Arrow

Helping point people in the right direction.

5 goals every person should have

GoalsEvery January, millions and millions of people, both young and old, male and female, and believers and nonbelievers, create New Year resolutions. As you know, this is a popular and traditional trend that people use to modify their behavior to improve their life. 

Though I appreciate the term “New Year Resolutions”, it’s just a more fun and cavalier way of setting goals. As we all prepare for 2019, I’d like to share 5 goals I believe every person should have as we march into the new year:

  1. FAITH GOAL: As a pastor, I must have faith goals. We are people of faith, therefore, we should have faith goals. Perhaps you need to plan to read the Bible more, study the Bible more, attend Sunday worship more often, pray longer and stronger, and/or share your faith with more people and invite them to worship.
  2. FAMILY GOAL: I have a young family, and I’m told quite often that the days will be long, but the years will be short. As we receive this wisdom, we must proceed accordingly, maximizing our time with our family. That means constantly dating and loving your spouse. It also means ensuring we are our child’s #1 fan. Our family is our first ministry, and we must steward it properly. 
  3. FINANCE GOAL: In 1994, the late Barry White released the song, “Practice What You Preach”, and this should be a song of conviction for all of us. Our financial stewardship is critical as leaders, parents, and believers. We should all set financial goals so money is more of a blessing and less of a burden. 
  4. FITNESS GOAL: As we lead our biological family and spiritual family, we should reflect the importance of health and wellness. Our consumption of “fun and fried foods” should be in moderation. Drinking more water and working out 2-3 times per week should be the expectation. Set a fitness goal so you can operate at optimal levels for yourself, your family, and your church family. After all, your body is a temple, and you only get one!
  5. FUN GOAL: I am a bi-vocational pastor and it requires me to work long hours and make sacrifices than many people don’t know about. We all work hard and make necessary sacrifices for a multitude of reasons. To avoid burning out, we deserve a break. You deserve to enjoy life and have fun. Plan a vacation. Plan many and mini-vacations. If finances are temporarily tight, plan a staycation, eat a good meal. Go bowling. Go dancing. Play pool. Enjoy live music. Go to a comedy show, but whatever you do, schedule dedicated time away from working so you can enjoy living and laughing with loved ones. 

Our lives should be enjoyed not endured. It is our responsibility to set goals that are challenging, safe, and have our best interests at heart. So, consider these 5 goals and let’s move forward in 2019 together!

 

 

 

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The Real MVP: Mission, Vision, Purpose

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On September 1, 2013, we launched Arrow Church. We began Sunday public worship services at the Marcus Theater in Chicago Heights, IL. We did not have any denominational support.  We were not established by a church planting organization. We are not beneficiaries from a trust fund, nor did we have a secret rich guy funding our church planting efforts..we were simply a group of friends wanting to point people towards Christ and His community..and from that passion statement, came the name Arrow!

After three years of being a portable church (tearing down and setting up), God remembered our sacrifices and honored our gifts by allowing us to purchase a building in Lynwood, IL to facilitate our worship services, meetings, and community gatherings.

Now, Arrow is five years old. Biblically and numerically, five means grace! We have been graced during our first five years of existence, but we must pray and plan for the next 5 years of ministry.

All month long, we have been sharing our new core values that will power us forward:

  1. LOVED PEOPLE LOVE PEOPLE: many people believe that “hurt people hurt people”, and if this is true, than the converse is also true! “Loved people love people” can also be true, because John 15:12 commands us to love each other as we have been loved.
  2. FOUND PEOPLE FIND PEOPLE: one of the coolest iPhone apps is the “Find My iPhone” app. It helps you locate your valuable Apple devices in case they are stolen or lost. In the same manner, believers are to find and connect with those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. In John 1:43, Jesus found Phillip, and in verse 45, Phillip finds Nathanael. Phillip was found by Jesus, so he felt compelled to find Nathanael. We have been found, and we must go find others and connect them with Jesus. 
  3. SAVED PEOPLE SERVE PEOPLE: but who really has time to serve? Or energy? Or the training? Isn’t serving like working? We believe serving requires humility more than anything else! In Luke 4:38, Jesus left the synagogue after a long day of ministry, and went to Simon’s house to do more ministry. Jesus didn’t take a nap! Jesus didn’t take a break for lunch! Instead, Jesus went to Simon’s house because his mother-in-law was very sick. Jesus healed her in verse 39 and she immediately got up and decided to make Jesus something to eat. Why? Jesus saved her from  her illness so she decided to serve Him. Jesus has saved us, so it is our privilege to serve Him!
  4. BLESSED PEOPLE BLESS PEOPLE: most of us are blessed to have more than enough! We eat well, drive well, and dress well. We are blessed to be a blessing. God blesses us with job and resources to provide for ourselves, our family, and the work of the church. In Malachi 3:10, God invites us to “test” Him and see if He will not prove Himself faithful. We tithe because we love God, not because we owe God. We tithe because it helps precent selfish hoarding and materialism. We tithe because the church is a spiritual institution but has earthly economic responsibilities. We tithe because, with God, we will always have enough!

As we continue to pray and plan, we are excited for God’s best for our lives individually and as a church family. We give God all the glory..after all, He is the Real MVP!

Faith to Start

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How do you start a nonprofit? How do you start a business? How do you start writing your book? How do you start a church? How do you start a community development organization? How do you start a mentoring group?

I am often asked these and many other questions, and my answer is always the same: you must have “faith to start”. You need more than ambition. You need more than creativity. You need more than a cool concept. You need more than a well thought out strategy. You need more than a team of advisors. You need more than identifying your target market. You need more than start-up capital. You need “faith to start”.

And when you start, start small! Starting small is not an insult, or anything to scoff at. The Lord loves to see something small begin! 

Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,..” Our God rejoices when something small begins..and that’s good news!

So how do we begin? How do we start? How do we launch? How do we build? How? 

First, START AFTER THE LORD SPEAKS! In 1 Kings chapter 20, King Ahab is about to go into war against King Ben-Hadad, but first a prophet approaches King Ahab. The Lord speaks through the prophet and tells the king that he will go to war and will be given victory over the vast army (1 Kings 20:13). Before you start your dream, or your assignment, make sure it is the Lord affirming and confirming your assignment, just like in our text. 

Next, START ASKING THE LORD QUESTIONS FOR CLARITY! Going to war (or starting a new venture or going to college) is a big deal. A HUGE deal. So King Ahab begins to ask the prophet some questions about who will help him win the battle, to which the prophet answers all of his questions, on behalf of the Lord. Most of us have questions we want to ask God, or at least we should, but when you do ask God questions, be sure it’s for your clarity, not questioning God’s authority..remember God is sovereign! 

Lastly, START TO DO WHAT THE LORD SAYS! King Ahab knows the Lord is sending young men to assist him in battle (1 Kings 20:14), but he still has one question. And it’s a BIG question. In 1 Kings 20:14, King Ahab asks, “And who will start the battle?” which is a reasonable if not necessary question. And on behalf of the Lord, the prophet responds briefly and boldly to his question with two simple words, “you will”. 

YOU WILL do what God has instructed and empowered and blessed you to do, when you have the faith to start. And if you don’t remember anything I’ve shared, remember this, “Starting small is better than not starting at all”…so, do you have the “faith to start”? The Lord rejoices to see the work begin..

How to know you are forgiven by God

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What is your theology or ideology or psychological construct on forgiveness?

Forgiveness means to pardon or exonerate or to offer remission for or to someone.

Forgiveness is mentioned dozens of times in the Bible. When a term or concept or theme is mentioned with such frequency, clearly God considers this a topic of great importance and warrants our attention.

Forgiveness, or the ability to forgive is critical for life and leadership.

Pastors must grow towards forgiveness.

Parents must grow towards forgiveness.

Pupils must grow towards forgiveness.

Professionals must grow towards forgiveness.

Politicians must grow towards forgiveness. 

Every person must grow towards forgiveness.

The act of forgiving can be difficult to extend to others because we may not truly believe God has forgiven, does forgive, or will forgive us.

I believe God always wants to forgive, but there is a pattern, or a how-to process to know that God has truly forgiven us.

In Joshua 24, Joshua is advanced in age and assembles a meeting with his leaders, elders, judges, and officials. He doesn’t want to leave the Earth without sharing his heart and he begins to tell them they cannot serve both God and false gods (v19). The group is convicted by the sincerity and passion of Joshua and they confess, “We will serve the Lord”.

Next, Joshua tells them to remove their false gods and idols that are among them (v23). In this biblical narrative, the Children of Israel historically worshiped and lived with idols constructed of various metals and materials, and so do we: cars, clothes, and other lavish materialistic things.

Lastly, Joshua advises the leaders to yield their heart to the Lord (v23). Yielding signifies submission or humility, or following someone else’s lead.

I believe Joshua gives us a pattern and a process to know and easily remember how to be forgiven by God. God wants us to C.R.Y. out to him: Confess, Remove, and Yield.

Imagine what type of a world this would be if more pastors, parents, pupils, professionals, and politicians would simply C.R.Y. out to God…

A new commandment for the new year

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A new year represents many things for many people. For some, the new year represents new business opportunities. For others, the new year represents new resolutions. 

But what if the new year represents something more? Or something different? What if the new year actually represents a new commandment?

John 13:34 NIV shares, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

In this text, Jesus Himself speaks to us not about giving, or serving, or praying. Those are good and necessary things, but Jesus takes a moment to inspire us about a new commandment: to love one another. 

The text does not denote a certain group or class or gender or ethnicity or religion or denomination or even a sexual orientation. Jesus Himself commands us to love one another..this means anyone and everyone! 

Today and everyday, command your heart, mind, and spirit to love one another, just as Christ loves us. 

May we all demonstrate a new love for the new year..we are commanded to do so..

 

Everyday is Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States and represents years of American history.

Historians tell us that Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

President Lincoln recognized God as beneficent, and deserving of our thanks and appreciation. Thanksgiving is a day to recognize God as good, charitable, and generous.

Thanksgiving, in simple terms, is a day we surround ourselves with family and friends, cherishing every minute, moment, and memory God has given us.

The Hand of God blesses us because we have a place in the Heart of God, but how do we please God for His goodness towards us?

Though there are many ways to please God, Hebrews 11:6 shares, “and without faith, it is impossible to please God…” so, today and everyday, strive to please God by raising your faith in God and walking in the faith of God.

Faith in God makes everyday a day of thanksgiving…

Living on the other side of the comma

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Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th United States Secretary of State has conceded the 2016 Presidential Election to American businessman and President-Elect Mr. Donald Trump. This is a radical change and shift in our democracy. 

It goes without saying that many citizens, families, businesses, and even nations across the world have questions, such as: What now? What about us? How do we live? How do we grow? How do we thrive? What’s next?

Many people are even fearful, worried, and uncertain about their future, the future of their children, and the future of this nation. 

To that end, we must remember that we live on the other side of the comma:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Regardless of what you think or what you know or what you think you know, this is not the end or the beginning of the end. You will buy and you will sell. You will thrive in your industry. You will speak life and enjoy life. Your dream is still possible and probable. Your children will learn and laugh. And everyone connected to you will see your value because you live on the other side of the comma..

Back to Worship pt.1

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Bad Boy Records was founded in 1993 by Sean Combs. To their credit, they signed legendary artists, including: The Notorious B.I.G., Lil Kim, Mase, Mario Winans, Carl Thomas, 112, Total, The Lox, French Montana, and many more. 

At their peak, they sold millions of records, were quite successful, and toured around the world. Unfortunately, their success didn’t last and they began to suffer organizationally, creatively, and many of their key artists abandoned the label. 

Perhaps their reason for leaving was because they didn’t feel valued, or loved, or appreciated, or wanted, or needed. 

Ironically, these are the same reasons people leave our churches. They don’t feel loved for who they are, or appreciated for what they do, or even thanked for offering their time and talent. 

From personal experience, it can be difficult to worship God in church, or anywhere, when you don’t feel safe, or supported, or loved, or regarded. Thankfully, God understands how we feel and the challenges humanity offers, but He still calls us to worship Him. 

In fact, worship doesn’t meet a need in God (God has no needs), it meets a need in us! Worship is the ultimate form of communication! Worship is the ultimate experience! Worship is the ultimate relationship!

So the next time you don’t “feel” like worshiping God, or you’re distracted by the circumstances that life may bring, simply think of just one thing that God has done for you  within the last 12 hours, or 6 hours, or even 1 hour, and bless Him for that one thing. 

And as you begin to verbally articulate how good God is, you will find yourself back in worship…

The Revelation of Rainwater

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Every spring, I accompany my wife to the local nursery to purchase soil, plants, plant food, and other landscaping accessories. As she began to prepare the garden, she said something I’ve never heard before and really didn’t understand. She said, “we need rainwater!” 

Thanks to google, I learned that rainwater is better than tap water for seeds, plants, and flowers. Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of salts, inorganic ions, fluoride compounds, and other hindering minerals. Rainwater produces stronger and healthier plants and flowers. Rainwater, which is pure water from heaven, allows your seed to grow strong and healthy. 

So, here’s my question: what are your watering your seed with? Or perhaps a better question is: who is watering your seed? Who or what is watering your vision? Who or what is watering your dream? Who or what is watering your business plan? Who or what is watering your spirit? Who or what is watering your passion? Who or what is watering your family? 

Our seed is a gift from God, therefore it is pure, but we don’t want contaminated people watering our uncontaminated seed!

In your prayers today, ask God to send pure people into your life, and the lives of your family and friends, so we can all grow and live strong and healthy, productive lives. 

 

When Doves Cry

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Many in the music industry believe “When Doves Cry”, is one of the best songs of all time. Prince wrote and composed the lyrics for the song and even played every instrument in the song.

And the title, “When Doves Cry” is actually a metaphor for our human condition. Prince actually refers to people as doves, and says we do and/or will, at times cry.

In my studies, I found a dove species called the “Mourning Dove”. It exudes a somber sound of disappoint, and sometimes so do we. The challenge and realities of life can sometimes cause us to be somber and sad.

But if we can sometimes feel like a “Mourning Dove”, it’s important to know we can also be a morning dove! I found that birds begin singing at 4am and 5am and 6am not to wake us up or annoy us, but to let their community know they survived the night!

Every morning God awakens us and opens our eyes, we should sing a song of praise, because we survived the darkness and the night. Perhaps your darkness was divorce, or unemployment, or low-selfesteem, or bankruptcy, or heartbreak, etc.

Psalm 30:5 tells us that …”weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning…” So Prince was right, doves do cry, but we are not just “Mourning Doves”, we are also morning doves, singing praises to God because we survived the darkness and the night..