Boxing Week — That’s a Wrap!

In North American, Boxing Week inspires shopping sprees as people seek post-Christmas discounts. For others, it’s a time to give to the poor. For many, it represents time to wrap up gifts that don’t quite fit or don’t serve them well to exchange for something more appropriate.

This may be an opportune time to perform a deeper, internal clean. Before we leap into a new year with hopeful resolutions and lofty goals, let’s take a look at the year that was.

Maintaining Christ as the focus, let’s bravely and boldly assess these past few months.

What Worked

First, let’s consider what worked well. I know from previous farming experience that often crops do better when they have undergone stress. Was there unexpected pressure this past season that served to refine or teach you? What efforts and investments of time and devotion proved successful? Let’s take a few moments to thank God for our successes and celebrate each one.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Yes, celebrate the successes despite difficulties. Rejoice in the harvest of God’s grace and goodness which you have received, recognizing that everything good ultimately comes from God. He gives us the wisdom and ability to accomplish everything we do.

“For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:6

What Didn’t Work

As an artist of sorts, I prefer the medium of watercolor. The paint soaks deep into the fibres of the paper. Often, errors are irreversible. Oil and acrylic paints are far more easily repaired. Mistakes can be hidden under new colorful and glossy layers.

Life resembles painting. Sometimes the things that didn’t bring the outcome we expected can be easily remedied. Others are not as forgiving.

“It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”
– Peter Marshall

Failure is only final when we stop trying. Honestly, I invested a considerable amount into some areas that have reaped little or no benefit. I can relate to the old prophet’s assessment.

“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away . . .”
Haggai 1:9

This boxing week, let’s carefully consider these areas. What can we learn? What can we redeem from our effort? Are there some aspects we need to “box up,” refusing to expend further resources or energy? Let’s not let any past failure linger, marring the blank canvas of the approaching new year.

What Can be Improved

Most of our efforts land in the “long haul” category. Tangible results won’t be achieved in the short term. Perseverance (not my favorite word) and continuous effort will pay off if we don’t quit. Try again, test the results, and tweak where necessary!

Farmers don’t plant seed one day and then continually turn the soil checking for growth. They know the viability lies anchored within the seed.

Jesus told a simple parable in one of my favorite passages of Scripture.

“Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!”
Mark 4:26-29

Jesus makes it clear that success didn’t result from the man’s careful planting, faithful watering, and application of the right amount of weeding and fertilizer. He threw the seed out there and went to bed. Huh! I could take a lesson from this one on how to stress less and trust more!

This boxing week let’s examine which seeds of effort we need to leave to germinate a little longer, confident God will bring the growth in some future time. Which seeds should I water with a little more effort or investment? How can I improve or improvise to produce the greatest potential?

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
Francis Chan

What Has to Go

Some things will never serve a truly useful purpose. Allowing shame to cloud our perspective, blaming others for things we need to be responsible for, unforgiveness toward those who have wronged us, and casting shadows of judgment all lead us to bitterness rather than to betterment.

Let’s be honest! We all face things the enemy desires to use to disrupt our progress and stall us into ineffectiveness. This past year held painful disappointments, misunderstandings, and points of rejection. But God made a way for us to overcome.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect . . .”
1 Corinthians 15:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

Be confident that God’s grace works powerfully in and through us. He works at changing and transforming us into all He intends for us. Let’s honor God’s process in our lives and in the lives of others. As we repent for whatever part we play in negative circumstances, no residue of shame or regret remains.

Obey the Call

Perhaps the most important aspect of looking back over the past year, considers the question, “Am I obeying God’s call?” God calls each one of us for His purpose and His glory.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10

Time remains our most precious commodity. Are we living it to full potential? Whatever the “good works” includes — as a husband or wife, father or mother, servant or leader — let’s do it well! Let’s continue to obey the call. Whether we feel like we are succeeding or utterly failing, stay the course! God will remain faithful.

“When God calls you to something, He is not always calling you to succeed, He’s calling you to obey! The success of the calling is up to Him; the obedience is up to you.”
David Wilkerson

Obedience remains far more important to God than any measure of worldly success. Let’s not fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others but stay true to the call of God over our lives. To love God with every part of our being and love others sincerely and deeply stands as the greatest and perhaps most difficult call — although, one worthy of all our effort.

Boxing Week

This boxing week, let’s “box up” every ill-fitting, purposeless thing to prepare for what awaits. Let’s not allow our perceived successes or failures to hinder us from stepping into what God has ahead.

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:18-19

Past successes may lead to inflated egos and pride. Failures easily lead to feelings of defeat. God instructs us for “forget the former things.” The word for “forget” doesn’t mean to not remember, but rather to no longer respond or react to them. After examining this past year, let’s box them both up and move forward.

“See, I am doing a new thing!” God promises.

Lord, grant us eyes to see and a heart to perceive the new thing awaiting us. Give us the strength and courage to walk into this new year with a confident assurance that You are with us. You know every twist and turn ahead, and You are making a way for us. There will be moments of refreshing awaiting, even in the “wasteland” — in those places we thought were hopeless. We box up what was. We put our hands in Your hands and our rest our feet upon Your feet as we move into what is ahead. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness as You teach us to love more and well.

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Identify and Overcome Any Roadblock or Obstacle to Success

I’m working to identify and overcome any roadblock or obstacle to success. Why? I feel stuck or unproductive in a critical area of my work.

Do you stall out? Or have you hit an invisible wall impeding your progress? We all face these situations and seasons. I’ve been working through my own recently. Fortunately, we also possess the ability to overcome.

Jesus met with serious opposition at the beginning of His ministry. His baptism by John created the launch point. What occurred immediately afterward, however, determined His trajectory.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well please.'”
Matthew 3:16-17

God affirmed Jesus as “my Son,” declaring His love and pleasure with Him. Yet, immediately the Spirit led Jesus into a difficult place, a wilderness, where again and again the devil questioned Jesus’ identity and value.

This may well have created a serious obstacle for anyone of us. If Jesus would have listened to the enemy, His ministry would have been terminated instead of propelled into motion.

What internal “voices” or external pressures are you facing?

I will share a few of mine!

Self-Doubt

We resist the same enemy Jesus did. The devil attempted Jesus to doubt His identity and value — to question His worth.

Every forward movement encounters opposition. “Who do you think you are?” “You can’t do that!” “No one will listen to you.” “You have nothing to offer.” It is familiar rhetoric that haunts many of us.

Most of the time, I’m pretty good at recognizing this ploy. But sometimes, I take the bait and become paralyzed by my insufficiency.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 4:7

Honestly, acknowledging my inability releases me to do and be all I am meant to be, without the pressure of attempting to measure some preconceived standard. If I believe I am the next great thing the world needs, pride dooms me to failure. Every success I achieve, I achieve through Christ in me.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

When self-doubt blocks you, admit your weaknesses and move on. Step over any feelings of unworthiness and draw from God’s power and ability at work in and through you. Don’t allow self-doubt to become an obstacle to success.

Fear

Fear takes on many forms. Though people perceive me as being bold and perhaps even fearless, I encounter this roadblock more than I would like to admit. Often, it creeps in so subtlely I fail to recognize fear as being the root of my stagnation.

Though it sounds foolish, I may fear both success and failure simultaneously. In school, other students criticized me as much for my successes as for my blunders. Those voices of childhood, even though they occurred decades ago, sometimes still derail me from reaching peak potential.

Fear intimidates. Fear paralyzes.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

If we ask God, He will expose the root of our fear. Whether He points to the fear of not measuring up to the opinions of others or the fear of being vulnerable, identifying the source helps us to move beyond it.

Perfectionism

God knows we are imperfect. We know we are imperfect. So why is perfectionism such a big deal? Or at least, why is perfectionism such a big deal for me?

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”
Ecclesiastes 11:7

When I make perfection even remotely my goal, I may begin the work, but never complete it or boldly present it to others. Perfectionism focuses on flaws. It holds us to impossible standards, clouding everything we do with disappointment and discouragement.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15

Timothy’s mentor and “father” in the faith encouraged him, “Do your best!” Our consistent best will keep the momentum going. It will elevate us above obstacles.

We could all glean from these words, applying it to whatever we are working at. “Do your best!” Let’s put perfectionism behind us and simply attempt to do our best.

So many times, I look at my work, knowing it is far from perfect. But I also recognize that at this point in my life, this is the best I have to offer. When I resolve to accept my imperfection, I step past perfectionism as the obstacle to success.

Discouragement

When things don’t turn out like I hope, discouragement creeps in. Often shame or regret ride the same wave with discouragement.

Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

“Don’t be discouraged!” God says to each of us. “Don’t give it room or entertain it in your mind!”

Whatever we do that is good and upright, let’s remember God is with us. He never calls us to something He will not equip us to do. He strengthens and helps us to carry it out.

Whatever door of opportunity God opens for us, He empowers us to confidently walk through it. Let us not allow discouragement to become an obstacle to success.

Busyness

Ineffective management of my time often creates the greatest roadblock to accomplishing my goals. Usually, this results from an over-booked, over-extended, and over-loaded schedule.

Distractions continually bombard — some avoidable, others unavoidable.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

Jesus encourages us to establish godly priorities and set healthy boundaries over our time. I find these tips helpful:

  • Say “no” to some things to give the option to say “yes” to the most important things
  • Recognize and avoid time wasting distractions
  • Tackle the most difficult work during peak performance periods
  • Minimize where I can so I can maximize for the greatest effect
  • Rest before work, eat before effort, exercise before assignments

We cannot regain time once it passes. Time is precious to God.

Obstacle to Success

My list includes only a few of the roadblocks that create obstacles to success. We each will face our own recurring roadblocks to impede progress.

Your list might read differently from mine. Procrastination, insecurity, or past shame may rank high on a few lists. Through Jesus Christ, we all can be victorious no matter how long or short our lists appear.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Whatever God has set before us, wherever He has positioned us, let us thank God. He gives us the ability to identify and overcome any roadblock or obstacle to success.

Your labor is not in vain! God is with you.

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The 3 Keys of Effective Ministry! Secrets of Success!

3 Keys to Successful Ministry

If you were to ask five people for the keys of effective ministry, you would probably get five different answers. So I didn’t ask! I went straight to the bible looking for examples of effective ministry and asked God. Novel idea, right? Here is what I discovered!

This quest for answers was spurred on by a question from a friend. Honestly, I didn’t have a response! I have witnessed God heal many people through my prayers. I have seen others delivered from personal bondage, hearts mended, and marriages restored. Yet, there is an acute awareness that my ministry is far from successful!

What is successful ministry? Rising high!

I’m not referring to being successful in the eyes of people; I am talking about hearing “well done, good and faithful servant”. I want to know I am doing what God wants me to do, in the way He wants me to do, in the place He has called me.

Key #1 – He Called

One training method say:

  • I do. You watch.
  • I do. You help.
  • You do. I help. We talk.
  • You do. I watch. We talk.
  • You do. Someone else watches.

With Jesus, His method seemed to jump from step one to step five rather quickly!

“When Jesus had called the Twelve together…”
Luke 9:1

This isn’t the first time Jesus called the twelve apostles and sent them out. Luke 6:6 tells about the beginning of such journeys. The apostles already had experience both in watching how Jesus ministered and in activating those principles in practical ministry settings.

When Jesus called, it means, He called them to Himself. He invited them to draw near. He called them not just into ministry, but more importantly into relationship with Him.

The first secret to successful ministry is responding God’s call to intimate relationship.

An eye for successful ministry!

Jesus remained close to the Father. He was close enough to see what the Father was doing and hear what the Father was saying.

[bctt tweet=”Desire an intimacy close enough to hear God’s whisper!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

Unless I consistently draw near, I won’t be able to receive His direction. I desire an intimacy close enough to hear God’s whisper.

His call over my life must be unquestionably real! When I know what He is asking me to do, I can go in full confidence! Knowing His will, I am able to walk in His directive! It is the sweet spot of ministry!

My desire isn’t sufficient! My way will lead me off course! Ministry must always be on His terms! I must guard against being lured outside of that call.

Key #2 – He Gave

“He gave them power and authority
to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases.”
Luke 9:1

I can be in the right place at the right time, but if I am going in my own strength it will get me no where fast!

Power for successful ministry!

As a matter of fact, the more natural ability I have, the greater the temptation will be to begin doing things in my own strength. I may be able to fool those around me, but I sure won’t be able to fool God or the demons of hell! Trouble is just around the corner!

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’
says the LORD Almighty.”
Zechariah 4:6

More than any other factor for successful ministry, this one cannot be forfeited! Without the power of Holy Spirit, I can do nothing of significance for God’s kingdom.

Jesus later added,

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit,
just as my Father promised.
But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes
and fills you with power from heaven”
Luke 24:49

“Stay here!”

Holy Spirit brings all the power and authority we need to minister successfully. People may want to promote you too soon! Don’t move! Stay! Stay where you are until the Holy Spirit fills you with everything you need!

Everyone in the will of God, doing the purposes of God, is marked for success!

Key #3 – He Sent

When Jesus says, “Go!” It is time to go! Without excuses! Without hesitation!

Aiming for successful ministry!

Wherever God calls, He equips for sending!

If His call is into your home, go! Be the best Spirit-filled husband/wife, father/mother, peacemaker, child-raiser, and homemaker you can be!

If His call is in the workplace, go! Be the best employee or boss, servant and worker, you can!

Don’t waste any time looking over your shoulder at someone else’s call, or try to fill someone else’s shoes. Be the best you can be, wherever God sends!

Perhaps God is sending you into full-time ministry. Go!

Let’s each do our very best to be all God has chosen us to be, wherever He sends us!

Successful Ministry! Proclaim and Heal!

Wherever He plants us, it is with purpose! He has given us what we need to proclaim the Good News of the gospel, Jesus saves! His mandate still stands! Proclaim the good news of the Kingdom and heal. Let’s faithfully take the presence of Jesus everywhere we go.

The prize of successful ministry!

[bctt tweet=”His divine power has given us everything we need!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

To be successful, we don’t need to be the biggest, the best or the strongest. We don’t to be wisest or the most beautiful.

“His divine power has given us everything we need
for a godly life through our knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
2 Peter 1:3

Being successful in ministry means far more than seeing lives changed and transformed. Some day, it will be an honour to lay every gift and ability at His feet. Then…

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
You have been faithful in handling this small amount,
so now I will give you many more responsibilities.
Let’s celebrate together!’ ”
Matthew 25:23

The apostles demonstrated successful ministry when they

obeyed His call,
used what He gave them,
and went where He sent them.

That, my friends will be our seal of successful ministry as well!