OVERCOMING FEAR

One of the biggest hindrances to taking steps is fear. The fear of failure, rejection and loss are some reasons why we put a stop to advancing our careers,  businesses, relationships and even our spiritual walk with God. Fear is the mother of all limitations and if it is not dealt with, it can have adverse effects on our lives in general.

We all have fears and anxieties about things, it is part of nature,  however,  our response to our fears is what determines whether we move ahead in life or not.

The bible tells a story about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus experienced tremendous amount of fear and anguish.

Matthew 26:36-39 says ” Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.””

Notice how Jesus dealt with His fear of going to the cross, first, He acknowledged His anguish and then confronted His fears. He did this through prayer.  Sometimes, it is ok to admit our fears but we must not stop there, we have to face it with prayers to God for help. Prayers take our eyes from our fears and focuses them on God who is able to deliver us from fears.  In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us pray to God when we are afraid and allow His peace to reign in our lives (I paraphrase).

Secondly, Jesus relied on a support system in this period of anguish, He had His disciples with Him and reached out to them to join Him in prayer. Friends, you will not overcome your fears alone, you will need God and a strong support system to help you overcome your fears. Also, when you are afraid, that is not the time to isolate yourself, that is the time to surround yourself with good friends/mentors that can help you.

Finally, Jesus understood that God was able to assist Him so He committed His fate and will in God’s hands and just rested in the final outcome. If there is any consolation, bible scholars tells us that the word “Fear Not” appears 365 times in the bible, one for each day.

God is on your side and He will help you overcome your fears. We just have to see that the images conjured by our fears are not reality but there to intimidate us. Have faith instead of fear in positive images produced by God’s word we will find it easier to take steps. So fear not and take steps. God bless.

Decision for Today: Lord I cast my cares, fears and worries on you, for you are able to help me.

Question for Today: What are you afraid of?

ONE STEP

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Every accomplishment begins with a step. Every vision begins with a step, every made 3-pointer begins with a step (reference to NBA finals). The path to greatness begins with one step. Your future with a loved one, will begin with one step.

We all have dreams and aspirations that come to us unexpectedly, they are not cajoled or forced, these dreams simply come to us because somehow, the initiator of our dreams (God) believes that we are able to carry them out.

The issue is that these dreams or visions are sometimes relegated to the background or ignored because of their magnitudes. Many times, we retire to our inner consciousness basking in the solace of our weaknesses.  We seek outlets to relay what is brewing in our minds but we stay afraid because we feel that our dreams may not come to pass.

“What is the essence of vocalizing our dreams if we can’t accomplish them?” we ask.  This mindset causes us to recoil to the mundane, creep back to “average” and “sleep” in mediocrity. We keep quiet, as though frozen by our fears and refuse to take steps towards the goal.

Dreams or visions only have legs when we take steps. No matter how grandiose or out of this world your dream is, it’s accomplishment will always begin with one step. Friends, there is always a step to take towards your goals and regardless of how little it is, it will yield much at the end.

In  Matthew 14:25-30 the bible says the following:

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Imagine this scenario, the disciples where on a boat, it stormy and windy. Then they see a figure approaching them. It’s Jesus, He is literally doing the impossible by walking on water. Peter figures, he could do the same, so he calls out for permission to walk on water.

Jesus never discouraged him from coming out of the boat, meaning that the impossible is possible with God especially when you call out to Him. What happens next defies gravity.

Peter climbs outside the boat and with the wind blowing, he takes a step. He walks on water like Jesus and was doing fine until he took his focus a way from Christ. Peter did not deny himself the experience of walking on water because he took a step.

Friends, you can do the same today. Don’t delay accomplishing your goal because of it’s magnitude, take a step towards your dreams. God bless

Decision for today: Lord, help me with strength, courage and boldness to take a step towards my goals today.

Question: What step can I take towards my dreams, goal, visions ?etc.

What’s In Your Garbage

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I was going through my room the other day, cleaning and re-arranging. I don’t like clutter and lately I have made a serious effort to end clutter in my room. As I shredded pieces of old receipts, magazines,papers etc, I came across a little box. The box was in good shape and had a loving multicolored design on it. The only thing was that since we got it, I don’t remember this box been used that often. So I did what came naturally to me and tossed it in the garbage.

As I did that I heard my spirit tell me, ” Just because you are not using it now, doesn’t mean you can’t use it later.” Wow, I thought about that for a quick second and then went back to  the trash bin and pulled it out. You see, we all have things in our lives we mistakenly call garbage, we take a good look at them and immediately lock them up in the vaults of our lives instead of being used outside.

For example, every one of us have experiences, pains, weaknesses, friends etc that we are so quick to discard simply because we feel like they are not relevant to us today. We conclude that nothing good can come out of this because we fill like it can’t bless any body. However, we can find many treasures in our “trash,” if we are patient and willing to let God use it. You see, God abhors waste and He will never waste our “garbage.” He has the uncanny ability to sift through the garbage of our lives and bring out the best in us. He sees treasures in you that if you were to simply look through the prism of His love, you will see the same as well.

I am immediately reminded of Apostle Paul in the bible, who said the following:

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength,that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. “[1 Tim 1:12-16 NIV]

So friends what’s in your garbage, don’t undermine what you have. It may look insignificant to you but when you put it in God’s hands and invest some time in it, it could be a blessing to others just like Paul. Remember; just because you are not using what you consider to be insignificant now, doesn’t mean you can’t use it later. God bless.

Decision for today: Lord help me to recognize the treasures in my “garbage.”

Question: What treasure, client, resource am I overlooking today?

Worthy Investments

Last week, I spent some time mentoring High School students from Dunbar Vocational High School. Dunbar High School is a four-year vocational High School in the Bronzeville area of Chicago’s south side.

Notable alumni include Oscar-winning actress Jenifer Hudson,  Mr T and the late Lou Rawls to mention a few. We were there on invitation by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), they organized a career mentoring program in conjunction with my church and other community stake holders.

I had a wonderful time there, however, as I sat there watching and listening  to the professionals tell stories about their successes and failures, it hit me. Our future, that is (the teenagers/youths ) will only become as good as what we the adults are willing to invest in them.

When you look at the lives of successful individuals regardless of their fields, you will find out that at some point in their lives, they had good role models that guided them and invested quality time to ensure their success.

On the other hand, we can trace a lot of the dysfunction in the lives of many youths today to a lack of positive role models, absentee fathers and good mentors. It is so easy to look down on the youths especially in the African American community, in fact they make up an invincible force that is often relegated to the background, that is until there is a shooting somewhere involving teenagers.

Time Magazine’s, June 10th 2013 issue which features Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Chicago’s Mayor) on its front cover, reported a startling statistic. David Von Drehle, in his article titled “His Kind Of Town”  said that 77% of the Chicago murders in the past year were black on black crimes. 54% of the offenders are 15 to 24 years old. 44% of the victims are also the same age.

Not to get political or anything but common sense tells me that this should not be the case. Although the government is doing all it can, I still believe that prevention is better than cure. If parents and good people step to the plate to mentor a youth and invest positively in the lives of these kids, I think the future will be bright.

Only God knows, how many teenagers in prison today would have avoided that fate if someone had taken interest in them and mentored them. I also wonder how many shootings on the south side of Chicago could have been avoided as well.

Mentoring is relational interaction, it involves time but it is also a way to empower another by sharing experiences, wisdom and positive tips for success.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Apostle Paul says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

I am not naive enough to think that mentorship is the only solution, but it is a start. Life is wholesome when it is lived for others not just ourselves. God bless.

Decision for today: No more excuses, Lord help me to use my gifts, hurts and passions to help the next generation.

Question for today: What investments are you making in the next generation?

FOLLOWERSHIP AND SACRIFICE

You cannot separate effective followership from sacrifice. If you follow effectively, there will be moments where you will be required to sacrifice something for the person, ideal or vision you are following. There is an interesting story in the scriptures about King David that encapsulates this thought. It goes like this:

David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But, he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out to the LORD. “God forbid that I should do this!” he  said. “Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?” Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. (2 Samuel 23:15-17)

I get chills reading this story!  These men were willing to put their lives at risk for the sake of their leader. Though in modern society, these attributes are not often exalted, followers who have this characteristic will go far in life. Jesus Christ also sacrificed his life for the sake of the Father’s cause.  He willingly gave up His life.

Followership involves a lot of sacrifices.  Those that will taste the fruits of followership will have to drink from the cup of sacrifice.There is no way around it, what you are willing to sacrifice will determine your success as a follower.

I have seen this characteristic in my pastor who sacrifices his time, money and effort just so that he can connect to a mentor or leader that he is following.  I see him grow exponentially from those things for which he sacrifices.

The preacher and motivational speaker Mike Murdock said that “the evidence of desire is pursuit.” How far are you willing to go? Jesus’ disciples said to Him

 “We have left all we had to follow you. ” Luke 18:28

In other words, they had sacrificed all; they had left career, house, and family to follow the Master. The good thing is that such sacrifices are always rewarded. Though the sacrifices of your money, time, and flesh are not easy, the rewards far outweigh the sacrifice.

Except from the book Discovering Followership by Omokhai Imoukhuede

Decision for today: Lord help me to put others first. I will be more engaged as I an sacrificial as I follow you.

Question for today: In what areas of my life can I be more sacrificial?

What Is Before Your Eyes (Part Two)

In my last blog, I wrote about Jacob and how he used the power of positive imagery to create a future for himself [Read here].  Today I am writing  along the same lines but now my focus is on Jacob’s grand father Abraham. I find Abraham very interesting. Here is a man who left his home country at the age of seventy-five, with his wife and all his possessions to seek a new life with God.

I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that most of his colleges and family members thought he was stupid for embarking on such a journey at that age. In any case, as a result of his obedience to leave his country and faith in God, God made a covenant or strong agreement with him.

In spite of this covenant, Abraham was deeply concerned that his servant Eliezer would inherit all his possessions. The reason for this concern was because Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless. So how did God begin the process of solving this problem?

Gen 15:5-6 says “Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous.”

Isn’t it interesting that Gods first remedy for Abraham and Sarah childlessness was not an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas to get their “mojo”back nor Viagra or the latest fertilization pills (not that those are bad). God simply started by changing what Abraham was seeing about his future.

God said “Look,” change what you are looking at and it will change the current situation to match your desire for your future. This is so crucial because what you are looking at, will determine what you think and what you think will determine who you are and what you have.

So how can we apply this practically today? well, our eyes need to be looking constantly at images of where we want to be, who we want to become or what you want to have or accomplish.

A way to achieve this is to use something called a  vision board. A vision board helps to create a good image of our goals and dreams. I was introduced to this concept by my mentor and it really works.

Creating a vision board is very simple. Basically, I just went online and downloaded a bunch of pictures of things I want to manifest in my life presently or of some goals I want to achieve.

For example, my vision board is based on my values and one of my values is family. So I just created a word document with various images or pictures of happy families that I downloaded from the internet which I review and look at for about 10 to 15mins everyday.

Alternatively, you can just get these pictures and paste all around your work space or kitchen. Friends, your dream may seem unattainable but never underestimate the power of vision and the images that are infront of you especially if they are positive. God bless.

Decision for today:  I will start by creating an atmosphere in my house, work place etc with positive imagery.

Question for today:  What do I want to see in my marriage, finances, business?

What’s Before Your Eyes

There is a story in the bible about an entrepreneur called Jacob. At the time of this story, he was an employee of his crafty uncle Laban. He was not happy about his salary and working conditions. So Jacob decided to do something about it. What Jacob did to remedy the situation, simply bordered on tact, genius, faith and off course hope. His goal was to build enough assets for himself to compensate for the low salary his was getting.

His plan, build the correct image mentally.  This how he went about it, Jacob told his uncle to separate the speckled (The sheep that had white on them) and sported sheep (all the dark-colored ones) from the rest of the sheep. He requested that his uncle give him all the sported and speckled sheep as his payment (assets are always the best wages) while the others would belong to his uncle. This gave an unfair advantage to his uncle because most of the sheep were not speckled or spotted. To sweeten the deal,  Laban removed the existing sported and speckled sheep from the others and put them in the care of his sons. What this meant was that Jacob did not even have any sported or speckled animal to work with, making it almost impossible for Jacob to achieve his goal.

In any case, Jacob agreed to the terms and on the surface, it seemed like Laban had made a killing on the deal. However Jacob had a secret. So what was the secret Jacob had? Well, Gen 30:37-40 says ” Jacob however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.  Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban.”

The result of this was tremendous. Jacob’s livestock increased and Laban’s did not. So what am I getting at here? well, Jacob basically created an image of the result that he wanted and constantly fixed his eyes on it. The image he created by peeling the bark of the wood, built up hope in his mind which set the same process in motion in the sheep. Hope creates a vision for your future and vision can influence your present situation.

So what is before your eyes today? Sometimes, it is not what you see for your future that matters, it is what you are seeing “Now,” right in front of you that determines your future. So change the image in front of you and you will change the life ahead of you.

Decision for today: I will change the image I have about myself, my finance or my business.

Question for today: What steps can I take to change the negative images I have created in my mind?