Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can’t stop crying inside

Who would have thought that another date would be burned into our national conscious? Not since 9/11 has an event completely halted our nation. Our president was visibly moved and all of us parents cringed as our hearts melted with the horrible revelations of what had taken place while we were going about our busy little lives.... on 12/14/12........

You can tract back through my blogs and that is the only proof that I have been saying that something terrible is about to happen. I could feel it and I’ve been praying ever since.

When the hurricane devastated New Jersey and New York, I still somehow knew that this was only the beginning. I kept praying and kept calling our church family to pray.

Now we have 27 more reasons to pray. A lot of the joy has been taken out of the upcoming holiday season. Although it will be a little bit more meaningful for those who still have their loved ones around them.

I called a special ‘Processing and Healing’ prayer gathering last Sunday so we could work through this together as a church family. I wanted to give everyone permission to mourn in their own way. Then we gathered all of our broken pieces and worshipped God together.

It was not a spectacular moment, but it was a real one.

For my family, the whole year has been like the last weekend. We lost a dear, dear, spiritual son. My brother had a heart attack. My mother had a mild stroke. My sister had an episode with her heart.

I’m thankful and I’m grateful. At the same time, I’m very somber. I feel there’s more to come if we don’t engage in this spiritual battle and pray.
How many will join with us and pray? How many will wait until it strikes close to home before they pray?

I can’t stop crying inside. My heart is overwhelmed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Positioned for Victory

If you ever played chess and you were victorious in a match, you will understand what I mean in this blog. There is a moment when you realize you have successfully maneuvered around the board to trap your opponent in a no-win situation. The match is over and it’s only a matter of time before you can declare it.

Right now I’m referring to that moment just before you declare check mate. You have strategically given up pawns and various pieces, baiting your opponent to move their pieces to positions that will benefit you in various moves that you have already played out in your head.

Right now, that’s how it feels regarding my family and the Urban Life Church ministry in Harrisburg.

For more than eight long years, God has been moving us, and shifting pieces, sacrificing the plans and strategies that we once held dear, to position us for the right place, with the right people, and the right time to reveal His glory and touch this community in the ways He revealed to us so many years ago.

There is a gleam of delight in the eyes of the Lord because his opponent has moved his pieces in the exact places that HE desired. God allowed His opponent to capture various pieces that seemed like painful losses to us, but the Lord had a greater victory in mind.

God was so many steps ahead of His opponent that this entire match was already won from the first move.

I feel something deep in my spirit right now. Our nation sits at a fiscal cliff. People’s hearts are failing because of fear. Discouraging news roars loudly every day and night on television and in cyber space.

Yet, the Lord is moving us and all of His people into key positions. We will find ourselves in the perfect position for the Lord to declare, “Checkmate!” as He makes His final move.

I’m so glad to be on the winning side.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Writing for a Generation That Doesn’t Read

I must admit that I was very discouraged a couple of years ago because I found myself in the position where my purpose seemed meaningless. I woke up to the realization that I was a writer in a generation that hardly ever reads.

Imagine the defeat in my heart. All my life, all I wanted to do was write. Then when the time of life arrived to fulfill that dream, I woke up to a world where it’s all about the visual, the sound byte and the mind-blowing special effects.

First, the Lord had to encourage me by telling me something that I will never forget. These words came to my heart, "EVEN IF NO ONE READS YOUR BOOKS, THAT STILL DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT A WRITER. You are still a writer even if no one reads another thing that you write. You would still be a prophet if no one listened to or believed you. You would still be a preacher if no one attended the church."

God let me marinate on that one for a few months.

The next word of encouragement involved a simple change in strategy. Instead of trying to put all that I write in books, the Lord sent the wisdom to put my writings within my weekly teachings and then video record the teaching sessions.

With that in mind, I began embedding more visuals and graphics into the teachings by incorporating Power Point presentations for the sermons.

We worked through several months and taught from our Nuggets of Wisdom book and divided the recordings into nearly 100 video clips. My wife and I methodically paced through several months and taught from our marriage and family book. This produced almost 40 video clips.

That's how I successfully expanded my expressions beyond books. To date, we have posted well over 600 video clips and we now have a steady stream of video clips going out to cyberspace almost daily. Every clip represents, in some way, a small piece of the writings we have been publishing over the past three years.

Yes, there are still quite a few people around who will actually pick up our books and physically read them. We truly appreciate them. We make most of our reading material available, FREE of charge, on our ministry website. However, the majority of our audience have connected with us through the visuals and the short sound-bytes.

It’s amazing how a change of strategy followed my change of heart. God had to remind me that a writer is a writer regardless of public response. However, as a writer in a new era, I had to change the way I was trying to reach my audience.

This was a valuable lesson and I hope it inspires someone else who may be wondering what they must do to reach people in this technology-driven, cyber space oriented generation.