Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Servant Leadership...Persuasion!

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

God bless you everyone and welcome back to today's blog! Today's post will be about persuasion. I will elaborate on persuasion in a little bit. Just in case you have missed the last post I made on awareness, here's the link, http://amircarmickydiaz.blogspot.com/2013/02/servant-leadershipawareness.html. Here's the summary for our fifth principle, persuasion.

Persuasion - Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant-leadership. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups.

Persuasion is our fifth principle in the series titled 10 Principles of Servant Leadership. Persuasion, like the four principles before it, is an art form. Like with anything else that involves art, persuasion is one of those principles that have to be rehearsed time and time again in order to be successful. Now mind you, persuasion can be a double-edged sword depending on the spirit of such principle. Going back to the days of Adam and Eve, there are both good and bad influences.

An example of a bad persuasion would be how satan was able to persuade Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was able to persuade her and eventually influence both Adam and Eve to eat fruit of that forbidden tree. In a nutshell, that would be a classic example of how persuasion can be used for evil, selfish, and self-centeredness.

The above example can also be applied to our culture today. Unfortunately, we live in a cheating culture today. We live in a culture that has a "fast food mentality" and will look for any ways to take a short cut. This not only applies to our culture here in the US, but throughout the entire world. We all know that there are two sides to every story. Since I have finished sharing with you the negative side of persuasion, now it's time to share the positive side of this principle.

The above picture for this post makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that "the most important persuasion tool YOU have in your entire arsenal is INTEGRITY."

Without integrity, you would essentially become just another fraud. Outside of our relationship with Jesus Christ, it would be practically impossible to maintain integrity through our own strength because though the Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. To stay in integrity has to be one of the most difficult challenges of a servant-leader. As a result, we all have the ability to persuade people for good or for evil.

My friends, it would be extremely hard to even start scratching the surface of what we are capable of accomplishing in any area of our lives as servant-leaders when we are able to maintain our integrity in Christ and persuade people to follow Christ and not put anywhere near as much stock on this world and what it has to offer. Last, but not least, in our efforts to persuade people, don't just focus on what people want, make every effort to also focus on what they need.

What it boils to is having the right perspective. Persuasion, when applied the right way, will greatly benefit the individual or individuals involved. Let the following words remind you of the way you are expected to live your life with the intention of pleasing, honoring, and giving God ALL the glory.

He that walks uprightly walks securely: but he that perverts his ways shall be known. (Prov. 10:9)

PERSUASION WITHOUT INTEGRITY IS JUST A LIE!!!!!

Now. I must persuade all of you reading this far to do the godly thing and persuade your friends and family to READ and FALL IN LOVE with Christian Living...lol!!! You're probably asking, why should I do that?! Well friends, I will tell you why. It's ALL ABOUT JESUS...that's why!...:-). Once again, I must thank God for giving me the health and the passion for writing what I love because after Jesus, it's all about you and for you as well. I know I have made friends all around the world because God has enabled me to reach your computers and mobile devices to share the love of Jesus Christ with all of while being able to live life to the fullest with faith, hope, and love.

May God continue to bless you and keep you all my friends! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!...:-D

Monday, February 25, 2013

Servant Leadership...Awareness!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

God bless you friends! In my previous blog post I talked about the art of healing and the amazing role it plays in our lives. You can link up with the post on healing here,  http://amircarmickydiaz.blogspot.com/2013/02/servant-leadershiphealing.html. In today's post, I want to talk about awareness. Let's get started by sharing with all of you the summary of awareness.

Awareness - General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Making a commitment to foster awareness can be scary--one never knows what one may discover! As Greenleaf observed, "Awareness is not a giver of solace - it's just the opposite. It's disturbed. They are not seekers of solace. They have their own inner security."

I want to encourage and challenge all of you to begin awareness training to day my friends!

In the above summary on awareness, only two types of awareness are pointed out: 1) General awareness; 2) Self-awareness. I also want to include a third type of awareness that is not brought up in the summary. That is Spiritual awareness. Let's break down the three types of awareness.

1)General awareness- In my opinion, general awareness involves being aware of your surroundings, current events, and general knowledge via academics and life experiences. Having this kind of awareness helps a servant-leader carry out the knowledge that has been given to him or her to assist others in their time of need. With general awareness, it requires that you have the ability to listen to any and all external sources to be able to better discern what might influence you.

2)Self-awareness- Self-awareness is the ability to be able to know more about what affects you on a very personal level. Self-awareness requires the person to be sensitive enough in being able to understand what your body and mind is trying to tell you. It also further requires that you are able to listen to your "inner voice". In self-awareness, the ability to listen to your "inner voice" is a must! If you are going to be an effective and successful servant-leader, you must pay close attention to what your body is telling you. If not, then you will inevitably suffer the consequences.

This brings us to our last awareness...

3)Spiritual awareness- Spiritual awareness is entirely different type of awareness because the fact that we are affected externally and internally. Externally, there's a spiritual realm where there is a war raged for our souls. As a result of that war, it affects whatever happens in our lives. This type of awareness definitely requires a very strong spirit of discernment. Discernment is often acquired when we make the request to God in prayer and by surrounding ourselves with other like-minded brothers and sisters-in-Christ so we can receive invaluable insight into a specific matter that will greatly impact you. If you intend on growing spiritually as a servant-leader, it's EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you stay connected with the One that has the greatest advantage in vantage point, God. Here's a scripture verse that come to mind:

Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: (Matt. 28:19)

There is so much more to these three types of awareness than meets the eye. It is so critical that we can be aware in all three areas as servant-leaders in order to be effective in being able to reinforce those same values into the lives of others so that they can in return be aware of their own lives.

With that said my friends, I want to thank all of you for taking the time out of your busy schedules for reading this blog post as I hope and pray that you will continue to grow in your awareness in the three areas described above. May God continue to bless you and keep you all my friends! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!...:-) 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Servant Leadership...Healing!

[Jesus speaking] Behold, I will bring it health and healing, and I will heal them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. (Jeremiah 33:6)

God bless you friends! In the last post, I wrote about one of the 10 Principles of Servant Leadership, empathy. You can take a look at the article through this link here, http://amircarmickydiaz.blogspot.com/2013/02/servant-leadershipempathy.html. Now we are ready to move on to our next principle, healing.

You're probably thinking, what in the world does healing have anything to do with servant leadership? Isn't healing usually reserved for doctors and christian ministers? To answer the first question, it has EVERYTHING to do with servant leadership. To answer the second question, the answer is no. Healing plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being. With that said, I want to share with all of you the summary of the role that healing plays in servant leadership. Here it goes:

Healing - Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one's self and others. In "The Servant as Leader", Greenleaf writes, "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have." 

Anyone that knows about the story of Jesus knows very well that His ministry was built on numerous miracles. Among those miracles, one of the most frequently noted miracles was about healing. One of the most well-known miracles about healing involves a leper. Read Mark 1:40-42.  On a personal note, healing is one of my favorite topics because I have witness firsthand some truly amazing miracles around healing. 

Healing has a way of boosting the moral of the one receiving the healing as well as the moral of the ones witnessing it. Learning the art of healing is a truly powerful force for transformation and integration. Healing of all kinds (spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional) transforms us in ways that we have little understanding of. The transformation takes place at the deepest recesses of our being. It brings about a very wholesome atmosphere that fosters unity and praise for God and encouragement for each other.

Once we have been transformed, fostered unity, praised God, and given encouragement to one another, we will be ready to integrate our individual healing experiences into a corporate one. The integration of individual healing experiences into a corporate experience goes from a small ripple in the water and turns it into a tsunami where the reach of the healing expands out and makes an impact in the lives of those that are far away from the epicenter of the healing. Just like the two principles before this one (listening and empathy), healing can also be applied in various environments.  Anywhere where there will be an opportunity to be able to make an impact in the life of an individual, the opportunity for healing can take place. 

From a christian perspective, it requires that we are both able to listen and be empathetic to others in order for healing to be accomplished. God has given us so many resources, natural and man-made, that provide avenues for healing. Here's one last verse from God's Word to drive home the subject on healing:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies; (Psalms 103:2-4)

What kind of an impact has healing made in your life as a whole? How has your healing make an impact in the lives of others?

These questions and so much more can be asked and answered if we only have more time. I want to thank you all for reading this far and continue to grow in your knowledge and awareness of how healing makes a deep and everlasting impact in every single area of our lives. I pray that everyone that reads the words of this post be encouraged that healing will happen in your life as you integrate your life with the Life-giver and all of His children no matter what environment you find yourself in. Stay connected to Jesus and watch your life take a turn for the miraculous! May God continue to bless you and keep you my friends! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!...:-)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Servant Leadership...Empathy!

And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. (Eph. 4:32)

Hello again! I'm back for another round as I run down the 10 Principles of Servant Leadership.  In my second post on servant leadership, I talked about the art of listening. Here's the link here, http://amircarmickydiaz.blogspot.com/2013/02/servant-leadershiplistening.html. As I have learned the value of being able to listen to your "inner voice" as well as the voices of others around me, it has helped me be able to make wiser decisions with lots of foresight.

On this particular post, the word of the day for servant leadership is empathy. The above picture for this post already gives you the definition for the word as it may (or may not) confuse you with the word sympathy. With that said, I want to share with all of you the summary for our word, empathy.

Empathy - Servant-leaders strive to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirit. One must assume the good intentions of coworkers and not reject them as people, even when forced to reject their behavior or performance.

In all my years of interacting with people, empathy is not the word that is very widely used. Oddly enough, there have been numerous occasions for me to put this word into practice. I'm one of the most candid and transparent people you will ever meet because it just so happens that empathy, in light of the definition given to us in the above picture, has been practiced for as long as I can remember. I have had the honor and privilege of doing volunteer work for the American Red Cross. During my time with "ARC",  I have been blessed with numerous opportunities to be a servant leader.

As a servant leader, we have the capacity to make a great impact in our respective communities as we share another person's feelings, experiences, and emotions, especially during a natural disaster. Numerous instances can be mentioned of the heroic acts of men and women that have become servant-leaders overnight because of a major calamity. All of us are capable of empathy. The example I gave about my experience with "ARC" is only one of numerous examples where empathy can be applied.

Empathy is also a necessity at home, in the workplace, at church, and anywhere else you find yourself interacting with other people. Listening is a great art to learn and master, but empathy is the one art that focuses more on just the emotional. It makes an incredible impact in one person's spiritual growth as well. Empathy passes all of our natural senses and digs really deep into the heart of the matter.

Well friends, this is pretty much empathy in a nutshell. Empathy has the ability to be able to change a person's  life from the inside out.

In what way have you been able to express your God-given gift of empathy in the lives of others? How has it changed your life in the process?

There you have it friends! I want to thank you all very much for reading this far as I continue to encourage all of you to be empathetic to everyone that God brings around your way. Even though empathy may not come so naturally to all of us, it's possible. Don't wait for tragedy to strike to show empathy, go out of your way to be empathetic to everyone around you as much as possible. For me, it took a very tragic moment in someone's life before I really saw the fruits of empathy blossom into something so miraculous that empathy is practiced every single day and become someone that is willing and able to listen to and share in the experiences of everyone in my life, online and offline.

May God continue to bless you and keep you all my wonderful friends! Jesus loves you and so do I!...:-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Servant Leadership...Listening!

       Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. (Prov. 19:20)

Hello everyone! I wanted to get started on a series of posts that emphasizes servant leadership. You can find  part one here. I want to resume this series on servant leadership by breaking down the 10 principles of servant leadership.

Let's begin with the first principle, listening. Here's the summary of our first principle:

Listening - Traditionally, leaders have been valued for their communication and decision making skills. Servant-leaders must reinforce these important skills by making a deep commitment to listening intently to others. Servant-leaders seek to identify and clarify the will of a group. They seek to listen receptively to what is being said (and not said). Listening also encompasses getting in touch with one's inner voice, and seeking to understand what one's body, spirit, and mind are communicating. 

Listening is a skill that very few people master successfully. I must admit, listening is somewhat of a challenge to me because I often become very outspoken when talking about a subject that I'm passionate about. I'm sure I'm not the first nor the last when it comes to this "struggle". I have heard this saying a number of different times...

"Listen more...talk less. That's why God gave us two ears and one mouth for." 

As comical as it sounds to us, there is an amazing amount of truth behind it especially as it relates to servant leadership. In the above summary on listening, it makes mention of how leaders have traditionally been valued for their communication and decision making skills. As important as it is for those skills to be constantly reinforced, we must always be mindful of constantly being able to listen to not only those around us, but equally (and sometimes more importantly) be able to listen to one's "inner voice". 

From a christian's perspective, how are we able to listen to "one's inner voice"? 

Great question as far as I'm concerned. Here's two thoughts that have come to my mind when it comes to listening to one's inner voice.

1)PRAYER IS A MUST! -  Ideally, we want to begin and close our day in prayer. When we open our day in prayer, it provides us an opportunity to not only thank God for giving us a new day, which is great, but we give ourselves an opportunity to be able to listen to God more clearly as He maps out His plan for our day. THE ABILITY TO LISTEN IS CRITICAL HERE!  Simply put, if we fail to listen to God, you might as well expect all sorts of chaos to unfold throughout your day. When we end the day in prayer, we give ourselves an opportunity to be grateful for the day, the moment of prayer will also help us to reflect on what happened throughout the day as well as be able sleep a whole lot better too. Read Psalms 4.  Meditating in God throughout the day comes in handy too. 

2)LISTEN TO OTHERS...AND LISTEN WELL! - The Bible tells us in Proverbs 24:6  that there is safety in the multitude of counselors. In my honest opinion, it is one thing to surround yourself with people that think they know what's in your best interest. It's a totally different ballgame altogether when you can surround yourself with like-minded individuals who is connected to the source of all wisdom, God Himself. I don't know about you, but I really wanna get connected (and grounded) with like-minded people who are connected (and grounded) to God Himself. As a couple, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 will also come to mind. I'm sure there are plenty of other verses that can be found to apply the art of listening in other settings, such as a small group. The relationship between Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, and His disciples come to mind.

No matter what kind of environment we find ourselves in relationally, the ability to listen is extremely important if we are to be successful in our relationships no matter what kind of relationship we are in. On a more personal note, I'm extremely thankful to my heavenly Father for surrounding me with so many wonderful people that I can call friends (and counselors). I would not be the person that I am today without God using these individuals to refine, rebuke, and encourage me whenever I get to proud (self-righteous) or too down on myself (low-self esteem). 

What have you been able to achieve in your life as you have learned the art of listening to God and to others?

Feel free to share your thoughts below my awesome friends! Thanks again for reading this far too! May God continue to bless you and keep you in Jesus' mighty name! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!...:-)









Sunday, February 17, 2013

Servant Leadership...Intro!

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

Leadership is a widely discussed topic in our day and age for so many different reasons. Am I going to attempt to discuss everything that needs to be discussed about leadership in this post? Highly unlikely. But one thing that I can do is share some of my thoughts on this critical topic as I continue to learn the trade of becoming (and being) an effective servant leader. I don't simply want to become a servant leader. I want (and need) to become an effective servant leader!

You're probably thinking, "How does anyone become an EFFECTIVE SERVANT LEADER?"

To answer that question, I want to share 10 Principles of Servant Leadership from the Butler University website. You can check it out on this link, http://www.butler.edu/volunteer/resources/principles-of-servant-leadership for further review. What I will do in the meantime, is give you an outline of the 10 principles of servant leadership here then follow up with future posts highlighting each of the ten principles outlined.

Here are the 10 Principles of Servant Leadership:


  1. Listening - Traditionally, leaders have been valued for their communication and decision making skills. Servant-leaders must reinforce these important skills by making a deep commitment to listening intently to others. Servant-leaders seek to identify and clarify the will of a group. They seek to listen receptively to what is being said (and not said). Listening also encompasses getting in touch with one's inner voice, and seeking to understand what one's body, spirit, and mind are communicating.
  2. Empathy - Servant-leaders strive to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirit. One must assume the good intentions of coworkers and not reject them as people, even when forced to reject their behavior or performance.
  3. Healing - Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one's self and others. In "The Servant as Leader", Greenleaf writes, "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have."
  4. Awareness - General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Making a commitment to foster awareness can be scary--one never knows that one may discover! As Greenleaf observed, "Awareness is not a giver of solace - it's just the opposite. It disturbed. They are not seekers of solace. They have their own inner security."
  5. Persuasion - Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant-leadership. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups.
  6. Conceptualization - Servant-leaders seek to nurture their abilities to "dream great dreams." The ability to look at a problem (or an organization) from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities. Servant-leaders must seek a delicate balance between conceptualization and day-to-day focus.
  7. Foresight - Foresight is a characteristic that enables servant-leaders to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision in the future. It is deeply rooted in the intuitive mind.
  8. Stewardship - Robert Greenleaf's view of all institutions was one in which CEO's, staff, directors, and trustees all play significance roles in holding their institutions in trust for the great good of society.
  9. Commitment to the Growth of People - Servant-leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As such, servant-leaders are deeply committed to a personal, professional, and spiritual growth of each and every individual within the organization.
  10. Building Community - Servant-leaders are aware that the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives has changed our perceptions and has caused a feeling of loss. Servant-leaders seek to identify a means for building community among those who work within a given institution.
Over the next few weeks, we will have a better understanding of how servant leadership can (and should) be applied in every single area of our lives and what kind of an impact it will make, both negative and positive, at home, at work, at church, and in the communities we live in.
Thanks again for reading this far as I continue to share one of my many passions with you as I make every effort to bring Jesus, the ultimate servant leader,  into every single area of our lives while "living life to the fullest with faith, hope, and love". May God continue to bless you and keep you my friends! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!!...:-)

Friday, February 15, 2013

God!

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. (Rev. 1:8)

God.

The most powerful and reverent word in most people's vocabulary. So much can be said about God. So much can be said about His role in our lives. There will NEVER be enough words to express our sentiments for Him. To the vast majority of the people that we meet with on a day to day basis, God is the most enigmatic figure in all of human history. No one has been able to influence the course of history and all the civilizations (past, present, and future) like the way He has, is, and will continue to do.

God is indeed the Alpha and Omega! He is the beginning and the end! He is omni-EVERYTHING!

What else can possibly be said about Him? After our faith in Him, the Bible has plenty to say about God and His nature. I strongly recommend that YOU, yes, you grab your Bible and get to know God. Personally, it has taken me many, many years to get to know God and I'm still barely scratching the surface.

So why keep talking about Him now?

I have two reasons for that. Please feel free to add with your comments below as well!

Reason #1- God has made all the difference in my life by bringing Jesus into the picture. Without Jesus, I would be hopelessly lost and on a one-way trip to hell, and without salvation.

Reason #2- He is Faithful and True! He ALWAYS delivers as promised!

Here's a short story. There was a time in my recent past that I worked as a private security officer for a major manufacturing company in a nearby town. During that time because of the shift that I worked in, I was responsible for logging in and logging out the trucks that was bringing in the merchandise. There was one truck company called G.O.D.

The very first time I saw this company show up to the facility and took a real good look at the trailer, I could not help but smile. As my time at this facility wore on, this company was usually the first company to show up for deliveries. Upon closer observation of one of the trucks, I noticed what the word G.O.D. stood for.

G.O.D. stood for Guaranteed Overnight Delivery.

Mind you, we all know that God is more than capable of delivering at a moment's notice. He never needs an overnighter to accomplish His perfect will in our lives. The moral of the story is that God happens to be the Founder/CEO of His own delivery company. He has a large army of angels waiting at His disposal to make all the necessary deliveries to His children.

Psalms 34:17 says the following:

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

So friends, when I say that God always delivers....HE DOES! I love Psalms 34:17 because of the fact that it is one of those promises that forces us to be totally dependent upon God in faith and trusting the other promises in His word. God, OUR ULTIMATE GUIDE, has given us the "ultimate road map" known as GOD'S WORD (aka Bible) to help us through everyday life too. One last thing...

DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT....GO TO THE BIBLE AND TAKE HIS WORD FOR IT!!!...:-)

There you have it my friends! God will always deliver, even when we least expect Him to. With that said, I want to thank you all for reading this far and enjoy it as well. Feel free to leave any comments below and share this post with all of your loved ones as well! May God continue to bless you and keep you all! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!!...:-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grace!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Amazing grace, how sweet does that word sound to you? To me, I know that it's sweet enough to know that God has given me another day to live and beyond able to go about His business and be able to take care of the needs of my family at home. Without God's grace, what would our lives look like?

Grace, according to Merriam-Webster says the following:

a:unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification


b: a virtue coming from God
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace 

Those three definitions pretty much sum it up given the particular notion that God has His signature all over them. All this talk about regeneration and sanctification has me thinking about the purpose and goal of grace. God's grace as I see it just so happens to be the one area in God's character that not only establishes, but through His approval and favor, both of which are unmerited, to provide us an avenue to experience God in so many different ways, both mysterious and beautiful. 

Amazing Grace, written by John Newton (1725-1807), has to be one of the most famous songs sung among Christians. I don't know much about John Newton, but there's one thing I'm confident of. I'm extremely confident that he has found God's grace in such a miraculous way that it had to be put into words. Words that still resonate with us today. Words that we can totally relate to. 

Yes friends, with God on our side, it's more than possible to experience God's mercy in our lives in such a manner that we will be transformed....radically transformed, much like John Newton and so many others before us. With that said, I want to leave with you John Newton's Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.


Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.


Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Let me leave one last verse for all of you!

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9) 

The lyrics of that song say it all my friends! I could go through a very long and elaborate explanation of the whole regeneration and transfiguration portion of grace, but that may have to wait for a later post. In the meantime, it's important to note that God loves us so much that He desires to pour out His grace to us during our whole lifetimes, not just during that most difficult times of our lives. 

Thanks again for reading this far my friends! May God continue to bless you and keep you in Jesus' mighty name! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!!...:-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Money, Money, Money!

Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)

Money. The SECOND most talked about subject in the Bible after love. What are we to make of all the mayhem around this word called money? For starters, it could either make us or break us depending on our approach to this subject matter.

For our sake, let's take a look at 3 facts that will challenge you to further explore your perception of your finances. These concepts will help you move into a more peaceful frame of mind when it comes to thinking about money.

1)Everything belongs to God- Before we can even begin to discuss what you have and how you use it, we need to understand that everything we own really belongs to God. This is mentioned several times in the Bible - examples can be found in Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 24:1, and 1 Chronicles 29:11. While we may (or may not) have lots of material possessions right now, they are only temporary. You can't take them with you when you leave this world. We should avoid getting attached to the things of this world because we are only borrowing them.

This didn't hit home until I once woke up one day to come to the realization that my health and money is gone. All gone. Then...

BAM!!! 

I finally came to the understanding that EVERYTHING that has been given to me during my life on this planet are only TEMPORARY. Granted, did I struggle with this after I have gotten used to having money around and be able to do whatever needed to get done? You bet! Once I have understood that these things are only temporary, my mind would ease.

2)The Lord is in control- In Isaiah 55:8-9, the Lord tells us that His plans are bigger than ours and that the plans He has for us are beyond our comprehension. We need to focus on allowing God to be in control of everything, including our money, so that He can work through us to improve not only our lives, but also the lives of those around us. This is confirmed in Romans 8:28

3)The Lord will take care of you- If you seek God's Kingdom first, He will provide for your every need. You can read about it in Psalm 34:10, Matthew 6:31-33, and Philippians 4:19. We need to use the skills and abilities that the Lord gives us (Exodus 36:1-2). It is the Lord who decides whether we succeed or fail (Psalm 75:7).

Although you may experience some hardships along the way, don't feel that your efforts to follow the Lord are in vain. Remember what happened to Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, but he became a powerful ruler in Pharaoh's household. God put Joseph through tough circumstances in order to save His people (see Genesis 39:2-5 and 45:4-8). 

When I look back at everything that has been "lost", I find it very comforting to know that God has replaced the things that were most important to my life and has given me a new lease on life by providing me the resources that have become invaluable to me and to my family. 

In conclusion, let's reflect on our own behavior and determine whether our actions have been in line with what God wants for our lives. If you feel that there is more that you could be doing, make a commitment to yourself, between you and God, to realize that your possessions are only on loan from God and to put forth an effort to move out of the driver's seat so that God can be in control. 

Allow God an opportunity to take care of you and to work wonders in your life. Once you let go, your life will never be the same.


Thanks again for reading this post friends! May God continue to bless you and keep you in Jesus' mighty name! Jesus loves you...and so do I!!!...:-)






Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jesus Is the Vine!

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser.  Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.  If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:1-7)

The above scripture verse says it all my friends! Many of us who have been walking the Christian walk for quite some time time will know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is our all in all. Jesus' influence over our lives as Christians is immensely deep. So deep that He breaks out with the parable of Him being the Vine and we are the branches. Quite frankly, there is not a better source to be plugged into than Jesus Himself. 

He is the Living Waters! He's the source of water that never runs dry. As long as we stay connected with Him, we will never thirst. I have noticed something remarkable about the picture above. I just noticed that all the branches that have grown out of the cross are pointing upwards. The cross represents Jesus in the same way that the branches represents us, the Christian. What is especially revealing is that the branches are facing upward. 

Isn't that cool? Because of Jesus (the Vine), we (the branches) can find comfort in the fact that we have been connected to His Father in open worship. The branches lifting off the ground symbolizes how we can be lifted up from the pit of despair.

As we abide in Christ, only God knows for sure how far our boundaries will expand and make a greater impact in the world that we live in, starting with our homes and families. I cannot help but be excited about what God continues to do in, through, and around my life. I often thank God for bringing me all the right people that will be able to bring eternal value into my life and be able to recycle that value back into the lives of others. This is what abiding in Christ is all about my friends! JESUS IS THE VINE AND WE ARE THE BRANCHES!!!        

May God continue to bless you and keep you all in Jesus' mighty name! Jesus loves you and so do I!

Thanks again for reading this far my friends! Don't hesitate to share with everyone you love too! God bless you always!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Unity!

Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Phil. 2:2)

I have to start this blog article with one key question.

What does it take to create unity and to maintain it over the long run?

From reading Philippians 2:2, I have come to the conclusion that there are five areas that will play a critical role in not only creating unity, but to maintain it as well over the long run. Here they are:

1)Finding joy in the Lord- Anyone would probably ask, "How would I find joy in the Lord?". I will admit, finding joy in the Lord can be very elusive sometimes, especially when we are confronted with overwhelming circumstances that could potentially blind us to being able to find joy in the Lord. Here's the best part friends! Finding joy in the Lord is not difficult to find, in spite of the circumstances. Finding joy in the Lord is as simple as taking a small moment to stop whatever you're doing and just thank God for anything that is happening in your life.

2)We need to be like-minded- In spite of the way were brought up and the differences in our cultural backgrounds, it's more than possible to achieve like-mindedness once Jesus is at the extreme center of our lives, no matter what kind of forum we find ourselves in. It's critical that we have the mind of Christ as we pursue unity at home, at work, at church, or even something as "small" as starting a special-interest group. We all know that any kind of work that involves advancing God's Kingdom is no small task. It's a task that requires us to be like-minded in Christ.

3)We need to have the same love- Having the "same love" comes down to one simple question. What are we as a family, as a congregation, or as a team most passionate about? As Christians, the "same love" would have to be none other than Jesus Himself because when it's all said and done, everything we do will be all about Jesus.

4)We need to be of one accord- One verse comes to mind when it comes down to being of one accord. Here it goes:

Only let your manner of life be as it becomes the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (Phil. 1:27)

5)Of one mind- Last, but not least, this area is of utmost importance. We need to not only be of one mind, but of ONE HUMBLE MIND. My dear friends, humility is the name of the game if we are to not only create unity, but maintain it over the long run. Let us always think less of ourselves than others. Here's one last verse to drive home the message:

Finally, be all of one mind, having compassion one with another, love as brethren, be tender hearted, be courteous: (1 Pet. 3:8)

There you have it friends! Without unity, we would get very little to nothing accomplished. Can we accomplish some things on our own. Definitely! But how much more can we get done when we are actually UNITED in light of the five areas described above? ALOT!!!...:-)

Thanks again for reading my blog my awesome friends! May God continue to bless you and keep you in Jesus' mighty name! Jesus loves you and so do I!!!...:-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Heaven!

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-7)

Yesterday, I came across a daily devotional from The High Calling titled "Wondering About Heaven". It turned into one of the most fascinating reads I have ever had about the subject of Heaven. Here's a couple of captions that I would like to share with you:

For those of us who believe that Heaven is far away, either spatially, temporally, or both, Ephesians 2:6 can be surprising, even unsettling: "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." What? God raised us (past tense) with Christ and seated us (past tense) in the heavenly realms with him? How is this possible? Does this mean we are in Heaven now?


Yes, comes the answer of Ephesians, you are in Heaven now, in a sense. You have not died physically and entered fully into the age to come. But, when you accepted God's grace and put your faith in Jesus Christ, not only were you made alive with Christ, but also you were raised up with him and seated in Heaven with him. That's what the text says, plainly and clearly.

Pretty mind-boggling stuff...right? As many times as I read this portion of scripture, I never quite captured what the verse is trying to explain to us the way it is explained in those two paragraphs. The idea of being on our way to Heaven by faith during our life on Earth is one thing, it's a totally different matter altogether when Ephesians spells it out to us that we are already in Heaven after having been raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms.

I could not help but smile (almost laugh) at that concept, but it's God's Word that we are talking about. So knowing that fact alone, is good enough to know that it's true. If you're still not sure about it, then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you read Ephesians 2:6 again and again until the idea not only sinks in, but it becomes a reality to you and everyone that you know that has already taken that step of faith. Wow! What a comforting thought! 

Ephesians 2:6 has to be one of my personal favorite verses because it further reinforces the fact that as long as we live in Christ, we are more than capable of living life to the fullest with faith, hope, and love. That is what CHRISTIAN LIVING is all about friends! It's all about Jesus and the glorious future we will have with Him as we live out our lives by faith in Him today.With that said, there are questions that at the very least I want you to think about (and hopefully answer...:-D):

What are your thoughts on Ephesians 2:6? What kind of an impact does it make in your daily walk with God and everyone around you?

Thanks again for reading this far! It tells me that you are interested in getting to know God more in your daily living as you become an effective witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is no denying the divine nature of Jesus Christ and His relationship with us. I hope and pray that you have not only enjoyed this article, but are motivated as well to share the GOOD NEWS of the wonderful future that will one day be ours when we have relocated to our real home in Heaven. May God continue to bless you and keep you in Jesus' mighty name my friends! JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!!!...:-)

THANKS AGAIN FOR READING!!!!...:-)


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Christian Roots!

Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when the heat comes, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be anxious in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)


Jeremiah 17:7-8 makes a very profound statement. The first part of this scripture verse makes it abundantly clear to us that we are blessed when we place our trust and hope in the Lord. When our trust and hope is firmly placed in the Lord, we will reap benefits that will literally make an eternal impact in our lives. From what I am able to gather from the above picture is that Jesus is the true source of everything eternally praiseworthy.

 What are the benefits of placing our trust and hope in the Lord? 

According to Jeremiah 17:8, there are four benefits. Here they are:

1)Shall not fear when the heat comes - You're probably thinking, how can anyone live without fear? 
If you're thinking or even asking yourself this question, don't be discouraged my friend. Everyone (including myself), have struggled with bouts of fear anywhere from our childhood years to present times. Here's the GREAT NEWS! Once we have firmly placed our trust and hope in the Lord, there's no reason to fear when the "heat" (trials, troubles, or tribulations) comes your way.

2)Its leaf shall be greener -  "Its leaf"' shall be greener symbolizes the strengthening of our lives as we continue to walk the Christian walk and take root in our trust and hope in the Lord. This process takes a great deal of time and requires a great deal of patience and longsuffering. In the same way that a leaf goes through that process, our Christian walk is not going to be any different. The process is long, slow, and sometimes painful. When it's all said and done, our walk in the Lord will be something so miraculous and beautiful, that anyone who takes one quick look at you, they will notice something different. 

3)Shall not be anxious in the year of drought - When we place our trust and hope in the Lord, what is there to be anxious about? Philippians 4:6-7 has the answer for all of us. When that year of drought comes our way, we will be ready to weather any storm. Have you noticed how most of our hurricane-prone areas have plenty of palm trees? The roots of a palm tree run so deep into the ground that it doesn't just find a water source to remain strong, but it also finds bedrock to anchor itself in. That's only part of the reason why palm trees can stand in the most fierce hurricane that nature has to offer. Any coincidence friends? No coincidence whatsoever! When we are deeply connected to Jesus, our roots dig deep finding both the Living Waters and the bedrock (foundation) of our lives, Jesus. 


4)Neither shall cease from yielding fruit - Our fourth benefit epitomizes what it is like when we experience prosperity in every single area of our lives (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and yes, financially). As we remain faithful and true in our trust and hope in the Lord, we shall NEVER cease from yielding fruit. Matthew 7:16-20 tells us very clearly that YOU will recognize them by their fruits. What kind of fruits do you want to be known by? Vibrant and alive? Or dying and withering away? Personally, I like the first option better...:-). Here's one last verse for you to drive the message all the way home:

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. (Psalms 1:3)

I want to thank you all again for reading this far and am very excited for sharing more thoughts with you to instill inspiration, motivation, and challenge to "see" you become the kind of person that God delights in. Please, feel free to share your thoughts and share this post with your friends, family, and loved ones as God lays on your heart to do so. Are you ready to prosper in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? I hope so friends! I really do! May God continue to bless you and keep you in Jesus' mighty name! JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!!!...:-)





Friday, February 1, 2013

As Unto Christ!

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; (Eph.6:5)

As unto Christ...what does that mean? In laymen terms, it quite simply means that we acknowledge Christ in everything we say and do. Does that sound about right? This also brings up another valid question. How do we go about our day to day lives acknowledging Christ in everything we do? Here's what Ephesians 6:6 has to tell us:

Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

That sounds easy enough....right? Wrong! I must admit, I have often found myself trying to please others moreso than pleasing God. I will also openly admit that doing the will of God from the heart is also a pretty challenging thing to do too.  Is it impossible to faithfully find and do the will of God from the heart? Absolutely not! One thing that I have learned over so many years of walking the Christian walk is that I will not please everyone. Yet, it is more than possible to please everyone...ONE PERSON AT A TIME. We can accomplish this by simply being servants of Christ.

There are so many ways that we can accomplish this friends! Here's what Ephesians 4:11-12 will tell us:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

I love this verse because it provides us an outline of what kind of role God can plug us in or prepare us for as we walk further down the Christian walk. To execute these roles as unto Christ is a whole lot easier said than done. It requires a great deal of spiritual discipline and a laser-like focus on the task at hand. Whatever it is that God has called you to do to advance His kingdom here on Earth,  make sure you follow these three distinct "motivators":

1)For the perfecting of the saints.

2)For the work of the ministry.

3)For the edifying of the body of Christ

No matter where we find ourselves in life, whether it be in our personal or professional lives, as long as we are in Christ and we render ourselves and our work unto Christ, we will see significant changes in every single area of our lives that will not only impact our family and churches, but the community and hopefully the world at large.

Is YOUR heart's desire to be a "servant leader"?

Keep those three "motivators" in mind my friends and watch how God will use you in your sphere of influence!

Here's one last verse to encourage you friends!...:-)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Eph. 6:10)

Thanks again for reading this far my friends! It excites me, and more importantly, God Himself that so many of you from around the world are finding inspiration, motivation, and the occasional challenge to spur you on in your personal walk with God! My dear friends, YOUR success and blessing is also my success and blessing because we are one in Christ. I'm so passionate about Jesus and look forward to seeing how this blog will continue to transform the lives who read (and share...:-D) Christian Living with all of your loved ones. May God continue to bless you and keep you all in Jesus' mighty name! JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!!!...:-)