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.