emptyboat

Keep Rowing

Good morning,
Ever feel like God sent you on an assignment and it was a lot harder than you thought it would be? Ever feel like something was God, but then every turn is difficult? Then you find yourself questioning whether it was God…

While I cannot tell you if it was God, I can share with you three things we need to do while we are in a struggle.

So here is the story I am referring to; in three of the gospels there is a time when Jesus had spent ALL day ministering to the people. Jesus decides its best for him to go recharge (I love that his refreshing was not indulging in TV it was to go up to the mountain and pray). He tells the disciples to load up in the boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he is off to pray. So the disciples start rowing. Not sure at what time they started, but just before dawn they were still only halfway across the lake (it was only 8 miles wide at its widest point). Here is what happens, Jesus comes off the mountain, SEEs them struggling and about to PASS them by!!! The disciples see Him walking on the water, and unknowing it is Him they cry out. Jesus responds and Peter asks Jesus to call him to walk on the water.

Peter goes for it!

Walks on the water!

Fails in the process, Jesus saves Peter and then they both get into the boat. In John’s gospel, the boat is then immediately at the other side of the lake. There are so many options on what to share about this story, but I wanted to give us all some quick nuggets on what to do when you are rowing and getting nowhere DOING what God has told you to do.

  1. Keep being obedient – Jesus told the disciples that they needed to row to the other side of the lake, so they did. It wasn’t that it was easy. HOWEVER, an 8-mile trek of rowing really isn’t that hard when you think about it. I remember when my dad and I did one from the shore of Lake Chiemsee to the island in a canoe. I was only 11 at the time and we made it just fine :) . And it didn’t take all night to make the trek, but because of the rough sea and “who know” what other factors – they were still rowing when Jesus came off the mountain. The hard part was the wind, and water struggles of rowing. They were working all night and into the morning trying to get to the other side like Jesus told them too, and all they had to show for their work was 4 miles of progress. I am sure that a few hours into it there were some internal questions on whether it was a good idea, or if they had really heard from God right, or if Jesus knew what they were facing… All the questions that we find ourselves going to when an assignment we are on gets difficult. We start wondering if God really sent us. We start questioning whether we missed God or if God has forgotten us, all because it is difficult. The truth is, following the commands of God are not always an easy road – but we have to keep being obedient if we are going to be aligned for the outcome that God designed. IF the disciples turned around and went back, they would have never seen the miracles that were about to happen.
  2. Keep on the lookout – I am reading into the story a little bit, but someone must have been on the lookout when Christ was walking by. It says in the Word that Jesus was about to pass them by when they noticed him. Someone had to be looking around. Now, it could have been they were looking in the direction of where they were going, however I like to think they were just looking around. Its something LEADERS do when we are up against a battle and trying to find a way to win. We start looking around to see if there are any OTHER resources or options. Someone on the team was LOOKING. Tested and in the place of frustration, instead of giving up on the assignment they were still rowing, but looking – being spiritually attentive. We have to take the time in EVERY situation to be spiritually attentive. ESPECIALLY those where we are being obedient and it SO hard. Yes, sometimes God sends us on assignments where things are not going the way we THINK they should be going. Sometimes your assignment from God will be hard on the journey to get there, causing you a LOT more work than you may have anticipated. The disciples found themselves in a place where Jesus’ assignment was causing them to be tired, weary. But there was a miracle opportunity coming up, because they were STILL looking.
  3. When the time comes, get permission to change the plan – Ha, I know that was kind of throws us off our theology to ask about changing the plan. But when you think about it, here was Peter in the assignment of rowing to the other side and the presence of GOD shows up in the form of Jesus walking on the water. Now, his assignment was to row, but he sees Jesus walking and he gets bold to take advantage of the opportunity. Still in obedience he ASKS Jesus if he can walk on the water to Him – and Jesus says yes. I believe that God had a plan for the disciples to learn while on this trek to get to the other side of the lake. However I also believe there was an opportunity to have a greater understanding in the process. Peter took hold of that moment and went for it. Sometimes, when we are in our trek of obedience we have an encounter with God that can accelerate our progress IF we are willing to take a step of faith and go for it.

Keep being obedient where you are, not shutting down or quitting. Keep rowing strong to get to the other side. However, keep on the lookout – keep your spiritual attentiveness alert and listen and watch for the presence of God in every rowing motion. Lastly, when the Spirit of God shows up in power, be bold. Be obedient to the faith call and watch God do something amazing.

The last part is the best IMO – in John’s gospel when Jesus got in the boat after saving Peter, John says that IMMEDIATELY the boat was on the other side. See, it wasn’t that Jesus changed Peter’s plan to get to the other side, instead it was an opportunity to accelerate through the struggle to get on the path that was laid out for them. God has you on a path, and while this storm may be wearing you out or giving you a hard time – HIS plan for you has not changed, so be on the lookout for Jesus walking on the water!

CHALLENGE

Look at everything as an opportunity to move along your path, but look around! God shows up in a lot of forms. In the Matthew 25 Jesus shares the story about how what we have done for the least of these we have done unto Him. My challenge for this week is to be engaged in the world around us, looking for opportunities to extend a hand of help, kindness and love to someone who may just be passing by. LOOK

 

PRAYER

God, wow I need to quit complaining when the waves are rough and I’ve been pushing uphill towards something – instead I need to be keep being obedient and watching for You. Please forgive me for the times that I have given up or spoken against the assignment that you have given me. I want to be a good steward of the instructions that you have given me. Please help me to always be eyes WIDE open so that I can see everything you need me to see. Please help me to be better in obedience, to move right away, all the way and with a happy heart in the direction you are sending me. I give you today and I ask that you lead me. Show me your ways in everything I do – I want nothing more than to seek you and know you today. I am yours, please use me as you see best and help me to honor you in all I do. I am in love with you, thank you for loving me!

Cross-1

Why was Jesus sent?

I hope that you, as a reader, don’t mind a blog that is in the making.

In other words, these next few paragraphs are fresh for me and a learning ground.
I was recently in a conversation when it felt like fresh revelation was being spoken in my heart by the Holy Spirit. Then in my morning devotion I read a passage that dealt with the issue.

 

Why was Jesus sent?

I KNOW that we all KNOW John 3:16 and that His placement was to restore salvation to the WORLD.  To repair the covenant established with Adam and Eve.  However, it is the emphasis on just SALVATION that is becoming a troublesome thought.
1 – Christ came to restore what was taken away by sin.  Adam and Eve kind of messed things up for us and broke the original presence based close relationship that was established.  Not that we should be mad at them, cause yet for grace we would have all done the same thing (well I know that I would have).
The restoration was back to a place of communion with God, no longer separated by sin.  No longer separated.  That ALL of God is restored back to us in its entirety.

 

2 – Christ died for all our sins.  I am about to get pretty deep on this one, so get your thinking cap on.  When sin entered the world, everything changed.  Deterioration began (death hadn’t existed yet), disunity entered (wars, animals with humans), sickness entered (cancer, common cold), painful childbirth, etc – all these things became a reality because of sin’s plight.  I do not believe that any of these things would exist if it weren’t for sin.

 

3 – So when Christ died, he died for the remission of sins.  That means that our emphasis on the cross being for salvation only, is only a PART of the story.  It was the price paid for our redemption from sin which includes; wisdom, healing, peace, patience, joy, love, etc.  It was the price paid that gave us, as sons and daughters, access to the presence again.  Christ became a curse for us, Christ spent three days in hell gaining the keys that Adam gave to the devil.  In fact, if you really look at it (may have to hold your mouth a certain way) Christ came for all people, Jew and Gentile alike.
I can see it – “yeah, duh”.  But listen to this – the nation of Israel ALREADY had the part of salvation that we celebrate as Christians.  The part that saves us from Hell – they had that through the law, their covenant with God.  They had a way to heaven in the law of Moses, but Christ came for MORE than just salvation for the gentile, he came for redemption of us ALL.  Eph 2:14 that He united the Jew and the Gentile in his own body on the cross…  I am willing to accept that this really only means something to me, but because it is my blog I can go off on this :) .  Its awesome that God would send His son to save us, but how much more incredible that He would send His son to save our relationship with Him.  To fulfill the law and re-establish a covenant of EVERYTHING.  To think that He looked down on the nation of Israel and the LAW and said that it was incomplete, and then sent Himself in the form of man to undo what we did as MAN through sin just to have a relationship with us.

 Wow

 

Ok, so what am I saying?  I am just thinking through how God wants more for us than just salvation. God wants more for those around us than just salvation. Salvation is AWESOME - and… Jesus’ price was for much more than that.  The price that was paid was for our RELATIONSHIP with God to be reunited in all its glory. Every affect that sin has had on this earth, is now redeemable through His son.

Again, this is still a work in progress – so please feel free to talk it out and comment on this.  I love when I am exploring revelation and others get involved!

 

Today’s Prayer

Wow, God I am thankful.  Thankful that you have given me so many tools, but more importantly that you sent your Son to allow me to be close to YOU.  God, I am so thankful that you have positioned me to live a disciple lifestyle. A privilege to follow you.  I want to follow You.  Help me to be willing to sacrifice for others today and please keep revealing to me the power that comes in my relationship with you.  Speak through me, move me with your compassion, show me how to serve those around me better!

Go take on your day and LOVE people the way GOD LOVES!

Hope

God-Chasing = Hope

Romans 4:2a-5…We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


Rejoice in the hope of God’s glory – So, I have hope when I am in His glory – in the place where YOU are being glorified.  Where are you being glorified?  When I am chasing after You, and not man’s approval, not self-worth actions.  When I am whole-heartedly pursuing Your presence in my life.

So, when I am pursing You – everything has meaning and everything creates an expectation of greatness because of
MY FAITH in you

Romans 4:20 He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do.

So, when I am not wavering in unbelief
    ~then~
I am strengthened in my faith
    ~then~
Then I am able to give Glory to God…
    ~because~
I am convinced that YOUR promises WILL be done

All of that “packaged together” creates a place where Romans 5:3-4 gives me an expectation (or a HOPE) for greatness and thus makes my dreams a tool for walking out God’s will.  But even better, it makes EVERY situation a tool for walking out God’s plan for my life.

I am now able to rejoice IN sufferings (IN THE MIDDLE OF _ not just after everything shapes out)

because I KNOW… that it’s going to produce:

  • Endurance (the confidence Naaman had to dip ALL 7 times and not quit at 6) – endurance is when I do not run out of passion to complete the road ahead, no matter HOW hard.  Endurance requires perseverance and steadfastness.
  • Character (I love this definition – Your patience when everything against you, and your attitude when everything is for you).  Character is the measure of how much God can trust ME.
  • Hope (knowing that Gods plan is better than mine) – that is not a downer.  Hope brings a smile to my face when the natural circumstance can devastate. Hope creates room for expectation for GREAT things.

Verse 5 creates the tie in to all of this… Hope does not disappoint, because the LOVE OF GOD has been poured out in our hearts…

WOW, WOW, WOW
When I think of what  dream gives me, or what dream chasing’s true meaning is – it is a counterfeit to the real purpose of God-chasing.  Think about it, when I am chasing a dream, I literally chasing hope.  The idea that someday things are going to be SOOO good that all my troubles, wants and desires are going to be able to happen.  It is the most temporary, short sided decision that I can make – personally.  BUT GOD…  BUT GOD has the real deal, the real stuff.  

When I am chasing God, I am gaining in endurance, character and hope.  And hope is the substance of satisfaction.  Its the knowing that everything IS GOOD.  Its the best moment of emotional high because according to verse 5 it IS the “feeling” expression of the LOVE OF GOD BEING POURED INTO OUR HEARTS.

Its the moment that I gave my life to Christ and I realized that my failed dream chasing was replaced by a new HOPE.  It was spiritual high when God’s presence took over the fear (which cannot exist in the presence of God’s love – a WHOLE nutha level we don’t have time to go into)… the fear of Nili having cancer.  It’s euphoric, its incredibly to have hope. 

And it is only available when we are chasing God, not chasing a dream.

Todays challenge:
Ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of when we are losing hope – make us attentive.  Because that is one of the greatest indicators that we have stepped out of being a God-chaser into pursuing a dream.  God has given each of an incredible gift in the Holy Spirit – ready to reveal and encourage us.  Take some time out today to pray in the Spirit and be strengthened in our listening ability with him.  I am going to pray and then just sit and listen… making room for him in my life. 

 

Todays prayer:
Wow, God thank you for sharing this with me this morning.  In this moment with all the stretching you are placing on me, I have deferred my hope into works – hoping to get things done, and hoping to get it right.  Your plan is greater, and your path is FILLED with hope – if I chase YOU in this.  So, i officially chase YOU today in the area of renovations at the new building.  It’s Yours – not mine.  I worry no more, cause my hope is in YOU. So, here is my day – all that I am and all that I aspire to be today – I lay it at your altar.  Before my days begins, I begin with You.  Here I am, use me as You please, I am Yours, I love You.

dream_chaser_by_daveezdesign-d5llryf

Chasing a dream vs Chasing the dream-maker

There was a time when I was a BIG dream chaser and… God took away my dreaming.  I had worked so hard to develop what I KNEW was God only to see the building that I was believing for sell to another buyer.  After all the CAD drawings, building plans, and even cost estimates it was given to another buyer.  I was mad.  I went to God and I said – why did you give me this dream only to take it away from me… And I remember when the Holy Spirit told me that if I couldn’t keep the dream at His altar, I would no longer be able to dream.  For the next 6 months, I could not dream – no creativity, no planning, I was stuck… and I was losing HOPE.
Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick….

I have a new understanding of what that scripture means.  It isn’t that the dreams delayed that makes my heart sick – it was when I deferred “hoping” that my heart became sick. In other words – putting my hope in a dream is deferring my hope in God – the Dream giver.  See, when we start to chase dreams instead of God, we lose our objectivity and we lose our hope.  We stop dreaming because we were chasing a dream and our HOPE was dashed.  But when we put our HOPE in HIM, dreaming is a tool that God can use to grow us…It’s a revelation that has freed me.

So, What are dreams?

Dreams are a tool that God uses to move us down a path, they are not necessarily the pinnacle of our journey.  I believe that many times we look at our inward desires and we start to pursue dreams as if they were a WORD from the Lord.  We even use physical and emotional responses and coincidences to justify our pursuit of a dream, when in reality we added to the dream from our desires.  In fact, many times the enemy has used dream chasing as a means to get me to become selfish (thinking of only myself and my pursuits).  In other words, often time we use dream chasing in place of God-chasing, convincing ourselves that we are pursing God when we are actually pursing a dream…

 

Am I God chasing, or dream chasing?

Do I allow setbacks to depress me – When I allow circumstances to control my emotions and my reactions, I am making the dream bigger than the dream maker. A dream chaser looks at “perceived” setbacks negatively, instead of being part of the path.  God-chasers look at setbacks as opportunities to developed.

When David was anointed to be King, he had a God-given dream. The next action was to go back into the fields. When he killed Goliath, his next position was to be a harp player for the king (not a general in the Army).

 

What dreams are queue to grow, not “go”.

Sometimes the dreams are not about the pinnacle, but about the journey.  Some of the dreams that I have been given or goals that I have set up, are not for my future, but for the response and character I need to develop now.  I had a dream to be an electrical engineer and make a ton of money, in my pursuit of God in that dream I was awakened to discipline, hard work and even ministry.  My pursuit of electrical engineering put me into a physical location where I could be mentored into ministry.  See, the dream was not my end-all, it was a set up for what God had REALLY called me to be.  I thank God that today I am not an electrical engineer!

 

What do I do with my dreams?

  • Develop it
  • steward it,
  • plan it out

 

BUT lay it always at the altar.  We still have to be good stewards, but continue to sacrifice it so that God can burn away the flesh part of it.  Here is how I handle dreams now, I literally write out EVERYTHING that I can about the dream.  The strategic plan, the cost estimate, the set up, the processes, potential materials needed, the vision and even the timeline. I literally dream out the entire thing to the finest detail I can, and then – I lay it aside.

 

Bring it before the father and ask him… what do you want me to learn from this dream.

 

 

 

God, I put my hope in you – not a dream.  I am yours.

 

 

Challenge: 

Are you spending more time chasing a dream, figuring out a plan – or are you chasing God and letting him work out the dreams.  After all, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (eph 3:20)…  Take some time today to list your dreams and pay them at His altar.  Literally ask God what you are supposed to do with those dreams. Ask God on each dream if you are chasing the dream or if you are chasing Him.

 

 

Prayer:
God, wow I am a mess.  Even in writing this I realize that I still have things that I am hoping for that I have become selfish in my thinking.  There are some dreams that I have been chains instead of trusting you.  Help me to lay ALL of it at your feet.  Help me to seek You more than I have ever before.  God, I need you – more than anything else.  Help me to be at a place where I am never shaken by a perceived setback, because my hope is in you.  Let me never defer my hope from you.  God, here is my day, here is my heart – open me up and use me as much as you can.  I love you – here I am, I am yours.

 

 

 

What Are You Chasing

Forget you!

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

 

Do I seek to please men?

 

That is a tough question - because if I am honest with myself then I am guilty of this.  Sure, I wouldn’t say that I am a man pleaser in the sense that I am always wanting someone to approve of me… BUT, I am. Think about it – what happens when I do something that this great, but someone else gets the credit – why do I worry about it?  Only if I am a man pleaser am I fretting over that.  Or what if I have jacked something up and made a mess of things, am I more worried about what God’s thoughts on it are, or what my boss is going to say? 

 

I am tired of making the disclaimers that are simply excuses. “If I want a job I have to please man” or “As long as my goal is to please God, then I will please man”

- tell that to Jesus.

 

I have to grow up – I have to really realize that my goal in life is not a new house, or a good vacation.  My goal is not that I make it to a 6-figure income one day. NOPE, my goal is to be a …

 

God chasing, God fearing, God pleasing servant who won’t relent until God says so.  

 

 

 

That is my goal!!!

Lord, help me to make that my goal

 

 

 

Its only in that goal that everything else lines up in priority…

 

God ~ family ~ ministry

 …or…

Money ~ Boss ~ Work ~family ~ God

 

Isn’t God bigger than my non negotiables, or my comprehension?

…I think so

God, You are so much MORE than what my parameters are, my flawed small thinking.  You don’t have the laws of this universe controlling you, you hold the universe. You don’t have a shortage of missions, money, or ideas – you are the depth of every dream.  Inside of me, is the power to achieve – but that power is not innate and physiologically blessed.  Its not that my mind has more computing power than then next guy – nope!  It is that CHRIST in me, is the hope of glory, is the power of the resurrection, is the endless promise, and is the joy of my salvation and strength.  The fact is, this mortal body has one objective – die in its desires and then be energized and blown away with the supernatural.

 

Prayer:

God, blow my mind today.  Please help me to break off of the path that aims to please man.  Even in the small stuff of wanting to be liked.  When I make those my goals, I miss the position you have me in.  I am your sacrifice – help me to put aside my flesh today and be completely available for you.  I am yours – this is my day that I now hand to you and place at your altar.  Awaken my spirit, and stir up my spiritual mind to be ATTENTIVE to You all day so that I can learn where my pride and self-preservation are in the way.  Open my understanding to grow, so that more of me is able to be more of you.  I am yours all day – I love You – thank You for loving me!.

 

Challenge:

Don’t ask “what am I supposed to be doing in life” instead ask “what am I supposed to be doing, NOW”

 

 

Go take on your day!

 

HAMSTER-WHEEL

Are you stuck???

Ever feel like you are in a hamster wheel?

I am a go-getter type guy, yet I feel like that way ALL TO OFTEN.

 

So, I read a great blog from @nateturner and it has inspired me to share a little from my devotions this morning as well as a statement that I feel God gave me today.  While reading in Mark (the last chapter) I noticed that Jesus was very specific in his instructions to the disciples. They were the type of instructions that keep ANYONE from feeling like they are stuck.

 

Mark 16:15“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

 

GO

Makes sense right? but going isn’t just doing what you are doing, it is fulfilling the NEXT step in your call.  I think Jesus was telling this to the disciples because they were just sitting around afraid of what would happen to them, or just in shock at what just happened.  However, I believe that we do the same thing – we just stay there so long that the fear becomes our mode of operation or the shock of an event wears off into a pattern of life.  All because we didn’t continue to GO.

 

PREACH

Ouch - believe it or not this is not just for those in ministry – this was a call to ALL mankind to realize our primary goal.  Our primary goal once we have given Christ our lives is to tell people about the gospel.  The incredible testimony of how God sent his own down to be beaten and killed for us, so that our hurt and brokenness could be healed and comforted.  Its no longer the job that is our path of unstuckness, it is a passionate pursuit of HIS goal.  Now, I can hear my own mind saying, “that’s not going to get me anywhere in my passion”, or “surely God doesn’t want everyone to be in ministry?”. But it is true – priority is the direction of the ship.

 

Maybe the conflict hasn’t been getting that book done, or completing that next level of education, or even that promotion – maybe the conflict has been our priority?  As believers – I do not know a single person who wouldn’t agree with the statement – “God knows best”, or “keep God first” – but are we feeding His sheep?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you love me? Feed my sheep… (not, start that non-profit)

Do you love me? Feed my sheep… (not, start that business)

Do you love me? Feed my sheep… (move to another job)

 

Feeding his sheep WILL bring the new business idea, a new job promotion, or a complete change in your natural world – but it will because the priority is seeking HIS kingdom first.

 

So I guess I am saying that if we want to be UNSTUCK – the first place we should look is are we GOING and are we PREACHING – cause that person you are about meet after you read this blog needs someone to be Jesus in their life…

GO GET UNSTUCK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hill_of_Crosses_1

Are you sacrificing self, or others?

So, ever have a word come from the Lord that feels like it penetrates down to the soul (to the center of who you are).  The kind of word that makes you look back to the past few days (and life!) and go “wow, I’m pretty messed up” :)  Well this morning in my devotional time I was confronted with yet another area that I need to change.  Its all good though.  To clarify, its an area that I already know about me, but it was exposed deeper this morning (which is a great thing!).

Am I seeking to be the sacrifice for others, or am I looking to sacrifice others for me.
 Now, this could mean a lot of different things, but the particular area that I am referring to is self-promotion.
Webster’s Definition:  Self-promotion - the action of promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, esp. in a forceful way.
Ben’s Definition – choosing any action that builds the view of another about YOU, instead of about Christ or THEM.

Let me give an example.  

This past week, while in sunny Florida (which I hear they have not had to shovel snow out of their driveways at all this winter – or ANY WINTER for that matter), I was privileged to meet so many new people.  So many successful people in my particular group, and at every lunch and dinner.   Each first interaction the standard questions come flying out of our mouths (cause we do not know any other measuring tool of assessing the person we are about to meet). 

  • 1 – Whats your name and where are you from – the small talk opener that allows us to know more about the person.
  • 2 – What do you do – there is the beginning of finding out where we match up - Now, I know MOST of you do not fall into this trap – but I KNOW I do because of what happens after I hear the response.

      Are they are MORE successful than I am? —Immediately I start thinking of myself, how do I either get them to look favorably upon me, or how do I prove that I am worthy of this conversation.
      Are they are not as successful in MY eyes as me? –Again, I start thinking of myself and in comparison I decide “Oh, I can help this guy out and encourage him.

     Now, you may be thinking – wow, Ben you have a problem.  And you would be right.  See, I love people so much and i truly have a heart to see them grow and know Jesus.  I just FEEL like I have to prove my worth in order for them to hear what I am saying.  I feel like i have to measure up in order to be on the same plain as others who are more successful than I.  With those who are not (in my eyes) I also feel like I have to show what I’ve done in order for them to be able to deem it worthy enough to take anything I say as value.  But that is all part of the problem… I am looking to what I’VE done as a source of help.  Nope, not the source.  The source is God, the Holy Spirit. My experiences (if necessary for example or encouragement) is my RESOURCE to help.  Its not the measure of  worth that the ministry of the Holy Spirit wants to pour into the person through me.

     I sat at many tables where there were all the jockeying of positions and fighting for conversational leads.  The waiting for the moment to get their words in.  And all of this at a Coaching event.  The fact is, we have to be a sacrifice if we are going to add value to anyone.  I have to sacrifice my need to feel valuable or worthy, I have to sacrifice my stories and small talk if I am going to SEE in the spirit of what God is doing and wants to do THROUGH ME for THEM.  Not the other way around.
     Please, not for the sake of self-preservation, understand that its not coming from an ugly heart of selfishness, its actually just an mind that has not been renewed.  Every person I have met deals with self-promoiton, self-preservation, self-indulgence.  We don’t truly understand our worth in Christ, so we seek out to find worth in what others think.  


Today’s Challenge

     A new approach for today – when you start a conversation with someone today – GO INTO IT attentive to what GOD wants to say (that’s sacrificing self).  Don’t go into it looking to get your point across (that’s sacrificing them for you).  In fact, every meeting you have today take 5 minutes of purposeful prayer to prepare your heart to be selfless and to hear the voice of God.  Probably one of the most incredible parts of the meetings was when Dan Cathy (President of Chik-Fil-A) showed up unannounced.  He spoke to us for a few minutes and said the most profound thing of the week. “Unless we are bringing the words of God into our leading of others, we are missing out on the most influential position available”.  To that I say, unless my goal is to bring God into the situation, I am ignoring the purpose of my position in the situation (even working at a church:).

Today’s Prayer

     God, I don’t want to be selfish anymore.  I want You to be able to trust me in every situation to LOOK for YOUR entrance.  I don’t want to find my entrance into peoples lives. Help me to be trustworthy and dependable to HELP OTHERS SUCCEED today. Please give me spiritual insight in every conversation in order to help others be encouraged and loved.  I commit to you today to pray before every meeting, to think of others before I think of myself, and to listen more than speak.  I want YOU to be glorified today in all my words, my thoughts and my conversations.  I love you so much God.  Thank you for loving me and calling me your son.  I am yours, I am your servant – please use me any way you wish! Here is my day, please use me!


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My Calling…

Yesterday, I was at my coaching certification course with the John Maxwell Team Training —– had a moment that pretty much sums up my existence as a whole.  I know what you are thinking, “wow, what a moment”.  But to get the full experience I need to tell the back story.

WHAT A GREAT DAY!

Room Situation:

I am sitting at a table in the rear, right side of the room, with 5 other GREAT people.  There are about 90 other tables in the room.  At our particular table, we have two certified coaches instead of the standard one.  In addition, our table is positioned near the staff tables (near left of us).

Scenario:

Innocently sitting in my seat – I have no clue what is about to happen… BUT apparently there was a memo sent to all in attendance, explaining some of the expectations of the event. Now, either i didnt read this “said” memo (most likely), or I never received “said” memo.  Either way, I was about to unknowingly face what the FEAR of the majority of the people in the room, public speaking.  Our SENT assignment was to prepare a 5 minute presentation about a life story that would encourage the people in the room BEFORE coming to the even…  AND, this is revealed in our FIRST session, and that we will be doing those presentations right now.  Not this afternoon, not tomorrow morning – but at this very minute.

 
I quickly took a survey of our table and my heart sank as I realized the severity of my solitary position.  I truly was the ONLY person who had nothing prepared.  Papers started coming out of briefcases, pictures and props – all being placed meticulously on the tables around the room.
 My heart started racing, oh crap!
But my fears were quickly calmed as they announced the order of the presentations..I had 5 people before me. I have time… Thank God, I now have time to drum up some kind of semblance of self-preserving presentation that could mask me to look like a person who didnt know how to speak, (instead of a person didnt read their emails).  But – the instructions were not complete – no, I was about to be faced with an ethical and moral dilemma.
“Everyone has 6 evaluation sheets in your packet that you will use to evaluate the performances of those at your table.  While they are sharing, you will mark the appropriate boxes and then at the end of their presentation you will write comments to encourage them.”

“Im screwed”

 

Here I am, ready to misuse the time while someone is sharing their hard fought presentation to the group in order to prepare my message – instead of giving them my UNDIVIDED attention.  Now with this new assignment, I could no longer feel ok with dismissing their presentation, now integrity was going to expose my plan as I would have NO evaluation form filled out if I took the time to prepare my presentation.
I CANNOT DO THAT – I can’t disrespect the person standing in front of me by being selfish  - thats not my calling… See, this is where it started changing in me – a small reminder of what my call really is in life.
Here it is:  I am called to help others succeed.
               And I
                was about
                     to sacrifice my calling
                        to gain influence… to gain an applause?
No – not this time… I  bowed my head right there and prayed. “God, if there is any other way – please take the cup from me” – just kidding, it was more like “Oh, Jesus – seriously? Please help me to not look like a fool”  HEY - Just being honest, I was facing my humanity of the fear of man’s opinion and man’s acceptance.  I wanted to look good to those around me, but that wasn’t an option IF I was to look for a way in this situation to “help others succeed”.
The MOMENT:  So I set myself as flint before each presentation. Stirring up the gift of an encourager and helping others succeed, listed intently, and gave them glowing evaluations and reviews of their presentation.  There were verges of tears in some, lots of laughter in others, and heart strings being attached to a vision- all in each of their presentations…
It was in THOSE moments that God began to speak to me.  Not in full sentences, it was more like “here is your start”, and “Here is the story that I want you to share”…

<<<THE TIME CAME>>>

I am there…
        looking into the faces of those innocent subjects…
                what now…
                         what happens now God?
The bell rings
TIME to start my 5 minute presentation and it began like this…
“Have you ever been in a situation where something enters your pursuit of a dream, your passion to achieve a goal – and immediately you define it as disruptive, distracting?  Like today – the moment where you realize that you are being asked to share a 5 minute presentation, and its the FIRST time you’ve heard of it?  It says in 2 Timothy 4:2b that we are ready both in season in out of season…”
Here I was, completely thrown off and fearing failure… the WHOLE time God had been setting me up.  God had a plan to encourage people at our table AND use the calling on my life (to help others succeed). IT WASN’T A DISTRACTION – it was a shortcut to my dream…
I proceeded to brag on my bride (nili) and her story of realizing that disruptions and obstacles can be catalysts for shortcuts to the end goal.  However, it requires a different mindset: IN NILI’s CASE – instead of seeing the diagnoses of leukemia as stall to the FAST MOVING plan of God, using Leukemia as a catalyst for change in others. A SHORTCUT to fulfilling the call.  See, it was in those moments of “disruption” that Nili shared the love of God with countless patients, nurses, doctors and even an EMT in the back of the ambulance (leading him to Christ while running a 106degree fever being med-evacuated to the hospital) – Her calling and her dream givers dream…
Its not the problem that derails us, its our attitude about the problem that robs us from the blessing.  CHANGE OUR THINKING>>>God can write you a check to pay off your home anywhere, in a conference, at work, in your home, or in back of an ambulance… Its our job to always fulfill the CALLING that is on our lives.

Question for today:

What is your calling? I have finally written mine down, and it is very simple. In fact, it can be accomplished in countless ways (some of which I have made plans for, some of which I am doing now) and I choose to think that I don’t know all the ways HE wants to do it.  Instead, I want to fulfill the call of HELPING OTHERS SUCCEED in every situation, not just my PATH that I have crafted and label-maker stickered to prove its God.  No more worries about the path, and just stick to the calling.
I know, LONGGGG post, but I hope this really challenges you (and me) to become all the more selfless.  Want to change the world, quit chasing a dream and start obeying the dream giver (after all, he thought all of it up already :) .

My Prayer:

Here is my day, here is my heart – change me to be selfless like you – change my heart to beat with the passion you have for people – change my mind to be triggered by the call on peoples lives  - let me see everyone with the love that you have for them and in response love them with the same love (and void of my interpretation and disqualifications).  Here is my day, here is my life – use me please, in any way you see fit! I love you God.
Ben
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Even the crumbs give us healing!

Mark 7:26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Let the children eat all they want - for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs -

I think this is prophetic, Jesus was basically saying that the presence was just for the Jews to start with… and that we all get the leftovers…

BUT  leftovers of an endless supply is just an act of patience, not an act of limitation. In fact, that is especially true when the “crumbs” are just as powerful as the meal.

What is fair when none of us deserve? How can I feel neglected when someone else received and I do not, knowing that it was nothing they did to EARN it, and there is nothing I did to EARN it either?

In reflection of God's shadow, MY good deeds amount to nothing.

 

GOD, to think that I have done MORE to walk in your grace/love than someone else is hypocritical in relation to what you have done to walk in grace/love towards me. There is a negation of feelings that has to enter my emotional thinking IF I am truly seeing it as it is. You are everything and you have everything. You love us all, yet in my efforts to love you back I have a tendency to build a sense of entitlement. Not in comparison of what you do for me, but in comparison of those who seem to receive from You by doing nothing (or very little). I get discouraged, but it is only because I am placing value on what I am DOING or have DONE, instead of increasing the value of what YOU are worth and what YOU have done for me. In relation to all that you ARE and all that you’ve DONE – my actions are as filthy rags, my righteousness is nothing. I am in the SAME category as the gravest of SINNER – so what right do I have to become jealous, envious, or bitter about someone else walking in the blessing?

 

Simple Answer: It’s the enemies tool.

It’s my flesh being played like a violin to draw me away from the path that honors God (not the path that gets me a bucket of gold).

 

Today’s Challenge: We need to live selflessly to another level. Purposely find someone who needs a meal today, needs a bill paid, needs financial assistance – and without accessing their value, show compassion.

 

ANOTHER LEVEL: if you dare :)  Its no loner what car I can drive or what house I can have. If I do my part, my children will have a foundation to build on – and my 200 year plan of influencing the WORLD with my family begins with me. For far too long I have wasted finances on my pleasures, on my goods – its now a passion of Nili and I to build wealth for our grandchildens’ grandchildren. Setting up generations of influence in order to change this world through spiritual and physical reformation. To bring the love of God to everyone. Oh how I wish I had lived selflessly early on. I would not have purchased that huge house on the golf course, instead we would have purchased land to fulfill a vision. We could have paid off that land and built a mansion with the interest I have paid on homes in my first 17 years of ministry. Its not that I am saying the BLESSING is wrong – its fantastic and Nili and I LOVE walking in the blessing (cause let me tell you that we are BLESSED!!!). it’s that there is a higher place of blessing that we are realizing – it’s the selflessness of abundance. There is no hoarding or splurging when you have it all. There is NO need. Its driving what I have in order to set someone else up with a needed doctors appointment, or a bill paid. Its saying that GREAT is based on God’s standard, not the gold standard. My van is amazing, not because it is the newest but because it is affording me the opportunity to give more (because it’s paid off)!

 

God, here is my day… I am yours and I love you so much! I want to be your sharpest, best equipped tool to use today.  Please work through me, help me see through your eyes, and effectively love people the way that you love me.  No more jealousy or selfishness, help me break free from feeling like I am being passed up or overlooked – I rest and rely on You.  You are my source of worth, and my source of joy.  Whether its crumbs from the floor or a feast from your table, I KNOW you will meet and exceed my every need (and dream).  Here is my day, I am yours – send me, use me – please.

 

 

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Two areas that will EXPLODE our Influence

I was reading in Matthew a few days ago in chapter 25 where there are two parables.  With looking at 2014 as a New Year, I want  to do MY best to grow in Christ and grow as a Leader.  Chapter 13 clearly gives us two areas that we can change and see crazy results.

 

1 – Preparation. Short story.  The bridegroom is set to come, and we are told that there were 10 virgins (lets not even go there) waiting to be let in the party.  Five of the virgins came with extra oil to refill their lamps, the other five only had enough to make it through one cycle of lamp oil.  When it was close to time to go in to meet the bridegroom the 5 without enough oil ran out and had to go get more.  While they were out – the door was opened and they were left out.
The Question:  How prepared are you with you lamp?  There is a place in every call where God gives us the time to do OUR PART, before He does HIS PART.  For me, I think of some of the areas that I KNOW I am supposed to be working on but instead I waste time watching an episode of CHOPPED or getting nothing done.  Idle time that could be used in preparing my heart, talents, gifts to be skilled for Him. Am I spending my time waiting at the door of the bridegroom or do I act like I have ENOUGH oil to last til when He needs me?  Am I spending my time devoting to being close to Christ or entertaining myself?
There came a time when the bridegroom came to collect on the preparedness of the virgins.  The results for the 5 who were prepared included a feast and an inheritance.

The Challenge:  Spend more time with Him.  List down the areas that we have that are idle, wasted by doing things that don’t prepare us to be ready for HIM to use us.  Then, start replacing those with times of getting closer to God like worship, reading the word, studying, serving and praying.  I know, there is a part of us that is saying – “what about being to just have fun”… Lots more on that as this year passes, but it is ALL GOOD.  But preparation isn’t just spending time with God, its preparing those things that He has given you.  Those talents, gifts, and dreams.  What are we doing to hone in the gifts that he has given us so that when its time to USE them, we have practiced and prepared enough to be useful? Some specific areas for me are: writing, leading and worship.  I need to write more and practice putting into words what I FEEL inside.  I need to continue in learning more about leading people and loving them for where and who they are.  I need to practice the passion to worship God and finish writing the songs that he has given me.

2 – USE IT – the next parable immediately following shows us an example of when our preparation has an opportunity to shine.  When we have taken the time to HONE in the gifts that God has given us.Three servants are called in front of the master and GIVEN an opportunity to shine and work out a new place of authority.  All three servants must have demonstrated a history of being faithful to some extent as they were ALL given charge over increase. Its now in the DOING part.  When the master returns he is a rewarder!  Two of the servants were faithful with what God (the master) had given them and in response they became rulers over even more.  The 3rd servant took what God had given him and out of fear buried it.

The Question: Am I using what God has given me??? What gifts, talents and dreams in my life have I been burying, either because I don’t feel like its good enough to use (please reread the first part of preparation) or because I am not READY to use them?  The time came for the servants to have their opportunity to shine.  Two did.  The other one not only lost the talent that was given to him but was thrown out.
See this is when the preparation hits the road of readiness. When God gives us gifts, talents and dreams  - we have a responsibility to do something with it.  Not squander it away and be self-indulgent with it. It takes sacrifice and work, but the reward is to be able to share more of God with others.

My Prayer:
God, forgive me for spending so much time doing nothing, my foolishness. Please forgive me for foolishness. I need to keep moving forward, engaged in the vision you have placed in me.  Help my MIND to be renewed and disciplined to spend more time with YOU and with growing.  I want to be PREPARED – I want to journeying with YOU in this and not stuck in my routine!
I love You God – I am yours