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Today we start with Sunday as the kickoff for our Fall 2020 seasonal campaign Giving Thanks by Giving Back. It is so appropriate to do so.

Why?

Sunday represents the day when most faithful Christians make their way down the aisle and into the pews to hear a stirring medley of hymns and spiritual songs and a soul-stirring sermon. That was at least the case before COVID-19 hit us in the spring of this year. Ever since we have been under the attack of the coronavirus, we have managed to worship differently. The CDC and county health officials have become additional sources of guidance for how churches operate with the designation that terms them as non-essential businesses within their communities. Regulated to outdoor or online worship services, depending on the locale, the church has taken a hit due to coronavirus.

Add the tension and division over the recent election and a summer full of protests regarding Black lives Matter, police reform, anti-masking, and Trump rallies and parades to the disheartening and discouraging effects of coronavirus with evangelical Christians split on nearly each and every item listed and you have the makings for the church in need of a come to Jesus meeting of its own. It’s high time that the people of God turned their attention to the very things that God called them to proclaim and produce rather than proliferate and pontificate rhetorical rants about ballot counting, turning the red states blue, and election fraud conspiracies.

It’s time that we as the people of God get back to God’s business. I love what C. H. Spurgeon said with such simplicity: “The business of the church is salvation. . .Our main business is winning souls.” John Wesley similarly surmised, saying: “You have one business on earth- save souls.”

So let’s get to it without wasting any time. Let’s take our day of worship and kick things into gear for a week of works.

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Think about it from a different perspective. This is the prime opportunity for us as believers to gather in His name, and then take all that has inspired and edified us from that gathering to go out into the world and spread goodwill through good works. We could turn the world upside down while altering the perception of Christians as hate mongers who want to protect Second Amendment right to bear arms a little bit more than the pro-life sentiment of anti-abortion. Our faith is so much more than modern worldviews and social-political confrontations. It is on us to show the world the core of our faith in action as we serve, providing a living breathing example of good works before their very eyes.

Let today serve as a day where we enlighten the world and encourage the world as we let our light shine. Let today start new beginnings of new ministries designed to serve more of the “least of these” while providing an open opportunity for us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Make today the day where you make a difference and make an impact.

Start today by giving thanks by giving back.

#GivingThanks #GivingBack

Learn More About the Campaign

NOTE: A big thank you to bloggers like Dan Zimmerman, The Simple Preacher’s Blog and other folks whose blogs I have linked here. Your posts say so much more on the subjects than I could convey on my own, so I appreciate your work and efforts to communicate with the world at large on the things at hand and on your heart and mind.

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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.

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7276414-17971825

The average business needs to generate a buzz.

How do you get the attention of potential customers or clients today?

Marketing?
Publicity?

Advertising?
Get Connected: The Social Networking Toolkit for BusinessPromotions?
Good press?
Media coverage?
Guerilla Marketing on the Internet: The Definitive Guide from the Father of Guerilla MarketingConsider all of the above and moreGet connected through social media and social networking.  Build more than a website.  Create some online profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and industry web portals.  Make the most of your online presence.

Make Money Online With Articles Even If You Can't Write And Don't Have A WebsiteDon’t just make the most of it.  Make the most money that you can from it with storefronts, affiliate programs, and Google AdSenseWrite articles for online magazines, article directories, and newsletters in your industry.  Create a blog about your business.  Make your online ventures profitable and prosperous as well as profound and promotional.  You will see that you can offer more to your potential customers and clients by the more information that share through various platforms online and otherwise.

Multiple Streams of Internet Income: How Ordinary People Make Extraordinary Money Online, 2nd EditionPlug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors, Book Publicity through Social NetworkingHow to Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Building, Optimizing, and Monetizing Your Blog (How to Make . . .)

Look for a personalized gift at Zazzle.

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Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.- 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NIV)

Jabez’s prayer became quite popularized some years ago when a book by the same name was written by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. The whole phenomena went off wildly beyond the book itself, with t-shirts, Bible covers, journals, and the like. What is amazing about the whole Jabez craze was the focus so many put on enlarging their territory rather than identifying what made Jabez the character stand out from among his brethren.

Verse 9 tells us that Jabez was “more honorable than his brothers.” That speaks volumes when you see that his mother named him for her pain during giving birth to him. We do not have to study and search too deep to know that this verse alone shows that Jabez was not living out a self-fulling prophecy based upon his naming. Jabez cried to the Lord and was blessed because the Scriptures tell us that “God granted his request.” Many of us would love to simply had that phrase alone attached to the story of our lives.

Are you seeking to enlarge your territory? I looked at these two verses and saw the simplicity of what God does with us when we are honorable and humble.

Enlarge your territory like Jabez. The prerequisite is to start off by not allowing circumstances or conditions to dictate your outlook. Your outlook can influence the outcome. What do I mean? Your perception of how things are and how things turn out can impact how you live with situations in your life.

Live an honorable and humble life regardless of how others are acting around you. Be sure to keep your eye on the prize without stepping on and over everyone on your way to the top. Failing to be humble and honorable can cost you.

Ask God for what you want and need. You need His provision as well as His protection. Before you go to God, see how He will get the glory from blessing you. God may not be blessing you right now. He may be trying to see what’s the benefit if He blesses you.

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The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other.
John C. Maxwell, Be a People Person
Early on, when I started managing, I found myself in a mess. John Maxwell and Peter Drucker became my best friends to rely upon in those early days. Be a People Person certainly got my attention and helped me understand how to effectively work on myself in order to effectively lead and manage teams of people and deliver results. I learned a lot through the book and shared much of what I learned with others who struggled to survive the responsibility of management.
My experience has taught me a few certainties. One certainty that I have learned about management, whether it is for-profit or nonprofit, is that management can be a mess. It can become a mess if you let it. The management mess can be by decision or de facto. However, once it becomes a mess, it takes some serious work to untangle it all.
Typically, the management mess comes down to two major factors: people and paperwork. The people person may not be the most organized person so they lose as much credibility as paperwork. The pencil-pusher and policy-upholder may know the manual upside down and inside out, but they may leave a lot to be desired when it comes to relating to others. You have to know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. If you only work within your strength, you will always have a lop-sided performance. You will do what you love and avoid what you don’t do well. There’s no escaping what it requires to become effective.
Here’s a short list of management titles that I have found useful:
  • Covey, Stephen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  • Blanchard, Ken and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager
  • Drucker, Peter, The Effective Executive
  • Briner, Bob, The Management Methods of Jesus
  • Burkett, Larry, Business by the Book

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For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. . . Mark 14:39 (ESV)

Things are out of balance. The poor seem to continue to get poorer. Look at what the government is telling us about our national deficit and bailouts as well as restructuring organizations such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Even Ben Bernanke can’t seem to explain what is going on.  Don’t seek any insights from Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet either.  Look at what the Lord says.

The poor will be in our midst always.  Jesus put in real simple terms for us: “…whenever you want, you can do good for them…” That’s what we have to focus on today.  Those of us who can make a difference will need to step up and make a difference as the Lord directs us.  It came about in the days of Micah, men doing whatever they pleased while their neighbors suffered and struggled.   Haggai preached against such selfishness.  Many of the prophets spoke against it.  Let us do what we can based upon God’s leading and directing us.  Let us live like vessels that He pours into with His Spirit and pours out upon those in need of a spiritual uplift as we seek to meet their needs.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (NLT)

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It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. – Albert Einstein

Most would-be entrepreneurs find themselves at a great distance from the dreams because they fail to commit to getting things started.  When your dreams remain dreams, they will never manifest into your destinations. If you are not pursuing your God-given purpose with vigor, you most probably are playing it safe by sticking to what you know rather than taking a stab at launching your own personal business.  Personally, I wish more people would start doing and stop dreaming, initiate and stop delaying.

Starting a business may require some homework and even some legwork, but its benefits and blessings pretty much outweigh the burdens.  There are tax write-offs and retirement options open to small business owners that you may not be aware of today.  Do you paint faces at local street fairs and kids’ parties on weekends? Are you a writer on the side, publishing where and when you can? Do you tutor students in your spare time? Take what you are doing (or dreaming about doing) and make it official, and then reap the benefits.  It doesn’t have to replace your full-time job.  It can just serve as additional income.    It can be a part-time “gig” or a weekend thing.  Just start it today.  You have numerous options available.  It will take prayer and patience, but it’s up to you.  Yet, there is still one thing left to do. . . Get started.  Get yourself started now.

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The Cost

“Success is costly.”- A.W. Tozer

Many of us go straight into action, no questions asked.  We just seem to take action and ask questions later.  Of course, that is if we feel that questions are necessary to get the job done.  Yes, this is even true in church and ministry from time to time.  We get going headlong and don’t have a means by which to pull our breaks per se.  That may not be best, but it is often what may happen if the circumstances dictate such a move in the opinion of leadership.

The Lord Jesus Christ said that we should calculate the costs (Luke 14:28).  In particular, we should see if a venture is worthwhile or not.  We need to see if we are willing to go all the way, giving all that it takes to see it rhough to the end, or whether we should just table the whole idea.

We need to plan the work, and then work the plan as I was once taught in Business Management 101.  We can’t get to a destination without charting the course.  If we do, that’s called being “lost.” If we want a venture to become a success, whether it be in ministry or business, we need to take a full view of what all it takes to see it to fruition.  For Christians, there is more on the line than simply your reputation.  Jesus’ name is on the line, too.

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Early in my years when I started working at the church, I was exposed to a book that has helped me for years.  Larry Burkett’s Business by the Book filled my head and heart with ideas and insights into running a business as a steward of the kingdom of God.  I have shared the book with many people over the years, even my wife as she launched her own law practice.  If you are a Christian leading   ministry, working for a church or running a businesss of any size, I suggest that you find a copy of this book.  It can serve as a serious guide for your walk as a business professional and leader.  You will not be disappointed.

Other Bible-Based Business Titles include:

Business Proverbs, Steve Marr

The Path,  Laurie Beth Jones

The Management Methods of Jesus, Bob Briner

Using Your Money Wisely, Larry Burkett

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