24 November 2014

Not by sight ...


Greetings

It has been quite some time since the last post ... However, I had to take a moment this morning to share something.



This is a picture of my instrument panel … while I was driving yesterday

The first time it happened was about three years ago. So, when it happened again yesterday, I took a picture when I stopped at the red light. 

Now, despite the fact that I need to get the vehicle checked to find out why it periodically does this, there is a spiritual element which has been impressed upon my heart and serves as a reminder each time it occurs.

This instrument panel [but for the red line indicating that the vehicle is in ‘Drive’] looks EXACTLY as it looks when the vehicle is turned off and parked.

It looks the same … but it is not the same … because the vehicle was running.

So today I wanted to take time to touch upon each section of this instrument panel and its spiritual implications for those who may be experiencing some frustration in their life journey.

TEMPERATURE – The vehicle I was driving indicated that the car was ‘COLD’ although it had been running for no less than thirty minutes. 

Spiritually, this is what happens in life at times. Have you ever played the ‘Hot/Cold Game’ when you were a child? Well, the premise of the game is that something is hidden and you have to search it out. Further, there is one person who knows where the item is hidden and will help direct your steps by indicating whether you are ‘cold’ [which would be a good distance from the sought after item], ‘getting warmer’ [which would indicate that you are moving in the right direction] or ‘hot’ [letting you know that it is precisely where you are]. 

Well, there are times in each of our lives when all evidence that can be seen with the eyes would appear to indicate that we are ‘COLD’ or a great distance from where God would have us or from attaining the purpose that He has for us. But this is not so. Scripture tells us that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. (I Sam. 16:7) Well, if we are to successfully navigate these seas called life, we must follow suit. We cannot look at the outside appearance of a situation, but must look deeper at the heart of the matter to what truth is revealed. We cannot use situations to determine where we are in life. We must seek the presence of God and read the Word of God to maintain an accurate perspective of where we are in life. 

SPEED – With the gauges reflecting zero, any driver would have to guess at how fast they are traveling. Some may end up driving too fast while others may slow down, fearful that they are driving too fast. It might also give an unsuspecting viewer of this photo the impression that the vehicle was not moving at all.

This is what occurs spiritually. Situations and circumstances will attempt to convince you that nothing is working – that there is no forward motion – no momentum. However, you cannot rely on what is seen. The LORD is ever working on behalf of His people. II Chronicles 16:9 states that His eyes roam to and fro throughout the earth looking for opportunities to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him. He is working … even when you cannot see it or perceive it. And He will even step out of His standard operating procedures to bless you and bring about His plans and purpose. Jesus did this in the book of John when the Pharisees were angry with Him for healing someone on the Sabbath. And I love Jesus’ response: ‘My Father has been working until now, and I too am working.’ John 5:17 

Jesus let them know, in no uncertain terms that He and the Father are one … one LORD, one GOD, one KING - and that they are continuously working. It was true back then and holds true today. Therefore, we must reject the messages [visual or verbal] that state that He has stopped working in our lives, that there is no activity. He is always working.

FUEL – Being unable to determine how much fuel is in a vehicle can produce a degree of anxiety. As you try to determine how much fuel has been used and how much is left, it can become the deciding factor in whether you continue on your journey.

Spiritually, there are instances where all evidence would seem to indicate that we do not have what it takes to pursue the plans and purposes of God. There are voices and circumstances which scream: ‘You will never make it.’ ‘You will never overcome.’ ‘You are not strong enough.’ And all those statements might be true if we were solely dependent upon our own strength. But, we have One living on the inside, giving us all the energy, wisdom and drive to accomplish His will for our lives.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory … because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world." I John 4:4

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

MILEAGE – While this is not critical to driving, if not working properly, it can be a frustration. For those drivers who have not made the technological transition to a GPS, the mileage counter becomes a much needed accessory when following a map/directions with mileage indicators.

Spiritually, there are circumstances that arise which would try to convince us that we have not made any progress; that we are not very far from where we began and nowhere close to where we need to be. This too is a deception. The apostle Paul understood this completely and was determined not to have his perspective ruled by his experiences. He recognized that he may not be all that he needs to be, but that he was no longer what he was. He had made progress [traveled some miles] and he was still making progress. The Message Version states it best:  “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” Philippians 3:13-14

Interestingly enough, once this little object lesson was over, the instrument panel went back to normal. So what is ultimate point that I feel God was conveying [and what I believe He wanted me to share with you] is this?

We must walk by faith and not by sight. II Corinthians 5:7

You have come farther than you realize, you are closer than you think, God is still working on your behalf and He has imbued you with unimaginable strength.

Have a Tremendously Blessed Day!






19 July 2014

The People Who Know Their God ...


‘… but the people who know their God, shall display strength and take action.’ Daniel 11:32

ššššš

It has been quite some time since I have taken time to write – with work, school, taking care of my mom, launching my book … and being sick on top of it all … it has been extremely challenging.

Yet, it is an absolutely beautiful day here in Virginia Beach, VA! The sun is shining, it is an unseasonable 74-degrees and there is a gentle breeze. I absolutely love it! I just finished taking my little dog for a walk and I could have stayed out there forever.

However, even as I walked in all that beauty, my thoughts fell on those who are not experiencing peace and bliss this morning, those who are wrought with fear over the condition of our world. It is perfectly understandable. Why just this week alone, the headlines have been littered with absolute nightmare situations:

  • 298 lives lost as a result of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down
  • A child predator beat unconscious by a father who found him sexually abusing his son
  • A rookie cop fatally shot in the head while responding to a report of an armed robbery
  • Typhoon Rammasun claims 77 lives in the Philippines

And that is but a handful of news stories. Therefore, it is understandable why so many are concerned. Yet, the concern, and frequently accompanying worry, are not inevitable – especially for the people of God.

‘The people who know their God shall display strength …’

It does not state that they shall display fear, worry, anxiety, confusion or hopelessness. No – it says they shall display strength: power, depth, fortitude, courage, resilience and GRIT. And, what is this display based upon? Is it rooted in self-assurance and self-reliance? No! Is it fueled by self-confidence and arrogance? Absolutely, Not!

It is only made possible because of an overwhelming confidence in the LORD God Almighty. It is not ruled by circumstances, however daunting and horrific they may be. It looks past what can be viewed with the natural eye and locks in on the images of God. It does not deny the reality of what is occurring all around, yet it is not consumed by it either.

You see, the people who know their God are fully convinced:
‘It is not by force nor by strength, but it is by the Spirit of the LORD’ Zech.4:6 YLT

They have heard the voice of God which declares:
‘You will succeed, not by military might or by your own strength, but by My Spirit.’ Zech.4:6 GNT

Make no mistake – we are living in perilous times, which seem to growing darker and darker. However, we have a hope – one which is not just for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, but one which provides hope and strength for today.

In my newly published book When Storms Rage, I note:
“Storms [challenges of life] are indiscriminate, taking no account of race, upbringing, socio-economic standing or spiritual position. They simply come – to the young and old, rich and poor, wise and foolish. The rains descend, flood waters rise and winds blow and beat – testing our faith and growing us in our relationship with God”

In this life we will have trouble – but we may take heart for Christ has overcome the world

And we have this promise, like the children of Israel had all those years ago, which declares:
‘You … are My servant … My first choice … I pulled you in from all over the world, called you in from every dark corner of the earth, telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on My side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.’ Isaiah 41:10 MSG

If you know Him as your LORD, as your God and King –
     rest in the security of that relationship

If you do not know Him as LORD & Savior, your God and King –
     get to know Him

Despite the challenges of life, and even in the midst of the most trying of circumstances, there is a peace which passes all understanding and it facilitates uncommon strength and resolve. The people who know their God truly shall display strength and do mighty exploits.

Have a Blessed and Faith-Filled Day!

07 April 2014

Withholding nothing...


Good Morning!


It’s 2:30AM and I have to be up to get ready for work at 4:30AM.

However, this song was on my heart …


William McDowell ... Withholding Nothing


My prayer for today and this week is that God would have His way in and through me. I give my all, I surrender my will to Your will, O LORD.

Praying that you all have an abundantly blessed week!


‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”’
Isaiah 6:8

05 April 2014

... thankful

feeling ... thankful




‘Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments’

Deuteronomy 7:9

09 March 2014

2014: THE LIGHT ... Free to Shine

Good Morning!

This post is a day late. However, it is not without good reason. I finished my last exam – for this semester – last night! For some reason, this past session was a particularly challenging one. Perhaps it is because I have been going non-stop since January 2013. And now, I am taking an extended spring break. I will not be going back to class until May … PRAISE THE LORD!

I truly need this break as a time to recharge and refresh – to do some goal planning, get some exercise, get some sleep and refill my spiritual storehouse. There are times when you have to listen to what your spirit, mind and body are telling you … and take a break before something breaks. This is that time.

I am believing that the next eight weeks are going to be a time of tremendous peace and growth. It will be an opportunity to dedicate even more time to prayer and reading His Word. And I believe the Holy Spirit will illuminate things that I need to keep transforming my thinking and my being. There will not just be quality time but quantity time as well. There will be even greater opportunities to let the love and light of God shine. And I am convinced that the LORD is going to meet with me and speak to me during this time.

I am so thankful for the freedom that comes from a relationship with the LORD.

'Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the  Lord.' 
II Corinthians 3:17-18

His love is truly my shining light ... in Him there is freedom.

I AM FREE TO SHINE!!! 



Praying God’s tremendous blessings upon you. For those who have experienced a time change and are losing an hour of sleep today … I pray that God will bless you with energy and strength for every task before you.

Here is an amazing and energizing song from Hillsong Young and Free … Alive!




Have a Blessed Week!

01 March 2014

2014: THE LIGHT ... OF FORGIVENESS

Happy Saturday!

I pray you had a great week. My week was full of tasks and, if I am honest, I began to feel slightly overwhelmed by everything on my plate. And, while I would like to celebrate the weekend being here – and the opportunity for rest and relaxation – I cannot since this weekend is packed with chores, homework, meetings and class. All is well though. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. There is a light at the end of this tunnel and times of refreshing are on the way. But, I will talk about that next week. This week, I wanted to focus on the light of forgiveness.

I started out my day this morning reading Psalm 109.
Below, I share just a few of the verses penned in this chapter titled –
Plea for Judgment of False Accusers:

Verses 8-15
May his days be few;
    may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
    may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
    or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
    their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord;
    may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the Lord,
    that he may blot out their name from the earth.


Verse 17
He loved to pronounce a curse—
    may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
    may it be far from him.

Those are powerful words from the psalmist and you can really sense his disappointment, hurt, frustration and intense desire for vindication. However, as much as I can understand where David was coming from, I could not co-sign to these emotions as I read these verses this morning. As I looked back over the whole of my life, and despite several severely injurious instances, I realized that I could not earnestly pray those words over anyone this morning … not even those who have been most cruel to me. I found myself asking God to forgive those who have ever come against me without cause. I found myself asking Him to draw them to Himself. I found myself asking Him to be merciful to them … even as He has been merciful to me the countless times that I have failed.

Then it took me back to a section of Scripture that I read earlier this week.

BEHOLD, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion: For there the LORD commanded the blessing – life forevermore. Psalm 133



You see – the place of forgiveness, where brothers dwell together in unity, is the place where the anointing of the LORD is present. It is the place where He commands a blessing. It is the place where new life is granted to relationships and to individual souls.

Therefore, as much as depends on you – live peaceably with all men. 
Romans 12:18

Then your light of forgiveness will shine bright … lighting the path for those lost in darkness. From our demonstrations of forgiveness and love, they will be drawn to the One, Jesus, who is the initiator of the ultimate demonstration of forgiveness and love.


Have a tremendously blessed week!

15 February 2014

2014: THE LIGHT ... Is Love

Good Evening Friends,

I pray you had a tremendously blessed Saturday and that the rest of your weekend will be enjoyable. Yesterday was a fantastic day – it was Valentine’s Day. And for as long as I can recall, it has been my favorite holiday behind Christmas. I absolutely love a day completely dedicated to demonstrating how much you love others. Truthfully, this is something which should be done consistently – although, perhaps not on the scale of Valentine’s Day with all the balloons and candy and special dinners. Yet, the love we feel for others should be demonstrated every day with the same excitement, passion, creativeness, selflessness and intention which is present on Valentine’s Day. For you see … THE LIGHT IS LOVE.


The light which shines bright and penetrates the hearts of men and women is the light which reflects the overwhelming and unconditional love of God. The LORD God loves people –

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:16-21

The light which shines bright and penetrates the hearts of men and women is the light which reflects the selfless redeeming love of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ loves people –

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.’ I John 3:16

‘For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross Hebrews 12:2

The Bible consistently tells us how He had compassion on the people and loving way that He gave his life for all mankind. His light of love was visible to all.

He had equal status with God but did not think so much of Himself that He had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He did not claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.’
Philippians 2:7-8 MSG

The light which shines bright and penetrates the hearts of men and women is the light which reflects the powerful and enabling love of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit loves and equips people –

'Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.' II Cor 3:17

The Spirit of the LORD frees us from the yoke of bondage and enables us to live a life worthy of the call of Christ. For it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). We are equipped with what we need to love people as God loves people. In everything we do – sharing the gospel, giving a gift, working diligently, serving the public – we are empowered by His Spirit.

Therefore, being consistent with the light and love we have been freely given, we should freely shine the light and demonstrate love to those who have been placed in our life. Christians should be the most generous, kind, hard-working and loving people around. And we do not have to wait for a special day to show love for others … we can do it any time.

A day of love … any day … every day … and always

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31


12 February 2014

Journal Entry ... Power Within






‘In all things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.’

Romans 8:37



08 February 2014

2014:THE LIGHT ... Power Outage

Happy Saturday!

I pray your week was productive, letting the love of Christ shine in you and through you. And, if you do not know Christ, I pray that the light of God touched your life this week. Now, if you have visited this blog before, you know my aim is to be as transparent as possible. This week was a bit of a challenge for me. I experienced what I would call a slight power outage on Thursday. Understand, there was nothing wrong with the power source – Christ. There was a ‘connectivity issue’ … from my end.



Somehow, in a sinful instant of gratifying the flesh instead of the spirit, I allowed demands which were being placed upon me to cause a momentary short-circuit. It resulted in me being short with a few people as I was not nearly as patient as I could have been or should have been. Now, I immediately repented and went back to apologize to those individuals. Yet, it got me thinking about what we need to do to avoid any flickering or variation of the light we shine for Christ … and what to do when, despite our best efforts, we have a less than shining moment.

MAINTAIN – A steady connection with the power source must be maintained at all times. This cannot be said enough or emphasized too strongly. Bible reading, prayer, praise, worship, reflection & meditation all do an effective job in keeping us connected to the LORD God Almighty. There is a need to reflect upon the love demonstrated by Christ and to draw upon the power which is made available to us through the Holy Spirit. ‘Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face forevermore!’ (I Chr. 16:11)

MONITOR – Situations and circumstances must be monitored and there must be an anticipation of how they might impact one’s life. Like an electric company preparing for poor weather, we must understand and foresee that there will be times when increased demands for light will be placed upon our resources. We must prepare in advance to minimize the likelihood of any power outages or to avoid them altogether. Scripture tells us that we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices (II Cor. 2:11) and that we should not think it strange when trials come (I Peter 4:12-13). We should be looking and anticipating … and planning a godly response before a demand is made.

MANAGE – Godly responses can be achieved as we manage our light by remaining in a constant state of readiness. Many of us are familiar with the verse in Ephesians telling us to put on the whole armor of God. However, I like how The Message Version of that same text reads:  And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.' Eph. 6:11-17 MSG 

As stated above, there are times when we will miss the mark. And it is during those times where we have an almost equal opportunity to shine the light we should have had glowing all along.  There will be times when we must … MEND

So what does this mending require?

Immediate response – Ephesians 4:26 tells us, ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger.’ This lets us know that our response, and part of repairing any damage that has been done, is to respond with a sense of urgency. We must turn immediately from anything which does not or has not reflected His glory. Further, we must extend the reach of our response – not only making things right with God, but making things right with man. ‘I AM SORRY…’ These are three little words which can go a very long way when delivered timely and with sincerity.

Restoration of Power – We must go back into maintenance mode a thousand times per day. Through prayer, fasting, repentance and godly perspective, we can restore our connection to the Power Source. Again, there is never anything wrong with The Source. He is glorious and perfect, shining bright at all times. The problem arises when we allow the situations of life to impact us to the point where we no longer allow Him to shine through us (see Luke 11:33).

Effective Damage Control – Go back to the individual or individuals to ensure all is back on track. We cannot be effective ministers of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18) if there is discord … much worse if we are the cause of that discord. Luke 17:1 tells us, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! Therefore, ‘if possible, as far as it depend on you [on all of us], live at peace with everyone.' (Rom. 12:18)

Restoration of Service – The restoration of service is different from the restoration of power. Our connection with and submission to the source of power, Jesus, is our focus in restoring power. Our connection to others and our services to them – shining the light of Christ – is the focus in restoring service. I Kings 19 conveys to us the story of the powerful prophet Elijah who had just come off the heels of an amazing victory for the kingdom of God (I Kings 18:18-40). However, in this section of scripture, Elijah has appeared to have lost some focus, causing him to respond in an uncharacteristic manner – frustrated, fearful, over-emotional, full of self-pity and weary to the point of death. Yet, the LORD’s instruction [after addressing some of Elijah’s physical and spiritual needs] was for him to ‘get back to work.’ Elijah responded … and so too must we.

I pray you have tremendously blessed weekend and week.
Keep that Light Shining!

God Bless …




01 February 2014

2014: The Light... 'all ... not every'

‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ Phil. 4:13

Such an empowering verse …

However, there is a difference between being able to do all things one is confronted with – through the power of Christ – and being able to do everything. Over the past couple of weeks, we have talked about the light and what that means to each of us individually. We have also looked, in part, at what shining the light looks like at home. Today, we talk about the light in the context of church life.

Psalm 92:13-14 tells us, ‘Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.’

There is indeed a flourishing which comes from being firmly planted in the house of the LORD, growing in the house of the LORD, serving in the house of the LORD. I have experienced it in my life in my home church. Yet, there is also a very delicate balance which must be maintained.

While service in church is needed to facilitate the advancement of kingdom priorities and to fulfill our role as ‘ministers of reconciliation’ (II Cor. 5:8) – it is a poor substitute for actually being in relationship with the King of the kingdom. We see evidence of this in scripture in the story of Martha. In Luke 10 we see her frustrated with the responsibilities of ministry, demanding that Jesus make her sister help. In John chapter twelve, following the death and resurrection of her brother Lazarus, we find Martha doing what she does best – serving, again. The sad thing is that Martha, despite having close fellowship with Jesus, appears to have continued in her struggle of balancing work with worship.

Even so – I must stand alongside every Martha and, at the very least, see things from their perspective: Somebody has got to do the work ... we cannot all lie at the feet of Jesus all day long.

There is a long standing ‘statistical generalization’ which states that 80% of the work in most churches is performed by 20% of the people. While I do not know how accurate that statistic is, many can agree that it, at the very least is on the target somewhere, even if it is not the bulls-eye. Many would also agree that it is not indicative of church health but of spiritual dysfunction.

Scripture plainly tells us that we all have gifts differing (Romans 12:6). It goes on to tell us that we all being different parts, with varying responsibilities – make up the church of Christ, the body of Christ.

Therefore, the next logical question is:

Since we all are different parts and have different roles, why does the problem persist, why does a mouth have to do double-duty as a foot or hand? Why is it that all are not shining their light, doing their part? Simple question …. Multi-faceted answer

Therefore, let us start at the top …

THE LEADERSHIP – There is a quote attributed to motivational speaker John Maxwell which states that ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership.’ And, while I do not co-sign to this sentiment 100%, there is some truth to the statement. Leaders do have an added responsibility. In a post I shared several months ago, I noted the following regarding leadership:
‘To lead is to live a life under intense scrutiny – no matter what you do. There is unimaginable opposition and true leadership requires constant covering and protection. Leaders are not perfect … yet they have taken on the often thankless position of leading.’
With that said, PLEASE understand that I am not attacking leadership. Leaders and followers alike are blessed with the same gift of free-will granted to us by the LORD God Almighty. Each person must own their individual decisions and the consequences – favorable or unfavorable – of those choices. Unfortunately, in the area of serving and letting one’s light shine in the house of God, leaders often find themselves wedged between the difficult place of managing all the responsibilities which facilitate ministry and the more difficult place of finding fully-engaged co-laborers who will assume some of the responsibility.
Recognizing and applauding the results that many in church leadership are able to accomplish, I would be missing the point of our 2014 The Light series if I did not focus on areas where we can improve, where we can shine brighter. I say we, because I am at all times both a leader and follower, in every area of my life – church, home and work. In the coming weeks and months we will look at ‘The Light of the Leader’ from an all-encompassing standpoint. However, for today, let me say that there are many church leaders who unwittingly contribute to the problem that they face.  Subject to human nature – like every other human – a leader will not go to an empty well attempting to draw water. Hence, the leader, when he or she has found a well that produces potable water, will frequent that well – because it is reliable, there is not hard labor involved in retrieving what is needed and it serves the process of quenching the various thirsts associated with ministry. The problem with this approach is the fact that many good wells have been run completely dry as a result. Then, to add insult to injury, the response of the leader is typically not one of thankfulness for the many benefits which came from the well. Rather, the unintentional response from leadership is, ‘Unfruitful well, how come you are not producing anymore!?!’ All the while, a completely untapped well lies dormant with no demands made upon it from leadership. It happens in homes, it happens in business and it happens in churches. It is not an easy task to overcome, by any measure, yet an intentional effort must be made to somehow reach and cultivate the untapped wells. Again, we will delve deeper into this area in the future posts.

THE LAY LEADERS – These are the wells that the leadership tap. They are faithful servants, stepping up to answer the call and meet the needs of ministry. These are individuals – most often – who are spiritually mature, who identify with the mission and values of a particular church group and, most importantly, have a heart for God and people. I say ‘most often’ because the faithful who serve, are not always spiritually mature. Some are spiritually dysfunctional and find involvement in multiple ministries as a way to fulfill a need to be needed. There are also those who, rather than identifying with the mission and values of church establishment, are jockeying for influence and are covertly undermining and tearing away at the fiber of what they claim to support. Then there are those who simply have not learned how to say ‘no’.
Not to add one more task to your plate – but, as a lay leader, it must be understood that we share in the responsibility of equitable distribution of work. One cannot, like Martha, run around doing everything and then become bitter, complaining ‘LORD, make her help!’ We all have choices. Yet, it does not have to be an all-or-nothing situation. We have the ability to be balanced, to protect our light so that it may consistently shine bright and not be dimmed. We also have a responsibility to help mentor and disciple others – to help them shine their own light.

Lastly, there are …

THE LAYING AROUND – These are the untapped wells. They do not fail to produce because there is no water there. They fail to produce because they have been allowed to do so. Their actions [again, intentional or unintentional] are tolerated by peers, by leadership and by themselves. Whether influenced by inexperience, spiritual immaturity, fear or selfishness, they appear all too content to sit and warm a pew/seat. Now, please do not misunderstand me. There will be seasons, for every individual, where you may not be serving officially in an area of ministry. This is not what I am talking about. I am referencing individuals who have been at the same church for five years and have never done anything beyond showing up for church and ministry functions to be served. II Thessalonians 3:10 tells us that a man should not eat if he is unwilling to work. Practically, even the laying-around, can understand this sentiment. Spiritually applied, however, it may be more difficult to grasp a concept of one being unable to benefit from the preached word, the worship and the multitude of ministry services, if one was unwilling to work. What would that look like? The same Spirit that resides in the pastor, the Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, is alive in every believer. Therefore, it hard to imagine any believer being completely inactive with respect to shining light inside and outside of the church. But, we will tackle that in future posts as well.

This is one of the longest posts I have written in quite some time. Yet, I have only barely scratched the surface of shining the light as the church. Throughout the year, we will take bite-sized bits of this topic and we will, through purposeful action, visit the entire matter. However, whether a leader, lay-leader or ‘the laying around’, we each have a charge today:

Shine the light of Christ … in who you are and in how you serve.

And remember, while you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength … you cannot do everything. No leader can do everything, no lay-leader can do everything and no laying-around person should want to stay in that state. For every person, irrespective of role in the body, there must be a commitment to continual growth in Christ. This requires time, energy and resources. Understanding that, let us all work together to ensure that each person is shining their brightest. I assure you, we will experience fewer blown out bulbs and fewer dried up wells. Further, the light which will emanate from the church, into the world, will be even brighter.


Have an Abundantly Blessed Day!

29 January 2014

2014: The Light ... Shine Shout Out!

Good Morning,

I pray all is going well for you. I am currently enjoying a day off from work due to inclement weather. But, I will get to that in a moment.

As part of the focus of the 2014: The Light … series, I will periodically be posting a ‘Shine Shout Out’ where I recognize an individual or group of individuals who are shining the light of God in a practical way.



The intent is to vividly portray that there are countless ways to be light of God in a needy world – to demonstrate the love of God and to be a bridge to Jesus for those who are hurting or needful.

Today I give an amazing 2014: The Light ... Shine Shout Out to my sister Toni!

Some of you, from my posts here, have come to understand that my mom is facing many limitations due to several strokes in the summer of 2013. Well, Virginia Beach is currently being hit with approximately 7 inches of snow. And, while this may not be a significant amount of precipitation for places that accustomed to major snowfalls – even a few inches, immobilizes a city like this this.

In anticipation, I decided that I would get a bag together and stay at mom’s to ensure someone was there to make sure she could have meals and her medications. I wanted to be there just in case I would not be able to get there today.

Well, by the time I got off work yesterday, intention had been overtaken by action. My oldest sister Toni had already packed a bag for mom, got her medications and everything she would need for several days and took her to her house. She sent this email to me and my siblings: Winter Storm Alert!!!! Due to impending bad weather, mom will be at my house until further notice.

Now some may say, ‘She is your mom … it is what you should do.’ 

Yet, there are countless things in our world that could or should be done every day ... that never get done.

Since my mom’s physical and medical needs changed last year, my siblings and I have shared the responsibility of taking care of her – administering medications, monitoring vital statistics, buying groceries, cooking meals, doing chores, paying bills and taking her to a mountain of doctor appointments. There is a schedule in place where two of us are at her house every day. In an instant, we transitioned from daughters and son to nurse, caregiver, accountant, hairdresser, physical therapist, driver and nutritionist (just to name a few). We figure if one could take care of four by herself [which my mom did], surely four can take care of one. Even so, it has been a huge adjustment for all four of us.

Yesterday – in a selfless move, Toni proactively anticipated a need and did something purposeful to remedy the situation. Recognizing that we might not all be able to travel the roads to get to mom’s house, she decided to take on the total responsibility for mom’s care for the next few days. Again, it may not seem extraordinary to some. 

However, the entire point of the Shine Shout Out is to recognize and bring attention to the fact that it is not difficult to shine the light of Christ. Yet, at times, it must be intentional. It can be simple and quick, subtle yet meaningful.

My sister shining her light of love, commitment and selflessness warmed the heart of my mom. For this I thank her and commend her for a job well done. Indeed, I extend my recognition to all of my siblings for their continued selfless care of mom and dedication to teamwork. As noted in last week’s post, the shining of God’s light should begin at home, blessing those who are part of your immediate and extended family.


Great Job Toni … keep on shining that light!