October 20, 2017

In times of both good and bad, shall we praise Him?….When life is not fair….(reflective thoughts)

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do you ever feel like things are good and certainly not bad, but rather in the middle of the road (just average and ordinary)? You coast along to see the blessings and events as the calendar passes by, wondering why you are not in your preferred occupation or even geographic location. The grass looks greener on the other side, but the current is too fast to swim to the other side of the river.

I, for one, believe that you can desire to better yourself and still remain grateful for the circumstances around you. Please realize in this entry that I am not referring to material wealth. Like many, I want to be comfortable and able to enjoy the many entertaining performances life offers in the arts, movies, trips, and many other recreational fun activities. When we do things, there is usually a financial cost involved.

That requires money which to earn requires some sort of employment. While a job should never define you as the person you are, I would hope that we enjoy our everyday existence, even if we do not love the opportunities before us. In other words, you like what you do, but you do not love it. Those who love their day jobs are truly perhaps the most blessed of all of us. I believe the journey to that occupation is a long fought road and battle.

While you can apply for the occupation of your pre-mediated dreams, that does not mean you will get it or even have a chance to interview.

We often seek to accomplish greatness in our own time, rather than God’s time. If you are anything like me, you might also struggle with impatience. You want things now. When I feel like I am not learning at an exponential rate, I am ready to move on to something where I see myself doing something to acquire new skills….forward to bigger and brighter days ahead. I often feel stagnant when I am not learning something new. Even more recently, with recent deaths in my family, I have been reminded why being close to home, where family and friends live, is important to me.

Even without a dream job in place, being where you want to be in location might be more fun than not being there. For instance, my nephews who live in Tennessee rarely live up to a dull moment. I constantly laugh and remember the joy in moments of family surrounding me. In comparison to a downtown metropolitan Atlanta, South Texas offers little in comparison with spiritual communities, live music, and even outdoor mountain adventures, such as climbing, hiking, or taking a natural landscape photograph.

When our situations are not ideal, do we still praise God? For me as a believer, it is much easier to praise God when I think things are going well for me. When I am not happy with my own personal present day position in life, I find it difficult to praise God for the good things around me.

While I would like to claim that I am an expert on the subject, I am still practicing the inclination to first praise God, in the less than ideal times of my life and even more so during the really bad times.

I believe we find peace when we come to God and release ourselves into His will. I do not think this means giving up on our dreams or even asking God for those big favors. However I do think we must be okay where we are, no matter what, even when leaders in our lives disappoint us with irrational decisions.

I wish I had a secret formula for my readers on how to just be content in the moment, no matter what is happening. While not complicated in any way, I just continue to live on, pursuing what I think God would have me doing. I look for areas of improvement constantly but also try to remember that we must smell the roses once in a while to remember what God has done for us.

I write. I exercise. I stay productive so I do not contemplate too much on the stagnancy of my feelings. I often hear that happiness is a decision rather than a state of feeling a special something. Wherever I find that special something called happiness, I am deciding to go to God for the peace of my own restlessness.

When we do not get our way, our reaction is sometimes to turn away from God, but that reaction is unproductive. When did you see a child kicking and screaming in the toy store receive the product worth the physical and emotional tantrum? That reaction most likely never wins the prize desired. I believe God blesses the grateful and praiseworthy attitude of a Christian who realizes He is always worthy of our attention. When we focus on Him with the simplest of lessons in the simplest of ways, then we start to learn. Then we start to grow. And perhaps then, we begin to move forward again in the direction we had hoped for all along.

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My Grandmother, Dot Cartee, In Passing and In Memory….The poem that shakes the southland!!!

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Over ten years ago, I wrote this message to my Grandmother Cartee (my father’s mother), who died late last night, February, 27, 2014. I will be writing about her memory over the next several days, but I believe this poem will serve as a reminder of how I remember her, as a college student and even now as a real world working adult.

To My GrandMa:
A Valentine’s Message!!!
February 14, 2003

Grandmother, you must know how special you are to me.
Your Christ-like desire to serve is what I love to see.
My back is starting to itch; can you scratch it?
I am getting so skinny; as Grandfather says, my jeans no longer fit.
But that’s okay; some don’t understand my own style.
Today I hope this rhyme sure makes you smile.
I have love to encourage; I love to see happiness in others.
I guess that is a quality that Grandsons inherit from Grandmothers.
Prayers to God, and his blessings He sends.
With my Grandmother, there never seems to be an end…
Cooking real good food, doing some laundry, getting some rest.
With love and support, I will always pass life’s long test.
More patient than perhaps I will ever be;
Thank you for being the person you are, and thank you for loving me.
Prayers I send to heaven, and let me tell you God will talk.
In His presence, I am starting to learn and walk.
Learning from his standards, learning from your ways,
Love thy neighbor as thyself; my name is James. My name is not Ray.
Common mistakes and common miscallings;
I know that you are there to catch me if I am falling.
To have my Grandparents still around, many would say this is not fair.
For me, I know you truly care.
Me and the man that I am are just about all I have to give.
With God’s love, I continue to live.
Through me, His blessings continue to be bestowed.
Every day I am taught, and every day I grow.
Only through Christ, sufficient Grace He gives so much of.
I hope through these Valentine words and actions that you know…
It is the person that you are that I love.

Your Grandson,
James III

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Doer, Dreamer, or In-Betweener? Which are you in the New Year? A Life Resolution?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

In the last thirty turbulent days of the year through the holidays, a mixture of emotions stir in my heart and in my mind, often with a blank stare at my mirror in the morning. I wonder about my life direction as this year ends and begins with 2013. I am especially fond of the number thirteen because I love Taylor Swift, and she loves me! My number one New Year’s resolution is to marry Taylor as soon as writes another song about us. She was wrong when she wrote those “we will never ever, ever, ever get back together” lyrics.

With this ridiculous fantasy aside, I believe that people fall into three categories daily, monthly, and then of course yearly: 1.) The Doers 2.) The Dreamers 3.) And The In-Betweeners. And as I ask myself who I want to be, I ask you the same.

What do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered with your legacy? Do you want to Do? Do you want to Dream? Or do you just want to chill In-Between the two realities as you feel like it?

Do you seek to raise your arms in the Glorified Presence of God? Do you want to watch television and sleep all day as a modern day Homer Simpson?

I am active as most know me in personality, but this year I especially want to work hard, real hard. An earth-shattering moment awakened my senses at the beginning of December that I really have only begun to dig into the potential God has in store for my future. I have only touched the surface of amazing blessings. If you are anything like me, I tire of living in complacency when I believe God means so much more for me in the realization of what we can do with Christ in us!

If we truly realize and pray for the power of Christ, our level-reaching potential overflows with a supernatural confidence to touch thousands and possibly millions of lives. That is the mindset of a Doer! A Doer does not limit himself or herself! A Dreamer stagnantly thinks about what to do next, never really taking that step forward! We all know those types – “I think I want to be this.” “I think I want to do that.” “I think God is calling me to do this.”

The only problem with thinking too much is you often get stuck with all the In-Betweeners who never walk forward with their life. An In-Betweener is close to the break of a Doer but remains stuck in place for many reasons, probably but not limited to the ideas of fear and what others think. Those two observations have been the largest hindrances in my relationship with God as a Doer, instead of just a Dreamer.

Seriously, as a believer in Christ, can you imagine the power of God alive in you with the Holy Spirit, rising through the magnification of your personal gifts? Superhero movies are not all fictional. We are capable of becoming the movement makers of this country when we realize Christ in a Joshua-Sun-Stand-Still moment!

This liberation is simply what I want (and of course hope and pray) for the church in 2013! I want Christians to rise with higher heights as Doers, not Dreamers, and certainly not stuck in the middle with the In-Betweeners.

To further grasp this concept, another visual imagery involves the subject interest area known as politics. Yes, I said that ugly word. I believe that most politicians fearfully remain in the middle of my diagram above In-Between to win votes and serve their own interests to keep office. Many loquaciously speak with big words as dreamers, but never live up to the level of a doer. I think fear inhibits leaders from often doing the right thing because they fear unchartered waters and new hard decisions that need to be made. I believe if a Christian politician truly understood the nature of Christ-filled-doing relationship with Jesus, then fear of simply occupying office for another day would no longer be their focus. Serving the people of this country would, one nation under God!

I certainly do not want to be thought of as the cliché negative term that comes with the word politician. I want to be a Doer for Jesus that chases with action my dreams with everything I have. I no longer want to live in the in-between moment. I want to bring the Kingdom to this earth, and most times that requires us to act with deliberation, without the pause of best wishes or a “that’s not my problem” attitude. This world need more Doers, and that is what is what I plan to be in 2013. That is my number one life resolution, not a New Year’s resolution, a life resolution! Rise up with Christ in 2013!

I WILL FIND you on my KNEES – First Day! New Transition!

“All I can is that John and I wanted more than anything to follow God’s will for us and our family. We had a holy fear of acting outside God’s will, so we agreed to pray that He would show us what that was.” – Kelly Rosati in her book, Wait No More (John is her husband).

I started my new job at the Southern Territorial Headquarters today, and I find myself refreshed by other like-minded people who tick like I do, focused on Jesus as believers in a collective group for Kingdom-building mindsets. After orientation, I found a card from someone in my office with the mention that she would be praying for me this week as I transition into this new career. I have long dreamed of a job that I do not beat myself up and over to drag out of bed to get by, simply for a paycheck. I feel awakened and encouraged to do this job and rise as I encourage others with a meaningful purpose for something bigger than myself. As many say, knock on wood, I may have found something in that passion area of public relations where I campaign and market for a cause I believe in. I find it mind-boggling (“Am I really here in Mid-Town Atlanta?”), a little nerve-racking (new job, new city, and knowing no one), and exciting (“Wow, this could potentially become something amazing!). All the thoughts combine mutually for a few hours of lost sleep and doubts creeping into my mind.

The decision to be and move to Atlanta is now made, and I am not looking back! I am a new creation with a new opportunity with individuals that obviously believe in my abilities to lead, create, and build the face of a reputable organization to the southern youth of America. In the midst of hardship and economic uncertainty, this generation could use more Jesus in any capacity. And I am glad to bring that message of hope to anyone through creative communications.

I keep thinking, “How did I get here?” I prayed to God, sometimes loudly stuck in the stagnancy of survival and routine with a Thank-God-Its-Friday job rather than Thank-God-Its-Monday job. With this phrase, I mean I want to be so excited to get back into the office I cannot hold or hide my excitement for what I love doing. I admit that I need to spend more time with God in His Presence, praying in thankfulness, reading the Word, and believing in the requests I make like this new position, PRAYERS ANSWERED!

Another analytic wonder is the blessings shown to me in a new full time opportunity of epic proportions and another part time opportunity possibly coming behind it. What further astounds me is the support and belief of my family. My father and mother have done everything, and I mean EVERYTHING to transition, to believe, to push, to inspire, and to encourage me with this move to a new city with a new career direction. While we have sometimes not always seen each other eye to eye on my own mental adversities, I owe my success with this new adventure to them just as much as I do God. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

I believe when you find God on your knees, God explodes blessings and favor into your life. Now please understand I do not just mean the routine legalistic bedside manner prayer. “God, please do this. Please be with this person. Please help me to sleep well. Please help me to be promoted. Please help me to pass this test even thought I never studied.”…..I mean when you really get down on your knees and say, “Okay, I am not sure where you have me or how you will have me, but here I am. Here are my true passions. Please place me appropriately where you will call me to obey you in line with these passions.” When you seek God with sincerity, He will answer your prayers with that same sincerity.

Like Kari Job says in the following song, I will find you on my knees! When you truly want something in change for God’s Kingdom, find it on your knees. Ask. And like me currently in shock, God will call you by name! I guarantee it! My life serves as living proof.

The Call From the Orphan – God’s Heart! Why Do Churches Hesitate to Rise Up?

I once heard Chris Hodges, Senior Pastor of Church of the Highlands, ask his 15,000 member congregation, “Do you know why some people are gay? I think I figured this paradigm out.” We all sat on the edge of our seats with the expectation of some Scripture revelation, the secret this long debated question about to be answered. Hodges continued, “I think it is because they are lazy.” The building audience erupted into laughter at his proclamation. He asserted that a relationship with the same sex was much easier than one with the opposite gender. I must agree that my guy friends and I never fight! I really cannot remember the last time I fought with a guy, seriously. I admit that a relationship with a significant female other is real hard work. I understand Hodges’ logic on some unusual levels. After his awkward moment of humor, Hodges began his Sunday sermon.

Does this same statement apply to churches that ignore the cause of the fatherless (in addition to the widow, the poor, the diseased, the underprivileged, and so on)? Are church leaders and passive congregational members lazy? Most will claim that the temptation to fall into complacency in Pop Culture Christianity is easy. How many people genuinely volunteer and serve in capacities outside of a Saturday Southern football tailgate? In my opinion with where I worked in the past two years (not the Salvation Army headquarters), most settle for each night’s schedule of sitcoms and sporting events on ESPN. Many don’t do anything outside of family and watching television for the local community and international relief. Even my own family is guilty of this epidemic on several accords. We conduct ourselves according to convenience.

I serve as the current Christian Alliance for Orphans State Coordinator for Orphan Sunday. I am responsible year round for gearing and managing events, seminars, discussion panels, and anything related to the cause of the fatherless, even radio interviews. We specifically focus on Orphan Sunday, November 4, with a concentration for a national and international movement where thousands come together for one day to stand for the orphan. The Christian Alliance for Orphans stands as a joint coalition of over one hundred organizations who commit themselves to save every orphan for the sole sake of God’s Glory. We were after all adopted by our Heavenly Father!

Recently I approached several churches in the Greater Birmingham metropolitan about participating on Orphan Sunday, November 4th. Between last year (2011) and this year (2012) with this annual celebration in advocacy for the orphan, I definitely received more “No’s” than “Yes’s,” sometimes even with simple requests for orphan-focused prayers, still to receive another “No.”  I even had ministers commit to events this year with their given word without following through, some things I worked hard on through my own free time through volunteering, only with nowhere to implement my hard work.  A great example of someone who fights for the orphan is Jon Walden, Executive Director and on air personality for Revocation Radio, a nonprofit radio station who plays Christian music that honors God, healthy for the ears of youthful listeners (as opposed to the cussing of gangster rap or any other colorful music).  Jon is interviewing five individuals over the air with leaders from five different orphan-related organizations. Walden remains busy with public appearances, youth rallies, a family, and his own mission with his nonprofit ventures. He makes the extra effort for the sake of ministry, not excusing the assistance with his own busyness with life responsibilities. Many could learn from his diligence for all the causes he stands for simply for the sake of Christ. Nothing more else motivates him so. Jon Walden rises to the challenge, and I wonder if other nonchalant ministerial leaders will do the same.

Another example to emulate as a country is Rwanda who seeks to eradicate orphanages, YES, THERE WILL BE NO MORE FATHERLESS in the next twenty years within this country! I mean no disrespect to this country or any other African country, but in the eyes of western politics, this is a third world entity. Countries with much more economical means stand still while those less fortunate pave the way for something many should have initiated a long time ago! Leaders in Rwanda have risen together as The Church to train citizens within their country to raise orphans. Rwanda does not ship their troubles to other countries. Internally they seek to improve as a country within their own borders. Nothing wrong exists with international adoption; however I am inspired when a country heals an epidemic for the fatherless at home, for example our failing foster care systems, which we still have yet to remedy in the United States.

While hosting events is not necessary with commitments, fighting and caring for the orphan worldwide is not an option. In fact, God commands it through His Biblical Word. For those of us who lack initiative, reference the following Scriptures:

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”

James 1:27 (NIV)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Exodus 22:22-24 (NIV)

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

John 14:18 (NIV)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Psalm 82:3 (NIV)

“Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

I think the question remains worthwhile to consider: Are leaders in ministry too lazy to fight for the cause of the orphan? The blessing and burden to carry the cause cannot fall solely on those who actually rise to acknowledge the world’s fatherless. The rise for change is not easy. Anything for the sake of Christ will never be easy. But leaders like Jon Walden step up to play for eternal reasons often beyond those who live more on earth than in heaven with human indulgence. I grow tired of fighting without the support of local church leaders. I challenge the next time a door opens for church leaders to rise, instead of offering lame excuses for why this conflicts with a year round sermon scheduled series, year after year ignoring our call to solve the problems of this world. If Rwanda can, I am confident any United States congregation can as well. It is time to stop the laziness and to work hard for God’s Glory. Together we can and together we will fight for the fatherless and end the orphan epidemic. It is not impossible! It is very doable! And if you make the decision to lead and take a stand, God will honor our hard work for His Heavenly Heart.

Personally seek to feel the CALL of the ORPHAN through this video about Orphan Sunday, 2012! We are adopted! God never abandoned us! And we should never abandon them, the fatherless!

Orphan Sunday 2012 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE! GREATNESS IS UPON YOU! ….my own rise in down times.

Ephesians 5:13-14 (NIV)

But everything
exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes
a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Have you ever sat in your cubicle wondering to God, “When will my time come to rise and fulfill my passions’? The battle of everyday survival floats around bills paid and the suppression of dreams. With the unwise decisions of leaders in this country, opportunity for young professionals appears dwindling! …the truth is it is!

I applied for at least four hundred jobs before something of true dreamlike essences patiently prevailed. I skimmed all over the country for hope where my day-to-day existence became more than routine. It became dreamlike. Eventually the monsoon rolled where the hard work snowballed. Each day brought a new surprise and phone call from a prospective life-changing moment. I am also almost complete with a three hundred page manuscript of my first major memoir, each chapter edited seven-ten times, a two year project in the making.

I faced the largest challenges and adversity when I felt no motion in my life, no momentum towards a given goal in my mind. I incline to feel the least motivated in life when I see no growth, no movement forward. At this moment in my life I never measure life monetarily as a single Christian but instead through growth to reach a level of leadership unprecedented by all before me. It is those who are most motivated who continue to do what they need to, even when they do not feel that motivation emotionally, or simply “just don’t feel like it.”

I cannot describe the sudden drive in my life or where it came from. However when I tasted a sweet notion of success and saw God’s work in my life, I wanted it all the more. I realized that many individuals, including me, wait to rise up. We can wait forever for things to look up, to feel better, or to achieve the dream constantly on our heart. NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE! We fail more than we succeed, but with each failure we step closer to success. As I tasted success with a recent life victory, then the failures faded into the background. We cannot forget the sweet tastes that come with a new job, an upper level graduation day, our firstborn child, our wedding day, or in my case, a first major book contract. Those successes push us to yearn for more, but not for ourselves, but rather for God’s Glory.

LATER IS NOT THE TIME! NOW IS! When you doubt where to start, just go! When I cannot think of a blog entry or chapter to write, the best strategy begins with just starting. Eventually while maybe not at first, meaningful words flow.

If you are like me, I am tired of sitting on the sidelines. NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE! ….not tomorrow but today, starting with simple progression through small steps. We bring world change one small step at a time until the snowball launches down the ski slope. On the 400th job application, we get that interview offer we want. And then we feel the rise and crave to rise in the moment this very day.

Through Christ, we are truly risen! With our personal resurrection, we already live in the light through salvation. Now with each blessed day, rise with me! Rise together! Rise up! Now is the time to rise! And with Christ, it is up to you! Do not procrastinate. Do not quit. Do not put the project down. Rise to become more and reach your fullest potential! …for that is the only place where God truly will have us!

Believe inspirational speaker, Eric Thomas, when you realize GREATNESS IS UPON YOU! This video WILL FIRE YOU UP! He coincidentally happens to be speaking to the Auburn football team. WAR EAGLE!

Can we make the wrong decision? Probably not in God’s Plan for our lives…

Today in all our prosperity calls for ministry, preachers talk more about the blessings, fulfillment of dreams, and good fortune cookies in pledges for purpose-driven lives. Please understand in my sarcasm I believe individuals should follow the desires of their hearts, but life happens. Things remain hard for most normal people unless born into luxury or the reputation of a successful mother or father who paves the way for a career. Most of us are not so lucky.

Our crashing economy no longer assists the situation because jobs we actually want remain sparse. Our present day political leaders make excuses and bad decisions that hurt the ability to attain a dream job we want to wake up each morning for. It has taken me almost two years after graduating with a reputable Master’s degree to have a choice of pursuing a career of genuine interest. I honestly underestimated how hard life would be after spending over six years pursuing an advanced education. While I initiate the work ethic, many want those dreams for free, handed to them, without putting forth the work ethic or trying their very best to get whatever it is they really want. Life does not work like that. That is like asking God to win the lottery without buying a lottery ticket. Faith requires action to actually ask and then move forward with each step to accomplish whatever it is you seek. The snowball effect takes time. With each focused step forward, the ball eventually gains momentum to roll downhill with a built reputation.

I recently decided to believe again with a few sudden unexpected setbacks. Sometimes you must just do. With no explanations and no excuses, choose to move forward, and once deciding to do so, never look back on the past and what previously hindered those dreams.

Some lecture that you must fulfill God’s specific calling for your life; however our journey brings forth options to pursue many. I do not believe that there is absolutely only one thing God meant for you to do with your life. God provided believers with the freedom of choice to choose our fate. Many of us are destined to change lives on an international frontier, but again most in life walk through without an absolute positive direction in God’s plan for their lives. Sometimes the best decision made involves stepping forward in faith to follow the flow of life. If God provides you with an epiphany, listen and obediently follow your heart, but it is okay if like many normal people you rarely have such divine moments. And I also believe it is okay if you choose to live an ordinary normal life, if content with the quiet choice to provide for a family and glorify God. There is nothing wrong with a decision to enjoy the simple things in life. Some aspire to rise to lead the multitudes for God’s Kingdom. And some choose to follow through with the basics of life with a contentious routine. On many occasions the simple choices and things in life brings about that most fulfillment. And perhaps the realization to enjoy the present moment makes everything else in life worthwhile, deciding to make the most of the cards God dealt.

Young and Talented – “Lost Dreams” featuring Kate Devick. Have you lost your dream? Find support in Relationship! Rise and Resurrect!

We continue our Young and Talented (YT) Hip Hop series with another of my favorite songs, Lost Dreams. If you missed out on the first of this series with the hit song, TOO FLY, click here for an official introduction to YT and his life-changing music (the first blog entry of the YT chronicles).

“It is kind of upsetting how I chased that dream, but I couldn’t quite catch it. It’s lost.” With the power of Christ in us….in me….in you, our dreams will certainly never become lost. However I believe YT’s lyrics hit home in that we all feel lost in pursuit of our dreams as we fall down again and again over and over. Failure is one of the most discouraging factors especially when as a theme in your life it never seems to go away no matter how hard you try. God’s Word claims that the testing of our faith develops perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)

I remember at one point in my life when I wanted to quit college, withdraw from UT-Chattanooga, and move back home with really no clear direction on what to do next. I recollect that I received a phone call on my cell from the Vice Chancellor of the School, Dr. Richard Brown, who mentioned the following: “We, the family, at UTC, certainly do not want to lose one of our best and brightest students. What can I do to make it work for your return this spring?” Our dreams and goals only become accomplishable through the assistance of others like Dr. Brown through support networks. I do not care who you are or what you have accomplished in life. We all hold our current positions only through the foundation and support of those around us some way, somehow, or in some fashion. Someone in everyone’s life supported, assisted, or helped him or her to accomplish in career, faith, or perhaps even our own spiritual journeys. You are who you are based on those you surround yourself with, friends, family, leaders, and mentors. Dr. Brown continues to mentor me as we catch up sporadically in life through email or over the phone or even sometimes over breakfast when I visit Chattanooga. He continues to serve as a reference while I seek further opportunities in life on a number of different levels. I guess he changed my life then and continues to do so now.

In regards to support with those you associate or surround yourself with, I know one person who lives for bar-hopping like a professional sport, drinking like a fish and bragging about it, versus those actively involved in the church with devout, firm, and stable relationships with others and God. The bar-hopper cusses like a sailor and really exists for self-satisfaction with a mediocre position at his present job. I would rather hang with those I know I will see in eternity rather than a smoke-filled room with individuals who seek to indulge our worldly desires and their own sinful nature, living for boozes and our desires of the body. Those I surround myself with in life define who I am with input and a shoulder to lean into. I want friends to remember the night before when they wake up the next morning with whatever transpired. I am not opposed to drinking. I am opposed to those who cannot control foolish, immature ways. I may still live at home, but I would like to think I act my age as a twenty-nine year old male. If easily influenced by those around you, I am not entirely sure dreams will come true. It takes a true confidence in God to become more, to stay the course, and face adversity with the grit to overcome it.

I love the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, because the movie resembles the resurrection experience that all true Christians face, recognize, and rise from. We trip. We fall. But as Bruce does best as Batman, we eventually rise as the hero of our own dream to possibly defend and protect what is most dear to us. Alfred never gave up on Bruce Wayne in the first movie, Batman Begins, as he almost gave up when Wayne Manor burned down due to the revenge actions of the League of Shadows (the group Wayne essentially caused the downfall of with the death of Ra’s al Ghul). Alfred as the best friend, father-figure, and protector to both Batman and Bruce reminded that “we learn to pick ourselves up.” As his adopted sons and daughters, God never gave up on you or me, and like Alfred in the Batman movies, the right friends never will either. We best succeed when reminded that when we fall, we continue to learn to pick ourselves back up. We rise to become stronger than ever before. Like Batman and like Christ, we resurrect through the adversity we face to reach the other side. Then we save the city and defeat evil villains, perhaps with a resemblance of spiritual warfare. Perhaps that is a blog entry for another day though.

Bruce Wayne: I wanted to save Gotham. I’ve failed.

Alfred: Why do we fall, sir? So that we can
learn to pick ourselves up.

Bruce: You still haven’t given up on me?

Alfred: Never.

As you listen to this music video, think about a low point you passed through. We all suffer from the thoughts of lost dreams, but when we reach for the sky with the right positive support and a God who loves us, calling us each individually home by our God-given name, we cannot and will not fail. Our dreams will never be lost. In fact, it is very inevitable that they will transform into our own reality. I encourage you to believe and pick yourself up because with each fall, we grow. And eventually with that growth, our time will come. Go, do, and seek to believe once again. Eventually our efforts catch up to fulfill whatever it is we hope for, desire, and seek to achieve.

YT (Dr. Mannheimer) currently teaches the subject of Sociology in Hip Hop Music and Culture at Florida State University. He continues to press forth with both his academics and music, apparently intertwined. I would say his dreams are anything but lost. He just had one of those “is it worth it?” moments that all of us have with the words and vision of this song and video. I guess he decided his dreams were absolutely worth it, and we will see just how many stadiums Andrew Mannheimer fills up with support from friends like me. I do believe with the God we worship anything is possible.

Follow @SuperYSuperFly on Twitter here.

View videos at the YTRaps1 YouTube channel.

The Conclusion of the Greatest Spiritual Series Ever! – The Growth Track

THE CONCLUSION!

This series applies to my life as much as it also applies to yours. I believe some of these steps will speak to you if you read the Scriptures and contemplate the main points. I seek growth in my life and witness as I focus more on eternal matters, doors seem to open, or at least I get leads for promising future ventures with a focus on God in relationship as my number one priority.

I pray that my readers become touched by my words and the hours I spend actually constructing words of inspiration as I struggle with my own journey for personal advancement.

I often rush through moments pressing on forward to the next goal in mind. I believe while chasing growth in opportunity this series also reminds me to slow down and appreciate where I am. I am in a good stable situation seeking doors to open. I believe that remains a much better situation than those who do without, those desperate for any way to provide. It is a matter of a paradigm shift to remain grateful for what you possess and have.

Pursue growth as I do, but also do not forget to enjoy the moment and what we have now. Our present moment often leads as a platform to the next endeavor closer to the dream we seek to accomplish. With all things considered, reach out, connect, and grow. After growth with roots planted, discover your passion with a definite focus on God. Pursue the dream and chase forward towards your eternal direction. Then I promise with obedience to God’s calling for your life, success is evident and inevitable. Sometimes it just takes time and a patience to wait on God’s timing.

The GROWTH Track Series – GO and DO! (Step Seven)

GO and DO!

If unfamiliar with my model here, click here to understand the introductory blog entry that explains my novel and original concepts that bring and promote growth through this track into your life by different means through the plan provided below.

I. Reach Out
II. Connect
III. Grow
IV. Discover Your Passion with a FOCUS on God!
V. Pursue the Dream

VI. Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction
VII. GO and DO!

Once you connect, grow, and discover your passions in the body of Christ at an individual and/or group level, I really think you will find your vision to pursue your life purpose. Of course, with time that certainly may change, but once found yourself in this capacity, then GO and DO whatever God calls you to! Realize the friends and family in the relationships you formed, reached out to, connected with, and grew into, will in good consciousness support you in your life’s journey when you go and do.

FIRST Relevant Scriptures for these sub-points

1.)    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

2.)    “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.” 1 Corinthians 14:3 (MSG)

A.) The Great Commission calls us to ALL nations.

Scripture in the New Testament calls us to reach out to every corner so that God’s Name becomes glorified. We are meant to travel in country and out-of-country to every corner where the Gospel has not yet reached indigenous peoples. Your passions in dreams rendered will determine if this is your dream to be had.

B.) God watches over us when we choose and pursue our calling through the Great Commission.

The Scriptures say and show we remain guarded by God’s protectors when we follow the calling portrayed before us in the Great Commission to do and go wherever we are led. Our guardian angels step into action so to speak. I believe if one has never traveled overseas for mission purposes that you should do so to open doors and become more like-minded in Christ. Our minds tend to open when we have seen beyond our front doors. The world suffers, and your life will be changed forever when you see it in person.

SECOND Relevant Scripture for these sub-points “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)

A.) The Good News perpetually spreads forward each and every time shared.

When we go and do, salvation continues with a pay it forward effect. Each person who receives the Gospel is likely to spread it to the next person. God’s Salvation is just that good and promising that we want to continue sharing it with others onward from the very moment we become saved.

THIRD Relevant Scripture for these sub-points This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious
standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.
That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.” Colossians 1:28-30 (MSG)

A.) God through Christ lives in every single one of us, and through Christ in us, we accomplish God-Size, Purpose-Driven dreams.

It is through Christ in us that we attain the Bigger Dreams through remembering the Bigger Picture. Christ lives in us as part of the Body, and our perfection through His Body in perfection gives us the means and power to achieve Greatness for Kingdom purposes. It is Christ in me that gives us the power to rise above and achieve.

The following are five more verses that I find relevant to discover your passions with a focus on personal growth and your own personal relationship with God. Make note and take to heart God’s Word here.

“Yes, Lord, walking inthe way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Daniel 12:3 (NLT) 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT)

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a  lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your
Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

I believe we are meant to follow the steps of the growth track to go and do whatever God calls us to. I also believe we are most fulfilled when we follow God’s calling for our lives. It takes an extra grit and mile worth of work to achieve dreams. I am learning that as I grow older I must almost work twice as hard to separate myself apart from the rest of the pack. Personal success for me involves growth and progression in the pursuit of my dreams. This growth came to me this year as I turned thirty working each level of Scripture to pursue where I know I need to be.

These three videos creatively illustrate concepts of going and doing your mission through The Great Commission. The videos ask relevant questions and are extremely short. I think you will find them relevant to struggles we face every day as we seek to shine through with Christ-likeness in commonplace environments.