know who’s in charge of everything. Many will come into church and say “This is God’s church”, but very few understand what that really means.

For example, there’s a difference between natural leaders and spiritual leaders. One is good for the world, and one is good for the church. Knowing God gives you the discernment needed to tell one from the other and would eliminate the need to ever argue about what should and shouldn’t be in God’s church.

As our churches have changed, we’ve become more focused on who we can mold into the spiritual leadership that we feel we need, and less focused on making the disciples that the world needs. We’ve forgotten that God will choose His own leaders from those that are converted by looking at their hearts. We’ve forgotten that when we’re in the Spirit, we don’t choose leaders, we simply agree with whom God has already chosen.

We’ve forgotten that we should be launching people into the world that love Christ rather than trying to turn into the next megachurch, turning out the next “hot” preacher, or having the best praise and worship team. The world needs Jesus, and we can’t give it to them if we’re so focused on who’s running the show. We can’t give it to them if our only purpose is to grow membership instead of helping people to grow spiritually.

I’ve heard it said that pastors are CEO’s, but I don’t agree with that. CEO’s make business decisions, but the church is not an organization, it’s an organism. It’s people working together for the cause of discipleship and Kingdom building. A pastor’s primary job is to feed and lead as inspired of God, not control, staff, and promote according to his own wishes. He is supposed to be more concerned with what’s profitable for the souls of the people than he is with financial profit and loss.

Pastors have begun making disciples for themselves and not Christ. The loyalty of the people belongs to man, not the Son of Man, and this has harmed the local church, and we should all be concerned. As I said in a recent lecture, the people should never quote their pastor more than they quote God’s Word. I’m instantly leery of people that love the building more than they love the Builder. I’m concerned when our churches are filled with people that covet a financial report more than they covet Psalms 51:10-13. When we’re more concerned with where we sit than whom we serve, it should give us all pause.

The reason we’re fighting so tough for the control of local churches is because we’re trying to find a place to be seated. Whether those seats are in the pulpit, on a board, or even our favorite pew, we care more about our place in the building than we do our place in the Kingdom. But true disciples are always on the go. They don’t come to church to take a rest. The come to church to be recharged so they can go back out on a mission once again.

Church was never supposed to be a place where we hurry to get there so that we can hold our spot. It was never supposed to be where we land, but where we launch from. It was never meant to be a social club, but rather where we gain the spiritual social skills to reach others. If we aren’t developing these traits in our churches, we’re either in the wrong place, or we’re the wrong people.