Friday, January 31, 2014

Willing To Take The First Step

I went skydiving for the first time in June 2013. While standing on the edge with the wind beating my face and looking at the ground below, the tandem jump instructor asked me if I was ready to jump.  "What am I doing", I thought to myself.  I was "ready" when my feet were planted on the ground but now I feel some extreme hesitation as I stood one step away from free falling to the ground where I once stood.  Am I really ready to take the first step?

As I embark on this new journey that God has set before me, I reflect on this first step that I will have to take. This particular step carries a lot of weight. It is a very small step but it is a defining one. It is less about my readiness and more about my willingness. 

Like the instructor, God made sure that I had the proper equipment on and that it was working properly. The instructor made sure that I knew the instructions prior to me taking that step. He packed the parachute himself (thank God!). He also made sure that I was latched on to him. God does the same. He gives us instructions, equips us for the task ahead and does His part to keep us connected to Him.

As I reflect back to the jump, the instructor was asking me the wrong question.  He should have asked me if I was willing to jump instead of asking me if I was ready to jump.  He was the one that needed to be ready because I was latched to him and he was leading me to safety. However, I had to be willing:

- Willing to follow the instructions given to me
- Willing to trust in his ability
- Willing to go when the time arrived
- Willing to do my part 

When God is ready, we need to be willing.  We need to listen to His instructions, trust in Him completely, believe that His timing is always right and carry out the work that we need to do.  God has given us everything we need to accomplish what He has set out for us to do.  Are you willing to take that first step?

*By the way, I was willing to take the first step in skydiving :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keeping It Real

"To be or not to be: That is the question!" At times I struggle to answer the question about how I feel to about starting Gospel Outreach Community Church. I know what the expectations are and I know what they are not. 

Most people expect me to have all of the answers right now. I should have the flawless marketing approach, dynamic worship service structure and the know-how to meet EVERY needs of the community that I am servicing. I come with a "trial and error" marketing approach, "what was I thinking" worship service structure and the "do what I can with what I got" campaign to meet the needs of the community.

Most people expect me to stand tall with my back straight and look the challenges in their eyes like this is a cake walk because I know what the scriptures tell me. I know that I can do all things through the strength of Christ. I know that nothing that is devised to destroy me will prosper. In knowing that, I still come with the jitter bugs of nervousness and late nights of behind the scene operations. 

Knowing the expectations of people, I willingly choose not to wear the mask. This journey is not a "to be or not to be" journey. I would say that it fits the "to be AND to be" model. I am nervous and I know that God will comfort me. I will pray hard and work hard. I will wait on The Lord and I will move out on faith. I will make wrong decisions and I will make right ones. I will know the right words to say and I will not know what to say at all.

The "to be AND to be" model does not mean that we are weak. It does not mean that we have wavering faith. It means that we are real.

Do you think it damages a Christians credibility when they take off their mask?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Play The Game

Most people I know will take every opportunity to go after something they want or need when they know they can get it. They will do it with no hesitation, reservation or fear. They want it. They need it. They are going to get it.

Now remove the "perfect situation" glasses from your face and reality will show you that the above is a rarity. It is more common for people to want or need something but recognize that a possibility of not getting it exists. Unfortunately, it is also common that this reality has discourage people from even "playing the game". Why try? Would the disappointment of failing hurt more than wondering what would have happened if you tried? What would people think about me if they heard about my failure? Those are real thoughts. Those are crippling thoughts. Dreams are not fulfilled because of those thoughts. Potential remains as potential and never matures to experience because of those thoughts. Innovation remains as a good idea instead of enhancing a process or technology.

Taking a lesson from the little kids, I notice that they operate without fear. I use to believe that they do not understand the consequences of their actions but I quickly change my opinion. Have you ever seen a kid fall, cry, get back up and do it again? They probably thought only of success prior to them falling. After falling, they now have a clear picture of the consequences of failure but still hold on to the idea of what success would feel like. They get back up and do it again.

I remember applying for a job that I did not meet the qualifications for. I knew I didn't meet them but I wanted the job. I was completely shocked that they even called me for an interview. Every qualification question they asked me was met with a "I have never done that before but I am a fast learner." After leaving the interview, I (figuratively) picked myself off the floor and classified this experience as a practice round. I drove back to my office thinking about how I could learn from the interview and how this shook off the cobwebs. I was already looking toward the next interviews from other companies that might come my way. To my surprise, I received an offer letter the same day. What if I didn't "play the game" because I was afraid of "striking out"

God will give us opportunities that may seem too big for us. Take them. Do it regardless of your feelings of success or failure. Possibilities of failure does not ensure failure. Your obedience to God's direction and words would lead you to success because God defines what success is.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Point Of No Return

Mr. Curtis Burrell composed a hymn titled “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired”. I remember growing up hearing James Cleveland sing those powerful words of the chorus:
“I don’t feel no ways tired,
I’ve come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy,
I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.”
As I examine those words I can see clearly that this is a very desirable state of mind and spirit to have. Spent enough time on your journey to be tired but you’re not. Covered enough ground on your journey to have no aspiration to return to your former ways. Maintained complete trust in God while having full knowledge that the road behind was tough and the road ahead will be just as tough. Even in all that, recognized that God has brought you a very long way and He is not finished with you yet.
The chorus describes a person who has passed the point of no return. What is this so called “point”? This “point” is a decision. A decision that no matter what waits ahead, you will keep pressing. The surrounding conditions, good or bad, have no bearing on your decision. Your decision could no longer be influenced by your feelings or the people around you. You placed a marker on the road of life and made a declaration that going back is no longer an option.

Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.

The amazing thing about this “point” is that we have full control of where to place it. If you have not done so already, make your decision and declare that you are now pass the point of no return.