“START THANKING THEM”

Don’t let anyone cause you to doubt who you are. You know you better than anyone does. You’ll always deal with critical opinions about what people think you are, but stay true to yourself. The change in you is the better version of you, and don’t let what others say cause you to revert. The goal is to keep growing, and believe it or not; they’re helping you do that. I know that might sound crazy, but it’s true. If you let it, their words can challenge you to work even harder. It’s not that you’re trying to prove anything to them, it’s just pushing you to keep going.

Do you want to hear something wild? The next time you find out someone is criticizing you, tell them, thank you. Really? Absolutely! Let them know; hey, you helped me work harder, try harder, and climb higher. Your negative view of me let me know that I’m doing something right. You can’t stop me, keep me down, or hold me back. I don’t know what you thought you were doing by spreading false reports, but I want to thank you because it made me work even harder.

Get your head up, stop complaining about who’s talking about you, and start thanking them.

“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.

“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.

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 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.

MADE UP MIND MONDAY

Overcoming is not something you always feel, but it’s what you believe. You’ll never change your situation until you change how you think. As long as you let your surroundings dictate your decisions, things are going to stay the same. Faith is acting on what you believe can happen through the power of God. This is not always an emotional move, but it has to be a mental move. When you see the mountain moving in your mind, it’s easier to speak to it and command it to disappear. 

So today is not about how you feel, it’s what you believe. Let your determination be greater than your worry and stress. Declare today as, “MADE UP MIND MONDAY”!!!

STORING OR STOPPING

I would like to personally thank everyone that takes the time to read each blog that I write. As stated on my website, my desire is to encourage, inspire and challenge as many as possible through the ministry that God has called me to. That is preaching/teaching, writing songs and more recent, blogging. Because of my family’s music ministry, I’ve not been able to blog as much as I’ve wanted to. All of our efforts, for the last two months have been in the completion of our newest album, that was released on May 31st. Since that time, I’ve been able to refocus on my blogging, which is a deep passion of mine.

You may be wondering why I’m writing about this, but as I was preparing for today’s blog, I thought that my juggling act, for the last few months, might help someone. You see, my life consists of being a husband, father, lead pastor, singer, song-writer, musician and blogger. Yes…my plate is pretty full and if everything isn’t timed exactly right, it can be overwhelming. When things begin to snowball, you have to make some important decisions. Sometimes, when you can’t do everything, you have to determine what is most important at that particular time.

You have to know the difference in storing and stopping. Don’t stop what you’ve been gifted to do, just store it for a while until you can put more time and effort in it. Even though my focus has been on getting our new album completed, I still reminded myself of the things I had stored. I love blogging, but I had to put my blogging in storage for a while. That didn’t mean I had stopped and I refused to get discouraged because I wasn’t able to blog at the time. I even planned the week I would start back with consistent blogging. I may not be able to blog everyday, but I’m back in the routine.

Now, for my disclaimer. I’m not the most structured person in the world. I’m not writing this blog to try and convince you that I am. However, in my busy life, I’ve learned a rhythm and if your frustrated and having a hard time getting everything accomplished, maybe this will encourage you. For me, I had to figure out what my options were for what could be stored, what should be stopped and what had to keep going. You have to start with what has to keep going. For me, I knew the things that were not optional. Those are things that only you can do and you have to make sure they get done. I’m a husband and a father first and for me, those things are non-negotiable. That’s a personal conviction of mine and even though I’m a pastor, I’m a husband and father before that.

For you, it may be something totally different, but if you have a family, you have to keep that going. I have found that when there is peace at home, there will be peace in other places too. Don’t ever choose to store or stop the progression of your family. Whatever it is, that only you can do, make sure it follows your involvement with your family. Continue doing the things that can’t be stopped, then look at the things that can be stored. Follow your passion with disciplined priorities.

Maybe you’re completing something right now and you’ve had to take time away from something else that you’re passionate about. Perhaps you’re even discouraged and you’ve been thinking of giving that up. Take my advice and move that from the stopped category and place it in storage. Let your unfinished book be in storage, not stopped. Let that project you’ve always wanted to do, be stored away and not stopped indefinitely. You can still plan while something is sitting in storage. Sure, your main objective is to complete what is most important for right now, but if you get a creative idea, write it down and store it.

Not to mention, when you take a break from something, as soon as you start back, you sometimes have an excited, renewed feeling, much like you did when you first started. Doing too many things at one time can cause you to be completely overwhelmed and even make decisions that you will later regret. Give your undivided attention on what is most important now and keep your other passion stored on a shelf, so you can be reminded that it’s still there and not thrown away. Don’t allow your current project to suffer because your spending so much of your time worrying about what isn’t getting done. Know what your gifts are, but more importantly, know when is the right time to be working on each of them.

Continue to do what has to be done, prioritize what is most important right now and store what can be started at a later time. Remember, you haven’t stopped anything…you’ve only stored it for a season.

COMPLETE FORGIVENESS

The true power of forgiveness is understanding the completion of forgiveness. Jesus said ,when we pray, we are to say; “Forgive us our transgressions as we Forgive those who transgress against us” Matthew 6:12.

Forgiveness is incomplete when it is received, but not given. Everyone of us are recipients of the incredible mercy of God, but too many times we hold back from others what has never been withheld from us. The completion of forgiveness is allowing to pour out of our life what has been poured into it. It’s easy to receive it, but it’s hard to surrender it.

The Bible says that God makes His mercies new every morning. Maybe we should pray for the same thing. Father, I thank you for renewing your mercy to me this morning, now I pray that my mercy would be renewed for those whom I need to forgive. Perhaps this is cliche´, but some things can only be accomplished one day at a time. Be thankful for the forgiveness you have received and complete it by giving it away. That’s how you, “COMPLETE FORGIVENESS”.