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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

You're Trying To Do What's Right, and It Doesn't Seem To Be Working.

You're trying to do what's right, and it doesn't seem to be working. Maybe God has trusted you with the assignment to show His joy in the midst of physical suffering, because that's when everybody's watching you to see if what you've got is real. Maybe you're paying a price for your stand for Christ, and it's tempting to compromise, to back off, or to give in to despair, or just to give up.

Romans 8:17-18, we know was written by Paul, and this is a man who had a lot of bruises! Not from football or boxing, but the bruises he suffered in his life was from taking his stand for Christ. Listen to Paul’s list of bruises, “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches...” (2 Corinthians 11:25-28 MSG).

Now that’s what you call bruises! But does that hinder Paul or dampen his perspective? Absolutely not! Here's what he says, “If we are His children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share His glory, we are heirs together with Him. I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:17-18 GWT). I like that word “insignificant”, it’s defined as “having little or no importance or value.” In other words, for Paul, when you compare the pain with the pleasure; when you compare the sacrifices with the rewards, there's no comparison. In fact there is little or no importance or value at all. The Pain is Worth it! Now that’s one way to look at pain with the right perspective!

Maybe you're in practice right now and you don't feel very victorious.  But note this: God will always remember your faithfulness, and He will reward it a hundred times over!  Now, Paul said, 'We are going to have an ultimate victory.' Which means one day all of our pain will be over.  In fact, you see, what Paul was talking about here is a reward that DOES LAST. Paul said any hurt we have here is going to be like minutes compared to the forever celebration of victory; even the victory in this life-a sense of having overcome, of having gone through this with Jesus, of knowing Him better than I've ever known Him before. Having tasted His power as I never would have tasted but for the hard times.

This enabled Paul to have a different perspective on his hurts. He said in this same chapter, 'We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.' The victory will be so glorious that I am willing to take my hits in practice! Romans 8:31-39, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (MSG).

In other words, yes, life is tough; in fact it’s a lot like football practice! You get hit from multiple people at the same time from all directions! You’re hurting, in pain, tired, sore, bruised and battered and ready to throw in the towel, quit and hit the showers! I get it, believe me! But with what all the Scriptures say about our God and our ultimate and total victory, do you really think it is wise to give up now? Absolutely not! “…SO WE’RE NOT GIVING UP. HOW COULD WE!...” Paul, I Agree! How Could We Dare Give Up Now?!

J.P. Olson

Now You May Be Facing a Challenge Right Now That Looks a Lot Bigger Than Your Resources To Meet It.

One of my favorite Scriptures is Philippians 4:13, you may have heard it. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Another version states it like this: "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" The key is, “Through Christ who gives me strength”. Now, Paul has just been talking about the extremes of our life's circumstances. He talks about being in need and having plenty. He says "I can do it", either one, whatever season through Christ. He talks about being well fed or hungry. "I can do it," he says, through Christ. He talks about being in plenty or in want. "I can do it," he says, through Christ.

Now you may be facing a challenge right now that looks a lot bigger than your resources to meet it. Well, think about how this affirmation changes that equation: "I CAN do everything through Him who gives me strength."

A lot of people live with this negative voice that has been planted there by others their entire life. Maybe you can hear it inside of you. I call it the "can't chant," even though the story of the little engine taught us to say, "I think I can, I think I can." We have this voice that keeps whispering, "I think I can't, I think I can't." And maybe you struggle with feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and it's held you down. It's held you back many times. But today, I send you this little reminder that you will be held back no more. Today is the day that you release yourself from the “I can’t mentality.” Because the Bible, that cannot, will not, and shall not lie, has declared that YOU CAN do all things through Christ!

I remember seeing this refrigerator magnet. It was a picture of a dog and the dog was saying, "My name is ‘No, No, Bad Dog’. What's yours?" As comical as it sounds, a lot of us have had that kind of negative input in our lives and we think that's who we are! We believe we can’t get the job, we can’t graduate from school, we can't learn a new trade, we can’t own the house, we can’t start the business, we can’t travel the world, we can’t have a successful marriage, and we can’t have good health and great credit! 

Many of us have allowed others to label us with the “I can’t” motto for life, and worse than that, even more of us have labeled the “I can’t” motto to ourselves! But today, we’re getting rid of that negative, untruthful label! Why? Because, it's torn down our confidence and diminished our sense of worth. Consequently, we miss a lot of mighty things God wants to do in us and through us because we think we can't.

As a mentor, leader, counselor, preacher, you would be amazed at the amount of people I talk with from day-to-day who immediately start off every sentence with “but I can’t”. One swore she couldn’t sing, and she’s been traveling the world singing now for 5 years! One who said I can write devotionals, but I’ll never be able to write a book…needless to say, he’s on his 5th novel! Another said he can’t ever see himself getting married because of the horrible marital examples he watched in his family line growing up…needless to say, he and his wife will be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this year in Brazil! Amazing how many “I can’t” turned into “oh, yes I can!” And so CAN YOURS!

There is absolutely nothing that God has called you to do, that you can't do! God Himself strengthens and empowers you to fulfill His purpose for your life. And that's exactly what you need to remind yourself of the next time anxiety, nervousness, unbelief, doubt, wavering faith, second-guessing, and fear rear their ugly head.

And learn to actively and diligently distance yourself from naysayers! You know those who say, "you can't do that; how are you going to do that; you're not qualified to do that; you don't have the credentials to do that; you don't have the degrees to do that; you don't have the connections to do that; you don't have the experience to do that; you don't have the skill to do that; you don't have the money to do that; you don't come from the right background to do that." Or even worse, "what makes you think you can do that, no one in your family has ever done that!"

Now, get the license, get the passport, book the ticket, teach the lesson, preach the sermon, build the website, write the book, record the song, apply for the job, the loan, the mortgage...stop procrastinating, hesitating, daydreaming, hoping one day...when 

Today is the do it...With and Through God!
No more complacency, get out of that comfort-zone and conquer! Yes, YOU Can!

J.P. Olson

Whatever You Are Not Seeing In Your Life You Got To Call It Forth.

Whatever you are not seeing in your life you got to call it forth.

Isaiah 55:11. My word will not return to me void, but will accomplish that which I please & prosper. Your world is created by the words of your mouth. What are you speaking? Don’t reverse your miracle by the words in your mouth. Change your dialogue & you'll change your destination. Speak for it to come, but believe like it’s already here. God will complete - your in-completion. I don't have to figure out my life. God got His own plan already in motion. Step back from your life & let God be the director. Stay in the faith and make the decision that you will thrive, not merely survive. 

Prayer Will: Get you in, Get you Out, Get You Through. Never underestimate the power of prayer.  "If you can believe, you can achieve".  Show God Your Faith and He’ll show you His Faithfulness. God said trust Him, all you need is a mustard seed of faith.

Specify your prayer. "If the size of your vision is not intimidating for you, it is probably insulting to God". Dream big, trust and obey. Today, choose to release everything that has tried to hold you back, get ready to embrace what is about to come forth. Whatever you are not seeing in your life you got to call it forth. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

God Gave Us A Gift of 86,400 Seconds Today. Have You Used One To say Thank You?

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say Thank You?  Whatever you need today God is enough. If you're not rooted in the Word, your foundation is not stable. We must make time for God and give Him first place in our lives.  If you don't have time for God, nothing is going to work out right in your life. You Can Enjoy Anything - If You Can Enjoy God!   God is not hard to get along with!  If we can make a commitment to spend our first 30 minutes with God each day, it would change our entire life. We don't work God into our schedule. We are to work our whole life around Him. Don’t be overwhelmed by today’s obstacles. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in you.

God wants to take all the happiness, joy and peace of heaven along with all the disasters, messes, pain, and heartache that we have endured and forge them together, blending them into a story of grace fulfilling His purpose in your life. When crisis strikes in our lives, He covers us and shelters us, providing us comfort to withstand it all by His grace. In our every moment of joy or hardship, He is there.  When we find that we are broken, stressed out, hurt or in pain is the time to cast our cares upon the Lord. When everything is falling apart, we must call on Him for strength. When we lean on Him, we can endure anything and trust that the difficulties will pave a way for renewed success. 

Don't let anyone destroy you after Jesus restored you.  Pray on it, Pray over it but most of all Pray through it.  Through every trial God will make sure you come out better than before. The idea that man can solve man’s problems is a lie that blocks the truth that we need God.  Perhaps the greatest error we could ever make would be to assume that God is like us. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways".  Until Jesus Christ is the obsession of your heart, you'll always be looking to mere men to meet needs that only God can fulfill.  I always prayed for God to lead me to where He wants me to go; now I pray for the courage to go where He leads me. We aren't called to defend our honor; we are called to defend God's. We aren't called to battle each other; we are called to battle the enemy.  We aren't called to be like other Christians, we are called to be like Christ. We aren't called to earn God's love; we are called to receive it.  Either the Bible will keep you away from sin or, Sin will keep you away from the Bible.

As we journey through life, we will get beaten up- we will get hurt and bruised along the way. Scarred memories mark our journey like markers on a highway.  We all wonder what tomorrow will bring; a better life; a better situation; a more prosperous job; or a happy marriage. It is in God that we can find the hope for our future not by falling prey to the devil's schemes and tricks.
God want each of us to live a life full of joy, love and abundance; not Satan's way; but the only way which is through our heavenly Father.  You can have a Change for Tomorrow, If you Change Something Today. Get up get out and get something positive going in your life! If you just give God a fraction of your heart; He'll mend your brokenness and make you whole. Doesn't matter what time it is, God wants to hear from you. Jesus has promised that our requests get God's personal attention!  So let us pray to the God who hears & answers.

God needs your feet to go for Him. Trust God for the directions. You always have a place to run to, always. The place is GOD.  People are not perfect. So stop depending on them. Trust He who is perfect. Trust God!  God does not care about your past: He cares where you are going!

NOTHING IS PERFECT EXCEPT GOD'S WORD!  Let's Take Time To Thank Him Today.

J.P. Olson

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How Do You Deal With A Leader Who has Never Followed?

I felt this would be a great title. How Do You Deal With a Leader Who Has Never Followed? (GS) A friend of mine called me the other day and she posed this question to me because she was dealing with a challenging situation, matter of fact she is the same friend who gave me the quote "Don't Sit: Serve." Which was pertaining to another challenging situation and she asked 'why do people come to church or get involved in an org. but they "sit and don't serve" she said "don't sit: serve. (GS). Her questions can turn out to be neat little quotes that speak volumes. So I used her initials behind her quotes. (GS)

Anyway back on track: I thought about her question and it made sense to me, how can you lead and you have never followed. No one should be allowed to give orders who can’t obey orders. This is how great leaders model to their own followers the standards of acceptable behavior. Jesus showed us that to lead is to serve. Leadership starts with a basin of water and a towel, a moment often overlooked. Jesus was selective in who He picked to follow Him. He chose fishermen not princes, to be His ambassadors. Fishermen were used to: working long hours; working hard; working cooperatively; working in dangerous conditions; preparing for work (net mending etc.) when they had slack time; answering the call for help when needed. They had the qualities needed to give their all for their Savior and His great commission given to them. This is why they were great leaders because they learned how to follow in Jesus footsteps before going out on their own to lead.

In case you don’t know, I started the ministry in 2008 but didn’t become a Pastor until 2014. Why not?  Because God knew I wasn’t ready for that yet.  Before I could lead I had to learn to follow. I felt God was calling me in the 90's but I knew then I wasn't ready. In 2008 is when I started my ministry in evangelism, although I was involved more in revivals and crusades, I felt I still needed more to take on the role as pastor in a leadership position, I even fought for years going inside the walls in a leadership position. 10 years it took, well almost 10 years and all 10 years I spent wanting to be a leader, but learning to submit to one.  Now I’m in my 2nd year here of saying, Lord, I made it as a Pastor! I was like the person who traveled w/ the circus, scooping up what the elephants left behind them.  Someone said to him, you ought to quit...this is the worst job in the world.  He replied, “What? And leave show business?”  I cleaned the toilets at church, mopped the floors, emptied the trash, washed the walls, hauled garbage in my vehicle picked people up for service and if anyone suggested I quit and do something else I said, “What?  And leave the ministry?”  God was preparing me, and today I’m so glad I spent that time learning rather than leading, and that makes me want to patiently wait even today for all God has planned for us right here! Someone saw me at church last Sunday after everyone had left and said why are you emptying the trash, you can't do that, we have to have someone to do that, I have to get on someone about this and I said, this is nothing, we do what we have to do. It's a part of the ministry.

When someone asks me how do they select people to be on their team? The advice I share is: In your selection process, first pray for discernment; ask God to give you people with the same passion, drive, people who can submit to authority, people who are team players, people who can follow. The same apply when you place people in leadership roles. In your decision pray for discernment in making your selection or choice. You should look at their characteristics, do they possess any skills of a person who has not only been a leader but also followed others in leadership. Sometimes we want friends and family in leadership roles that have never followed and that’s okay if they can understand protocol in submitting to authority and learn how to follow. Sometimes you don’t have to go looking; God will send these people to you. Just the people you have specified. This has worked for me when I include God in the choices and the selection process, He will give us what and who we need.

If you want to be a great leader, you must first become a great follower. This is where almost all of history’s greatest leaders got their start.

Joshua followed Moses for more than forty years before he led the children of Israel into the promised land.

Elisha served Elijah for ten years before he took up his master’s mantle and went on to perform even more miracles.

The Apostle Peter followed Jesus for three years—and made a lot of mistakes—before he and his fellow-disciples “turned the world upside down” (see Acts 17:6).

I would likewise contend that history’s worst leaders never learned to follow. As a result, they became tyrants, making the lives of their own followers miserable.
So what does a great follower look like? Here are least five characteristics that great followers share: (MH)

“They are clear. They understand their role. You can’t be a good follower unless you have clearly identified the leader. While you may be a leader in your own realm, everyone has a boss—including you. Great followers not only accept this fact but embrace it.

They are obedient. While obedience may be a politically incorrect concept, it is essential for organizational effectiveness. No one should be allowed to give orders who can’t obey orders. This is how great leaders model to their own followers the standards of acceptable behavior.

They are servants. This is crucial. Great followers are observant. They notice what needs to be done to help the leader accomplish his or her goals. Then they do it—joyfully, without grumbling or complaining.

They are humble. Great followers don’t make it about them. They are humble. They shine the light on the leader. They make their own boss look good—especially in front of his or her boss.

They are loyal. Great followers never speak ill of their leader in public. This doesn’t mean they can’t disagree or even criticize. It just means that they don’t do it in public. Great followers understand that public loyalty leads to private influence.”

The question naturally arises...Do we, you and I, have those same qualities and that same dedication? 

J.P. Olson

When Your Back Is Against The Wall, Worship Your Way Out.

When your back is against the wall, worship your way out. When the enemy is coming against you, you need to worship your way out. Your worship is never wasted. God just wants us to be alone with Him. Your worship will not be wasted. You have to put your mouth on your mountain.  Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  God is able to take your anxiety and place it with His peace.  Peace on the outside comes from knowing God on the inside.  Lord I commit every bit of my life to you. Show me the way.  Thank you for guiding us Lord on this uncertain journey called life. 

WHEN YOUR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL – hit your knees, raise your hands and praise God through it all! People are watching and God is worth worshiping. 

Paul & Silas were en route to prayer meeting (church) and interrupted by a woman with a demonic spirit. She was the first “Damsel in Distress.” She made her living as a fortune teller. Paul and Silas in kindness but boldness shared her future was a dead end without trusting Christ as Savior. True friends and genuine Gospel preachers will tell you what you need to hear NOT what you want to hear. When Paul shared Jesus with her the demonic spirit immediately departed from her and she got gloriously saved! Moments before she was enslaved by Satan but now she is a daughter of God.

HAVE YOU EVER DONE THE RIGHT THING and yet, got in trouble. Paul and Silas extended grace but got grief. They just honored Heaven but now going through Hell. The leaders escorted these two Christians to the town square and didn’t bless them but beat them, shackled them and tossed them in prison with their “backs against the wall.” When you are in prison (solitary confinement) you do a lot of thinking with time on your hands.

The SITUATION was Paul and Silas were honoring God. They were going to church but God orchestrated their steps and enabled them to bring church to this woman in need of God. She now got her reservation for the Palace but they got thrown in the prison. Paul and Silas learned their SALVATION was still their SOLUTION. When your back is against the wall we need to do two things like never before.

PRAY – Paul and Silas began to pray. “When you are down to nothing – God is UP to something.” Plus, when you kneel before God you can STAND before any man. We need to fear (respect) the Lord more than worry what man can do to us. God is eternal. Man is temporal.

PRAISE – At their lowest point they worshiped God on High. You cannot worship anxiety and the Almighty at the same time. We need to stop telling God how big our mountains are and start telling our mountains how BIG our God is! They never pouted but began shouting praises to the Lord while in prison. The guards heard about their God. Convicts heard their carols of Christ, singing of their Savior and their HYMNS about Him!! Once again, these lost, shackled sinners couldn’t make it to church so their witness brought church to them! EVEN in jail!! FACT: Paul and Silas (not ELVIS) was the first to sing JAILHOUSE ROCK! #ThankYaVeryMuch

PROBLEMS – Will tempt you like never before to compromise, cut corners, cheat and leave Christ out of the equation. WORD OF THE DAY: “When you are TESTED. God can be TRUSTED.” Your world may shake but the Word of God never moves. Faith in Christ is a firm Foundation. When you read and trust God’s Promises your problems will evaporate and experience the PRESENCE of God in a powerful way. The Bible says: “I have yet to see the righteous forsaken” and true to His Word, the Lord sent an earthquake, the jail cells flew open and Paul and Silas were set free. The irony is they were free even when hand-cuffed. With the Lord we find liberty and you cannot contain God in a box or handcuffs. Atheists are actually in “prison” while walking with no shackles but Christians are free even in confinement.

Paul and Silas shared the Gospel with their jailers and led him and his entire family to the Lord (while they were in prison). Your disappointment may be a Divine Appointment to shine God’s Light and love to dark people in dark places (even dark prisons). The next time your back is against the wall may you be reminded to honor Christ even in your darkest dilemma. Plus, others are watching how you deal with adversity. Let them see the Almighty in you.

J.P. Olson