Everyone Starts Alone

AloneHappy Friday,

Today, I wanted to share with you a tremendous thought I have been dealing with, “Becoming Your Own Best Fan”.

In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul wrote about his early years of ministry when only one fan church financially supported him. Paul (who was named Saul at the tyme) said:

As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this (Philippians 4:15).

Can you imagine, a man who influenced the world as much as Apostle Paul, started out with an empty stadium? He most certainly did. In the Book of Acts, we see how a man named Barnabas stuck his neck out to vouch for Saul—before anybody else trusted him. (Saul was Paul’s name, prior to his God encounter.) Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement, was Saul’s first fan!

Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus (Acts 9:22-27).

Before the world loves you, it may loathe you for a decade or two. Before people understand you, they may misinterpret even your purest intentions. Some people may even devote the major portion of their lives to bringing you down, thinking they are doing a great service to God for shutting you up. Jesus spoke of this in John 16:2 when He said, “For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the tyme is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.”

I speak from experience when I tell you that the more deeply you care about these people, the more it will hurt. Dealing with this degree of rejection will shatter your heart to tiny pieces, sending you to bed many nights feeling worthless and alone.

As soon as you start to advertise your vision, most everyone will think you have lost your mind. Even if they don’t say it out loud, they may think it. Familiarity breeds contempt. Prophets are usually without honor in their hometowns (see Luke 4:24). Even some of your closest pals will not be able to wait out your long season of small beginnings. This is not brought up as a condemning verdict over your family and friends; it is just a universal glitch of humanity.

No matter how hard we try, most people have to see tangible success before they can cheer. Think about this on a personal level. I bet you didn’t select your favorite sports team during a ten-year slump. No, you purchased your season tickets during the build-up of a huge winning streak. Sometymes, one good year is all it takes to get us in the stands and keep us there for life; sometymes it’s not. Little by little, enduring teams inevitably recruit and retain more fans than they turn away and their stadiums get fuller and louder until there is not a single empty seat.

Anyone can succeed when all they have to do is show up and ride to glory on the dynamism of a sold-out stadium. Since it does take tyme to recruit frenzied fans, you will need to master the art of becoming your own best fan. This is where legends seem to have an edge over others. They can feel positively about what they are doing long before anyone else appreciates it. Legends look far beyond their early days of unpopularity to the tyme when they have blessed the earth and people have benefited from their generous bequest.

I titled this blog, “Everyone Starts Alone,” because it’s true. If you’re in the early phases of your development, or even well advanced in years and experience… and you cannot figure out why it’s taking so long to get the wrong people off the bus, the right people on the bus, and the right people on the bus in the right seats… just know that if you really want to make a lasting difference in the world, then you will walk alone sometymes… usually longer than you want to.

In those moments, draw near to God. He is near to the lonely and brokenhearted. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. He is near.

I just finished praying for you this morning.

With much love,

              A FootSoldier4Christ

*Photo(s)/Resources: Chuck Balsamo & Erica Dhawan
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The Difference Between Vision and Realization

46479770_90ea40fc73*When you see Light, that is vision. The vision signifies a future realization.

*When you feel Light entering into you, that is experience;

*When Light settles in you and brings illumination and knowledge, that is a realization. Repetition of experience leads to realization.

An experience of a truth in the substance of mind, in the vital or the physical, wherever it may be, is the beginning of realisation. When I experience peace, I begin to realise what it is. Repetition of the experience leads to a fuller and more permanent realisation. When it is settled anywhere, that is the full realisation of it in that place or that part of the being.

Proverbs 29:18a (KJV)

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish . . .”

Over the past decade, I listened to many a preachers entered the dialogue of the need for vision and vision casting. I remember a tyme when few spoke of it, even fewer had it and no one realized the power of it. The paradigm has changed greatly within our leadership models; therefore, vision, vision casting, and mission statements are as common place as bibles in our churches.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit has impressed upon on me lately is that there is more to seeing a vision accomplished than having a vision and having faith. To be honest, getting the vision is the easy part. The hard part is the research, study, discipline and diligent effort that must be added to the vision to see it fulfilled. I believe part of the dilemma that many of us (yes this includes me also) face is that we treat a vision for ministry from the LORD the same way we treat true prophetic words. Somehow we have the misconception that if they are from God, they will come to pass . . . almost effortlessly. We think, “Hey God is in it, so everything will go smoothly.” That sounds great until you read the Bible! I cannot find one individual, to include Jesus, for whom everything went smoothly or the vision came to pass easily! Actually the opposite is true. If they heard from God, the enemy was sure to resist their efforts. Faith is not “hoping” something will happen. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and working hard with God to MAKE things happen that are in-line with God’s will and purposes.

The Word tells us:

Ecclesiastes 5:3 (KJV)
3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

Many tymes we see truths from God’s Word through the lens of our current focus. As our focus changes, new truths can explode into our hearts. The first tyme I read this verse (when my mental lens was focused on vision), it was like a slap in the face. Everyone is talking vision, but how many are rolling up their sleeves and making the vision a reality? Are we going to be speaking a lot of words or are we going to get down to business with our visions from the Throne of Grace?

We need to view vision the same way an architect does. He may “see” a beautiful and useful building in his heart, but he never stops there. He will do the research to find the right materials, follow all the proper codes, use the best materials and then begin to draft a step-by-step plan to bring his vision to life. Once the blueprint is completed, the real work begins. The proper foundations must be laid. Every detail, down to the smallest thing, is researched and implemented with great care and determination. Setbacks are expected, as with any great endeavor. The resolve is to place the “sweat-equity” into the project to make it a reality. A great builder will also insure safety and maintenance are clearly defined and enforced.

Any visionary or builder knows that it is the day-to-day operations that can make or break a project. Yet for many in ministry, we have forgotten this truth. Faith cannot replace daily discipline and determination. Faith must FUEL the daily discipline and determination!

Later on this week, I am going to be laying out a detailed plan to bring about a vision that God has given me for FootSoldiers4Christ Ministries. The end result will be taking the powerful truths that God has placed within my spirit outside the walls of this blog and into the homes of anyone hungry for more of God and His Word. To do this, the vision must be cast. Not only must the vision be cast, but a detailed plan must be developed. Not only must a detailed plan be developed, but it must be communicated to others that can aid in its fulfillment. Then others can receive a blessing, too.

I also pray that as you read this upcoming “Vision Plan for the Next Level,” you will be able to glean ways to develop your own detailed plan to fulfill what God has called you to do. Here are some things I have learned from the Holy Spirit in regard to bringing a vision to pass:

  • You cannot do it alone. I have tried for years (Clothing line, Catering, Lunch Truck, Online Bible Study Website, Mobile Church Audio/Video Provider….)– it doesn’t work!
  • You must become the example of excellence and determination for the vision God has given you. You set the standard for those that will join with you to see it come to pass.
  • You must always share the credit for its success. Since you could not do it alone, you cannot receive the credit alone either.
  • You must always bear the blame, if it does not succeed. Leadership does not pass the blame; it accepts it and then builds a bridge to success.
  • You must daily fight to see each step established. One of the most powerful statements that I have ever read was in a book by Prophet John Mark Poole. He said that many tymes you will have to be involved in prophetic warfare to see the prophetic word come to pass. If it is that way with prophetic words, it will certainly be that way with bringing your vision to pass!
  • You must seek the face of God for His blessing on those that come along side you to work. We always seem to ask God to bless the vision or project. If we do it right, it will be blessed! Part of doing it right is to seek Heaven’s blessing on those who stood by you.
  • Once you arrive, you must work daily to maintain what God has entrusted to you. This truth is important. How can God expand your vision, if you are not maintaining it? It would be like trying to build a new wing onto a building that is falling apart. Stewardship is important in the Kingdom of God!

Do you have your vision? What’s your plan to see it fulfilled? Are you working your plan, and are you maturing as it is developed? Consistency is a vital part of maturing!

If you have let the vision lay dormant because of discouragement, it is tyme to pick it back up, dust it off, and develop your plan (daily working it with a new fervor and consistency)! You may be like the Jewish people returning from Babylon. They had to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with a brick in one hand and a sword in the other – but when the walls were built, blessing came!

Don’t give up hope. Your blessing and the fulfillment of your vision are waiting for you. God is waiting to confirm the Word that He has released in your heart with signs, wonders and blessings!

*Photos/Resources:  Michael K. Lake, Th.D., D.R.E., Bishop Joseph C. Scott, Pastor Tom Davis, & Sri Aurobindo

Christian Vs Church Folks

I say all of this in L-O-V-E!

I HATE CHURCH FOLKS!

ChurchFolk-Photo1_w300This blog may ruffle some feathers… but it’s okay. This had to be said and those who understand will understand. I was at Starbucks (they’re are to expensive for a green tea)  with a friend who said he didn’t understand why Christians are so judgmental. He explained how he visited a large church in our area bible study class, and he was dress causally (jeans, a sweat shirt & sneakers). He told me a usher came to him and suggested, if he came back to try wearing a polo or button up shirt next tyme.

This is what “A Christian would wear in the house of God!” He kindly told her that his church didn’t have dress code. She returned that’s his Pastor was wrong for not having one. He then replied he was that pastor of that church and he would verify with that church’s pastor of this protocol?

People turned around as we laughed so loud when I explained that was not a Christian, that was Church Folk! Church Folks versus Christians, don’t be deceived they are not the same!!! I love Christians, but as I said I can’t stand Church folks. Unfortunately, there is a difference between some church folks and actual followers of Christ. There are a bunch of people who pack the pews in their local congregations Sunday after Sunday. Many of them are wearing their best attire and adorn themselves with accessories that would make them appear to be a bit more “holy” than usual. They wear big smiles to create the illusion of having joy; they can quote a few scriptures with fervor not because they have committed them to heart but to impress those around them. They may out praise you, pray with eloquence and all, but the truth is that everyone who enters through the doors of the church isn’t a true Christian. Some are just “CHURCH FOLKS”.

In Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV) says; “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven… And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

There are certain things that we as Christians shouldn’t do!  In Matthew 25: 32,33 it reads “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

Don’t confuse religious people with people who truly have a relationship with God. Religious people may know the bible inside out & quote scriptures well…they know about God but they don’t know God. They have a form of godliness but no power. they are ‘hearers’ of the word but not ‘doers’. They’ll hear: “depart from me… I never knew you”. Folks…don’t be deceived by “religious folk”.

Well I would like to take some tyme to address the goats… “CHURCH FOLKS”.  I was taught that literally one in every four people in Church is truly walking what they believe. What’s the difference between Christians and Church Folks? Jesus gives us a great example of church folks above. Though they many know some law and have church protocol down to a science, there is nothing taking place where it counts: in the heart.

Church folks may stand in the one-hundred dollar line when offerings are being raised (that’s another sermon) willing to give a hefty tithe, but a person cannot pay their way to holiness. Yes, offerings and tithes are right but the Lord judges the offering by the condition of the person’s heart who gives it, not by the amount given. If you give to be seen, you have already received your reward through vain glory.

Church folks may be able to sing a hymn like an angel but there is more concern with how they sound than with ministering in song to the Lord and for the edification of the body of believers. It’s all about self.

Church folks may be able to hide their shortcomings from fellow members, but they readily expose the failures in others. They take joy in seeing fellow members fall because they believe it makes them look better.

Church folks strive for Sunday Morning Righteousness but the rest of the week belongs to them. They are satisfied with mediocrity; they would rather fool people than be in the will of God.

But Christians are concerned with one thing: pleasing God.

Christians give not to be seen but because they know it pleases the Lord and He will openly bless them for what has been privately done.

Christians will worship the Lord all week and praise Him with a pure praise. Worship, in the sense of expressing one’s adoration to the Lord, doesn’t have to be conjured up on Sunday; instead it’s the outpouring of the service (worship) done from Monday to Saturday.

Christians understand that worship and service are interchangeable (Romans 12:1, Gr. latreia) word in the Bible. They may not have a golden voice but they willingly give God the fruit of their lips. They know that what comes from the heart reaches the heart and the anointing of God covers them.

Christians know the cost of salvation and have faith in the redeeming blood of the Lamb. They don’t condemn others, but they restore others in the spirit of meekness, considering themselves, knowing that it could be them who need intercession, encouragement and forgiveness.

They aren’t trying to be better than other people; they just want to be more like Jesus. Christians make themselves to be a disciple, everyday. They are the same on Tuesday as they are on Sunday. They strive to press towards the mark and even when they fall, they don’t intend on staying there. They seek repentance and continue to press!

Jesus said to clean the inside and the outside will be clean. Some of us have gotten it backwards but it’s not too late to get it right. There will always be wheat and tare, light and darkness, righteous and unrighteous and wolves in sheep’s clothing. In short there will be Church Folks and there will be Christians. The question is which one will you be?

True Christians walk in love. They exhibit the fruits of the spirit shown in Galatians: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, gentleness, meekness long suffering and self-control, and their ‘fruit’ are evidence. They have touched lives, healed others, set free, and delivered those in need. They have increased the Kingdom by being a living, breathing example of what God was on this earth.

NOW..Look down deep in your heart. Read the verses to yourself, and meditate. Then ask yourself then the following Question…

WHICH TYPE ARE YOU?

This video made me bop & laugh!

 

*Photos/Resources:  http://ebonymompolitic, Emmanuel N Phillip Hudson

preacher-bible-300x204I have often chuckled when I’ve read the following verses. I’m not trying to be irreverent and hope this is not offensive, but sometymes I read the stories in the Bible and I see the humanity of people.

I can hear myself making some of these statements. It brings a smile to my face and I can’t help but laugh.

Here are 7 of the funniest verses I have read in Scripture:

Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” (They sounded like a group who didn’t know Jesus very well at this point.)

1 Samuel 1:1-8 Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (I can’t believe he was dumb enough to say it…actually yes I can…but he evidently said it multiple tymes.)

Luke 12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (Imagine you get an audience with Jesus…you’ve got your one chance…He’s been teaching not to worry…what do you ask Him?)

Mark 9:28 NIV But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet and he stood up. (The disciples had tried everything they knew how to do…except prayer. Some things are just not possible apart from God’s hand upon the situation.)

Mark 9:34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. (The humanity…they knew Jesus wouldn’t be pleased, but they couldn’t help but compare.)

Esther 1:20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest. (How has that law worked so far?)

Exodus 16:14When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. (And we are told elsewhere they were honey flavored. Frosted Flakes were the first cereal! They’rrre Greeaatt!)

Exodus 16:36  (An omer is one-tenth of an ephah.) (You’ve got to love a clear explanation!)

Which do you think is funny? Can you think of any you would you add to the list?

Obedience Creates Opportunity

article_images-11.3.ObedienceCreatesOpportunity_420539191His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
Matthew 25:21

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Luke 16:10

I think there’s a major misconception that exists about how God gives opportunities to His people to do something for Him. Many people want God to first give them great opportunities so they can display great obedience.  But often until then, they won’t be obedient with what they’ve already been given.

Maybe it’s the church planter who wants to preach for 5,000 people before he’ll preach with faithfulness and excellence to 500 people. Or 50 people. Or 5 people. Maybe it’s the person who would love for God to give him $1 million to be generous with, but won’t even be generous with the paycheck he is receiving right now.

Maybe it’s the college student who is willing to die for his faith in the Middle East, when he can’t even share his faith with his roommate. If you read the Bible, it’s pretty clear that that’s simply not the way it works with God.

  • Joseph had to be faithful and obedient in slavery and prison before he was put in charge over Egypt.
  • David had to herd sheep before he killed a giant.
  • Stephen had to wait tables for widows before he defended his faith to the masses.

God won’t give you more to do for Him until you can do what He’s already given you to do.

So:
Stop praying for a life of impact and do something IMPACTFUL!
Stop praying for a bigger platform and use the one you’ve been given.
Stop praying for a better assignment and start performing better with the one you have.

Obedience creates opportunity, not the other way around!

Do something right now with what you have and watch the miraculous power of God multiply what you have. Be obedient with what God has given you, and He’ll give you more to be obedient with.

 

*Photo(s)/Resources: ©iStockphoto.com/gregobagel, Steven Furtick

Pile Drivers and Paper Cuts

Exodus 5:22-23: Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have You brought trouble upon this people? Is this why You sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all” (NIV).

Moses and Aaron had made their first appeal to Pharaoh to release the Hebrews. It was a modest request for three days’ journey into the desert so they could worship according to their custom without heathen Egyptians looking on. But even in this relatively modest request, Pharaoh was unyielding. He further responded by making the Hebrews’ work assignment even more difficult: their quota of mud bricks would be maintained but now they would have to gather their own straw, as well. Pharaoh clearly laid blame for this increased work at Moses’s feet. This caused Hebrew foremen to turn to Moses in fury, saying, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hands to kill us” (Exodus 5:21, NIV).

That part about Moses’s making them a stench was probably hyperbole; slaves whose job was to stomp mud and straw into bricks were probably a stench anyway. But other than that, the angry Hebrews had it about right: the pressure on them did indeed increase. After generations of backbreaking affliction, deliverance was at hand. Moses was on the scene, stirring things up as a prelude to God’s rescue of His own.

Soon enough God would release wave after wave of plagues upon the Egyptians, but notice that His pressure was first applied to His own. Upon reflection, I may see myself in the lives of the Hebrews. Burdened by difficulties, oppressed by circumstances I seemingly cannot change, I cry out to God only to find that pain deepens. It’s as though God has everything from pile drivers to paper cuts within His arsenal, and He applies them liberally to me. I would prefer that He mount His white horse and ride to my rescue at the first hint of difficulty, but He seems to have another strategy in mind. It is as though He wants me, when deliverance finally comes, to be aware of the fullness of my difficult circumstance.

God does not, it seems, deliver from mere discomfort or inconvenience. Although the Hebrews’ lives had indeed been oppressively difficult, God engineered another ratcheting up of pressure before He would visit an even more severe process against their enemies. His willingness to leave me in the furnace of affliction a bit longer is painful for the moment, but it is also surety of His full deliverance to come. He does indeed have a white horse at the ready.

 

* Photo(s)/Resources: Dave Keesling

 

It’s Tyme To Redefine Relationships

untitledIt has been said that when God wants to bless you He sends a person into your life and when the enemy wants to destroy or distract you he sends a person into your life. That saying speaks to us about not only the necessity of relationships but also the care and discernment that relationships must be handled with. How you handle and navigate relationships can determine destiny or detriment.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus giving us a great example of how to properly do this. NOTICE if you will, when he comes to this season there is a SEASON OF SEPARATION BASED ON A REDEFINITION OF RELATIONSHIPS.

Jesus has twelve disciples, but here He pulls out three. This is the week of His greatest pain and the fulfillment of His assignment. Please understand that as you reach the final stage of walking into what God has assigned to you it will demand some isolation. I’m writing this for some people who feel like God is snatching you out of friendships. He is pulling you away from people you have been close to. You seem to be getting further and further away from people. He may be moving you further from them in order to get you closer to Him.

There may be some people that you call friends who need to be downgraded to associates.  After the separation He says to the three that He has brought with Him…SIT HERE WHILE I GO OVER THERE. You will have to learn that you have the right to determine people’s position in your life. You have the right and the authority to determine how far they go and where you want them positioned…SIT HERE WHILE I GO OVER THERE. He did not ask them their opinion. YOU SIT RIGHT HERE. You have to learn how to put people in their place.

You can dictate where people can be in your life. Don’t you let people into your life telling you where they are going to be. You determine where people fit and where they are to be positioned. As you reflect on this devotional today ask God to reveal to you who belongs in your life and where they belong in your life and just maybe whose time is up for relationship. Don’t make people permanent who were intended to be transitional.

*Photo/Resources:  BRMJ