Building People. Spreading Hope.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

You Can Impact the World

Most of us cannot comprehend doing anything to change the world. Yet God wants all of us to be a world changer. We may feel insignificant on our own but when we allow God to work in and through us, we can impact the world!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you’ll have the power.” Most of our problems are between our own two eyes. We think we cannot do anything big so we do nothing. The key is to do what you can and then allow God to do what you can’t. The Bible says that God will bless the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 2:7). Today, I want to stir you up to become a world changer.

In order to support the family, my father had to quit school when he was in seventh grade. He was a Christian man but he was very limited in his environment. For generations, his family lived in poverty and lack. When my mother passed away, leaving him with four young boys, all he could do was to pray. He struggled through most of his life until we all came to know Christ.

Many years went by without any sign of my father’s prayers being answered. At one point he lost touch with me and two of my brothers for several years. However, my father never stopped praying for his sons to serve God. Long story short, today not only are all of his sons, but over two dozen other family members are serving the Lord. I say it humbly but together we’ve ministered in over 150 nations, touching millions of lives. What was once an impossible dream of my earthly father was made possible by our Heavenly Father. My Dad is around 85 years old now. Next month, we’re going to celebrate his life while he is still with us. He is a prime example of how you can change the world through prayer!

Today, you may live in a limited environment. You think that everybody else is more talented than you. You look at yourself and think that you have nothing to give. Some of you feel like you’ve wasted your time in the world and now you’re too old to do anything big for God. This may be how you feel but this is not true. God is not finished with you. If God didn’t have a plan and a purpose for your life, you wouldn’t be here. Your greatest days on earth are still out in front of you. He wants you to impact the world with your time, talents, and treasures.

In 2 Kings 5, there’s a story of a man named Naaman who was a commander in the king’s army. He was a valiant man but he had leprosy. Naaman’s wife had a slave girl from Israel to help her around the house. When this young girl heard about Naaman’s plight, she told his wife about Prophet Elijah in Samaria. She suggested that if Naaman would go and meet Elijah, his leprosy will be healed. Through a long string of events, at the instruction of the Prophet, Naaman dipped in the River Jordan and his skin was cured like a young boy. Consider how it all started. God used a slave girl working in the kitchen to perform a mighty miracle. If a slave girl can start a miracle-working power of God, imagine what God can do through you!

On October 23rd, we’re leaving for another mission trip to India. Our goal is to touch 30,000 people in three weeks. It takes only $1 to reach one person! People are waiting in anticipation for the Good News. We’ll lift Jesus in worship in front of thousands. We will encourage, and minister to the poor and persecuted Christians. Like my father, you can impact the world through your prayers. Some of you can support this mission trip. Others of you can share this information with friends and on social media and empower others to action. President Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

Friend, your influence has a great impact. Today, I urge you to attempt something big for God. It doesn’t have to be anything big but do something. Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Don’t minimize your involvement in world missions. Pray. Give. Go. In the hands of our big God, our small act of service can turn into something great. Together, we can change the world!

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent” (Romans 10:14-15 NIV).

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Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Ways to Overcome Fear

Fear is a universal enemy. Everybody has an area in their lives where they’re fearful. It is not wrong to be afraid. When we’re overwhelmed by fear, the best thing to do is to eliminate it.

Fear is an invisible enemy yet it has struck down more people than we want to admit. Right now, we’re gripped with the fear of the Ebola virus or the fact that global terrorism is on the rise. There are many other evils that exist in the world. We cannot stop fear from knocking on our doors but how we respond to it makes all the different.
Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Fear is always based on what’s going to happen in the future. Fear starts in our thinking, therefore we can stop it! When we allow a negative thought to take root in our mind, we’re surrendering ourselves before we even get to the battleground. Today, let’s look at five ways we can defeat fear.

Think about what you think about. Your life will follow your thoughts. Our mind is the breeding ground for good and evil therefore we have to protect our thoughts. Prevention is better than cure. The Scripture says, What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true” (Job 3:25 NLT). When we hear a negative report, we have to immediately shake it off. The longer we linger in our fear, the bigger it becomes in our mind. We have the power to choose faith or continue in fear. Fear and faith work in the same way. Fear is reverse faith. Faith causes us to focus on God’s ability. When we speak the Word of God over our lives, we’re defeating fear before it can take root and become a stronghold in our mind.

You have insurance. The Bible talks about plagues and pestilence before the second coming of our Lord. While the world gets darker and darker, we, His children, can live without fear. When the Egyptians were facing their worst nightmare with plagues, there was no evil in Goshen where the children of the Israelites lived. You must know that there’s a difference between the people of the world and you, the follower of Christ. Jesus has paid the full premium on the insurance of fear. King David said, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Psalm 91:7). You’re protected by the blood of Jesus!

Look at the big picture. Early this year, I was ministering in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Enroute, we had to land in Tokyo, Japan. The weather was bad when we landed. It was raining heavily and the sky was dark. Flashes of thunder and lightning lit up the night skies. It was depressing and honestly, fear gripped my heart. All sorts of negative thoughts began to cross my mind. Amazingly, when our flight took off again, we were engulfed with bright sunshine and clear weather in less than fifteen minutes. Against all my fears, we made a safe landing and touched thousands of lives. Fear has a way of keeping us focused on the present or our immediate future. It may look dark and scary right now but, just above the rainclouds, sunshine awaits you. Instead of considering how big your problem is, consider how big is your God.

Feed on positive. Unfortunately, bad news sells. Not too long ago, I met a lady who was bragging about how her blog is read by thousands. When I checked it out, it was full of negatives and bitterness about her past experiences. That poison will kill you faster than a cobra. Don’t be drawn to negative reports in the media or gossip. Spread the good news and shun the bad news. You’d be smart to realize that news media is rehashing the same news over and over with new packaging. It’s good to be informed but it’s not wise to be influenced to make good decisions by negative media.

Pray instead of panic. Bad news will be coming at us no matter how hard we try. We don’t have to be like the ostrich trying to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that evil doesn’t exist. However, prayer is much more powerful than fear. Every day I pray, “Thank you Lord, for safety, protection, and angels. I put the blood of Jesus over me and my family and against the enemy.” I recommend that you do the same. When we pray, we activate faith and bind fear. Fear makes us cripple. Prayer makes us powerful.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).

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Monday, October 13, 2014

It’s Time for Your Comeback

All of us make mistakes yet very few of us believe that anything good can come from them. We tend to supersize our wrongs and minimize our successes. If we’re to live a satisfied life, we have to learn to turn our mistakes into miracles.
Not everything that comes against you is from the pit of hell. God allows a difficulty or a hardship to occur in our lives so that He can bring something greater out of our circumstances. Things may be going the way you planned but you’re not going to end where you are. He has every intention of fulfilling your destiny. There is more for you than you realize. What’s waiting in your future is far greater than what’s happened in your past. Today I challenge you to look at your setback as a setup.
As a young cartoonist, Walt Disney faced many obstacles. Newspaper editors would constantly turn down his work. They thought he had no talent. They said that he had no imagination. One day, a minister in the church approached him to do some work for him. Disney was broke and he lived at a tiny place infested by rodents. It was the worst possible condition for him to be inspired about his work. One day he saw a little mouse running around in his humble abode. It made him sketch a new cartoon. That was the birth of Mickey Mouse and the rest is history.
Today you might be in a dark place. You may not understand why a chain of negative things has happened to you. Your business may not have turned a profit yet. You don’t even see the end of the tunnel, much less the daylight. The rent is past due. The creditors are calling. The boss is demanding and even your spouse is unhappy. The whole world seems to be caving in. If this is true, I have some good news for you. God is setting you up. It’s time for your comeback.
One day little Tommy came home from school visibly distraught. His mother found a note in his pocket. The teacher had written, “Your Tommy is too stupid to learn. Get him out of the school.” This made his mother mad because little Tommy was partially deaf. His mother pulled him out of school and she began to teach him at home. That little boy not only began to blossom under the loving care of his mother, he went on to become the great Thomas Edison even though he had only three months of formal schooling! 
Friend, it’s time to take off the labels; no matter who has written you off and who has said that you’ll never amount to anything, God has put a blessing on you and nobody can reverse that. Don’t believe every expert in your industry. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Believe in God and listen to your own inner voice. Trust your own instinct more than you value your friends. You’re not handicapped. You are not washed out. Your best days are still out in front of you. God has more in your future than all the failures in the past. If you keep the right perspective, God will help you rise above your mediocrity.
In 1914, Thomas Edison lost his factory to a fire. It was his lifetime of achievement. He was 67 years old. He had very little insurance. Edison watched helplessly as his lifetime effort went up in smoke. However, instead of lamenting, he said, “All our mistakes are burnt up. Thank God we can start anew.” Three weeks later, he invented the phonograph!
Friend, setbacks are inevitable. Learn from your mistakes but remember that God is not finished with you. He has plans for you that you do not know. He has the right people lined up for you. He has the right clients waiting for you. You’ll find your dream job. You will come into a great inheritance. Your children will come home to be a blessing to you. Your health will spring forth and you’ll live long to fulfill your divine destiny. Today, have a fresh attitude in life. You’re about to start a new chapter. Take off the labels people put on you. There is inspiration even in a despairing situation. God is setting you up. In the words of Chris Tomlin’s famous song, “Into the darkness You shine, Out of the ashes we rise, There’s no one like you. None like you! Our God is greater. Our God is stronger. God you’re higher than any other…” You’ve gone through the death. You’ve gone through the burial. Now it’s time for your comeback!
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV).
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Enjoying Everyday Life

Life is complicated. Our experiences of past, and present, pressure can rob the very life God has given to us. When we’re not careful, it’s easy to lose sight of the wonderful gift called today. God wants us to enjoy our lives.

The demands of life can squeeze the joy out of us. If we’re not careful, life will run us over and we’re going to waste valuable time stuck in a rut. I’ve found most of the time we’re griping about today was once an answer to our prayers. Often we’re waiting for the big miracle but I’ve learnt that life is a combination of tiny miracles. We will be wise to recognize them, glorify God, and enjoy everyday life.

Thirteen year old Athena, from Britain, passed away this summer. She was a victim of cancer but she never let her circumstances dictate her life. While cleaning out her room, her parents discovered a 3,000-word long, secret letter written on the backside of her bedroom mirror. Here’s an excerpt from the letter she left behind: 

“Happiness depends upon us. Maybe it's not about the happy ending, maybe it's about the story. The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Happiness is a direction not a destination. Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young. You know my name, not my story. You have heard what I've done, but not what I've been through. Love is like glass, looks so lovely but it's easy to shatter. Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts and people change. Love is not about how much you say I love you — it’s about how much you can prove its true. Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life-ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day. Life is only bad if you make it bad. Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about. I want to be that girl who makes the bad days better and the one that makes you say my life has changed since I met her!”

Friend, live life with a passion! Enjoy the small things, for one day you’ll wake up and realize that they were the big things! You’ll attract whatever you focus on. Instead of dreading things, learn to enjoy the trips to the grocery store. You have money to buy what you need. When you hit traffic, thank God that you don’t have to walk or wait hours for a bus. Keeping the house clean can be a chore but know that there are millions who’d love to live in your palace. Kids may be cumbersome but greater joy is to remember that we’re preparing them for life. You may have a health issue and it may be restricting your life but aren’t you glad you’re still breathing? Any day is better than being six feet under! Let us enjoy life to the fullest.

Recently I met Mac. He is 82 years old. He told me how he exploited life in his younger life. He lived on Park Avenue and made millions. He traveled the world and owned expensive real estate. Today Mac is frail but he gets around. He has not lost the zest for life. He’s slowed down but you can still see the excitement in his eyes. He has regrets but he is more focused on the future than his past. He attends church regularly. He sings in the choir. He gives a big chunk of his possessions to help the work of God. He meets with his son every Wednesday for coffee. He attends network groups. Mac laments about the time and millions he lost but he takes pride in finding Jesus in his heart. Mac is living life to the fullest.

Friend, are you enjoying life or simply enduring it? Don’t just breathe — live! If you have kids, you’re rich. If you have dirty dishes, you have food to eat. If you’re stuck in traffic, you have a car to drive. If you have piles of laundry to do, you have plenty of clothes to wear. If you have Jesus, you have hope. Don’t just live for the big events in life, enjoy the morning walks. Smell the roses. Play with your kids. Enjoy reading the Bible with your favorite cup of tea or coffee. Thank God for the three green lights in a row or finding a parking spot of your choice. Like my friend Mac, you learn to appreciate the small things in life. Change your perspective. Enjoy everyday miracles. It will change your life!

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:14,17 NLT).

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Desire More for God

We are driven by desires. We strive to get to a better place with our lives. We want more comfort, better living conditions, plenty of affluence and influence. While none of this is wrong, our desire for God is more important in this life and beyond.

Yesterday, I met with two young ladies. We’ll call them Becky and Chelsea. They’re smart, beautiful, and full of purpose. They are highly successful in their own careers and they’re modest about their achievements. Both of them have traveled the world and lived overseas extensively, helping people that are less fortunate. Chelsea is a property manager but her real passion is to work with new immigrants giving them job skills and other valuable support; introducing them to our God. Becky has a booming business but she is constantly looking for ways to help others. Her dream is to have a restoration center healing God’s servants from around the world! Their love for God and His people is impeccable! What inspired me about these ladies is that they love life to the fullest but they also love God with their whole heart. As a matter of fact, everything they do is an overflow of their obedient commitment to Christ. My friends are marked for success!

I believe every human being is born with a God-shaped void in their hearts. We try to fill it up with busyness, relationships, building ourselves a name, fame, and a fortune. Climbing the corporate ladder is great but make sure it’s not leaning against the wrong wall. How we get there, and what we do when we arrive, make all the difference. The same is true in raising a family, growing a business, or even serving God in the ministry. Martha was busy ministering for Jesus. Mary ministered to Jesus. Mary was preferred! Nothing can fill the void in your life that only God can. He has reserved all the right to our love and affection. He laid His life down to express His love for us. Do you desire more for God as you do for material things in life?

My kids have three cats! I was out of my mind to allow them three kittens (they grow)! Seriously, they’re cute and they add a lot of joy. Fang is always getting into mischief. I have to get on to her more than the other two. However, it is Fang who jumps onto my couch every morning and cuddles with me while I’m having my tea and reading my Bible. She likes to do that throughout the day. I like all of our cats but Fang gets preferred treatment because of her affection for me. Many Christians go to God only when they have a need. There’s nothing wrong with asking God for stuff. But if our relationship is based on getting and not giving, then we’re living too shallow.

In the Bible, we find David always having a desire for more of God. He rose early in the morning to seek after Him. He took time to recall the blessings He received from God. He magnified God while he was surrounded by his enemies. David made God’s name famous. In return, in spite of his humble background, God made him the king of Israel and called David a man after His own heart. What about you? Do you have any conversation with God that does not involve your benefit? Do you ever ask God, “What you can do for you?” Do you actively seek for ways that will make His name great? Do you have a bucket list of what you want to do for God? You have goals for your own family and personal career but do you have a goal for your spiritual development? These questions are not to make you feel bad but if we don’t have a desire to live more for God, we’re not living life to our highest potential.

Let’s become lovers of God. He owns it all except our hearts. The Holy Spirit is a Gentleman. He will not occupy what you don’t surrender. It’s great to have goals and dreams and accumulate stuff but I’ve never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse! Nothing wrong in making a name or having fame but there’s nothing right doing it without God. Talk to Him regularly. Read His love letters, the Bible, to you. Know Him and make His name known to the world. Let’s be like my friends Becky and Chelsea and desire more for God. King David always made time for God, so can we. Like our cat if we get cozy with God, our lives will go better for us. Friends, I challenge you to desire more for God. When we live a God-pleasing life, everything else will automatically fall in place. God wants you. How much of God do you desire?

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1 NIV).

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Heal a Broken Relationship

Conflict is inevitable. People hurt us and we do the same to others. Nobody can be perfect 100% of the time. It’s only human to make mistakes. When a relationship is strained, we should take the high road and try to bring healing to the situation.

I find that most people want to repair a severed relationship. However, they don’t always have the tools to bring healing to a conflict. When we intentionally reach out to the other party, it honors God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” Today, let’s look at a few tools that will help us mend a broken relationship.

Initiate the dialogue. Most people want to repair the damage but they want the other person to initiate things. If we can just swallow our pride, we can see great things coming out of the reconciliation; it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. The person who reaches out first is the bigger person. Be the bigger person.

Allow the anger to settle. When a relationship is damaged, people tend to be extra sensitive. When people are upset, it’s not the right time to make apology. Reaching out too quickly can hinder more than it can advance the cause for peace. Depending on the weight of the offense, it’s generally good to give someone at least 48 hours for things to cool down. People are high strung when they’re emotionally charged. Time doesn’t always heal everything but it can make things easier to deal with.

Don’t make light of the offense. No matter what caused the relationship to break down, understand that the person is still hurting. Right or wrong, people have the right to their feelings. It becomes harder on the person offended if we make light of our action. One of the best things to do is to take ownership of our action. We can say, “I’m sorry that I hurt you. I didn’t mean to. I will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” Then shut up. Don’t try to explain yourself.

Be gracious to forgive. When people make sincere apology, don’t humiliate them by withholding your forgiveness. It takes a lot of humility and emotional strength to apologize. When people recognize their mistake and try to repair the damage, be a decent human being and minimize the shame. When we keep meddling with the offense and “keep the record straight,” we’re adding fuel to the fire. Never threaten or give ultimatums. He or she may not say the exact words you want to hear but you’re better off accepting the apology instead of dragging him or her through the mud again.

What goes around comes around. We have a tendency to forget that we too need mercy. When we’re being stiff about an offense, we’re hurting ourselves the most. People may not be fair but God is. When we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us. What we don’t deal with now can haunt us for generations to come. Let’s forgive and bury the hurt. Life is too short to hold on to a grudge.

It may take time. Healing a relationship may not be instantaneous but it is worth it. When we try to hurry the other person, we risk delaying the process. Allow people some space. The bigger the offense the longer it may take to reconcile. Let them process your apology. If they’re big enough, they’ll come back to reconcile with you.

Be at peace with yourself. Some people will never forgive you no matter what you do to mend a relationship. If you don’t get a response after repeated attempts, let it go. You cannot force people to reconcile. Just do your part and allow God to vindicate you. Go on with your life.

Friend, no matter how it started, a restored relationship is divine. You have the right to be sour and bitter against people who have hurt you but it is not right to allow poison to take root in your heart. You can either get bitter or get better. Make that call to apologize today. Send a card. Give a gift. Write that email. When we live life as a healer, we’re being like Jesus.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15 ESV).

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