Surviving the Wilderness

WOW Club WellMichele, Judah and I have just returned from one of the best weeks of ministry we have participated in over the past couple of years.  We spoke at the Pulaski Church of God near Roanoke, VA and then traveled with Austen Owens (our summer intern from Regent University) to the Prepare 2016 Conference in Washington, NC.  This was a great conference where the Lord poured out a fresh anointing on me as the band and I led the Morning Glory worship session.  Words cannot express how joyous and refreshing this session was for me as a fresh anointing fell upon us, launching us into this NEW season that God is opening to us.  We then traveled to Virginia Beach to meet with many of our monthly partners and ministry leaders.  We had around 50 leaders that joined us as the Founders Inn where we shared how God has helped us to survive this wilderness season, but also to share what we believe God is saying as we look ahead to 2017. And finally, we wrapped the week at Kingdom Life Ministries in Chesapeake, VA leading worship for their revival.  What a blessing to lead worship with Jason & Kelli Bare, and Jason & Shelly Ratliff, and especially our son Judah, who joined us on the frontline vocals.  Michele and I are so proud of our son and our spiritual sons and daughters.  We are truly blessed!

As I have shared with you in previous letters, we encountered a wilderness experience that began in June of 2014.  It has been a road that I wish we all could avoid, yet one I believe we all will face at some point in our walk with Christ.  Therefore, I believe that the Lord has called me to be as transparent as possible to share this experience with as many as He leads me to, and to impart seven (7) major keys that helped us to survive this dreaded season.  I believe that our sharing this will be one of the keys for our entering into this NEW season of ministry.

II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  -KJV

As I read this, I feel as though Paul is speaking directly to the worshiper…the one who stands in worship looking into the glory of the Lord.  As we continue our gaze, God transforms us from Glory TO Glory.  From the Best He has created us to be, TO the Best He is calling us to be.  It is this “TO” that I believe marks a wilderness encounter.  It is the place found between two seasons, and because it exists we must recognize what it is and how to survive it to get to our NEW season.

This month, I would like to give you seven (7) themes that may help you define or recognize the wilderness.  These will be markers or indicators for you as to where you may be as you read this, or they may help you recognize they “WHY” for where you are right now.  Over the next couple of months, I will unpack these 7 keys that helped me survive, and I believe will help you during this season.

I’M LOST!
The first theme often portrays the wilderness as a place of threat, chaos and alienation.   It is barren, and nothing is familiar.  There are no markers or indicators or road map to help you know where you are.  All you know is that you have no idea how you got to this place, but even worse….you do not know where to go from here or how to get out!

I FEEL WITHDRAWN FROM EVERYONE
In the developing Christian tradition, the Wilderness is a place or state of withdrawal from the world to face the reality of God, oneself and one’s neighbor, and to overcome the power of evil.  We recognize this as the place where Jesus withdrew to and was tempted of the devil.  We must be careful with this one though to ensure that God has led us to this place of confrontation with God, and not us simply withdrawing as a result of depression or anxiety.

TRANSITION & CHANGE
The wilderness is a place of Transition and Change.  The children of Israel experienced this during their time in the wilderness.  They were being transformed from slaves to a free people in the Promised Land.  Of course, Jesus began his ministry after his time in the wilderness overcoming Satan, the evil one.  It is the place where one season ends and the next begins.

REVELATION
The wilderness is a place of Revelation.  This is perhaps the most prominent theme.  This is the place where God reveals himself in the burning bush, and through a pillar of fire and a cloud.  Of course Mt. Sinai is the central place in the wilderness revelation.  This is the place where EVERYONE saw, felt and heard the power of God on the mountain.

TESTING & JUDGEMENT
Israel faced judgment after pivotal revelation and rebellion at Mt. Sinai.  The church has always known that the desert is a place of temptation.  We must remember that the enemy will try to isolate you and I to get us to fall prey to temptations.  This can be a very dangerous place as you believe that you have lost everything, so you have nothing else to lose and therefore surrender to the lies and temptations that the enemy places before you.  God’s desire is that we overcome the temptation and walk in the power of HIS might, even when we feel we have no more fight within us at that moment in time.

VICTORIES ARE WON
In the wilderness, we will face conflicts, but great victories are gained.  Just as the Children of Israel encountered hostile enemies in the wilderness, these battles were only successful when they were obedient to the instruction of the Lord’s command.  And that is how you and I will win our great victories….when we are obedient to the instruction of the Lord.

A PLACE CREATED BY GOD
Perhaps the hardest lesson is to realize that the wilderness was created by God, not by Satan.  All things that were created were created by HIM.  Therefore, since it was created by God for a purpose, it is important for us to know how to survive our time in the wilderness.

In the next few months, I will unpack seven keys that God revealed to me during my wilderness encounter.  It is my prayer that God will use what He has shown me to help you where you are in your journey.

I have discovered in my sharing that numerous ministry leaders hit a wall similar to mine in 2014 and encountered this wilderness experience.  Oftentimes, simply knowing that others are going through what you are can provide a healing realizing that you are not alone.

Today, I encourage you keep your eyes continually fixed upon God.  Take one day at a time, and do not allow this wilderness to overcome you and fall by the wayside.  You are on your way From Glory “TO” Glory.  God’s best season for you is waiting on you, just ahead.  Keep pressing on and answer HIS Call upon your life.

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The 3D Worshiper (The Conclusion)

ImageMichele and I have been enjoying this cooler weather as fall is in the air!  We have been walking four miles a day after dropping Judah off at school as we seek God for clear direction in this new season.  Many exciting announcements to be made very shortly regarding four Throne Zone Events for 2014 and how we will be expanding the Kingdom in 2014 and beyond!

This month, I would like to conclude my thoughts on 3D Worship.

In August, I shared how the One-Dimensional Worshiper was singularly focused, and how that focus concentrated on their individual preferences in the area of worship.  Worship was all about them, their likes or dislikes, and how they received during the worship encounter.

Last month, I discussed the danger of making our worship encounter into a Big Production, and the danger if our focus remains on building our productions bigger and bigger while losing sight of the real purpose of our worship….HIM.  I cautioned us that when we attempt to cater our worship with the exclusive cause of reaching the masses, it is easy for us to lose sight of the real thing which draws men unto the father….lifting Jesus higher.  Yet the more that I travel to various churches to observe the worship service, I am finding more and more churches spending big money on creating lights, smoke and “non-churchy” sets, singing the latest tunes they crafted earlier in the week, providing a great show, with very little or no flow of worship.

GOLDEN NUGGET WHEN LEADING WORSHIP: 
It is all about connecting the heart of the people with the heart of God.  Not connecting them to our Art!

There are many worship leading teams that concentrate on “FREEDOM” in worship, yet many of these teams leave no room or opportunity to help the congregation release their song.  What holes are left in the music is filled with cool guitar licks or vocal ad-libbing rather than it being a SELAH moment for the congregation. 

As a worship leader, this is one of my greatest pet-peeves.  My heart is to set congregations free from the opinion of man, the fear of man and the rejection of man that has silenced their praise, and create a safe place in which they are free to release their song of praise unto the Lord.  Sadly, this is rarely the case in many of our “Contemporary” worship services.  To this cause, I believe that the 3rd and final “D” in our 3D Worship series deals with: DEPTH.

When speaking of 3D in an art-form, the third dimension deals with depth; that is, making objects appear closer than they really are for the purpose of engaging in the experience.  This is what happens when we worship.

God wants our worship teams and Sunday to be more than a huge musical production that has great commercial appeal.  He wants our worship to have depth and truly be a worship EXPERIENCE that results in a divine God encounter that brings forth transformation in our lives, in our home, in our church and in our community.  He wants us to experience His presence when we worship.

Yes, we need to make our praise to God as large and loud as possible because He is a Great God!  We want to lead people beside the still waters to find peace of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  I encourage you today to not simply settle for the big commercialized production.  I encourage you to press past all of the fanfare and press into the Throne Zone of God’s presence- that place where your purpose is discovered and your passion is ignited.

Today you may ask, “Keith, how do I become a 3D Worshiper?”  “I believe we need to make our praise of God glorious, and utilize every resource available to us, but how do I not settle and camp out in that 2nd Dimension?” 

Let me give you 3 D’s to help you make this journey as a 3D Worshiper:

First, it all begins with a DECISION.  The word of God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, “this day I set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”  Our first step always begins with a choice.  Michele’s platform for her pageants all deal with this issue of “Choose to Change!”  We do not have to be victims of our environments, nor slave to them. God has given you and me the right to choose, and this scripture instructs us to choose correctly….choose LIFE!  Today, I encourage you to make the decision NOT to settle for polished performances of man, but to make the decision you want to press into that 3rd dimension, that Throne Zone Dimension of God’s presence.  Don’t just settle for the show when you can have the manifest tangible presence of God and access to your destiny and purpose in life.  This is the first step to experiencing transformation in your worship encounter with God!

The second D deals with DISCIPLESHIP.  To explain this, let’s look at our children.  When they are born, they are not able to speak.  As parents, we talk gibberish to them until they speak their first words.  As they begin to communicate necessities such as food, diaper changes, etc, our vocabulary changes.  They then head off to school.  In their elementary years, they simply learn to read.  Yet as they progress into middle and high school, they read to learn.  As they head into college years, they evolve into research and then are able to communicate on all levels and in all businesses.  Our children have become disciples of education.  As a result, they are able to communicate and connect with more people than they originally were able to while at a young age.  Their education gave them resources, challenged their thoughts, and ensured they could clearly communicate and defend their thoughts or positions in life.  The same is true with our worship.  If we remain as spiritual infants and never mature, then we will never reach a mature worship experience.  Yet, with every season of our growth, our expression of worship matures and can even impact others who have not yet matured.  In essence, the discipleship process not only enhances our worship experience, but it also models to other un-discipled believers (and non-believers) the proper way to worship and fully anticipate a God encounter in the worship experience.

Our third and final “D” deals with DETERMINATION.  Life is full of challenges and opportunities for us to press through or to run.  If you have ever watched the TV program “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition”, you will see that transformation never occurs unless the individual becomes determined to break through the cycles which have held them captive.  The very first workout that Chris Powell takes his clients through is known as the “Fight or Flight Workout.”  He wants to push them to their limit to discover their level of determination.

Perhaps what you and I are going through today is merely a Fight or Flight Workout from the Holy Spirit.  You say, “Keith, God does not do that!”  O, I beg to differ with you.  He did when He tested Abraham to offer Isaac on the altar.  God wanted to see what He was going to do with the test.  Abraham’s faith was great, and God knew he was fully determined to fulfill the word of the Lord.  James 2:23 says “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  And he was called the friend of God.”

We must be fully determined to run the race with endurance, and to lay aside every weight that slows us down.  This is the same determination required in our approach to worship.

We must make the decision to go the distance in our worship and press past what we like and envision for worship.  We must not settle for the huge commercial presentations that offer freedom, but no depth or encounter in the worship presented in many churches today.  We must recognize that each of these dimensions is needed in the journey to the Throne Zone.  We must realize they are stops on the journey, not the final destination God is calling us to.  Therefore, we cannot settle for them if they prohibit us from entering into that 3rd dimension of worship….The Throne Zone.

When I am asked to sign my book, I always write, “Keep pressing into the Throne Zone and settle for nothing less than HIS Glory!”  He is calling you into that depth of worship where He can download strategies and specifics for your life, your ministry and/or your business.  He is calling you into the Throne Zone so you can discover your purpose and He can ignite the passion that has faded on your journey so that you can run the race with endurance, but complete the journey He has called you to.  You were born with a unique purpose- one that no one else on planet earth can accomplish.  You have a unique assignment and God wants to give you the strategies and specifics and the “how-to’s” to accomplish the vision you were born for.  However, you will not find it in the outer courts of praise and celebration.  This is found only in the secret place.  The place of praise and celebration are only the doorway.  The divine exchange that you and I seek occurs only in the Throne Zone. 

Today, I challenge you to become a 3D worshiper.  Get over what you like and ask God what HE likes in worship.  Do not settle for a big commercialized cutting-edge musical production, but make the decision to be a determined and discipled worshiper who will have depth in your worship encounter and press into the Throne Zone and settle for nothing less than HIS Glory!

Look for Your Anomaly

 

ImageI hope that you enjoyed the June partner letter from Michele.  I know people always love to hear things from her perspective, and I always love for her to connect with you as much as possible.  In that letter, she brought you up to speed with our transition to Raleigh, and I am excited to say that Kingdom Connections continue!

 

Paul Hollifield and I have been visiting several pastors, worship leaders and State Overseers sharing who we are, our passion for God’s presence, and seeking how we can partner with their ministries to see God’s plans and purposes revealed.  God is on the move, and several prophetic words have come from various streams regarding a Revival that will impact a 200 mile radius from the Raleigh area.  One prophet called Michele and I out this past weekend to share that God has transplanted us (uprooted us from Virginia) to bring us to Raleigh because we would play an instrumental role in the Revival that was getting ready to break loose in the Raleigh area.  As we met with each of these Pastors and Administrative Bishops, we continued to hear that same thread within each conversation.  Each of these prophetic words and ministry leaders were not connected, yet they were picking up the same word in the spirit which brought great comfort and encouragement to us.

 

As we wrestled with this move in the physical realm, and with all the unexpected financial costs that arose with the move, these prophetic words gave a sense of assurance that God has strategically uprooted and planted us in this region for a prophetic purpose.  And as I dealt with each of these items, I began to think of you and where you may be today as you read this partner letter.

 

I am reminded of Moses, as he was on the backside of the wilderness working his day job watching over the sheep, when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the form of a burning bush.  And as I read this account in Exodus 3, there were several things that brought clarity to my mind, and I feel as if the Lord wanted me to call these things to your attention because of where you are TODAY!

 

GOD SPOKE TO MOSES IN THE WILDERNESS

 

Verse 1 of Exodus 3 says that Moses kept the flock of Jethro, and he led the flock to the back or west side of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God.  Remember, this Prince of Egypt who had the power of great influence and leadership, was driven from his POSITION into a wilderness experience.  It was a place where no one knew his name.  In a sense, he was starting over.  

 

Perhaps you have recently experienced what the world would call a setback.  Perhaps you had great influence on your job, in your school, with your peers or at your church.  But now, like Moses you find yourself on the backside of the wilderness where no one knows your name and you feel as if you are simply going through the motions of life without any purpose.  I am confident these were the same emotions Moses felt.

 

But thank God, this was not the end of the story for Moses, or for you and me.

 

LOOK FOR THE ANOMALY

 

By definition, an anomaly is something that deviates from what is standard, normal or expected.  Basically, expect the unexpected!

 

This is what happened as Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed by the fire.  Verse 2 of Exodus 3 says that “The Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold the bush burned with fire, yet was not consumed.”  This is an anomaly- something not normal or expected.  It was used to get the attention of Moses.  But as we read this account, Moses didn’t simply stop and say “…..WOW….that was weird” and simply move on.  NO, scripture says he turned aside to see this great sight.

 

If you and I are not careful, we will miss the bidding of the angel of the Lord.  We will see something that catches our attention, but will simply discount it as being really weird and move on.  WE MUST NOT MISS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD SHOWING UP IN UNEXPECTED WAYS OR PLACES!

 

As Michele said last month, God used the Worship Center to get our attention.  But when God uses things, it is not necessarily the Thing that he wants to give us revelation with.  It is simply God’s calling card to get our attention because He wants to speak to you and me.

 

CHANGE YOUR DIRECTION
TO HEAR FROM GOD!

 

Verse 4 of Exodus 3 says, “And when the Lord saw that he (Moses) turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush.”  How many moments have you and I missed to hear from God.  We have celebrated and testified to the anomaly (that unique incident that caught our attention), but because we did not follow through with altering our plans and directions, we missed out on God speaking directly to us….even calling out our name as He did Moses.

 

Today, I want to challenge you (and my family) to change our direction or plans when the angel of the Lord is attempting to get our attention.

 

Draw near unto God, and He will draw near unto you and me!

 

GET YOUR DOWNLOAD OF INSTRUCTIONS
IN THE THRONE ZONE

 

The rest of Chapter 3 goes on to share the download that God gave Moses.  In essence, God revealed Moses’ purpose and destiny to him in that moment, as well as giving him specific instruction how to carry out that purpose.

 

That is what God wants to do for you and me.  He wants to download our purpose, reveal the reason why you and I were born during this specific time in life, and share the “HOW-TO’s” of reaching our destiny and full potential.

 

Moses was born for much more than simply a Prince of Egypt (ruler of bondage and oppression)!  He was born as a deliverer from that bondage induced to the Israelites.

 

What is your destiny?  Why do you exist?  

 

That is what fuels the passion and very heartbeat of His Call Ministries.  We desire to see the body of Christ discover who God has created them to be, and provide resources to help them achieve their God-given purposes.  That is why we host Throne Zone events!  It is because there are so many that are on the backside of the desert, no longer in their place of position or even prominence, but simply have not discovered the unique God-given purposes.  We desire to help the body of Chirst!

 

The Throne Zone is hopefully that burning bush.  Remember, the Angel of the Lord appeared in the Bush, but after the angel got the attention of Moses, God came on the scene and spoke.  Our role is to be like the angel’s and simply call out to those who are in the wilderness, believing that as they alter their plans or journey to come and see the bush, we get out of the way and let God speak.

 

Today, some of you are looking for your anomaly.  You are looking and waiting for the angel of the Lord to show up and reveal himself to you.  I encourage you to press into that Throne Zone Dimension of God’s presence so you can receive the download for your destiny.

 

You may say, “I don’t know how to access that dimension where I am!”.  To that, my response is simple….. “Join us July 25-27 in Raleigh/Durham for The Throne Zone”.  I can say that with confidence simply because our purpose is clear, and our mission is to create the atmosphere that will make it easy for you to enter into that Throne Zone dimension of God’s presence.  We will create that safe place, setting aside time for you to discover, explore but ultimately discover The Throne Zone for yourself so you can begin walking in the destiny God has planned for you according to Jeremiah 29:11.

 

Some of you may not be able to join us.  I would ask you to send a special offering or scholarship someone who may not be able to afford to come to the Throne Zone.  

 

What price would you pay if you knew you could receive the download from God to know why you were placed here on earth, and how you can implement these plans and purposes?  

 

Please help us to establish this Throne Zone Carolina.  We need your help!  There are individuals coming who are in their wilderness experience and they must discover their assignment.  Help us create this safe place with time set aside for people to discover The Throne Zone!  

 

Thank you for your help.

 

 

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Spring, Where Art Thou?

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It is that time of year!  Anticipation begins to mount once we hear the forecast from the groundhog.  We listen a bit closer to the weather report, we download The Weather Channel app to our Smartphone or iPad as we await confirmation of the arrival of warmer temperatures. 

Spring just makes people a little happier as we say goodbye to Old Man Winter.  Flowers begin to bud, grass turns lush green and life seems to return to the landscape surrounding us.

This concept is very true in our individual lives.  We all experience these various seasons in our individual lives.  It is impossible to think that we can only exist in one particular season year round.  Yet, the most abundant season of harvest remains dependent upon fall and winter.  It is during this season of rest where the vegetation has the ability to regain vital nutrients which will produce its harvest when the season changes.

When we don’t allow the season to run its natural course, and we rush the season, we create or experience greater problems when the season does finally change.  For example, Virginia had a very mild winter in 2011.  When spring of 2012 finally came, we had an overabundant population of mosquitoes.  We all enjoyed the mild winter as we didn’t have to bundle up as much as normal, and we were able to wear our shorts and flip-flops early on; however, it became impossible to enjoy the outdoors without insect repellant, fans and Tiki torches blazing- not for summer entertainment- but out of necessity.

You and I are often this way when it comes to the seasons we walk through in our lives or ministry.  We enjoy the summer season when everything in our life and ministry is operating at full capacity.  We are able to see the fruit of our labors.  But if we rush the season, our harvest can be diminished and our full potential never realized.

Perhaps the weather we are currently experiencing represents your life.  It seems as if Old Man Winter wants to stay around and not allow spring to come forth.  No matter how much you anticipate and look forward to your new season of life, it seems that the cold, dark and barren winter simply will never leave you or your ministry.  God has made several promises to you, but you have not yet seen them fulfilled.  You see how God could be working, but you remain unable to make those things happen.  You are dependent upon others moving, and it seems they simply will not budge.  It seems as if nothing in your life is changing and everything you once were productive at has either died from winter or got frostbitten in the process. 

So what do we do when our Springtime Delays?

First, we must remember that GOD LIKES SEASONS.  He created four of them:  Spring, summer, fall and winter.  He has orchestrated when these seasons come and when they go.  He knows how much time is needed for each season to rest, and how much time is needed for that season to produce.  Ultimately, HE KNOWS WHAT IS BEST and HE REMAINS IN CONTROL OF THE SEASONS.

We must also remember that DELAY IS NOT DENIAL.  Just because you are not walking into your Summer Season, it does not mean that you have missed it.  It simply means that it is on the way.  I am reminded that when Daniel prayed, God sent the response immediately.  Michael had to fight through the demonic forces of evil to hand deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer.  Right now, I believe that the angels of heaven are fighting their way through the demonic forces and strongholds that standing between you and your breakthrough.  You must realize that God retains ultimate power to overcome the enemy and break through the lines and your answer is night at hand.  HE has not said “NO”, HE has simply said “NOT YET”.  So, you must keep pressing on.

It is important to encourage ourselves with scripture and be reminded that although our weeping may endure for the night, Joy is coming in the morning.  The SON will arise with healing in His wings as HE breaks forth and begins to pierce the darkness with his radiant beams of glory.  We must wipe the tears from our eyes and anticipate HIS glory breaking in upon our situation and anticipate the morning.  For with the morning comes great JOY!  The greater the battle, the sweeter the victory!

Encourage not only yourself, but others going through a similar situation.  The word of God says, “Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you SHALL REAP if you do not faint.”  Now more than ever, we must be encouragers one to another.  We must speak words of faith over our situation and others.  We want to not only run the race, but we want to finish well.  Do not focus on simply running.  Let your focus be upon finishing.

As you know, I am a very large proponent of seeding your atmosphere with worship that builds your faith and assists you on your journey.  Perhaps one of my most favorite lyrics is found in “Dance With Me” on the second verse.  The line says, “Your winter has past and your springtime has come.”  I love to shift the vocals so high because to me, shifting the vocal line exemplifies the shift that takes place when we leave our winter and enter into our springtime and harvest.  It is very important to seed your atmosphere with worship that will speak to your situation.  Not in a negative way much like country music does.  With many country tunes you lose your job, your wife, your car and your dog so why not go get drunk.  If you seed your atmosphere with songs that merely describe your situation, you have no authority to change your situation.  Somebody once said when you play country music backwards, you get your car back, your wife back and your job back.  What lyrics are you sowing into your atmosphere?

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for my springtime to come!  I am tired of the fruitful season of my life seemingly die as winter rolls into the picture.  David Horton -one of my mentors in worship now gone on to be with the Lord- used to fuss at me and tell me, “You can’t expect harvest year round…..God just doesn’t work like that.” 

Just like spring and summer will be arriving shortly, so too the season you are walking through is about to shift.  I encourage you to prepare yourself now for that shift whether that be positioning yourself, or repositioning yourself to be ready to spring forth when He sheds His glorious light upon you.

“CHILD YOUR WINTER IS PAST, AND YOUR SPRINGTIME HAS NOW COME!”

 

 

What is your “X” Factor?

In today’s society, it is growing more difficult to hear Merry Christmas.  You see Merry X-mas plastered on billboards, Christmas Cards, and throughout various advertising streams!  Many think that the “X” is a way to x-out Christ from Christmas which we know is the True Reason for This Season.  But this year, the “X” caught my eye in a different way.

This year, Simon Cowell introduced the “X-Factor” to the United States.  I must admit that Michele and I have been watching this first season.  The talent is absolutely amazing, and especially for those early teens that made it to the live shows.  Simon, and the other judges, are looking for that “X” factor- that something unique and special that causes one to stand out from the rest-  that special something that others do not possess.  Millions faithfully watch every week and cast their votes declaring who they think exhibits the true “X” factor.

But there is another way to approach this “X” factor.

Judah is now studying Algebra in school.  He has learned that “X” represents a number that is to be discovered.  He has learned many ways that “X” can be represented in an algebraic expression.  He has also learned that through a series of steps, he can discover the value of “X”. The greatest challenge is to simply discover the value of “X”. 

I believe that all three of these examples are true for you and me today.  I truly believe that the world is looking for the “X” factor within the church- that special something that causes us to stand out from the others.  They are looking for that special something that draws them to you and challenges their status quo.  Many people hope to utilize their talent, charm and charisma to demonstrate their “X” factor.  However, they have never truly discovered the true “X” which completes the equation of their life.  The true “X” is exactly what the world wants to take out of their advertising slogans.  The true “X” is Christ.  Christ within you, the hope of Glory!  It is the Christ within you that causes people to be drawn to you as they are searching for their own significance in life.  But there is an even greater meaning to the “X” factor for your life.  It begins with knowing Christ, but that is only the first step in the process.

I believe that the “X” represents your potential- that special something that only you possess that is to be expressed within the Body of Christ at such a time as this.

I am reminded of the parable of the talents that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:15-28.  In this story, “x” represents a talent. One was given 5 talents, another 2 talents, and the last individual was given 1 talent.  The real question of this text is this, “What are you going to do with that talent you have been given?”

I believe that God has gifted you with a wonderful and unique destiny.  It is one that no one can accomplish, and one which my destiny is dependent upon.  It is like a building block in the Kingdom.  God intended that our destinies complement one another.  He never intended our destinies to compete with each other.  I need what you are called to, and you need what I am called to.  And as we work together, we will see the Kingdom of Heaven established and expanding throughout the earth. 

Your “X” factor then is determined by what you do with the talent God has given you.  Will you reinvest it so that it multiplies?  Will you allow others to use it and watch as the interest is added to your account?  Or will you hide it being afraid of the gift and what might happen if you face rejection or discouragement or even possible failure?  Remember, we are ultimately the ones who determine whether our faith and potential will be multiplied, added to, or left alone as the status quo.

II Peter 1:5-7 gives us an equation that will help us develop our faith and potential.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 

Verse 8 states, “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Everything in life was created with potential and therefore possesses this potential principle.  An acorn possesses the DNA needed to produce a mighty Oak tree.  And you possess all you need to become a mighty man or women of God.  What you become will depend totally upon how you exercise your measure of faith.

That is why you and I must encourage one another to stretch our faith so we can release our full potential.  We must not hide in the dirt and simply wait for our master to return.  We must invest our lives in the Kingdom so that we can become all God has created and destined us to become, thus revealing our true “X” Factor.

Don’t settle for status quo.  God has created you with a unique purpose that none can accomplish other than you.  There are songs that need to be released by you; inventions that need to be discovered; books that need to be written and scientific explorations still to be realized and explained.

Don’t discount your gift or assignment.  Don’t forfeit the dream!  Keep walking toward your vision.  Keep dreaming the dream!  Continually contend for the prize within your heart.  You hold the key to your “X” Factor.  So, don’t give up or throw in the towel regardless of how you feel today. 

This year for Christmas, Michele and I pray for you to not be weary in your journey.  We pray for you to prosper and be in good health.  We wish for you joy and true happiness and fulfillment in your life as you are walking toward your destiny.

We are thankful that you are part of our lives and are investors in this ministry!  Your faithful giving helps to dig wells of worship for those who are dry and weary, allowing them the opportunity to soak in His presence, discover their purpose and find refreshment for their journey.

Your monthly seed also helps us to minister to others in ministry.  We provide a Monthly fellowship for ministers who feel isolated and alone and feel as though their “X” factor is a “0”.  It is a fellowship that provides encouragement, fellowship and accountability, something greatly needed for today’s minister.

The first Thursday of every month, we invite Sr. Pastors, Worship Leaders and Ministry Directors into our home.  Your financial gifts help us to provide wonderful food, roundtable discussions on problems and challenges today’s church is facing, and opportunities for them to move beyond status quo.  We provide guest speakers to mentor us in areas of leadership, personal development, and helping us address needs within our congregations.  We continue to endeavor to discover HIS CALL for not only our churches and ministries, but for our cities and regions.  Our fellowship continues to grow every month as we continue to build relationships and connect with those who simply want to know they are not the only ones facing challenges in these uncertain times.

I want to personally thank you for helping us to create this safe place for these ministers.  This is a place where they can be real and cry out for help and encouragement.  It is a place where they can find relationships, accountability and opportunity to discover their true “X” Factor.  We are so very thankful for you helping to make this much needed ministry possible!  All we can say is THANK YOU!

Michele, Judah and I speak love, blessings and heartfelt wishes for a Merry Christmas, and Happy and Prosperous New Year. 

What is your “X” Factor?

There’s a Shaking Going On!

Who would have ever thought that a major earthquake and hurricane would have hit the East Coast as it did last month!  I have often heard it stated that God uses the natural to reveal the supernatural.  When we see the earth quaking, we know that there is a shift going on beneath the very ground that we are walking upon.  Something that is not quite so obvious to our eyes is movement going on below the surface of that which we can see. The winds of change are blowing and the waters of renewal and refreshing are rising

The same is true with what God is doing in your life!  There is movement in areas that you are not able to see.  There is a shift taking place for you, but you are not able to see it…..YET!  There comes a time when everything standing close to that point of shifting is forced to shift.  That is what causes the quaking.  And I believe that is what is going on in your life even as you are reading this letter.  There has been a shift in the spirit realm of your life, and everything around you must move with that shift.  

Unlike the smoothness of your car shifting gears, this type of shift causes a shaking and bumpiness all around.  Why?  Every time a shift occurs, there is a new “normal” that emerges.  And this is true in the spirit as well.  Just when you think you have things figured out and begin to find that comfort zone in your walk with the Lord, He orchestrates this “Shift” for your life.

God has great things in store for you.  And many of the divine appointments require you
to get out of your comfort zone and be ready when He calls for you.

Michele and I know this first hand.  We have spent the last 19-1/2 years attempting to follow directive He has given to us.  We have traveled from Carolina, to Virginia, to Texas, to Tennessee and then back to Virginia……and then back to Carolina.  And in looking back on our journey the past 19 years, we see how God divinely orchestrated each appointment and season.  At each move, we both received great deposits from him and other mentors in our lives, while also making great deposits in many other’s lives.  And now, once again, we have experienced this “Shift” in our lives.

On July 3rd, I was ministering at one of my previous Board Member’s church where he pastors.  During lunch, he simply turned to Michele and I and asked if we would ever consider returning to Virginia.  To which I quickly replied, “No”.  We were comfortable in Carolina and really liked our home. We had learned our way around the city (which is no small accomplishment for Michele- LOL), and were so convenient to everything that we needed.  Or so we thought.

Following that lunch, I saw a look in Michele’s eyes that I had not seen in quite some time.  It had been 7 years since I had seen that look, and I knew what was stirring.

As we drove to Virginia Beach, there were a great number of doors that connected in a sequential order.  It was very obvious that God was trying to speak to us, but I was trying not to listen.  However, we knew that it was God and so we knew what was ahead of us.

While in Virginia Beach, knowing that God was calling us to relocate back to the area, we found a school for Judah that had high academic accolades and would be workable with our travel schedule.  We applied, and after a couple of weeks, we received the letter of acceptance.

Now, we had only one small problem.  I had a home in Carolina that I was not able to get out of, and I had none to move into.  So, I began to pray my “IDIOT-PROOF” prayer.  I told God that if He truly wanted us in the area, He would have to bring someone for my home, and He would have to provide a home in the Virginia Beach area- one that we could afford.  We had looked at a few rental homes and knew that we would not be able to afford the area.  BUT GOD!

Within one week of listing our home on the market, we had two contracts on our home.  The first was ready to take possession in less than two weeks, and the other simply was a back-up contract in the event the first one fell through.

So, we had the school taken care of.  We had the house in Charlotte taken care of; but all we needed was a home in VA that would be able to accommodate putting our offices inside of the home.  I didn’t want to have to rent two places as we had in Charlotte.  We were looking for a home where we could put everything under one roof, and still stay within our budget.

Well, as only God can do, I received an email from one of my current Board Members.  She told me that there was a couple in her church that had a property that was on the market for sale, but they have not been able to sell it, and they would consider renting it to us.  But we knew that the home was so nice, and having shopped the area, we knew about what the cost would be and we knew that we would not be able to afford it.  But don’t you know when God is in something, He works all sides of the equation out for everyone’s benefit.  And as it turned out, they met us at the price we had budgeted for.

Now, you must understand that when God works things out, He takes care of all details.  He leaves no stone unturned.  Judah had asked God for three specific things, one of which was a pool!  And of course, I had ruled that option out because I did not think we would find that within our budget.  BUT GOD!  This home has all three of those specific items that Judah had prayed for, including a pool!  Go God!

Why am I sharing all this with you? 

You must understand that when you say “YES” to HIS call for your life, you become HIS ambassador.  That means, that when He gives you an assignment, He will give you everything that you need to accomplish that assignment.  Additionally, it means that His resources will provide everything that you have need of.

Regrettably, I tried to say “NO” to the provision of the Lord.  I tried to say, “Lord, this house is too big”.  “Lord, we don’t really need a pool”, “Lord, what will people think?” “Give me something smaller and simple”.  And then I realized, how many times do we reject the provision of the Lord because of what either we think, or what other people may think.

Friend, I have chosen to say “YES” to HIS call, and I have purposefully decided to receive “ALL” of His provision because He knows more than I do.  My job is to simply report for duty and do what He tells me.

That is all He asks of you.  Simply say “YES” to what He is speaking to you.  It doesn’t matter how comfortable you are at this point in life.  You must envision what the future looks like as you say “YES” to Him.

You must not delay when He speaks.  Don’t procrastinate and say, “One Day I Will….”  Tomorrow is never promised.  He knows the specific time when you are to come on the scene and fulfill all He has promised to you.

You must not say, “I can’t do that!” or “I can’t afford that”.  You must simply say “YES” to what He places before you to do, and trust that He will handle all the details.  Do not turn away your blessing or provision like I was trying to do.  Simply embrace it and recognize it as a source.  For me, I am renting this house, not purchasing it.  That means God has given me a place to land for right now so that I can get busy with all that He has placed in my heart.  And this house will remain ours until which time He provides another.  And this is how you must look at your situation during this season of transition in your life.

Your time is NOW!

This is your moment.  You have prepared all your life for this opportunity.  Now, don’t shrink back.  Keep moving forward, not looking back.  Embrace all that God has placed before you whether you understand it or not.  Remember, God has only required us to obey, not understand.

Your best is set before you.  When you have submitted yourself to the stripping, then God can bring the restoration to you which will prepare you and others for the coming Glory!

THE SHIFT IS NOW!  TAKE THAT STEP BY FAITH! 
YOUR DESTINY AWAITS YOU!