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Going Deeper

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You may hear this often from churchgoers, viewers of Christian TV or those who attend regional Christian conferences:

“I need more ‘meat’!”

“Now that’s a deep Word!”

“So good! So good!”


“I NEED MORE MEAT AUDIENCE”

Depending on the source, these phrases could have a different meaning. Oftentimes, the “I need more meat” audiences are referring to the Scripture passage in 1 Corinthians when the Apostle Paul was addressing the Corinthian church and said:

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NKJV)

In this Scripture, the word “milk” means the basic, elementary teachings of Christianity that are studied by new believers. The “meat” or “solid food” refers to the deeper, spiritual doctrines. In essence, “I need more meat” audience desire deeper insights into spiritual doctrines of the Gospel.


“NOW THAT’S A DEEP WORD” OR “SO GOOD” AUDIENCE

The “Now That’s A Deep Word” or “So Good” audience often respond in recognition that what’s being communicated draws from a deeper well than what is written on the page. For many, when they hear something new or another way of looking at a Scripture, they may find themselves responding immediately with either phrase. This audience serves to affirm the speaker or preacher that they have “done their homework” and provided a fresh take on an ageless passage of Scripture.


GOING DEEPER QUESTION

If you are in need of “more meat” or you find yourself affirming with a “so good”, does it mean that you have made the deliberate choice to go deeper? In my Christian walk, I have found that going deeper is not limited to having more information about the Bible. It’s not limited to have a revelation of God’s Word that was hidden to you before. I offer to you that is requires this and more. Here’s my equation:

INFORMATION + REVELATION + APPLICATION = GOING DEEPER

A basic understanding of God’s Word opens up the opportunity to receive revelation about the text, the author of the Eternal Word and the one (you) reading it. But information and revelation are not enough. I’ve had to ask myself this question in my own relationship before God:

If it’s “so good” then why aren’t these truths being demonstrated in your life? Where is the application?

When the Word of God is not only given an Amen in words but in lifestyle and choices, you will discover that going deeper is not a cliché. It is a conviction. If I want to know the Creator of my soul, the author of my faith and the strength of my life, I make the deliberate, intentional choice daily to go deeper. Studying to learn, praying to understanding, surrendering my will to apply God’s will for my life.


PRAYERFEST: FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017

My church, Christ Church, will be hosting a regional prayer gathering called Prayerfest 2017: Making History Through Prayer. Our church family is currently on a 40-Day Prayer Journey to go deeper in God (access the guide here). I want to encourage you to join us on this journey and meet us at Prayerfest on Friday, July 28th at 9 AM (Christ Church West Campus, 140 Green Pond Road, Rockaway, NJ – http://www.Prayerfest.net). Let’s go deeper in God together! – RF

Holy Week REFlections: Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27

Whenever I receive an invitation to a wedding, I’m reminded of how much thought went into choosing the guest list. Each invitation comes at a cost: the reception venue, food, entertainment and the price of hosting family and friends. For a couple to think of me as a worthy guest to their most special day is an honor. While I enjoy the festivities, I’m acutely aware that someone paid for my plate!

 

Like a wedding guest list, Jesus invites us in relationship. But, this is no ordinary relationship. Jesus (self-described most as the Son of Man) invites our humanity to connect with His divinity. While the invitation is extended, He doesn’t demand your acceptance. His desire is that you will come to embrace the call to follow Him. But, He offers a disclaimer. If you want to be a true Christ-follower, it will require a bearing of your own cross.

 

In essence, Jesus invites us into cross training! If we are going to give our lives over to Christ, there’s a price. There’s a cost. And anytime a cost is involved, you can expect a thinning out of the crowds. Everyone is not ready or willing to pay the price of following Christ. But, the Word encourages us to see the great benefits of doing just that!

 

While salvation is open to everyone who will come in faith, discipleship is another thing altogether; it’s cross training! It’s a death to self. It’s identifying with the shame and pain of our Suffering Christ on the cross. It’s counting the cost of aligning your will to His. When we count the cost of following Christ, we also can expect to count the blessings of serving Him.

 

Today’s Prayer


Lord, words cannot begin to describe the joy of being in relationship with You! Grant me the courage and boldness to take up my own cross to follow You. And when I am weak and weary, remind me that You give strength in my weakness to do the very thing You’ve called me to do. In Your Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

3 Most Common Mistakes In Approaching Faith

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How in the world can you make a mistake in faith? It’s faith – the simple trust in God. How can you make a mistake with that?

You can. I have. And it’s simple to do.

The common mistake when it comes to faith is its actual definition. Growing up, I used to hear sermons and songs speaking to faith moving mountains. Scripture backs it up. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17, verse 20 where Jesus said:

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

What an encouraging passage! But, here’s a word of caution. The context of this Scripture is when Jesus is disciplining his disciples on not being able to heal a boy who is demon-possessed. Jesus was correcting them by saying they were unbelieving and a perverse generation. Jesus even questioned out loud of how long should he put up with faithlessness. WOW! How could they make such a dire mistake?

Contrary to popular belief, everyone has faith. The real question is who and what do we have faith in. And here lies where the mistakes become very clear. You may see it all the time. Someone puts their faith in an investor for their portfolio to grow. Others may put their faith in their own experience. Even in the midst of an election, we see Americans placing their trust or faith in leaders to make a lasting change or impact. While we all can voice reason for why we’ve placed our faith in certain things – biblical faith is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ. And this faith may not match up to the way we want things to go.

Mistake #1: Unyielding to God’s Way

We may never say it out loud, but our actions reflect when we think we know better than God or anyone else. There’s a certain swagger and confidence we place on our approach. We can even find ourselves stubborn and think that we can negotiate our way out of obedience. I remember this clearly sitting at a youth event at what was then known as the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ. I’m sitting with my girlfriend (now wife) Kristyn and friends from church. A representative from Compassion International comes up and shares about the joy and responsibility of sponsoring a child who needs basic services. I heard the presentation but I couldn’t shake the conviction – “Sponsor a child!”

At the time, I was a seminary student struggling with the finances I already had. Now, I sense in my heart God prompting me to sponsor a child. I asked myself: “With what money? I cannot even help myself – I’m going to help a child that I don’t even know?” These questions were loud but the conviction to sponsor was even stronger. I looked at Kristyn and she already knew. I wrestled with it, wondering how this was going to work out. I sponsored a child that day. I’m still sponsoring since 2009. I realized that there’s no need to fight God. You will lose. Yield to His Way! Let faith lead you to make decisions that honors God and in turn, blesses you.

Mistake #2: Trusting God Only When Things Are Good

Death. Divorce. Health Crisis. Financial Strain. Relationship Breakdown. I’ve experienced all and more in my life. It has not always been easy. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to trust God only when things are good. By good, I mean what we each consider good by our standards. We can fall easily into the trap of treating God like Santa Claus, expecting all our gifts and wishes to be granted in a moment, no questions asked. Trusting God in the fire of challenge is where faith is tested. Claiming to have faith and living out your faith are two separate things entirely.

Here’s the hard-hitting truth that challenges me: Trusting God in the good times only reflects poorly on the quality of your relationship with Him. Ouch! I cannot raise the faith flag when it’s convenient and lay it down when it begins to challenge my comfort zone. Yes, faith in God will stretch you. It’s supposed to! Yes, faith in God will challenge your perspective. It’s supposed to! But, faith in God during adversity does another thing – it demonstrates the strength and resilience of God never to let you go.

Mistake #3: Thinking that God Doesn’t Have a Plan

One of my favorite Scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11 where it says, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I get excited reading this! But, one mistake I made early on in my faith journey was taking this text out of context. Yes, God wants to prosper me. But, it may not mean a large deposit in my bank accounts. Or even this – His purpose is not to harm me, but it never said it wouldn’t hurt. Faith stretches us where it hurts. It deals with our wounds and our misconceptions. But, God’s purpose is for faith to inform our everyday living. It’s to help us grow and not to tear us down.

The highlighting of three major mistakes serves to point us to this truth – when we yield to God’s way, even when things are not always good, we can trust His plan will work through and in us. When this happens – our mistakes turn into a message that leads others to God. – RF

The Interview: Landon Schott

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Since the start of my own blog, I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview some of my peers who are doing extraordinary work in extraordinary times. Their insights, perspectives and wisdom have sharpened me as a servant, husband, pastor and leader. Based on the numerous e-mails, calls and texts, I am confident to report that these interviews have impacted our readers as well.

To start 2017 off right, I knew I needed to interview someone whose passion and drive represented this generation well. I thought. I prayed. And a name popped up: Landon Schott. Some of you may be very familiar with Landon and his ministry. For others, this may be your first time hearing of him. But, his impact has made an indelible mark on how this generation receives Christ-centered quality content. Landon is a preacher, leader and trailblazer. Along with his wife Heather, Landon is the founder of REV Ministries and REVtv.com, a global media ministry serving youth and young adults. Landon is a profound preacher, prolific writer, and a proven leader. During our conversation, it was evident that God is working through Landon in ways that will continue to reverberate for generations to come.

It’s my prayer that your heart, mind and spirit will be strengthened and encouraged through this conversation.

DEEPEST DESIRE


RF: Landon, as the founder of REV Ministries and REVTv.com, your mission is to turn the hearts of a generation to God. You unapologetically emphasize the need of making Jesus famous. With this passion, what is your deepest desire to see among our generation of millennials and young adults?

Landon: Thanks Ryan. My deepest desire is to see a developing passion for God in our generation. At the start of 2017, we are embarking on a 21-Day Challenge of calling our nation to prayer and fasting (To find out more or to download the app for the 21-Day Challenge, check here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/21-dc/id946555591?mt=8). I found out that more you are in His Presence, you reflect Him more. It’s my desire to see the Holy Spirit move in our generation due to our passion to know Him more.

My other desire is to see disciplining take place. Our generation is know to do the BIG, BRIGHT AND RELEVANT. We are good at great events but horrible at follow-up and follow through. We make a BIG SPLASH but wind up TREADING WATER. My desire is to see a greater focus on corporate discipleship in the church and individual discipleship within families and communities. Being a leader in student ministry for 18 years, I championed daily discipleship. You can’t just do a bible reading plan (while this is needed). It’s a daily walk with God.

Recently, God released this revelation to me. In the Scriptures, Samson gave up his secret and he lost his strength. God said,

When you give up your secret place, you lose your strength!”

We cannot afford to lose our strength!

I also desire to see greater biblical literacy on a national level. False teaching is rampant because many Christ-followers are biblically illiterate. We must go back to prayer and reading of God’s Word. For me, it must be the center of my life. I pray that same desire and passion will grow in our generation.

JESUS FOR A GENERATION


RF: It’s evident in your mission and vision that you desire to see Jesus made famous. How does this generation do that, even in the midst of opposition and apathy?

Landon: One time, a gay Christian leader told me that there is a difference between “good news” and “good advice”. They followed up by saying that not all of the Bible is “good news”. Immediately, I thought this was faulty perspective. The Bible is the Good News representing the Hope of the World. This hope is reflected in the person of Jesus Christ. Making Jesus famous is one day at a time. One decision at a time.

Practically, it’s obedience. Daily obedience to His Word. In the small things and the big things!

GAY AWARENESS


RF: You recently wrote a book called “Gay Awareness: Discovering the Heart of the Father and the Mind of Christ On Sexuality”. It caused quite a stir and a buzz, especially on social media. You’ve addressed many questions surrounding the book in the media, but here’s my question: why did you write this book?

Landon: Obedience is the reason I wrote it. A book for those who have a heart after God but their true temptation is same-sex attraction. I have taught on this subject before and are drawn to the gay community. I love the gay community. And writing this book was an assignment within an assignment. When writing the book, “Jezebel: The Witch Is Back”, I shared how she promoted homosexuality.  I wanted to address this issue with sensitivity, compassion and His grace.

I say obedience because I didn’t want to write this book. I knew the response would be intimidating. I had a prayer walk with God. And the Holy Spirit said, “It is worth fighting.” After that, I was more afraid NOT TO OBEY that the consequences of obeying. The first way of responses was attack driven. But as the dust settled, it became an Amazon Best Seller overnight.

In the book, I cite 400 Scriptures on sexuality and the heart of God surrounding it. I’ve been encouraged by the numerous testimonies of how the book changed their lives. One reader shared how Gay Awareness  was like a spiritual detox. After reading the book, the reader shared how they struggled with the temptation of same-sex attraction but had to follow God’s leading to go to Bible College. Ryan, this is one of my assignments.

And I’m grieved. I’m grieved at the gay Christian contradictions. I’m grieved how gay rights have been on marketed as on par with the Civil Rights movement. But, if we don’t have these conversations with the gay community, we forfeit the opportunity to share the love of God.

RF: You speak of the Civil Rights Movement in relation to the gay rights. As a leader, what do you feel is the civil rights movement of our day?

Landon: We need to talk directly and frankly about justice. But, not the politically correct social justice like the world tries to quench the thirst. Even the Civil Rights Movement did not quench the thirst. We are still thirsting after justice, now!

What I speak of is CIVIL RIGHTEOUSNESS: Heaven’s justice, not our own. I will be leading a prophetic conference in 2017 in Chicago to prophesy justice to our nation. Here’s the issue: We want to work on justice issues in the midst of heightened tensions sweeping our nation. It’s like the wise saying of working on your marriage in a time of peace, not a time of war. This will be an ongoing issue, but the conversation around civil righteousness must start with us.

POLITICAL DISCOURSE


RF: Our nation has endured a very bitter political election season. Over 65 million people voted for Secretary Hillary Clinton as the next President. But, approximately 63 million voted for Donald J. Trump and with his win in the electoral college, he will be the 45th President of the United States. Based on numbers and demographics alone, there is a large divide in our nation. After the election, I talked to many young adults. Some voted for Clinton. Some voted for Trump. Some didn’t vote at all. There were mixed emotions: some experienced severe disappointment and others experienced sheer joy. What’s your perspective and how do bridge the divide, Landon?

Landon: Ryan, this is a challenging subject. There are so many biases. It was characterized as the lesser of two evils and the greater response to the greater sin. My personal convictions surround the national genocide of abortion. God hates the shedding of innocent blood.

RF: I understand your grievance and convictions surrounding abortion. With that said, there were many other issues on the ballot including immigration, economic policy, foreign policy, civil rights and justice that others are as equally grieved about. Even in my conversations with young adults, I could see a tension while they didn’t agree with a candidate on every issue, they voted their convictions and conscience based on the issues or the qualifications of the candidate. How would address them?

Landon: I understand and my point is that we cannot have this conversation every four years during a presidential election. This is an ongoing conversation that needs to happen. I have come to this conclusion: Jesus is King and Lord. No political party is the answer. We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work in healing our nation and reconciling one to another. Again, not dealing with issues in a fight, but in a time of peace and unity. As we pray for the leadership of our nation, I also pray for the people of our great country.

PARTING WORDS OF WISDOM


RF: There are young adults, millennials and other leaders reading this interview. They may be facing challenges they never expected to face. Roadblocks may be in their way. What words of encouragement would you share with them on their journey?

Landon: [Pause] Don’t underestimate faithfulness.

God is truly faithful. In your 20s, many times you are fighting so hard and trying to make it. To make a mark. But I found out that its in your 30s that you start seeing the provision and faithfulness of God in response to your faithfulness to Him. And it will never be an equal return. It’s always an abundance!

I would also encourage your readers to value leadership, strategies and how to grow. Value the leadership that you are held accountable to. Promote strategies that stir healthy growth, not simply fast growth. And learn the lessons of how to grow in a balanced way.

But once again, value faithfulness. I’ll leave you with this: When you are faithful in your 20s, you will see the hand of God in your 30s. In other words, don’t get weary in well doing. In your season of hard work, expect great harvest!

RF: Thanks Landon! Let’s expect great harvest in 2017! 


Discover More! About Landon Schott:

Twitter: @LandonSchott // @RevTVNetwork // @Heather_Schott

Websites: http://www.therev.com // http://revtv.com

Dear Millennial: Give Faith a Chance in 2017

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It’s that time of year once again! The expected “New You” slogans are populating the airwaves and saturating the marketplace. Whenever we approach a new year, the predictable appeals to look forward to new beginnings are always meeting us. And if you’re a millennial (approximately ages 18 to 34), you’re expected to be on the frontlines of change and pursuing new ventures in 2017. As a fellow millennial, I can attest to the burden and expectation to reach further and aim higher. With every challenge I’ve faced, my faith in God has been an anchor through life’s ups and downs. Here’s my challenge to you: While the weight of expectation increases, why not give faith in God a chance in this New Year? Here are some quick tips in activating your faith in 2017:

 

Step #1: Digest God’s Word – everyday!

I wish I could tell you there were some quick way to grow your faith. I must report that there is no shortcut to faith in God! But, there is a sure way to grow your faith starting today – digest God’s Word everyday. I liken it to eating food. Sometimes, I admittedly eat my food too fast. As a result, I deny myself the opportunity to enjoy the taste of the food for the satisfying a momentary hunger. I’m learning to chew my food properly so that it can digest properly. I apply the same approach to the Word of God. It is our living Bread! Why rush it?

If you already do this, I want to applaud you and encourage you to keep going! If this hasn’t been a habit for you, start today! Rather than taking large sums of Scripture, take a portion and reflect on the passage. Search faith scriptures on Google via BibleGateway.com or Blble.com and read these life-giving verses. If you’re hungry for God to move in your life without hindrance, build your faith in His Word. It’s His promises!

 

Step #2: Devote time in prayer.

I used to think I couldn’t pray because I heard other people pray publicly. From my observations, I did not measure up at all! Their poetry and prose was on point! They talked to God with eloquent language. I thought I was at a poetry jam! But, I laid down on those insecurities to pick up the mantle of prayer. It’s talking with God and listening to God. I know our schedules and lives can be hectic and quite overwhelming. But, the Giver of your life wants to connect with you. He wants to hear your heart and desires that you hear His.

Before ending my seminary pastoral internship in Trenton, NJ, a member of the church came up to me and lovingly said, “Ryan, God misses your times with Him.” My heart sank. I knew exactly what they meant. It wasn’t that I failed to pray. It was how I was praying. I wasn’t all in. I wasn’t completely devoted to sharing the depths of my heart and hearing what grieves God. Almost a decade later, I remember those loving, corrective words. I never thought about how God felt when I didn’t seek Him. Faith is built when you trust the Father in relationship and conversation.

 

Step #3: Develop an appetite for faith-filled risks!

My fellow millennial: Face your giants. Confront your fears. Courageously address the elephant in the room. Look around. There are many examples of people taking risks without any evidence that it will work out for their good. They’re making an attempt to try something new or as Aerosmith would put it, “Living on the Edge”! How much more should we be taking risks for God that is rooted in our faith? This kind of living requires an appetite for it. If you are used to playing it safe, you’ll find that your hunger to try new things wane. You may even be tempted to think, “That’s crazy. It doesn’t take all of that!” But that’s the crazy, radical, mind-boggling deal! It does TAKE ALL OF THAT and ALL OF YOU!

The biggest obstacle standing in our way is that four lettered word: FEAR. It is the enemy of faith, handicapping us from pursuing our purpose and calling. It will keep us on the sidelines, unwilling to open up and share our deepest passions and dreams. But it doesn’t have to be this way! When the voice of doubt says, “You can’t! Don’t bother!” turn to the voice of God that says, “You can! Move forward in Me!” Surround yourself with faith-filled adventurers! Keep them close and if you don’t have it in your circle, seek them out! Faith is contagious and will spread like wildfire when you are around those who keep the fire lit with their devotion and discipline. Before taking a faith-filled risk in 2017, I’m encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:17:

“God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives.” (The Message)

As you navigate the hopes and challenges of 2017, I rest in the confidence that this three-point guide for faith will help you move into new realms of thought, creativity and passion as you pursue your goals and your purpose. And remember – the world is waiting on you. Let’s take a faith-filled adventure in 2017! -RF

Jack Redmond: Soul Winners Arise!

JackRedmond2016Jack Redmond is a man on a mission. 

A pastor, evangelist, speaker, teacher and author of several books, including his latest, Let Your Voice Be HeardTransforming from Church Goer to Active Soul Winner, Jack sat down with me to discuss his book. As you will discover through this interview, Jack is passionate to share this truth — anyone who follows Christ can help others connect with Jesus. Now, the interview:

RF: Jack – you’ve written many books like People Matter to God, Infusion and Wounded Heart. What compelled you to write your latest book, Let Your Voice Be Heard?

JR: If I could do one thing in my life, it would be to end spectator Christianity.There’s a big difference between how modern Christians live compared to how the early Christians lived. The early Church was very much face-to-face and relational. They had a personal relationship with Jesus and told others — it was contagious! When I think of the first 300 years of Christianity, there was a 40% growth of Christianity each decade within those 300 years. But when you look at the statistics from 1970 to 2010, Christianity on a global scale is the same — around 33%. With all of our modern technology, conferences, mega-watt pastors, and resources, we are not growing at the rate the early Church grew.

Changing those statistics is bringing us back to relationship and sharing our stories. Let Your Voice Be Heard is a book that equips people to share their faith with people they already know.

If I could do one thing in my life, it would be to end spectator Christianity. – Jack Redmond

RF: Jack, you mentioned the decline or stagnation of Christianity…

JR: Christianity in the Western World is statistically stagnating, but that could change. D. James Kennedy, in his book Evangelism Explosion, talks about 95% of born-again Evangelicals never led someone to Christ. That book was written about 40 years ago. I haven’t been able to find any statistics to update or confirm that study. But, most church-going Christians do not have soul winning on their mind. I found this when I traveled to churches and even in my own church. When you start to have conversations with people, it’s amazing that many have not led someone to Christ — the Savior that changed and is changing their lives.

RF: Why do you think that there has been a disconnect or Christians don’t feel compelled to share Christ?

JR: I go into great detail about this in my book Infusion when in the 4th century, Constantine (Roman Emperor) made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. Some say he was converted, others contend that Christianity was taken over and he simply wanted to “roll with it”. But, what he did was to make Christianity acceptable and gave it many benefits it didn’t have before. Christianity spread as a persecuted religion — one that was relational in nature. The benefit of Christianity for 300 years was that people knew Christ. With Constantine made it the religion of the Roman Empire, it became valuable to the larger society. It became an IN thing to be a Christian. But Constantine would also build cathedrals that had one person speaking up front while others looked on. This changed the dynamics of Christianity being founded on relationships and conversation.

Christianity was taken on by Roman Catholicism that relegated much power to the priest. Without going into too much history, the Dark Ages and other historical milestones saw the Bible being taken away from people experiencing it themselves. Now, it was belonging to an organization. Even the Reformation was to clean up Roman Catholicism. Protestant tradition transitioned from a priest to a pastor. There have been many changes historically, but it was widely accepted to have a point person speaking and others listening, rather than being engaged.

Presently, where Christianity is exploding is where people are engaged and connecting. Let Your Voice Be Heard serves to help people share the Gospel wherever they go.

RF: Would you concede that while the advent of technology has spread the Gospel in a global fashion, it has also been a proxy voice for Christians rather than Christ-followers speaking up themselves?

JR: In terms of technology, even before its boom — it was an attraction model. If you have good preaching, singing and a good environment, it is attractive. But, the “modern church” mentality is about filling churches in order for people to give to maintain the church. It’s a maintenance mentality as opposed to a Great Commission mentality.

Around 86% of people come to church because they were personally invited. Technology has its place but doesn’t replace relationships. I use technology. God uses it. But, it should never replace the importance of interacting with others.

RF: I noticed on the cover of your new book — you have a photo of young people. I’m sure that was intentional. Why did you include young people and do you believe this book is for everyone of every age?

JR: The first answer is yes — the book is for all ages. As Christians, we are here to seek and save the lost and connect them with Christ. As far as young people, the stats are that 85% of people that come to Christ come before the reach the age of 18. Young people are the greatest mission field on the planet. Young people, oftentimes, are the greatest minister to their generation. Ministry is what God has done in your life. I’ve seen teens and young adults to share their faith in a real, transparent way. If you are serious about the Gospel, you must be invested in the next generation.

Part of the reason why some churches aren’t growing is because their priority is keeping saved people happy. That’s the focus of the average church. In order for them to keep coming back, we have to keep them happy. Since many pastors have limited time, that’s what they do. It’s another reason why we must train the Body of Christ to do the work of ministry. The church is an equipping place. The five-fold ministry is designed for the church to do ministry outside the church walls. As it pertains to young people — they are passionate and they have time to invest. They are able to make a big difference. I was saved at the age 0f 27. If I was saved a bit younger and shared my faith with who I partied with, I would have won many to Christ. But, no one had ever shared Christ with me until I was 27.

Part of the reason why some churches aren’t growing is because their priority is keeping saved people happy. – Jack Redmond

RF: On page 99 of your new book, you have what’s called THE REDMOND SCALE. I thought it was quite good. How did you come up with this scale and what do you want readers to glean from it?

JR: I have to laugh — I have named scales after me! I wrestled with it and it almost postponed the book because of it.

But, the REDMOND SCALE is a reminder that evangelism is a PROCESS. It’s not a point in time. Theologically, yes — salvation is a moment when you are saved by faith…when you cross from death to life. The reality is that there is a process leading up to that. If someone has had a certain perspective or philosophy of life for 40 years, their perspective may not change overnight. Be prepared to invest in the PROCESS. It takes time!

Some don’t share their faith because they are in church and watching the preacher preach the message and share a call for salvation — thinking if they can’t do the same, they are disqualified or not doing right. But, every time you help someone get closer to God, you are invested and engaged in the PROCESS. If you can get a militant atheist to wonder, “Hmmm, I wonder if God is real”, then you are making an impact! That is a huge breakthrough and it may take a couple of years.

I just talked with someone yesterday who is a nanny and cleaning lady for a Jewish lady for 20 years. The Jewish lady recently gave her life to Christ. But, it took a 20 year relationship of interaction to bring this woman to faith in Christ. When we are asking people to come  to Christ, we are asking them to reject what they have known.

Here’s another example: I had a lady come to me who took an evangelism class. She was a foster parent to two teenagers who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was upset because they wouldn’t come to church. I shared with her that if someone is a Jehovah’s Witness (and I may not be exactly correct on their theological position), they believe the only way to God and Heaven is through the Kingdom Hall. If they walk away, they are doomed to soul annihilation. You are not asking these kids to come to church or try something new. You are asking them to risk, according to their theological position, soul annihilation by coming to church. Sometimes we don’t think about that…

RF: …what you’re saying Jack is that sometimes (or too often) we are not considering the consequences and the risks others are taking to embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior…

JR: Exactly! And what they have to wrestle with. What would it take for a Christian to go to Mecca and proclaim Allah is superior to Jesus. Think about it. When you share your faith with a Muslim, you are asking them to bear consequences. When I was in India, I didn’t know what the dot (bindi) meant on the foreheads of the females. I asked and was told that the smaller bindi are for single girls of the Hindu faith. If the women are married, they have a larger bindi. If the woman is a widow, she loses her bindi. They are deemed as worthless or useless because they are widow. So now you have a 20 year old Hindu girl who comes to the Lord. She loses her bindi. She is looked upon as worthless and useless – like a widow. Rejected by her family and no Hindu man would marry her. Yet, she may be in a Hindu village or Hindu city. When we are asking people to come to Christ, it’s a big decision. This is why it’s a PROCESS.

The REDMOND SCALE looks at the process of where people are and how to address them in a way that’s inviting and engaging. Some people may have a five minute conversation and conversion happens suddenly. Biblically, it happened with the Ethiopian eunuch. But, for many — that is a rare occurrence. For most, it will be a PROCESS. It’s the PROCESS that causes people to see Jesus as a Savior moving towards their need for the Savior.

Evangelism is a process. – Jack Redmond

RF: How long did it take you to write this book? I’m not referring to the actual writing and editing process. When did you know you were ready to release this type of book?

JR: I think I finished writing it in 2012 and then I was going through the publishing process and offered bad book deals. Then, I started up again in 2015 and re-edited the book. I was chewing on the concept for five years. I think its BASIC CHRISTIANITY. Unfortunately, the Church-at-large may not focus on BASIC CHRISTIANITY as it should – like how do I become a good this or that. When I came to Christ in 1997, this message made sense to me. I lived it before I wrote it. No more spectators but soul winners. I’ve heard people say its insulting to call them church goers only. But, the question is are you winning souls?

RF: Jack, you’re a pastor (fellow pastor with me at Christ Church), you’re a husband, a father, a coach, a mentor with many responsibilities. How do you win souls in your schedule? Do you feel satisfied in your approach to soul winning or success?

JR: I don’t feel satisfied that I have fulfilled what God wants me to do. In terms of personally sharing faith with others, I face the same challenges such as busyness. Being married with children with multiple jobs, writing and traveling — I reconcile it by standing on this truth — I’m not called to do everything. I can do what I can do. If I can help others be soul winners, it’s impact that’s beyond what I can do personally.

I found a new pizza spot and I was so excited. I received my two pizzas and a flyer was stapled on the top of the box saying that a psychic would be visiting the pizza place. I looked at that as an opportunity to build relationship with the owner. He may or may not have spiritual convictions. He may be thinking the psychic coming will help me sell some pizzas. Whatever the case, I view it as an opportunity to learn more about him and gradually ask appropriate questions that will help foster Christ conversations. But, I recognize it will be a PROCESS. Before you go to people about God, go to God about people.

RF: Jack, would you pray for the readers of this interview that they would be soul winners in their generation?

Jack Redmond is an author, speaker Church Mobilization Pastor at Christ Church in Montclair, NJ since July, 2000. He is also Founder and President of Fourth Generation Ministries. For more information, connect with Jack at www.4thgen.org.

 

“Thoughts & Prayers”: The Action Behind The Words

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“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:17-22 (ESV)

The aftermath of recent tragic events in Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino have solicited the thoughts and prayers of millions of people around the world. When such needless events happen, human reasoning and explanations fall flat in the face of grief and indescribable pain. Thoughts and prayers seem to be the immediate response to senseless tragedy as families heal and communities rebuild. After hearing the breaking news, I’ve offered my thoughts and prayers, taking to social media to join my heart with others that I may never meet but are connected to around a common cause.

But, the thoughts and prayers offered have caused media outlets such as the NY Daily Post to make a declarative statement on their front page: “GOD’S NOT FIXING THIS”. I read the responses of Christians as they railed against the media and how dare they make such a statement. The “godless” media strikes again. However, I read the title quite differently. Rather than an indictment on faith, I found it to be an invitation of faith to rise up — with the ones offering thoughts and prayers.

As I wrestled with the headline and the responses from all corners, I had to ask myself some tough questions:

For those offering thoughts and prayers, have they received answers from God to the problems we face?

If they have, why has there been too many silenced after the “smoke” settles? Where are the solutions beyond political posturing? 

Why are people of faith offended when this should be opportunity to share the joy of being in relationship with God?

It’s during times of pain and confusion that many are asking questions about faith, prayer and God’s involvement. The immediate disdain for opposing views and even demonizing others for their position has prevented meaningful conversation and dialogue. I believe God is fixing matters – if only we would not only be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. The Book of James tells us in the same passage to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. If an opposing view or a challenge to your faith causes you to be incensed, the question is — why so angry? What is causing that response?

I believe the world is calling out those who offer thoughts and prayers. And rightfully so. We are living in a time when cliches and quick memes won’t do. Irregardless of your position on the use of guns in this country (USA), we should be open to having a conversation of how we can prevent guns in the wrong hands. We are all interested in the safety and security of our communities. Before vilifying another person for their views, we could offer an opportunity to discover why they have that opinion. They could possibly be persuaded to see another viewpoint if the atmosphere was not so toxic. We’re choking as a country because the air is poisoned with division. As a result, the voices with vision are being silenced or talked over. This has to change for the sake of this generation and future generations.

I challenge all those who rightfully offer thoughts and prayers after a tragedy. If you are unwilling to listen to someone who doesn’t agree with you, how are you open to hear God in prayer as He offers His wisdom? Let’s be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Let’s produce righteousness in the midst of contentious issues with the sensitivity and discernment only God can provide. I look forward to when we can collectively take our thoughts and prayers and provide ideas and answered prayers. – REF

Faith Without Action Is Dead (Guest Blogger: Wodline Hippolyte)

The other day my son decided to lock the door to my work room. I was angry and frustrated because it was the week of two upcoming events and I needed my supplies. What made things worse was I didn’t know where the key to that room was…long story.

I felt defeated which caused me to wait two days before I made an actual effort to do something. The night before I needed to get access to my supplies I decided to ask my dad for help. He brushed me off and told me to call a locksmith.

That night I was determined to pick the lock, but I was unsuccessful. My only options were to call a locksmith or face my fear of heights by getting a ladder to climb through the room window. That following morning I was determined to face my fear to get inside that room. As I walked outside the front door I was greeted by my dad who asked me where I was headed. I told him what I was planning to do and with the help of my youngest brother he ended up climbing the ladder for me to get into the room.

Won’t He Do It!

That week I learned it is with that same determination we are to pursue our God-given dreams. My dad came through for me because he saw the effort I made to “get my stuff” and many times God does the same with us. God has always come through for me when I allow my faith to be greater than my fears.

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2:17

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View More: http://marjoriedatuin.pass.us/wodlineWodline is a mompreneur, wedding planner and savvy startup specialist who loves the Lord and is passionate about empowering young people to follow their dreams.

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What We Do With What We Know

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WhatWeDoResponsibility.

This word conjures up many emotions and responses. Some say we need to “take responsibility.” Others may say you need to “delegate responsibility.” The word responsibility carries a weight that either is fully embraced or flatly denied. Either you will take responsibility or you won’t. It’s your choice.

This thought leads me to a question: “What do we DO with what we KNOW?” NBC says in its service announcements the phrase: “The More You Know”. But, there’s a danger in knowing more that what your willing to act upon. For example, you may know the alarming statistics of childhood poverty but discover your casual approach for doing your part to solve the issue. You may know the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation but find it difficult to live what you repeat.

I’ve been personally challenged by this question lately: “What do I DO with what I KNOW?” The parading of information is not the answer. The gaining of another degree (while admirable) is not necessarily the answer to this question. It is a CORE question. It requires COURAGE.

Let’s be frank, shall we? We know what we know, but struggle with doing what we need to do with what we know. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable to act upon that which does not fit into what others are doing or what’s popular. It may require confrontation that we’re not ready for or a sacrifice we’re not willing to make. But, I ask this question: What good is it to know much information without the same degree of action that affects positive change?

My prayer for you (and for myself) is that we will make the decision to be change agents for our generation — act upon what we know rather than just speak what we know. Let’s be known more for our investment in getting things done than our eloquence. – RF

REFlections Interview with Angela Robinson

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If you’ve seen the OWN series Tyler Perry’s The Haves and The Have Nots, you have been introduced to Veronica Harrington aka The Ice Queen. To characterize Veronica as ruthless would be the understatement of the year. In the upcoming promo for the new season (starting on June 30th on OWN), The Ice Queen herself bookends the commercial callously remarking, “When is the devil ever too tired to raise hell?” After hearing those words, I would prefer to forego ever meeting Veronica in person (and keep her in fervent prayer). But, thankfully, I’ve had the honor of meeting and knowing the woman behind the character. Angela Robinson is a gifted artist with a heart for others and their dreams being fulfilled.

In this REFlections interview, let me introduce a woman whose talent is only outmatched by her character, love for the arts and her genuine love towards others. Thank you Angela for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights. For our readers, enjoy!

RF: Ryan Faison | AR: Angela Robinson

RF: How would you describe Angela Robinson in one sentence?

AR: A work in progress. I’m constantly working on myself. I’m a painting that’s not nearly done yet.

RF: I wonder how Veronica “The Ice Queen” Harrington (from The Haves and the Have Nots) would answer that question! Due to the success of this drama on OWN, you are becoming a household name. Do you relate to the character you play in any way?

AR: I definitely can relate. I don’t think it’s possible to play a character that you can’t relate to. I can relate because everyone has their own “stuff”. My character Veronica is walking around with a suitcase full of “stuff”. She has not even begun to unpack yet! I can relate to someone being so controlling and so interested in what people may think to the point of hurting people around them to keep up the facade of perfection. I am not that, but I can relate to people who are exactly that.

 

On Acting: I don’t think it’s possible to play a character that you can’t relate to. – Angela Robinson

 

RF: As a work in progress — the painting still being actualized — what is the one thing, the passion, that wakes you up every morning? 

AR: I’m most passionate about being exactly where God wants me to be and doing what He’s called me to do. I believe what that is — is to encourage people to pursue their dreams and their purpose. This gives me life and wakes me in the morning. I am always thinking of how I can encourage and talk people “off the ledge”. I understand that when we truly walk into what God has destined for us, it doesn’t always look “traditional”, especially traditionally Christian. It’s scary. You may have people talking you out of it. But, you must discern the voice of God and the few people in your life that will encourage you to take the step of faith. I wake up with a passion for people living their fullest life. I think too often we live in fear of rejection, fear of lack, or fear of “will this pay enough?”. Typically, I find my niche in the area of artistic pursuits.

RF: What words of wisdom would you share with those who are driven to pursue their dreams but also need to balance their lives, especially at home? How do you do this Angela?

AR: You have to be intentional. I married an artist (Scott). We get each other. We understand the business. When we first got married, we made a conscious decision not to travel for the first year of our marriage. Sometimes that’s hard because you are looking for that perfect job that may require you to travel in that first year! You have to make that sacrifice. You have to say, “Even if I have to work at a restaurant to make ends meet, I want to invest in my marriage (or home life).” You must lay the foundation. We have a rule in our marriage that we don’t let three weeks go by without seeing each other. You have to be intentional because your family comes first.

RF: How has Scott (your husband) inspired you to reach your dreams and goals?

AR: I couldn’t do what I do without him. He is the wind beneath my wings. We are in this together. Someone asked him recently, “This must be really hard for you with Angela’s success”. Scott was taken aback by the comment because we are one. Our approach is that when the other is doing well, we are doing well. We are one unit. My husband reads lines with me. He helps me memorize my lines. He prays with me before a difficult scene. We are just partners. There is not the attitude of “I’m doing this, you’re doing that.” He’s teaching, he’s acting and he’s very busy himself. We never look at it as separate careers. Our position is what are WE doing next.

 

On Marriage: It’s about what WE are doing next. – Angela Robinson

 

RF: I first met you at Metro Community Church. We were singing together on the worship team unto God. Your passion for God was undeniable. How do you live out your faith in God in your career?

AR: If I were a teacher or waitress, I would use my faith. The same applies to being an actress. It’s an expression of my gift. I studied and trained and I love it. I take it very seriously. In my career, if I played a part where the character is not Christian, some would question and say, “How can you do that?” I respond by simply saying, “That’s not me. I studied and trained so I could diversify and play different, complex and crazy characters.” Living my faith is a walking out.

RF: Does it help to have a boss (Tyler Perry) who has publicly shared his faith in God?

AR: Tremendously. I’ve never experienced that before. I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve done theater for so many years. But, I’ve never experienced THAT before. I got a little taste of it when I was in the cast of “The Color Purple” on Broadway and Oprah (Winfrey) was one of our Executive Producers. The ship was run a bit differently because her focus was more on the spiritual side of things. She wasn’t there on a daily basis but had great influence on the show.

With Tyler (Perry), he directs every show (of The Haves and The Have Nots). We are with him on a daily basis. To have a boss who starts everyday with praying is refreshing. We pray together as a cast and crew. When we think about character choices, we always consider from a perspective of faith. We present characters with flaws — they’re not perfect people by a long shot. But, we consider faith in the equation. Christians are watching and we want that represented. Tyler walks out what he talks about.

 

On Tyler: He walks out what he talks about. – Angela Robinson

 

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Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots premieres a new season on Tuesday, June 30th at 9 PM ET on OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network). Angela Robinson plays Veronica Harrington (aka The Ice Queen) | www.oprah.com

 

RF: The rating success of the show is quite overwhelming, especially on a relatively newer network. Did you expect the response to The Haves and The Have Nots? How have you dealt with the “celebrity” and larger platform as a result?

AR: That’s a great question. I teach actors and I always say, “This can’t be about the fame and celebrity. You have to LOVE THE WORK!” I used to boast that I don’t run after fame. I want to be a working actor. And then it happened!! I still to this day and shocked when people come up to me and ask for a photo and say, “Oh my…that’s Veronica!” Ryan, I’ve learned not to go out with my do-rag! You never know who you will run into. I must admit that I’m surprised by the whole celebrity deal.

With the celebrity, God has opened the door to more speaking around the country. I’ve always loved that and appreciative of those doors opening. I tell you — it makes me think all the time. I see why people get addicted to it. I have a greater understanding of why there are those who will do anything not to lose their celebrity because people treat you differently. I’ve said, “Why are they giving me free stuff?” I’ve asked, “Why did I get in and people are still waiting?” I can see how it is an addiction. So, there are those who will take roles that don’t represent them or their values in order to maintain the celebrity. I pray often that I never have that issue. I do see how it can happen. It’s very interesting.

 

On Fame: This can’t be about the fame or celebrity. You have to love the work! – Angela Robinson

 

RF: With the celebrity and the greater platform, what are some causes that you champion?

AR: The Broadway Inspiration Voices. We’ve been together for almost 20 years, comprised of Broadway actors. We have a concert a year and it’s like CHURCH! It’s sometimes the only church some people will ever attend. It’s everyone — Jews, Gentiles, Muslims — to hear the choir. I champion veterans, cancer awareness, and issues I’ve been directly affected by. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several United Negro College Fund (UNCF) events. I attended a historically black college, so that means a lot to me. All of those things are important to me.

The main thing I echo is that you cannot sit on your dreams. Dreams are from God and are meant to be pursued. “I want to be famous one day” is not a dream. But, if God has put a song in your heart, sing! If God has called you to be a worship leader (like you Ryan), do it! Whatever that is — you cannot allow fear to cripple you. I always say that your life depends on it because your life does depend on it!

RF: Speaking of dreams, Dr. King had a dream. Yet, we see like in the recent Charleston, South Carolina shooting (which was racially motivated), there is a segment of our society that rather live the nightmare of discrimination, violence and division. As an actress and who is a world traveler, how do you respond to these events and offer wisdom for healing?

AR: You mentioned Metro. It is a special place. We prayed early in the morning with the pastor and staff to pray for healing. We believe in prayer. I believe there needs to be intentionality in working toward healing and justice. I am praying for an awakening. Racism does exist — its not in our heads — it does exist. We must acknowledge that and then move forward toward healing. I have been impressed by my white brothers and sisters who have acknowledged the issues and have stepped out to speak out. Hopefully, we can all join in, unify and work together for the common good. For when you have someone who has such hate to kill, my earnest hope is that that these individuals will not be welcome or have any friends because their positions are not embraced.

 

On Charleston, SC Shooting: I’m praying for an awakening. – Angela Robinson

 

RF: Thank you Angela. It has been encouraging to see millions of people around our country and around the world rally for justice and bridging the racial divide. With that said, what are some things that are coming up for Angela (that you are at liberty to share)?

AR: June 30th, The Haves and The Have Nots are coming back! We are excited about TEMPTATION TUESDAYS starting again on June 30th at 9 PM EST on the OWN Network. It is a great season. I’m doing a lot of auditioning as well as serving as the Performance Arts Director at Metro. I’m doing more speaking. Ryan — I’m living my life like it’s golden! (Ryan: Alright, Jill Scott) 

RF: What lasting words would you give that person reading this interview. They are pursuing their dreams (that which is in their control), but they are disappointed, dismayed, and disheartened. They feel like they’re not making forward progress. What would you say to them?

AR: Quitting — is not an option! If you were born to do it, you were born to do it. That doesn’t change because others don’t see it in this moment. You were born to do it. You have to be creative — how to value your time until someone sees it — because they will. When I started working at Metro, I was on the road with The Color Purple for two years. I had been in the business for a while but when I came back, I couldn’t get a job for a whole year. This has never happened. Metro offered me a job and I took it. I was able to do arts and still audition. But, I found something to do in the meantime. After taking the Metro role, doors began to open.

I love Philippians 4 where it says, “I’ve learned to be content in whatever state I’m in.” As artists and individuals-at-large, we must be content where we are because it can be up and down. In this business, you fail more than you win. The key is what you do with the wins. When you are winning, what are you doing with that time? Make use of your time. Keep pursuing and don’t give up because it will be seen eventually. Don’t give up before you get the YES! Hold on to what God promised you and it will come to pass!

 

To Dreamers: Quitting is not an option! – Angela Robinson

 

Angela Robinson Website: http://www.arobinsonartist.com

Angela Robinson Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/AngelaRobinsons4

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OPRAH IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF HARPO, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2015 HARPO PRODUCTIONS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Read more: http://www.oprah.com/app/the-haves-and-the-have-nots.html#ixzz3dlXBtYkv

 

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