16 Oct , 2019
This morning on the way to work, I prayed blessings for my enemies (by name) and loved on them! I’ve actually been doing this a lot lately; praying! Praying for people who conspire against me; the ones who try to use me.
Take a look at this difficult scripture meant not for the enemy, but the ones who call themselves Christ-followers.
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.Luke 6:27-36 (ESV)
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Red Letter words that we often forget about coming from the mouth and heart of Jesus. Verses 32-36 got me really hard in my feels today as I was thinking about the last few months. Some really hard and challenging text to read but even more so to live. Loving our enemies is important as we mature in Christ and establish his kingdom in our life and on Earth.
Remember the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Kiss of Judas was met with the heart of friend. How could it be in that moment, that Judas the betrayer, was indeed friend. I often wonder about the passion of Christ to know by name and deed, the one who would betray him. To know that the person he had spent 3.5 years with would betray him. To understand fully that when he recruited Judas as a disciple, he would be signing his death warrant. But Jesus still showed up everyday. Jesus still encouraged, befriended and defended. It is the posture of a “true friend” to love no matter the offense or offender. We can learn a lot from the motives and actions of Jesus.
Loving our enemies DOESN’T mean that there aren’t real issues going on or that the problem is fixed and swept under the proverbial rug. It means that we move forward, walk in forgiveness, and ultimately turn them over to God. That every pain, hurt, disappointment, and struggle is now in the hands of God.
So yeah.. I loved my enemies today and everyday. Prayed for them by name. I have even blessed them and their endeavors.
1 Nov , 2017
A journal entry of some of the quotes, tweets and statuses that have wrecked my over the past month. I will try to jot them down and let you in on the insight God is speaking to me. Some will be from well-known people, some are friends of mine but ALL are worthy of mentioning and deeper soul-processing.
“Talent and charisma may get you there, BUT integrity and character will KEEP you there!” – @jcworley
Reminds me that my character matters more than my skills and personality. How well I live our the character of my life, speaks greater volumes to keep me in line and aligned.
“In scripture, God repeatedly shows us the assigned vein connected directly to His heart. This vein is JESUS and all things flow through Him.” – @jcworley
Just pierced…. stay connected to the vein!
“Reminded today that our adversity can be our advantage. May our opposition and resistance cause us to rise and soar to new heights.” – @JasonTLaird
The people that rise against you, are there to to make sure you rise up (shoutout to the Falcons). Maybe to adversity plays a bigger role in our promotion than we wish to give credit to. #EmbraceTheResistance
“Unity values togetherness over preference.” – @isaacgross
There is by far no better statement for our culture today than these word. It (Unity) is the pressing prayer of Jesus before his ascension to heaven. We need unity not just as a nation but as believers and followers of Christ Jesus. Burn the preferences, and build together.
“Small minded leaders bash other leaders. BIG leaders promote other leaders, of all sizes, even those “more popular” than them.” – @chrisdurso
Much needed wisdom for leaders no matter the sphere of influence or sector. This will be the test to see if one goes to the next level in leadership
“Speak to people’s heart way before you decide to speak to their actions.” – @LandonPickering
THIS is for everybody — pastor, young preacher, Christian, church children’s volunteer, usher, and accountant. A leader told me a long time ago that… “relationship earns me the right to speak into people’s life.”
“The love of God compels us.” Oh to live motivated, compelled, and controlled by the Love of God alone.” – @billyhumphrey1
The radical love of God pushes us forward… this is the mandate to live by. All we do is from and by an overflowing love from God. Live in the overflow.
29 Sep , 2017
I want to start something new called The Collection. This will be a journal entry of some of the quotes, tweets and statuses that have wrecked my over the past month. I will try to jot them down and let you in on the insight God is speaking to me. Some will be from well-known people, some are friends of mine but ALL are worthy of mentioning and deeper soul-processing.
“Life is all about Jesus and his love for you. Can you think of anything more amazing than that?” – @JudahSmith
Jesus is the centrality of all of life. You and I are the focus of his affection. NOTHING is more crucial and critical in all of life. The thoughts, joy and love he has for us is greater than anything we could ever imagine.
“Make room for God in your life… He’s about to do something greater than you can imagine and better than you deserve.” – @chadcveach
This ministered to me about carving out “God space” in my life so that God can invade. The things he wants to do is great than I can ever dream and better than what I needed. He is up to something big
“Suffering is not an obstacle to you being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before.” – @LeviLusko
As if to say, enjoy the suffering Corey, its a part of the process of utilization.
“We have been called by an eternal God to do something that will outlast us.” @RealJohnGray
The things God wants to do in and through me will outlast me. So its not just momentary its everlasting.
“Failure to honor those that have poured into you neglects the seed. Neglected seed negates harvest.” –@pastorjohnathan
Deep. If I ever fail to honor people who have invested in me, I have essentially neglected the harvest the Lord was trying to spring up. This is why we have to cherish every seed that is planted in us so that we can cherish the harvest when it manifests. ***May need a separate journal on this one alone
“You can’t choose your storm but you can choose your spirit.” – @richwilkersonjr
While the storms of life are not by choice… my stance, attitude and spirit are. How I choose to endure the storm is solely in my hands. Will I leverage the storm for my advantage.
“THE CHURCH IS NOT A POLITICAL MOVEMENT, IT IS A KINGDOM MOVEMENT. WHICH IS MUCH BIGGER, AND MUCH MORE COMPREHENSIVE.” – @grantpankratz
As a church, we are about God’s Kingdom and not the political systems of this world. Our heartbeat and movement is of kingdom authority.
“God isn’t building his kingdom, he’s building his church. And the church is expanding his kingdom!” – @JasonDaughdrill
The mission of the church is to expand the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is already built, and is now being enlarged by the church that he is building. Remain faithful to the Master Architect in the process of construction.
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy” – @robertmadu
Stop the games of comparison… its a thief and robber of your joy. Joy in who I am and what I am doing dispels comparison.
leadership, Pastor Chad Veach, Pastor Corey Gibson, Pastor Grant Pankratz, Pastor Jason Daughdrill, Pastor John Gray, Pastor Johnathan Key, Pastor Judah Smith, Pastor Levi Lusko, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr, Pastor Robert Madu
28 Jul , 2017
This journal series was co-written with Pastor Corey Gibson. See what he says about #TCGWKY in Round 1, Fight! of the series.
In just the last few years, I’ve been in three distinctly different seasons of life and ministry. I’ve been in the role of leading a ministry that was “small”, I’ve been in the wilderness of transition, and I’ve been in the driver’s seat of a nationally recognized movement. The idea that the spirit of comparison is exclusive, or even stronger, in any season is just as rich of a lie as that destructive sirens’ promise that better grass exists. When I worked with a small ministry, I wanted to be in a bigger one. When I was in transition, I just wanted to be wanted, the way I felt everyone else who had a platform was… wanted. And when I had somehow “arrived” into my dream position, piloting a ministry that had influenced me for years, I was still just as empty and green as I had ever been. Shades of inadequacy and hues of envy colored the way I viewed everything.
I have watched friends fall at my left side and brothers abandon calling at my right hand. And in my most vulnerable moments, I can tell you that the same spirit has not just come nigh my dwelling, she has kissed my ear on my own couch as I gaze into an iPhone wondering when I will ever “matter”. She has taken my place in bed, next to my wife, while I pace through hallways and try to develop ideas like adding rungs onto a proverbial ladder. I’ve read enough books, listened to enough podcasts, and heck even preached enough sermons about not comparing peoples highlight reels to your life. It’s easy to say “Amen” to, but seemingly impossible to escape.
I chased success like some mythical white beast, that was always just far enough from my hands that I would never really reach it. I found myself constantly pursuing something other than the pursuer, and you simply can’t live like that. All in all, I found myself subscribed to the idea that working harder was the answer. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, but my every movement became about proving
something to someone. I didn’t care much who it was, but I had an intrinsic need for validation that was achingly insufficient – all because my life didn’t look like the Instagram feeds that I had idolized. All because twitter followers somehow eluded me but migrated to everyone else. Because I couldn’t for the life of me gain a blue check on Facebook. Because I only got to speak at four camps per summer, and not ten.
There’s a reason it feels like you are always chasing… running and gasping for each breath, holding your ribs in exhaustion. Because comparison NEVER wants to you to know satisfaction. No matter how big the ministry, how influential your social clout, how perfect your airbrushed photos are, there will always be another dying star that vies for your attention. And if we do not make a conscious choice to abdicate comparison’s power of our life we will make our spiritual dwelling in the slums of rejection.
Why? Because comparison and rejection are winning dance partners, and our western-progressive-Christian minds are the ballroom. A month ago, I found myself back in this place of transition. This time not just in employment, but in calling, in residence, in economic status, what felt like every aspect of life. At the pinnacle of this change, I laid in bed one night for hours listening to the same song on repeat. “I’d rather see your stars explode” by a band called Slaves. (If you’re some hyper-purist, don’t listen, they aren’t even remotely a Christian band). But I lay there incessantly hitting “play again” all for a three-line bridge towards the end of the song where the singer says, “I’m gonna show what I’ve got left. You haven’t even seen my best. Just wait.” Somehow without me even noticing, years’ worth of rejection began surfacing and I found myself weeping, gritting my teeth and bitterly declaring those three lines of lyrics over and over again
All of that to say this, the comparison had made me believe that I would never live without being in someone else’s shadow. A predecessor, a successor, an illegitimate idol who fits into skinny jeans better than I ever have hopes for, the list goes on…
That night I made a decision that the world would see my best. No matter what it took. I persuaded my own heart to trust that I still had something left inside to offer. The only way we kill comparison is regaining security in our God-given identity. Mine is different than yours. And it’s different than my wife’s. It’s different than the pastor with 12,000 followers and it’s different than the guy’s who preaches in a living room for 12 people. We must come to a place where we unashamedly embrace our differences, where we celebrate the favor of God on our friends and on our rivals, where we cancel our premium subscription to Satan’s lies and rejoice in who we are as children of God. I’m more and more convinced daily that genuine revival and comparison cannot cohabitate. The reason is, revival and comparison are at war for who gets the glory. If we authentically desire a move of God, comparison must die.
Johnathan is a national speaker and church consultant with a passion for training leaders to “make things better. always.” With 13 years experience in ministry, Johnathan now travels spreading fires and coaching pastors, leaders, and volunteers to understand that revival is a choice. He is a husband to Andrea, Dad to Israel, and Unashamed Skylanders collector. Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Website
10 Jul , 2017
This month marks 13 years in ministry as an adult. In the past 13 years, I have learned a lot and wanted to share with my readers and friends some of the greatest leadership principles and life lessons I’ve learned. Not by any means am I saying that I am perfect in all of these things, but it’s something that I am consistently doing or improving in. All of life is a process of and for growth…
13 in 13, Chad Beach, Chris Hodges, COREY GIBSON, Daniel Gray, featured, God, Jesus, Joy, Judah Smith, leadership, Louie Giglio, Love, pastor, Pastor Corey Gibson, Prayer, Resting In God, Robert Madu, worship
24 May , 2017
— LORD —
Even if today didn’t go as planned,
and if it’s not at all what I hoped for,
and if we’re not yet quite what we hoped,
and if I’m not yet quite “there yet”,
and if life’s not unfolding to our Plans
and if the diagnosis is not great
and if the forecast is not good
and if not… and if not… and if not…
YOU STILL ARE. You still are GOOD and still GOD… even if it all goes well.
And I will be the person who will still… rest in you.
The person who will still worship during the darkness of night.
“and if not — He is still Good. He is still God… He is still faithful. So I’ll just trust wholeheartedly, wait faithfully, and keep moving forward towards Jesus.” IT IS WRITTEN, AMEN! – inspired by Daniel 3:17-18
Definitely learned this one over the years… Jesus is still good and faithful despite it all.
4 Apr , 2017
Guest Blogger, Michael Vanden Berge shares some candid thoughts on authentic love.
If I talk a lot about God, the Bible, and Church, but I fail to ask about other people’s needs, I’m simply making a lot of empty religious noise. If I graduate from theological seminary and know all the answers to questions you’ll never even think of asking, and if I have all the degrees to prove it … and if I say I believe in God with all my heart, soul, and strength, claiming to have incredible answers to my prayers, but I fail to take the time to find out what makes others laugh and why they cry, I’m nothing. If I sell an extra car and some of my books to raise money for poor starving kids somewhere, and if I give my life for God’s service and burn out after pouring everything I have into the work, but do it all without ever once caring about the people, the real hurting people—the moms and dads and sons and daughters and orphans and widows and the lonely and forgotten—if I pour my life into the Kingdom but forget to love those here on earth, my energy is wasted, and so is my life.
Here is what love is like … genuine love. God’s kind of love. It’s patient. It can wait. It helps others, even if they never find out who assisted them. Love doesn’t look for greener pastures. Love doesn’t boast. It doesn’t try to build itself up to be something it isn’t. Love doesn’t act in a loose, immoral way. It doesn’t seek to take, but it willingly gives. Love doesn’t lose its temper. It doesn’t keep changing its mind. Love doesn’t think about how difficult the other person is, and certainly, doesn’t think of how it could get back at someone. Love is grieved deeply over the evil in this world, but it rejoices over truth. Love comes and sits with you when you’re feeling down and finds out what is wrong. It empathizes with you and believes in you. Love knows you’ll come through just as God planned, and love carries on to the end. It doesn’t give up, quit, diminish, or go home.
Love perseveres, even when everything goes wrong and the feelings leave and the other person doesn’t seem as special anymore. Love succeeds 100 percent of the time.
That, my friend, is what genuine love is.
My friend lets pour out His love onto others. Let’s make Jesus look good, for he is that good.
21 Mar , 2017
***Posted this on my Facebook last Friday and wanted to go into some more detail.***
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God DID NOT LEAD them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the SHORTEST route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” — Exodus 13:17
Sometimes the shortest distance and timeframe is not the best. A wise person once said,”if it’s easy to obtain, it’s easy to lose.” If the people would have gone on the main road (shortest distance) towards the promise land, they would have been easier to spot from Pharaoh… hence face opposition and return to slavery. Often times, the waiting process or journey proves the character and integrity not just of the person, but of the calling.
Young Person & Leaders – Our calling is worth the extra mile… worth not shortcutting or cheating our way, worth the necessary process, and worth the learning experiences. We have a God who will lead us and direct the path. Trust the narrow road he has us on. Psalm 16:11 & Psalm 37:4-5 proves so true, in times of doubt, struggle and taking the “main road” of life.
This reminds me of my favorite poem by Robert Frost entitled “The Road Not Taken.” I wonder how easy it would have been for the people of Israel to take the main road. How much time it would have saved them. I think often how easy it is for us today to go the simple and easy route in life. Life usually presents us with 2 choices – the choice of ease and the less resistance or the choice risk and pressure.
I love how even in Robert’s poem at the end he says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” This man is faced with a decision to either go where few have been or trot down the beaten path. His decision was to choose the road that only a few have gone, and for him, that made all the difference.
Whatever journey in life you are on… know that God is with you and he has you on the best path for your benefit and for his glory.
17 Nov , 2016
Over the last 12 years in ministry, I have faced the dreaded pain of life. The Pain of death, failure, betrayal, and lack. This pain cuts deep but was a part of the process, that God has me on. Pain is a part of ministry and leadership. It’s a reality that must work its course. If you are drawing breath right now, you will go through some kind of pain.
It’s not easy to deal with but it is needed for the journey God wants to take us on. It teaches us wisdom, resiliency, faith, hope and to have tough skin. The necessity of pain is shaped by our experiences in life. Pain doesn’t just show up for no reason; it’s a sure sign that something needs to change.
We have all heard of the old saying that “what doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger,” or “pain is gain” — both are true and Biblical. A.W. Tozer says it this way about pain and trials of life:
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
There was a man in the Bible who was all too familiar with pain, anguish, and the tears of life. This man found himself in a garden alone, after living a holy and blameless life, betrayed by a friend and tired. He spent that time in the garden crying and feeling the proverbial weight on his shoulders as he will soon carry the sins of mankind upon his back. Knowing fully well that his father for a moment would turn his back on him and his impending death for a crime he did not commit was near. This man, of course, is Jesus and this reality surrounds his death by crucifixion. But it lends us 1st hand experience into how to deal with pain.
Pain will either propel you to your destiny or cripple you in being stagnant… the choice in how you respond is solely yours. Jesus could have decided that he wasn’t going to endure the cross (pain). He could have allowed his flesh and human nature to take over his deity. We know with any doubt that if this choice was made, he would have never reached his full earthly potential and destiny (earthly – to atone for sin as the perfect sacrifice, making us sons & daughters of God, the Father).
Practical Ways to Deal With Pain
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 | That’s why we are not discouraged. No, even if outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are being renewed each and every day. This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, because we do not look for things that can be seen but for things that cannot be seen. For things that can be seen are temporary, but things that cannot be seen are eternal.
1 Peter 4:12-13 | Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
2 Corinthians 7:8-11 | For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point, you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
26 Oct , 2016
Two hundred and fifty… that’s 2-5-0. 250 rejection emails. About 5 years ago, I wrote a blog/journal entry about Rejection being my biggest weakness/struggle and learning how to deal with it. Over these 5 years, I have received 250+ emails (sitting in a folder marked “I’m Weak, That’s Okay“) of rejection, with 50 coming since March when I resigned my position in Kalamazoo, MI. That is just emails and not including phone calls, unanswered/unresponded applications or snail mail. I think for me, what’s hard to come to terms with is that while I know it’s not personal, just business & “ministry” — I still take it personally and feel the weight of it all. And while encouragement from friends & family is needed and good, at times it’s not what I want at the moment. For me personally, I am looking for someone to simply respond beyond church rhetoric & Christianese.
If I hear another person say, “well it wasn’t meant to be, God has a better plan!” I am going to go crazy. Duh!!! I am fully aware that God is in control AND I know what the Bible says. Where has the Church gone wrong with all this Christian “pharisaical” babble. Whatever happened to weeping with those who weep and laughing with those who laugh. Our job is to encourage, and not to say stupid things that really doesn’t help people’s situation!!! We cannot lose our compassion in an effort to handout Bible verses. We have to be better listeners and show grace & love in how we respond. Without grace & love, these Bible verses are merely words on paper, filled with confused noise.
I have come to grips that man’s rejection only means that God has something bigger, better and beneficial for me! I have been in a season (for awhile) where God has been teaching, renewing and redefining who He is as a Father and what true faith is. Not this simple level of faith that we hear talked about but a deeper & stronger level of faith, that is actually lived out.
Back at the beginning of March, I remember sitting at conference table with 4 of my friends (pastors, lead staff @ the church in Michigan) letting them know of my church resignation (due to things on their end) and feeling the sting, weight, and emptiness of leaving people I love. In those moments, I was very emotional and had a lot of questions, doubts of calling, loneliness and uncertainty. That moment then has turned into this moment now 6 months later! Same questions, same thoughts, and same emotions. These were people who I had left my family/friends back in Atlanta, went broke to relocate, and became a part of their life. Their family/friends became mines, I engaged in their culture and trusted wholeheartedly. And at that table, that day in March, all I could think about were these questions to God: “What was the purpose?“, “Are we they YET?”, and “What & where is the Good being worked out?” // Through no fault of my own, I felt the full weight of rejection even though I wasn’t rejected. An all too familiar pain that is deep. And now once again, I’m feeling the weight of it all and simply just tired. Tired of the ups & downs, tired of the struggle, tired of the no’s, tired of the pain… just tired!
This isn’t a journal to get you and even myself into all the feels.. just me expressing what’s in my heart and getting it off of my chest. In this, I feel like Joseph. A man who had a vision from the Lord but was rejected by his family. He too gets pull out of the pit and placed in prosperity only to have that taken from him. Due to no fault of his own, he ends up in jail. In jail, after being rejected by people he helped, he has another vision interpreting the King’s dream. From there, he is propelled out of the jail to the #2 person in charge of an entire kingdom/country and saves the same family who rejected him. The main verse I got out of this reality of Joseph was simply this:
As for you, you meant evil against me, BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:20
I am eagerly awaiting God’s promotion and trajectory into His glorious splendor he has for me. Until then, I wait patiently with joyful courage, working on my character, learning life’s lessons, continuing in love & grace and speaking of Jesus. Psalm 105:19 says this, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested
Joseph’s _______ character.” Beloved, you and I are the blank. Whatever you are going through… trust that he is working out the details. If he promised it to you, know that his heart equals his hand.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. -Proverbs 16:9
And so, I said all this to say… I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S NEXT. I don’t know if ministry vocationally is where God wants me. My trust is in that what & where ever the Lord leads, it will be WORTH IT ALL. Every pit, every jail/prison experience, and every situation are worth it all in the grand scheme of things that the Lord has for me. For he who promised is faithful!