Monday, December 30, 2013

And So On and So Forth

“Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. ” 

Charles H. Spurgeon

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

We can look at a new year in many ways.  most of us tend to take it one way or the other.  Either we see this new year as an immense opportunity to spread our wings and fly in new directions and to new heights or we see it as another 365 days to get through with a more-of-the-same type of attitude.  Some see adventure, while others see adversity.  Some see opportunities, while others see obstacles.

How will you see 2014?

Let's look at 2013 first, though.

What we did in 2013 included:
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.- Colossians 4:3 (NIV)

I have been seriously praying for God to lead us in a new direction and steadily along the path that He has outlined for us to take in 2014.  Surprisingly, I have discovered that God has pointed out that I have yet to do many of the things that he has already bestowed upon me.  As I look upon the incomplete, unfinished and never attempted things on my to-do list and agenda from on high, I feel convicted.  I know that I could have been a better servant than I have been in 2013.  I know that I could have been a better steward than I have been in 2013.

So now is the time to go on with what He has already given.  I have to go on and go forth.

I have to knock on doors that have yet to be opened to me.  I have call upon those who will not recognize my voice.  I have to proclaim Him to many who have yet to have an introduction to who He really is and what who the world has made Him out to be with its skewed and slated views.

If you want to join me in making the Word known throughout this world, here is how you can join in as we embark on 2014:
  1. Start dreaming again and do something with your dreams
  2. Start by reading a New Year's Resolution Guide
  3. Understand how to start your day on a positive note
Then, once you have started on that track, continue to follow this blog as we discuss 2014's ventures and furthering the Good News.

Monday, December 23, 2013

In Need of an Eye Opener in 2014

And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized- Acts 9:18 (ASV)

Paul got an "eye opener" after he had his run-in with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Many of us do not even see it that way, though.  

We see Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road as the eye opener.


That was just the shocker that got homeboy's attention.  The eye opener did not happen until he had been humbled due to to being rendered dependent on the care of others, particularly the folks around the way on a street called Straight.  That's when things started to come together and make sense for him.

I find that the local church may need more of an eye opener than it would care to admit in such an age of enlightenment and information sharing.  We have websites with plenty of popups and other bells and whistles.  We have lots of folks giving us a thumbs up and liking the pastor's latest status updates and photo mashup uploads.  Yet, we leave a whole lot to be desired right in our own midst.

When was the last time that the church just invited the visitors from the past quarter or the past year just to come and have fellowship with the pastor? I mean like cookies or cake and punch like a party without the dog and pony show.  I am thinking that we could invite some of the folks who just recovered from years of battling alcoholism or imprisonment, even widowers and former battered wives, to share their testimonies of survival and victory through faith and trust.  let those folks and their testimonies serve as the keynote addresses and let the pastor simply invite the attendees to join in prayer, then let them meet with a prayer counselor or elder of the church- however you do it in your church or congregation- to share their decision to join or to seek more answers about salvation, church and being a Christian.

Something like that may be the breakthrough that we have been awaiting.  The sound system and the projected song lyrics on the big screen are indeed impressive.  In fact, I love seeing that.  But the "true riches" that Christ spoke of will not  be reached and placed in our possession (under our stewardship, rather) if we do not stop for a moment and address our own blind spots to get those around us to come to know us as more than holy hypocrites.  They need to see that we are flesh and blood just like them but the we have the favor of faith that is also readily available to them, too.

Imagine if our local churches took on the role of community center and resource center more than simply just worship center.  What would alter and change in your community? Would your pastor still be seen as the guy who talks about Jesus and God? Or, would people in your community come to know Him as a servant of the Lord and a true man of God in their opinion? It is all in how outsiders view us that is considered public opinion.  How we view ourselves is called "self image." We do not get an eye opener from looking in the mirror or leaning over and telling our neighbor on the pew that we are doing great and doing God's work.

Open up your hearts and mind, then begin to open your doors, so that you have a new image in the community where your church is located.  Maybe you won't change the community in one day, but you surely can change the community's perception of you and your congregation.

For more insights on this please read my article on local visitors and the local church.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Elevated Expectations

In the Dickens classic Great Expectations, it is said that Pip is destined to become a "man of great expectations." Imagine such an elevated expectation of a young man from such humble beginnings.  Now put yourself in a similar situation.

What level of expectation do others have of you?

Are you a picture of the epitome of success? Or, are you sadly falling far below expectations?

If you meet or exceed expectations, now is the time for you to start exploring and engaging in new relationships on a professional level.  You may have outgrown your current level of success and require a new set of challenges to keep your drive going.

When you venture into new territory, you are bound to experience some new levels of elevated expectations.

Meet the challenge and embrace it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Damage of an Inside Job

I love watching Breach, whether on DVD or when cable networks have the guts and cojones to broadcast it late at night.  It deals with espionage and government secrets. However, the underlying thematic undercurrents deal with personal betrayal and undermining the person more than the system.  

It is a lot like the Gospels and the rest of the Scriptures

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.  - Matthew 26:15

Judas was a disciple of Jesus.  We tend to see his betrayal without getting a glimpse of his beginnings.  We hardly ever hear or read about him as a zealot or how he was the one who was not a Galilean disciple.  Yet, we are certain to remember that he betrayed the Master for thirty pieces of silver, that he kissed the Lord as a sign to the Lord's captors and that he hung himself some time afterwards.

We rarely get an authentic, biblical view of Judas because his tragic betrayal stands out beyond anything else he could have ever done.

But Judas was a follower of Jesus.  In fact, Judas was one of the Twelve.  Judas did not choose to walk away when Jesus shared one of His so-called hard sayings (John 6:66).  The truth of the matter was that Judas was trusted among the disciples because he handled the treasury of funds for the ministry.  We know that Jesus said that one of the Twelve was a devil, but he never tossed Judas out nor called him on his eventual betrayal of Him.  

But Satan entered into Judas' heart.

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.- Psalm 55:12-13

Judas was subject to many of the troubling things that we all experience while serving beside great leaders.  Wasn't Benedict Arnold a trusted leader serving with General George Washington for the Colonies?  Wasn't Brutus a comrade and friend of Julius Caesar? Oftentimes, it is the inside job's betrayal, deceit and disloyalty that damage us more than the act itself.

We come to realize that Judas' betrayal of Jesus was part of the prophecy.  Judas was used as part of the plan for salvation; no betrayal = no conviction, no cross.  Judas was a necessary evil for the good to come about for us all.

Think about it.  If all of that can occur with someone who walked with Jesus for three years, what is going to happen in your in-house small group or local ecumenical association? Jesus' ministry was not immune to the treachery of a traitor or the deception of a devil, so you surely cannot expect the Lord will not allow you to suffer in a similar fashion.  He knows that you can recover from the damage.

If you ever find it hard to believe that you can live on after having been bruised and battered by betrayal, read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 55 then read Jesus' words to His disciples upon His resurrection.  His words comfort and heal.  We see the betrayed innocence emerging as beautifully clothed in holiness.  Look at Jesus.  After all, He lives on as the result of the after effects an inside job.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your Best You Have to Offer

And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord.
And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
- 1 Kings 8:62-63 (KJV)

What ever you have to offer the Lord, let it be your best.  Give Him the best that you have to give.  Let Him bless you like you have never been blessed before based on your willingness to give Him of your best, not just what you decided to part with.

And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.  On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.
- 1 Kings 8:65-66
The king led the people in offerings and prayer.  Then, after all of that was done, he led them in celebration for an extended period of time.  You see, when you offer God your best, you can enter into His rest.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tech Tools for Nonprofits and Churches

Jesus preached about "new wineskins." Msny of us have come to understand that those new wineskins have come in many forms to deliver and share the gospel as well as ways to support and strengthen the church. Here are some places where you an get a look at some "new winseskins:" Be sure to check out and register for one of the most inspiring Christian social networks with feeds and friends as well as plenty of sharing like praise reports and prayer requests.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Biblical Business Principles for Your Book Shelf

Christians who are in business could always use some help, especially the type of help that can build up their faith as well as strengthen their skills or abilities to manage a workplace balance.  I have compiled a list of my favorite Bible-inspired books for business owners and leaders.

Jesus CEO Laurie Beth Jones
This is definitely an all-time and hands-down exceptional book that is also an easy read.  Jones shares anecdotes, examples and  illustrations that interweave with the Scriptures for a delightful book on leadership.

Running with Giants John C. Maxwell
Maxwell takes the reader on an inspirational journey through the hall of Faith (Hebrews 11).  He utilizes the biblical sketches of these standout biblical characters to inspire and uplift business professionals as they seek to grow their own faith as much as they seek to succeed at growing their business.

God is My CEO Larry Julian
Julian breaks down the principles required of Christians to succeed in the business world by highlighting the lives of successful Christian business men and women.  These profiles provide a wide breadth of pointers for Christians in need of inspiration and insights into the real bottom line.

The Management Methods of Jesus Bob Briner
Bob Briner lays out a compact book that packs a powerful punch.  He shares his personal business journey as a Christian in the sports media world.  He accentuates each chapter with the methods Jesus utilized with His disciples and others.  This is a great book for first-time managers who fear that their faith might endanger their own success.

Business by the Book Larry Burkett

This is a must-read for any Christian who works in the world or even in the church as an employee or volunteer.  Let Burkett's mastery of money matters and biblical principles sink deep into your soul and mind.  After reading this, you will find some real nuggets for getting ahead in business while maintaining your integrity.

If you have other suggestions for great business books for Christians, please submit the title and author to us via comments on

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Today's Task

Today I vow to breathe positive words.

Today I swear to stay positive in my outlook.

Today I will be as positive as I can be.

Today I will think positively.

Today I will become the epitome of positive living.

Today I will be the picture of positive thinking.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fundraising Fun Times

Fundraising includes the word fun in its beginning.

So, why don't we make fundraising more fun?

One reason may be that fundraising is serious business.  People's lives depend on the programs and services provided by nonprofits and similar community and faith-based agencies.  Some are the low to moderate income clients that these agencies serve on a daily basis.  Others include the employees, contractors and vendors of the agencies themselves.  When a family depends on its local food bank for the bread and other goods that keep them going, it spells serious business.

Another reason is that many agency employees are busy as well as their volunteer board members.  Employees have a tough enough time keeping the operation going.  Add the additional responsibility of raising funds primarily through grants and government contracts and you will see one set of overwhelmed and   frustrated folks.  Some boards do not meet frequent enough to truly understand the agency's programming and services to even begin to start tackling fundraising.

Many agencies hire, retain and/ or contract with an outsider for writing grants or developing a fundraising plan.  In many cases, such individuals are freelancers acting as independent contractors or consultants.  They gather data on the organization, research potential grant matches and plug in the data from the agency into a boilerplate or template, awaiting the next installment on their retainer for services rendered based upon an emailed or hand delivered invoice due within 30 days upon receipt.

Put the fun back into fundraising. Go ahead and  let your team gather for chips and salsa or pizza and wings as they devise a fun way to raise money for your cause in general and your agency specifically.  Let your ideas run wild and free.  Spend some time brainstorming and tossing around ideas.  Make note of ideas that resonate with the group, then start researching the possibilities and potential of putting some of these ideas into action.

Maybe a grant would help you out, but a bowl-a-thon might be a little more memorable and you maybe could use a boost in morale around the office if you include staff, volunteers, clients and board members as well as the surrounding community.

Put the fun back into fundraising.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Match Your Works with the Word

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Outreach is all about reaching out.

"I believe I never was more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields I now preach to ten times more people than I would if I had been confined to the churches." - George Whitefield

"Preach abroad. It is the cooping yourselves up in rooms that has dampened the work of God, which never was and never will be carried out to any purpose without going into the highways and hedges and compelling men and women to come in."- Jonathan Edwards

"Love your fellowmen, and cry about them if you cannot bring them to Christ. If you cannot save them, you can weep over them. If you cannot give them a drop of cold water in hell, you can give them your heart's tears while they are still in this body."
- C.H. Spurgeon

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Starting Your Own Startup

Entrepreneurship is one of the only ways some folks will ever return to the workforce.

They do not have the skills.  They lack the education or experience necessary.  They are too old.  They are not equipped, not certified or not what the recruiters and headhunters are looking for in a qualified candidate.

Entrepreneurship may be their only immediate route.

Entrepreneurship may be their one and only hope.

Imagine what the recently released felon must say about his or her chances at landing the dream job.

Think about how the recovering addict fresh out of rehab.  How is he or she going to fit in with the sales and marketing team on the sixth floor?

Picture gramps who just got let go from industry leader who decided to" go in a new direction" after using him for the past twenty-five years.  He's not exactly the best bet or best fit for hiring firms as a Baby Boomer.

Some will say that you just don't have it.  They don't believe that you have it in you.

They don't feel what you feel or see what you see.

You have the knack for being in business.

You have the drive and motivation to start and stay in business.

You've got what it takes.

I found that the knack and drive to own your own business may require you to manage conflicts on your own or with your family.  You may be required to use your living room as a home office or shop for used furniture to outfit your new brick and mortar office space.  You can become your own boss.  You can give birth to your own dreams.

Promote entrepreneurship among our people who are struggling for another chance.  Give them a leg up.  Put them in touch with community banks and micro lenders.  Educate yourself on entrepreneurship.

As a freelance writer and consult, I benefit from the help, support and advice of others.  I gain a lot from online communities and social networks as well as multimedia sharing sites.  I use freelancing to supplement my primary income.  I use some of the top freelancing sites to get my words in print or online.

I understand what it takes to run a business.  I had to believe in myself.  I had to believe in my dreams.  I had do it by myself at times and with the help of others at other times.  I had become flexible and adaptable.  I had to make adjustments on the fly, too.

If you really want it, you can succeed at being in business.  If you believe in yourself more than you believe the words of your critics and the naysayers, you can have it.

Go on and stop waiting on others.

Start taking action.

Start your own startup business now.