Monday, November 28, 2016

Same Meal Fresh Seasoning


When I was a child and even to this day, my mother regimentally held, “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”  Any day that ended in Y belonged to Jesus but Sundays were especially holy. As a child, we went to church on Sunday, wore church clothes on Sunday, watched religious TV on Sunday, and only listened to gospel music on Sunday. I think we could only talk about Jesus on Sundays too!

There was a particular story/song I confidently remember hearing nearly every Sunday as we drove to church. Sung by Pastor Shirley Ceasar and colorfully detailing the story of Shouting John, “Hold my Mule – I Feel Like Praising Him” was easily one of my favorites. I really enjoyed hearing how he boldly and unashamedly worshipped God.

In Exodus chapter eighteen, the Bible communicates the juxtaposition of a passionate leader (Moses) and a caring father-in-law (Jethro). As dedicated and committed as Moses was, Moses' efforts were over extending him. His father-in-law simply tells the proud leader, LOOK - “This is not good!” (v.17)

Although Moses had been successful in his work, there was a more efficient way. Moses would have never seen it had Jethro not given him a FRESH perspective.

I challenge you to be receptive to FRESH perspectives. I'm not saying you're wrong but there could be a more beneficial way of getting to your goals...

Back to the story of Shouting John…

Recently, a creative music producer took the classic song and remixed a small portion of it to a new beat. The story is the same but the rhythm changed. Because of the FRESH remix, new generations of listeners are learning. Pastor Shirley’s message is the same then as it is now - the blessings of God are bountiful and He deserves praise!

Here is my point.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NLT).

What is being served hasn’t changed. However, a change in delivery has pushed a classic story/song to a whole new generation of hungry people.

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “…I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT).

I have been a personal trainer for a little over a year and because of that, I have had to revise my dieting to support my efforts in the gym. There are meals that I still enjoy but because I am in a new stage of my life, I have to revise the way those meals are prepared. A little change in preparation can go a long way! God’s WORD is CONSISTENT TRUTH; I am grateful for the creativity He gives us to take His truth and package it in a way that relates to those in need.

My Co-Pastor, Mia Wright, helped me see this simple truth and I’m excited about the #UNameItChallenge. Although the song’s delivery is different, I appreciate the new group of listeners who are learning an unchangeable truth –Jesus Lives, Jesus Saves, and His mercy endures forever.

God is blessing us everyday. How has He blessed you today? #UNameIt

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Congratulations! You lost….

 Is winning the argument worth losing your testimony?

There are a million and one reasons to get into a verbal altercation or even a physical altercation with someone. Life’s catastrophic blend of emotions, frustrations and disappointments can create a powder keg eagerly awaiting ignition.

Despite the many reasons to blow our tops, there is usually one good reason to keep calm and work through it. 

According to an article on, there is a tragic but telling story of a pair of moose that got into it – in more ways than one. (Side bar: How is moose the plural for moose???)

Male moose typically battle for the affection of a female moose during the fall mating season by warring with their antlers and ramming their bodies. This process can lock their antlers and potentially cause the moose to die from starvation if they cannot separate.

Photo: Jeff EricksonThe Bible says in Philippians 1:27, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News,” (NLT).

The article explained that two men were walking the grounds of a bible camp when they happened upon a pair of antlers protruding from the ground. Upon further inspection, the men realized it was not one moose but two. Their antlers were intertwined and the moose were frozen beneath the surface of an iced body of water.

When portions of the moose were exhumed from their frozen grave, it was determined that the antlers from one moose pierced the skull of the other. Subsequently, that moose died and drug them both into the freezing water.

Ever had someone say something so mean it seemed to physically hurt you?

Ephesians 4:1

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God” (NLT)

Too many people have experienced death behind someone’s stubbornness or bad attitude. Although every disagreement doesn’t end in physical death, those arguments have decimated relationships, friendships, work relations, team relations, and more.

In your effort to prove your point and stand your ground what was the consequence and who were the casualties?

As believers, we are charged with the personal responsibility of being living examples of Jesus Christ. It’s greater than who sees you holding your tongue in an altercation or restraining your hands in a heated moment. Right is right regardless of who recognizes it. You are called to live righteously.

Paul said he was willingly shackled to serving God. Instead of being a prisoner to your anger, allow God to be the guard keeper to your heart. Permit Him to lead you in your valley moments.

Yes, someone is always observing your behavior – trust me I know. I politely dismiss bad drivers now that my “see and say” kids are usually riding with me. But, the blessing is that the Holy Spirit resides in us and will help us control our actions.

People who talk behind your back will never get ahead of you and those who stir strife will never taste real success.

Don’t die unnecessarily on an irrelevant battlefield. Learn to let go or leave it alone until you can find a peaceable solution. 

Here is the link to the full article:

Monday, November 14, 2016

How to help others deal with tragedy...

Karen Blixen penned the quote, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”

If I have ever read an absolutely poignant quote about youth leadership, this would be it. Long rides on charter busses, late nights on retreats, and loving dedication at the cost of everything - youth leaders give it all for the sake of their youth. Each moment spent with them melts those youth into your everyday thoughts, prayers, and life. However, if you have served for anything over thirty days, you know that ministry is like the old Maze lyrics, "Where there's a flower there's the sun and the rain - Oh and it's wonderful they're both one in the same”. 

The fruit of your ministry is the result of good and bad days.

The apostle Paul puts it this way, “And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)

In my initial years of ministry I became very close to a set of twins - a brother and sister. I was at their first days of high school, I saw them through ups and downs in their family, traveled with them, ate at their home, taught them how to drive, and even witnessed them graduate valedictorian and salutatorian of their high school. 

Two years in to their college years, tragedy struck. While the twin brother was driving to his university with his twin sister and mother in the vehicle, something occurred. The vehicle flipped multiple times and ejected them onto the side of the highway. The mom sustained minor injuries but the twins were severely hurt. 

I remember hearing the news and immediately making the road trip to see them in the hospital. I hated seeing those two with tubes and monitors connected to them. I knew prayer worked but I was also very afraid. The following Sunday, I explained to the youth membership how tragic the accident was while keeping a straight face and forcing a smile. All the while, my heart was fearful and hurting. 

I assumed the kids needed to see their leader as a pillar of strength not a pile of emotion

Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, ‘See how much he loved him!’’ (John 11:35,36 NLT)

The twins stayed in the hospital a while. While the health of one progressed, unfortunately, the other twin’s health deteriorated and she ultimately died. The news of her death hit me like a Mike Tyson upper cut. At the funeral, I reminded myself that the teens needed to see a strong leader. God reminded me that strength is transparency.

Before I spoke to a sanctuary filled with tearful teenagers and loving family members, I wept openly

People grow from what they are taught as well as what they experience. I can only imagine the thoughts Jesus had as He traveled to meet his dying friend. This wasn’t just any individual. He was like family. Family isn't necessarily related by blood. The tonnage of Jesus’ thoughts, memories, and decisions weighed more than the residual sand carried from each step pressed into His journey. Jesus arrived and already knew - His friend Lazarus was dead. Did Jesus hold back the tears, did He smear on a smile as He approached the grave, or did He choose to visibly display His innermost emotions?

Jesus wept.

I am challenging you to consider the transparency and patience of Jesus.

People need to know that it is ok to cry. It is ok to be hurt, angry, frustrated, or even uncertain how to feel. Just don’t sin (Ephesians 4:26). When we are transparent we subsequently affirm others to be transparent during tragedy - and that’s when healing begins.  When your friends and family experience tragedy, allow them to explain exactly how they feel without judgment. 

This isn’t your time to criticize - it is your turn to care.

After they have admitted all of their feelings, strategically walk them through scripture for personal healing, emotional stability, and positive choices. Here are a few of my favorites:

Matthew 11:28
John 9:1-3
Romans 8:38
Romans 8:18
Philippians 4:6-7

The sun is coming out. Until then, remind someone that the SON of God still cares!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

You Can't Fit in and Stand Out at the same time!!!!!

It was the perfect costume. An authentic looking uniform, muscles, a shield, and a mask - it covered everything that the best costume needed. Or so we thought. This year, my son decided he was going to be Captain America. I was happy. It was a welcome change from his everyday commitment to the ultimate Batman fan club.

October 31st, he got fully dressed and prepared to conqueror the neighborhood. He was Kid Captain America out to protect and save the houses from Dr. Chocolate and lady Skittles.

About a quarter of the way into his candy adventure, Kid Captain America went from excitedly knocking on doors to somberly dragging from house to house. I didn’t see any kryptonite and none of the little evildoers had attacked.

You can’t stand out and fit in at the same time.” – T.D. Jakes

My son looked at his grandmother and told her that he was done for the evening. It had been less than an hour! At the Bat Cave (Mommy’s room), we unmasked the issue.

When Kid Captain America noticed that there were several other Captain Americas on our block, he became annoyed. At first it was cool. But they started multiplying like a bad roach problem.

1 Peter 2:9 New King James Version (NKJV)
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

Supermom to the rescue! Mommy just so happened to have another costume for her sullen super hero. After a  quick change in the secret agent room - also known as daddy’s office - Kid Captain America was now Dashiell "Dash" Robert Parr from The Incredibles. My son started smiling and running from house to house while collecting candy and high-fiving the neighbors.

It is easy to fall into a life of complacency. It is the place where we no longer strive for new accomplishments or living outside of the ordinary. Although that life can be comfortable it doesn’t produce anything. You were made to live and not just exist. God uniquely created you. Every intricate detail about you is specific to your calling and ability to make a difference.

Jeremiah 1:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

You were created to be a superhero before you even entered the world.

Make super moves. Help someone instead of stepping over him or her, pray for the people who hurt you, go the extra mile, share with an individual in need, and be a listening ear.

This isn’t about being the line leader or boss - it is about recognizing that you need to make boss moves to be a leader.

#changeclothes #leadbyexample