21 DAYS OF RHYTHM, RESTORATION AND RELEASE (Day 2)

DAY 2

“RHYTHM”

As you get ready to kneel before the Lord this morning, I want you to focus on one word. Rhythm.

Here is the definition of rhythm:

A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

Day 2 is about understanding rhythm. It’s about getting into a repeated pattern of prayer. You see, once something becomes a rhythm, it just automatically happens. The problem occurs when our prayer life is out of rhythm and we have no set pattern whatsoever. Before you know it, you’ve gone an entire day and haven’t communicated with God. In my opinion, whatever the priority is in your life, should become a pattern in your life.

This is why Daniel was such an amazing prophet of God and example to everyone. Daniel not only prayed, but he had a pattern of prayer. Three times a day he would kneel before the Lord and communicate with Him. This is how Daniel was able to rise about so many adversities in his life.

– He endured the pressures of living under a pagan government through the rhythm of prayer.
– When his co-workers conspired against him, he overcame with the rhythm of prayer.
– After being thrown into a den of lions, he makes it out alive through the rhythm of prayer.
– He was able to prophesy God’s Word because he heard God’s voice through the rhythm of prayer.

Make up your mind today, that you’re not just going to pray, but you are going to reach a new level in God through the rhythm of prayer.

Daniel 6:10

When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.

21 DAYS OF RHYTHM, RESTORATION AND RELEASE (DAY 1)

DAY 1

“BEGIN AGAIN”

As a Christian, a disciple of Christ and minister of the gospel, I find myself in a familiar place. I simply call it, “The Begin Again Place”. This is not a play on words, but rather a personal reminder to me, that when things are getting a little crazy and I’m not exactly sure what to do, I have to go back to where things began with God and me. It’s not that I’m having to start over with the Lord, but sometimes life can cause me to become distracted and I find myself drifting. The closer I am to God, the less worried and stressed I become when difficult things come my way. So, the best way I’ve found to get back where I once was, is to “BEGIN AGAIN”.

I am the lead pastor at Point Of Mercy Church and I have felt led of the Lord to start a 21-day prayer, fasting and Bible study campaign. I’m calling it, “THE BEGIN AGAIN PROCESS” and it starts today. As a church, we are facing several things that we need direction in. As a pastor, I understand that I am the shepherd and I have to lead this flock where God wants us to go. If I’m not where I should be in my relationship with God, then I won’t be able to hear and see where He’s wanting to take us. Also, if the congregation isn’t where they should be, the enemy will be able to hinder their progress.

We are a church in a very trying season. We have faced a lot of adversity, but I understand, that where much is given, much is required. Sometimes, God allows things to happen just to test the strength and endurance of His people. I have said for many years, If God is allowing you to go through something, it’s because He believes you can endure it. He wouldn’t let it come your way if He didn’t believe in you. With that being said, God must really believe in Point Of Mercy, because we are going through a time sifting. When this season is over, we will know and understand two important things.

1. We could have never made it without renewing our relationship with God. (BEGIN AGAIN)

2. Through being tested, we discovered who was really with us.

So, here we go, it’s day one of the “Begin Again” process.

Perhaps, as you’re reading this, you find yourself identifying with us. You’re not lost, but you’ll admit that you’ve been in a drift for some time and you need to get back where you once were. Let me encourage you to “Begin Again”. Go back to where you started with God. Be renewed with 21 days of prayer, fasting and Bible study. As crazy and hectic as life may be, make time for restoration. Get back to the place where God’s voice was louder than the noise.

Day 1 starts with a repented heart.

God, please forgive me for allowing certain things, (you can be more specific) to cause me to become distracted from what Your purpose and plan are for me. Today I’m returning to you for a renewal in my heart, mind, body and soul. Let me be broken in your presence and determined in my environment, to keep you front and center in all I do. Amen.

Hosea 6:1
Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us; He has stricken so that He may bind us up.

ALL THE WAY

Everything you need to serve God, will eventually be tested.

  • Faithfulness.
  • Patience.
  • Love.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Happiness.
  • Trust in God
  • Faith in God.

You are more than welcome to add more words, but rest assured, the words on this list is where every child of God will be tested. These are the things that you must have to finish the course that is set before you. So, like any smart commander, the devil is going to strategically attack you in the areas that will cause the most damage and effect. From the cares of life and even your job, the enemy is working and looking hard for ways to cause you to stumble.

If you’re are struggling in one of these areas today, just remind yourself that the enemy is afraid you’re going to be victorious. Lift your head up, put your trust in God and be determined to make it all the way!!!

TELL IT LIKE IT IS

I don’t know if you’ve talked to God today. Maybe you haven’t started your morning devotion yet or you may have gotten so busy, that it has slipped your mind. It’s even possible that you’re going through a trial and your’e just not sure of what to say. I think some times our lack of knowledge on how to approach God, keeps us from communicating to Him on a consistent basis. He is the Almighty God and the King of Kings and I think we feel verbally inadequate in our prayers, so we become insecure about communicating with Him. We think our words need to match His greatness and if we can’t say those incredible things, we don’t say anything at all.

God wants to be praised, in fact, He made us to give Him praise. With our lips we glorify and magnify His matchless name. We lift our hands in surrender to His Holiness and we applaud the royalty of His Kingship. But the truth is, we don’t always have to come before Him with fancy words and beautiful superlatives. Don’t misunderstand me, we should be thankful and bless His name, but there are times we need to talk to Him in a human way. Let me remind you that you are humanity coming before divinity, so you be who you are and let God be who He is.

You’re probably asking this question by now; “WHAT ARE YOU TELLING ME TO DO THEN”?

Let me make this very plain. “TELL IT LIKE IT IS”!!! Talk to God on your level, not His. He understands you are only human and He doesn’t want you to approach Him by being something that you’re not. It’s ok to tell exactly how you feel. In fact, I believe that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him”. John 4:23

He’s saying for us to to be honest when we come before Him. Tell it like it is…let Him know you’re weak and you’re not sure what to do next. It’s ok to express your sadness and that your heart is completely broken. It’s even alright to share your frustration with Him. Be transparent with a God that already knows your heart. Be open about where you are currently and the personal struggle that you’re having. Talk to Him like you would your best friend or close family member. You are not being disrespectful by being open and honest.

There have been times that I prayed and told God I didn’t know what to do next and I was putting it all in His hands. I’ve even told Him I didn’t understand certain things that He allowed to happen in my life. I didn’t say it in a way of anger as if I was blaming Him, but I expressed my human frustration and lack of understanding. He didn’t curse me or send His judgements, but in time He revealed things to me that helped me understand in a better way. Have all of my questions been answered? Absolutely not, but I speak the truth to God an let Him know my trust is a journey and sometimes things happen that reminds me that I’m not there yet.

I want to encourage you today to talk to God on your level. Say how you really feel and how hard the struggle is. Let Him know you’re not going to stop serving Him, but the burdens you’re carrying are very difficult to carry. Whatever you do…don’t stop talking to Him because you think you can’t be yourself some times. Drop to your knees, look toward Heaven and “TELL IT LIKE IT IS”!!! You may be surprised what happens.

ANOTHER YEAR

Forty-seven years ago today, I made my grand entrance into this world. I don’t remember anything about that day, but since I was the first born of my mom and dad and also the first grand-child on my mother’s side, they said it was a very exciting day. That all happened in Wilmington, North Carolina. Here I am forty-seven years later in Nashville, Tennessee with an awesome wife, five amazing children and a wonderful son-in-law. I can truly say that God has blessed me.

I was thinking yesterday about what I might write about on my birthday. They say, as you get older you gain wisdom through your personal experiences. Well, if that’s the case, there are a lot of things that have happened in my life in the last several years that I could write about. So, what could I say from all of those events? What is it that I’ve learned to say after so many different life circumstances? I’m a minister of thirty-three years, so what are some words of wisdom I can offer now?

Honestly, at forty-seven, it’s not what I’ve learned to say, it’s what I’ve learned NOT to say. Instead of having more to say through all of my personal experiences, I find myself talking less and listening more. I don’t really care for the sound of my voice, so it doesn’t bother me if it’s not heard in a room of many voices. There was a time that I needed to have the last say, because that means you’ve closed the deal, but as I’ve gotten older, that just doesn’t matter to me. I can be right and be quiet. I don’t have to be loud to prove a point…somehow in time, things seem to just work out.

When I council people, I try to make sure and get them talking so I can learn everything I need to know about them by listening. I don’t spend the entire time showing them how much I know about the Bible or whatever the reason is why we’re there. Whether they are married or single, if I can get them to talk long enough, many times the problem becomes very obvious and the solution is not too far behind. And guess what, if I’m asked a question that I don’t know the answer, I’m alright to answer, I don’t know. There was a time in my ministry I thought I had to know all the answers and if I didn’t, I should still act like I did. Now that I’m older, I don’t have all the answers and I am totally cool with saying that. The Bible tells us to study to show thyself approved, not talk to show thyself approved. Study more…talk less.

One thing that hasn’t changed and probably never will in any of our lives, is people criticizing us and saying things that are untrue. When I was younger and I found out someone was doing that, I would hunt them down and let them know I didn’t appreciate what they were doing. The problem was, I got tired of chasing down every rumor. I wore myself out trying to straighten all my critics out. Yes, it hurts our feelings, but all we can do is be who we know we are and keep moving on. There are some former friends I could call and give them an ear full, but if I have to do a lot of talking to keep a relationship alive, I’m not so sure it was ever that strong to begin with.

Even Jesus was faced with people lying and criticizing Him and His response was amazing. He never opened His mouth. Even though He was innocent, He chose to be silent and let time prove the truth. As hard as that is to do, it’s the right thing to do. There are times you want to speak up for yourself, but I’ve learned that nothing goes in your favor any better than time. Hush and wait. Your response to that will tell you how old you are.

So, after forty-seven years, I have a lot less to say than I did after twenty-seven years. It’s not about knowing what to say, it’s about knowing when to say it and sometimes it’s best to be silent. As crazy as it sounds, it takes time to learn how to talk less. Sometimes the greatest response is in no response and I’m still learning what NOT to say.

WHAT PART OF GO DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?

I get it…you’re busy, you have responsibilities, you’re working hard to make ends meet and you barely have any time for your family. I understand how real the stress and pressures of life are. However, we cannot just ignore the words that Jesus spoke right before He ascended.

Matthew 28:19
Go therefore, and make disciples all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

For a follower of Jesus Christ, “GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES” is our mandate. We don’t just try and fit it in our daily lists of things to do, it is supposed to become a part of our everyday life. In my opinion, I believe the enemy is working hard to get us so busy working outside the Kingdom, that we’re too busy to work for the Kingdom. If we’re not careful, we’ll get so wrapped up in getting ahead, yet spiritually we could fall behind and not even realize it.

“Go and make disciples” is what Jesus commanded us to do. When we are committed to doing that, then we are doing the work of God. According to God’s Word, He blesses those that obey Him. I can promise you, when you are faithful to His Word, He is then faithful to your work. I want to encourage the followers of Jesus Christ to obey the great commission and make disciples of all nations.

WHAT PART OF “GO” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?

BE THE CHURCH

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV)
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words and it is very obvious, in his writings, that he worked hard for the unity of the church. In all of his letters, the churches with the most problems were the ones that allowed division to come in among the members. As long as the church body was united, they could overcome any problem that would come against them.

He used a simple process in verse two for all churches to follow.

  • Lowliness, (humility).
  • Gentleness, (kindness to one another).
  • Long-suffering, (being patient with one another).
  • Bearing with one another in love, (be available to help carry each others burdens).

Paul knew, when these four things were taught and practiced in the church, it would keep peace and harmony among all the members.

This process should continue to be taught and practiced today. As a pastor, I can’t just teach these things, but I must be an example for each one of them. Not only me, but also the ministers that work under me as well as the other leaders in my church. Unity starts at the top.

I am convinced, that in these last days, the body of Christ must be united more than ever before. We don’t know what all is going to come against the church, but as long as we are standing together, there is nothing that can overtake the church of Jesus Christ. We must pray for unity, teach unity and above all, practice unity.

Those issues that can happen between people are so small in comparison to the spiritual attack that is on our churches today. Stop hanging on to some insignificant issue that is causing a hinderance in your worship. It’s not worth it. Our attention must be on reaching our communities and cities with the Gospel and not focusing on petty issues that are blocking our vision. It’s time to unite as the true church of Jesus Christ!!!

Be humble!
Be gentle!
Be patient!
Be available!
BE THE CHURCH!!!

TO DO

Somebody today is facing a mountain that seems impossible to climb.
Somewhere, a marriage is on the verge of divorce.
There’s a Mom and Dad needing a miracle and strength as they look into the eyes of their hurting suffering child.
Somebody is lost in a dark valley of depression and can’t seem to find a way out.
This very day, a pastor is contemplating giving up because of overwhelming discouragement.
A young girl has been cutting herself and is crying out for help.
There’s a missionary needing a financial miracle to continue the work they started.
Someone just received a diagnosis that has turned their world upside down.

These are only a drop in the bucket of all the needs that people are facing today.

Prayer cannot be an option.

James 5:16 (NKJV)
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

INFLUENCE…THEN WHAT?

Whether you know it or not, the things you do have an effect on the people around you.

What you post on social media matters.
What you say matters.
How you act matters.
How you treat someone matters.

It’s the power of influence and we all have it and you may not realize this, but we all use it. There are people that watch us and even analyze our actions, because they want to follow in our footsteps. Some people do not care about this power and take advantage of it. It bothers me when I hear a famous athlete or celebrity remark about how they don’t want to be a role model and they should get to live any way they want to. The truth is, the more important you become to people with what you do, the greater your circle of influence will be. Can you imagine the change that would come if people with the largest circles, really took their power of influence serious?

You probably think my blog is about influence, but I am actually using that word to bring us to another one. When you have influence, then you have the ability to inspire. Everyone has some level of influence, but not everyone inspires. I want to encourage as many people as I can to understand their level of influence and then use it to inspire someone.

Influence means you caused someone to feel something, but inspiration means you caused someone to do something. Influence is unintentional, inspiration is intentional. To influence, you don’t have to have a target, but to inspire, you are definitely aware of where you are aiming. When you want to inspire, that means you understand your level of influence and you have a burning passion to make a difference in people’s lives.

Find a way this week to inspire someone. Don’t become a part of the negative posting that goes on with the social media world today. Use your talents and gifts to inspire. Share a story of victory in your life or even talk about someone that inspired you. I never thought I would be a writer, but so many of my friends encouraged me to not only use my preaching, singing and songwriting ability to help people, but to also start writing. I didn’t think I could ever do what I’m doing today with my website and blogging. Every email or comment that comes from something I said, goes all the way back to the people who inspired me.

Somebody is watching you and somebody will listen to you. You can make a big change with little effort. Whomever you inspire, will eventually inspire someone else and on and on it goes. So, use your level of influence for something good and positive today and start inspiring!

CHRISTIAN BULLIES

Written by, Denny & Alonna Livingston

Wow!!! Is that a paradox or what? How can you call yourself a Christian and be a bully? Believe it or not, it’s happening. My wife and I spent some time with a young lady recently and she shared with us a personal struggle that she is going through. It seems that she has some family members and friends that do not agree with her on certain issues. The more I listened to this young lady, the more I could see that she has a genuine love for God and wouldn’t want to do anything to be displeasing to Him. The problem she is facing, is her Christian friends and family don’t agree with her on a few details and so they take the liberty of telling her she isn’t saved. Now, I’m not going to go into the details of what they disagree on, but I will tell you, they are not salvation issues. They are personal preferences and traditions made by man. In my opinion, they should be personal convictions only.

With that being said, these friends are trying to make her feel like she is lost and going to hell. Yes, I said that correctly. Young people judging who is saved and who isn’t and making people feel bad if they don’t live like they think they should. I call this “Christian Bullying”. You don’t look exactly like me, so you’re not saved. God won’t hear your prayers wearing that. You can’t go to heaven looking like that. The list goes on and on and the audacity of these people to think that this is Christ-like.

I can’t actually blame this all on the kids, because they didn’t learn this behavior on their own. They’ve heard it somewhere. Maybe they’ve overheard a conversation that their parents or other adults have had concerning people’s salvation? The truth is, no matter how they came to that conclusion, the effects of bullying can be detrimental. Whether you agree with someone or not, it doesn’t give you a right to be mean and disrespectful even if you think you are doing it in the name of the Lord.

I try to be careful not only as a dad, but also as a pastor. The Bible says, God has given us pastors for the perfecting of the saints to teach us how to rightly divide the word of God. I know my words can bring life or death and I never want the people in my congregation to feel like it’s ok to judge and condemn people. Some have called me a compromiser, but my response has always been, how can I go wrong by loving people? Not to mention, “He that is without sin, cast the first stone.” I don’t believe in using scare tactics and manipulation in the pulpit. The pulpit is sacred and should be used for the saving of sinners and the perfecting of the saints, not to manipulate people. Please don’t confuse preaching against sin with being a bully. Sin must be preached against but the Word of God will prick the hearts of the sinner when it is preached with love.

So, whenever you are around someone that doesn’t see things exactly the way you do, instead of trying to make people feel beneath you because they don’t agree, be a true Christian and show the love of God. Keep in mind that your interpretation of what is sin, may not be same as someone else . Even if you believe they are living in sin, bullying them is not going to make them want to change. The people that come to church because they are afraid, many times become bitter and end up leaving because they don’t understand how the love of God makes them feel bullied. If you really feel like someone isn’t living right, the Christian thing to do is pray for them, not judge and condemn them. That isn’t helping anyone, in fact, it’s potentially creating more hurt.

The ultimate example for us to look to is Jesus. Yes, He was criticized because He ate with sinners, but never one time did He try to manipulate or bully someone into doing what was right. Jesus said the Spirit of God would lead people into all truth. WOW! His Spirit will lead people to what is right, but a bullying spirit will cause people to run away. What kind of spirit do you want?

If you’re being bullied, I hope this blog blesses and encourages you. If you’re a bully, I beg you to please change your tactics. You’re not compromising by loving people that are not like you. Develope your own personal convictions and live by them, but don’t try to bully someone into feeling like they’re lost if they don’t. Let’s put an end to “CHRISTIAN BULLYING!!!”

The definition of bullying is; To use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.