Founding a Christian school in Guatemala was soooooooo hard. Frequently, I muttered: Had I known at the start, I would never have tried. And sometimes I thought: God, you tricked me into this. I thought it would be easier.
But once it was started, it wasn´t easy to end. So on I went, dealing with grief from the Education Department, grief from ungrateful parents, grief from false accusations. Ugh!
Then God brusquely moved me out of Guatemala. I handed off leadership baton. Since, I have visited, and NOW my greatest joy is to see all the kids who have a strong Christian school, a hope to escape the hopelessness. Had I never tried, I would have missed one of the greatest blessings of my life.
Maybe you´re going through it today in ministry. Don´t hand the mantle back to Elijah. Stick with it. If you give up today, you´ll opt for an easy out of the grief of difficulties. At the same time, you may deprive yourself of your life´s great satisfaction.
Morgan Spurlock‘s The Failure Club is a stroke of genius. This web-based program features New Yorkers deliberating trying to fail. In repeatedly failing at their biggest unfulfilled dream, they eventually hit success.
If you aim to fail, you lower expectations. You eliminate paralyzing fear of failure. You allow yourself the freedom to experiment and practice. You stop wasting time in distracting ventures and pursue your truest dream. You stop fantasizing success and actually pursue it. You don’t get discouraged because your stated goal is to fail.
The inspiring program is an inverted formula for faith. You should watch it on Yahoo (it appears every Friday at 1 p.m., but you can watch old episodes). It teaches you to have faith (in yourself). We Christians take it step further to have faith in God. Because if you don’t risk, you won’t achieve anything.
What has God called you to do but you aren’t doing because it is too grandiose? It doesn’t have a “secure” future? You could flop hugely and become humiliated?
Go ahead. Don’t be afraid to fail. So Gideon attacked the vast enemy army. David took on Goliath. Abraham left his homeland. Moses accepted ministry. Joseph received Mary as his wife. Etc., etc., etc. Passage after passage of the Bible, it’s the same story: people gambled everything, risking utter failure, to do something for God — and in the process became heroes.
Spurlock was $250,000 in debt, sleeping at the office because he lost his home, when he decided to risk yet again and do one more movie. His docudrama Supersize me, unflattering to McDonald’s, of 2004 became a huge success.
Are you praying prayers that are too small? Are you limiting your course of action to a safe and familiar zone?
Posted in ministerial motivation
Tagged Abraham, believe in self, Christian, Faith, God, McDonald, Morgan Spurlock, Moses, self esteem, Super Size Me, Yahoo
Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a HUNDREDFOLD, because the Lord blessed him. — Gen. 26:12 NIV (capitals mine). The prospect of this verse thrills the heart. You can a hundredfold increase, if and when, God moves.
Make no mistake with the math. That is NOT a 100% increase. A 100% increase is a “twofold” increase. No a “hundredfold” increase is 10,000% boon. TEN THOUSAND PERCENT.
Wow! That’s a lot. For every seed, Isaac planted, 100 grains grew. Normally more than one grain grows per seed — but not a hundredfold. This is the moment that Isaac got rich. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy — Gen. 26:13.
Let me make the following observations. This multiplication didn’t happen every time Isaac planted. He spent many years planting and reaping a regular harvest. But he kept at it, kept believing, and one day without warning, God super-blessed him. It was a sovereign miracle of God.
Which leads us to the following conclusions: God can bless you sovereignly at any surprising moment. Maybe you have been slogging along, faithfully serving the Lord for years (like Isaac), and when you least expect, He’ll drop a blessing bomb — and you’ll be sleeping in the cash. You’ll be preaching to the multitudes.
So today pray for a hundredfold multiplication. Look for it expectantly. Persevere until you receive it. Never stop believing.
Prayer feels like a battering ram. Continually pound the resistance of the devil. Vigorous and repeated beatings of prayer shatter opposition, but usually not at the first smash.
Battering rams were effective siege weapons, used on gates or walls. Comprising a massive tree trunk — often mounted on a cart or suspended from a swinging structure, it repeatedly struck against fortresses with such force to crumble and splinter. Once a gape opened, attackers penetrated the city and engaged hand-to-hand combat.
How long it took to break open the walls or gates, depended on 1) the thickness and strength of the wall or doors, 2) the size of the battering ram, 3) the speed of the blows. The bigger the ram, the faster the blow, the more energy released. It was simply a matter of physics.
There must be a spiritual application of this. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. — 2 Cor. 10:4 NIV. Be patient in prayer; continue to strike against the devil, not with “vain repetitions” but with blow after blow of the battering ram. Hit hard. Don´t pray feebly. Pray forcefully, with faith and emotion. This moves God.
A goal sought after is like the siege of a city. It probably won´t be realized with just one quick-and-easy prayer. Stick to it. Realize that we are involved in warfare and the devil doesn´t cede easily.
Working 17-hour days, Michael Milken epitomized an age of unrelenting ambition. Peddling high-risk, high-profit “junk” bonds, he made millions in the 1980s. Milken despised sleep. It interfered with making money. Tens of thousands of business men emulated his work ethic.
But now, this do-without-sleep mentality is totally discredited. Today high-flying execs extol a good eight-hour night of Zzzs. Sleep doctors warn that minimizing sleep cuts your lifespan. Bed manufacturers boast about the latest technology. If the 80s generation thought they could skip sleep, their credo is debunked.
So here´s the comparison. Just as you can´t skimp on sleep without consequences, so too you can´t scrimp prayer. We are the hurry, worry, and scurry nation. With long to-do lists, prayer seems expendable compared to “urgent” priorities.
Actually, the truth is the opposite. Neglect all your ministerial work before neglecting prayer. Just as sound sleep leads to health and enhanced performance, so too your prayer time — how ever long it is — can´t slacken.
Prayer is God working for you. Lack of prayer is you working for you. If you work, it may not work out. But when God works, nothing can impede.
In 1990, Milken plea-bargained guilty to six counts of securities and tax violations. He paid $200 million in fines and served 22 months in prison. He is now a philanthropist.
Milken´s anti-sleep motto fell into disgrace with him. Remember the “junk bond king” offers “junk.” Don´t junk prayer.
They don’t give Wayne Rooney any credit for soccer intelligence. But maybe he’s not as dumb as they say — they call him a “natural” player (no thinking involved).
Maybe he´s not as dumb as they say. Part of his formula for success is to visualize himself doing well the night before. He’s so serious about this mental preparation that he even goes to staff and asks which uniform they will be using the next day. Visualization is the cutting edge of sports psychology: to block out distractions, knock down discouragements and steel up nerve. Once on the field, the player enjoys a heightened level of concentration.
What is the difference between visualization and prayer? Not much. The biggest difference is that we actually have God involved too.
Visualization is a significant element in prayer. When you confess with faith, you see yourself triumphing beforehand. You bat down depression, failure, and fear of failure. Then you spring out of your prayer closet ravenously ready to grab blessing, revival, favor, and God’s help. He is pleased by this kind of faith.
In the most exhilarating goal of the English Premier League this year, Rooney fired an overhead kick, squeezed between two defenders, to win against crosstown rivals Manchester City. The eye-popper silenced critics, who were downgrading Rooney’s status of legend.
Today, blast an overhead goal — with the power of God — in whatever you do. Shut up naysayers with some positive visualizing in prayer.
Posted in prayer
Tagged blessing, Christianity, England, Faith, God, illustration, Manchester City, Manchester United, motivation, prayer, prayer closet, Rooney, sermon illustration, soccer, sports psychology, supernatural, triumph, victory, visualization, Wayne Rooney
When Abraham vanquishes with 318 men the entire armies of four kings, he is met by the king of Sodom, a figure of Satan. Revealingly, the king says, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” — Gen. 14:21 NIV.
Sound simple enough? You deserve a reward for bringing back my people. Keep the money. Actually, that is a wrong interpretation.
The true interpretation would be: I don’t give a fig about the money. Give me the souls, because I am leading them to Hell, and only they are valuable. Remember, the king was responsible for promoting all the sin of Sodom.
Can we learn something from the devil?
The devil is not interested in enriching himself. The glisten of gold catches not his eye. He wants only the souls of man.
As you strain under the financial pressures in ministry, buoy yourself with thought of what you’re doing it for: the souls of men. The souls of men are true riches. Satan knows it. Jesus knows it; he bought our salvation with his agony on the cross.
What is at risk are pastors and ministers. Do we know the true value of souls? Every time a pastor cashes in and trades ministry for a secular career, the devil howls with delight.
This blog is about praying with faith for finances. You can see great breakthrough, as I saw in Guatemala. But you also need to maintain the right perspective. Money doesn’t matter, what matters are the souls of men.
Posted in church finances
Tagged 318 soldiers, Abraham, Christianity, Faith, finances, Financial prosperity, four kings, king, perspective, prayer, prray, Sodom, true riches
The first white explorer to observe the stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon scowled. “It looks like the gates of Hell,” said Lt. John Christmas Ives. “Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality.”
Boy was he wrong! Today millions each year marvel at the jaw-dropping cathedral gorges that grace the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Five miles wide, one mile deep, and over 250 miles long, this spectacular geological showcase is now catalogued as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
There is spectacular beauty in your ministry that others fail to observe. There is pricelessness that others don’t appreciate. Don’t fear it others get it wrong. Enjoy what God has given you and continue to exploit the natural resources that you have for His benefit.
If others frown just because you don’t run after the god of money, don’t listen to them! Continue laboring happily and enjoy the pristine grandeur of His service! Pay no attention to what others fail to see.
If you have a lot of money, you’re a success. This American premise spills over into the church. With its inverse: if you are struggling for finances, you’re a failure.
But God doesn’t measure success by finances. He measures success by souls — and just ONE SOUL is incredibly important to him. Now as far as finances go, if you have barely enough to scrape by — and you are ministering to at least one soul — then by Bible standards and by God’s standards, you are a success.
So stop bumming over worldly comparisons that intrude and impose on the church. Jeremiah certainly didn’t have a lot of “members in his church.” And Paul knew how “to be in need… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” — Philippians 4:12 NIV.
Cheer yourself up! As you pray for finances, believe and wait. God will provide enough — maybe just enough — in His timing. As long as you have one soul in your church, you are providing a valuable service, and you’re a hero for Heaven. May scoffers shut up. God doesn’t measure by worldly (American) measures.
Posted in church finances
Tagged am I a failure?, Christianity, church, failure, Faith, finances, help, Jeremiah, pastor, pastoring, positive attitude, prayer, struggling pastor, success, usefulness, why?
The disciples tried but could not dislodge the demon. The epileptic’s father is unsure if Jesus, who just descended the mount, will be able where others failed. Wavering, he addresses the Lord: “IF you can do anything…”
This struggling faith does not sit particularly well with Jesus, who chides him. The man quickly realizes his mistake and musters faith: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” — Mark 9:24 NIV.
Struggling faith always comes up short. Stubborn faith is an unmoved confidence that God will perform His promises. Struggling faith is somewhat convinced that God MAY do something. Stubborn faith “is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” — Heb. 11:1 NIV.
Struggling faith almost never gets a miracle. Stubborn faith impresses God so much that He is pleased: “Great is your faith!”
Most of us struggle to have more faith. We need the same sincerity of this man: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Trying is doing, putting effort is achieving. Jesus was pleased with this man’s attempt to shore up his struggling faith.
Our words retain far more power than we acknowledge. Consider the Gibeonites (Joshua 9), who through lies and deceit won a treaty with the conquering Israelites. God forbade the Israelites to enter treaty with any of the people in the Promised Land, so the Gibeonites pretended to be foreigners from far away. If this were the U.S., the contract would be null and void because of falsifications.
BUT, God obliged the Israelites to honor that treaty because they had sworn with their mouths. God’s concept of words is vastly different than our own. We think, “I’m just saying…” as if our words were nothing more than sound vibrations, the product of vocal chords, breath and mouth formations. But God sticks with words.
Think about the implications for prayer. Whatever you utter will be upheld by God. They spoke lies, yet the treaty was upheld. You pray with sincerity. Have no doubt your utterances will come to pass. It’s just a question of time, but faith should remain absolute. Obviously, the tongue is more powerful than we conceptualize.
Posted in prayer
Tagged Christianity, deceit, Faith, Gibeonites, God, honor, Joshua, lies, power, Promised Land, words
If Elijah was a man just like us, then we are just like him. Elijah was a man just like us. — James 5:17. This means, everything he did, we can do too!
Elijah called down both fire and rain from Heaven. You call down finances.
Into the drought, Elijah brought rain through his prayers. Onto the water-saturated sacrifice, Elijah called down fire to consume it. Later when his life was threatened by an enemy army, he prayed fire down from Heaven in self defense.
James’ assertion is staggering. Me? Have anything in common with this titanic hero of the faith? Algebra teaches us the reversibility. Elijah = us, so us = Elijah. Whatever he did, we can do.
Into the drought of recession and shortage, call down finances. Onto your sacrifice of praise, call down the fires of revival. In self-defense against the devourer, call down the all-consuming God.
Phillip explains the impossibilities. Eight months wages would be needed to feed the multitude. It’s as if he’s telling Jesus, who’s moved to compassion again, to NOT be unreasonable with his desire to feed hungry thousands. Then in direct contradiction to his colleague, Andrew dares to venture a crazy idea: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” — John 6:8.
Andrew risks the ridicule of his fellows. He risks rebuke from Jesus for his unreasonableness. Why mention something that is obviously not a solution? Andrew risks with faith, and in the end avoids both ridicules and rebuke. Instead, it’s as if Jesus congratulates him.
Though tentative and unsure of himself, Andrew hits success. People are willing to risk for business. They risk for sports. They risk getting an STD. They risk addiction and alcoholism in the name of fun.
Why not risk for faith? Why not dare to begin to believe. You might be surprised to find you please Jesus and He takes up your venture of faith as His own!
My complaint with The Lord of the Rings is that they’re always traveling towards and never arriving at. In the first book, The Hobbit, the last battle with the Big Bad Dragon is anticlimatic. Every other battle along the way is much more exciting.
Upon reflection, however, this is the way ministry is. We are always traveling towards revival, and few of us actually every arrive at it. Tolkien’s journey genre is an accurate reflection of ministry.
You’re in a journey. People join your ministry, people leave your ministry. Sometimes, it moves forwards, sometimes backwards. There are discouragements and incomparable satisfactions that make it all worth while. I’ve learned to not despise the journey. It is long. But it is an adventure.
Worse off are the people who only live for money. They have no adventure, no conflict with the forces of darkness to wrest souls free for the kingdom of God. No matter how small your ministry is, it is vested with dignity and glorious triumph. God is pleased with your battle, your battling.
It should’ve taken 40 days to traverse the wasteland from Egypt to the Promised Land, but instead it took 40 years for the Israelites. A lack of GPS was not the problem. The problem? Grumbling.
Grumbling and ministry are a noxious blend. Because of grumbling, the Israelites ticked off God so bad He punished them, sent plagues on them, swallowed some of them up in the Earth, and finally sent them back into the desert for 40 years.
Their grumbling may have been justifiable. They were formerly slaves, so their education and cultural level was low. They behaved like what they were, not what God had made them. They refused to release their clutch on the past. So we make a case for comprehension.
Be that as it may, the bottom line is that their grumbling derailed them from the destiny. No matter how justified you feel for grumbling, don’t do it. You could get stuck in the desert.
When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing. JK.
No, what I really want to talk about is CATCHING fish. I took my kids fishing for the first time at June Lake in the Eastern Sierras of California. They learned what fishing truly is: we didn’t catch a thing. I think they thought it was like in the cartoons: as soon as put the baited hook in the water, you pull out a beauty.
My kids got frustrated. Hosea said he never wanted to fish again in his life. Robert prayed and made vows to God. Rebekah was bored out of her mind and complained.
I laughed. Admittedly, I’m not the ace angler. But I know that fishing sometimes can be like that. You just enjoy the splendor of the surroundings and tranquility of the lake. You eat tuna back at camp (because you didn’t catch trout).
There’s a lesson for ministry in this. Sometimes you’re not catching (Remember the “fishers of men” parable?). Even in times of dryness, of frustration, of apparent stagnation, it’s still more glorious than secular work. So don’t throw your bait into the lake. Don’t drive down the mountain cursing. Hang in there. The more you fish, the better you get. Sooner or later, you’ll not be just enjoying the scenery.
My little kids soccer team bombed its final. If I would have known the defense was going to fall apart, I would have drilled them to tedium on practice. But since I didn’t FORESEE, I did other drills. The adage: HINDSIGHT is 20-20. It means exactly what happened to my team. I saw the problem during the game, not before the game. Coaches win because of FORESIGHT.
Christianity is neither foresight nor hindsight. It is no sight. We live by faith, not by sight. — 1 Cor. 5:7 NIV.
I’m not saying to hurtle forward recklessly without planning, wisdom or counsel. Yes, there is a role for FORESIGHT. But with God, sometimes it is NOT FORESIGHT that is key, but prayer.
Prayer changes the problems you cannot FORESEE. It is NO SIGHT because it takes care of those things we cannot anticipate.
In regards to my soccer team, I don’t think prayer would have given us the victory. Prayer is for more important matters: saving souls, wresting finances, bringing healings. The soccer story is only an illustration for what is truly important.
It’s good to have foresight and hindsight in a limited capacity. It’s also good to let God take care of problems you can’t even see: pray!
Manchester City hadn’t won a national championship for 44 years. That’s a loooooong time. But this underdog English team just flouted critics and one-upped their overbearing, always-winning neighbors, Manchester United. I’m not a City fan, but I like people beating the odds.
Their victory was purchased at a high price. Oil-rich owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dished out an estimated $2 billion to assemble some of the best players in the world on his new team. It’s the new reality of soccer. Whoever pays most, wins.
But the most interesting thing about this is the comparison to the Kingdom of God. Because our Heavenly Father bought us for His team too. And His purchase was for extremely much more than $2 billion. It was the blood of His one and only Son. Think about it, if you have undiminishable riches, then any price is nothing. But then if you have only one son, that’s going to hurt you to fork over.
So you have been bought with a HIGH PRICE. And you are part of God’s winning team. Live inspired today, tomorrow and forever. Let this knowledge motivate you to minister your “utmost for His highest.”
Posted in ministerial motivation
Tagged English title, God's investment, God's team, illustration, Manchester City, Manchester United, Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, price for sin, sermon illustration, Sheikh Mansour, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, soccer