“STORIES FROM THE BROKEN”

There is nothing that thrills me any more than seeing people that have been broken and hurt become healed by the hand of God. It’s incredible to watch them transform from having their heads down to seeing them lift it with a renewed joy. I’ve seen them walk in the church discouraged, with no direction whatsoever; then, after a while, through the power of God and the love of God’s people, a transformation begins to take place. Seeing that happen is one of the greatest joys I get to experience as a pastor. That’s marvelous healing and restoration.

As much as that excites me; when I hear a few of their stories of how they got in that condition, it upsets me. You see, many of them have been hurt by other people. Sometimes it’s a church member, then, amazingly enough, a pastor or minister has caused it. Brothers and sisters, I don’t understand this. No matter what a person does or how disappointing they’re actions might be, no one should ever be ok with willfully causing someone hurt. Even if someone makes a mistake, nowhere in the Bible does it give anyone a right to hurt someone intentionally. That is not the Spirit of God.

As pastors, there are times the Bible tells us we have to reprove and rebuke, but there is a difference between that and hurting someone. Something is wrong when a pastor or a church member can justify such actions. If somebody messes up, deal with it and move on. Their failure shouldn’t be the talk of church members at the next gathering. I know people that suffer from real problems, but they can’t get healed from the main problem because now they’re suffering from people that have added hurt to the original issue. If you can’t speak words of healing, the best thing you can do is keep quiet; and that’s putting it nicely.

Healing follows kindness. We can’t restore what we’re not willing to forgive. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” There isn’t one of us that is perfect. That includes all of us pastors. It’s a sad day when mercy is missing from our message and actions. It’s taking me several years and a lot of criticism, but I am so glad to be the pastor of a church that loves everyone and shows mercy to all. From our stage to the parking lot are a group of mess-ups, misfits, and imperfect people. But I can promise you this; they can recognize someone broken and hurting when they walk through our doors. You know why? Because they remember when it was them.

Do you want to be like Jesus? Go looking for the one lost sheep that needs to come home. Promote healing, not hurt. Be a restorer, not a divider. Remember, Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; IF YOU HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER.”

“BE THAT ONE”

One of the most important things you can do is also one of the hardest to achieve. Be quiet. Being right doesn’t always mean being loud. The loudest one in an argument is not necessarily the winner. I’ve also discovered that helping someone doesn’t mean you give them tons of advice. Sometimes listening to someone is more important than talking. Don’t get me wrong, having something to say is valuable, but what you say, how you say it, and how long you say it is an excellent act of wisdom.

I think you will find in the Gospels, that even though Jesus spent a lot of time teaching, He also spent a considerable amount of time listening. Nobody had more to say than Him, but we find Him sitting down with people and listening to them. He taught His disciples, but He also let them talk as well — what an incredible example for all leaders to follow. You don’t just lead people by talking; you can also influence them by listening.

So, practice it and achieve it. Let it be a goal of yours to listen more the next time you’re in a conversation with someone needing help. Be slow to speak, but in a hurry to listen. Somebody needs someone to talk to. Be that one.

“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.

“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.

“FOUR THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT YOUR DREAMS”

Has anyone ever told you; make sure you chase your dreams? You’ve probably not only heard it but also said it to someone. This is especially true when encouraging a younger person about their future. If they can connect their education with their dreams, then they will most likely have a prosperous future. So what is it about dreaming something that we feel like is so important to go after? If you dream it, you should pursue it, or should you?

I have given some time to this subject, and I would like to offer four simple things to consider when pursuing your dreams. I plan on taking the next few days and writing about this.

1. WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

Before you pursue a dream, you need to make sure of where it came from and who sent it. Just because it’s been one of your dreams, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one that should be pursued. The Bible tells us that the steps of a good person are ordered of the Lord, and we should only go after those things that we are sure He is leading us in. If our steps are not aligning with our dreams, what should be adjusted?

In my opinion, several variables can produce dreams. Our upbringing, culture, and ego are a few things that can cause us to dream. I also want you to understand that even if God doesn’t send one of these dreams, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are things we can pursue that are not wrong, but if they take us away from His will in our lives, what is more, important to us? I guess the question we should ask ourselves is; are we pursuing God or our dreams? Do we want to dream first, then fit God in our lives afterward, or do we want to seek Him first and make sure He is in every move we make?

I want you to go after your dreams with everything you’ve got. I want you to be blessed and prosperous because of what you chased. I want you to be able to stand and declare the importance of going after your dreams. However, there is only one thing I want you to do before your pursuit;

MAKE SURE YOU’RE PURSUING THE DREAM GOD GAVE YOU.

IN TUNE

Day 6

“IN TUNE”

Written by: Denny Livingston

As our 21-day journey continues, I couldn’t help but remember something I saw my dad do for many years. My dad was an amazing minister and musician, but he was also a piano technician and restorer. He could take an old beat up piano and make it look brand new in just a few weeks. Not only could he make it look new, but he could make it sound new. When dad would bring a broken piano into his shop and set it up, you would stand and wonder how this instrument could ever look and sound new again. You might even try and play it, but there would be no way you could make out what you were playing because it would be so out of tune.

You see, when an instrument is out of tune, the melody of a song cannot be established. Also, you’re not able to build harmony parts because harmony is based on melody. In fact, if just one note is either sharp or flat, it throws everything off, even if the other notes are on pitch. Some people might hear how bad it sounds and give up, but not my dad. An out of tune piano is where my dad’s greatest work would begin.

Dad would use a device called a strobe-tuner. He would set it on top of the piano, plug it into the wall and start the tuning process. The standard musical pitch is set at a frequency of 440 hertz. A strobe-tuner is set at that pitch and can detect when a note is not at the correct level. Dad would go string by string on a piano and find out if it was too low or too high. He would then start adjusting the string with an instrument called a tuning hammer. Dad would say, “Now you can’t move the string up too fast or the string might break. Just move it a little at a time and after a while, it will get there.” He was right, because, in a matter of 45 minutes or so, the out of tune piano would sound great and new again.

After thinking about the tuning process, it reminded me of why we are on this 21-day journey. Just like a piano, we are an instrument that over time can get out of tune. It’s nothing we planned on doing, it just happens. We can so easily find ourselves out of tune with God and off pitch from His Will. Just a slight move can cause us to be flat or sharp. God’s Will for our lives is set at 440 hertz and at times we need tuning to get back to that level.

Prayer, fasting and God’s Word are the tuning devices God uses to help us get back to where we should be. When we start to communicate with Him in prayer, He reveals how far we’ve drifted from the level where we once were. Fasting causes us to focus on God and not ourselves. As we overcome physical hunger, our appetite for spiritual things begins to increase, helping us return to a place of perfect harmony with God. The Word of God is like a two-edged sword, cutting out the things in our lives that have caused us to become out of tune.

Be encouraged on day 6, for little by little, we are getting back in tune with God’s Will and His voice. It won’t happen all at once, but over the next 21 days, we are being renewed in the Spirit of the Lord. You will start to feel a difference when you stand in the presence of God. You’re moving closer to Him, which means you’re moving further away from the things that have caused you to slip off pitch. Soon our melody will return and the sounds of sweet harmony will come forth. Dear Lord, help me to be sensitive to your Spirit by being in tune with your voice.

Psalm 51:12 (NKJV)
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

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.

NEXT LEVEL TALK

So many people talk about going to the next level, but very few make it. It sounds good, but the reality is, it doesn’t feel good. There is nothing easy about taking what you do for God, to a whole new level. To get there, you will have to endure challenges, bumps and bruises. It will require you to give it everything you have. You’re in for a fight, but once you arrive, you’ll look back and say, “It Was Worth It”!!!

Maybe you’re not there yet, so let me encourage you as you climb, to not give up. Though you are facing extreme opposition, the enemy is afraid of what God is going to do through you, once you make it to that next level. This is exactly why you are having to deal with certain things currently. Gather up all of your strength and energy and stay in this fight. I promise you…you’ll be glad you did.

Stop talking about the next level and start fighting to get there!!!

WE THE PEOPLE

There are two great documents that stand out in my mind as we celebrate Independence Day. One is the Declaration Of Independence and the other is, The Constitution of The United States.

The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776. It was a list of grievances against the king of England intended to justify separation from British rule.

The Constitution was written and signed in 1787. It was a charter of government that came to be ratified by the states, and it continues to be the supreme law of the land.

One document declares freedom and the other one declares unity. I love the way our Constitution begins. “WE THE PEOPLE”. To me, that says it all. In other words, we together will stand in unity to live in freedom from tyranny. We continue to live in freedom today because a group of people determined to live in unity. I feel a great responsibility as an American to remain united. Though it has been over 200 years since both documents were written and signed, let us celebrate our freedom and continue to live as WE THE PEOPLE.

I feel the same way as a Christian today. When Jesus died and then rose from the grave, that was a declaration of freedom from the domination of sin and the reign of death in our lives. The next great event happened several days after Jesus resurrection. It was called, The Day Of Pentecost and that’s when the Church was born. This day was great because 120 people gathered united in an upper room and waited for the Holy Spirit to fall. Their unity could be described as, WE THE CHURCH. This group of people were not only celebrating freedom in Jesus, but they were also uniting the greatest movement that would ever be.

Today, let’s celebrate our freedom from sin, but let’s not stop there. For the church to remain what God intended it to be, we must stand united and carry on the message that was preached over 2,000 years ago. We must continue to declare salvation and freedom in the name of Jesus and let the world know there is no other name like His. However, a divided church can’t make a difference in a broken world, so let us determine to be more united than we’ve ever been before. As an American, our theme is still, WE THE PEOPLE, but as a Christian our theme must be, WE THE CHURCH!!!

GIVE IT TO JESUS

GIVE IT TO JESUS!!! I’m sure you’ve heard that many times and it is so true. There are things much too heavy and too burdensome for us to try and carry ourselves. In the old hymn, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” there’s a great part that says,

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bare
ALL BECAUSE WE DO NOT CARRY
Everything to God in prayer

I love those words and oh how true they are. What a wonderful thing to know, there are things that we don’t have to carry. We have a friend in Jesus who will gladly take the things we give Him and lighten our load. Just give it to Jesus.

There is only one more thing I would like to add to this. Many of us want to be in control and we don’t like it when we feel like we’ve lost that control. With that being said, I believe some people bring things to Jesus, but end up taking them back. They give him their burdens in prayer, then something happens and they end up taking it back and trying to fix it themselves.

Could this be you today? Are you back to worrying and being stressed out? Did you ever consider, that it could be your own fault. Maybe you didn’t think God was moving fast enough, so you ended up taking back what you had already given to Him. Once you’ve given something to the Lord, you have to trust that He is working things out for your good. It may take longer than you want it too, but your impatience might have caused you to start carrying that heavy load again. When you give it to Jesus, you must let Him take control, which means you have to release yours. God doesn’t have it, if you’re still worrying about it.

If you’re carrying a load too heavy and your burdens are too much to bear, GIVE IT TO JESUS AND DON’T TAKE IT BACK!!!