Tag Archives: Trusting God

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.

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Your Faith Must Match Your Vision 

God is showing some people some amazing visions these days, myself included. There are businesses that He wants to birth, ministries that He wants to bring to fruition, and dreams that He wants to fulfill. The only thing that can stop us is a lack of faith, not a lack of resources. 

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith. That tells me that impossible is where our dreams die. Impossible is what will cause us to lose when we’re born to win. Impossible is a disappointment to God. Impossible shouldn’t be in our Spiritual nature because it’s not in God’s. 

Scripture also tells us that faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Therefore, if your vision is larger than a mountain, you must increase your faith even more. At the bare minimum, we should all have mustard seed faith. Just imagine what a little boost can do for you. 

Scripture also reminds us that with God, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). Therefore, we must remove that word from our vocabulary. The struggle that we have with the gap between our vision and our faith is we’re often in moments of discomfort when the vision comes.  

God shows you the business plan when you’re broke with a mountain of bills. God shows you the plan for the ministry when people are still questioning your call and your ability. God shows you the better career when you’re barely holding on to a job that you hate, but you need for your survival! Yes, God will show you the best of life when it seems that you’re at your worst points. That’s not a time to shrink in your faith. That’s when you must grow! 

I encourage those that may be reading this to see God more clearly than you see your circumstances. You could have all the money in the world, but if you lack faith, you’ll be scared to invest it in your dreams. So see the vision more clearly than you see your lack of income and/or opportunity. God will never lead you to it without a plan to feed you through it. Trust Him more than you fear failure. He’s committed to you. Increase your faith. See the vision clearly. Watch God work!

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!

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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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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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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.