Where Are You Going?

We were lost, and it did not make sense. As we listened to my phone give us directions. I began to wonder, did I miss a turn? The further we drove down the windy, dark road, it became more difficult to see up ahead. My high-beams were like matches that had served their purpose and were gracefully fading out. At the same time, looking at my palm-size, dim-lit phone displaying the road ahead, numerous times the words “rerouting” displayed on my screen. I realized there was no signal and I needed to shut my phone off and turn back on.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
(Proverbs 3:5-8)

The incident I just described is an actual occurrence of where I found myself one night coming back from a weekend conference. Perhaps you can relate to the story. I want you to know that you are a part of a very elite group of individuals that have placed too much dependency on our phones or our small boxes in our vehicles, called “navigation” devices. According to Webster, Navigation is the method of determining position, course, and distance traveled. (emphasis added)

My navigation that night was solely dependent on my phone. I had placed complete trust in a handheld device to lead me home. You may be thinking, why didn’t I turn around or I didn’t realize that something was wrong? The short answer is “no.” I allowed a small box to talk to me and give me directions on how to get to my destination. Where the source of instruction was coming from, I never questioned. Technology is impressive, and the satellites in space transmit signals apparently, but how do we know? We believe, right?

Why is it easier to believe a device telling us play by play direction than it is to accept God’s Word or the whisper of the Holy Spirit? Listening to a phone is a perfect description of what happens when I trust in my guidance instead of placing my trust in the Holy Spirit. Just as I lost my way traveling on that windy road when my signal dropped, sometimes in life, I lose my way. Sometimes I am not connected to the right source. If I listen to the wrong voice or trust without question the voice speaking to me- it can leave me lost. It can leave me lost and searching for familiarity or some resemblance of light.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend on our own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5)

In today’s society, it is easy to get sidetracked or concerned about what is around us. Events or circumstances leave us feeling confused. We may feel lost and uncertain about what lies ahead, but this verse reminds us that we have a full-proof plan. That is the first step in getting to our final destination; what are we trusting? The problem is that many of us do not take full advantage of placing our complete trust in the Lord. I don’t know about you, but if I am not careful, I depend on my alleged robust understanding as opposed to the Holy Spirit’s whisper. I began to have an inflated sense of confidence in my efforts and this is where the problem lies. Trusting in Charles’ way leads to a dead-end.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:6)

We are to search out what God wants for us, and this is done by listening attentively for His voice and trusting His process even if we don’t see the result. To seek describes a conscientious effort put forth to find something. I was seeking to get home that night, but I was listening from a limited perspective, not observing what was before me.  My navigation was leading me down a one-way road to nowhere, and I was seeing it unfold before my eyes, never stopping to turn around. Reminds me of a Proverb that discusses listening to good counsel. Let the wise hear and increase in learning and the one who understands obtain guidance. (Proverbs 1:5 ESV)  The Holy Spirit is good counsel and helps us improve our knowledge. This statement about the Holy Spirit is easy to say and admit, but it is harder to put in action. I confess plenty of my blunders in life are the result of not seeking or following the sweet, gentle counsel of the Holy Spirit. I found myself hearing and seeing the need to reroute but often failed to follow the promptings.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
(Proverbs 3:7,8)

When the navigation is on, the rerouting feature comes in handy. It reminds us that not only has the way been redirected for us, but our destination is still obtainable. The reason may not be our fault; sometimes, we can miss a turn. Let’s be honest. Sometimes we are lost because we are focusing on our way of direction and not listening to that voice intended to get us to our destination safely. It is not always the best way to get back; in fact, it often comes with more twists and turns. There is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12 ESV) Stop for a moment. Think about the reroute feature as God’s grace towards you and I. Grace is unmerited favor. If we acknowledge the fact that we have veered from the navigation and change directions and follow where it leads, we can still reach the destination. Yes, it will come most times with more steps, but that is why it is called a reroute.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to deliver us after missing or taking the wrong turn, we must do two things to get back on track. We admit first that we are off-track. Then we listen to the instructions to correct our particular predicament, being lost. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)  

What if after so many times of rerouting-the navigation just turned off, leaving us to find our way? What would we do? More importantly, what could we do?  We probably would have to calibrate our navigation. This calibration is sometimes our last hope in finding our way back home. We calibrate navigation when a connection breaks with the source giving directions. Communication no longer transmits to us. In turn, they are leaving us to trust our sense of direction to do anything—a dangerous place to find ourselves. The question is, where are you going?

If you need to calibrate your sense of direction, stop and do it. Allow Christ to come in and take control to restore that connection with the Holy Spirit so that you can hear pure instruction to get you through this journey of life. Call your Pastor or godly counsel, if you don’t have a church home, ask God to lead you to where He wants you. To get what you need to put you on the right path.

Lord, we thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the reroutes in our lives when we were going the wrong way. We thank you for the ability to calibrate with you to regain the connection we so desperately need. Please help us to know where we are going and not lose our way.

In Jesus’s name, Amen

Be Encouraged Friend…

Rocks to a Swordfight 1 Samuel 17:40

He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:40)

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Reading the Word of God is so refreshing and insightful. There is so much packed in the Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth that sometimes I just am in awe when I think of those that the Holy spirit inspired to weave the pages together

The story of David has always been one of those that I was drawn to. So many principles that can be applied in our daily lives. When I reflect on the account found in this story, I feel empowered to think: little faith leads to great victory and big faith means unstoppable.

What made David so confident that he was able to defy the odds, emerging victorious in the battle with Goliath? Was it the fact that he was a skilled warrior back on Jesse’s sheep ranch? He had proven himself by killing a lion and a bear. Was that enough for him to feel qualified to defeat this enemy? Or was it something deeper that compelled him? Did he feel there was no way to allow anyone to talk about his God? Perhaps, he knew it was a testimony for the living God to be magnified.

This morning while in prayer with the Lord, this verse took on new meaning. I am usually not one to share when I am in a spiritual battle. However, I felt led to share that there has been a Goliath facing me in my mind. No, it is not a physical giant but oftentimes it can feel like one. The giant of doubt. The thoughts or feelings of inadequacy when trying completing a task because perhaps you feel too small. I want to encourage you that little things can do big things. Let me rephrase. That is partial truth. The truth is little things can do big things when God is at the forefront. David definitely proves that.

The giants we often face can create fear in the mind. If we do not know where our identity lays it can cause a devastating battle in our mind. Think about it, not only was David faced with what appeared to be overwhelming odds physically, but he also encountered doubters from his own camp.

His brother Eliab heard, when David spoke to the men of what will happen to the man that kills Goliath? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26) David had a courageous spirit. Eliab says, why have you come here. Who is taking care of the sheep? You only came down because you are trying to see the battle. (1 Samuel 17:28) In other words, his brother could only see David from his perspective in the eyes of Eliab. David was only in the way and only capable of taking care of the sheep. We can truly underestimate the power of faith when God is behind us friend. I think it is interesting Eliab believed in the Lord but missed completely that God can use any means for His will to be accomplished.  David’s brother was defining him based on natural means but did not see little things can do big things when God is there.

David was also presented with doubt from King Saul. Then Saul said to David, you are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth. (1 Samuel 17:33) Saul doubted because he was afraid of failure and could not get beyond his own thoughts of what it looked like. It looked like David was not qualified. Sometimes intentions of others can be in the right place but with the wrong motive.

We should not allow fear to be the reason that prevents us from not stepping out to trust God. Saul was not only afraid for David but he was afraid of losing the kingdom. A lot was at stake here. Think about it, David was just a little boy (teenager) and Saul’s entire army had been facing this giant daily and no one, from Israel, has stepped out to challenge him. The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand. (1 Samuel 17:16) Why? They were paralyzed by fear. And the truth is Saul wanted David to be likeminded in his approach to be afraid to fight. All Saul could see was an inexperienced and young boy that had dreams. Some people don’t have the vision to go against the norm. To remind their hearts that they don’t have to fear with God. David was not the norm. David saw beyond those in the camp and David had a disdain for anyone that tried to doubt his God. And he was about to be used to bring God glory in a big way.

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Has God called you to do something that seems against the norm? Does everyone and everything seems to be against you? Circumstances, doubt, fear, finances, resources, time. It may not be as big as a Goliath but whatever it is face it. My prayer is that you don’t let any of those reasons stop you from trusting God. If the Lord is for you who can be against you. (Romans 8:31) This was not just David doing something haphazardly but it was truly about proving the might of His God. It was not David seeking bragging rights or attention.

The next verse in this text is so powerful I think we miss what David was truly saying. David said, I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. (v.34) The lifestyle of David had been one of protection before this moment. His protection was always for someone else’s interest. In this instance it was his father, Jesse and the sheep. But what David spoke to Saul had a two-fold meaning. David was saying this is nothing new to me sir. I was born for this. This is what I was called to do. Second, David was speaking his calling into the atmosphere in this very moment. I am doing the work that my father has called me to do. I have been tending the father’s business for a long time. Tending means to regularly or frequently behave in a particular way or to have a particular characteristic. You don’t have to really know what God has been preparing you for but you must be ready to respond when it presents itself.

 Now here is the hard part -the self-reflection. I know what it’s like to feel doubt in my mind. To believe that where I have been or what I have been doing up to this point has no significance. You may feel as if no one sees how you have been working because you have been in a secluded place by yourself, behind the scenes. Don’t worry friend. Just know that when God is ready to present what you have been preparing for, God will let you know. He wants to make sure that there are no traces of self in our heart before He presents what we were created to do.

Remember, no matter how minor or major, it is all for the glory of God. If David had only wanted to go to the battle because he could defeat Goliath (self-reliance) but not for God’s glory, the battle might have been lost. Because David had God’s interest in mind with rocks to a swordfight, he was victorious. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

As we face the Goliath’s of today, Covid-19 and the rising death toll, racial tension and the future of our world, we don’t have to fear. We can be confident and courageous in knowing that we are backed by an Almighty God. Not only backed but He is the Rock in the fight. He is the one that is confident and reminds us that we are able to stand. David understood that the stones that he grabbed had no power in them. But the Rock that he was standing on represented the bedrock foundation of something bigger than him. Just as Peter understood when Christ reminded him. I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. (Matthew 16:18) Peter means a small stone (petros) but the word for rock (petra) means bedrock or large foundation. What Jesus foretold to Peter was parallel to what David used to fight against the giant Goliath.

Jesus was saying to Peter, and I am paraphrasing, Peter you are a small stone but I am going to build my church on something much larger than you through you. Just like the Lord was saying to David, you are a small stone but I am going to use you to accomplish something so much bigger that will bring me glory. By bringing rocks to a swordfight.

Be Encouraged,

Charles Blog Signature

 

The Little Foxes We Don’t See

Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.   Song of Solomon 2:15

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The last few days have been challenging to say the least. It is interesting how God will reveal Himself through teachable moments (if you will) to us in what appears as a most inopportune time. The other morning, around 2:30 am, my household was awakened by the sound of an alarm going off from downstairs. When I went downstairs, I was shocked to see water pouring from our kitchen appliances and from a vent in the ceiling. The alarm was coming from our stove letting us know there was a problem. That problem, water, was about to cause an electrical issue with the stove. I never even knew this model stove was created with a feature that if water ended up consuming the wiring, it would sound an alarm.

When I turned the light on to adjust my eyesight, there was about 3 inches of water on our hardwood floors. It was definitely not what I expected to awaken to on Monday morning. In order to give this blog context, let me go back to a few days earlier. I noticed a small spot on the ceiling in which we did not think it was a big problem. It appeared to be a minor leak in one of our pipes. My initial thought was, I would just open that small portion of ceiling up on Monday and take a look and see if I could fix it myself. I did not think it was claiming my attention at that time so I put it off. Fast forward to Monday morning and what appeared to be a small little leak ended up ruining our kitchen, kitchen appliances and our hardwood floors. Something that appeared to be minor that I decided to put off, until later to take care of, ended up creating a major crisis.

Through this experience, God had given me a sure indication, a step by step, hands on experience of how sin in our lives wreaks havoc. We see it and we don’t pay attention to the seriousness of it based on limited perception and privilege. We cannot see what is going on behind the small spot. We don’t see the raging disruption that is about to cause serious damage to our daily movement if we just ignore the warning. Or better yet, if we just say, I know it is a little problem and I can just get to it later. We can marginalize sin in the same way. I marginalized that small spot on my kitchen ceiling. If only I had taken action right away and accessed what I was seeing correctly. I saw it and in my arrogance thought I could handle it on my own. That was the problem with privilege, believing that I could handle it because of how I saw myself but with really no definitive justification. Never really taking a closer look at what was festering under the surface.

I say arrogance because in truth I did just think I could handle it and it was no biggie. Often, this is how we treat sin. We downplay it, oh it is not adultery, it’s just an “entanglement.” It is not lust it just happened because I was up surfing the television late night. Or it was just one look, all men do it. It is just a little fib not really a lie. We marginalize our sin. We marginalize what we see that can potentially grow into a deeper problem. The lesson for me is two-fold: not only pay attention but take action.

Don’t ignore the signs but take action to prevent or to repair the problem.

  • When we see a small issue deal with it right then don’t put it off.
  • When we don’t deal with the small issue other things are affected inadvertently.
  • When we don’t deal with the small issues, the effects are long lasting and even destructive to everything around us. (A domino effect)

The good news is that we had insurance to replace the mess. Insurance is what allows us to go through the process of review, removal, recovery and restoration. All of these are important after a major crisis. And all of these are important when it comes to fixing the problem of sin in our lives. It is not enough to just see the problem but we have to begin the claim process. The claim process is proclaiming that we are sinners in need of a Savior named Jesus Christ. If we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)

Once the claim has been put in for approval then we are cleared to begin the process for review. This review is where the work of the Holy Spirit begins to shine light on those dark, dampened places that are in need of replacement.  Without the review work of the Holy Spirit, the road to recovery is a back and forth process that often ends without work completed.

After the review the removal process begins. The removal of sin does not take place until the Holy Spirit is allowed to take us through repentance which literally means change of mind. The change of mind is from old habits, old attitudes and old ways of doing things. This removal of sin leads to the turning away from sin. The removal is the heavy lifting that often comes with great suffering. Removal of sin does not go without physical work having to be done to cut, break, pull and sever deep connections that have been under the surface for a long time. Remember my ceiling and all the damage that was exposed after I decided to contact my insurance about restoration. It was not a pretty sight, in fact, the work required had to be accessed and then evaluated to see how much time would be needed for removal. This is how sin is, it takes time for the Holy Spirit to work and remove us from old to new thinking but when the process has begun and we are on board. Great things will come about. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.   (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The recovery process is where we begin to see results leading to restoration. Once we have allowed the old to be replaced and begin to bring in the new mindset and new way of life. What was damaged before begins to take on new purpose and meaning. It is the first signs of the new taking root in our lives. Some decide to do the work themselves but I implore you to allow the professionals to take you through the process. The professional in this scenario is the power of the Holy Spirit that we must be willing to surrender (or relinquish control) to. This is the surest way to make sure that what is replaced is done properly. We must trust the process friend. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). The recovery process is that which is able to take a liar and make him a person of integrity. It will take an estranged spouse and make them available. It will take an impatient person and make them mild mannered. It will take our blunders and blossom beautiful moments out of them. It will take this pandemic we are in the midst of and create people more grateful for family and God. The recovery process can be good news.

Last but not least, restoration is the end result. Its good news knowing that the things that we ignore and think are destroyed opportunities can be restored. When we look back over the process of what can occur when we allow the Holy Spirit to come in and do a complete work. Its better news taking action before things get to this point so that there does not have to be restoration.

Nestled away in the Song of Solomon 2:15 is the verse giving a warning about little foxes that can destroy a vineyard.  What they do is nibble at the vines where the grapes receive nutrients from, causing the vines to wither and die. The little foxes need to be dealt at the root of the vine before they destroy the beauty of what could be produced. It was determining the problem and saying what needed to done. The same is applied with the spot on my ceiling and the same as sin in our lives. Don’t allow sin to continue so that it can be dealt with before the consequences are detrimental. Don’t allow the reading of this blog to just be another read but deal with that which is underneath.

Be encouraged

 

Charles Blog Signature

“Get Set”

Since you have been raised to new life in Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at Gods right hand. Think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth.  Colossians 3:1

 

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I don’t know about you but as of lately it has become a little hard for me to concentrate. Not just because of the global pandemic and social injustice at the forefront of the world. Yes, these are taking up a lot of time for many people. But they should. However, I was convicted last night while in devotion with the Lord. There were some key things that stood out to me in the midst of this passage that I know for a fact I am falling short in.

Paul reminds me that I have been raised to a new life in Christ. But it is not just the language it is the reminder. It was almost as if Paul was saying since you forgot, let me tell you where the standard is. When I say “forgot,” it’s more like Paul is saying your behavior has been less than what I would expect of you, so let me remind you Charles. We focus too much on what is in front of us at eye level but miss out totally on what is behind what we see.

He is speaking to the church of Colosse, about this new life. Paul was saying since you have been positioned with me- we must stay humble but look up. He was encouraging them and us today to remember where we are focusing our attention. What we as believers have been challenged to represent and conform too. We should be prioritizing our lives, with heaven as the goal, not the world or the attitudes and ways of the world.  If we are not stopping to reflect and make sure we are aligned with Christ we can lose sight of the goal. The sight is of upmost importance. If we do not know what we are directing our attention too we may miss the target.

When we hear the word sight what comes to your mind? Do you think about vision or seeing what is ahead of you? If so, you are on the right track for what we are discussing.  The type of sight I want us to think about is that which gives you keen vision. Like that of a sniper on a target. A sight is what a sniper looks through before zoning in on his target. He doesn’t just look through it, he sets his gaze upon. He does not lose it and never take his eyes off of it. He is set. I have heard stories that when a sniper is set on a target that oftentimes they are sitting on those for hours at a time. With no movement or concern for movement. They are affixed to the target. Nothing else matters in that moment. What about you-What is your sight set on? Is it affixed to Christ? Is your spiritual sights set to doing the will of the Father today? No matter what?

Truth be told, I have been so focused on what is around me -that honestly friend I have not looked up. I have listened to the reports of the news and looked on Instagram and Facebook. Sure, I have prayed and even read my word but, if I am being transparent, I have not truly set my sights on God and nothing else in a while. I have been about doing the work of God but not just affixed on Him. I have been slack just taking time to just be still and focus in and see Him alone.  Truly He is the real reason we are placed to do His work. I know we have careers, families and life in the midst of a pandemic going on but Get Set on Jesus Christ. If you need to reset your sights on the kingdom, do it friend.

Last thing before I let you go. When I think about a target sight I think again about the military engagement of a sniper. No this is not the focal point of this blog but it helps to make a point of focus. Have you ever heard of a sniper affix his weapon without having his sights set? Once they are locked in there is no altering that but they wait to hear the command, from who is in charge or from whom is called a spotter.  After the sniper is in position, they make sure they are in sync with the spotter and what is being accurately seen as a good target.

At this point, everything outside that sight has either disappeared and become blurry and all the focus is on the target. If you have ever been in the military or paid for lessons to attempt to teach you to learn about firearms. Instructors will always ask you on the range, do you see your front site? If you can see your front sights you are ready to take the shot. Everything else must become blurry, to include the other two rear sights you are peering through, to see your front site. Only then are you truly focused and set on what is ahead of you.

My prayer is that you will focus and forget everything else around you that can possibly be considered a distraction and affix your eyes to Christ. No this is not easy. In fact, it takes determination and focus so that the best outcome may be reached. Get Set and remember that we are here in the earth with a job to do. Paul is just reminding us to make sure that we stay on task and keep on our sights.

 

Charles Blog Signature

The Work of a Bridge Builder” Colossians 1:9

Bridge picture

Recently while coming back from travel, I crossed a bridge that caught my attention.  This was not my first time crossing but this particular time it was a little different. I could see a glimpse below of endless deep blue water. Crossing over, I pondered not only the amount of time spent on constructing this bridge but the power of this bridge. The Lord impressed this upon me as a golden sun began to disclose itself setting to the west of me.  Think about it, the laws of gravity a bridge defies. How we drive over these daily and how is it possible? How a bridge connects two obstacles together by what appears to be effortless but we know that is not the case.  As I drove, I thought of how a bridge connects and reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians of how he interceded for the saints of God.

The connection between bridges and the purpose of an intercessor danced in my head. An intercessor is an intermediary between a person and God.  Those that pray on behalf of someone else. They are able to connect with God in a specific way to move in circumstances and obstacles. Just like obstacles surrounding a bridge, the bridge is able to connect that which is not to that which is. As I proceeded again the thought came, how can this bridge stay in position and defy gravity. The Lord quietly whispered because it is held together by forces which makes things move but also makes things stand still.

When I picture a bridge my first thought would not necessarily be balancing force. I never would have assumed the controlling of force being a benefit when discussing bridges.

However, many benefits of bridges lead me to realize they have a greater purpose.  We don’t really pay attention to them until we are crossing one. Even then we don’t appreciate these constant structures. A bridges purpose is to connect, span over obstacles that we cannot reach apart from them, without closing the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over an obstacle-normally something that can be detrimental to cross otherwise. It connects that which is seen without distraction from what is unseen. A few examples are rivers, ravines, canyons or any other interesting gap that is too vast for us to cross alone.

Do you ever cross one and sense they have a clandestine embodiment to them? A few things about bridges. The positioning of a bridge is pertinent in connecting two specific points together. The bridge is responsible for allowing safe passage where previously it is not possible or where it is more difficult. (I know I keep saying it different ways but I want to drive that point home) A bridge that is constructed correctly has the ability to balance two main kinds of force. One type of force is compression, which is described as a pushing or squeezing that forces action inward. The other is called tension, which is described as a pulling or stretching that forces action outwardly. With these working together to bring purpose to the bridge.  Those that use the power of force to build bridges are called force balancers. Force balancers are those creating the ability of the bridge to connect obstacles to one another. I want you to think about that word for a moment, a force balancer.

I believe we have force balancers in the kingdom of God. We have those who are behind the scenes creating balance between that which squeezes or presses us and that which stretches us.  This is the duty of the Intercessor.

Friend, despite all that is going on in this world. Not much has changed since Paul informed the church of Colosse of his interceding for them. Let me ask you, who have you been assigned to intercede for? Who are you balancing the pressing and the stretching for? The strength of the intercessor is their ability to be able to consistently pray for Christ to move in a situation. When we hear or know of someone that is going through a season of being squeezed or crushed, what do we do? Do you understand your assignment or possibly what God is calling you too? Recognize you are the bridge builder in that situation. You bring balance to what appears impossible. Rejoice in the assignment that God has placed you in. You may be wondering, what does this assignment look like.  It is you standing in the gap for another person to bring them to an expected end.

One last nugget I want to point out about a bridge and how it relates to intercessory prayer. The bridge connects without closing the way underneath. Meaning it does not replace the ravine or canyon below, it just builds over it. This means the problem does not go away but the distraction is no longer there because it is covered. The bridge builder covers the problem that seems to be insurmountable making the way easier for the one who is going through. Intercessors cover others in prayer because this is what Christ has purposed them for. This is their power.

The enemy never wants us to pray for others and he definitely never wants intercession. This is where the bridge builder (you) balances the pressure, through prayer, bringing others from tribulation to crossing into victory. This is the assignment. Paul says, so we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. (Colossians 1:9) We have to stop living beneath what God has called us too. Start believing that God created you to build bridges in the spiritual realm. You were put here to connect the kingdom of God to someone. We have been placed here as believers to do the work of the Father. We are not here to just live life and reap the benefits. God has given us spiritual authority to defeat the schemes of the enemy and connect the spiritual over the natural.

I have a couple of reflection questions I want you to ask yourself. Are you functioning as a bridge builder in your sphere of influence? Are you the prayer warrior that stands in the gap to balance chaos? If you are not certain seek God and ask Him. The bridge builder takes the impossible and the possible, placing them before the Father and creates balanced changed by confident, powerful prayers. We are living in times that the body of Christ needs more bridge builders. We need to build bridges that help connect God to a fallen world, so that there can be balance. Think of someone today who may need you to stand in the gap. Begin praying for their connection to the Father and for their situation to change. So many people have been created for this very purpose but are squandering that which God created you for. If this is you it is never too late to start building.

 

Be Encouraged,

Charles Blog Signature

More Than Just A Father…

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13)

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As another Father’s day approaches, today we celebrate those figures of strength that in some capacity have helped to develop us into the people we are today. I pray that for those of you who are blessed to have someone to call father-whether by adoption, biologically or spiritually, you will have time to reflect on the gift that it truly is. There are plenty of sons and daughters that have a deep positive connection when they think about their father. They feel a deeper connection that goes far beyond the title. But there are also those who do not. Whatever side of the spectrum you find yourself on know that you have a Dad that cares for you.

While we call this special day Father’s day, as I have been reflecting on the term father- I believe we should distinguish there is a difference between a father and a dad. A popular article reported by The Daily Republic reported by on June 17 2012 posed a question about the difference between a father and dad. Authors Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar go into details about the disparities:

A father is someone who believes that by donating his sperm for your creation, he has done his duty in life. A dad is someone who gets up every day and does whatever he can to put a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on your table. He might have to dig ditches, flip hamburgers, deliver pizzas, work in a factory — or all of the above. He might not own a suit and tie. He teaches the value of hard work not because he’s looking for help mowing the lawn, but because he knows idleness leads to trouble. He realizes his job is to make his children productive citizens, and to do that, he can’t always be his child’s friend.

In the article they discuss what appear to be differences in connection to the child.  There is a greater love for the children with a dad. This is not to say that the father does not play an important role in the child being born.  However, the true relationship is developed by the one who is called dad.  I know we call it Father’s day and I am not attempting to start a movement to change the national holiday, I just want to bring attention to the privilege of having not just a father but being able to call him Dad.

In Psalm 103:13, King David has learned and wrote about some of the benefits of having a dad, in his later years of life. He is expressing the things about the love of a father. Not just an actual biological father but a spiritual Dad that cares so much about us. The Dad we see here and His representation cannot be matched. David wants us to know of the ultimate Dad who goes above the call of duty for His children.

A child that is loved and cared for is a blessed child. David begins Psalms 103 with an overly grateful heart by saying let all that I am praise the Lord.  That is the amount of love he has for the Lord God almighty. What words for a dad to hear from his children. That everything in David he wanted to express to the Lord. The spiritual benefits of our heavenly Dad alone are amazing. He forgives our sins, heals our diseases, redeems us from death, crowns us with love and tender mercy, fills our life with good things and renews us when we know him. Oh the relationship that is established between David and God he could not just keep it to himself. I believe David created the best Father’s day card in the history of man when He pinned this Psalm.

I am thinking about my own Dad and how instrumental he is in my life. My dad stuck by me at some of the most difficult moments. I must confess some of which were my own doing. But even in those times he was with me, showing tough but unconditional love. He still was my Dad. The lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love (vs 8) is a wonderful depiction of attributes of a good Dad. Our loving Dad that so graciously sent His son Jesus and gave us the greatest gift of sacrifice known.

All dads need to cherish their children. And in return the children should hopefully recognize and love their dad. This day may be great because your earthly father is active in your life or perhaps it brings pain because he was not there, whichever the case we can look at the blessing in Psalm 103 that David pinned for us. In expressing the love of a Dad to all of His children from the One who created you and me.  All the ways the Lord expresses unconditional love for us and continues to do.  We can be thankful today.

To the fathers that are reading this, as you move throughout your day Fathers reflect on how much of a Dad you are. Most importantly, we all can reflect on how much the Lord has been a Dad to us and not just Our Father. I challenge you today to spread this message to at least one person about the privilege of being more than just a father.

Happy Fathers Day,

Charles Blog Signature

 

 

“Check Yourself” Leviticus 19:16-17

Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord. Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.

 

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Initially reading this the other morning, it almost knocked me out of my seat. God’s word is so rich and prophetic. This was found in some of the greatest instructions given to man. This was really two commands but let me ask you when you see these words, what do you hear God speak to you?

In the midst of a time of social injustice but then seeing God give instructions to the children of Israel about the treatment of mankind- not much has changed. So why do we not take His commandments to heart? God is such a planner that He knew the world would not follow suit with certain key instructions if they were not put in place. Let me ask you, where do you position yourself? Do you say “that was the Old testament but we live in the New.” If that is your response you may need to check your perspective.

God’s word does not change. We change and we attempt to twist the Word to fit our own desires and benefit.  When I read this, while studying, it spoke to me because of where as a nation we are right now. Perhaps you are experiencing it too? This command was spoken to Moses by God but it was for the entire community of Israel. God’s standard always requires the bar to be raised. That bar is the standard of true living in a world where injustice and sin is prevalent. Will you check yourself?

When I say check yourself it is a mantra to examine and see really where one is. It is the ability to stop and take introspect on what is happening in our own existence. There was a song released in 1982 by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five album titled “The Message”. The primus for the song was giving insight into what is happening even now in our communities and this was over 35 years ago. I am not writing to give credence to Grandmaster Flash (for those who know who they were) but I am making a point that bringing awareness to what is prevalent in society is our duty. If you do not feel any connection to what is around happening, please do check yourself.

There are three things that God is addressing in this passage of scripture. Often just as we view a lake from the surface all appears to be serene from above but when you immerse yourself within; there is an entire system in place that if we never take time,we miss. We miss the undercurrent that is aggressively flowing from within. We miss life that we never thought existed until we take a look.

The undertone of this passage addresses checking our level of compassion, our commitment and our convictions. When God declared these words to Moses ages ago, he was giving a blueprint of how to conduct ourselves personally in community. How God had originally designed things man has stepped away from.  What he had for us as a whole. An entire list of instructions was given but for whatever reason these two caught my attention and felt compelled to unpack them here. My prayer is that as you read your Spirit connects with the essence of what Almighty God wanted to say and find yourself in these two commands. Please do not misinterpret, I am not saying that there are those not following the Lords instruction. What I am attempting to do is get us to find ourselves, slow us down enough so that the Father can speak to us right where we are. Let us check ourselves.

Three areas that I believe we all can learn in if we think about them:

Check your level of compassion when it comes to the broken or fainthearted. When injustice or wrong is taking place what comes to mind? Do you feel saddened or compelled to do something? Do we stop and think if we were in another’s shoes what would Jesus want us to do? If it was our children or parents going through such a time what would we do?

Check  your level of commitment to God? Do we commit only when we see the return on our investment as the stock market but when there is no return we look for another? Do we look the other way when the command says don’t stand idly by when a neighbor’s life is threatened. You may be thinking this does not pertain to my commitment to God. In actuality it does because if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves- how are we doing that if we do not want to embrace or even attempt to understand our brothers and sisters. Yet this was what Jesus was teaching. Jesus loved the unlovable people and it was all because of His commitment to the Father. Where is ours today?

Check your level of convictions for what is right? Do you confront or address problems or shutter or keep silent on the sidelines. Please do not misunderstand me I am not saying that we need to rise up and take aggressive action but some action should be pursued. Even as simple as educating a peer or stranger about a thought that is not correct. Or perhaps educating yourself with what is happening. This could be among family or others that we do not normally say anything but sometimes through our silence we can be part of the problem. Do we speak out about Christ love and show it in our daily interactions. Check your convictions.

Take a moment to really have an honest look on the inside. I am asking the Lord to work on me as I check myself in these same areas. If you find yourself as I did lacking in some of these just work on it. Please let us stop and pray and ask God to help us to do better. Let this be the starting point to do better and ask God to reveal ways of how this can be done. Thank God for the check.

As always be encouraged

Charles

“Breaking Point ” Matthew 5: 43-46

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 

 

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I am sitting here thinking about the current climate of our world and it is disheartening. As I watch the news and listen to various podcasts about current events of COVID-19 and social injustice, I am saddened. Let me not just say social injustice let me call him by name, George Floyd. While he is not the only victim, George Floyd represents the systemic problem in our nation that has been here for far too long. Not only am I dismayed, I am torn asking myself, “What is the purpose behind all of this?” Nothing takes God by surprise. However, there is a lot going on.  I see many commenting and conducting interviews, which I believe is a beneficial way to express oneself at this time. However, we also have some that have decided to use violence and aggression to make the point to bring change. There are two things wrong with this approach. Violence always takes away from the issue needing to be addressed. Second, it feeds the point of those who used it in the first place. In other words, meeting violence with violence only brings destruction not change. It is fueled by bitterness and resentment and if we are not careful it can consume. I once heard a preacher describe it this way. If you are bit by a snake and focus your time chasing the snake instead of attempting to remove the poison, you will die. The more you chase the more the poison spreads in your body- as opposed to stopping and removing the poison first.

As I am writing I am thinking about the eight minute and forty six second video that went viral the day of George Floyd’s unwarranted death. As I sat in my bathroom watching the video, with tears running down my face, all I could think was, “Is this how far we have fallen?”  As I watched the video of Officer Chauvin’s intent look, full of hatred hovering over George Floyd it dawned on me- we are a nation that lacks compassion for not only one another but for God first. The disregard for human life is disheartening and I wondered if I had been a bystander what would I have done?   Would I have been afraid to react or stop the injustice happening in front of me, if I was in Minneapolis? What would Jesus have done? Both questions I have been pondering over the past week.

Self examination is by far the hardest thing that Christ would have any of us to do. The challenges presented in God’s Word truly are created to stretch us. Nestled away in the book of Matthew chapter five, He gives us perspective on how we are to love our enemies. In fact, he commands it. Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you ! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Then He digs deeper to drive the point home by saying, If you love only those who love you what reward is there for that? I believe Jesus says that to make us stop and think and compare where we really are in relation to unconditional love as believers.

I must admit even writing this now it convicts me where I am. I confess that it is hard for me to do this in this moment but there are three words that stand out to me, “In that way”.  There it is! This is where the rubber meets the road. This is the gauge of measurement. This is what determines if I am a true lover of Jesus Christ- how do I respond to those who are unlovable? This is my breaking point. Not a breaking point in the natural sense but it is my breaking point from what is natural to living by spiritual principal.

What is a breaking point and what causes it? A breaking point is the moment of greatest strain at which someone or something gives way. This is where our nation is right now. We have a lot of tension due to the systemic strain through various levels of oppression. Perhaps you don’t see it this way but my prayer is that you will pray for direction and revelation.

Let me say, all in the world are not the cause of what has happened in the past few weeks. Everyone does not share in the same views. However there are numerous accounts of what has not been addressed. I will admit it is not easy to see an enemy in a positive light. I am reminded of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help the injured traveler left for dead on the side of the road. They were from two very different sides of the track but the Good Samaritan did not see ethnicity, social or economic status, he just saw a need and was present to do something about the need. This is the essence of what Jesus is saying to all at this time. Stretch yourself beyond comfort and be of service to someone else. This Good Samaritan set a tone for us all. Let me ask you, how can you serve someone else especially in this heated climate of our nation? How can you serve or assist in the injustice that is present? I think it is interesting that oftentimes we can think to ourselves that “There is nothing I can do” or “It does not necessarily impact me directly”. Well friend, if you are a believer of Jesus Christ, it affects us all. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr says “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Realize that all of us that view injustice as passerbyers on the road through life have a decision to make. Will we stop long enough to seek the others perspective or will we continue as we always have?

Why do some of us as humans care more about the injustice of an animal (please do not misunderstand me I care about animals) than another human life. A man was prosecuted for dog fighting and people spoke out more for the rights of animals than one of God’s created in His image.  Perhaps you were not there when George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury, Breona Taylor or others were disregarded as humans.  Yet I still pose the question, will we respond like the Levite and the Priest that looked the other way and knew that they should do better but didn’t. Or will we look beyond our own comfort for the sake of another to serve. If nothing else, allow this to be your breaking point.

Will we love the unlovable and not just glance over the injustice that is being done before our eyes? You choose.

 

Charles

Will you P.A.S.S?

Endure suffering along with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. (2 Timothy 2:3-6)

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The saying goes, “soldiers are made not born.” The athlete has to discipline themselves to win through training. The farmer must see his labor through to the end. The common thread is these are done in what appears to be uncomfortable but necessary spaces. It is in the midst of suffering that results are forged. It allows us to look from where we have come from and see the results of endurance. I will be the first to admit, the word endure just seems strenuous and grueling. It is not appealing. However, it describes a state of discomfort that is necessary for growth. Oftentimes what we are willing to endure reaps many benefits.

The plan is laid out by Paul to Timothy to the church for encouragement of what they are about to enter, a season of suffering. It is inevitable and there is no way to get around it. For those that desire to be a registered, proven member of Christ’ army this is what it will cost. The reference of a soldier represents a perfect analogy of the price that must be fulfilled. I want to focus on that particular reference but I believe that the theme runs through all three examples of our scripture verse. To endure suffering means that we have to go through it. It is necessary to embrace. We must go through, in order for growth to be produced. Can you look back over a time when what you went through made you stronger? Oil cannot be seen until the olive is squeezed and pressed to bring forth that which is already inside. There is something unique about suffering for a purpose or a cause that the Lord uses to get glory.

Consider a soldier or an athlete and the rigorous training they must go through to prepare for the road ahead. I know this seems like a harsh comparison but that is exactly what it is, whether through sending enlisted volunteers away to what is called boot camp or training and grueling discipline for the athlete. Both examples have a single purpose birthed in suffering. Discipline does not feel good at times but how we embrace it can be a measure of our faith. Think about this statement, we will never do our best unless we are willing to go through the preparation designed to break, shape, and mold us for work in Christ kingdom.

Battle is not pretty, it is costly and it requires everything we have to obtain victory. In boot camp soldiers are given the tools and strategy to fight.  Boot camp is where soldiers learn everything needed for battle. The saying goes “You play how you practice”.  Jeremiah 12:5 reads, “If you can’t run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein you trusted, they have wearied you, then how will you do in the swelling of the Jordan?”  Focus on the part of the verse discussing the land of peace. I know this may sound eccentric but the suffering represents that peace. The peace, God is describing to Jeremiah represents boot camp for the believer because this is where the suffering produces faith.  In this controlled environment, Jeremiah, just like the soldier is challenged to grow. If he is not able to take the suffering in this capacity how will he endure the war? This is where frustration and pain attempts to derail us in our pursuit to purpose. Don’t give up. The connection is grounded in the fact that all have given up their freedom for a greater cause, to serve outside of themselves. Boot camp is there to prepare the soldier to be ready for battle by separating them from everyday life and placing focus on preparation for battle.

To endure is to suffer patiently; to experience without giving in; to undergo a thing. Paul sets the tone for us by giving us information as to what is needed to P.A.S.S. Their thinking must be challenged and their faith is increased by the challenge. Like training we must commit to putting our best effort and doing all we can to reach our goal. Suffering is tough but the mental surpasses the physical. Yes your body has to be engaged but in order to endure you must envision the end before you get there. This is how faith must react to the circumstances before us. It is not what we see but it is what we believe. Faith requires us to encourage ourselves to have the right outlook. Paul is really explaining in order to P.A.S.S we must develop in key areas that Christ requires of us all.

P– Patience, in order to make it or endure we must increase patience. Patience cannot be rushed but is steady and builds overtime. Patience is gained while you are enduring the suffering. It is only picked up when you decide to have single focus. It teaches the ability to disciple self. No patience no discipline.

A – Accept, We accept the responsibility to focus on achieving the goal of serving Christ. Accept the responsibility that once we begin this journey we see it through, no matter what. Giving up whatever is necessary to be successful. This is enduring suffering that Timothy was mentioning. This was the call to serve but it must be met by acceptance. Paul was letting us know that we have a decision to make when we decide to accept this call. Just like the soldier in boot camp you must consider what you are accepting and know that hard choices must be followed through. Are you willing to accept the challenge?

S – Sacrifice, We must sacrifice those things that we cannot control. We cannot control the outcome of suffering but we can sacrifice to make the tough decisions for purpose. It is not a sacrifice if it does not cost us anything. Boot camp requires us to separate ourselves from family, friends, ideology and take on a whole new perspective. Remember when we sacrifice, we are giving some things up but we are gaining in other ways. The sacrifice must not be perceived as not having any value or purpose. When we are enduring the suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus that is the gain- we gain Christ.

S – Strength, We gain strength by suffering. It builds the inner man and increases our ability to trust the Lord. Strength can only build when we continue to push. Strength is the result when we do not quit. We will never know how much strength we truly have until we find ourselves in the midst of a battle.

If we develop through the suffering, like the soldier we have to give up worldly security and endure rigorous discipline like the soldier. Like athletes, we must train hard and follow rules. Like the farmer, we must work hard and be patient, with the expectation to P.A.S.S.

Be encouraged

Charles

“A Miracle in the making” John 6:5-10

The world as we know is facing challenges we have never seen before. We have been placed in positions that are very uncomfortable. I don’t know how true this statement is but I wonder in my mind if the world is on the brink of a new normalcy or will we go back to the way things were? This current crisis has truly awakened me to rethink my priorities and focus on what is most important. My faith has truly been put to the test but rest assured even in these trying times that are before us-we can still find Jesus in the center. We can find comfort that we will be ok even in insurmountable circumstances. I’ve noticed an increase in countless messages on a daily basis about faith in our God and turning faith into fear.  I couldn’t agree more, that during times like these this is the message that needs to be on our hearts and our mouths. I know I am praying for God to have mercy and for God to perform a miracle and intercede on our world. I am sure you are praying for the same thing. Nothing will change unless there is a divine intervention a miracle if you will. I don’t know about you but I am praying for God to do a miracle bur more importantly to do a miracle in our lives for us to get to know Jesus Christ more intimately.

The other morning the misses and I while spending devotion time with the Father on the phone. While reading over the account in John 6 when Jesus fed the multitude of five thousand. Christ does some pretty amazing things here. A situation arises. However Christ is on the scene with a few of his disciples. As we were reading there were a few things that stuck out. I wanted to share what I believe are appropriate to these times.

  • Jesus and Philip were together and Jesus poses a question to Philip. “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”  Jesus, already knowing the answer, was testing Philip to see what He would do in the midst of an out of control situation. Think about today, here we have a pandemic (a crisis that affects the entire world) upon us and many are asking what are we going to do? How many know that Jesus can produce a circumstance to see what His believers- those that say they trust Him- will turn to, how we respond? What are you looking too for dependency? That is possibly what the Lord is saying.
  • The scripture says in verse 9 “There is a lad (a boy) that has five loaves and two small fishes; but what are they among so many?” The 5 loaves and two fish symbolize how God can use what appears to not have much significance or ability and go above and beyond to accomplish a lot. This is where we come in. We all have something we can contribute. Not just pastors, preachers, ministers but each and every one of us who are in the situation. Yes, Jesus took what the boy had but the boy had to want to share what he had. No matter how little it appeared to be if we give in faith and belief look at what Jesus was able to do. We just have to be willing participants. What do you have that Jesus can take and use? Can you call a friend and give an encouraging word? Spend some quality time with your children during this pandemic, get closer to your spouse or significant other, help a neighbor with some groceries or post on social media a verse or sing a song. Whatever seems insignificant when Jesus gets a hold, it becomes much. One thing I am realizing more and more “Significance is not determined by what you think is too hard for God but how available you are willing to be used by God.”

 

  • And Jesus said, “Make the men sit down.” Make them stop and see how I will take natural means to fix a spiritual problem. Before Jesus performed the miracle he had everyone sit down which could represent a few things.
  1. Before he met the need He made everyone stop! No matter who, what demographic, background, culture, gender, occupation, social status, ability, belief or religion- all of us have had to stop. The world has stopped not just a continent or a country but the World.
  2. Before He met the need He made the focus consistent. The sitting down was symbolic of something expected. One definition of to sit was to become. I thought that was pretty powerful. They were one way before they sat but once Jesus had them sit they became something else. The scripture describes the group as a “multitude” which is just a fancy word for a crowd of misguided people in one place. The state of the world is just a group of people in a pandemic that are trying to figure things out but Jesus has already stepped in the situation. If we just sit down and wait for the uncompromising Lord to come in and do what only He can do all will change.

 

I challenge you today to “sit down” and stop and see what the Lord is up to in the midst of what appears to be an overwhelming circumstance. Really He is just waiting for us to give Him the floor. And watch Him work his miracle again.

 

Be encouraged family

 

Charles