Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Discovering More Clarity with My Calling

In business, you set up and maintain a business identity.

It speaks to who you are and what you do. It becomes your brand. And it is how others come to know your business.

Ministry is similar, but there is a subtle difference between the two.

Firstly, the ministry calling is based on God giving you your marching orders. He usually pricks the heart of the believer for a cause or concern that invokes compassion or conviction, causing the believer to follow the leading of the Lord and His Spirit in that given direction.

Secondly, the ministry calling evolves over time. After one’s initial calling, God reveals more along the way. Greater clarity on the big picture is provided along the way during the journey.

My journey started around 2005 with an idea that would eventually take the form of Life Path Ministries & Services in 2008. It include Bible Stories & Beyond (Bible lessons and activities), All Men Edified Now (A.M.E.N.) (a monthly small group Bible study), and Operation Reach Out (evangelism and outreach). I added a weekly newsletter, self-published books of poetry and ministry guidance, and Bible study activities for A.M.E.N. over the course of several years.

I was content with what I was doing for God. I was confident that I was in the right place and on the right track.

Comfort Zones Cloud Clarity

Comfort zones can become dangerous places for anyone with a calling from God. That’s a particular place where business and ministry are truly similar. The amount of overlap is difficult to determine by degrees, but they at the least run parallel to one another once you get into the danger of comfort zones.

I knew what was doing in both ministry and business. I was struggling with completing my degree between Organizational Leadership at Chapman and Business Administration at Azusa Pacific. I knew how to do the work. I knew that the work was both important and critical. I even knew that the Lord had more in store for both myself and the ministry.

I was in a strange place. I was in an unknown zone. People applauded my work and what I was doing in the name of the Lord, but I felt an uneasy tension or frustration of the unknown lying ahead. I was engaged in what Keith Haney points out as motivating others like Jesus, but I had no name for it.

The evidence of the work was visible with tangible results, but I struggled with pinpointing what exactly it was that I was doing. Let me clarify that to say I struggled with what to call it. I was stumped with how to categorize it. I didn’t know what box to check when describing it.

Was it a ministry like Prison Fellowship, Salvation Army or YMCA? Was it a para-church ministry like Focus on the Family or 700 Club? What was this thing that I was doing?

I could not articulate it with clarity or with confidence if asked.

It took me over 12 years to realize . . .

I am in the inspiration business.

I am a preacher, rooted in a steep biblical basis of study and interpretation. I am a teacher and facilitator, focused on making tangible life connections for those with whom I study and lead. I am an evangelist, fired up with a passion for both those who the Lord calls “the least of these” and “sheep without a shepherd” similar to other street ministry efforts across the country.

I am in the inspiration business.

Seasoned with Grace

What would others say your words seem to be seasoned with?

Think about before you try to answer. Don’t just try to squeeze yourself into the textbook Sunday school answer. Think about what others would say about your words.

How do you come off to other folks? Is it like your words are seasoned with grace? Or, is it like you sound almost a if you forgot that you yourself have been saved by grace and forgiveness mixed and blended with the lovingkindness of God?

https://amzn.to/2WATUKG

A Goal of Graciousness

Paul’s words to the believers in Colosse seem straightforward and stern: “Let your speech always be gracious. . .”

Let’s just focus on that for a moment.

Could you imagine the number of insults that would incrementally decrease as a result of maintaining a goal of graciousness?

Can you picture how many souls would turn to us and ask about God if we as Christians just focused on our “speech always be(ing) gracious?”

The wonder is not what would happen if we did set graciousness as our goal. The wonder is why we do not set gracious speech as our goal time and time again.

To Whom Much Grace is Given…

I know that is a poor paraphrase, but walk with me for a moment on this one.

What if we just identified what we have been given much of in order to fulfill the requirement in turn? In other words, what if we looked at it deeper when we read this portion of Luke 12:48? What if it was about much LOVE or much FORGIVENESS? We cannot take Christianity as a robotic religion when He has endowed us with free will and His Spirit, the Helper, to quicken us in response to His urging and imploring us to be different and live differently. We have to accept that God desires us to meditate on His Word day and night.

If nothing else, we can set a course for change. We can determine within ourselves to make the change and seek to keep gracious speech as the gateway to offering grace to others as we go to and fro. In our various settings, whether in line at the coffee shop or at the table in the board room, we can choose to speak to others with much grace as we keep in mind that it was with much grace that God sacrificed His only begotten son for our salvation.

Speak with grace today and every day.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (ESV)

Oftentimes, Christians see issues of their days and times and superimpose them into the biblical prophecy of the Last Days and point out the most likely public figure who fits the bill to be the Antichrist. This is usually a futile exercise in trying to give it a name and a label rather than trying to deal with the matters of the day.

Black Lives Matter & Protests for Social Justice

Is it still a question for some who believe if Black Lives Matter or not? I wish that I could say that it is an unfair question, but there are plenty who profess the love of Christ who find it difficult to love all of God’s creation and creatures, including their fellow man.

Look at blog posts from others that speak to the fact that Black Lives Matter has to be defended or justified as a statement. I read posts from folks like Cynthia Reyes and I feel like the depths of the despair experienced by countless people of color has been echoed in the kindred voice of another in the blogosphere. I read Thinking Moon’s post and realize that we both share a love for Toni Morrison (and she picked my two favorite works by her, too), but we both have two entirely different walks on this earth as a person of privilege and a person of color.

Christians do not have to hold a come to Jesus meeting about coming to an agreement about protests for social justice, police reform, and Black Lives Matter. We do need to acknowledge that there is a problem within our communities and across our nation in the United States that has captured our attention in the midst of a major health pandemic. We do need to agree that, despite many of the best intentions of good Bible-carrying believers, many Christians will not act on such matters until the pastor, the shepherd of the local church, has shared spiritual words of guidance on these same matters. The matters of today have come before the altar of the house of the faithful and await a word from on high as heavenly light from above shine upon them like a spotlight.

Doing What’s Right is Right

Seeking social justice is right. It is biblical. It is the Christian thing to do. The words in Micah 6:8 said for us to “do justice.” Naturally, English makes for a poor translation but I think we could get the point. Our measure for our religion is a matter for how we treat others. The question to answer is: Are we doing right by what the Lord calls us to do?

Aretha, the Queen of Soul, said it in a secular sense when she spoke a Do Right Woman and a Do Right Man. Could you be considered to be one who is in the business of doing right, especially doing right by others?

Jesus used a parable to speak about the “least of these.” He pointed out that the way to do right by the Lord was to do right by others. He depicted through this parable a way to do right for those who could not do you a solid and pay you back. He let us get a glimpse of what it truly means to be godly and gracious, by showing that we can show compassion towards and offer comfort for the hungry, the imprisoned, the naked, and the others that life seems to easily overlook.

And What Does the LORD Require of You?

And what does the LORD require of you? It is inserted in a retort in this passage due to the insinuation by the people that the Lord is asking them to do the impossible. The notion that the people presented to the prophet was that the Lord was being too hard on them in what He sought from them.

. . .but to do justice

We can say a lot but our actions speak louder and in greater volume than our words. We can say that Black Lives Matter is trending on Twitter and will fade away like the chants of “No justice, no peace.” The truth is that justice is right and we are called to do right as claim to love our neighbors as ourselves.

. . . and to love kindness

Kindness is like love. It’s all action and feelings. It’s not double talk. It comes down to our interaction with others, especially those who do not look like us, sound like us, or even believe what we believe.

. . . and to walk humbly with your God

Humility is a lost art. It is as ancient as things like respect and righteousness. To “walk humbly” requires us to humble ourselves. I believe C.H. Spurgeon said it best when he is quoted as saying: “Every Christian has a choice between being humble and being humbled.”

What will be your choice today?

Audio clip from Coffee & Chat with Rev Bruce Episode #4

When we talk about community leadership, Christians can tend to shy away or step up. There’s usually no middle of the road when it comes to Christian leaders actively engaging in community leadership. Usually, it is one extreme or the other.

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds – Proverbs 27:23

For those who choose to get involved in community leadership, the challenge can be the lack of focus or attention to the flock. There are plenty of life hacks for getting a work-life balance, but that was not the case for two pastors that I have studied over the years.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King struggled as the pastor of his flock. Not that King was not cut out for the position of a pastor but he also led the SCLC and was on the front lines of boycotts and other strategic activities related to what we have come to know as the Civil Rights Movement. While King was fundraising for SCLC and its efforts throughout the South, what condition did he leave Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery?

The challenge is real when Christian leaders evolve into community leaders, even national leaders. Unless you have a dynamic system in place within your church, you will struggle to lead in both areas. Know the condition of your flock. In a mega church era, do not get to the place as a shepherd where you do not recognize your own sheep or their condition. Make it a point to stay in touch and on top of what is happening with your folks.

Daddy King recognized the pressure and struggle that his son faced. He implored his son to give up Dexter Avenue and return home to Atlanta to continue his work with the SCLC and maintain his ministry ties under Daddy King’s leadership at Ebenezer. Without the shift, we may not have known the iconic orator and leader from the Civil Rights Movement.

Adam Clayton Powell

Famous People: Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Biography by [Letitia]

https://amzn.to/2NTrxT9 https://amzn.to/2VNVsRc

No one epitomizes the consummate community and church leader like Adam Clayton Powell. Pastor of Harlem’s famous Abyssinian Baptist Church, Adam Clayton Powell became a city council member, community leader, and a U.S. Congressman. Powell fought hard against racial segregation and introduced landmark civil rights legislation.

Standing at a slim 6’4”, Powell was an imposing figure in the pulpit as well as the congressional floor. Yet, Powell had an appetite for controversy and was never known to shy away from a challenge. His persona was often the fodder for headlines and scandal pages, leaving the congregation of 14,000 members to wonder where their leader’s focus lied from time to time.

Politics and civic leadership have a place in the Christian realm. We just have to manage the amount of attention other things receive instead of the church. If you do not know the condition of your flock, as the shepherd, check yourself and see what you need to do to get that balance back.

To Live Differently

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.

Henry David Thoreau

I came across Michelle Lesley’s blog while searching for something else, something utterly and entirely different. I don’t know if I could count it as an accident. I just know that I can count this as a discovery in my book, and that carries a lot of weight as I evaluate where and how to spend the limited commodity of time.

Michelle Lesley got me thinking when she served up the blessing of social media for believers. I looked to the Simple Preacher, hoping his feed would clear my head, but he merely indirectly confirmed some of this woman’s findings.

Stop for a moment and consider what this Christian blogger did by simply adhering to the content calendar credo and posting an item for Throwback Thursday. She used a name that is attached to both our faith identity and our answer for who is our Savior.

“Live out your beliefs. . .”

Believers.

In a word, our identity is summed up. We believe, so we are to live differently. Yet, we are called out and expected to live differently due to those beliefs. We walk out our beliefs, and we put our faith on display in the flesh as we engage other believers and those who remain in unbelief.

“. . . and you can turn the world around.”

We are now identified differently because we live our beliefs. Since we believe, we live out those beliefs and accomplish the miraculous. I don’t mean water into water. We achieve the impossible before the eyes of the hopeless and helpless. We overcome the insurmountable as our enemies and other bystanders look on with awe and amazement. We survive and stand out as miracles of the Maker.

We are to “turn the world around.” And I believe that to be part of our calling. That is why I started my podcast Coffee & Chat with Rev Bruce. That is why I launch the video live stream for Coffee & Chat with Rev Bruce on YouTube ad Facebook.

It is not enough for us to say that we believe. We need to get over it and get on with it. We need to get busy and get to what the Lord has for us to do. If we are called to “turn around the world” as a result of our beliefs, then we can definitely do so by living differently, offering inspiration and encouragement for people from all walks of life to better themselves.

“The highest human act is to inspire”.- Nipsey Hussle

Join us for the initial episode to launch Coffee & Chat with Rev. Bruce.

Our first guest: Viet Mai (Educator, Artist, & Entrepreneur) shares his inspiration and process for his work and artistry. He even gets into his current business and social ventures as well as some community work that he is engaged in at the time.

This trailer serves as a tidbit of insight as to why this guest and why at this time.

Coffee & Chat with Rev. Bruce is a listener-supported podcast. Podcast Partners are a blessing to this effort to continue to share inspiration in new ways. It is our aim to remain listener-supported and not accept sponsorship and advertising funds in order to keep the broadcast voice free and not compromised to any degree.

Listen to the podcast trailer

https://anchor.fm/bruce-jackson3/embed/episodes/Coffee–Chat-with-Rev–Bruce-Episode-1-Trailer-ef9tbg

View the live stream on YouTube JUNE 13th at 10 AM

8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

To Be the Voices for the Voiceless

Christians have a calling to be the voices of victory. The victory over sin is ours. The victory over death and the grave is ours. We have this victory due to Christ and His sacrifice as well as His resurrection. We are given power through His authority. We have the victory and we are called to not just claim it but to proclaim it.

Christians are called to be voices for the voiceless.

We are charged to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are called to speak for those who have been silenced by systems and stigma. We are called to speak publicly on behalf of others. We are called to be voices for the voiceless.

Our voices are to proclaim victory for:

  • The Violated: Our voices speak against the countless violations faced by people. We raise awareness about the problems faced by people. We raise the level of understanding surrounded by the issues faced by individuals. We raise our voices for the violated.
  • The Victimized: Our voices speak against the victimization of others. When people are victimized, we are to become vocal. We have been commanded to love our neighbor, but we are also told that love does no harm to a neighbor as well as to consider others more than ourselves. We must see that victims are in need of advocates for justice and restitution. Therefore, we speak up for those victimized just as we speak for those who are violated.
  • The Vulnerable: Let our voices speak in defense of those who are not protected from violations and who are prime for victimization. Having a heart full of compassion, we must lift our voices in advance of the destruction beset upon those who are innocent. We must beseech the brethren to pray and lay hands upon such but also watch over and watch out for them as tender lambs of the flock of God.

Our voices to serve as echo chambers of God’s desires for all mankind. He speaks of what He is to the fatherless and a defender of the widow. Yet, He also equips and empowers us to be proactive in our stance in society, speaking up and speaking out for others.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

A Time to Speak Up

8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

Now is not the time to sit silent and watch.

The Bible speaks to it. MLK called fellow clergy out for their silence on the issue of segregation and the atrocities faced by those fighting for freedom in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail. We saw a similar wave of outcries in the wake of Martin, Brown and others who were killed senselessly based on nothing more than race or the color of their skin.

Open your mouth. . .

Open your mouth. . .

The Bible says we are to speak up and speak out about it.

Much of what we see on display with cities spilling over with protests stems from the outrage boiling over from oppression. Some peaceful demonstrations have turned violent. Looting and destruction have occurred. Curfews have been enforced. Yet, the media coverage and social media feeds may divert our attention from the issue at hand.

The emotions that have been suppressed by so many for so long have exploded into widespread discontent expressed through the solidarity of a rainbow of colors parading the streets with signs and chants to speak out against police brutality and social justice.

The mistreatment and disrespect for human lives has been a black eye for the United States historically due to colonialism, imperialism, enslavement, and exploitation. The most recent uproar has erupted due to the bleak picture of police enforcement provided to many via social media and the press of George Floyd dying at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. The very guardians of our communities who serve to enforce the law are expected to administer tactics and methods that allow for even the accused to have his or her day in court.

From a Native American perspective, could it be considered genocide when you look back at the Western expansion of America and the Trail of Tears, the Indian Wars, and the reservation lifestyle administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs? Is it any wonder that Latino or LatinX question the response to the “browning of America” when much of America west of the Mississippi River was once part of Mexico or occupied by Spain? From a Black or African American perspective, have mass incarcerations and the criminal justice system combined with the major health disparities served as the common obstacles of daily life regardless of economic status or educational attainment? I by no means could speak for everyone, but I am called by God to speak up and speak out against what I see as an utter wrong against my fellow man.

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.

Those who have no voice need advocates. We are to serve as the voices for the voiceless. We are compelled to speak up “for the rights of all who are destitute.” In other words, speak up for the ones “who cannot speak for themselves” and “defend the rights of all those who have nothing” (NCV).

It is biblical. It is logical. It make sense. It provides us with a means for supporting and loving our neighbor as we are called to do.

Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

We are called to serve as defenders of “the rights of the poor and needy.” It refrains the previous verse’s point of ” defend the rights of those who have nothing.” It places the responsibility on us, not God. He has empowered us and equipped us to engage on such matters and subjects. In this case, we need to serve as defenders.

The poor and needy are most likely not registered to vote. More than likely, the poor and the needy have not completed the census. In many cases, the poor and the needy might be undocumented, under the radar, and off the grid. Yet, the Bible is clear that we are called as their defenders, particularly when it comes to their rights.

Injustice has spilled over from the boiling pot and has licked the flames to a critical point of time. The issues of social justice and inequality have awakened hearts and minds of many. Solidarity has formed among many people of many colors on a widespread issue that seeks justice ad accountability.

But where are the Christians?

If anyone should speak up, it should be us. If anyone should be sickened by unfair treatment of people of any kind, it should be us. These two verses confirm such a stance.

Do not sit back in silence. Become vigilant and vocal about addressing wrongs that are happening right before your eyes.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Running like Crazy

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint

Isaiah 40:31

Photo by Frank Cone from Pexels

This is Just Part of the Journey

Most of us have read it. We have most probably seen it on a inspirational poster or flyer, even a bookmark. Some have heard it preached before. Still others have gone so far as to study it and made attempts to either dialogue, debate or diatribe its contents and context as well as symbolism and metaphorical mysteries.

Isaiah 40:31 says they will run and not grow weary

It seems as though I am back to where I was a year ago. Memorial Day is here and as we reopen across the nation runners are being enticed to run and run again throughout this month.

#RWRunStreak

As of Memorial Day weekend, if you handle 1 mile per day, then you are bound to keep pace with the Runner’s World summer run streak which ends July 4th.  The streak is simple: run (or walk) at least 1 mile per day and post on social media with the hashtag #RWRunStreak. The runner community will embrace and encircle you with tons of likes and follows as well as some encouraging comments here and there to keep you going strong during your streak.

#RunForGoodRelay

Saucony has a special promotion called Run For Good Relay which allows you to transfer those miles that you run (or walk) into charitable contributions. All that you need to do after completing your mile is snap a selfie and post it via Instagram, tagging 3 friends and including both #RunForGoodRelay and @Saucony.

https://www.saucony.com/en/runforgoodrelay/

Isaiah 40:31 says they will run and not grow weary.

Paul said that we, as believers, run differently. The world runs and competes for a prize only one could receive, but we run differently because we run for a crown. All of us can obtain that. Thus, Paul says encouragingly: So run that you may obtain it (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Faith Impact Training (F.I.T.) Ministry Minute No. 4 Run the Race of Faith

Isaiah 40:31 says they will run and not grow weary.

So how does that compare to other places where we are instructed to wait on the Lord? Why wait and then run and walk like here in Isaiah, but the Psalms are spewing with wait patiently on the Lord and repeated advice to wait on the Lord?  Even at one point, we are instructed to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). What gives?

One notion is that our walk with God is no cookie cutter lifestyle. That’s not how the journey works for us. We all have a different encounter with God and we all have a different experience with God. John the Baptist experienced something similar to to what Philip experienced within Samaria and while with the Ethiopian eunuch. Yet, both men had entirely different experiences and encounters. It is personal.

Yeah, I get it. But. . .

but they who wait for 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 (ESV)

In both cases, someone is waiting on the Lord with Isaiah and Psalms. In both cases, someone is expecting an encounter with God to enhance or enrich, even enliven, their experience with God.

Are you too eager for God to come along? Be still and know. . .

Are you losing your patience waiting on Him? Wait on the Lord and again I say wait. . .

Are feeling like you will never recover from this and get back on your feet? But those who wait on the Lord. . .

He gives each of us exactly what we need. He does it right when we need it and just how we needed it to come. He might send another message along with it, but you’ll get what you need out of it.

Isaiah 40:31 says they will run and not grow weary.

I believe it and I am going to keep on running with my renewed strength in the Lord.

Money matters.

Money matters more than we tend to think.

Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything. Ecclesiastes 10:19 (ESV)

1-us-bank-note-47344

Money matters.

Money matters a lot.

When we look at money the wrong way, we tend to lose focus. Focus on faith, not finances. Just understand that the finances are important, but they are not to be our focus. Focus on faith, but keep your eye on the money.

Jesus said a lot about money, too.

No one can serve two masters.

Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Gain more perspective on the Lord’s views on your money with this week’s Friday freebie: The Master’s Words on Money.