A Storm of Blessing is Approaching!

P.U.S.H. Pray Until Something Happens.

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The prophet Elijah had just singlehandedly vanquished the Nation of Israel of 450 false prophets, demonstrating the power of God could be trusted over the fear of man, which ushered in a revival. Standing on Mount Carmel, like a tall cedar that had weathered the storm-full of faith and power-before the vile king of Israel Ahab, he looked to the sky for rain. With blood still dripping from his sword, a reminder of how quickly God responded to those who feared Him, he remembered God’s promise; that rain would break the drought that had plagued the land for three years. Elijah prayed to God for rain, then sent his servant to a clearing to look for the storm clouds only to have him back, reporting the skies were clear. Elijah had mocked and verbally berated Baal’s false prophets just a few hours prior when they cried a request to their gods only to be met with silence; now, he is experiencing the same thing. So, Elijah prayed and sent his servant out again, only to have him return with the same discouraging news; no clouds. This routine continued four more times with the same results; Elijah would petition God for rain, send out his servant, who would report clear skies with no rain in sight.

How would King Ahab interpret this period of perceived silence from God in response to Elijah’s prayer? Would the wicked King Ahab think that the past victory was a fluke, a flash in the pan event, and become empowered enough to boldly attack his now weakened adversary? What did the Nation of Israel think of this silence of God? Perhaps God was done with Elijah, moving on to someone stronger, younger, better equipped to lead them, and closer to God to advise them? What about Elijah’s servant? Could he start to doubt Elijah’s power, or even worse, consider that God Himself might be asleep, overworked, or too busy to care about His people anymore? Most importantly, what was going through the mind and heart of Elijah? In his past, Elijah would call out to God with immediate results; the dead were raised, food was supplied, fire came down from heaven, but now, nothing. But, Elijah did something that many would not; he continued to trust God and pray anyway. After he prayed for the seventh time, he sent his servant out, who came back with some great news, a storm cloud could be seen on the horizon, rain was coming! The draught would soon be over; crops would again grow, livestock would be saved, the spread of disease slow, and hope would be restored. The storm of blessing had arrived!

I may be stepping out on presumption a little, but I would guess there have been times in your life when God responded to your prayer request with a sense of urgency; you prayed, and God moved. There can be no better example of this than when you prayed for salvation; you asked God to forgive you and be the Lord of your life, and instantly your burden was lifted, and you were adopted! Conversely, I am confident there have been times in your life when you have prayed only to be met with silence; no clouds appearing on the horizon. If we can learn anything from this story recorded in the book of Kings, it is this; faith that is strong enough to persevere is a faith that will see an end to the lengthy draught of God’s blessings. A faith that trusts the storms of blessings will break over the horizon one day is a faith that continues to believe enough to pray until something happens.

Scripture: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” -Psm. 37:7, ESV

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” -Psm. 27:14, ESV

Question: Have you ever given up praying for something? Would you be willing to admit that perhaps you gave up too soon in light of our story?

Nugget: Elijah’s prayer was answered on the seventh request. The number seven in scripture represents completion; in other words, God’s timing was perfect!

Prayer: Father, I never want to give up on you. Please help me recognize that the voices around me are the loudest during the seasons of silence, encouraging me to quit; that you are too busy, have moved on, or are dead. Please give me the faith to believe, the strength to continue, the attention to focus, and the boldness to walk in a dark culture that doubts you. May I learn to dance in the rain before it arrives, enjoying your presence while I wait for an answer. Thank you for knowing what is best for me and holding out for the perfect time to send your showers of blessings. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Working for Heaven?

There is an eternal difference between doing good and being good.

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Like many people, I grew up in an environment of work-based relationships, which led to years of being disillusioned, dissatisfied, and dysfunctional. I was frustrated and hopeless. When I was four years old, my dad had an affair that ultimately led to my parents getting divorced. Although I did not have the maturity to articulate my feelings, I can tell you that I believed that I was at fault even at that young age. I thought that perhaps if I were a better kid, my dad would not have walked out of my life to start another family.

A few years later, my mom started dating a new man. I am told the first time her boyfriend came over to meet me, I rushed to the door, hugged his legs, and asked, “Are you going to be my new daddy?” From that point on, I was determined to do everything in my power to please him, to work so hard that he would never have a reason to leave me as my biological dad did.

Eventually, my mom married this man, and I quickly discovered that he was the smartest, strongest, and most talented man in my world. The bar was set high in this work-based relationship! My new dad was a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, so I decided to earn his love by taking karate lessons. Unfortunately, I was the clumsiest kid in the world—the one who often fell putting on his pants and occasionally fell going up the stairs! During one karate lesson, I attempted to do a roundhouse kick that I had seen in a movie, only to face-plant on the mat in front of all my classmates. I was so embarrassed that I quit studying karate.

My stepdad was also an Eagle Scout, so I joined the Cub Scouts and decided to work my way through Boy Scouts to achieve the same rank. After a few months, our Cubmaster called my parents for a meeting to discuss my poor behavior. That put an end to my Scouting career.

My stepdad was also a bicycle racer—at one point, he was even sponsored by 7-Eleven. One day, I visited his bike workshop and asked if he would train me. As I waited with the group for the horn to blow at my first race, I proudly looked to the sidelines to see my mom and stepdad cheering me on. I think I made it one mile into the five-mile race before I pulled off to the side of the road and leaned my bike against a tree, struggling to catch my breath. I will never forget that old Chevrolet Chevet pulling over, my stepdad loading my bike on the rack, and the three of us driving home in complete silence as I sat in the back seat, defeated once again.

In a world where doing good was rewarded, my trophy shelf remained empty.


Since my stepdad held a master’s degree from Penn State University in acoustical consulting, my last effort was to excel academically. No matter how hard I tried, report card after report card was sent home with consistent D’s and the occasional C, which were met with constant groundings and reprimands. After a fifth-grade parent-teacher conference confirmed to me that I was worthless, I gave up on that path as well. I realized I would never work hard enough to win my stepdad’s approval, acceptance, or applause.

Things didn’t get any better. Over the years, counselors lamented that I would never amount to anything. Teachers reviewed my work and declared that I was no good. Adults discounted me as worthless, and other children shunned me as damaged goods. In a world where doing good was rewarded, my trophy shelf remained empty.

I wasted many years of my life trying to do good to please those around me: my parents, family, counselors, teachers, bosses, and friends. All of these folks came at me from different directions and perspectives, their well-intentioned voices echoing the same sentiment: “Tom, do good!” And for many years, I felt like a failure for not living up to that expectation. I never dreamed that one day I could be good.

I have learned a valuable lesson over the years; if you are trying to do good without being good first, you will always come up short and fail. We simply lack the desire and power (Rom. 7). That is the fundamental problem with every religion, save one. They all tell you to “just do good” as if anyone is capable of meeting such high expectations. You will always fail because you will never be good enough, strong enough, ethical enough, or moral enough to complete the wheel of Buddha, keep the laws of Judaism, erect the five pillars of Islam, or follow the tenants of Hinduism. Every religion is a works-based relationship; you do good, and the god or goddess of that religion will be pleased with and possibly even love you. However, when you fail, that same deity will exact vengeance, and their anger will be kindled against you. This is where Christianity rises above them all; while it is a works-based relationship, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did all of the works for us; He took our place on the cross where the winds of God’s wrath blew so that we can have acceptance and love from God through Him. We just need to receive His sacrifice and love. And, when we surrender to His love for us, He fills us with the desire and power to be good, so that doing good just happens (II Cor. 5:17).

Scripture: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” -Psalm 37:3, ESV

Question: Do you find yourself believing that your works determine your admittance to or rejection from Heaven? As a follower of Jesus Christ, do you ever try to work harder to receive more love from God?

Prayer: Father, please help me to see there is nothing I can do that would compel you to have a greater love for me, and nothing I can do that would ever separate me from your amazing love. Thank you for loving me where I am and thank you for a love that never leaves me there. Instead of trying to prove my love for you, or earn my place in heaven, may I just bask in presence and enjoy your company. Thank you for loving me and may I learn to enjoy, and be grateful for, what I have not earned. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

The Story of a Hairnet

Your motives will determine your reward.

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From stocking ice cream in a refrigerated tanker at the age of 14 to sanding columns and pillars by hand at 17, I have been a hard worker all of my life. While I never regretted my history of employment, especially my 14 years of military service, I had always wondered how things would change if I were a college graduate. Sitting in a stewardship committee of a church I pastored when I was 30; I gave some input on the topic being discussed. I will never forget the response from the committee chairman, who said, “Pastor, do you have a college degree in business?” “no, sir,” was my reply, “then please let us handle this matter without your input.” I was stunned, angry, and, most of all, embarrassed. Three years later, I hung two degrees on my wall; an Associates and a Bachelor’s, both in business. It was shortly after that God called me to start a new church. Not wanting to burden or distract any new members, I decided to refuse any financial compensation for the first year, took my bachelor’s degree, and started teaching for a local school district. I never stopped my education, as the day I had my bachelor’s degree conferred, I started my first class toward a master’s degree.

Two years after receiving my undergraduate degree, my family and friends cheered from the bleachers as I had my first master’s degree conferred. A few months after graduation, I received a call from the school district with a job offer, a special needs adult student who required one-on-one instruction at his job site. This position would allow more flexibility with my schedule, which would help our new church grow, so I thanked God and accepted. This student worked at the Virginia Veteran’s Care Center (VVCC), doing different janitorial and laundry service tasks. My job was to provide two hours of tutoring in the morning on his job site before he started his workday, shadow him as he completed his tasks-providing practical instruction-and then resume schoolwork during his breaks; for a total of six hours each day. I was thoroughly enjoying my new assignment and praising God for such an opportunity for my family and our church. Until…

As usual, I reported to the front desk of the VVCC to sign in and find out where my student would be assigned so that I could start our morning instruction. That morning was a first, my student had been assigned to the kitchen, and I had the dining hall as my classroom for the initial two hours. When my two-hour instructional period had ended, my student’s supervisor for the day came over to introduce himself and lead my student to his work area in the kitchen. As required, I followed along to shadow my student. As I approached the entrance to the kitchen, the supervisor, a young 20-something, placed his hand on my chest and condescendingly declared, “You can’t come in here until you suit up with a bib, gloves, and a hairnet. This is my kitchen, and you will follow my rules.” I replied, “I don’t think you understand. I will not be working in the kitchen; I am here to supervise my student, document his progress, and ensure he is given all accommodations in his contract. I won’t get near the food preparation area; I will hang back and observe”, to which he replied, “My kitchen, my rules. Suite up with a bib, gloves, and a hairnet, or I won’t let you in, no matter who you are!” I took the high road that day, suited up, and did my job-even washing dishes as instructed by the kitchen supervisor-with a subtle, passive-aggressive attitude, birthed out of pride. As soon as the clock revealed my day was over, I threw my bib in the laundry, flung my gloves in the trash, and stomped angrily to my car. 

Plopping down in the seat, after slamming my door, I looked in the mirror to see that hairnet still on my head. Ripping it off and flinging it on the passenger seat, I had a conversation with myself. “I am a grown man! I have a teaching license issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia! I have a master’s degree in education! I will not let a 20-year-old, pimply-faced kid with an attitude boss me around; I don’t work for him! I have worked too hard to be here; I am better than this!” It was that last statement that God decided to interrupt my conversation with a scripture, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I. Cor. 10:31, ESV).

My pride turned to humility, my anger to peace, and my sin was no longer justified but confessed. At that moment, in that car, on that day, I realized what it meant to do everything for the glory of God. The reason I had such an attitude was that I had been doing that job for all of the wrong people; the school district, my congregation, my family, and even that arrogant kitchen supervisor. The truth is, if Jesus Christ had asked me to put on a hairnet and wash dishes, I would have considered it an honor and done so with joy. For me, when we change “who” we are doing things for, everything changes, even our attitudes. The next day forward, that kitchen supervisor and I got along famously; he saw a man, old enough to be his father, willing to submit to his authority with joy and work harder than anyone else in that kitchen. That assignment only lasted three months, but the lessons I learned have lasted over 15 years.

Scripture: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -Col. 3:17, ESV

Question: Do you ever find yourself working begrudgingly? How about complaining about your job or seemingly insignificant tasks you’ve been assigned? Do you ever feel you could be in a better position, one where you would have more respect for your experience or education?

Prayer: Father, there are times I allow pride to hinder my work and affect my attitude. May your words take root in my mind and heart so that I intentionally purpose to do everything for you and your glory. Thank you for giving me the health and strength to rise each day to serve you, no matter what you have me doing. Please help me recognize that you have a plan for my life that includes my work, and may you see a faithful, hardworking, and cheerful servant each day I report. Please help me recognize that my attitude and work ethic is a reflection of my relationship with you. Father, may I show you my gratitude today by what I do in your name. Thank you for your patience with me. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

People Are Watching

Professing Christians have directed the traffic to Hell more than any other group.

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In the sixth century, a young man was born into this world, his dad dying before he was born, and his mom dying when he was seven years old. He was then raised by his grandfather, who also died, which left him in his uncle’s care. Despite this dysfunctional and unstable background, he became a young man of excellent reputation: honest, hardworking, driven, and passionate. Every year, he would go off in isolation to a cave, praying and fasting from dusk till dawn. During one of these trips, an “angel” came to him, declared him a messenger of God, and told him to start a new religion. He ran home scared and told his wife and family to cover him for protection. When he questioned this “angel’s” message from God- for him to become a messenger and start a new religion- his wife brought him to her cousin, who was known as a Christian savant, someone who had a reputation for being informed and educated in Christianity. This “Christian” confirmed his calling, declared him a true prophet of God and encouraged him to start a new religion. This religion is now the second-largest and fastest-growing religion in the world. I am talking about Islam and its founder Muhammad.

In 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was born in India and eventually became a leader and voice of the third-largest world religion, Hinduism. Had he been exposed to genuine Christianity; he would have had the potential to influence and convert millions. There was a time in his life that he researched and investigated other religions, ultimately embracing some aspects of Sikhism. After his research, this is what he stated of Christianity: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

In 1930, a brilliant man was born in Chicago. He had a troubled upbringing, dropped out of high school, ran away, and joined a carnival. He was exposed to, and considered, many religions, even dabbling in the occult; he was what we would call a seeker. He was drawn more to Christianity than to any other religion and even started playing the organ for traveling preachers on Sundays at the carnival where he worked. Of Christianity, he writes,

On Saturday night I would see men lusting after half-naked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing the organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pew with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday night, they’d be back at the carnival or some other place of indulgence. I knew then that the Christian Church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man’s carnal nature will win out!

Anton LaVey

Disillusioned and frustrated with Christianity’s blatant hypocrisy, he decided to write a book and start his church. His name was Anton LaVey; the book he wrote was the Satanic Bible. The church he created was the church of Satan.

Professing Christians have directed the traffic to Hell more than any other group.

But not all cases are as blatant and apparent. What about the “Christian” parent who is more committed to sports on the Sabbath than church? Or the “Christian” who honks and yells their way through traffic while displaying a fish magnet on their car? Or the employee who tells inappropriate jokes around the water cooler, gossips about their demanding boss, complains about every pain and ache, yet sings in their church choir every Sunday celebrating the power and presence of God? 

While not seemingly as destructive as writing a satanic bible, are these not examples of “Christians” who point people away from Christ by lives that declare Jesus is not enough? What would this world be like if more Christians were hungering and thirsting after righteousness? What would you be like if you were hungering and thirsting after righteousness? 

Scripture: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” -Matthew 5:6 ESV

Question: Have you recently considered that while God wants to use your life as an example, so does Satan?

Prayer: Father, sometimes I get so caught up in my life that I lose sight of my testimony, forgetting how influential I am to those around me. Please help me to live a life that seeks after you, a life worthy of emulation. Thank you for your patience, and may today, I strive to be holy and pleasing to you, leaving the scent of your glory with everyone I am around. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, amen.

*Modified from the book, Being the Believing 2.0 available on http://www.beingthebelieving.com*


The Edge of Glory

The End of Your Rope: Isaiah 59:1

The End of Your Rope

The week had been long and trying, and in addition to the “new normal” life associated with the Coronavirus, I had several professional burdens come through my door; a broken marriage, a wayward child, the loss of a job, and a disgruntled church member. In addition, personally I was struggling with my physical health; issues severe enough that the church leadership had to intervene and force me, for my own benefit, into a three month sick leave.  By the end of the week, I collapsed in my bed, let out an audible sigh, and before I knew it, said aloud, “I am at the end of my rope!”. 

It was then that God reminded me that it is here, at this very crossroads that something great is about to happen.  Looking back through the Word of God, we find story after story of men and women of faith coming to the end of their ropes only to find that is where God’s rope begins.  Story’s like that of Joseph who found himself in a dark prison, separated from his family and friends, accused of something he did not do, and certainly, “at the end of his rope”, yet God’s rope was about to be lowered down into that very prison.  Joseph recognized the end of his rope was the beginning of God’s; that only when he was willing to rely only on God could God fully take over.  And, take over He did! That lowered rope not only lifted Joseph from that prison but ultimately placed him as the right hand man to the most powerful leader in the known world-the Pharaoh of Egypt! 

How about you? Perhaps you can identify with one of those who came through my doors last week experiencing a job loss, broken marriage, or relational conflict.  Or, you might be that parent that is heartbroken over the direction of a wayward child.  Whatever it is that brought you to the “end of your rope”, might I suggest you stop viewing it as a negative, rather that positionally, you are on the very edge of glory!  Be careful, that next step is crucial.  Will you reach up and grab God’s rope; fully trusting and relying on Him to take you higher than you could on your own? Or, will you like Abraham, “go down to Egypt” continuing to trust in your own resources and the many offerings of the world? 

How did my week end? What did I find at the end of my rope? As I stood on the rooftop the following Sunday to bring a message, The Power of Was: Overcoming our Past!, I spoke from experience when I reminded hundreds of anxious ears, “Our end is where God’s power begins”.  While I may not be second in command of the worlds greatest nation, I am forgiven, redeemed, renamed, remade, and changed.  I am loved.  All because one day, many years ago, I found myself in the prison of sin and when I was at the end of that rope, I grabbed hold of His rope and was rescued. I’ve never been the same since. 

You see? The end of your rope is a very good place to be; God has your attention there.  You my friend are on the edge of glory, what will you do next?

Scripture: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” -Isa. 59:1

Prayer: Father, it can be very scary coming to the point where all of my resources have been exhausted and my problems are still present. Please remind me that you are in contol and that you desire me to seek you first and trust you most.  And, when I get to the end of my rope again, please remind me that is where your presence and power are the most demonstrated.  Thank you for loving me. I love you. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.