The Story

Climbing that mountain

Why do we do what we do in ministry? Is it because man opened the door and it seemed the best thing to do? Was it a logical career choice or a good step toward the next step of our future?

Or did we receive a mandate from God? Did we climb a mountain and, upon reaching its summit, gain a vision from God that we are willing to sacrifice all for?

I spent the summer of my sophomore year in college doing missions work in Mexico. During a break, some of my new Mexican friends and I took a day trip to Bahia Kino (Kino Bay) on the Sea of Cortez. It became my most memorable day of the entire summer. At the time, Bahia Kino was a quaint and quiet village. We swam unexpectedly among dolphins and shared stories on the beach. Adjacent to us was a rocky mountain with a cross on its summit. As the sun started to set behind that mountain, the glow of the sky and the view of the cross inspired us to climb. So we did, with bare feet.

The mountain didn’t look so high when we started, but the more we climbed it seemed we would never reach the summit. Our feet began to hurt on the jagged rocks. Our knees were bruised and bleeding. Halfway through the climb, we were thirsty and exhausted, but we would not turn back.

Finally, we reached the summit. We reached the cross. And the view was breathtakingly spectacular. We stayed there, speechless, each one of us soaking in the picturesque scene in private conversation with God. While there was barely enough light to make it down the mountain, we reluctantly began our descent. The experience never left me, even to this day.

As I look back at our work in the inner city for the past 24 years, it has certainly not been easy. Many, many times my feet hurt. My knees were bruised and bleeding. I was parched, exhausted and weary. And of course, during some of those very times, doors of opportunity opened by man came along that would have brought me escape, relief, and most certainly more comfort and provision going forward.

But I could not. I could not because God called me to climb this mountain. It was His mandate, not mine, not man’s, and certainly not for convenience or financial security, but a vision and calling from God. Somehow I knew that if I ceased to climb this mountain, I would miss the glimpse of His glory that I have been striving so long for.

Today I am climbing the mountain again. I am asking God for a new glimpse of His glory. I am seeking a greater comprehension of His purpose. I hope to find it. But should He not choose to give it in the time that I would desire, I am reminded that Jesus had more than sore feet, bruised knees, and parched exhaustion when He climbed the hill called Golgotha.

In the times that I understand and in the times that I do not, I still want to climb. “I am not seeking the approval of man, or else I would no longer be a bondservant of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Sore feet, bruised and bleeding knees, parched mouth and exhausted body cannot keep me from climbing this mountain if at its summit I can hear His voice, see His glory, and be near His cross.

As the old spiritual says, “Lord, don’t move that mountain. Just give me the strength to climb.” 

Jesus – Creator and Carpenter

He is Creator.

He is a carpenter.

He spoke the world into existence. “Let there be light.” And there was light. He is the Word. (John 1:1-5.) His words are so powerful that when the Word speaks the word, things change. Nature obeys. Hell trembles. Man chooses.

He speaks and things happen. The seas divide. Land appears. Mountains. Valleys. Canyons. Rivers. Lakes. Streams. Deer. Eagles. Salmon. Humpbacks. Lions . . . Man. Woman.

All because He, the Word, spoke.

“We never heard anyone speak like Him.” That’s what the people said. That’s what Caiphus’s emissaries said.

His words confounded earth’s wise ones. They comforted the downtrodden. Pierced the hearts of the proud. Broke the sin-weary. Life or death, your choice.

The Word. The Way. The Truth. The Life.

He’s God. He’s Creator. He’s the Word. Not a word, THE Word.

And He’s a carpenter.

You can’t speak a bookshelf into existence. You have to build it.

You imagine it first. You can see it. Envision it. It’s already in the room with the books on it, a few decorative items, and a plant. Stained to the perfect hue, it’s completed … and you haven’t cut the first piece of wood yet.

Composers understand this. I do. I have yet to hear my first orchestral composition performed from start to finish. But oh, I’ve heard it! I’ve heard every accelerando and every diminuendo. I’ve heard the quietest moments and the full orchestra’s crash. I’ve heard every musical color and have felt every ensuing emotion. I haven’t heard it at all, but oh, I’ve heard it!

The great composer Maurice Ravel was cornered at a party and asked about a composition by the man who commissioned it. “Oh, it’s finished!” “So, when can I see it?” Ravel replied, “As soon as I put it down on paper.” The first note had not been penned on the manuscript, but the composition was complete. The musicians had not yet played, but the music had already filled the senses of the musical creator.

So, the carpenter envisions the bookshelf standing in the corner of the room, stately, functional, and complete. Then he measures the corner and draws the bookcase according to its appropriate dimensions.

He cuts down a tree. He cuts up the tree. He cuts the boards from the wood. He firms every piece. He sands them with course sandpaper to remove the crud and splinters. He measures each piece again. Then, with hammer, nails, drill, screws, level, and more, he puts it together. He anchors it securely to the wall. He adds all of the finishing touches, not halting his labor until he looks back and says to himself, “Perfect.”

With a proud sense of completion, he puts the first book on the middle shelf and he stands back and admires the work of his hands. And guess what? It looks just like it did in his mind’s eyes before the tree was cut down. It is his vision, but now, after the skilled labor of his hands, he can touch what he saw before it ever existed.

Jesus – Creator and Carpenter. Some things He speaks into existence. But others, He envisions the final product and He works diligently with His skilled hands until it stands complete, perfect, and fully functional for the purpose that He created it.

He will cut. He will saw. He will trim. He will even sand with the coarsest of sandpaper. He will hammer. He will drill. And He will securely anchor us to His wall.

Yes, I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

He’s a good carpenter. And a Potter, too!

“Can I not do with you as the potter does? As clay is in the potter’s hands, so are you in My hands” (Jeremiah 18:6).

Authored by Dr. Tom Grassano in 2003

It is better to give than receive.

For over 20 years, we have seen how some types of giving are constructive and join long-term strategies of empowerment while other types of giving can truly be “band-aids” that further disempower people and rob them of dignity, providing little more than momentary relief that is not partnered with strategies for long-term change. Unfortunately, sometimes a primary motivation of this kind of giving is the satisfaction received from doing it. 

It is better to give than receive, and to truly empower while we give.

At Urban Harvest Ministries, we strive to meet the felt-needs of people in a way that truly empowers them, honors their dignity, and takes another step to propel them toward their divinely-designed destinies.

Our recent Christmas Outreach in Detroit is an example. We searched for families that met specific criteria so that we could honor their positive life choices. We sought to be a blessing not just to the recipient families but to each pastor and local church. Through this outreach, the pastors were empowered to meet the needs of families in their church community and needs were met in an atmosphere of accountability and dignity.

The results were wonderful: 45 families were provided with the groceries for full Christmas meals. Families were also provided with space heaters, gift cards, gift bags for the moms, educational books and school supplies for the children. Some pastors were blessed as well. Here are some of the families who were blessed:

  •  A family who has been experiencing hardship since their second son was shot in gunfire in the neighborhood.
  • A single-mom living in a small apartment who faithfully brings her children to church but did not have the resources for Christmas.
  • Grandparents whose son tragically died and have taken their five grandchildren and daughter-in-law into their home.
  • Ten families in a church where four young men were shot in three months, three of them fatally.
  • A pastor who was down to his last $25 with no groceries at home when we provided his family with Christmas blessings and a personal monetary gift. (We did not know the depth of the need, but we felt strongly in our hearts a need to help.)

This was not a blind hand-out but giving done with dignity and accountability in the context of long-term empowerment through a healthy church in the inner city. People were blessed, pastors and churches encouraged, and the givers inspired by the experience.

I was reminded of a Leadership Empowerment Seminar we were leading in Detroit some years ago. Over 60 pastors and leaders were present. While discussing strategies of urban outreach, a pastor from outside the city remarked, “We have sandwiches and supplies ready to give out under the bridge tonight!” Three inner city pastors stood up and pleaded with the people saying, “Please don’t do this. You’re not helping us.” They went on to explain how the constant hand outs prevent them from dealing with the real issues and developing a long-term plan of restoration and healing.

It would serve us well to listen to those who are in the trenches. They have done the work for years, even decades. They have relationships in the communities. They need partnership, friendship, prayer, serving, and strategies birthed through the joint sharing of vision and ideas. They need to be given the voice that they have earned and so much deserve. They need partnership in the harvest fields of their communities.

This is a focal point of what we are doing with Urban Harvest Ministries. We look forward to all that God has in store in 2014.

To read more about Urban Harvest Ministries, visit www.uhm.cc 

Qui est veritas?

“Qui est veritas?”

These were Pilate’s words in response to Jesus statement in John 18:37-38, “… I came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

“What is truth?”

My daughter graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree last year. The university is now ranked among the greatest schools of higher learning in the nation. Referred to as the “Harvard” or “Yale” of the South, well over 90 percent of its graduates acquire the job or graduate school of their first choice. The music school is ranked in the top ten in the nation.

The university began as a pastor’s training school and seminary in the early 1800’s. The motto of the institution is “Cristo et Doctrinae” which is translated, For Christ and Learning. This university, like many others in our nation, that once trained pastors and missionaries has now embraced an age of inclusiveness and tolerance. The graduation ceremony included prayers for Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish traditions, as well as readings from the Koran, Eastern thought, and a scripture about love from 1 Corinthians 13.

I am an alumnus of the same university.

What has happened at this institution is reflective of what has happened in our nation: Once “one nation under God,” we are now one nation under many gods. These opposing views battle against each other:

“We must stand intellectually against intolerance and we must embrace all religions in an age of tolerance.”

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

“We can find our way through our intellects that have been sharpened through our higher learning.”

“By no other name can man be saved but by the name of Jesus.”

The question today is not where the thinking of this world will lead our culture. That is evident. The true question is whether Christ-followers will hold to absolute truth in an age of relativism and tolerance.

There was one bright light on graduation weekend. It came at the Legacy Dinner, a ceremony for graduates with alumni parents. A gentleman with the alumni association prayed a simple yet penetrating prayer, one that we all should pray:

“May those who teach and those who learn find You, God, to be the source of all truth.”

To that prayer I say “Amen.”

 

Unexplainable Things

How do you explain the grace and calling of God? How can we explain the ways His hands work in our lives? How can we comprehend a divine destiny carved out in our mother’s wombs and the invitation of our Creator to walk with Him into a journey of discovery of grace, hope and truth?

The more that I walk down the road of my life I meet one after another who, speaking of the things they have encountered and experienced in their lives say, “I can’t explain it … but this is what happened!”

I can’t explain many things in my journey: a calling to leave all that I knew and go to the inner city, miraculous provision and protection in the South Bronx, performing a gospel drama for a community celebration for Fidel Castro’s birthday in Cuba, being part of a miracle that brought salvation to a minority tribe in Vietnam, seeing a blind man’s eyes opened in Chile, a man with a skin disease healed in Argentina, the sound of mighty rushing waters coming into a church in Sao Paolo as God brought renewal to a congregation.

God sets us on a journey, a quest of discovery, a path far different than we would have ever imagined and could have never designed. The Great Architect and Composer of lives and destinies sets us on this journey of unexplainable things. And what do we discover?

The mighty, awesome, powerful, amazing, unexplainable God.

What a journey. What a quest!

Our focus must not be on the quest, but on the God who calls, who lavishes His love on us and designs destinies for the discovery of His greatness, a life-changing journey of unexplainable things that give us glimpses of His magnificent glory.

Can the creation ever fully understand the Creator? Man makes many feeble attempts to analyze and explain the ways of God. As soon as we think we can explain Him, He surprises us yet again. That is absolutely fine. The righteous don’t live by knowledge. They live by faith.

He is filled with amazing wonder, revealing Himself just enough so that we will pursue Him all the more. He invites us on a journey of destiny we could never design ourselves. I don’t even think we will know all the details on this earth. He gives us free will and likewise to all of those around us, yet is able to order our steps and accomplish His will.

Can any of us explain that? Of course not. And that’s fine, because He is God and we are not.

Where He leads, He protects. He guides. He provides. He is a God of covenant. He is faithful when we are and when we are not. To those who pursue Him, He reveals His awesome glory and surprises us at every end.

The divine purpose of our journey is not in what we do or what we accomplish doing it … whatever “it” is. That is good news for those of us consumed with the weight of “doing” and weary with the temporal.

No, the life He created has more to offer. This is a quest, a journey of discovery in which the doing and accomplishing are merely vehicles to experience greater things, unexplainable things, and in them, experience glimpses of the glory and majesty and nearness of God Himself, and momentary, sometimes life-altering glimpses of the unexplainable awesomeness of the life to come.

He invites you into this journey. Your pathway will be different from mine, but the results can be the same: You will be changed, and you will know Creator as your friend.

The Light shines in the darkness

When we are faced with situations like I wrote to you about in my last entry, we see only a few choices:

  1. We can cut and run.
  2. We can stay in the safe walls of our church or ministry center.
  3. We can go to the location where the heart of the problem is and confront it head-on.

We chose Option C.

The day after I wrote you last, we went into the Projects where the violence has centered. The people opened their hearts widely to us. Mom’s asked if they could start a petition to the management to have us there all the time. Young men came directly to me, thanking me for coming. “We need you here” was their response. We will go back and do the same tomorrow night, but I have been there every day.

We can’t sit still when this kind of craziness is going on. God has not given us an impotent faith. He has allowed me to see His powerful hand of protection and guidance many times in the Bronx, and I have seen His healing and transformation in many places around the world. God loves the people here as much as He loves anyone. There is still power in His blood to save.

In the past few days, another attack took place: a young man was cut from ear to ear. Also in the past two days, five people have committed their lives to Christ. Four were people we have known for years. Two of those were a former drug dealer “C” and his 16-year-old son. “C” sent me a text last night:

“Just made it back to the shelter. Thanks for the Bibles and the talk. I hope we can do it again soon. Good night and thanks Tom & Lidia. I love you.”

I have been invited to dinner with two other former “street vendors” this week. Another appears to be in control of “things” now. We chatted on the street today. He said he wants to have lunch with me this week.

John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

We depart for Detroit next week. There is much to be done here before we leave, and much when we return. But we are trusting God that tide is turning! We will continue working toward that here, and we will take the same spirit to Detroit.

Thank you for your continued prayers. God is faithful!

A Tragic Death – A Need to Press On

A young man came by The Harvest Center in the Bronx yesterday. I know him well. He was a leader in the “pharmaceutical” business for years in our community. He is among those young men I personally reached out to for many years. Like most of the others, he is now working a job and has become a good father to his children. He told me a very sad story:

One of the other young men I knew was brutally murdered a month ago. He left his apartment one block from The Harvest Center to run an errand. Some youth were sitting on the hood of his car. He politely asked them to get off, informing them he had to go somewhere. Spewing profanity, one said, “I’ll get off when I feel like it.” After trying several more times for over ten minutes, the young man slowly pulled his car out of the parking space until they jumped off his car.

When he returned a few hours later, his wife asked him to walk to the store to get some Tylenol for their sick baby. The corner store was only two blocks away, so he took his 11-year-old son with him. As he walked out of the project building, the youth who were sitting on his car were waiting. They stabbed him multiple times while his young son yelled, “Stop hurting my daddy! Stop hurting my daddy!” He died on the sidewalk in front of his son.

Senseless death and violence. Just another block away, the housing project Betances where we had freedom to minister for over 13 years has become a den of violence. (They stopped us from reaching out there because of “separation of Church and State,” and now the violence has come back in.) People innocently walking down the streets of our community are being attacked and beaten or stabbed by youth mobs as someone videos the melee. The videos are later posted on YouTube, with people laughing at the victim.

Our work is not done here! There is still much to be done! Yes, we have faced opposition from every front, and it has heated up the past few years. But we must persevere and press forward into these areas of darkness so that these people can be set free from bondage and find eternal life in Jesus Christ!

This work cannot be done with human flesh. Our skills, methods and ideas will not change anything here. Jesus can! We need God’s divine intervention, tearing down strongholds in people’s lives, giving us protection, guidance, strength and wisdom. We know our God is able to bring change in these places! Some people in the communities we work in may not have a tomorrow. The time is NOW to reach out to them.

I also ask that you pray for the 11-year-old son of the murder victim, his wife and daughter. I cannot give their names. God knows them.

Thank you for your prayers! God is faithful to answer!

His bondservant,

Dr. Tom Grassano

 

Bringing Tranformational Change

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

We have seen transformational change in the South Bronx. The violent crime rate, once the highest in NYC, has dramatically decreased.  Illiteracy has decreased. Unemployment has decreased. Children play on the streets and in playgrounds once controlled by drug dealers. Most of the young drug dealers ten years ago are now working jobs, marrying their girlfriends, and learning to be respectable fathers. A community that once considered the church to be irrelevant now opens its arms to the gospel.

While these miraculous advances are not the direct result of UHM programs, we believe they are a direct result God’s people praying! The remnant of God’s people at Harvest prayed over every door in our community. It took us three-and-a-half years to pray over 80,000 people! We anointed every door and prayed for those who lived there, asking God to bring change. In so doing, God raised up an audacious faith in the intercessors – a faith that believed God heard them when they prayed and He would answer! This persistent intercession door-to-door on the streets of our community invited the favor of God. It was precisely the favor of God that brought change!

And as the people prayed, God brought a change of vision: Where they once hated their community and wanted out as quickly as possible (as is common in every inner city community), they came to understand their Isaiah 61 role and they are eager to fulfill it to bring change to their own community:

Isaiah 61:3-4 says “He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities long ago destroyed. They will revive them, though they have been empty for many generations.”

The reality of this transformation is like what is written about in Revelation 21:3-4 (The Message)  —

“I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! … The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.”

This is what God has begun in the neighborhood of the South Bronx. He is doing it in Detroit. This is what God wants to do in your neighborhood!

The Call to Effective Outreach in Cities

God gave us a vision in 1993. This vision is rooted in a theology of city reaching and community transformation that equips the body of Christ to empower the urban poor and reach the urban unchurched.  Now, after years of taking the radical gospel to the streets of one of the worst communities in our nation – and witnessing transformation as a result of seeing God “set up shop” in Fort Apache, the South Bronx – God is fulfilling the vision . . . and here is why:

Today, half of the world’s population is urbanized. By the year 2000, there were 20 cities with a population of over 10 million, 60 with over 4 million, and 402 with over one million. In the United States, nearly 80 percent of our population resides in the large urban centers of our nation.  Amidst the affluence of large cities, a portion of the population remains disenfranchised, unable to pursue their dreams and destinies in communities with widespread unemployment, poverty, substance abuse, crime, neglect and despair. Children are often the ones who suffer the most, with limited educational opportunities, fatherlessness, and unsafe streets.

The authors of Operation World (Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World, Operation Mobilization) call urban missions “one of the biggest challenges for missions in the 21st Century.” They rightly conclude that a combination of effective methods and a concerted effort by the body of Christ “could decisively change the spiritual climate of a city.”

This is what we believe God has called us at Urban Harvest to do by equipping churches to become centers of empowering the urban community with effective and contextual methods of ministry.

God began this in the Bronx years ago. God has demonstrated His providence and displayed His glory as many have made decisions to begin life-change and pursue the road to their destinies. He has changed their worldviews related to five strategic areas:  work ethic, academic excellence, family responsibility, moral values, and, at the core of it all, a lifestyle of faith.

These strategic areas are at the core of what we do at UHM.  And it is, in its essence, true discipleship:  Discipleship that transforms the mind, putting on the mind of Christ in place of the ways in which we have been conditioned by our culture, our society, our families, and our life experiences.

The gospel, if allowed by the church, will powerfully affect our lives.  IF allowed. IF our faith is not considered a sub-culture, but a counter-culture. IF our faith possesses a radical commitment of all that we are to all that He is in every part of our lives.  IF allowed, the gospel will permeate every part of the human being to the very core – as the Word says, the marrow (Hebrews 4:12) – of our being, and thus to the very core of our homes, our churches, our families, our city and our culture.

If not, however . . . If the gospel is not allowed to radically and dramatically transform our ways of thinking and our ways of doing . . . If we are, instead busy about the business of doing church . . . If we are content with a small taste of heaven that affects our emotions rather than effecting our lifestyle and transforming our thinking . . . then we are doing church in mediocrity without transformational change.  Our communities remain the same, and pastors continue moving from one church problem to another rather than being challenged by the vision that God has provided for the harvest fields of the community around them.

To be continued . . .

Living with expectation of the Word becoming flesh today

John 1:1-14 has always grabbed me, especially these words in verse 14:

“The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.”

It was very interesting to me when I learned that only three of the miracles Jesus performed (recorded in the Gospels) took place in the synagogue. Only three. All of the rest of His many miracles occurred when He was walking among the people.

Think about it: the boy blind from birth, the lame man at the pool, blind Bartimeaus, the woman caught in adultery …

All of these miracles and so many more occurred not in the synagogue nor at an organized ministry event, but when Jesus was simply walking among the people.

This presents me with a problem: I have searched for scriptures after Christ’s resurrection for a teaching or statement or something that commands us to stop walking among the people and instead institutionalize ministry to the point that we don’t know the hurt and needs of our neighbors, the people in our workplace or schools, etc., but I cannot find it. However, we sing plenty of songs about loving God every Sunday and even repeat them over and over again on our iPod. We wait for some kind of organized ministry event rather than living every day with spiritual eyes open in the expectation that this waitress, this plumber, this grocery store stock boy, this UPS man, this Facebook friend or anyone else … need God, and this moment may be the most strategic time in their lives that they can feel His love and know His truth!

You may be the only message of hope that someone hears today!

Imagine living with that kind of expectation every day?

This thinking has transformed the way I live my life and the way I see walking every day in a world of people who are hurting, lonely, and in need of grace, peace and truth!

I recently learned something that I did not know about myself and our community in Fort Apache, the South Bronx:  The people in the South Bronx were curious and intrigued with me the first few years we were there because … I was the first white man who would walk the streets of our community that wasn’t a cop or a homeless drug addict. … and it was that way for many years.

The fact is that God used this “oddity” to begin radical change in our community, a community that was once ridden with violence, unsafe to walk the streets, shootings at least four times a week, parks and playground controlled by drug dealers, AIDS, disease, homelessness, decrepit slum-lord housing, witchcraft, corruption, and the highest unemployment in the nation.

God just needed someone who would walk the streets as He walked, loving people with His love, sharing truth with boldness and compassion, and be there day after day after day after day to do it again and again until some people began to respond to the Gospel!

And now, as a result, our community has radically changed. Those of you who have never been there during those years cannot understand the “war zone” that was the South Bronx. And this change was entirely done by my God and for His glory.

But He needed someone to walk among the people and be the Word made flesh among them!

On Mission with God

One of the greatest lessons that we can learn in life is that we are on mission WITH GOD. When we get to wherever we are going, HE is already there! He is always working, always moving, always preparing, always sculpting a masterpiece for His glory!

God is always about His purposes, moving and working the things in our lives and the things around us to accomplish the plans He has foreordained in us and through us to make a mark in this world for the glory of His great name!

It’s not about us; it never has been. But it is about us being faithful, holy and available when He calls to use us.

Isaiah 26:8 says, “… Your name and Your renown is the desire of our hearts.” If this were really true in God’s church, nothing – nothing! — could stop us from turning this world upside down through the power of our Savior Jesus Christ in us, among us and through us.

When your mission becomes God’s mission, then and only then can powerful, anointed and truly eternal things happen.

I didn’t know that God’s destiny for me involved befriending drug dealers, making dirty cops mad in a corrupt precinct, standing against injustice, repeatedly cleaning the sacrifices of witches from our doorsteps, death threats, rat infestations, living among uncanny moral depravity, pursuing the will of God and being sent by the Spirit to the heart of the statistically worst inner city community of our nation at the time, and from there to places like Detroit, the favelas of Sao Paolo, Cuba, and Vietnam … and I have seen His glory in all of these places!

This has been God’s design for our lives! . . . and all of this with college and graduate degrees in music performance and composition!?

I have heard this said:  “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called.”

I pray that we will hear the challenge of the Lord this week – in church, in school, at the job, on the streets, in conversations, wherever we go:

  • To not tie ourselves down to what is humanly possible;
  • To be among those who take the kingdom by force, who are unafraid of the Lion’s den or fiery furnace and stare it in the face with faith, vigor and an unshakable commitment even unto death;
  • To live with the faith of a mustard seed to say to this mountain, “Be removed and cast into the sea!”and then persevere until it is accomplished!
  • To live a pure and holy life that is worthy of the grace that He has given us, and
  • To passionately pursue of the glory of God anywhere and everywhere He will send us!

Jesus is worthy of our faithful commitment to move out of the mundane and impotent, to live co-crucified with Jesus and walk under the power of the Holy Spirit in humble submission to His Lordship!

As Paul said to the Ephesians, let us “lead a life worthy of our calling, for we have been called by God!

You – all of you! – have been called by God. From your mother’s womb, God ordained a plan and purpose for your life. How you reconcile that with your choices today and for your future will determine the legacy you will leave on this earth.

Perhaps you can pray this prayer with me. It is the prayer of A.Z. Tozer:

“O God, be exalted over my possessions. Be exalted over my friendships. Be exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please You even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten. Rise, O Lord, into Your proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even life itself. Let me decrease that You may increase.”

Amen!