3 Characteristics Of A Person Called To Bless

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In my What On Earth Am I Here For small group this week, I learned that “What matters in life is not the duration of your life, but rather the donation of your life.” Wow! What an awesome perspective to have about your life!

Even as a young man graduating with my MBA in 1991, I would have to say that if someone shared that statement with me back then, I don’t think I would have fully understood its meaning. And even today, when I think about it, I wonder if I fully comprehend its profound meaning in a life as my own. I guess I can say this much. I know I’m not where I want to be with the donation of my life unto others; however, I am thankful that I’m not where I used to be when I first started my life journey as a Christian more than 22 years ago.

As I reflect back over my life, I think I really started to learn something about this when I went on my very first mission trip to Mexico. At the time, I was young in the Lord, recently married, and building a new home. In the process of building my home, I befriended the Christian man who was framing my house and he invited me to join the organization he founded to help raise funds for missions building projects in other countries. After the funds were raised for a building project, he would then take a team of volunteer men on their own expense to travel to the country and complete the building project with the help of a missionary in that country.

Well, the first missions project that I felt God was leading me to participate in was the building of a new church in Mexico. We raised $3,500 and took a team of 10 people on a bus to a remote village in Mexico somewhere south of Brownsville. As we began to prepare for the trip, I was thinking to myself…what kind of church can we build for only $3,500? And the truth is, I didn’t even believe that we could build a church for $3,500 so I figured to myself that we would probably end up just doing some maintenance work or something to help the church rather than actually build a church.

Once we arrived, I quickly experienced what some might call “first time missions culture shock” because the remote village where we were building the church had homes that were made of mud, sticks, and hay. The church structure was the only structure in the town made of cinder blocks which the President of our organization had arranged to be put up before we arrived. The water supply for the village was nothing more than a large mud hole in the ground that supplied the livestock and the community. And to make my missions culture shock worse was that the leader of our team shared with us that the Pastor and his wife were going to cook us breakfast while we were working in the little village.

When I heard this, I honestly began to have fearful thoughts of becoming ill from the food. So I told the leader, “I don’t think I will be able to eat the breakfast.” And he said, “You have to eat the breakfast because they are offering us their best and you will offend these kind people if you don’t.” Without any further discussion, I began to pray, “Lord help me!”

When we arrived at the work-site on the first morning, the leader came and told us that he had good news…we were not going to be fed breakfast. But then he said, we were going to be fed lunch. I was thinking, “Lord, how am I going to get through this without becoming ill?” So when the time for lunch came, we were invited into the Pastor’s one room home with a mud-brick oven. And as we sat down, we were served freshly baked tortilla bread, freshly cooked refried beans, stir fried chicken with a coca cola, and Christian music playing in the background. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit was so overwhelmingly present as we gave thanks to God and broke bread together with that precious brother and sister in Christ.

Furthermore, the Lord did an amazing work in me that day to help me see my selfishness and to become ever more grateful for all of His blessings in my life. After that trip, I made a commitment that no matter how prosperous I might become in life, I did not want to ever forget the blessings of God in my life or forget the fact that as a Christian I am actually blessed to be a blessing to others.

With that in mind, I would like to share three characteristics of a person called to bless.

1)    Dying to Self

A person who is called to bless must learn how to die to themselves and present their bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord.

I like what Romans 12:1-2 says in the Message bible: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” MSG

Learning how to die to self is not easy and the truth is: it cannot be done without the help of the Holy Spirit. 

In Matthew 26:41-42, Jesus tells His disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” NKJV

Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane praying about the Father’s will to bring Him to the cross when He told His disciples that the Spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, His flesh did not want to go to the Cross.  He prayed three times to His Father for the cup of suffering He was about to experience to pass from Him, but nonetheless, by the Spirit of God in Him, He yielded His flesh to the will of the Father and not His own will.

It’s no different for you and me. If we are going to be a true blessing to others, we will have to learn how to die to our flesh, walk in the power of the Spirit, and yield our will to the Father’s will for our life.

In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus tells the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” NLT

The process of dying to self matures us and makes us more like Jesus.

2)    Living Generously

Secondly, a person who is called to bless must learn how to live generously towards others.

Have you ever heard the saying, “You make a living by how much you get; you make a life by how much you give”? I don’t know who made this statement; however, I do believe it is applicable in the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus says, “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” MSG

The person who lives generously towards others – friends and enemies alike – has come to the realization of how generous God is towards them…even when they don’t deserve His generosity.

In Romans 5:8, the apostle Paul tells us, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” NLT  And in Matthew 10:8, Jesus tells us to, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” NKJV

This video from Chick-Fil-A titled Going The Second Mile perfectly demonstrates the principle of living generously towards others.

3)    Being a Service Enthusiast

Thirdly, a person called to bless must learn how to serve others with enthusiasm and passion.

I learned from reading Joel Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, that the word “Enthusiasm” comes from two Greek words: En Theos which means inspired by God; therefore, “Service Enthusiasm” means service inspired by God.

In Ephesians 6:5-8, the apostle Paul says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart [passion]. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.” NLT

When I was a young leader, I had the privilege of leading a very large division. In my role as the leader, I had to teach my team the difference between service enthusiasm and service bureaucracy. Because I have seen the detrimental effects resulting towards people from service bureaucracy, I have honestly grown to hate service bureaucracy. I also believe God actually hates service bureaucracy too because it is ultimately characterized by a lack of faith in Him. In Numbers Chapter 13, the Bible tells us that a whole generation of God’s people had to perish in the wilderness because of the whining, complaining, and unbelief that fostered an attitude of service bureaucracy. When you have the time, I encourage you to find the story in the Bible and read it. It is pretty astonishing to read about the severe consequences that God allowed through the sin of service bureaucracy.

An attitude of service bureaucracy is present when people say things like:

  •  “We can’t do that, it’s not possible.” [This is rooted in a lack of faith]
  • “We tried that idea many times…it will never work because of this, that, and 20 other reasons.” [This is rooted in a lack of a leadership]
  • “That’s not my job to solve that problem…it’s not in my job description.” [This is rooted in a lack of responsibility]
  • “You want me to do what? I don’t get paid enough to do that.” [This is rooted in a lack of gratitude]

On the other hand, an attitude of service enthusiasm is present when people say things like:

  •  “I’ve been thinking about that problem and I think we should try this or that to help solve that problem.”
  • We can solve that problem and we can do it now because God is with us.”
  • “Count me in regardless of the pay because I want to make a difference with my life.”

A person with an attitude of service enthusiasm will serve others with passion and enthusiasm because it is the right thing to do and they do it with a positive attitude. Because service enthusiasts are creative, faith-filled, passionate, positive, and always willing to do more than what is asked of them, they are marketable people and will go far in life especially when they know God and believe Him to fulfill His good plan for their life.

So let me encourage you to fulfill your calling to bless by:

1)     Dying to yourself and taking up your cross to do God’s will and bless others.

 2)     Living generously towards others as you freely give to others what you have freely received from Christ.

 3)     Being a service enthusiast willing to go the second mile to serve others with enthusiasm and passion.

Thank you and have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

3 Characteristics Of A Person Called To Bless Copyright 2013, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, 3 Characteristics Of A Person Called To Bless, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

A Happy Thanksgiving, Really?

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The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, I have contemplated this question: Is Thanksgiving really supposed to be happy? I mean, if we have some unhappy circumstances during the Thanksgiving holiday, does it make Thanksgiving a null and void holiday? I guess it could…if we think we must be “happy” in life to be thankful in life. But what if to the contrary, Thanksgiving is really about giving thanks to God for our life regardless of our happy or unhappy circumstances in life? Is this what a Happy Thanksgiving really all about and is it even possible?

In Everything, Give Thanks

I believe this is exactly what Thanksgiving is all about and I further believe that it is completely possible because the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This means that in everything – every situation, happy or not – you and I can still give thanks to God. Wow! As the magnitude of this thought sets in, I personally understand that this can be a difficult thing to do when we are experiencing some significant trials in life; however, as a follower of Christ, I am assured in Romans 8:28 “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Because God promises me that He will work all things together – the good, the bad, and the ugly circumstances in my life – for my good, I can rejoice in knowing that I am not in any way subject to my circumstances. In fact, I like the way Webster defines circumstance as a subordinate or accessory fact or detail because that definition affirms that my circumstances in life are simply subordinate details in my life.

Circumstances In Life Are Subordinate Details In Life

So you might ask, “subordinate details to what in life?” The truth in Romans 8:28 clearly indicates that our circumstances in life are totally subordinate to the Lord and His greater purpose for our lives. In other words, circumstances change; God and His word never change; therefore, our circumstances in life are subordinate to God and His word, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our circumstances in life must and will change to line-up with God and His never changing promises for our life when we believe Him and His word. This is the reason we can give thanks in everything – not for everything, but in everything. In Christ, we are not subject to any circumstance in life and that is ample reason to give thanks in everything! Without question, the Lord has the last word in everything and He will be faithful to work all things together for our good and His glory!

Giving Thanks In Everything Is Really A Happy Thanksgiving Everyday

So let us be encouraged today and everyday to really give thanks to God in everything so that we can truly have a Happy Thanksgiving everyday!

A Happy Thanksgiving, Really? Copyright2012, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, A Happy Thanksgiving, Really?, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Open My Eyes To See


In the Old Testament story recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-18, the prophet Elisha is able to see beyond the natural realm into the supernatural realm when he and his servant were faced with a seemingly overwhelming situation. The Syrian King sent his army to find Elisha and capture him because Elisha kept informing the King of Israel about his battle intentions against the nation of Israel. In fact the Bible says that Elisha would tell the king of Israel every word that the king of Syria would actually speak in the privacy of his own bedroom. As a result, the king of Syria went on a manhunt for Elisha and surrounded him and his servant on the hillside with his army, horses, and chariots. However, Elisha and his servant were not alone by any means. 2 Kings 6:16-17 records Elisha’s response. “’Don’t be afraid!’ Elisha told him.’For there are more on our side than on theirs!’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”

Ever feel like you are in an overwhelming situation where you are surrounded by what seems to be tremendous odds stacked against you and you don’t know how to respond?

I know I have. And when I am in that kind of situation, the circumstances in the natural realm can become so paramount that I can easily lose sight of the fact that God is actually on my side and He is there to fight my battle. It is in these moments – when all I can see (like the servant of Elisha) is the impending natural realm surrounding me, encroaching upon me, and threatening me – that I must intentionally settle my soul and ask the Lord to open my eyes to see the overshadowing supernatural realm that surrounds me, protects me, and fights for me as a son of the Most High, Almighty God. Because I know that this is not so easily done, I want to share 3 ways I have discovered to help me settle my soul in the midst of trial and see beyond the natural realm into the supernatural realm where my help comes from God.

The First Way I Have Found To Do This Is To Know The Word Of God And Speak It

With God and His Word, you and I have all we need to be able to look beyond the natural realm into the supernatural realm and walk by faith, not by our sight. To do this, however, we must know God’s Word so that when our natural circumstances do not line up with God’s Word and the enemy bombards us with lies, we can overcome the enemy by the blood of the lamb that covers us and the word of our testimony that we speak based on the truth of God’s Word (Revelation 12:11). For example, when you have an overwhelming financial situation and the devil tells you, “your finances are not enough and will never be enough.” You can tell him, “No devil, my God is El Shaddai, Jehovah Jirah, the Lord my Provider, who provides more than enough for me and He can do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think in my finances.” Regardless of the overwhelming odds facing us in the natural realm, we must find God’s promises and speak those promises into the supernatural realm because God is good and His promises are true. 2 Samuel 22:31 states “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.”

Don’t ever believe that the words you speak are powerless in the supernatural. Isn’t it interesting that Elisha could tell the king of Israel every word that the king of Syria would speak in the privacy of his own bedroom? Proverbs 18:21 states, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Our words have tremendous power and so does the word of God! This is why I am very careful in choosing the words I speak when I am walking through a trial as well as the people I invite into my life to walk with me through a trial. The powerful truth is that the results of life or death in any trial we’re facing can often hang in the balance by the words we speak and others speak in faith about the situation OR the words we speak and others speak in fear, doubt, and ignorance about the situation. Therefore, I want to speak the word of God into my trials because the word of God is living, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. Furthermore, I want brothers and sisters in Christ who know the word of God to walk with me through my trials speaking words of faith, blessing, and life over my life until my temporary circumstances line up with the eternal truths of God’s word and His promises for my life. Because the simple truth is, regardless of how impossible a situation may look in our lives…God starts at impossible as Christine Caine so eloquently states. In fact, the word of God says that ALL things are possible with God, NOTHING is too difficult for Him, and He works ALL things together for our good. This is good news because these truths change EVERYTHING that you and I face in the natural realm of life when we believe God and remember His faithfulness.

The Second Way I have Found To Settle My Soul In The Midst Of A Trial And See Beyond The Natural Realm Into The Supernatural Realm Is To Face The Truthful State Of My Faith And Remember God’s Faithfulness

How true is it that we can so easily forget the Lord’s faithfulness when we are going through a serious trial in life. It was no different for the children of Israel. It’s recorded in the Bible that they had just seen the Lord deliver them from the hand of Pharaoh through the parting of the Red Sea and they soon forgot what He had done for them. Psalms 106:10-13 states, “He [the Lord] saved them from the hand of him [Pharaoh] who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. The waters covered their enemies; there was not one of them left. Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works.”

We read their story and think to ourselves, how could they not trust God when He had just demonstrated His awesome power in their lives? But let me ask this question…what about you and I? Don’t we do the very same thing? We see God’s faithfulness one day and praise Him. Then the next day we think He has taken a vacation and forgotten about us. The truth is that God does not take vacations and forget about us. The truth is that we are just simply faithless at times and our trials demand that we face this truth. But the good news is that the Bible states in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He (Jesus) remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, this is very good news because Jesus will remain faithful to us even in those trying times when we become momentarily faithless during a difficult trial. Since He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), He will be faithful to complete the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6) as we wrestle with God from faith to faith through our trials. To me, this means that the trials I face in life are actually opportunities that the Lord uses to build my faith and finish my faith as I learn how to place my complete trust in Him and Him alone.

The Third Way I have Found To Settle My Soul In The Midst Of A Trial And See Beyond The Natural Realm Into The Supernatural Realm Is To Praise God In The Midst Of The Trial And Please Him With My Faith

Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Wow, think about it! Without faith, there is absolutely nothing you and I can do to please God. On the other hand, it blows my mind to think that when we do have faith in God and place our trust in Him, you and I can actually please our heavenly Father. This tells me that our faith or lack thereof is a pretty big deal to God. In fact, I believe that we are never more close to pleasing the heart of God than those times when we have nothing else to believe in other than the faithfulness of God to come through for us with His word and His promises.

Now don’t misunderstand the difference between the love of God toward us and the pleasure of God toward us because they are two entirely different matters in our relationship with God. As a child of God, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus – it never changes; however, the Bible is clear that our faith does bring pleasure to the heart of God. With the measure of faith that God gives to everyone as stated in Romans 12:3, everyone has an opportunity to bring God pleasure in the midst of a trial by praising Him in the trial and believing Him to faithfully bring us through the trial. When we have a resting faith in God that trusts Him no matter what, God is pleased because our faith is in Him alone and nothing else.

For me, understanding that my faith actually brings God pleasure, opens my eyes to see that the real purpose of my trials is to provide me with the tremendous opportunity for my faith to be tested and my faith to grow deeper in Christ which ultimately brings God great pleasure in my relationship with Him. The apostle James states in his epistle, Chapter 1:2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” With faith in Christ, we have everything we need in the kingdom of God. Furthermore, it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom when we believe Him and His word. All glory, praise, and honor be to our heavenly Father, forever and ever. Amen!

Open My Eyes To See Copyright 2012, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Open My Eyes To See, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Inheriting The Promises Of God


Hebrews 6:11-12 “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” NKJV

Do you know that inheriting the promises of God in our lives is more like a marathon race rather than a sprint race? Not sure. Well then, let me ask you to consider Noah. He didn’t build the ark in a day. It took more like 100 years to build the ark. Or what about David? He didn’t become king overnight. No, it took many years of running for his life before he became the king of Israel. Or how about Abraham? Did he become the father of many nations in a week?  No, he didn’t.  For each of these heroes of faith, it took a long time for the promises of God to be fulfilled in their respective lives.  Unfortunately, it is no different for you and I; therefore, the sobering reality is that inheriting the promises of God in our lives is definitely more like a marathon race and not a sprint race.

If you have ever run a 10k race (6.2 miles), a half marathon (13.1 miles), and a marathon (26.2 miles), you quickly discover that there is most definitely a difference between each of these races. In fact, running a marathon race versus a sprint race requires another whole level of discipline and painstaking diligence in order to successfully run the race to the end.  With that said, it’s interesting to me that the writer of Hebrews 6:11 says that we “should show the same diligence until the full assurance of hope until the end” indicating that the race of faith will require diligence to finish.

Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines diligence as: persevering application; being diligent is characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort : PAINSTAKING

In other words being diligent is not easy. Notice that I didn’t say doing diligence. Being diligent is not a doing work, but rather a PAINSTAKING being work in and through us as we run the race of faith and persevere in our faith to the full assurance of hope until the end. Furthermore, being diligent in a persevering application of faith requires patience. For example, constructing  a new building  takes a persevering application of faith and patience. Launching a new campus or a new business takes a persevering application of faith and patience. In fact James 1:4 states, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” NKJV

In my devotional studies, I’ve learned from Rick Renner’s, Sparkling Gems From The Greek, that the word patience comes from the Greek word hupomeno which means “having the kind of attitude that hangs in there no matter what, never gives up, refuses to surrender to obstacles, and turns down every opportunity to quit.” So then, let me ask this question. Where do you think this kind of staying power or patience comes from?  The Bible says that it comes from the Holy Spirit and is in fact one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 states,  “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” NLT 

When we have the Holy Spirit fruit of patience operating in our lives, nothing can stop us, nothing can break us, no challenge is too difficult for us, no opposition is too fearful, and no dream is too big…because God is WITH us and He is FOR us!

As an illustration let me share how the Holy Spirit fruit of patience helped me to successfully complete the 2007 Florida Ironman triathlon. In the days leading up to the race, I have to be honest that I was a little nervous and a lot afraid, especially when two nights before the race at the kick-off dinner for the athletes, a short video was shown of the prior year race.  I’m not sure if it was meant to encourage me or what, but what it did do was scare the heck out of me.  After watching 2,500 people run into the water like penguins at the north pole and start swimming out into the deep blue ocean one on top of the other for 2.4 miles, I thought…I’m gonna die.  And if I don’t die in the water…how in the world am I going to ride my bike 112 miles and THEN run a 26.2 mile marathon.  I couldn’t help but think, WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Seriously though, I had intimidating thoughts that I might not be able to finish the race. I also had fearful thoughts that my body might just shut down and quit on me.  Did I properly count the cost in my training or was I going to look foolish by not being able to finish what I started? Did I really hear from the Lord about doing the race or was I just trying to find my identity in something outside of Him? As I was wrestling with these questions in my mind the day before the race, the Lord encouraged me that He was with me and that the whole thing was about learning to be patient in Him…learning patience in the 3 years of training that it took to properly prepare for the Ironman and learning patience during the most significant physical challenge of my life at that time.  

So early in the morning around 4 am on Race day, I got up and went on the balcony of our condo overlooking the beach to spend time with the Lord and pray for the patience and strength I would need for the day in order to finish the race. I asked the Lord to be with me throughout the day and I prayed Isaiah 40:31 for His supernatural patience and strength during the race.

“But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

All through-out the race, I prayed this verse in my spirit, took my thoughts captive, and enjoyed my race with the Lord.  When I finished the swim, I was so excited that I had not actually drowned, I couldn’t stop thanking the Lord for being done with that stage and actually being alive… I finished the swim in 1 hr 18 minutes which was a great time for me.

On the bike, I was trained well and was staying disciplined to my heart rate training…no more than 78% of my maximum heart rate; however, 70 miles into the race, I experienced a sharp opposing headwind which caused me to have to drop my pace to around 15 mph instead of the 20 mph that I trained for and had set as a goal.  In fact, at mile 90, the headwind had been so persistent for 20 miles that I had to stop on side of the road to take a short break and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to get some needed strength and refreshment.

Do you know that when we are taking steps of faith and begin moving in the direction of God’s promises for our lives, it is very likely that we may experience opposition from the enemy; therefore, we must be prepared for it and respond with a continued persevering application of faith and patience. Plus, when we are in a long enduring season of faith, we have to remain disciplined in persevering applications of faith and patience if we are going to inherit the promises of God…because all seasons eventually change if we don’t give up. Daily prayer, bible reading, small group, fasting, praise, and refreshing in the Holy Spirit are all great spiritual disciplines that can help us build faith and patience on our journey towards the inheritance of God’s promises in our life. 

At mile 106, the headwind turned into an awesome tailwind and I finished the bike stage at 6 hrs and 15 min which was about 30 minutes later than my training goal.

As I started into the 26.2 mile marathon run, my wife and children along with my mother-in-law and father-in-law were all there to encourage me and cheer me on which was a huge boost for me.  And then 6.5 miles later, my parents, my sisters, my brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews were all at the other end of a 13.1 mile loop to continue cheering me on and encouraging me to finish the race.  Their encouragement and support reminded me of the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 that watch us as we run the race of faith in Christ.  Hebrews 12:1-2 states,  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” NKJV

Having my family cheer and support me at critical stages of the race was a huge encouragement that helped me run the race with endurance.  It is the same way for each of us in our personal races of faith in Christ.  Having spiritual family there to support you in the midst of life’s challenges, obstacles, hopes, and dreams is a huge part of the endurance success factor.  As I ran and took each step towards the finish line, I continued praying in the spirit as I thanked God for my family, thanked God for the beautiful sunset, and thanked Him for the ability to actually run the race. In fact, when I crossed the finish line after a long race of 12 hrs and 53 minutes, I walked across the line with my arms raised in the air giving all praise and glory to my heavenly Father for being with me the whole way and giving me everything I needed to strongly finish the race. And lastly, it was a great joy to see my training partner also finish strong and cross the finish line fulfilling our mutual commitment to run the race of life together in the wisdom of Proverbs 27:17 which states in the New International Version of the Bible that “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.”  

Finishing Is Better Than Starting. Patience Is Better Than Pride

Topping it all off as God generally likes to do, later that week after the race was over, in my devotional time with the Lord, He led me to discover the scripture verse of Ecclesiastes 7:8 in the New Living Translation of the Bible which states, “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” How awesome is that?  As a certified finisher of the 2007 Florida Ironman, I can personally testify that finishing is certainly better than starting and patience is certainly better than pride. How much more awesome will it be when you and I inherit the fullness of the promises of God through faith and patience as we cross the finish line of our race of faith in Christ? So my prayer is that you will inherit the promises of God in your life through faith and patience by hanging in the race of faith no matter what, never giving up, refusing to surrender to obstacles, and turning down every opportunity to quit because God is with you and He is for you! Amen!

For a cool short video recap of the 2007 Florida Ironman race, Click Here.

Inheriting The Promises Of God Copyright 2012, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Inheriting The Promises Of God, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

End Of The Spear


Nate Saint

When Steve Saint was only five years old, his father Nate Saint, left on a plane with four other missionaries – Jim Elliott, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Pete Fleming – to reach the indigenous savage people group known as the Auca Indians.  On the day his father left, little young Steve did not know that his father and the other missionaries would all be speared to death by the Waodani tribe and he would never see his father again.  However, instead of allowing this tragic experience to mark his life with bitterness and unforgiveness, Steve learned how to forgive the men who killed his father by actually going to live with his aunt among the Waodani tribe when he was 10 years old.  Through his family’s tenacious missionary efforts and Steve’s willingness to forgive his father’s transgressors, the Waodani people became believers in Christ.  Through Steve’s outrageous act of love and forgiveness, the man who actually killed Steve’s father was transformed by God and became Steve’s brother in Christ – powerfully demonstrating the good news of the Gospel.

The Power of Forgiveness

I’ve heard it said that there is nothing more powerful in human affairs than the act of forgiving the least and even the most unforgivable offenses.  I believe this is true simply because of the reality of the Cross in my own life.  At the Cross, Jesus looked at His guilty offenders (you and I through the sin of Adam) and He forgave us by freely giving His life that we might have life.  Like Jesus, Steve Saint’s father, Nate Saint, gave his life as a martyr so that others – guilty offenders – might have an opportunity to receive the power of forgiveness through the Cross.  As a legacy to his father’s martyred life, Steve pressed through his painful loss to help complete his father’s mission by demonstrating the power of the gospel through the incontestable act of forgiving his father’s killers.  What else can the heart of a person do but melt at the foot of the Cross, when they have committed an unthinkable, unpardonable sin against another and that person chooses to forgive their offense.

Give What You Cannot Keep To Gain What You Cannot Lose

In his life, Steve Saint quotes one of the missionaries killed with his father as saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” From his painful life experiences, it is evident that Steve learned how to allow what the enemy meant for evil to be turned to good by giving into his heavenly Father’s hands what he could not keep – his relationship with his natural father – in return for the eternal life of his father’s killers and many others through the powerful demonstration of the gospel in his own everyday life.  In fact, it has been written about Steve that his life has been shaped by James 4:17 and other similar verses stating, “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do, but doesn’t do it, sins.” With such a powerful verse shaping Steve’s life, it is no wonder the powerful impact that he is having in his missionary efforts around the world. 

Dead Faith Is Worthless

In my opinion, Steve Saint’s everyday faith is an inspirational testament to the responsibility that all Christ followers have to fulfill the Great Commission by demonstrating our own faith through good works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. About the purpose and course of his life, Steve Saint states, “I have long dreaded the thought of getting to the end of life and regretting that I allowed my own timidity or other people’s expectations to determine the course of my life. I had decided at a much younger age that several of my beliefs should determine the course of my life.  I believe that Waengongi, the Creator, has an epic script into which my minute presence has been written.” For “Great Commission” works to be fulfilled and completed in each of our lives, I believe that all Christ-followers must believe as Steve Saint, that our Creator – Father God – has a good plan for each of us and He will be faithful to complete the good work He begins in us as the Author and the Finisher of our faith.  And if we dare to be so bold to believe the fullness of God’s Word for our own lives, we would have no need to be concerned with “dead faith” which Steve says “is as worthless as a 5-day old chewed up piece of gum.”  Therefore, as we live life at the end of the spear, trusting the Lord to teach us all things, lead us into all truth, and direct our steps on a daring faith adventure into eternity with Him, may our faith never be dead on the journey.

Question: As a Christ follower in the marketplace, how do you live your life at the “end of the spear”?  

End of the Spear Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, End of the Spear, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Our Father’s Kingdom


For me, one of the most profound and exhilarating statements presented in Douglas Layton’s book, Our Father’s Kingdom, is found in the introduction where Mr. Layton frankly states,

“While righteousness in a nation undoubtedly begins with the commitment of individuals to Christ, more souls and more churches alone will not make it holy.  Godliness comes when a nation’s Christians make it their all—consuming passion to see God’s glory reflected in every domain of the land, its arts, sciences, media, government, schools, businesses, families – in every domain.  Unless they do, their salvation will benefit only them personally, and Christ’s laws and principles will not guide their nation as He intended them to do.”

Wow!  This bold statement so identifies with the Spirit of God in me that I can’t help but seriously think that this is actually the real reason why we do not see more of God’s kingdom truly reflected in every domain of our country as mentioned by Mr. Layton.  Personally, I believe this is precisely the reason our nation continues to slide farther and farther away from our Judeo Christian heritage and values in everyday marketplace life.  Unfortunately for our nation which was founded on the principles and values of the Bible, I think we have forgotten how to teach people to practically live the principles and values of our Father’s kingdom in their respective domains of influence outside of our churches and our families.  As a result, far too many Christians lack the practical knowledge and Holy Spirit inspired boldness to bring the values and principles of our Father’s kingdom to their spheres of influence in a way that facilitates real transformational change in our societal domains.

So then how do we practically do this? Personally, I believe that the only way we can effectively do this is if genuine Christ followers make an intentional effort to focus on the entirety of Jesus’ commandment in His Great Commission of His Church as stated in Matthew 28:18-20. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we objectively measure our effectiveness in fulfilling the entirety of the Great Commission as commanded by Him, we are without doubt effectively building churches that are adding souls to the Body of Christ and even building more churches to do so in the kingdom; however, by the condition of our society in America, it just doesn’t seem to me that we are being as effective as we need to be in teaching disciples how to observe all things that the Lord commands us in the different societal domains of our nation.  If we were effective in doing this, I believe that our news stations would be different, our movies and films would be different, our government would be different, our businesses would be different, our schools would be different; but sadly, all too significantly often, these domains of influence in our nation are not different and they do not reflect the values and principles of our Father’s kingdom.

In his book, Mr. Layton brings further clarity to our Father’s kingdom mandate, stating, “When we speak of ‘winning a nation’ or ‘turning our nation back to God,’ we are really speaking about bringing God’s influence, laws, principles, and kingdom authority into each of these spheres. Anything less is less than what God commanded His church to do.”  So if this is what it means to win a nation for the kingdom of God, then who is strategically thinking about how to equip the saints of God to effectively bring God’s influence, laws, principles, and kingdom authority to each respective domain of societal influence? In order for the values, laws, and principles of the kingdom of God to have any real transforming influence in any societal or cultural domain, the Lord’s kingdom values must be practically lived by the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God in the context of each respective domain.  To me, this means that spiritual leaders especially anointed by God in each respective domain have a spiritual leadership responsibility in the kingdom of God to live the values of our Father’s kingdom in their respective domain and simply teach others to do the same. Therefore, as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we effectively equip, engage, empower, and encourage spiritual leaders to do this in their respective domains, I believe our nation will experience real transformational change in every domain of our land.  In fact, Mr. Layton profoundly states in his book that “When the Church is doing its job, the society around it will eventually reflect God’s laws and principles as well.”

Consequently, Christ followers working in the business domain are not absolved from this foremost spiritual leadership responsibility to reflect Christ in the marketplace. What an extraordinary spiritual reality for business leaders called by God and anointed by Him to lead in the business domain! But God doesn’t stop there, because the Great Commission doesn’t stop there. The spiritual reality of our Father’s kingdom is that He wants to raise-up influential godly spiritual leaders in every sphere of domain influence in our nation and the nations of the world.  Personally, this gets me very excited because it affirms that God has a full-time God-ordained spiritual leadership purpose, destiny, and kingdom responsibility for all marketplace leaders who love Christ and are called by Him to build the kingdom of God in their respective spheres of influence.  With that said, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a minister of the Gospel, you can count me ALL IN, by His Grace, for helping marketplace leaders to make it happen in Christ!

Question: As a Christ-follower in the marketplace, do you feel engaged, equipped, empowered, and encouraged to reflect the values and principles of God’s kingdom in the marketplace?

Our Father’s Kingdom Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Our Father’s Kingdom, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Doing Life And Leadership With Others

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John Maxwell teaches the Leadership Gold lesson that people who start with you, seldom finish with you and I have found this to be true.  In fact, as a leader building teams and doing life with people for more than 20 years, I have learned that there are at least 3 types of people we will likely encounter on the journey of life and leadership. 

1)      People Who Are Going To Leave You No Matter What

The first type of person is someone who will start the journey with you, but decide to leave you and never return. Often times, when such a person decides to depart from us, we can feel rejected and hurt, especially if we have genuinely invested ourselves in the relationship.   In studying this type of relational dynamic within my own leadership, I have discovered that there are going to be some people who for whatever reason do not have the same vision and values that I have for building a team and doing life together. This means that their head (vision) and their heart (values) are not with me and there is nothing I can do that will be able to change that fact.  Therefore, even though their departure may hurt deeply, it is inevitable, so I must embrace it and move forward on the journey of life and leadership. For this reason, I have learned to never chase people who do not care to do life and leadership with me.  Instead, I simply trust the Lord to bring the right life partners into my life and leadership.

Among the Lord’s disciples, Judas was an example of this type of person on the journey of life and leadership with Jesus.  In John 6:64-67 the Bible records, “’But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

2)      People Who Will Leave You But Decide To Come Back No Matter What

This second type of person is someone who starts the journey with you, but somewhere along the way, they become weak in their convictions and make the decision to leave you.  However, once they have departed for greener grasses and realize that the grass is not greener in their new place, they are willing to do whatever it takes to come back and complete the journey with you. When this situation happens, I believe it is a function of the person’s head (vision) for building a team and doing life together being aligned with you, but for some reason, their heart (values) are weakly aligned with you until they experience the fruit of weak values in a different place.  Once someone like this type of person realizes that they made a poor decision in leaving, they become humbled by their circumstance and are willing to do whatever it takes to build a team and do life together based on a strong foundation of aligned values with you.  Through their experience, their head and their heart become fully aligned with you; therefore, their hands will be able to build with you for the long journey.  As leaders, we would be wise to make room for people who have left us to come back with a change of heart because they could potentially come back as one of your most loyal, dedicated, life building partners. 

Among the Lord’s disciples, Peter was an example of this type of person on the journey of life and leadership with Jesus.  In John 21:17 the Bible records, “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”

3)      People Who Will Never Leave You And Will Remain With You No Matter What

This third type of person starts the journey with you and remains with you to the end. A person such as this fully believes in where you are going and is wholly convicted to go there with you.  Because their head (vision) and their heart (values) are completely aligned with yours from the beginning, they will faithfully build alongside you and always be there with you during the ups and downs of life. When you have people like this to build and do life together, they are like a friend that sticks closer than a brother and you can trust them with the most intimate aspects of your life.

Among the Lord’s disciples, John was an example of this type of person on the journey of life and leadership with Jesus.  In John 19:25-27 the Bible records, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved [John] standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

As I build teams and do life with others, my personal prayer is that I will build and do life with people just like Jesus did – as a friend that sticks closer than a brother – with my head and my heart fully aligned with other brothers and sisters in Christ for the kingdom mission at hand. May it be the same for all people who are called disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ because in John 13:35, the Lord says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” By the grace, strength, and love of Christ in each of us, we can do it!

Thank you and have a blessed make-it-happen day!

Question:  Can you identify and describe a 4th type of person on the journey of life and leadership NOT mentioned in this post?

Doing Life And Leadership Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Doing Life And Leadership With Others, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Discovering Treasures of Darkness


Ruby Falls, inside Lookout Mountain, in Chatta...

Ruby Falls

In Isaiah 45:3 the Lord says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.” I’m not sure about you, but I have never really been one to think about darkness as a place to find treasure.  In fact, what happens when we find ourselves in a serious storm at night and all the power goes out?

It’s A Dark Place When The Lights Go Out

For me, it is at first a little alarming when the lights go out because I don’t normally expect for the power to suddenly turn off.  Secondly, it is a little fearful in the house because everyone is instantly in total darkness and it is difficult to find our way around. Then, it becomes an immediate search for light – a flashlight, a lighter, matches, a candle – anything that will give some light in the midst of the surrounding darkness.  If you are prepared for such a situation and know where you can find some light, it makes things a whole lot better a whole lot quicker.  Otherwise, you can do nothing except wait in the darkness until the power is restored or morning comes.  Either way, any waiting in darkness is never fun.

It’s An Even Darker Place When The Lights Go Out Spiritually

So that’s an experience in physical darkness, but what about finding yourself in the midst of a spiritual darkness? It could be a spiritual darkness that comes upon you by no fault of your own such as finding out that your child has a life threatening cancer like my parents discovered in my sister when she was 16 years old.  The uncertainty and fear of the unknown can create some dark spiritual places.  Or, what about the long journey home as a real prodigal son or daughter in the house of God?  This would be someone like me who was a legitimate blood bought son in the house of God, called by God’s name, living in the Father’s house, and then leaving one day with the Father’s inheritance and blowing it through prodigal living and personal failure away from the Father’s house. The journey home can have some dark spiritual places for a legitimate son or daughter of God turning back to the Father’s house.   

For anyone who has never found themselves in such a dark place as a prodigal child of God, they might think, “How can that be? Doesn’t God have forgiveness? You must not understand the fullness of God’s grace and His mercy.”  To such a response, I would say, yes, God does have grace and mercy, but I also know that God has truth too and we must all face the brutal truth in our lives.  For instance, a real prodigal son or daughter of God must face the brutal truth found in Luke 9:62 stating, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” and John 14:21 stating “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me [Jesus].” Plus, the devil knows the truth of God’s Word pretty well also and will try to use parts of it in a way to heap condemnation upon us if we don’t know the whole truth of God’s Word and allow His whole truth to search us and know us as we face the brutal truth in our lives, while never losing hope.

We Must Face The Brutal Truth Of  Life Even When It’s Dark

In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, his research found that “good” companies become “great” companies, when they are able to face the brutal facts of their situation, yet never lose hope. I have learned and continue to learn that genuine people of faith are able to do the same thing – face the brutal facts of their life, yet never lose hope because their hope is in Christ and the totality of His Word.  1 Corinthians 9:10 states “that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope” and Colossians 1:27 states, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Therefore, when the devil tell tells me that I’m not fit for the kingdom because I put my hand to the plow and once turned back, I respond to him in the spirit of truth by telling him that I am plowing and threshing in hope – Christ in me, the hope of glory – and the whole truth says that I have every right to be a partaker of this hope.

When I read and study the Word of God, I am so thankful that God recorded the truth about the lives of the heroes of faith in the Bible as I find comfort in such truth when I have to face the brutal truth in my own life.  In fact, when Peter denied the Lord three times on the night of the Lord’s trial, I’m certain when the rooster crowed and the brutal truth confronted Peter, he found himself in a dark spiritual place.  Luke 22:56-62 records the truth:

“And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, ‘This man was also with Him.’ But he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’  And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘You also are of them.’ But Peter said, ‘’Man, I am not!’ Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.’  But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying.’  Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’  So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”

Afterwards, as Peter faced the brutal truth of his failure, I believe the devil could have very well been heaping loads of condemnation upon Peter by telling him, “If you loved Jesus, you would have been there for Him.  If you loved Jesus, you wouldn’t have denied Him three times. If you really loved Jesus, you would have kept His commands.”  However, isn’t it interesting that when Jesus meets Peter after His resurrection, He calls Peter, Simon – son of Jonah – and asks him three times:  “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”

So let me ask you this question: In the biblical story of Jonah, where did Jonah find himself?  It was in the belly of a whale which most definitely had to be a dark spiritual place.  Therefore, by Jesus calling Peter, Simon – son of Jonah, He was in essence saying: “Peter, son of God in a dark spiritual place, do you love me? Peter, son of God in a dark spiritual place, do you love me? Peter, son of God in a dark spiritual place, do you love me?”  And each time, Peter said, “Yes, Lord, I love You” including the third time when Peter says, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  With Peter’s third response, I believe he was quite possibly intimating, “Lord, You know all things. Your truth has painfully searched me and you know me – the good, the bad, and the ugly truth about me.  Yes, Lord, I love You because You first loved me to the point of giving Your life for me even though I don’t deserve it.”  In that place of painful truth, the Lord called Peter out of spiritual darkness and into his spiritual destiny where Peter also found the treasures of the Lord’s faithfulness that reaches to the clouds, His mercy that endures forever, and His grace that is sufficient.

God And His Treasures Can Be Found In The Dark Places Of Life

When we allow the truth of God’s Living Word to fully search us, know us, and do a work in us, no matter how painful the truth of our lives may be, we truly can find treasures of darkness that can be found no other way in our relationship with the Lord.  In fact, I like to relate such personal spiritual discovery to the personal discovery of Ruby Falls by Mr. Leo Lambert on December 30, 1928.  Following his discovery of the falls nestled deep into the Lookout Mountain Caves in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he shared the following sentiment as written on a plaque hanging on a wall at the Ruby Falls tour site:

“Discovering Ruby Falls was like discovering God. At first, it is very dark, scary, and uncertain.  You don’t know what lies ahead. You bump into things you didn’t even realize were there and you suffer injuries, bumps, and bruises. You fall down in sticky mud and mire and feel like you cannot go on.  But you get up with a feeling that somewhere ahead lies something more wonderful than you can ever imagine.  As you add light to what you discovered, you find that the things that caused you suffering and injury were wonderful God made things put there for you to witness and give you joy.  It is all more than you ever imagined you could witness. It is God, and Ruby Falls and the Lookout Mountain Cave are God’s creations, made for man to enjoy. I am just a little proud that He used me [to discover it].”

Sometimes on our journey of life, we can find ourselves like Mr. Lambert, crawling through some tight dark places where we may suffer some bumps, bruises, and pain; however, if we keep on going with the light of God’s Word to light our path in those dark places of life (Psalm 119:105), we can rest assured that the Lord will lead us to His treasures of darkness that we could not find any other way than to go through the darkness with Him. Just like Mr. Lambert’s surprising discovery of the magnificently beautiful Ruby Falls in the deep dark caves of Lookout Mountain, we too will find unimaginable treasures of spiritual growth and maturity as we trust the Lord to faithfully lead and guide us through the darkest places of our lives.

In fact, no matter how dark the situation may be in our own lives, we can find great encouragement from David who was no stranger to finding the Lord’s treasures of darkness in his own life.  There is no better example of this than Psalms 23:4 where David states, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Furthermore, in Psalm 139:7-12, David writes, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”  I take great comfort knowing that God is always with us (Matthew 28:20), even in the dark places of life, and He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). May all glory, blessing, and honor be to the Lord for He is good, He is faithful, and His Word is true!

Discovering Treasures Of Darkness Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Discovering Treasures Of Darkness, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Who Am I

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In 1 Chronicles 17:16, King David, contemplating the greatness of God, declares “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house that You have brought me this far?”  At one time, King David was only a little shepherd boy tending sheep in the mountains, and if not for the greatness and faithfulness of God, he would have never become the king of Israel. Only God could take a small unknown shepherd boy and make him king.  In fact, in verse 20 of the same chapter in 1 Chronicles 17, King David says, “O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You.” In this place of humble spirit and personal reflection, David declares how BIG God is, how little he is, and how GOOD God is to make a little man into a big man in Him.

Leadership Principle #1: If We Don’t Spend Time with God, We Can Forget Who We Really Are In Him

How unfortunate it is that each of us can so easily forget who we really are in Christ as we go through life on a daily basis. Personally, I think it is because we all have 4 different areas of life identity that we are constantly faced with each day.  These four life identities are best represented by the Johari Window model which defines the 4 identities as follows: the ARENA identity, the FACADE identity, the BLIND identity, and the UNKNOWN identity.

  •  The ARENA identity is that part of our life identity that is KNOWN TO OTHERS and is also KNOWN TO OURSELVES. It represents the definitions of our life where we work, play, and live life openly and publicly at home, work, and the community and everyone knows about that part of our life. For instance, most people who know me, also know that I am a husband, father, pastor, business leader, speaker, and writer – such life identities for me represent my ARENA identity.
  • The BLIND identity is that part of our life identity that is KNOWN TO OTHERS, but is NOT KNOWN TO OURSELVES. It represents the definitions of our life that are very clear and seen by others; however, this part of our life will go undetected to us until something or someone exposes these blind spots to us. For instance, TV shows like Candid Camera, Undercover Boss, and even American Idol are all great examples of people having their potential blind spots in life – which everyone else can plainly see – finally exposed to them on a personally uncensored basis.
  •  The FAÇADE identity is that part of our life identity that is NOT KNOWN TO OTHERS, but is KNOWN TO OURSELVES. It represents the definitions of our life that we mask in front of others because we don’t want anyone to know about that secret part of our life.  For instance, if someone were to take a look at our check book, credit card transactions, and internet history, they would potentially discover some things about our FACADE life identity that very few people, if any at all, would know about, especially if we live life without any accountability partners who sincerely care about us.
  • And lastly, the UNKNOWN identity is that part of our life identity that is NOT KNOWN TO OTHERS and is NOT KNOWN TO OURSELVES. It represents the definitions of our life identity which have not yet been discovered or defined because they reside in the deepest part of our life identity that only God knows about and can reveal.  This is the place of life identity represented in Jeremiah 1:5 which states, “Before I [God] formed you in the womb I knew you” and Jeremiah 29:11 which states, “For I [God] know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The only way we will ever be able to discover this part of our life identity is if we submit ourselves before God, like King David, reflecting on how great God is and asking Him the humble personal reflective question found in Psalms 144:3 “Lord, what is man [who am I], that You take knowledge of him [me]? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him [me]?”

Leadership Principle #2: If We Forget Who We Are In Christ, We Also Forget Christ

In his book titled, Soulprint, I like what Mark Batterson has to say about discovering our UNKNOWN identity quoted as follows: “Until you see yourself through the All-Seeing Eyes of God, you will never get a vision of who you can become.” In reading this, I am also reminded of the scene in The Lion King where Simba has been running from his life and Raifiki brings him to a water pool where Simba sees his father in his reflection upon the water. In a moment of Simba’s despair, Raifiki encourages him to look deeper.  In going deeper into the place of his unknown identity, Simba finds his father, Mufasa, who says:

“Simba, you have forgotten me.  You have forgotten who you are and so you have forgotten me. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life. Remember who you are!” Click here to watch this scene.

So then let me ask this question. Have we become like Simba, forgetting who we are in the Lord and so forgetting our heavenly Father?  As believers in Christ, you and I are children of the King of kings and Lord of lords, joint heirs with Christ in the kingdom of God. We are royalty!  May we never forget who we are and whose we are because it matters in the kingdom of God and it matters to the world around us. Not sure…then just take a look at the recent Royal Wedding and contemplate the significance of our Royal Wedding with Christ.  If it matters for the son of Prince Charles, it most certainly matters for the sons and daughters of the Most High King!

Leadership Principle #3:  No Matter What, We Can Always Remember Who We Are In Christ

Therefore, let me emphatically remind you from the Word of God of who we are in Christ as taken from the chapter headings in Neal T. Anderson’s book titled, Who I Am In Christ.  Unfortunately, I did not know the author of this material when I shared this leadership message in our staff Chapel service earlier this week; however, my wife has just pointed out to me that the little reference card that I’ve been keeping in my Bible for so many years was in fact given to me by her and taken from Neale Anderson’s book. I am happy to share it with you knowing that freely I have received this little reminder card of Who I Am In Christ and freely do I share it with you to help you remember who you are in Christ as well.

WHO I AM IN CHRIST (Authored by Neal T. Anderson)

I Am Accepted In Christ

I am God’s child.  (John 1:12)                        

I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)                      

I have been justified.  (Romans 5:1)     

I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)      

I have been bought with a price; I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:20)  

I am a member of Christ’s body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)    

I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:1)           

I have been adopted as God’s child. (Ephesians 1:5)         

I have direct access to Good through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)              

I have been redeemed and forgiven off all my sins. (Colossians 1:14)          

I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)            

I Am Secure In Christ

I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1, 2)            

I am assured that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)              

I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:33, 34)        

I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)               

I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21)      

I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)          

I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)           

I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20) 

I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound [saved] mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)            

I can find grace and mercy in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)             

I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18)            

I Am Significant In Christ

I am the salt and light of the earth. (Matthew 5:13, 14)   

I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life. (John 15:1, 5)                

I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)                  

I am a personal witness of Christ’s. (Acts 1:8)                       

I am God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16)    

I am a minister of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

I am God’s coworker. (2 Corinthians 6:1)        

I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6)               

I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)             

I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)            

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)         

Have a blessed Make It Happen day!

Who Am I Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Who Am I, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

The Marketplace Ministry I See


The Vision:

To Connect Leadership Passion With Kingdom Purpose In Today’s Marketplace!

The Mission:

To Practically Engage, Equip, Empower, and Encourage Marketplace Leaders To Build The Kingdom Of God In The Marketplace For God’s Glory And The Benefit Of Others.

The Strategic Objectives:

To Build The Kingdom Of God In The Marketplace For God’s Glory And The Benefit Of Others Through 1) Local Advance Initiatives, 2) Global Advance Initiatives, 3) Marketplace Prayer Initiatives, And 4) Marketplace Coaching Initiatives

  1. Local Advance Initiatives focus on the development of marketplace leaders through weekly faith-based leadership development meetings, exclusive leadership development retreats, and annual leadership development conferences for marketplace leaders in the community.
  2. Global Advance Initiatives focus on business missions outreach and leadership development of business leaders in the marketplace around the world through faith-based business seminars and leadership development conferences.
  3. Marketplace Prayer Initiatives focus on the grass roots establishment of a national prayer movement in the marketplace called See You At The Office for 2 days during the week of July 14th where marketplace leaders unite in prayer for their teams, company, and our nation at their respective offices in response to God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
  4. Marketplace Coaching Initiatives focus on developing faith-based marketplace coaches to walk alongside marketplace leaders and provide faith-based leadership coaching in the marketplace through a practical 4-step organizational development strategy to effectively build the kingdom of God in the marketplace.

Kingdom Mandate For The Marketplace:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

Kingdom Promise For The Marketplace:

“If My people who are called by My name will 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

Kingdom Inspiration For Marketplace Leaders:

“While righteousness in a nation undoubtedly begins with the commitment of individuals to Christ, more souls and more churches alone will not make it holy. Godliness comes when a nation’s Christians make it their all-consuming passion to see God’s glory reflected in every domain of the land, its arts, sciences, media, government, schools, businesses, families-in every domain. Unless they do, their salvation will benefit only them personally, and Christ’s laws and principles will not guide their nation as He intended them to do.” – Douglas Layton, author of Our Father’s Kingdom 

Symbolically, we are seated with Christ on His throne (Ephesians 1:20; 2:6), told to reign in life (Romans 5:17), we are instructed to extend His scepter (Psalm 110) and are given keys of kingdom authority with which to bind and loose, forbid and allow (Matthew 16:19). We are kings and queens—royalty. And whereas priests “offer up” to heaven [through priestly intercessory prayer], kings “proclaim” [the kingdom rule and will of God] downward to earth [through kingly intercessory prayer].  – Dutch Sheets, author of Authority In Prayer

Kingdom Values For The Marketplace:

Make It Happen Team Values provide a practical leadership framework to build the kingdom of God in the marketplace for God’s glory and the benefit of others. With Make It Happen Team Values, business leaders can create team cultures of empowerment that unleash the extraordinary God-given potential of “make it happen” people in the kingdom of God to make a real difference in life. “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32.

  • Make It Happen People Possess A Positive Attitude. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20. “These things I have spoken, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • Make It Happen People Are Led by Servant Leaders. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.’” Matthew 20:25-26. “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12.
  • Make It Happen People Are Service Enthusiasts. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:12-13. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13. Ephesians 6:7 “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
  • Make It Happen People Take Calculated Risks in the Pursuit of Excellence. “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:16. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4.
  • Make It Happen People Work Extremely Hard and Have Lots of Fun. “And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:13. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10.
  • Make It Happen People Invest and Participate in Training and Development. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2.
  • Make It Happen People Celebrate Individual and Team Accomplishments with an Abundance Mentality. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4. “Rejoicewith those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15.
  • Make It Happen People Foster an Environment of Teamwork and Mutual Respect. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17. “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19 20.
  • Make It Happen People Are Professionals. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.” Proverbs 27:23. “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalms 37:5

Practical 4- Step Organizational Development Strategy To Build God’s Kingdom In The Marketplace For His Glory And The Benefit Of Others

1)      Culture Development

The culture of an organization, intentional or unintentional, reflects the values of the organization and will drive everything in the organization.  Emphasizing the organizational strength and power of culture, Dr. Sam Chand, author of Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code, says “Culture will eat vision for lunch!”  To build an organizational culture that reflects the values of the kingdom of God in the marketplace, leaders must intentionally develop the culture with practical faith-based values communicated in the make-it-happen language of the marketplace. Make It Happen Team Values practically equip and empower marketplace leaders with a simple and effective team values framework to intentionally develop the culture of a team and organization where vision flourishes, people are empowered, and the kingdom of God is built in the marketplace. The culture development step includes leadership training in the areas of vision casting, values definition, values training and certification, and corporate communication.

2)      Chemistry Development

While the culture of an organization reflects the values of an organization, the chemistry of an organization reflects the unity of the organization. When an organization is unified in values and purpose, teamwork is built and enhanced for the greatest good of all stakeholders.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken”, therefore, it is clear from the Bible that a unified team cannot be easily broken or destroyed. The chemistry development step includes leadership training in the areas of employee engagement, employee recruitment, employee recognition, and employee ambassadorship.

3)      Competency Development

The strength of an organization is established on the foundation of its people. If the people in the organization are strong and competent, the organization will be strong and competent.  Therefore, it is imperative that an organization develop an effective process to continually build strong and competent people in the organization. The competency development step includes leadership training in the areas of goal setting, performance evaluation, leadership coaching, and employee development.

4)      Character Development

The influence of an organization rises and falls on the influence of its leaders and the influence of leaders rises and falls on the character of leaders. Therefore, to develop an organization with great influence, an organization must develop great leaders with great character. The character development step includes leadership training in the areas of leadership thinking, leadership ethics, leadership principles, and leadership practices.

The Marketplace Ministry I See Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, The Marketplace Ministry I See, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

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