Category Archive: challenge

2012 is Here: Are You Ready?

 

Hey Friends,

The Word records: “Be it done to you according to your faith.” How much faith do you have?  The size of a mustard seed? That WILL work! To be ready for 2012 you have to have faith. God has plans for you but on your part, faith is required. The Prophet Zechariah told the people that if you cannot see it then God won’t do it! Strong language.

What mountains are you facing in 2012?

What mountain is your family facing?

What will you need in 2012 to be successful? What new skills will you need to develop? Will you need more courage or faith?

Where will the enemy attack you? What temptations will you face that you need to be ready for? God has made a way of escape and you need not fall!

Where will you need to help your family in 2012? Are your kids growing in the Lord? Do they have a growth plan? Can you see the favor of the Lord on you and your family? If not, then make that a regular request. I pray daily that favor would cover my family like a blanket on a cold winter night. God’s favor is our shield.

I believe 2012 will be the greatest year my family or Faith Promise has ever experienced. I am looking for miracles daily. I am looking for people to be saved every day this year as Faith Promise shares their faith daily. I look for the greatest growth we have ever experienced. I believe God will move on the North Knox Campus launch like never before – Ephesians 3:20. I believe my kids will grow closer to Jesus than ever before. I will watch my youngest son, Zac, get married to an awesome woman of God this new year. I will see my new book grow legs and get into the hands of 10,000s of thousands of hands and hearts.

My daughter will graduate as a Registered Nurse this year and possibly give us our first grandchild. Michele and I will grow closer this year and God will use us like never before. This year at Faith Promise we will see more leaders rise up and more volunteers than ever before. We will give more money to Jesus than ever before. This year the heart of generosity will grow at Faith Promise and the Lord will be blessed and proud of us.

Yes, I’m ready for just some of what the Lord will do, are you? What are you believing for? The list I just gave you is only a part of what I am trusting God for. I am praying for you that you will grow in your faith, favor, obedience, and love of the Lord this New Year!

Love You,

Pastor Chris

 

2012 Failure is Fantastic

Failure is Fantastic!

An odd title to be sure, but a very true one. The title of  this blog is not a sentiment that most people agree with. I can promise you the
most successful people in the world would all agree. If you want to make any  significant changes in your life this New Year it is a thought you will have to  embrace or change will be next to impossible.

Let me explain: If you are of the failure is final club then  you are VERY RESISTENT to change because no one is good at something new. Who complains that a baby can’t talk? No one, because when you are learning something new it takes time. The failure
is final people can’t try new things because failure is a requirement in developing new skills or making significant change in your life.

In the very popular book “Switch” the authors suggest building in the expectation of failure in any new endeavor. This is a brilliant idea. If you want or need to make changes in you or help the people around you this book is a must read. We have all tried new things and failed and quickly given up. We should have expected to fail and then learn to do better. We have all made New Year resolutions only to fail in the first week. Hey this is the first week! So, we learn to forgo resolutions and curse change.

This New Year get bold, and make those changes you need to make. Know you will fail at first but failure is fantastic. I have a chapter on failure in my first book. If you are not failing or falling then you are not trying to improve. We all want to improve!

Take the challenge to get better: your marriage, finances, kids, hobbies, profession, walk with God, ministry… The list is long.

Where do you need to improve this New Year? What would make your life better? Where is God prompting you right now as you read this? I know He is!

People get excited about starting the process. The problems come in the middle of change. We fail, and it is harder than we first expected.  For those that endure to the end improvements come. Change happens. The end they are the most joyous and excited. We all love the end. When we have accomplished what we set out to do.

Set out on the new journey knowing you will fail, it’s really O.K. just start and see where God will take you and what you can
accomplish if you do not fear failure.

Love you,

Pastor Chris

 

Extraordinary Favor Requires Extreme Faith

 

Hey Friends,

We all want God’s favor to rush over us like a raging river! There is only one problem with God answering our prayers – we will have to have our faith increased to match the new challenges! Having our faith increased requires gut-wrenching prayer and some stressful situations. When we are in a position that requires faith and there is nothing we can do about it, it is uncomfortable. We do not like uncomfortable!

Being in a position of faith puts us in a place of utter dependence and total desperation. We realize and recognize that we are not in control. As I look back over almost 30 years of ministry, the things I asked God for years ago look small today. I can promise you they were not small then! As God continues to pour His favor on me I have to have more faith.

In the last few weeks I have been in crisis mode. Josh Whitehead, our Executive Pastor, showed me the budget for Faith Promise for 2012. Let me bottom line it for you – a 21% increase! $3,000.00 dollars a day more. The increase is due to the launching of the North Knox Campus in March and the expanded Pellissippi campus. Gut Punch!  What do I do? This is huge… a time of stress, freaking out, etc., then time to remember all God has done.

Expanded Favor Requires Extreme Faith!

We all want His blessings, favor, Hand, and increase of so many things, but what of the feeling and the faith required? This is why so many shrink back at the blessing of the Lord.

As I write this blog I have just finished my prayer time. I am asking the Lord for a million dollar month this December. December is a great giving month, but 1,000,000.00? Extreme! This is what we need to finish the year and be in shape for 2012. So, I need extreme faith for all that we are asking the Lord to do.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Would you pray with me and agree for God to move? In what area do you need favor and then faith? To have one, the other is required!

How do you see it?

Love Ya,

Pastor Chris

P.S. I would love some help getting the word out about the new book.

 

An Example – The Great Influencer

Hey Friends,

Let me ask you a question:

 DO YOU EXPECT MORE OUT OF YOURSELF OR OTHERS?

This is a big deal, especially if you’re a leader. I have watched many people who expected more out of others than they were willing to do themselves. “That dog won’t hunt!” It is an exercise in futility to think others will do more than you are going to do. People do what people see, so they watch you to see what you will do. As my prayer partner John Ball says, “Speed of the leader, pace of the pack.” So, what pace are you setting?

As a leader the example you set for your church, organization, or even small group is what people will do, or less.

 An example is the great influencer.

Remember, what you do speaks so loudly people can’t hear what you are saying. Your example is beyond important. Look at the life of the Lord. He set an example none of us could match, but boy did He give us something to shoot for! The example you live can give you more influence, or maybe less. There is always someone watching!

As a leader I hope you expect a great deal out of YOU! As people see you discipline and push yourself, it will motivate them to do the same. As you walk by faith and trust the Lord to move in great power, so will they. People are always looking for someone to emulate. Be that person. The Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Jesus.” Would you be so bold as to tell people to act like you and they would be more like Jesus? That is a big statement. Are you ready? Are you walking in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.

What kind of example are you leaving behind? What do your kids see? Your spouse? Your friends? Your coworkers? The list goes on. There is always someone watching. I was in a restaurant in Africa and I heard from across the room, “Chris Stephens, is that you?” I was stunned. You can run, but you can’t hide.

I challenge you to leave an example for people to shoot for.

Just a thought.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

Are You Settling or Soaring?

Hey Friends,

Are you settling or are you soaring? Soaring to your maximum potential requires just that little extra effort! It is like working on a car trying to detail it. Most people can wash, wax and even make the inside look new, but to get it perfect requires a little extra effort. That may mean cleaning all the gaps with a toothbrush, or washing under the car and painting the fender wells.

The extra 5% effort is the difference between: “That looks great!” and “Wow, that looks brand new!” Far too many people are willing to settle with what it takes to get by. That is not how a Christ follower is supposed to conduct him or herself. Jesus did not call us to “get by” or “just do enough.” We are to give everything we have – our very best – as if we are doing it for the Lord.  The Word says: “Everything your hand finds to do, do heartily as unto the Lord.”

In your life, are you giving it your best? This requires a serious dose of self-discipline and internal motivation. Often I pray Psalm 51:12: “Sustain me with a willing Spirit.” Lord, make me want to! When everyone else quits, help me give the extra effort to make my offering to You even better. Let me do my best to the point my life is honoring to you. This is easy preaching and hard living. How well are you doing in this area? I challenge you to give it your best shot.

Jesus gave His best for us. He held nothing back. As a matter of fact, He left it all on the field for us. How can we do less for Him? This attitude should be reflected in every area of your life. This means your family, your walk with the Lord, your ministry, your leadership and the list can continue. I’m sure you get the point.

Every day your life should be lived as a drink offering for Jesus. Are you being poured out on the altar of sacrifice for Him?

Time to ramp it up!

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

How Many Really Want To Grow or Improve?

Hey Friends,

I am really wrestling with this question: HOW MANY PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO GROW OR TO IMPROVE? We all know that you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped, but we sure try, a lot! This is a very difficult topic for me. I am desperate to grow personally and to help others grow, but what can I do for those who just don’t want it? NOTHING! This rips my guts out. I just can’t stand it. I am talking about church members and leaders of other congregations.  I am now beginning to see why 90% of churches are plateaued or declining. There is no doubt, this breaks the heart of God!

Many of the leaders of churches have grown accustomed to no growth and no change. I have dealt with many pastors who are scared about the future or even scared of the church members. Shouldn’t the leaders of the Army of God be used to steady change and transformation? Shouldn’t salvations and baptisms be a weekly or daily deal? We have spent years fighting for the Bible and its authority, but when it comes to our ministry or leadership we backstroke! Christians should never crawfish!

I believe it is the will of God that the greatest leaders on the planet be in His Kingdom! He is calling us to grow and to get better, yet so many have fallen asleep and are lying in a rut. The Lord said, “Wake up O sleeper…” Dormant power and gifts are in you, and it is the will of God that they come out and that they be used. This requires faith and walking outside of your comfort zone. It requires attending conferences, acquiring mentors, or reading books that will add value to your leadership.

One day we will all stand at the Bema Seat of Judgment and give an account of what we did with what He put into us. Few of us seem to even be concerned about this event. The Apostle Paul was very concerned about this day.

Are you ready to grow?

Just a thought.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

P. S. This Thursday, May 12, we will be having the Lit Conference at Faith Promise. LIT is all about helping you grow to the next level.

 

Change: Can You?

Hey Friends,

If we are going to reach our full potential placed in us by God, then we must be willing to be the change we want to see. Odd, that change is hard for saints! We were totally transformed by the Lord at salvation. God doesn’t change because He was, is, and always will be perfect.  You and I should be in a constant state of change and transformation.  Amazing, is it not, that everyone would agree with my synopsis and yet most are unwilling to change?

As this New Year gets rocking and rolling, let’s determine that we are going to be the change that is required to accomplish all the Lord wants to do in and through us. Change is easy to preach and teach about, especially when it is for others. When change is charged to you, will you? This is a critical key to your success.

There can not even be a debate that the church is the last institution to accept change.  It is so stagnating and slowing the growth potential for the Kingdom of God in America. A lack of growth in the church means people die and go to hell. This is just not acceptable for us.

So as you look down the road at 2011, what are the changes you need to make or to lead? They may be scary, but the Lord is able to move any mountain that is standing between you and the souls God has designed for you to reach. Let me state emphatically that the Word of God does not change. Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone. With that said, how we do it can be as varied as the creative ability our Lord has.

The next move is yours – what will it be?

Love You,

Pastor Chris

 

A Leader’s Job is to Challenge the Team!

Hey Friends,

I love the Lord, leadership and the ministry. There, I said it and I mean it. These three topics consume my vocational time. I love reading about them, learning more of them and helping others in these areas. With all of that confessed cleanly, one of the things we have to do for followers is to challenge them in these and other areas!

It appears to me that in our current culture, Christ-followers are straying away from challenging the church, team or the organization. I’m not sure why, but I am sure that it is not biblical! From Genesis to the Revelation one thing is for sure – we are constantly challenged to give it all up for our Great God. Throughout the Scriptures we are challenged to a deeper walk and a whole “nuther” level of love and worship.

The Bible says, “To encourage each other to love and good works…” Over and over we are taught to challenge each other to keep growing and worshipping the Lord. As a pastor to a wonderful congregation, let me share some areas in which I try to continually challenge our team and Body:

1. Love for God! This is the number one command in the Cannon and must be kept as top priority.

2. Continued personal growth. This is a personal mantra for me.

3. Greater level of serving. This can be in the Body and in the community. This is a way of life for saints.

4. To give more to the Kingdom. I have no problem challenging people to give to advance the gospel. This is a dying art in the church today. Christ had no problem dealing with the love of money and causing people to make a choice: Him or money.

5. Higher standards of holiness. This is also not very vogue today! The younger generation has rapidly moved into a very cozy relationship with the bars and nightclubs. A generation ago, drinking was considered a sin – now it is a sin not to. Odd? Remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

6. Keep family a priority. A generation ago the church kept everybody busy eight days a week. We have changed to allow more time with family. Has it worked?

The list could keep going, but you get the point. Let’s challenge each other to continue going and growing for Jesus. If you are a leader, this is your job!

Just a thought,

Pastor Chris

P.S.  Enhance your leadership skills by joining Chuck Carringer, Pastor of Family Ministries here at FPC, this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. as he shares about the topic, Leading from 10,000 ft.

 

Slammed Against The Wall!

Hey Friends,

Have you ever been slammed against the wall? Do you ever hit the limit of your faith? Today, I came near the wall! Leading a team that is leading a church, we deal with some difficult issues. Today we discussed the cost of our next campus and the cost of the expansion of our current campus. I have to tell you it made my stomach hurt. I think I threw up just a little.

When I look at all God has done in almost 30 years of ministry, I know He will come through because He always does. But, when I  look  forward to the mountain right in front of  us, then I freak out. Has this ever happened to you? I have been at this place so many times. It never gets easier.

Some of the people around me freak out, some want to charge, and some want to retreat. I look at the end times time clock and know we have to get moving because we are running out of time. So many need Jesus and we must make a difference while we can. I feel this great unction and urgency to keep marching forward for our Lord.

The only problem is we have had several years of great growth and souls. Now we are going to have to raise a boat-load of money to continue reaching people. Can you feel the push back within any church when you make the last statement? I can! Now is not the time to be timid. Now is the time to run for the prize. It is time to march on for the lost in our community and the world.

I covet your prayers as I race to the end. Many have left the race and yet we continue running. Now is the time for faith and miracles. I wonder if you need one too?

Yours to count on,

Pastor Chris

 

Can One Degree Make A Difference?

Hey Friends,

This morning I read a great little booklet called, 212° The Extra Degree. It is a challenging and encouraging booklet to motivate us to continue our effort and not to quit. It is not a Christian book. I have found some of the most challenging and creative books are from secular authors. Strange that the worshippers of the creative and creator God don’t use it – creativity, that is. Just a pet peeve of mine – sorry to digress.

The axiom, or thought, of the booklet is that there is only one degree between 211° and 212°, but that one degree makes a lot of difference. At 211° you have hot water and at 212° you have steam, and steam can empower a locomotive. Steam can give the power to do what you need done. We are talking about one degree of difference. Most of us can turn up the heat one degree, can’t we?!?!  Keep in mind that 211° is hot water and 212° is boiling!

“Raising the temperature of water by one extra degree means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine – a beautiful, uncomplicated metaphor that ideally should feed our every endeavor – consistently pushing us to make the extra effort in every task we undertake. 212 serves as a forceful drill sergeant with its motivating and focused message while adhering to a scientific law – a natural law. It reminds us that seemingly small things can make a tremendous difference.” 

Remember, some of us have no one who really challenges us and I want to encourage you in the race. Discouragement can descend on any of us. Some of us are running this race “sort of alone” and that is not the way God developed and designed this to work out. Remember Jesus and 2 x 2?

I wonder, can you add one degree? Can you add a little extra effort? As I read my Bible, I see  that Jesus never let up for us – even all the way to the cross.

Just a thought,

Chris