How will you create Unity this week?

Do not minimize what God wants to do with your life. If you read my post last week honoring Martin Luther King Jr., you know his life has motivated me forward. His life was about creating Unity. It would be easy to short shrift ourselves by saying I am in no way a MLK Jr. I don’t know who it might have been but I am guessing someone inspired Dr King and that he had no idea what impact his life would have on our country, yes, even the world. Have you ever thought what would happen if, like Martin, you stepped out to start making a positive difference in your world? Let’s be clear. No matter who you are, you have the ability to create Unity in the world in which you live. What will the ripple effect be of you taking this first step? It is about being willing to lead; helping others find UNITY with an Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward Yes!

Jon Gordon writes in The Power of Positive Leadership, “Your one decision to be a positive leader will not only impact your life, but your relationships, your family, your friends, and your team. A life touches a life that touches a life. A person changes and they help others change. A leader inspires others and develops more leaders. The seed you plant today becomes the harvest you and the changed world will benefit from tomorrow.” The seed mentioned can also be a flat stone that you skip across a stream. It is not only fun to count the number of skips but the ripples that little stone creates as it bounces along represents the impact of our actions. We can create that same ripple effect in our quest to create Unity.

One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen shares this about this ripple effect in his book, Our Greatest Gift. “ I am surrounded by family members and friends. Even wider is the circle of those his actions and words have shaped my life and thoughts. Beyond all the many circles of the countless men and women whose names I do not know but who have, in their own unique way, made the journey I’m making and shared and pains and joys of being human.” We have the opportunity to be counted amongst those Nouwen writes about. To be people who strive each day to create ripples that impact others who we don’t even know.

As we think back to when Martin Luther King was trying to move freedom forward, we are reminded that our country was divided then, like it is today but for different reasons. As he said in one of his speeches, “If democracy is to live, segregation must die. We have come a long, long way, but we have a long way to go.” We do have a long way to go. We won’t get there by standing on the sidelines waiting for someone else to step up and do the right thing. Will you be one to grab the baton from those who have come before us and lead us to where it is we need to go? If you do, by God’s grace and under His mercy things will be made better because like Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8) you respond to the calling by singing,

“Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart “ Dan Schutte

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It’s 2022…What will you do from Now On?

I will be speaking this coming Saturday during the Faith Forward Summit. The summit coordinator, Angeline Moore, asked me to provide two songs to use as part of my introduction. I did not have to think about which ones. The first comes from the movie, The Greatest Showman. I encourage you to watch this video before reading the rest of the blog

Brian Buffini says, “Great things happen when you get fired up!”  This song fires me up every time I watch it because it teaches us to :

Not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone ( step away from your music stand)

Ask others to encourage you as you strive to be who you were meant to be

Others will be encouraged to be a better them when you show them

Your life will make a difference to those around you.

Amazing things will happen when we cross the T off I Can’t making it I Can because others have encouraged you to Believe!

I wrote last week about My Word for 2022 being Unity. It stands for Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward Yes! We all have hopes and have made resolutions for this coming year. Are you aware that the majority of us give up within one to six weeks of starting, and many of these resolutions are repeated year after year. There are many reasons why most New Year resolutions don’t stick. The one reason I want to focus on is we don’t have others (like in the This is Me song) believing and cheering us on. Astalented as Keela is, she didn’t step out and really sing until she looked around the room and realized everyone was for her and needed her to sing as she ultimately did.

We see scripture differently depending on what we are experiencing. Two of my favorite passages in John are when Jesus heals the paralyzed man (John 2) who has been lowered through a roof and when he raises Lazurus from the dead (John 11) in front of Lazurus’ family and friends. In both cases, it was the support of others that was needed. In john 2:5 Jesue says to the four friends, “Because of your faith, this man will be healed”. In John 11, Jesus says to those around Lazurus, ” Now take off his grave clothes so he can go home with you”. Both stories show we need others to help us move our faith forward. We need friends who will bring us to Jesus and we need friends to help remove things in our lives that keep us from living the life God created us to live. I will be speaking on this topic this Saturday during the Faith Forward Summit I mentioned earlier. Register here

So what can we do from now on in 2022? We can in Unity experience real breakthrough in our lives. We can help bring breakthrough into our relationships and in our community. We can if, with God’s help, Together cross the T off I Can’t making it I CAN so we can all move forward with an Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward Yes !!

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If you focused on One Word in 2022, which would you choose?

Undeniable, Never Ending, Intensity, Toward Yes!

The One Word several years ago by Dan Britton, Jon Gordon, and Jimmy Page. .
I am not sure they have ever thought about how cool it is that we choose our Word after Advent and Christmas right before the manifestation of Christ in what is called the Season of Epiphany. Epiphany also means “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way” I..E. Allowing your word for the year coming into focus ?

I had no idea that I would need so much PRAYER in 2019 until I was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome. (Link to the story here ( ) In 2020 I chose GENEROSITY because of how folks cared for Dottie and me in 2019. Little did I know how many folks would need help because of Covid. EMBRACE has been my One Word in 2021 because I wanted to embrace whatever came my way personally or professionally. Our company merged with a larger one in March.

I may not have known why the last three years, but it is clear what I will concentrate in 2022. I really thought it would be BREAKTHROUGH. It is defined by Merriam-Webster this way. “A sudden increase in knowledge, understanding, etc. an important discovery that happens after trying for a long time to understand or explain something” The world we live in is desperately seeking understanding and explanations to the many challenges we face these days. However, for us to experience true breakthrough, we must have a desire to enact change and to make that happen we need my 2022 word UNITY.

Why? If we are to have UNITY there needs to be an UNCOMPROMISED NEVER ending INTENSITY TOWARD YES! If we can come together and proceed in this effort, we can allow God to use us in forming community (committing to Unity) that brings breakthrough. Together we can help Him release this bound up world. 
Let me be clear. Being Unified does not mean uniformity. We are not and do not have to all be or look the same. In fact Unity is more powerful when it is made up of people who don’t think and look alike and come from different places. I wrote a few weeks back about how the different colors of the leaves make trees more beautiful in the fall. An orchestra or a choir make beautiful music when they are unified in their harmony and when they know their time to sing or play an instrument

This can not be an individual effort because we will grow tired and weary. No. As John Tillman writes, “rather than attempt to sweep our own house clean and empty, may WE invite Jesus into our mess (Revelation 3.20) so we can be UNITED with Him. He promises to do a renewing, revealing work within and through not you and and therefore, US. He has work of renewal for US to join Him in now. And He who begins a good work in US will see it through to completion (Philippians 1.6). When he is finished, we will have revealed Him to the world.” Like a light shining in the darkest of places.

Light always defeats the darkness!

Yes friends……………Christmas is over. The waiting for Jesus is over. The fun and celebration is behind us.

Howard Thurman’s poem so beautifully reminds us the hard work is now to be done.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers [and sisters],
To make music in the heart.

“Lord, may we glorify You this coming year by letting go, embracing and rejoicing in Your reign over all things. May we trust Your word never to return void, but in UNITY may we strive to accomplish all You marvelously intend”

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To what are you tethered?

I was standing by the river this morning w 2 of my grandkids at a social distance skipping rocks and watching them wade into the water. We even caught a frog! It was peaceful and while the sun was shining, the shade and the water off the water made it so pleasant. I wished we had a couple blow up rafts so the kids could enjoy floating just off the rocky beach where I could make sure nothing went wrong. What I forgot was as still as the river was, there was still a current that without something to anchor them, the kids would have nonchalantly drifted down the river to a place I would not have been able to see them anymore.

I was thankful for this moment after a couple of weeks of finding it hard to find anything for which to be thankful. This thought reminded me of Romans 12:2 in the Bible that says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” My friend, Steve Fitzhugh, modernized this verse when talking to young people about peer pressure saying, “even a dead fish can swim down stream.” I am grateful that the Covid19 shelter in place has given me extra time to think about what I feel about watching a black man killed by those who are sworn to protect. The first thing I felt called to do was reach out and say I am sorry to friends whom I knew were in pain. That I was broken hearted that George Floyd’s death once again showed that there is still an ugly and hateful current that continues to move in our society. I then focused on what was I to do about it and found a devotional by Chip Ingram that even though it wasn’t about this hateful act, it gave me a roadmap for my journey forward from here. I interpreted what he shared in this way.

“This is a journey which we are all on and one we need to do together. As Chip Ingram shared, like a real trip, we need a SUV ? We first need to Study so that we can learn and gain knowledge. We then need to seek to Understand by listening to those who have experienced more and know more than we do. We then need to make ourselves Vulnerable so that as Paul in Philippians 2 teaches, “we will not just look to our own interests but as importantly, the interest of others”

If we can all somehow do this, tethered together in unity, we can become agents of change. We can’t allow our complacency to let the currents of the world continue to take us down stream to places where we never intended to go. As Pastor TD Jakes shared recently in a sermon, “It is time to not Make America Great Again. It is time to make America Love Again. It is time to make America Kind Again.” The song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love”and that “it only takes a spark to get it going” Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955 after she refused to give up her seat on a crowded bus to a white passenger. This action of Parks, and a united African-American community made the boycott a success. They remained united and less than a year later the Supreme Court in November of 1956, ruled that segregation on buses operating within Alabama’s boundaries was illegal, because it deprived people of equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Maybe our individual actions to help make things right can make a difference after all. That would be a reason for which to be thankful.

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