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The power of persistence 

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Most people aren’t persistent long enough to see what they have actually labored for. Usually we come to a breaking point before we actually break through. Often the thing that we think is going to break us down is actually the thing that is really building us up. Often the very thing we run from is what we need most. We often want our circumstances to change but in all reality it is us who need to change. Abner Suarez said, “It’s not our circumstances that need to change it’s our perspective of our circumstances that needs to change.” When you have the right perspective being persistent seems, feels and is actually easier. I am not saying it’s easy, if it were everyone would be doing it. I am simply saying that the right perspective energizes persistence.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. – Calvin Coolidge 

The most successful people spiritually, physically and financially were the ones who refused to give up. Persistence is a choice, not a feeling. Everyone feels like giving up, but successful people were the ones who decided to consistently live above their feelings. Their passion and purpose caused them to be persistent. As this happened they began to grow through the process. The end result was that they grew enough on the inside that they then became able to steward what they persisted for. Almost anyone who has done anything significant has been through hell and back. The resistance we face tests our persistence. You will not fulfill God’s purpose for your life without persistence. So keep on doing what is right, whether it is costing you or making you a lot of money. Keep on doing what you know to do. Keep on being faithful with what you have been given. Faith pleases God. God rewards faithfulness. Faith is a belief; faithfulness is when you live that belief to the fullest.

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Dealing with disappointment

If you don’t deal with your disappointment it will deal with you. We all have problems; we all have dealt with pain. We all have experienced disappointments on some level. We have been lied to, lied about, falsely accused, abused and used. While the pain, problems and disappointments are real we must choose hope instead. Rodney McBride said, “Faith is often strengthened right at the place of disappointment.” If we respond correctly to disappointment we grow in faith, hope and perseverance. If we don’t respond to disappointment correctly we become discouraged, disillusioned and depressed. Here is an example. You were engaged, you thought it was going to work out but you found out that the man of your dreams was really a nightmare. You were hurt badly and the downward spiral began. You became disappointed, disappointment grew into discouragement, discouragement grew into disillusionment and that can cause severe depression or even self-destruction. The “you” may not really be you but it is “someone.” I gave you this role-playing scenario as a parable. The circumstances may be different but the negative downward spiral began in the place of disappointment. If you want to protect your future you must guard your heart.
 
Disappointment is a real place, it’s ok to visit but don’t live there. When you experience disappointment you are learning that maybe you scheduled the wrong appointment. Maybe you trusted the wrong person. Maybe you made a good decision with the right motives but the timing was wrong. Maybe you didn’t listen to a voice of wisdom and stability in your life. Maybe you did something you know you shouldn’t have done. For me personally, the deepest and hardest to handle disappointments are the ones that were my fault. The ones I could have avoided. If that is you what you will need to do is assume responsibility for your mistake or bad decision and learn a lesson from it, forgive yourself and move on. If you are feeling courageous share your story with someone else so that you can help someone avoid the pain that you went through. You can either have wisdom or regret, the choice is yours. If someone else is the source of your disappointment forgive them and put your hope in Jesus alone. Here are three things that I learned from disappointment. I hope my pain can be your gain.

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What defines you?

You are not what you have. You are not what you don’t have. You are not where you live. You are not what you drive. You are not what you feel. You are not what happened to you. You are not what didn’t happen for you. You are not what others have said about you. You are created in the image and likeness of God. Out of the world’s 7.4 billion people no two people have the same fingerprints. You are unique. You are valuable. You were created for a purpose that God himself planned for you to do before the world began. The value of something is determined by what someone will pay for it. You are priceless. God gave his very best (Jesus) for you. You matter. You can define yourself by your assets or your debts. You can define yourself by your circumstances or choices. Or you can value yourself and interpret your circumstances in light of who you are to Jesus. 


“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles.” (Ephesians 3:1 NKJV)
Paul the Apostle wrote this while he was in prison in Rome. Paul did not call himself a prisoner of Rome although he was in a Roman prison. Paul identified himself as a prisoner of Christ. He defined himself in light of his most valuable relationship. He identified himself in light of who he was to Jesus and who Jesus was to him. He refused to be a victim. Because he had the right perspective of his circumstances he was able to receive revelation in his circumstances. His place of limitation became his place of revelation. Later, in his letter to the Ephesians as Paul looked at a Roman soldier, what he saw was actually the Armor of the Lord. He was free enough to receive revelation from those who were holding him captive. Paul refused to have a chip on his shoulder in the midst of the injustice that he was experiencing. In Rome people didn’t serve long prison sentences. They were beaten, killed or let go. He was actually in prison waiting to be sentenced. He was guilty until proven innocent. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he chose to show concern for others and so he wrote Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. What if your place of limitation was actually your place of revelation? What if the pain that you have been through could help someone enter into the purpose of God for his or her life? Remember this: When you have been victimized and refuse to be a victim you enter into a place of victory. The victory that you have experienced you can help others experience.

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Accountability 

One of the keys to sustainable success in anything is accountability. If you want to pay off debt or acquire wealth you will need to be accountable to people, your plan and the law. If you want to get free of an addiction or be a competitive athlete you will need to learn how accountability works. Accountability is supposed to work for you not against you. I realize that oppressive and insecure leaders have hurt people and so accountability may sound scary. But we can’t live in reaction to other people’s stupidity and expect to succeed in life. Forgive them, let it go, get healthy, be humble and accountable and you will move forward in life. Just know this, where there is true humility there is accountability.

Accountability is a about freedom not control. When most people think of accountability they think of someone calling them to ask, “Are you looking at porn? or Are you still using drugs?” That is the necessary but negative side of accountability. The positive side of accountability sounds something like this. “Are you writing that book you have been talking about?” “What are you doing to start that business that you have been talking about and planning for?” Accountability will pick you up when you fall, keep you on track, help you succeed and help you not become victim of your own success. Accountability helps you to build or rebuild trust.

In the Bible when the prophet Nathan held King David accountable, he helped save David’s kingdom, which actually protected his legacy. Psalm 51 is a direct result of a healthy confrontation that helped David become accountable. In the democratic process accountability protects us from tyranny. In the banking world accountability protects us from fraud. In the jewelry business accountability assures that what you have purchased is authentic. If you want to succeed in life you need to make sure that you see accountability as a servant not a slave driver.

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How trust is built

Trust is built slowly. The more consistent you are the more trustworthy you will be. Everyone wants to be loved and cared for; everyone wants to be trusted. When we speak we want people to listen to us and believe us. When we belong it means we are both loved and trusted. The Bible teaches us to love people unconditionally because God loved us unconditionally. However, the Bible does not teach that we should trust people unconditionally. The Scripture is clear that Jesus – although he loved everyone – did not trust everyone. See John 2:23-25. Personally, I will only trust someone as much as their integrity allows me to trust them.

5 ways to build trust.

  1. Admit when you are wrong. The more you do this publicly the more people identify with you.
  2. Be on time, apologize when you are late and call people back.
  3. Do what you say. Integrity is essential. He who sows integrity reaps trust. Under promise and over deliver.
  4. Say what you mean and mean what you say: Be honest and don’t flatter people.
  5. Talk to people, not about people. If you speak about people, others will hear you, and will not trust you. 
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4 Ancient Business Tips

These 4 ancient business tips come from the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live. These truths have stood the test of time and are still very relevant today. If you apply these principles you are positioning yourself to prosper. These are not opinions they are truths that have been tested by time, truths that transcend culture.

  1. Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds; For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. (Proverbs 27:23-24 NKJV) Diligence means we are aware of what we have and steward it well. We need to know our inventory. If you don’t know what you have you don’t know what you need. If you don’t know what you have you may not see the opportunities that are before you.
  2. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1 NKJV) Integrity is our most valuable commodity. Integrity is more valuable than money. Money is what you have, integrity is either what you are or who you are not. You either have integrity or you don’t.
  3. Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox. (Proverbs 14:4 NKJV) Hard word is messy, and it pays. Hard work is the only way to honest and sustainable increase.
  4. “It is good for nothing,” cries the buyer; But when he has gone his way, then he boasts. (Proverbs 20:14 NKJV) Here King Solomon is giving us a bargaining strategy. You never tell someone how bad you want something because the price is certain to go up. You can brag about your bargain after you bought what you wanted. 
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Integrity

The wisest and wealthiest man to ever live said, “the integrity of the upright shall guide them.” Integrity is a guide, it gives us direction. Integrity instructs us with what to do next. Someone who has integrity may not have a blueprint for the rest of their life, but they intuitively know what is the next right decision. C.S. Lewis said, “integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” When someone has integrity they are honest with God, themselves and others. If you have integrity you do what you say, you mean what you say, and you admit when you are wrong.

Integrity is not about perfection, it’s about authenticity. Hypocrisy is when we project an image of ourselves that is not who we really are. Hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity. Hypocrisy tells others that we are not trustworthy, serious or safe. Our integrity tells others that we are trustworthy. If people don’t see our integrity they won’t want to hear our truth. If we are honest most of us would say that we are recovering hypocrites who are being changed into people of integrity who mean what they say, do what they say, and are what they project. If we want to have real meaningful relationships then we need to keep it real with ourselves and others.

Our integrity will determine both our longevity and our legacy. King Solomon said this, “The just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” Again we see that integrity gives us direction and provides our children with blessing. We can protect our children’s future by living with integrity now. Let integrity lead you to do the next right thing, it will effect you, your family, your friends and your future. Remember this, the more integrity you have, the less regrets you will have. 

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Vision 

Your eyes give you sight, but faith gives you vision. Sight sees what is, vision sees what could be. Vision is when faith and hope look into tomorrow and see something that is not yet, but should be. Vision is when you see a picture of something that is not yet, but could be. Vision sees possibilities. The people in life who have vision usually have direction as well. For vision to give you clear direction, vision must be converted to mission. For example if you have a vision of a skinnier, healthier or wealthier you. You will need a game plan to get there. So your diet and gym routine become your mission and that came from the vision that you had of a better you. When you look at a problem through the lens of faith and hope you get a vision. So look at your life or circumstances through the lens of faith and hope and see what could be. Don’t be discouraged about what is, crying over spilt milk will only turn the milk sour. Look at what is and see what could be. Who do you see yourself becoming this year? Where do you see yourself going this year? What opportunities are before you now? What are the possibilities if you make the most of the opportunities you have been given?

What is in your power to do now that will help you move closer to the vision you have for your life? Powerful people don’t focus on what they can’t change, they focus on what is in their power to change. Be powerful and take initiative to move closer toward the vision you have for your life. Remember being passive is not being patient. Now is the best time to move forward.

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Friend or Foe?

On Christmas Eve December 24th, 2015 We See Jesus Ministries went to deliver Sawyer clean water filters to Canaan, Haiti. Canaan became a city after the earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12, 2010. Now more than 150 families have access to clean drinking water. Toward the end of our time on Christmas Eve the crowd got frustrated and restless. There was abit of screaming as well. As we were getting ready to leave the man in the picture hit Luckner’s arm and grabbed about 8-10 buckets and started walking off with them. Also someone else grabbed about 5 buckets and started to walk off with them as well. Then Brandon Thomas and I ran after the two men and we both ripped the buckets out of their hands. I am glad Brandon was ride or die. It was only by the mercy and grace of God that this situation didn’t get really ugly. We told the people we will come back tomorrow and give more filters out then. Later I spoke to my Dad about what happened. Before he was a Christian he was from the street. He said something to me I will never forget. He said, “buddy, if you would have gotten robbed you couldn’t go back to that neighborhood because if they rob you once they will rob you every time.” It was a very tiring and frustrating time. I learned that I must never allow their desperation to become my frustration. So we prayed and forgave the people who tried to steal from us. But we were determinded to give to them, not to be robbed by them. 

On Christmas Day December 25th, 2015 we returned back to Canaan, Haiti. The man in the picture who tried to steal from us the day before apologized to us the next day. He went from stealing from us to being our security guard. As we were walking through the neighborhood he said, “don’t worry you are in my neighborhood, nothing will happen to you.” He went from being a perpetrator to a protector. That really was a crazy day. As we returned back to the church to get more water filters to pass out, our Haitian team members told us that the crowd was throwing rocks at the church. Then we called the police and they drove around the corner to come help calm the crowd down. So the police, the young man in the picture and a few of his friends helped us complete the Canaan, Haiti clean water project. I didn’t anticipate the crowd getting that wild, but I was reminded again why we are working in Haiti. Poverty leads to desperation and desperation can easily become violent. I am thankful that God protected my family and our team. It could have got really ugly fast. The power of the gospel is manifested when you love your enemies. The transforming work of gospel is manifested when love looks fear in the face and says no. Remember this, you can’t love people you are afraid of. Perfect love casts out all fear.

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Poverty & Injustice 

On December 23, 2015 We See Jesus Ministries and our Haitian partners visited the children’s prison in Delmas, Haiti. Delmas is a suburb of Port Au Prince, Haiti. Port Au Prince, Haiti is the 18th most dangerous city in the whole world. Our team was going to this prison for the third time. We were going to deliver dessert and soap so the young men would be able to clean their clothes. When we arrived there was a police pick up truck that had just arrived also with new mattresses for the kids. That was very encouraging. In spite of a great deal of poverty and injustice progress is happening in the poorest country in this hemisphere. As we were getting ready to see the kids there was a small problem. The kids were playing soccer and were dirty and smelly and they had no water at the prison for the boys and young men to shower. So at first they didn’t want us to see the kids in that dirty/smelly condition. So we ordered for (70 USD) a truck full of water so they could shower after we would leave. So we went into their cell block preached the gospel and passed out crackers, soda and soap to clean their clothes with. All of the young men received what we were delivering, some of the young men received Christ. It was also encouraging to see how well the police were treating the kids.

There was a young man in prison who was out helping everything go smoothly. His name was Makson. His story was very moving. I am not writing to say whether he is innocent or guilty. I am writing just to show you another reality. The reality of those who are poor and have no voice. Makson has been in prison for three years so far. He was accused of raping a young girl and getting her pregnant. In three years he has not seen a judge once. There was no DNA test proving him to be guilty. So when poverty is your reality you are actually guilty until proven innocent, unlike when you have money you are innocent until proven guilty. The deeper your pockets are the louder your voice is. If your pockets are empty you have no voice. He is not a victim of racism, he is afflicted by poverty and injustice is his reality. If he gets a just trial with a DNA test and is proven to be guilty then he needs to serve his due sentence. But what if he is not guilty? Then what? Precious years of his life may have been stolen simply because he is poor and the system, even where there is not racism, is corrupt. It is the government’s job to punish him and the church’s job to love and visit him. It is important that we don’t confuse these different but God ordained roles. All authority comes from God, but that does not mean all people use the authority God gave them correctly. To administer the authority God gave you correctly is called Justice. The more poverty there is, the more injustice there will be. The more poverty there is, the less police there will be. Remember police are just like you and I they don’t work for free because they to have mouthes to feed. As I write this I am sitting on a deck on an island off of Haiti watching my son play in the sand with his Haitian friends. The question I am asking myself is my son, Justice, has justice but what about Makson? What about the poor who have no representation? What about the Fatherless who have no defender on earth? What I am saying is that it is important that we leverage our voice, influence, relationships and resources for the poor