Category Archives: Inspirational

Don’t Go for Gold

Weeping as she clutched the cold gold medal, Olympian Lindsay Vonn, the USA women’s champion downhill skier in the 2010 Vancouver Winter games, was quoted as saying “I gave up everything for this.” At the age of 25, she has achieved everything she worked for. In a very similar story, eight time consecutive gold medalist in the 2008 Summer Olympic games, Michael Phelps, America’s swimming hero and Olympic great, was quoted as saying, “This is everything I’ve ever wanted to do, everything I’ve dreamed of.” Shortly following, in an interview he gave to Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show, Michael fumbled when asked about his future; he was at a loss on what to do. He knew that his focus was his body and told Matt that at the next Olympics, his body will be older and he could probably never replicate his hero status again. At the age of 23, Michael Phelps had achieved everything he desired. Following his rise to fame and his status as history’s greatest Olympian, we saw his very public fall from grace when photos of him doing drugs surfaced.

History tells us that Alexander the great, King of Greece in the times before Christ, had conquered his known world by the age of 28 and wept bitterly because achieving his goals and dreams didn’t give him whatever it was that he was looking for. Repeatedly both in pop culture and throughout history, we view icons of sports, fashion, government, and music with awe and wonder, never realizing the sorrow that many of them feel once they have achieved everything they set out within themselves to achieve. The demons of self have the ability to torture both the great achievers and the under reachers. Drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and depression run rampant in the lives of those striving to achieve great things in this life. Countless examples could be shared of those with great wealth and fame who have not found happiness, and sadly, have taken their own lives through suicide or drug overdose when they discover that the glittery pull of self centered, pleasure seeking lives bring with them no earthly reward.

The Bible tells us that life is a race. This race isn’t about who crosses the finish line first, but rather about who is able to endure to the end. Our goal is not to pick up a gold medal and put it across our necks, but rather to take up a wooden, rugged cross, and put it on our backs. The apostle Paul tells us that bodily exercise profits little. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t want us to have healthy, physically fit bodies, but instead to not let the goals and achievements of this life overshadow our eternal purpose. Through our human eyes, the gold is much more attractive than splintered wood, but we are called to serve. Matthew 10:39(NIV) tells us “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There is no life without Christ. Sure, you breathe oxygen in and expel Carbon dioxide out, but that isn’t truly living.

Are you willing to be an Olympian for Christ? Are you willing to stand in the ranks of Saints, who like Lindsay Vonn in the physical, stood up in the spiritual with a cross instead of a medal and say “I gave up everything for this”? No one ever won a gold medal without intense dedication and the constant denial of self. The same can be said for winning the ultimate prize, eternal life. Purpose in your heart today to take up your cross, follow Jesus, and get some endurance in your spirit. You will not be disappointed if this is the path you take!
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Behold I Make All Things New

Rev 21:3-6 (KJV)
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

As we embarked on a new year a couple of weeks ago, and even better, a new decade, it is human nature to assess where we’ve been and where we are going. The beauty and very nature of the gospel was to make all things new. To take darkness and make it light. To take a sin stained life of scarlet and make it white as snow. You are playing a key role in ensuring that the the people that you come into contact with can move forward spiritually. The only direction that we should be following Christ is forward. If we are going backward, then surely Christ isn’t our guide. Although not a very deep thought when pondered, it is oftentimes difficult to truly grasp and believe that your past is over. Yesterday is gone. Today and this moment is what counts.

With the promises of change echoing in the halls of parliament and demands for revolution in our government structure, what better time is there to share with the world change that they can really believe in? No other product can promise beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and dancing in the place of sorrows. If you have fallen behind in your commitments, now is the time to make all things new and begin fresh again. If you have been faithful in your commitments, keep standing. You are God’s hands and feet to share the gospel. Let it be your resolution from this point onward to be an active participant in the great commission!

Choose Encouragement

The lyrics of an all time Christian classic filled my head as I stared out the window. “Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come?” “His eye is on the sparrow” is a favorite at churches of all denominations across the country for a reason. We all go through seasons of life that bring hardship and trials. Nobody has it easy.
In the book of Numbers, God became downright angry at those that discouraged the children of Israel. They were at a crossroads upon encountering Kadesh-Barnea. It was time to seize the land of promise. I noticed that God didn’t chastise the spies that went into the land who were timid of the giants, but he brought judgment to those who used those giants to discourage others from the promises of God. I’m sure that Joshua and Caleb felt their throats tighten and their heart rates increase at the sight of the obstacles ahead. They were human after all. God has not asked us to be superhero’s, but to simply trust. The children of Israel were more inclined to follow the path of fear and discouragement than to follow the men of God and the promises of God. Gods anger was so kindled at those sowing seeds of doubt that nobody 20 and over was able to enter the promised land. How many of us are wandering through dry, desert seasons in our life because we believed the naysayers and allowed life situations and gossips to discourage us?

Num 32:6-14
“Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? 7 Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them? 8 Thus your fathers did when I sent them away from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them. 10 So the Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.’ 13 So the Lord’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone.

Later in Ezra the people of the land were working over time to discourage the people of Judah. They tried to frustrate their purpose and block their “building program”. We are faced with a choice everyday to build up or tear down, to encourage or discourage, to feel frustrated, or to be an overcomer. What choice will you make today? We are faced with the daunting task of sharing the Apostolic truth with a metro area that is home to 2.9 million souls. Many of them have no idea what it means to be “spirit filled”. They are locked in traditions of religion and traditions of men. Thank you for choosing to encourage us and support us and not focus on the giants we have to face and the battles to be fought. People do not need reminded of the difficulty of their task, but of the greatness of their redeemer.

What are you plugged into?

Recently I was amazed yet again at the strides that we are making in technology. While shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods, I stumbled upon a product that I didn’t know existed. Not that this is surprising considering I am not an exercise guru or fitness Goddess, but I thought that as a consumer of music I would’ve heard of this product. Upon my return home I began to research the product and was thoroughly intrigued. The next time I purpose to become a gold medal Olympian, I am most assuredly purchasing this to guide me through my fitness routines. Until then, I am going to apply secular principles to my spiritual life.

The product I discovered is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and yet big enough to push, train, and inspire you. It is simply a partnership of the genius of Nike with the technology of Apple. It takes two cultural icons and marries them. Now your shoes and your iPod team up and take on your run. To quote from the Nike website, “See the minutes tick by. Watch the miles unfold. Hear real-time voice feedback. All to your favorite music — including the one song that always gets you through the home stretch.”

Ready, Set, Go. No longer do you need a personal trainer, you have technology to guide you. The concept is simple. Purchase the Nike + shoes and the Nike + iPod sport kit and sensor. You put the sensor in your + shoe where there is a built in pocket for it. You connect your receiver to your iPod, or if you are really cool and have the iPod touch and don’t need a connector. The senor tracks your run and sends the data to your I-pod. Your workout is customized for you. You also program songs for instant motivation. At the end of your run, your iPod gives you feedback and details of your accomplishments.

Why did this inspire me so much? The fact of the matter is that we are all in a race. Whether you are conditioned and prepared or not, we are all participating in the marathon of life. More of us than we like to admit are completely out of shape in the race. We are sluggish in our spirits, fat in our lusts, and broken in our hearts. The great theologian Gloria Estefan already told us that “there’s no place that you can hide, oh no, the rhythm is gonna get’cha”. You can refuse to admit that we are all on a path towards a goal and pretend like things don’t affect you or concern you, but the “rhythm is gonna get’cha”.

1 Cor 9:24(NASU) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
Heb 12:1-2 (NASU) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If Nike and Apple can have a marriage of comfort and genius to inspire and encourage runners, certainly we can plug spiritually into the source of life that can inspire, chart, and motivate us on the race we are on. God has given us a fitness program in His word. If we daily ingest the milk and meat of the word, we will be spiritually healthy for the race that is set before us. If we lay aside all of the extra weights that get us down, we will run lighter. If we praise and rejoice and worship, we will have the tunes in our hearts that we need for the home stretch. Turn on your spiritual receivers and let your sensors be in tune with heaven. God will give you real time voice feedback and guide you if you let him. There is no need to be a speed demon to win the race of life, the only pre-requisite is that you keep your eye on the prize and endure. His grace is sufficient for all else.

Can You Dig It?

Can you dig it?
Do you ever wonder as you turn on the spicket to shower every morning where the many gallons of water are coming from and how much work went into channeling the water from its original location to your shower and to making the water clean and pure enough to cleanse your body? One of the greatest commodities in biblical times was di-hydrogen-oxide (H2O), water. Even today, it is one of our greatest natural resources. During times of drought, even in prosperous twenty first century America, we have to limit our usage of this resource and cling to it for its life giving and life saving properties. And yet still, it is hard to imagine, living in our culture, how important water would have been in Biblical times. It seems like every day in America a new bottle of water is available on store shelves. We water our grass with it, wash our cars with it and really don’t give much thought to how it arrives for our consumption. We even get fancy and squeeze lemon in it. If characters from Biblical times appeared today for a visit, I believe they would spend most of their time playing in the kitchen sink and possibly pressing Jacuzzi water stream buttons.

The book of Genesis accounts for us the importance of the struggle and search for water. Not only was the discovery of fresh water wells rare, it was essential. Issac discovered three such wells that we will take time to examine.

Gen 26:19-22 19 (NIV) 19. Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

The significance of this scripture in our modern twenty first century lives may not stand out to you immediately, but with further dissection, we can all learn how to dig wells in our life and apply these Biblical principles.

Well # 1.) Esek means to quarrel
Well # 2.) Sitnah means to strive or have strife
Well # 3.) Rehoboth means board places (the place that they flourished)

Water meant life. It gave the ability to sustain crops, provided hydration for herds of animals, and for Isaac and his family to live out in the desert they needed to drink a lot of it. Wars were often not fought with weapons but with the abundance or lack of water. If one could destroy the water supply to anothe,r they would win the battle without having to draw their sword. Understanding this, the Philistines had attacked the wells of Isaac’s father Abraham. The Philistines had been an arch enemy of God and his people and they are an Old Testament representation of our enemy Satan. They depict to us today the evil men and seducers that we face in our modern world.

Gen 26:15 (NIV)
So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

Our sworn enemies, whether natural or spiritual, are trying to stop us from being productive. Their goal is to see us fail and destroy our lives. Water also symbolizes the washing and regeneration that we find through New Testament baptism. Our sins and our failures are buried with Christ in baptism. The enemies of our soul and of our lives try to dry up the refreshment that we feel after repentance, water baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. They want to remove the water from our lives and to deliver to us such a life damaging blow that we will not be able to recover. If we give into this attack, we are left to die. Whether the water is physical or spiritual, it’s still the best source of refreshment and renewal. Death, even if not physical, can destroy our future. In Isaac’s day they were trying to kill him physically, they were trying to destroy his family, and they were jealous of his success.

Have you ever felt like someone was throwing dirt into your well? Was someone trying to destroy the source of life that you drink from? Have you ever felt like someone was trying to destroy you, and trying to push you away? Many people try to eliminate the possibility of you being productive and versatile in the kingdom of God.

Oftentimes you feel like people are trying to destroy you and manipulate situations to get you out of the workplace. Sometimes there are even people around you that are allowing the enemy to use them to push you out of the church. Satan would love to get you to throw in the towel on your ministry and your family. But, even with a sworn enemy trying to stop us, we need to keep digging. There is nothing that can stop us. What made Isaac successful was the fact that he was not willing to stop digging. When things got tough and when the Philistines tried to destroy everything his father had worked for, instead of giving up, Isaac dug in. The choice is simple to dig or not to dig.

So in the middle of your seemingly impossible situation, you are faced with a decision. Can I dig it? Can I grab my shovel and dig another well? While you are digging, sometimes strife will break out, but keep digging. Don’t throw in the towel, dig another well. The fact of the matter is if you keep digging you’re going to have a Rehoboth, a big place, a broad place, a place for all your dreams that you thought were destroyed by the enemy. The dreams and times of refreshing are about to come to pass.

What separates the successful from the defeated? A lack of problems and situations is not what makes somebody else thrive in a toxic environment while everyone else crumbles. We all have our enemies and our seemingly impassable situations. What separates the failures from the victors is simply one thing, keep digging when everyone else stops.

I refuse to allow my past, pain and problems; poison my future. It does not matter what has happened to you! It does not matter what others are saying about you! It does not matter if you do not meet all the criteria that the religious and the Pharisees say you need to meet in order to work for God. What matters is do you have the tenacity, the determination, the faith to keep digging in spite all the dirt that’s being thrown at you? Do you have a desire to read, study, and digest the word of God and make it become relevant to your situation and life?

We can all find the silver lining in our situations. Every time life threw dirt on you and ever person that gave up on you actually pushed you to just dig another well. They created the success that you are going to be. Everyone that does you dirty is actually doing a service of justice for you. If no one moves your cheese, you will never be forced to reevaluate and come up with better and more successful solutions for victory. You can stand and be grateful for every time you were forced in a prayer closet by a person or a life circumstance. Open your mouth and shout, “Thank you for pushing me to my knees and thank you for helping me realize that no matter what happens God is faithful to help me through anything life can bring.”

I want to encourage you as you read this that God has given you the power to reinvent yourself. Today is a new day; forget about what’s happened in the past and stop stressing about what’s going to take place in the future. All you need to do is be willing to keep digging in spite of the circumstances that are surrounding you. Rehoboth, can you dig it?

Good Intentions: Not Good Enough

With his heart palpitating and his face crimson, the groom stood at the altar dejected, broken, and confused. The girl that he had planned to marry did not show up to their big day. The guests had filled the church, the minister stood with empathy showing on his face, and the tens of thousands of dollars that had been spent were lost with no reward. Humiliated, the groom wondered what went wrong. She promised to love, honor, and cherish him when he popped the question, and now she hadn’t even given him the dignity of a phone call. He had no choice but to make an announcement to the guests that the day was over, his life was ruined, and they were just going to have to eat cake anyway. He would pick up the pieces of his life, return to the grindstone at work, and continue forging ahead all alone with no soul mate in this world.

The above story describes what could be one of the worse nightmares for anyone, male or female, that had romantic intentions and lifelong desires thwarted. We have all been made promises that ended in despair and at some point, most of us have made a promise that we either purposefully or accidentally didn’t keep. The groom in the story could very well have described any person, or it could be an allegory to describe Christ. The bible speaks in flowery language about the bride of Christ, the church. God is looking for a bride with more than good intentions, but he is looking for a bride that couples actions, attitudes, and accomplishments for the kingdom. The bible tells a story about 5 foolish virgins and 5 wise virgins awaiting their wedding day. The 5 wise virgins were ready and prepared when their groom came and the 5 foolish virgins were found distracted, unprepared. The thing about this story that strikes me is that all 10 women in this story were virgins. This means they were all to some degree prepared for the big day. In Biblical times all good brides were virgins on their wedding day. This was an expectation that couldn’t be messed with or altered. This means that all 10 ladies had kept themselves separated. Many in the church feel that they are separated from the world because they have made choices of purity and some choices towards Biblical responsibility, but something huge is missing in their lives and hearts. Matthew 25 ends this accounting of the virgins stating that the unprepared virgins begged for the bridegroom to come back, but they had missed their opportunity. Even though untouched and still virtuous, the 5 foolish virgins had never fulfilled the true potential of a bride and missed the wedding day. We , as modern day Christians, could liken this to the second Coming of Christ. We need to be more than separated and pure, we need to be active in the kingdom.

Our world is full of potential and good intentions, but both are worthless unless coupled with action. The word potential is based from the root word potent, meaning power. You have no power and no potency without action. Potential is worthless unless it is activated by power. Good intentions are also pointless unless we act out our intentions. My engagement to somebody and my intention to marry them is meaningless unless I actually show up to the wedding day, dressed, planned, and prepared to dedicate my future to the groom. I can intend to marry him, but if I don’t show up ready to actually follow through, he is left jilted at the altar like the man I described above. The church, as the bride of Christ, needs to have more than just good intentions and potential. We need to allow our potential to be potent while we walk in the spirit and use the power of the Holy Spirit to be the witnesses described in Acts 1:8. I don’t just intend to make an impact on my community; I’m going to actually do it. I’m not going to just talk about the love of God; I’m going to display it. I’m not going to just attend church; I’m going to be the church. I’m going to operate in my role in the body of Christ and let my intentions become potential and my potential become action.

2 Corinthians 8 (the message) verse 10 – So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. 11 Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. 12 Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. 13 This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, 14 your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even.

Benevolence and Acceptance

The following is a transcript/summary a video message. I originally recorded this and put it on Face Book. I tried to upload the video to my blog but it is currently not working. I will revisit this and try it again. Until then, enjoy the transcript. I hope that it blesses you and you find the scripture passages helpful in your walk with God.

Benevolence and Acceptance 

I want to open up this greeting to you with a passage of scripture to set the tone for what I am going to discuss.

Prov 11:24-25(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language)
24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.

I am just dropping in today with a short message about giving and receiving. Oftentimes we fit giving and receiving into two categories. We either only associate it with Christmas, birthdays and other holidays and make it about gifts, or we pigeon hole the concept of giving to encompass only financial and monetary contributions. Because of these cultural associations that we have created, most people turn off their “thinking caps”, to use a term from elementary school, and do not listen to lessons on giving, or we just refuse to tune in or talk about it at all. While I will briefly touch on finances in this short lesson, I am only doing so because the Bible has more to say about money than it does about any other topic. Matthew 6:21 states that where your treasure is that is where your heart also is. I have heard the thought my whole life that what controls your check book, even if it is the necessities, will control the attitude and direction of your life and heart. In this economy it is tough to hear pleas for money for missions, for the church, and for the impoverished and less fortunate because we, ourselves, are also struggling. It is in these times though that the church in Macedonia, recorded in II Corinthians chapter 8 bound together and gave liberally out of their poverty. This was the original economic stimulus plan!! God knew before Obama thought he knew. I’m going to read some out of II Corinthians Chapter 8 from the Message translation. Finding and rediscovering these passages of scripture has opened my eyes to a whole new level of giving and receiving. It takes away all of our excuses. God’s economy is not our economy. Regardless of your secular politics and your opinions on the direction that the United States is headed, we can all agree that it is the nature of God to abolish fear. I say this all the time; I refuse to participate in the fear surrounding economic recession!!

Paul Speaking about the church in Macedonia to the church in Corinth,

2 Cor 8:2 Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. 3 I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could — far more than they could afford! — 4 pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. 5 This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. ( Skipping down ) 9 You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us — in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.

You have to give in proportion to what you want to receive. If you are stingy with money and gifts, you will be met with stinginess. If you are harsh and judgmental, you will be treated with that same level of mercy. Christians love to quote the following passage from Luke chapter 6 to motivate us to give of our financial resources. We get so excited because in our hearts, we are not giving from the motivation of pure Christianity, we are giving to receive.

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

However, if you read this passage in context with the statements preceding it, you find a commandment that is almost more difficult than the commandment to give liberally of financial resources.

Luke Chapter 6 (KJV)
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
I like the message bibles interpretation of Luke 6: 38
Message Bible Luke chapter 6
38 Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back — given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Remember that giving and receiving is not only about finances. It is about time, love and tenderness (to quote the great Michael Bolton)

Reminds me of a story I heard about a Baptist preacher who just finished his sermon for the day and proceeded toward the back of the church for his usual greetings and handshaking as the congregation left the church. After shaking a few adult hands he came upon the seven year old son of one of the Deacons of the church.

“Good morning, Jonathan,” the preacher said as he reached out to shake Jonathan’s hand.

As he was doing that, he felt something in the palm of Jonathan’s hand. “What’s this?” the preacher asked.

“Money,” said Jonathan with a big smile on his face, “It’s for you!”

“I don’t want to take your money, Jonathan,” the preacher answered.

“I want you to have it,” said Jonathan. After a short pause Jonathan continued, “My daddy says you’re the poorest preacher we ever had and I want to help you.”
Let’s not associate everything with money!!
James 1:5 (New American Standard) But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

God Bless……….