Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm Lost Without You

Mark 8:35

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

God's economy is much different than ours. In God's economy the more we give away the more we have left. In our economy the more we try to keep for ourselves the more we lose. Of course the important link is movtive, "Why we do what we do." Only what we do for Christ will last. Without Christ we are lost.

In order to be a disciple of Jesus, we must deny our self-preserving ways and surrender our lives to his service. In his book Radical, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, David Platt talks about how we must De-captilize the Christian faith to properly reflect the sacrifices for being a follower of Jesus Christ. We've allowed capitalistic influences to infiltrate what it means to be a Christian. Many of us are lost in a religion that no longer truly represents the heart of Jesus.

It is only when we abandon our selfish perusuit of material accquistion and instead use our God given wealth to help others that we truly represent Jesus. When we give ourselves away so that God can use us is when we really find Life more abundantly.

What does it profit a man to become a success but lose his soul in the process? What will a man give in exchange for his soul? We need to abandon anything that would make us compromise our convictions in Christ It's easier for those of us who don't have much to get in sync with God's will than it is for those of us who have more. When God blesses you with excess it's not for you to hoard but for you to give more away.

Dear God,

Help me to give my life away so that I can have life in you. Bless those who do not have through those of us who do. Use me today to bless those that I can with what I can. Use me Lord until you use me up.

In Jesus Name,


Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Else Do They Want From Me?!

Acts 28:27

For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and I would heal them.

It can be a frustrating thing when you give your best to people and they not respond to what you give. Whether it's a marriage, teaching students in school, pastoring a church, coaching a team; it can be downright disheartening when you teach, preach, share your heart to others only to have them walk way not getting what you have poured out over and over and over. It makes you want to ask, "What else do you want from me?" Their answer would probably be, "Nothing!" The truth of the matter is that there will be people who will not be able to receive from you because for one reason or the other their hearts have become hardened and they can't receive from you any longer. As painful as it is there will be people in your life who will reach a point where they will not receive what was meant for them exclusively and you will have to watch their backs as they walk away from what was meant for them. There is nothing else you can do but share what God gave you and hope it falls on good ground. Giving is your responsibility, receiving is theirs. Just as God cannot make you love him, you cannot make them love you!

Jesus had masses of people following him in the early parts of his ministry when he was healing, feeding, and preaching to the people, but when he extended his reach to the gentiles and challenged them in his teaching many of those same people he helped stopped following him. Every leader reaches a season where the crowd starts thinning out and the core has to be strengthened. What else can you do when it seems that the people you've been called to don't seem to be receiving what you're saying:

1. You have to be clear that God is calling you to reach a specific group of people and everybody is not called to you. Just because they are in the crowd intially doesn't mean they will remain in your corner.

2. Make sure you give quality to those who are listening and not give up because of the fickeledness of the crowd. Keep feeding those that want to hear what God has given you. Check yourself first and make sure you are up on your stuff but after you've done a quality inspection of what you give out you can't get stuck after you've given your best.

3. Don't take it personal when they walk away when you know you've done your best. People come and People go, it's what people do but make sure you take care of the people that are sent to you

4. Do your best and let God do the rest. It is God who adds and gives increase. Do your level best to preach and teach only what God gives you. He will send to you the disciples, team members, and partners who are supposed to be walking with you, who fit your DNA and mission.

5. Pray for the hearts of the people that God is sending you to, that they may be open and receptive to the truth.

6. If they don't receive you, shake the dust from your feet and keep it moving.

7. Celebrate the ones who do receive and pour your time, energy, and love into them.
Thank you for the people you've allowed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Too Short

Acts 26:28

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Back in the 80’s evangelical Christians used to hand out little tracts as an attempt to win people to Christ. They were like little short stories of heaven and hell that were used to convince people of their need for Salvation in Jesus. These were great discussion starters but oftentimes they were too short to convince the average unbeliever of their need for Jesus. More than a tract, unbelievers are looking at the trek of your life to see how you live out your life more than they are looking at what you hand out. These popcorn testimonials are great discussion starters about peoples' need for God but in order to convince people to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savor they must be convinced that we follow Jesus ourselves.

The Apostle Paul was on trial for allegedly stirring up trouble in Jerusalem. He was explaining his faith journey and encounter with the risen Jesus to King Agrippa. Paul was getting close to convincing King Agrippa as he tried to make the connection from the Prophets to Jesus. King Agrippa felt Paul trying to make a logical leap and connect King Agrippa to Christ when Agrippa interrupted Paul and said, “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” ‘Your time is too short!’

Like Paul we don’t have much time with people these days. Time is a precious commodity. Tweets only hold 140 characters. Preachers are sending out prayers in sound bites, everybody is trying to sound profound in a limited amount of time and space and 140 characters are just too short to share all of what God has done for you but you shouldn't let that stop you from sharing your faith just because your time is too short.

1. To effectively share your faith you need time to establish relationship with the people you are witnessing to. You are not always going to encounter people who believe what you do but it doesn’t hurt to share what you believe. Just know that you are not going to convert everybody on the first try. Build relationship and consistently live out your faith. Don’t just say it. Live it!

2. Know that sometimes you are only planting a seed for somebody else to water later. One man plants, one man waters, and God gives the increase. Even though your time is too short God’s word never returns void.

3. It’s not the amount of time but the quality of what you share. Be clear. Be Concise. Be caring.

4. Pray for God to use the time you do have. Don’t waste your time when God puts you in front of important people. Pray for what to say. Paul said in verse 29, ‘Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Dear God,

Use my time to make an impact on the people you put me in front of today. Teach me how to make the most of my time, whether short or long. I pray that unbelievers would come to know Jesus by my life and words because Life is too short.

In Jesus Name,


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Didn't Have to Pay!

Acts 22:28

New International Version (NIV)

28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

There are so many things that we take for granted these days that were provided at a great cost. The freedoms and privileges we enjoy came at a great cost. Our Civil Rights came at the cost of many lives, the shedding of much blood, imprisonments, beatings; lynchings and many of our children are oblivious that someone paid a great cost for their citizenship.

My son Jaden asked me the other day when were we going to stay in the Hotel again. I asked him, “Why?” He said, “I like staying in the Hotel because the food is free!” Jaden doesn’t understand that I have to pay for the room and food; all he has to do is wake up and eat. Many of us are like my 8 year old, we don’t understand the cost because somebody else paid the price for us to enjoy the perks of citizenship.

Paul was about to be flogged because the Roman officials couldn’t understand why the Jews were in an uproar over his presence in Jerusalem. The Romans had occupied Jerusalem and had jurisdiction over the legal affairs of the city. As they stretched Paul out to be whipped he brought to their attention, I am a Roman citizen. Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”

The Commander of the Roman Army who was carrying out the order to beat Paul was startled because he didn’t know that Paul was a Roman citizen. This changed the ball game. Paul’s citizenship gave him rights that Jews didn’t have. But what threw the commander off was that Paul was Jewish, spoke Aramaic, looked like a Jew but had Roman citizenship. He asked Paul, “Are you really a Roman citizen because I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship?” Paul said, “I didn’t have to pay, I was born a citizen!”

He looked at Paul and made a pre-judgment because of his ethnicity and because of the way he talked and concluded that Paul couldn’t have been a citizen but Paul reminded him that I didn’t have to pay. Is there anything you are able to do today regardless of your color, regardless of where you live that you didn’t have to pay for? I remember getting a scholarship in college because my daddy fought in the Vietnam War. I didn’t have to pay because my daddy made the sacrifice. More than that I should have went to Hell but because Jesus paid for my sin with his life I didn’t have to pay to live out my life. I was born a citizen of God’s kingdom!

There are some things you don’t have to pay for because of what you received by simply being born again:

1. The penalty of your sin. Jesus paid the price of your sin by being flogged, and crucified. He went through excruciating pain so that you have forgiveness of sins. I Cor. 6:18-20

2. Abundant life. Jesus said, “The devil came to steal, kill, and destroy but I came that you might have life and life more abundantly!” John 10:10

3. Your Freedom. Not only do we have our Civil Rights but we also have the right to the tree of life through Jesus Christ. John 8:36 says, “He who the Son sets free is free indeed!”

4. Eternal life. If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and believe in him we shall have eternal life. John 3:16 We didn’t even have to pay for it even though we should have. Jesus paid it all.

Dear God,

Thank you for sending Jesus to pay for my citizenship. As a result of being born again I am enjoying the privileges of citizenship. Thank you for the sacrifices of my ancestors who died for the freedoms I now enjoy. Somebody died that I might be born a citizen. I didn't have to pay for this and for that I am grateful!

In Jesus Name,


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Desperate Times = Dependable Friends

Job 6:14-15

In trouble like this I need dependable friends whether I’ve forsaken God or not. But you, my friends, you deceive me like streams that go dry when no rain comes.

I think they need to come up with a new name for the people who they call “friends” on Facebook. I have over 5000 friends and Facebook only allows 5K. I’ve discovered that when I try to add people with whom I’m in relationship with I can’t because I’m over the limit because I’ve added people who requested to be my “friend” but from whom I never communicate with. They should change the name of “Friends” to “people who want to watch you live.” It’s not a slam on the people who genuinely want to interact with you but it is an inquiry as to why so many people hide behind the word “friend” but are not really friendly.

Social media is a reflection of real life. When we first got on the social scene we got many friends and followers we were linked up with, many people as we met on Foursquare and allowed people into MySpace but what we discovered over time is that many of these people are not dependable in desperate times.

The illusion of friendship in social media has overflowed into our private lives. We have the illusion of quantity with the reality of very little quality. Whodini asked the question, “Friends, how many of us have them, the ones we can depend on?”

The bible says that “brothers are born in the time of adversity, but Job says, “When I found myself in desperate times my brother or friends were not dependable.” Job compared his friends to intermittent streams that swell when it rains or when the snow melts.” There are seasons when people pour into your life when things are going good, you’re on top, you have money, you’ve got good health, everybody wants to be your friend but when it gets hot or you’re catching heat they dry up.

Desperate times calls for dependable friends. Job lost everything he had. He asked the question, “Do I have any power to help myself now that success has been driven from me? A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends.” Job’s friends accused him of doing wrong because he was suffering. Jobs friends speculated as to why he was not on top anymore. Job’s friends talked about him when they should have just listened to him.

Desperate times calls for dependable friends. How do we make sure we are dependable?

1. Be consistent. Be a friend in season and out of season. In good times and bad times.

2. Make sure you’re there when they’ve fallen just like you were when they were ballin'.

3. Encourage them in the Lord.

4. Take up for your friend and not give in to the Peanut gallery. Everybody has an opinion of how somebody got knocked down but only a friend helps them up.

5. Don’t be a fair-weather friend.

6. Call them in their dry season.

7. Pray for them.

Dear God,

Help me to remember that he who has friends must first show himself friendly. Help me to be the kind of friend that I want in my life. Help me to shorten my friend's list because life is too short to be frontin'.

In Jesus Name,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Don't Call Me That!

Acts 10:15

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

People fear what they don’t understand. It's so easy to sit back and label other people unclean when we have been socialized to believe that because they are different they are unacceptable. For hundreds of years in America, we have been indoctrinated to believe that whites are better than blacks. Herman Cain was partially correct when he said that blacks have been brainwashed he just forgot to be inclusive in saying that White people have also been brainwashed into believing that they are superior to blacks based upon skin color. We have categorized people into categories of clean and unclean, cool and uncool, saint and sinner many times because of cultural conditioning. We have been robbed of relationship because of our labels that have been ingrained through pre-judging or prejudice. Many of us feel like the rapper T.I. when people label us before knowing us, “You might see me in the street but you don’t know me!”

To know me is to love me and many of us can’t adequately love our neighbor because we miss the opportunity to know people because we have labeled each other as conservative, liberal, dirty, sinner, cult and contemporary, secular; without taking the time to really get to know who we are on the inside.

Peter was on the rooftop praying when God gave him a vision of all the things that were forbidden for him to eat according to his religious tradition. God told him to rise and eat! Peter said, “That stuff is nasty and I never have and never will eat that.” God said, “Don’t call anything unclean that I have made clean.” Does God change his mind on what we call nasty or has what we called nasty been redeemed because God changed it?

Once we’ve been redeemed you can’t call me nasty anymore. I am not ignorant you can’t call me the “N” word. Don’t call me that! I am a woman and not a female dog! Don’t call me that! I work hard and pay taxes just like you, don’t call me an illegal immigrant especially if I take care of your house and your children. Don’t call me that! Don’t call me unpatriotic just because I don’t buy into political pedagogy and spin as I refuse to support an unjust war or Occupy Wall Street. Don’t call me that!

God sent Peter to Cornelius’ house who happened to be a Roman soldier and a Gentile by definition. Jews didn’t eat with Gentiles it would defile them religiously but God sent Peter to Cornelius’ house. When he got there he preached to them and everyone there received the Holy Spirit even before they got baptized. They were “dirty” and still received the Holy Spirit. They got baptized after receiving the Holy Ghost! Wow! Some of us need to get baptized with the fire before we hit the water.

Today, God wants you to get out of your comfort zone and talk to somebody who other people would call nasty or uncool or unholy. It is only when we stop labeling that we allow God to move in other people’s lives that are different from us. Different doesn’t mean bad. Go in their space so you can get to know them and share the gospel.

1. Eat in the home of somebody different from you.

2. Take them to lunch and listen to their story.

3. Pray with people from different backgrounds.

4. Listen before you start preaching.

Don’t call somebody unclean when God wants you to redeem them through relationship. You can’t call them that anymore! God loves them just as much as he loved you. You know you used to be Nasty! Don’t call me that anymore.

Dear God,

Thank you for cleaning me up when I was nasty. Now help me to stop pre-judging others without going over to get to know them better. Use me to break down barriers so others who differ from me can receive the Holy Spirit and have relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Something's Missing!

Acts 8:15-16

New International Version (NIV)

15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

When I first moved to Memphis around 1995, I was a youth pastor fresh out of seminary with one youth ministry assignment under my belt and now on my second call at a mega church that would become the mother church that birthed New Direction. God was preparing me for a greater assignment without me even knowing it. I remember reaching a pint of emptiness in ministry where I was reaching kids for Christ but I felt so empty myself.

One day my youth choir director, who is now my minister of music, asked me to go to a prayer meeting over to this lady’s house named, “Mother Cleveland.” I didn’t want to go over some lady’s house for prayer! It sounded boring and spooky, plus I was burnt out on religion but something was missing! So I went reluctantly to this lady’s house. It was kind of weird at first. Just a little old brick house, the room was kind of dim but there was peace pervading the house. We began to sing praises to God and pray. I felt myself letting my guards down. Then she laid her hands on me and began to pray, then she laid hands on my throat, then my stomach and told me to let go. The fire of the Holy Spirit began to stir in my belly and something was locked in my throat. The next thing I know I was on my face speaking in my prayer language for the first time in my life!

I had been baptized at 12, Convicted in my spirit at 19, called preach at 21, and filled with Holy Ghost at 26. Salvation is a process. For some this filling of the Holy Spirit comes much faster because they are more aware of what’s missing but for me it took a while to realize that something was missing.

I believe you receive the Holy Spirit as a deposit when you receive Jesus. 2 Corinthians 1: 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

We all receive this deposit when we are born again but there is more coming through prayer and the laying on of hands. I think that might be what is missing in our churches today. We’ve done a good job in drawing a lot of people but we haven’t done a good job in filling a lot of people. Phillip had preached and baptized many people in Samaria but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Peter and John were sent to Samaria by the Apostles in Jerusalem as a follow up to what Phillip had been able to do. They went there so the people could receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.

When we hear the gospel and it cuts to our hearts many times we are convicted to change our behavior and head in a new direction. A seed is planted and we want to do what the word of God is saying. The problem is that we are still fleshy and prone to sin because of fleshy desires. When we are baptized it’s a statement that I’m dying only to be born again. What sustains my new birth is a second wind. When God created Adam he breathed into his nostrils the breath of Life. When we are born again God sends the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands. The Holy Spirit is the difference between a regular church member and a Disciple of Christ. Just because you’re a member of a church doesn’t mean you are full of the Holy Spirit.

If you live by the Holy Spirit you will not keep doing stuff your body wants you to do. Read Galatians 5:16-23

How do we get what’s missing?

1. You must be born again. John 3:2-4

New International Version (NIV)

2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”

2. Come to prayer meeting individually and corporately. Acts 2

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

3. Keep regular spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, and reading God’s word. Read Isaiah 58. Make sure you practice true fasting go to

Dear God,

Help me to fill what’s missing in my life. I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit so I can live out this abundant life that Jesus died for me to have. I don’t want a form of Godliness but no power to go with it. Fill me till there’s more of you than me.

In Jesus name,

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fighting through a Disconnect

Have you ever been in a position where you felt so disconnected from family, friends, career or even God? While sitting in a local restaurant with my wife, during my annual sabbatical this year, I realized that I had become disconnected from the very people I was called to serve. It was from that personal experience that my Leadia experience, "Fighting through a Disconnect", was birthed. I invite you to go to and download the FREE app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod and enjoy this insightful, interactive experience. God Bless!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Are You Devoted To?

Acts 2:42

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Devote--to give or apply (one's time, attention or self) entirely to a particular activity, pursuit, cause or person.

We are so spread thin today with so many things claiming our attention. So much so, that we need reminders to remind us of what we need to be reminded of. Life used to be so simple. We went from one phone in the house to every person in the family with a cell phone. We went from one TV with a few stations to multiple TVs and computers with multiple channels and viewing options. With all of these distractions it's hard to be focused on just one thing but we must be devoted to something. What is the one thing that you give all of your time, atteniton and self to?

Athletes are devoted to their sport of choice. Doctors are devoted to their specific fields of medicine. Teachers are devoted to educating their students. What are you devoted to? What is it in your life that requires for you to give all of your attention, time and self to so that you can be the best at what it is that God has called you to? What has all your attention at any given time? Who gets the most of you?

As a growing Christian we should be devoted to:

1. The Apostles teaching...we should make sure that we are devoted to learning more about God's word from those who are sent by God. Every morning I devote some time for the Holy Spirit to teach me through God's word. Every day you should devote time to God's word and every week find a bible believing church where God's sent one can pour into you through preaching/teaching.

2. The Fellwoship...We should be a part of a Growth Group. At New Direction, we have small group bible studies on Tuesday nights so that people can fellowship while they learn. Fellowship is simply spending time in relationship with other Christians who are trying to Experience, Be Empowered, and Engage in Missions.

3. Breaking not just eating togetehr but also the sacred act of remembering Jesus' sacrifice every time we come together. A lot of these meetings took place in the homes of believers. We should devote time to building relationships and spending time in each other's sacred space.

4. Prayer...We need to devote time to praying for each other and with each other. Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together touching and agreeing, there I will be in the midst of them." How much time do you devote to prayer? Prayer is really the only thing that keeps us growing in God. Prayer is our power souce. One Week without prayer makes One Weak.

Dear God,

I devote myself to you this morning. I'm going to make sure that every day you get more of my time, attention and self. Too many things have had me spread thin but I want to shift my attention to you and devote myself so that I can grow to the next level of discipleship. Today, I cut out any distractions that are pulling me away from my allegiance to you. I'm devoted to you Jesus!

In Jesus Name I pray,


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Most Men Are...

Nehemiah 7:2

I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani...because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.

"Most Men are..." I know! I know! There are many negative adjectives that come to mind when you hear the phrase "Most Men..." Through the years there has been much to say about the lack of good men because "most men" are...

Men have been given a bad rap because of the overgeneralization of negative behavior that seems to repeat itself in the male species. Behavior like; corruption, infidelity, narcissism, violence and a lack of fear of God.

God created man in his own image and he expects more from his creation. since the prototypical Man, Adam, men have struggled with being the creation that God meant us to be. After Adam fell he tried to hide from God and God came looking for him by asking, "Adam, where are you?' Today, God is still looking for men who have messed up but still have some good left in them but like most men many of us are still hiding with our potential still locked up in us.

God put Adam in charge because he was made in God's image which meant he had the potential to be like God but he also had the fallibility of being human. Like most men, Adam had the potential for good and evil.

Like Most Men, we all want to be used of God but like Most men our actions often disqualify us from being used like we want to but what gives us hope is the second man. I Corinthians 15:45 the first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam, a life-giving Spirit. What enables us not to be like most men is the life-giving Sprit of Jesus, the Son of Man. I was disqualified because of the first man I became like most men but because of Jesus, the second man, I was redeemed to be able to live a life different from most men. I was like most men because of my natural man but because of the second man, Jesus, I've been restored to my God-like potential. While everybody else saw the worst in me God saw the best in me and put me in charge because I was not like most men because of the second man, Jesus!

After Nehemiah rebuilt the gates of jerusalem he put his brother in charge of the gates. Jesus was our Nehemiah who restored our spiritual foundation and then put us in charge because we were no longer like most men. Nehemiah put his brother in charge for two reasons:

1. He was a man of integrity. Jesus doesn't put us in charge because we are Holy, he makes us Holy so we can be in charge. David was a man after God's own heart but he was also an adulterer and murderer but he had the integrity to say, "I have sinned against you, renew the right spirit within me, and restore the joy of my salvation." Integrity is not pretending to "be the man" but admitting that "you are the man" that has sinned and needs God's help.

2. Feared God more than most men do. David told his son Solomon that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. David showed that he feared God when he cut a piece of Saul's robe in I Samuel 24. David said, "i will not touch the Lord's anointed." When David told Saul that he had a chance to kill him but he didn't because he was the Lord's anointed Saul said, "You are more righteous than I." In other word's, David feared God more than most men.

What sets me apart from most men is not that I'm better than they are but I fear God more than most men. That's the only thing that keeps me from being disqualified. Are you like most men?

Dear God,

Thank you for using me in spite of myself. Help me to be more like the second man than the first man. Help me to be more spiritual than carnal. Order my steps so that I might go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do. It is no longer my life to live but my life is hidden in Christ and it's in Jesus Name that I pray!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Why You Mad at Me?

Nehemiah 4:1-2

1[a] Now when(A) Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of(B) Samaria, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves?[b] Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?"

The rapper T.I. had a song where he asked his haters, "Why you mad at me?!" He begins his lyrical cross examination by asking his haters, "Is it because I came from the bottom to the top? Why you mad at me?" It seems to be a universal trait for people that are in competition with you to become angry when they see you rebelling from the bottom to the top. particularly amongst oppressed groups we find it hard to celebrate the upward mobility of others because competitors feel they will lose something in your forward progress. It's unfortunate that other people get angry when you are only trying to better yourself and your community.

Nehemiah was trying to rebuild the walls that had been destroyed in Jerusalem and when Sanballat the arab heard about it he came angry and enraged. Sanballat and his friends benefited from the walls being down. They raided Jerusalem at will because there were no walls to defend the city. Whenever you build up your defense to protect your family and community, the people who previously benefited from you being 'down' will get angry with you are coming up.

Why you mad at me?!

There are five reasons why they are mad at you:

1. They are mad that you're getting stronger. A lot of times you can get your answers through their questions. What are those feeble Jews doing? They wanted the Jews to stay weak but by rebuilding the walls they were showing themselves strong. If you want to make your haters angry just keep getting stronger with progress.

2. They were mad at the restoration. Will they restore this wall? When you start restoring what was destroyed, when you start restoring community your enemies who benefited from fractured community will be angry. When restoration comes they can't take advantage of your vulnerability any longer.

3. They are mad at your sacrifices. Will they offer sacrifices? They were afraid that when these Jews reinstated their sacrifices to God, that this would jump start their favor with God again. People are afraid of your sacrifice. When you start sacrificing to God, God starts working on your behalf. Give (sacrifice) and it shall be given back to you, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will men give back to you. The founder of TOMS gives away 2 million shoes to needy children every year. He started his business by sacrificing one pair of shoes for every pair he sold. He said in his book, Start Something that Matters, "the quest for success is not the same as the quest for status and money. The definition has broadened to include contributing something to the world and living and working on one's own terms."

4. They are mad because you are about to finish. Will they finish in a day? Nothing makes your enemies angrier than to see you are about to finish what they said you couldn't! Finish your project. Finish your education. Finish your job and let the Haters hate! Jesus made the devil mad when he was hanging on the cross and said, "it is finished!"

5. They are mad because you just did the impossible. Can they bring the stones back to life from the heaps of rubble burned as they are? What is impossible with men is possible with God. If you are doing something you can accomplish with your own resources it's not a God sized project. If you really want to make your enemies mad step out on faith and rebuild something that they said couldn't be done but make sure God told you to do it. Nehemiah had a vision from God to rebuild the walls in Jerusalem. He had favor from the King who gave him the resources to rebuild. When you do it for the right reasons God will give you the resources to do the impossible. If it's his will it's his bill!

Dear God,

Thank you for not letting me listen to my haters. I have too much work to do to let them stop me from finishing. You called me to it and because of our sacrifices you'll see us through it. Bless the work of our hands and see the walls rebuilt. Send restoration and favor. Today, help us to focus on the work and not the words of our haters. Let our work speak for us!

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where is Everybody?!

Luke 17:17

Then Jesus asked, were not {all} Ten cleansed? Where are the nine?

Have you ever noticed that when there is something being given that can help people in need that you don’t have a problem assembling a crowd? But when that time of disbursement is over you can’t seem to convince those same people to come back for service. It can be frustrating when you help people and they don’t have the decency to come back and at least say, “Thank you.” Sometimes when you help your own people you get more gratitude from outsiders than you do those closest to you.

Could it be a sense of entitlement that we feel we don’t have to come back to say ‘thank you’? Entitlement means a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract. A belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.

As a child of God, we are entitled to daily bread and everything else is overflow that God is not legally bound to. What about tithing? Don’t ya’ll tell us that if we tithe, God will pour us out a blessing?! Yes that’s true but God doesn’t say what the blessing is, but we know it's tied to what we produce and not just to what he gives.

Jesus reminds the disciples in verse ten as servants of God we ought not look for anything for doing what we are supposed to do anyway. So when God blesses us beyond what he was supposed to do, daily bread, we are supposed to be grateful and return to give him thanks every week on Sunday morning where we fall prostrate at the feet of Jesus but the question is…Where is everybody?

Jesus had healed ten lepers living with disease and separated from a whole life. They came to Jesus and begged him for mercy. Jesus told them to go back to the priest and on their way back to tradition they were cleansed. Then one of them, upon seeing that he was cured turned back, recognizing and thanking and praising God with a loud voice. And he fell prostrate at Jesus' feet, thanking him over and over and he was a Samaritan.

This is what we should be doing every Sunday but where is everybody?! Every Sunday we should be turning back from religion and running to a relationship with Jesus. We should:

1. Turn back after we see what Jesus has done for us. Our first step is to experience God in worship every week. Religion is not the same as relationship. You need an organic encounter with Jesus every week when you turn back from your regular routine.

2. Praising God with a Loud Voice. There shouldn’t be anybody louder than you on Sunday after all that God has done for you that he didn’t have to do. Where is everybody?

3. Thank Jesus over and over. When you think about what Jesus has done you can’t stop thanking Jesus for what He’s done! Where is everybody?!

The only one to come back and say thank you to Jesus was a Samaritan. He was not a Jew who worshipped in the temple. Sometimes the people outside the church are more grateful than the people in the church. What about you? Are you coming back every week to give him praise or just showing up when you need something? Where is everybody?

Dear God,

I thank you for what you’ve done because you didn’t have to do it but you did! I only did what I was supposed to do and if I tell the truth about it, I half way did that! But you blessed me anyway (tears) and for this I give you praise (tears)! Thank you for healing me, for forgiving me, for saving me and providing for me over and over and over and over (shout)! I love you Jesus!


Monday, October 3, 2011

How Much Does God Trust You?

Luke 16:10

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

As parents, my wife and I, are always testing our sons with little tasks to see if their maturity level is at a place where we can trust them with more. They have chores to complete to see if we can trust them to follow through on assignments. The more they are obedient the more we trust them especially when we are not around. The more we can trust them the more privileges we extend.

I was so proud of my oldest son the other day. He got a new job at the movie theatre not long ago. His boss called and said he needed to come by and pick up a reward. Reward for what? While cleaning the theater, Omari found a man’s wallet on the floor. He took it to the manager and went back to cleaning. The owner was so overjoyed to get his wallet back he rewarded my son for being honest.

How you handle money and other people’s property will determine if God will trust you with your own. If God can’t trust you with a little money how can he trust you with big money? Many of us are on restriction not because God doesn’t want us to have more it may be because of past actions he doesn’t trust us with more.

The question is not how much do you have but what did you do with the little you did have? When you were responsible for other people’s property were you trustworthy or did you steal time or treasure? We must prove ourselves to be trustworthy by being on time, telling the truth, being professional, doing what you say you are going to do. Based upon how you took care of what God gave you to take care of, should he trust you with more?

How can God trust you with more?

1. Don’t steal from God by not tithing. Malachi asked, “Will a man rob God? You have robbed God of tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3. All of us can use the argument that, “I don’t have that much money.” But we can all say that God has given me something. Whatever God gives you he is trusting you to give him a tenth of it so that the church can help those that have nothing.

2. Help other people. In Luke 16 the shrewd steward helped other people get out of debt even as he was losing his job through mismanagement. Jesus commended him for helping people with their debt so that they would help him when he would soon be jobless. Even as we struggle we should still be helping people.

3. Invest in your future. The struggling steward struck a deal with his bosses debtors so that they would help him in the future. Make sure that you put some money aside for your future.

4. Emergency fund. While you are working now make sure you build an emergency fund that covers three months of your salary in case something happens.

5. Pay what you owe. Even if you can’t pay all of it, pay something consistently. The shrewd steward had the people to mark down what they owed his boss but they still paid something. Don’t avoid your bill collectors but pay them something.

Dear God,

Today, I will use very little things you give me in the right way so you can build your trust in me. If it’s in my power to help somebody even as I’m trying to make it myself then let me do it today. Even when nobody is looking help me to live my life so you can trust me. I just want to hear you say well done, you’ve been faithful over a few things, now come home and get your reward.

In Jesus Name,