“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

To lead means precisely that; you lead, guide, direct, and point. You take someone or several where they can’t get to without your directing them. What an incredible responsibility and load for a leader to carry. If you think about it, a leader can only take you in one of two directions. Forward or backward. The leader can either move you ahead or turn you around and take you back in the direction of where you’ve already been. To make the ones you lead better, the leader has to direct them forward. Real Increase is in progress, not digression. Even though moving people ahead can sometimes be uncomfortable, it’s imperative.

I think it’s also essential when an individual or a group chooses a leader; they need someone that will take them where they haven’t been. It can be devastating for a company, church, or any organization to appoint a leader that takes them in the direction of their past. The past should only be a reminder, not a destination. You need someone that can see and lead you beyond the point you are currently. A leader needs to hear your desires and have a plan to get you there. And I can promise you, that place is somewhere you’ve never been or seen.

So, leaders, if you’re going to lead, then move them forward. If you need a leader, make sure the one you choose is looking ahead of you, not behind you.

“STUCK BETWEEN CONVICTION AND EDUCATION”

I had a conversation with a young lady that recently graduated and is a therapist. She has such a strong passion for this field and has a heart to help hurting people. She has spent several years in school, furthering her education and qualifications to fulfill her burden for this type of work. I applaud her and others that work in such a needed area in our world. She asked me about something the other day that I felt like I should write about. She had a situation come up where she found herself caught between her education and her conviction. As her pastor, she contacted me, wanting to know if she was being displeasing to God by some of the things she wasn’t able to say as a therapist. I knew I couldn’t ask too many details because of confidentiality, but I understood the situation and why she would be worried. She said, as a Christian, I knew what I believed and what this person should hear, but as a therapist, I wasn’t able to say it. She asked, will God judge me for that?

The person she was helping had been mistreated because of a lifestyle decision they made many years ago. I understood where she was coming from, and I assured her that no matter if we disagree with someone’s lifestyle choices, no one should be mistreated or abused. I also told her that our responsibility to those who don’t know Jesus is to love and not judge. So many are bound by things, and they need freedom, not someone blaming for why they’re imprisoned. I also think some judgmental Christians, (I know that’s an oxymoron), have caused compassionate Christians to have a bad name. Compassion doesn’t mean compromise. The last thing I told her was, you never know the impact you can make on this person by showing them, love. Romans 5:5 tells us; Now hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. There is an incredible love of God that comes from people that are filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a difference.

I wanted to write about this because I know others are in similar conditions. Maybe some that are wanting to go into a particular field, but are afraid they can’t stand on what they believe. The advice I gave this young lady, I believe, can fit with others that might be struggling with some of the same things. I think it would also be good if we had some open communication on this subject. We need Christians working with hurting people, no matter what choices they have made. If you’re stuck between education and conviction, feel free to comment at the end of this blog, or ask a question. I am praying for you, and we need more people like you to make a difference in this world. I know the enemy would love to stop you from allowing God to be a part of any equation in people’s lives. But you know that only in the name of Jesus can chains of sin be broken. I know you can’t jeopardize your job, so I am praying for you to be able to let your light shine in the midst of these challenges.

Here is a list of the advice I gave on this subject. You are more than welcome to add to it.

1. Be caring because no one deserves to be mistreated for lifestyle decisions that I might not agree with.

2. Our responsibility to those who don’t know Jesus is to love and not judge.

3. Being compassionate doesn’t mean you’re compromising.

4. You never know the impact you can make on someone’s life when you show the love of God.

“HERE’S WHAT YOU FORGOT”

So, you remember that mistake in your past. You can’t seem to get it out of your mind. Maybe you remember a particular storm that almost cost you everything. Perhaps you even remember a broken heart from someone you thought would never hurt you. Honestly, when you start going down that road, your memory can be your worst enemy. You don’t want it there, you’ve asked for it to leave, but for some reason, nothing will cause it to get out.

As bad as some things are in your past that you’re remembering, here’s what you forgot. In spite of your mess-up, God never gave up on you. His grace was greater than your failure…you might have forgotten that. Yes, you suffered a heart-break, but no one has ever loved you more than Jesus. You remember who walked away, but you might have forgotten who stayed. I know that the storm was terrible, and the details make you cringe even now, but guess what? YOU MADE IT! You remember being in it, but you might have forgotten that you’re out. Even if things are still challenging, you could be failing to remember who’s holding your hand.

So, if you’re going to remember the sorrow, don’t forget the joy. If you’re going to think about the hurt, don’t forget the healing.

He was there in your error and didn’t forsake you. He covered you with His love while you mourned from grief. Here’s what you forgot; He was there, He’ll always be there, and He is here now.

“IN YOUR FACE MARRIAGE TALK”

It only takes one glance or a response to an inappropriate comment or text. One-click of the mouse and you’re trapped. That curious website and that friend request is nothing more than a tool of the enemy to start breaking down your marriage, brick by brick. Oh, we’re just cutting up with each other. He’s like a brother to me. I could never think of her that way. Do you know how many counseling sessions I’ve had with married couples where I’ve heard this junk? With the attack on our families, I think it’s time to have some IN YOUR FACE MARRIAGE TALK. Guys, get your ego in check. Ladies, don’t entertain those risky comments.

If you’re struggling in your marriage, I can promise you; there is help. You have to want it and ask for it. I see men and women with degrees in all kinds of education, and significant investment into self-help subjects. I know men that can take a vehicle apart and put it back together. Some build and can create and repair any structure. How does this happen? It takes time and practice. So, husbands, how much time have you put into building your marriage? If it’s breaking apart, how hard will you work to put it back together?

Many women can manage and lead anything from a department to an organization. They can market, sell, and advise. Many have a vision for taking a room or a home, and completely redoing it and making it better than it ever was. How? Investing time in what they love and making sure a project is completed. So, wives, your vision for your marriage. How do you see it, or do you even have a glimpse of where it’s at currently? If you can organize your business, why not structure your home. You wouldn’t leave a room unpainted, so why walk away from a marriage that hasn’t been fulfilled.

I know this is a big topic for a three or four paragraph blog, but I feel so passionate, and burdened for our families that I want to do everything I can to help inspire them. You will work for years, and one day retire. In your lifetime, you might even change jobs or careers. But when you find someone to spend your life with, there is no retirement plan on your love and life together. Don’t start looking to change spouses; keep working on improving you. Do everything you can, and if it falls apart, you will want to walk away knowing you gave it everything you had: your love, your time, and without a doubt,  your all.

“PRAYED, PLANNED, AND PREPARED”

If you prayed for it and you planned for it, then you better be ready for it. Don’t ask God to give you something that you aren’t preparing for when it happens. If it’s personal, then take on that responsibility, you need to have yourself ready. Reading, training, seeking counsel, and the list goes on. It’s just what you have to do when it’s personal. Whether it’s your health, your education, your job, or even your ministry, investing time in what you want will pay off when it comes to pass. My advice is to be ready for the opening. When the opportunity happens, you need to be ready to go. There are some things you’ll not be able to do once the door opens, and if you try and go back, you’ll end up frustrated. Prepare now so you can enjoy walking through what will eventually open.

If you’re a leader, this requires another level of preparation. You not only have to be ready personally, but you have to make sure your team is ready too. It will start with a vision, and people love seeing what you want and anticipate happening. But the vision only gets you mentally ready for what is going to happen. The vision gives your team a target for both mind and body. The team has to feel good about what’s coming, but they also have to be ready for it. That’s on you, the leader. They can never accomplish what you haven’t prepared them for. So, think outside yourself and make sure you have your team ready. The only thing worse than personal frustration is when the ones you lead don’t feel prepared and are discouraged with a lack of leadership.

You prayed, and you planned, but are you prepared?

“GETTING BACK UP”

Getting back up after you’ve been knocked down is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes you lay there and wonder if you have enough in you to simply get back up. Whatever you’ve been through can make it even harder because the level of your last battle can affect your outlook. But the longer you lay there; you risk bitterness, resentment, and anger. My encouragement to you is for you to give it all you’ve got, muster up all your strength, and get back up. You have a purpose, and you can’t fulfill it staying down.
I will also tell you another reason for you to get back up. You never know who is watching you and what you’ve gone through. You could be the inspiration that somebody needs in there own challenging situation. I know it feels like you’re by yourself, but I can promise you, others are seeing you and paying attention to your response. If you stay down, they might stay down too; but if you get back up, there’s a great chance that they’ll do the same thing. Maybe it’s a friend watching. Perhaps it’s a family member or someone you lead. No matter who it is, don’t just get back up for you, get back up for them. Be somebody’s inspiration through your determination.

“JUST A QUICK TOUR”

Sometimes when you’ve come through a trial, all you can think about is you’re glad it’s over. You give God praise, wipe the sweat from your brow, and do your best to forget about it. It was trying, challenging, and painful, so move on from it without looking back. However, I do have a question for you. As much as you want to forget it and get as far away from it as you can, what did you learn from being there? Trials aren’t accidents or random, they each have a purpose, and even though you come out, I believe it’s vital to assess what happened while you were there.

I don’t want to scare you or bring worry, and it might not be time to return in your mind to reflect, but I can promise you, there is value in what you endured. It will either help you for the next trial you face or give encouragement to someone else if you share your story. Perhaps you made some mistakes that you can fix next time around. As bad as you want to forget it, some things need to be remembered and revisited. I’m not asking you to go back and get bitter. I’m asking you to go back to get better. Don’t go back and stay; it’s just a visit, and when the tour is over, pack up what you’ve learned and continue to live in faith.

IT’S ABOUT US”

Everything that God created, in the beginning, He did so for His will to be done, and to establish a foundation. At the end of it, He formed a man, and from him, He created a woman. There is no denying what God made, and what God intended. I truly believe when we get back to that foundation, it will make a difference in the world. I don’t think married couples realize the incredible power they have. I also don’t think they understand how big of a target they are for the enemy. This is why the enemy attacks our marriages so hard. It won’t necessarily be a bomb that goes off, but little by little, he will do his best to bring down a husband and wife. Increased arguments, disagreeing more and more, spending less time together; these are just a few things that the enemy uses to tear away at a marriage.

The Bible teaches us that when a husband and wife are married, the two become one. Do you understand what that means? I’ll make it perfectly clear. It’s no longer about you as an individual; it’s about what you are now in the eyes of God. Your decisions now effect both of you, not just yourself. You have to conquer selfishness and personal agendas. You’re a team, not a one-person show. If you consistently build one another up, you’d be surprised at the effect it would have in your family, your church, your work, and yes, our world.

As a pastor, I’m pleading with you to do whatever you can to strengthen your marriage. Ask God to help you to be the kind of spouse you need to be.

*Read a good book on marriage.
*Be faithful to church.
*Be intentional about communicating.
*Get your butt home from work.
*Make the house look nice.
*Schedule a date night.
*Create a romantic playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music.
*Refuse to walk away from each other.

Look at your spouse and declare; “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. IT’S ABOUT US!”

“TO IT AND THROUGH IT”

I was reminded this morning in the Gospels, that Jesus’ ministry didn’t start with miracles, signs, and wonders. His ministry began in a wilderness. In fact, Mark 1:12 says, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” He was the Son of God with all power in His hands, so if anyone could have gone around that difficult and challenging place, it could have been Jesus. But instead, He chose to show us one of the most significant examples of ministry we could ever learn. The wilderness is a desolate, uninhabited, solitary place. No one would ever choose or want to go there. One of the things I see in this is that the wilderness would be His personal battle, everything else in His ministry would be for others. However, He knew He couldn’t help others if He didn’t first take care of some things in His own life. One thing to remember is that Jesus was already anointed when He went in. I believe the Spirit led Him to it, but that anointing brought Him through it.

No matter how talented, how passionate, or ready you think you are; no ministry gets to bypass the wilderness. Oh, you might think you’ve figured out a way to get around it, but I can promise you, the Spirit will lead you back to it. Even though you feel passionate about helping others; there are some personal things you’ll need to conquer before you reach out to them. It’s dark, cold, and lonely, but you’re not there because you want to be; you’re there because you need to be. You’ll never be able to handle the multitudes if you can’t conquer the wilderness. The ups and downs, success and setbacks, will break you unless you’ve been to the wilderness.

The scripture doesn’t give us a lot of details about what all Jesus faced when He was in the wilderness. We basically see Him go in, have a conversation with satan, then He was out. We do know that when He came out, nothing could stop Him from doing what He was called and sent to do. Every one of us is different; I don’t know what you’ll have to deal with when you go into the wilderness. But I do know this; if you are victorious there, when you come out, nothing will be able to stop you from what God has called you to do. So whether you’re about to go in, or you’re already there; the same Spirit that led you in will lead you out. God brought you to it, now let your anointing bring you through it.

“GAP-WORK”

Just because you haven’t reached your goals or done the things you set out to do, doesn’t mean you should give up. Sometimes the further we get from an unfinished task, the easier it is to throw in the towel. Stop looking at the calendar and start listening to your heart. There is still some passion left in that dream. There could be several reasons why you haven’t accomplished what you wanted to by now. Maybe it is procrastination, but you can fix that. Perhaps a failed relationship has put you in a frame of mind where you couldn’t seem to get on track. Having that passion renewed can actually help you heal through the pain. Sometimes unexpected things happen that require our immediate attention and help. This can happen a lot in life, but even a little work on your goal is getting you closer to completion. I call this gap-work. Sometimes that’s all we get, are a few gaps in the busyness of life. However, you’d be surprised what working in these gaps can cause in time. Especially when you go back and check on a project and can say; it might not be completed, but at least I’m not looking at a blank page.

Could I just encourage you today, to either start working in the gaps, or perhaps you already have; you just haven’t checked on your project in a while. You’re not too old, and whatever you do, don’t let insecurity rob you of your dream. I can relate to where you are. I have a few life goals that I’m running behind on. Some things I thought for sure would be finished by now. Well, they’re not, but I realized a while back that I don’t have empty pages. I refuse to let something unfinished convince me that I should give up on it. As I read the dates on a particular project, I can see that they match up with gaps in some unforeseen situations in my life. That encouraged me because if it weren’t for gap-work, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Check on your project today. Maybe you’ve done more in the gaps than you thought. Also, if you’ve never considered gap-work, begin again.