Monday, September 24, 2018

Environment Matters

Environment Matters

Of the many factors that influence our lives, few, if any, are as impactful as our environment. The environment is defined as the surroundings which provide the conditions in which we operate. We are in many ways the product of our environment. 

A healthy environment allows us to thrive, while an unhealthy environment causes negative consequences. Some environmental factors are not in our control, but we are never without options. We can choose our thoughts, we can choose our friends, and we can choose our habits.

If we believe the Lord has a good plan and purpose for our lives, then we must also trust that he can and will provide the proper environment in which his will can develop and occur. There are always positive and negative influences moving around us, but we can decide in which environment we are going to dwell. We must be diligent in choosing the proper environment, because our environment matters.

A seed contains great potential to grow and bear fruit. Everything needed to fulfill its' destiny is already present within the seed. The one thing that will determine its' outcome is the environment. The seed may be planted and nurtured into a healthy maturity, or the seed may never become what it might have been, because the environment wasn't right. 

That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about, creating an environment in which God's plan and purpose for you can come alive. If you've been wondering about God's plan for your life, check us out. Because environment matters. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do Your Best

Do Your Best

I heard a former Navy Seal speaking about the intensity of their training regimen. Many aspire to reach the elite status of a Navy Seal, yet not everyone survives the rigors they are asked to endure. One of the main things I took away from the presentation that day was that whether we learn to be a highly trained soldier or not, we are all creatures of habit and when we experience challenging circumstances we will resort to our highest level of training.

As followers of Christ, we are on a mission to reach the world with the gospel message. Along the way, there will be challenges of many kinds. How we respond to those challenges makes all the difference between surviving or thriving. Will we survive the rigors of life, or will we fall prey to trials, tribulations, and temptations? Will we reach our full potential in Christ and fulfill our mission, or will we become distracted, disinterested, and discouraged?

None of us is perfect, and we all need some help from time to time. That's why we have each other, as a support system to help win the battles of life. However, for optimum success, a vital part of our support system must also include growing in faith and developing our spiritual lives. When a soldier encounters a life or death situation, they fall back on their training in order to survive the attack and defeat the enemy. Likewise, when we encounter pressure and problems, we fall back on how we've been trained to deal with these things.

That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Becoming highly trained in the ways of the Lord, so that we not only survive, but we thrive and do our best in life. We believe that a system of consistent training is essential to doing our best.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Back to the Beginning

Back to the Beginning

Along the journey of life we experience a variety of highs and lows. There are times when things are going smoothly, and there are times when things are more difficult. We try to figure things out and make sense of it all, but I've come to learn that going back to the beginning can be helpful at times.

What I mean by that is, let's examine what got us on this path in the first place. Did we see someone else on that path, and it seemed like a good idea for us, too? Or did we just end up on the current path without any rhyme or reason, it just sort of happened? Or did we sense a divine invitation to take this path, and we stepped out in faith, believing this was the will of the Lord?

Whatever the reason, I think it's valuable for us to revisit our starting point in order to determine the next step. When things become difficult, we need to know if we should stay the course or make a change? We don't want to keep going down a dead end, yet we don't want to bail out every time trouble comes, either. How do we know which is the best decision? Go back to the beginning.

I think about Jesus and the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee in Mark 4. Jesus declares they are going to the other side and then falls asleep in the back of the boat. Along the way, a violent storm rises us and threatens their safety. The disciples are afraid and wake Jesus up. He calms the storm and challenges them with a question, Where is your faith?

We don't like being under pressure. We don't enjoy difficult circumstances. Yet sometimes they come even when we are following the Lord's instructions. Going back to the beginning means let's examine the reason behind our present situation. If it's the word of the Lord, then let's stay the course and trust that we will get to the other side.

That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Getting the word of the Lord firmly settled in your heart so you can face down any storm, knowing that you will reach the other side.   

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

First Responders

First Responders

Today is September 11th. It used to be just another day on the calendar. But 17 years ago, it became a landmark date in American history. However, in the face of terrorism, many heroes emerged that day to do great things for those in need. We often refer to them as first responders, and they deserve our thanks and our respect.

There are many stories of service and sacrifice among the fire departments, police departments, and other emergency personnel in New York City and Washington DC. And on Flight 93, many rose to the occasion and answered the call to respond to the situation. And all across the nation, people from all walks of life responded with prayer, with donations, and with heartfelt support.

The world became a different place on September 11, 2001. The events of that day left a scar. Yet that scar reminds us that in some ways the world has always been this way. Beautiful and filled with great possibilities, yet tainted with evil and hatred. But in spite of the darkness, somehow the light always finds a way to shine.

Since the beginning of time, our world has seen much tragedy and sorrow, yet there are always those who find the strength to rise up with hope and respond. As followers of Christ, we are called to live as first responders. We respond to the enormous needs around us with compassion and with courage. We respond with the message and with the hope of the gospel.

That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Learning to respond to the call of God and to the needs of the world. In the midst of darkness, the light always finds a way to shine.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Life Skills

Life Skills

Life skills has become a common term that refers to the skills one needs to make the most out of life. These skills help us to manage the demands of life and to reach our full potential. While there are some differences in what some consider essential life skills, here are four categories that seem to encompass the basics of necessary life skills.

Self-awareness is a key life skill. Without it, we fail to manage ourselves well, we may come off as socially awkward, and we probably will leave behind a trail of damaged relationships. The ancient admonition to know yourself still applies today.

Strong character is another vital life skill. The importance of values and ethics cannot be overstated. Without a firm moral compass we are sure to find an unwelcome supply of troubles.

Strength discovery helps us find value and purpose. Realistic assessment helps us to identify our gifts and talents. Without this feedback and experience, we find frustration and continual dissatisfaction.

Leadership ability has never been more sought after. Leadership skills have become a must have in today's world. Not so much holding a position of leadership, but more so carrying a perspective and a mindset of leadership.

Life skills such as reflective thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal ability set us apart from the pack and help prepare us to overcome challenges. That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Finding, following, and fulfilling the plan of God for our lives.     

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Power of One

The Power of One

Never underestimate the power of one person to make a difference. All throughout the Bible we see many examples of how just one person filled with faith and with the Spirit of God can change things. Is there a desire in your heart to make a difference but you're having a hard time seeing how that could ever become a reality? Consider the power of one.

David was the youngest of eight brothers. He was the errand boy, watching his father's sheep and delivering food to his older brothers in the army. He didn't get much respect from his family, but that all changed the day he faced down Goliath. Nobody in the entire army of Israel wanted to fight this giant of a man, until David showed up. Just a teenager, just a shepherd boy, just one person, yet he defeated the giant and saved the entire nation from bondage to the enemy. Consider the power of one.

Paul was a prisoner on a ship to Rome, on his way to appeal his case to Caesar. A tempest came along and the ship was in grave danger. There were 276 men on board and they all lost hope of being saved. All but one that is. Paul stood up in the midst of that terrible storm and encouraged them all that God would spare their lives. The ship was lost, but all of the men made it safely to shore. Consider the power of one.

There were 5000 men along with their families listening to Jesus preach. After several days out in the countryside, they ran out of food. One young boy had a few fish and some loaves of bread. What is that among so many, the disciples asked? How can that come close to meeting the need? But Jesus blessed the food and it multiplied until they all had more than enough to eat.

Maybe you feel the same way? You feel like you don't have much to offer, there is no way it can be of much help. But in the hands of Jesus it becomes more than enough. That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. Helping people to see the power of one, when that one is surrendered to the Lord.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Be True to Your School

Be True to Your School

Back in 1963, the Beach Boys released a song called, Be True to Your School. It was a rah-rah, feel good song about teenagers with letter-man jackets taking pride in their school. While there is nothing wrong with that, I think that being true to your school goes much deeper.

Did you know that the word 'school' appears just once in the Bible? Although the Bible lists many  references to teaching and religious instruction, only in Acts 19:9 do we actually find the term school mentioned. Here the Apostle Paul is said to have held daily lectures for two years in the school, or in the lecture hall, of Tyrannus. The result of this two year "school" was that the whole region of Asia was reached with the gospel. 

The meaning of the word school in the original Greek language refers to a place where lectures on the philosophy of life are regularly discussed. Whether we realize it or not, each of us is part of a school. Somehow, someway, we are all participating in a group that philosophizes about life. People gather at park benches, barber shops, restaurants, concerts, churches, town halls, chat rooms, social media platforms, radio programs, television broadcasts, and many more. And there we talk about life.

School isn't just a place for kids to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. The term school has a broader application. It is something we all need, at all stages and ages. It is a way to gather with others and discuss the meaning of life. And just like the students from Paul's school in Acts 19, to share our message with others. That's being true to your school.

That's what Empower NBCA School of Ministry is all about. A time and a place where we can learn and discuss the kind of life God desires for us. And then to share that message until all have heard.