“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.

“HUNGRY?”

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Here is the definition of hunger:
A feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.

We all know this feeling so well. Once those hunger pains set in, it’s a struggle until we find something to eat. We get weak, irritable, and anxious because nothing else can satisfy us when we reach the point of hunger. Being thirsty affects you the same way. Our bodies are made to have food and water to live, and when it’s been a while, those feelings of hunger and thirst remind us that it’s been too long.

Jesus knew exactly what He was saying when He made this statement to HIs disciples. He wanted them to have the same feeling for righteousness as they do when they’re hungry. He promised that if they hunger and thirst for spiritual things, He would make sure they are filled and satisfied. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could get to that point as Christians? What if we got so hungry for revival, that nothing else could satisfy us? I wish we would get to the point where we are hurting because we have such a thirst for Godly things. I’m not just talking about a want; I’m talking about hunger. Many want a move of God, but how many have reached a place of discomfort? Jesus said He would satisfy us when we hunger and thirst after it.

“BLESSED AND THANKFUL TO SERVE A GOD WHO IS FAITHFUL”

Today, I am officially fifty-one year’s old, and I can truly say that I am blessed. God has been so good to my family and me. Through the highs and lows, He has been faithful. I don’t know what everyone else does on their birthday, but for me, it’s a time of reflection. I just spend time looking back over my life, and seeing what all has happened. There are some things I think about that breaks my heart, but other things make me smile and rejoice. It’s the roller-coaster ride of life for sure. However, on this day, my heart is filled with thankfulness. This past year has been amazing. Honestly, I don’t have time to write it all down in this blog, because it could really be a book. But through it all, I sit in my miracle house, surrounded by the most incredible family and man could ever ask for. My wife of thirty-two years, my four daughters, my one son, my son-in-law, my grandbaby, and the next one on the way; I am thankful for these blessings.

I am also thankful for the church I pastor. Point Of Mercy is the place where I lead and feed, and it’s a privilege. They are so kind to my family and me, and after being here thirteen years, there is no other place I want to be. Whatever else happens in my life and ministry, it will come from this place — not just the members, but my pastoral team that I get to serve with. I also have the privilege of overseeing my father’s church in Bristol, VA; Soul’s Harbor. That’s where my roots and heritage are, and I truly love the faithful members there. Pastor Robert and his family are doing such a great job leading that congregation, and I know my parents would be so proud of what all God has done in the last three years.

Here I am, one year into my own personal, spiritual jubilee, and I’m so thankful for the faithfulness of God. I plan to spend the rest of my life being an encourager to everyone around me. From the pulpit to social media, I want to encourage, inspire, and challenge. I don’t have time to be angry, bitter, and vengeful. I don’t dwell on the hurt; I promote healing. I plan on strengthening the weak and embracing the broken. I’m not worried about the people who have walked away from me; I’m focused on the ones who are walking in. Who knows, maybe my birthday blog will help encourage you today to let some things go that you’ve been holding on to for a long time.

So, at fifty-one, I am blessed and thankful to serve a God who is faithful.

I love you Alonna, Brittany, Angelynna, Faustino, Brooklyn, MaKendra, Jason, Äna, and Adley Brae.

And to the rest of my family and close friends; I love you with all of my heart, and I’m so glad to have you in my life.

“REDISCOVER YOUR FAITH”

Luke 8:22-25

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out,
23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.
24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.
25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

Jesus calmed several storms during His ministry, and even though I’ve read about them many times, I couldn’t help but notice something He asked. When they woke Him up, they did it out of fear. But Jesus moved beyond their unbalanced emotions and calmed the storm. Then, He looked at them and asked a question. WHERE IS YOUR FAITH? He wasn’t angry with them; He just needed an answer. Notice that He didn’t ask until there was a calm.

I think it’s interesting that He wasn’t accusing them of not having any faith. He just wanted to know what they did with it. I believe Jesus was trying to tell them; you have faith; you just can’t get to it because of your fear. It’s in there, but your emotions are overshadowing it. He had to remind them that faith is not based on feeling; it’s based on belief. We walk by faith and not by sight. You see, it was impossible for them not to have it, because they had been with Jesus for some time now, and what He taught them, gave them faith. It was in there; they just had to rediscover it.

How many times are we guilty of the same mistake? We approach God with out of control emotions. We think it’s over, and we feel like He doesn’t care. Then, He brings calm to our situation. Now, let me ask you the same question. WHERE IS YOUR FAITH? You have it; you just can’t find it because you’re living in so much fear. You have enough faith to come through whatever you’re facing; so where did you put it? Did you place it behind your emotions? Is it hidden behind your anxiety? Perhaps you’ve forgotten you had it. Maybe you wouldn’t have to approach the Master so much if you would keep up with it. My friend, you have faith. It’s in you. You’ve heard too many sermons and seen too many miracles not to have it. Here’s my challenge for you. It’s time to rediscover your faith.

“BE CAREFUL HOW YOU TALK”

I find that people respond better when you encourage them to do something, rather than put them down. I personally don’t enjoy working for or with people that put you on a guilt trip. I also don’t like to be around those who can only point out what you do wrong, but never communicate what you do positively. I’m saying this because how people talk and communicate with us, affects our response. I think we would all agree with that, and we need to make sure we are building people up, not tearing them down. Since it takes more skill to build than it does to destroy, we should focus on building up the people around us. This would help all of our relationships.

I could give you a list of all the people that you should make sure to encourage and build up. However, let me tell you about one of the most important ones. You need to learn how to talk to yourself. How you talk to others can sometimes be a reflection of how you talk to yourself. If you’re not happy with yourself, chances are, that’s why you’re not happy with the ones around you. Putting yourself down all the time will not help you reach your goals. Comparing yourself to others minimizes your abilities and applies too much pressure for you to perform at your best. You have to learn how to find the good within you. I’m not saying to ignore your faults; I’m only pointing out that dwelling on them alone will not help you reach your potential.

Let me encourage you to encourage you. Take some time to stop worrying about what people aren’t doing around you and discover what you do well first. Learn how to talk to you before you talk to them. You are not what others say you are; you are and will become what you say you are. How you see yourself is more important than how others see you. You are God’s creation, and He only makes what has the potential to become great. Start this day by building yourself up. Know your worth and walk in confidence. Be kind to everyone around you, and by all means, be careful how you talk to yourself.