Category: FOR HIM

Written by Teresa Goodnight

It’s such an invigorating time of year. It’s crisp outside. Things feel new as the year breaks through. We start on our new path. We buy a new journal. Maybe set new goals. Then life rolls around. It doesn’t hit all at once. However, very slowly we ease back into our old ways. They’re comfortable. They feel less stressful. Truthfully, they feel just easier than these new goals. Most of us simply slide into failure. It just feels like home. Mmmm. Cozy. Not really though.

Familiar? It’s just easier to stay in patterns of thought and behavior than to turn over any kind of a new leaf. Is it any wonder, when we try to walk with God why we slip back into old sins? Find ourselves becoming less and less offended at our offenses? We dull and lull ourselves back into what feels the easiest. Same old same old.

Can we Change our Core?

As a reigning queen of the #EPICfail New Year, I know the pattern all too well. However, last year—I decided to do something about it. I made one big change. Just one. Funny enough, it wasn’t even at the New Year. It was at the end of November.

I’m sure it’s not a big deal to most of you. I hesitate to write it. But, my fellow Sodaholics will know my plight. I went from a few sodas per day to zero. Anyone who knows me knew that was just not ever going to be possible. Dr. Pepper was my end all be all crutch for a stressful day for over 30 years. I knew which states didn’t serve it and consistently offered a root beer when I asked (as if it were even close to the same!). I knew where to get it overseas in France, Italy, China—you name it. I could find it. I could easily distinguish between a Mr. Pibb and a Dr. Pepper for those who tried to pass it off as the same. I’m not proud. I’m just saying—it wasn’t an easy break-up.

I called it “When my Daddy took away my last Dr. Pepper.” (not intentionally but it became an extra funny part of my goal!) He literally held it for me at the hospital one day and I could not figure out where he put it. I kept asking everyone if they knew. It was funny. He didn’t intentionally hide it but it popped into my head as a fun way to stop drinking it. Why? Because I liked saying it. It makes me laugh. I also love to see him crack a smile in the corner of his mouth when I say he took my last one. I actually partnered him with me on the journey not really realizing what I was doing. It worked!

So, I’m sitting here a year later quite proud of myself. It’s certainly not a game changer, but it did prove to me I could do it. I can make changes. I can break difficult habits. My keys to success?

  1. Pick it. Pick one thing or just very few (2!). 2020 is about focus and we can’t focus with 15 goals in 15 directions. It just doesn’t work. Get laser-focused on a goal and stay on it.
  2. Plant it. Be really specific and plant that seed in your heart and mind. Don’t just decide “I’m going to be a better person in 2020.” Decide “I’m going to be a more financially generous person.” Or, maybe, “I’m going to read my Bible daily even if it’s just a verse.” General goals are nice, but they don’t give you specific plans for success. Plant the specific seed you want to grow.
  3. Present it to God. Get yourself what you need to grow the seed. Bring it before God. Pray. Ask for His help. Read what His word has to say about your issue.
  4. Partner Up. Ask Him for accountability partners (or a fun unintentional partner like my dad!). God uses others following Christ to help us get where we want to go. The “following Christ” part isn’t really optional. You need people who are lined up with God’s word to speak truth to you straight from the Bible. They pray with us and for us. They keep us challenged. They make sure we are staying focused. They nudge (or jerk) us back onto our path as needed. They are on board with keeping the seed growing with you.

Whatever you do, be realistic. Many make a list of resolutions as likely to happen as trying to get the Democratic and Republican parties to agree on their political agendas. Instead of making a list even the mightiest of willpower giants couldn’t accomplish, think a bit smaller. Few people can handle massive amounts of change. (Woohoo for those who can!) But if you find yourself reigning in my “#EPICfail” kingdom with your very own crown—why don’t you try a different approach?

Narrow down your list to a few things that simply must change. To reference Kristen Marie’s mantra “Choose Life.” Select YOUR one thing you want to change. Then, decide THIS thing will become a thing of your past (or these 3 THINGS for our overachievers who just can’t live within a limit (but please don’t overdo it if you want to have success).

Maybe this is the year that you want to “Choose Life” by becoming a giver. Write it down. Be specific as to what that would look like for you. Pray about it. Pray for a gardener, an accountability partner, to help you keep the seed growing. I told people I gave up soda. I made sure people around me knew my plan so they could watch me. I even brought my dad in on it, because I enjoyed the proud smirky smile on his face that he had been part of my little journey. Partners to keep you growing strong are absolutely a big factor in your success.

Then, start immediately. Set out to answer all situations you enter as the giver you want to become. Maybe you defined that as when you see a charity making a difference, you will pick an amount of money or time and just give it. Write it down. When the next one comes along—do it again. Write it down. Maybe challenge yourself with the number of times you want to accomplish your giving goal for the year. Then, take the opportunities in front of you (or seek some out!). When you look back at your list at the end of the year, you will find a sense of accomplishment along with the joy you received each time you succeeded. Somewhere along the way, your seed becomes your heart. It brings forth a beautiful change transforming you more into who God made you to be. It just becomes who you are. Then, you have a journal to remind you of the journey.

I know Dr. Pepper isn’t a big problem. Maybe for you it’s something a little more life impacting. Maybe you have a sin that has been kicking you and possibly your family, that you need to kick back. Maybe you have lost your patience with your family and need to find some grace again. Maybe your relationship with your spouse has been strained and it might be your fault. Maybe it’s a substance abuse situation. Maybe you have found yourself wrapped up in a porn addiction. The list could go on and on. Whatever it is—the solution isn’t THAT much different for a serious problem. You have to “Choose Life.”

Do you want to make a change?
Do you want to choose life? 

Some bigger problems have very specific accountability groups that can offer the exact kind of support you need—groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, for example. You can march yourself into an AA meeting and find a system proven to work. If it’s something like porn addiction, download a software system like covenanteyes.com and then find some accountability partners. Whatever you do “Choose Life” and get God involved in your decision.

These bigger items are better tackled with a team, but rest assured, you CAN beat them. You do need a team in your corner. God’s got the foundation. Build on it with Godly men and women who can help hold you accountable. Get real with them. (Check out Accountability Partners in this issue!). Trust me, you are not alone. You are NOT the only one facing that kind of problem. You just aren’t.

What you can’t do this year is try it the same ways you’ve tried before and fail.

Once you know how to be successful, the question really comes down to do you want to make a change? do you want to choose life? If you do, pick it, plant it, present it to God and get on down that road with some partners in your corner. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow to get it right. We are guaranteed that God will never leave us and never forsake us in Hebrews 13:5. He’s right there to take this journey with you—to kick the soda or to kick the habit before you kick the proverbial can. Just kidding. (Kinda). Seriously, not kidding at all. Some of these problems are very big deals and if you have one afflicting you, it’s absolutely time to make a change.

#GoDoBe

Written by R.A. Goodnight

MAN—LIFE IS OVER­WHELM­ING! Really. With the pace of life these days, is it any wonder that we find it more and more difficult to keep up with our careers, our family, and oh yeah, our relationship with God? As we feel more and more like a failure, our decisions can become easier and easier to make in the wrong direction. Thoughts like “I didn’t make dinner last week and it was ok. I’m sure it’s fine if I work through it this week.” or “I’m travelling to support my family. What’s this break to watch this show? I’m married. I’ve seen it all anyway.”

We’ve all heard about the slippery slopes. We know we’re supposed to keep our guard up. We also know we’re charged with being the leaders of our family. We know. We know. We know. It gets a little old hearing it quite frankly. When it comes to a thought like “Choose Life,” that abundantly fruitful life that Jesus offers, as appealing as it sounds, it’s actually pretty easy to choose differently. Truth is, Satan knows it.

Satan is a slithering monster waiting in the darkness to spring just the right trap on us to take us down. He watches our weaknesses. He knows where he’s hooked us before. It’s no different than going to your favorite hunting spot, where you’ve sprinkled out the zestiest corn for the longest time. Your prey comes in cautious. Then, they get used to coming into the haven of their favorite food. Their walls go down. They move slowly and comfortably into the space. Then, when they least expect it? You show up and take them down. Hard. Game over.

If you think saying yes to the little things won’t lower your guard, you’re just wrong. I’ve been wrong. I have heard story after story of men who absolutely love their wives ending up in an affair at work. They never intended it to go that way. They grew comfortable. The friendship blossomed. If you think Satan wasn’t working right in the middle of that mess—you are just kidding yourself.

If Satan can take down the leader—He’s got open game day on the rest of the family. The wife becomes emotionally off her game. The children wonder what was real in their family. Everyone is left hanging in the balance. Satan had a playbook. He knew. He wasn’t surprised at all. You played right into His hands.

Maybe you’re in the middle of one of His nasty traps. Get out. Maybe you are standing on the edge just about to tiptoe lightly into the ring. Run. FAST. Do not look back.

God can restore us. He can rescue our wives. He can teach your children great lessons through your mistakes as you show them how to walk back to God. Don’t let past or current failures be an excuse. They are an opportunity for everyone to grow. Lead them through that growth with God.

Choosing Christ and leading our family requires discipline. There is actually quite a hefty load placed upon our plate by our Heavenly Father. It’s one He’s willing to carry with us and for us if we let Him. He says His load is easy and His burden is light. However, when we aren’t really making “Choose Life” choices to choose Him, we are blocking the power God has for us. That power enables us to have that abundant life He has created for us. As the spiritual leaders of our households, we are also blocking that power from our family. We have quite a burden of responsibility. When we stray from God’s path, we take a lot of victims with us.

One area plaguing Christian men like the black plague is pornography. It’s attacking men everywhere honestly and it’s winning. It’s just so easy to access. Our tv’s brought It into our home. Our VCR’s/DVD’s and then computers brought it further and further into our daily lives. Then our pone gave us a private access point with the internet. It has become as easy as typo to land on a site full of pictures we can’t get out of our minds. It can start that easily if we entertain the temptation.

The thing about porn? It has so many victims. Porn is really a gateway drug. Once people are fully addicted, they might never have imagined themselves facing child pornography charges. However, it happens. It just went across the screen during the impeachment proceedings. There was a man, George Nader, accused of transporting a 14-year old Russian boy for sex along with his own child pornography. These are men who have respected roles and positions in our society. This isn’t just in the dive bar scene.

One topic we are going to address next in 2020 will be sex trafficking. It’s big and it’s everywhere. This threat is real. We see people like Jeffrey Epstein in the headlines. We hear of the complete travesty that was his life and his choices. We hear all sorts of very high-level, affluent male names being associated to this man and his island of debauchery. These are men of power and influence. Leaders in our nation and in other nations. Financial men we expect more of. Granted, there’s not a court case on the news, since the head of this ring was found dead in his jail cell, but there’s still a question plaguing everyone as to who was involved.

Those stories feel a bit far off. However, the stories in Oklahoma are right here. They are very real. Recently the number of cases being closed in the Tulsa area alone has our eyes wide open. There are customers driving the industry. People wouldn’t be selling children for sex slaves unless we had buyers—bug buyers. You can bet that pornography had a part in creating that sickening addiction. It’s not just for fun. It carries potential consequences of life and death for all involved—but especially the innocent victims. Don’t be fooled. If you partake, you are supporting the evil. It’s gotta stop. Let it stop with you. Get help. You don’t have to fight it alone. In fact, maybe you can’t.

In the 90’s, I heard Stephen Curtis Chapman share an accountability partner story. He was travelling quite a bit on tour. Back then, one of the most tempting places to pursue pornography secretly was in hotel rooms while away on business. It was such a known threat to men that Stephen had set up an accountability partner he could call if he felt tempted. One night . . . he made that call. He felt himself tempted. He picked up the phone and called his person. He told the person about his temptation. He and the person agreed that when Stephen returned home, he would ask Stephen if he had watched anything inappropriate. It worked. Crisis averted. Temptation didn’t win out. Can you imagine the road where it did win?

We don’t think of the big guys leading people in worship or leading churches as having the same kinds of temptations the rest of us have, but they do. We all do. Temptation is not saved for the weak. In fact, I would argue that it attacks the strong even more strongly sometimes. We are all in its path. Satan has his eye on each of us. He just needs us to crack the door to get his foot in it. Once in? He makes Himself at home.

Men. We are the leaders. We’re it. We have got to change our thinking and our priorities. We’ve got to do better. God won’t give us more than we can bear, but it is more than we can bear alone. He wants to be in the trenches with us. He is right there waiting on you to invite him in. Do it.

Start now for 2020 and “Choose Life.” Ask yourself every time a temptation pops up trying to steer you away from Christ, as the head of your household, is this a “Choose Life” choice? If that answer is no, and let’s be honest, you know when it’s no—then choose differently. Run away. Run towards that abundant life in Christ. You will be taking your family along for the ride with you. It will likely be the greatest choice you have ever made.

#GoDoBe #ChooseLife


I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 
@omegaleagueman


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Featuring One of the Largest Collections of Classic VeggieTales, 3-2-1 Penguins, and Owlegories + a Collection of Kids Books such as the Amazon Bestseller— The Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids—Minno Provides Affirming, Faith-Based Content Curated for the 100 Million Americans who Attend Church Every Sunday.

When we find out about programs to help parents help our kiddos, we get really excited. We’ve interviewed experts like Dr. Everett Piper, as they discussed colleges being purposefully after the minds of our children. We’ve listened to City Elders, as they explain the assault on our children in the public-school systems across the country trying to shape their minds as early as possible. This is real and it’s happening now. It’s been happening but it is escalating. Rapidly.

Disney programming moved out of the morally sound realm, originally part of its DNA. Recent rumors around Elsa’s sexual orientation in Frozen 2 got our attention—and dropped our already dashed expectations for the media giant. We’ve heard countless stories of parents trusting PBS with programs like Arthur, only to find their children asking if they should marry a boy or a girl after seeing it on the formerly safe show. Just today at a birthday party, a parent shared that her parental control software program failed. She walked in on her kids watching an adult language show about a teddy bear (Ted), which included inappropriate language and content around body parts just not suitable for young minds.

If you aren’t scrambling for a safety net already, you might need to wake up. It’s a real threat. This isn’t news to parents trying to raise their children in Christ. It’s troubling dialogue without a great solution. UNTIL NOW!

Enter Minno. It’s a new, Nashville-based children’s digital media company offering Christian parents an alternative that is both entertaining and affirming. Minno features an ad-free, subscription digital platform with curated entertainment and educational choices the whole family will love—including one of the largest collections of Classic VeggieTales. Minno has a publishing arm in partnership with Hachette Nashville, with offerings such as the Amazon bestseller Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids, as well as Minno Life, a parenting blog with expert resources and voices for Christian parents. Minno aims to be a one-stop solution for parents and kids.

After receiving a press release on the new company, Community Spirit reached out to CEO and Co-founder of Minno, Erick Goss. He explained Minno’s focus. Goss said, “Parents are desperate to have spiritual conversations with their kids. If we give them some basic tools, we can help parents feel confident and have a sense of control. Parents are asking, ‘How can I connect with my children?’ So, we try to provide the catalysts for conversation.”

Goss went on, “Minno really wants to create teachable, winnable moments. So many parents really feel like the world is pushing against them. Parents feel they are in survival mode. We want to help them move from that mode into what does it mean to thrive and know the Holy Spirit is partnering with us. We want parents confident with discipling.” Goss added, “One thing we know, screen time is important, but off-screen time is also important according to children. We want to be a resource to families trying to raise their children in Christ. In addition to safe programming, we share books and things we recommend.”

Goss shared, “In addition to the programming, we created the Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids as part of the experience. Laughter Is the native language of children. The text is fairly narrative. Phil Vischer, Veggie Tales creator, is hilarious. We thought if we could take the best of what’s in the Bible with the fun tone of the Veggie Tales—put it in 52 selected Bible stories—Genesis to Revelation, we’d have a tool parents could really use.” Goss said, “The feedback has already been so positive.” He went on, “Parents have been commenting ‘I didn’t know this about the Bible. I’m learning this about the Bible.’” He added, “If it’s done in a really fun way, we can help families. We’ve even built parent connect sections at the end for more parental support.”

With a recent launch, Minno already has over 20,000 subscribers in over 40 countries according to Goss. He shared, “The reaction from parents reinforces and affirms the idea there are a lot of parents out there left behind by the media establishment that their stories and their kids are not on screen. It’s important kids can see kids like them. At worst God is a fairy tale. At best, He is irrelevant.”

The thing is—parents need partners, specifically those enabling protective barriers and discipleship of their children.

Our mall recently replaced an amazing play area that was blocked in with a new completely open area. Before, parents could come relax while their children played. It went from a relaxing break while you are shopping to a completely difficult situation to make sure your children are safe. It’s a very similar parallel to what has happened with children’s programming. Parents trying to guard the hearts and minds of their children are no longer able to sit them for a few idle minutes in front of a screen and just walk away. You have to be completely present. Completely on guard. It’s a lot.

Goss stressed, “Parents who care about their children’s faith are in a tough situation. While we attend church and have friends and neighbors who share our faith, the leading technology and media companies are fueling a content culture that is devoid of God and the importance of faith. Christian parents have more content choices than they’ve ever had, but fewer options that reflect their values.” Goss shared, “When you see media companies churning out more shows than ever but none of them reflect your family’s values you want to instill in your family, you are left with an impossible choice—not participating in culture or compromising what you care most about,” Goss said, “Minno resolves that problem, serving as a one-stop, trusted source and a partner in raising kids in today’s pluralistic, social, mobile and media-drenched world. Kids will see Minno as something fun to experience, while parents can feel good about the fact that our content is encouraging kids to deepen their faith and walk with God every day, at home or on-the-go.”

In the coming months, Minno will also offer parent’s guides on top-of-mind topics, family devotionals, and podcasts. In an increasingly secular world where faith and family values are often marginalized, there are few entertainment and education options available that parents can trust. 


Minno Distinctives

Minno—ad free, subscription digital video platform. Featuring the largest collection of Classic VeggieTales in the world and the best curated collection of Christian kids content anywhere that can be streamed or downloaded and watched on the go. Parents can try Minno for free by going here: www.gominno.com

Minno Life—a lifestyle blog full of helpful articles, family devotions, and printables developed intentionally to meet the needs of today’s families. Minno Life features curated content from expert thought leaders and parents in the trenches to offer the best in practical hope and help on top-of-mind issues such as spiritual development, education, social media, and culture. Recognized voices such as the team at Daystar Counseling Center—David Thomas, Sissy Goff, and Melissa Trevathan—are all featured contributors.

Minno Kids publishing—because Minno believes the Bible should be at the center of every aspect of living—including parenting—Minno Kids publishing efforts are anchored by the new Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids and also features a wonderful new collection of children’s board books, picture books as well as middle grade novels. 

Minno Store—which includes books, Bibles, and other resources from our children’s publishing program, aims to help families experience God together. From board books to middle-grade novels, Minno books help kids better understand what the Bible teaches and offers insights for living out their faith in everyday life. 

Rise&Shine January-February 2020

Written by Mike Henry Sr. — Follower of One

As I write this article, I just read a devotional on Psalms 16:11 which says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalms 16:11b

I hope you agree. I hope you experience God’s joy when you’re in his presence. For many of us, we experience his joy when we worship, or when we’re around his people. We may see God’s glory in our family, or in nature, and experience his joy. We may find his joy in reading his word and prayer when we’re by ourselves or when we’re alone.

Do you often experience God’s joy at work? I think many of this magazine’s readers would say they do. But how often? More than once or twice a day? More than a few times a week? Once a month? Less?

I used to think my faith was a part of my life: the others being work, family, health and hobbies. But the more I chased after God, the more I learned my faith was the place where my life, work, family and hobbies existed. When I’m with God, being directed by God, I experience his joy. At work, my desires and fears called the shots. I avoided getting chewed out, or I worked to earn money or appreciation for my job. I wanted my career to matter, but I left God out of the equation.

But fullness of joy exists in God’s presence.

How can we manage ourselves into the presence of God full-time, even while we’re at work doing things we don’t like or working with people we don’t like?

“But Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

John 5:17

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:”

John 16:8

“But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

John 16:13a

The entire Trinity works right now. When you can’t be at church, or in a quiet time, you can join God in His work. Years ago, Henry Blackaby and Claude King wrote a popular workbook (and a series of other books based on it) called Experiencing God. Their workbook prompted me to see God is active in every life. We just look for God working in others and join Him.

In every circumstance and any project, we can be present with God. In Psalm 139 we learn we can’t get away from God. “If I ascend to Heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” Psalm 139:8.

God is actively working in the lives of everyone you know and see every day. That includes the person who serves you coffee and the people who clean your workplace; the people you call on today and the person at the tire shop or the irate customer. God is actively working in your boss and your direct reports, peers, and vendors, too.

In the book Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and James Wilder, they suggest that our brains only run on 2 fuels. Either our brains run on fear, or joy. When you can’t wait to leave work or get to the weekend, you’re operating on fear. When you look for God in everything you do, you experience His joy in every work. The work isn’t joyful but God gives us His joy in His presence. Some work is ugly. He knows. His mercies are new every morning. He has the joy we desperately need to live and work in a fallen world, in a fallen body, among other fallen people.

At Follower of One, we suggest 5 categories of activities we can do to be present with God at work. We call these the 5 daily activities:

  1. Pray—Ask God to put you to work in the lives of others.
  2. Appreciate others—Make God’s treasure our treasure. He died for everyone we meet.
  3. Know what you believe—Prepare to answer the question, “Why are you doing this?” or “Why do you follow Jesus?”
  4. Serve others—Go beyond what others expect of you.
  5. Speak for yourself—When someone asks, answer in the 1st person.

We have found that when people practice these 5 activities daily, they experience God’s joy moment-by-moment at work. Even in miserable jobs or difficult situations, we hear how God brings joy. His presence brings joy, and he’s at work.

God’s joy is available to us when we can pray, worship, study and share time with other believers. But that’s not all. God is a worker. If you want more of God’s joy, join him at work, and watch what happens.


Mike Henry Sr. is the CEO of Follower of One, an online community to equip marketplace Christ-followers in any line of work. Check out their website, podcast and videos at https://follower ofone.org.


Winners' Wisdom--Failing Forward to Success

Written by Jim Stovall

The only time failure is final is when we quit trying to succeed.  What would you call a basketball player who missed 9,000 shots, lost almost 300 games, and on two dozen occasions when he was called upon to shoot the winning basket, he missed?  You might call him a failure or a loser, but the world knows him as Michael Jordan—arguably the best basketball player of all time.

Temporary failure is a part of all success.  Winston Churchill was fond of repeating that, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”  Great basketball players, including Michael Jordan, know that they are going to miss approximately half of their shots.  This never keeps them from doing their best and anticipating the next shot. 

For most people the most dramatic part of any basketball game is known as the “buzzer beater.”  This is when a player launches a last-second shot when the game is hanging in the balance.  If the ball goes into the basket, his team wins; and if it doesn’t, they lose.  I remember talking to my friend and mentor, the late, great legendary Coach John Wooden, and discussing the kind of players he wanted to recruit to play on his championship teams.  Obviously, he wanted great athletes with the size, speed, and skill to compete at the highest level; but Coach Wooden was much more interested in the mental qualifications of a prospect.  He pointed out that the best athletes don’t always win.  When I inquired about how he would determine whether a prospect was mentally suited to be a champion, Coach Wooden told me he was looking to recruit players who wanted to take that last-second shot.

A lot of great athletes compete aggressively throughout the game but shy away from taking the last shot.  They simply don’t want to deal with the pressure.  Players like Michael Jordan realize that pressure is a part of the game and a part of life.  It’s simply a matter of who is best qualified to take the shot and being willing to live with the results. 

In reality, any shot during a ballgame could be considered the winning or losing basket.  It’s just that the last shot holds a place in the spotlight.  Any single basket during the entire game could have made the final shot irrelevant, so it’s important for us to learn that everything we do matters—not just the last-second things we do before the deadline.  If we perform at the highest level in our personal and professional lives, we will avoid many deadlines and high-pressure situations; but when we’re called upon to take the final shot, we will step up and do what needs to be done knowing that sometimes we’ll win and sometimes we’ll lose, but there will always be another game tomorrow.

I heard a great baseball coach explain that the most important characteristic of a great pitcher is to have a short memory.  If a pitcher can give up a homerun, put it behind him, and bear down in order to get out the next batter, he will eventually succeed.  Success always looks like a series of victories with the inevitable defeats sprinkled among them. 

As you go through your day today, remember that failure isn’t final unless you give up.

Today’s the day! 


Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.


YouVerse names most popular Bible verse of 2019

About YouVersion: Created by Life.Church, YouVersion is on a mission to help people grow in their relationship with God by engaging with the Bible. The team designs and builds experiences that make it easy for people to integrate the Bible into their everyday lives. Since 2008, the Bible App has offered a free Bible experience that can be accessed on smartphones, browsers, voice platforms, and more. The Bible App for Kids launched in 2013 and engages children with Bible stories on an age-appropriate level. The newest app, Bible Lens, analyzes objects in photos, finds the most relevant Bible verse to match, and automatically creates beautiful, shareable artwork. For more information about YouVersion, visit youversion.com.


The global YouVersion community engaged more in the Bible this year than in any previous year. In fact, people read and listened to the Bible 30% more this year compared to last year. In total, YouVersion saw 5.6 billion chapters listened to and 35.6 billion chapters read in 2019.

Around the world, the Bible verse most engaged with throughout the year is Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

“Our desire is to help people grow in their relationship with God by encouraging them to read the Bible and seek Him every day,” said YouVersion Founder Bobby Gruenewald. “We’re encouraged to see so many people turning to the Bible in response to their worries, remembering what God has done in their lives, and choosing to trust in His faithfulness.”

One of the most popular offerings of the Bible App is daily Plans that combine portions of Scripture with devotional content. This year alone, the community completed a record-breaking 1.1 billion days in their daily Bible Plans. People also made 2 billion highlights, bookmarks, and notes to mark meaningful verses and record what God revealed to them in their studies. Many even took the extra step to tell others how the Bible was impacting them, resulting in more than 478 million verses shared.

“What we are seeing in global engagement is exciting to us because with every verse highlighted, Plan day completed, or audio chapter listened to, that’s a person who is being transformed by knowing God more intimately through spending time in the Bible,” said Gruenewald. “We’re humbled by the opportunity to see lives changed in every country around the world.”

The Bible App saw a significant global increase in both installs and engagement this year. In 2019, YouVersion grew by nearly 50 million unique installs to reach a total of 400 million installs worldwide, and the majority of those new installs came from outside the U.S. Based on the YouVersion Community’s engagement with Scripture throughout the year, Poland was one of the fastest growing countries with a 75% increase. India saw 51% more engagement in 2019 compared to last year. Bible engagement also grew across Southeast Asia in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam seeing increases by 36% and 37%, respectively.

“Every year, when we dig into these numbers, we’re overwhelmed by how God is using this app to deliver His message of hope and love to a hurting world,” said Gruenewald. “We also can’t help but recognize how much more work there is to be done together as the global Church to reach every nation.”

Right now, the Bible App offers more than 2,000 Bible versions in more than 1,350 languages. However, over a billion people globally don’t have access to a complete Bible in their native language. Together with illumiNations, a movement of ten Bible translation agencies, YouVersion is working to give more people the Bible in their native language. The group’s goal is that by 2033, 95% of the world’s population will have a complete Bible, 99.9% will have a complete New Testament, and 100% will have at least some portion of Scripture.

Through the generosity of the YouVersion community, translation projects in Republic of Congo, Malawi, Benin, Indonesia, Croatia, Madagascar, and Serbia received $1 million this year to advance their efforts. Combined, these projects will give more than 4.7 million people the first portion of Scripture ever available in their language. To date, the YouVersion community has donated a total of $3 million to fund Bible translation.

“When you take in Scripture in your native language, the words take on new meaning and suddenly, He isn’t a God who came for someone else. He is your God who knows you personally,” said Gruenewald. “Experiencing the Bible in your own language is a powerful gift, and we’re eternally grateful to our partners who share our dream of making the Bible for everyone.”

For more information about the YouVersion community’s Bible engagement in 2019, visit youversion.com/share2019.


How Do YOU YouVersion?

I was blown away when Life.Church first announced bringing the Bible to our mobile devices as an app. My fascination continued, as more and more downloads happened. With over 400 million downloads and counting, it’s literally revolutionized how you can engage with God’s word. Anyone remember toting your Bible on business trips in your bag? (If you haven’t downloaded it—I’d stop right now and grab it. Did I mention it is absolutely free? Plus, the studies are also free? Amazing, right?)

So, I wanted to talk through a few ways I do YouVersion because they are kind of out of the box for Bible reading. That’s my favorite part of this whole thing. It is a great way to engage with God’s word more often than just the time you sit in your quiet place. It makes God’s word a part of your day in really active ways. It’s easy. It’s educational. It’s certainly motivational. Plus, it never ever hurts to write more of God’s word on our hearts.

  1. YouVersion actually reads the Bible to me in my car. Yep. I can get through an entire chapter if the traffic is just right going from place to place.
  2. Walking—both in the neighborhood and at the gym when I find time to go—I just select it and it starts reading.
  3. On the plane—sitting on a runway and too tired to actually read? Keep on talking to me YouVersion.
  4. Witnessing in the mall—Yep. I was talking with the Chinese massage therapists and I needed to give them a Bible reference. We had a language barrier. I whipped out YouVersion and they read the verse in Chinese. Witnessing crisis averted.
  5. Multiple versions—Honestly, I love reading the same verse in 4-5 different versions—from New Living Translation to the Message. It brings life back into words I’ve read so many times that I sometimes gloss over them a bit. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, many verses that you’ve heard since your childhood become a bit easy to zip through as your brain believes you already know everything there is to know about the verse. Reading it in a different version with a bit different wording (translation) can give you a fresh perspective on the verse you know so well.
  6. Little Bible studies with reminders from some of my favorite authors. Share them with your Bible study group. Dr. Tony Evans has been a favorite of mine since college. If you don’t know him, you should give him a try. There are hundreds of others.

It’s pretty easy to “Choose Life” through investing in Bible study for 2020. Set your reminders and don’t choose to invest in God’s word and let it grow in your heart and your mind. It is truly powerful!

CITY ELDERS: 2020--Time to Catch the Vision

Written by Jesse Leon Rodgers

The interest level in the mission and vision of City Elders has reached a fevered pitch, now, even on a national level.  Therefore, I suppose it is time for a clear, unambiguous and public explanation of what City Elders is all about. We wanted to organize the group, the warriors really, in the spiritual sense of the word before we marched too far into battle with the wickedness which has engulfed our nation.

If the history books haven’t been rewritten yet, last I checked, our nation was founded on the freedom of religion. It is the core of who we are as a country. When you consider the incredible persecution allowed around the world, it is easy to see the importance of such a freedom. In China churches are being bulldozed, burned—literally destroyed. Church members are imprisoned for their faith. Many are put into re-education centers to teach their youth a new way. In our nation, we just sat back and allowed the re-education centers to happen right under our noses without much of a debate.

Oklahoma City City Elders Recruitment Meeting

Like it or not, we are being drawn into a fight; God’s word is being disregarded as if it is merely a possible suggestion.  Our spiritual and governmental foundations are still in place and we can rebuild again.  But it is going to take patriots and preachers of righteousness, business leaders and civil servants, who have had their fill of surrendering territory to the enemy and are ready to go into a spiritual war to preserve a nation. 

There has been an assault in America for the soul of our nation for the last two generations.  Unfortunately, those of us reading this somehow virtually laid down and played possum. We just didn’t engage in the spiritual, cultural and political battles we should have been in.  Rest assured, we are at war against the powers of darkness which are on a mission to destroy the family, the church, the culture and ultimately the nation. City Elders is here to raise up God’s people to take our place in these battles.

Many have not engaged in the battle because they have not understood the nature of the spiritual war, where the attacks are coming from or how to engage.  Many are disengaged because they are holding out for the imminent return of the Lord or thinking that the demise of the nation is simply a “sign of the times” and there is nothing that we can do but bemoan our losses and “hold-on” till the end.  This theology and eschatology shackles these folks to a sinking ship mentality without sail or rudder rather than a victorious vessel sailing to shore with the spoils of war aboard.

Others have hunkered down in their homes and houses of worship while the enemy has ravaged our youth. He has destroyed morals, undermined biblical marriage, murdered the unborn, pillaged the political system and been allowed to roam freely through our nation. In fact, he roams about with quite a bit of support.

He marches on a full-frontal attack to destroy the next generation of children through the indoctrination and reorientation camps we call schools. Public schools weren’t ever meant to be a political playground. The very innocence, purity and eternal destination of our children is at stake, having been made the target of the Wicked One. He wants to sexually assault the minds of primary school children, sully their morality and confuse their identity through the lie of gender fluidity and sexual reorientation. It’s not ok to redefine our children against what our Bible teaches. It’s not.

The Wicked One does not stop “until He is stopped!”  And this is precisely where City Elders comes in.  The mission of City Elders is to stop evil from being forced upon others, especially through civil government policy and institutions.  We hold that people should be free to practice what the Bible would address as sin (although within the law).  However, governmental institutions cannot and should not be used to promote that form of anti-Biblical action.  Neither should the government control or subsidize institutions be used to promote or propagate these actions.

There is one, and only one, reason why wickedness has pervaded the culture and dominated the governmental arena . . . and that reason is Christians have allowed it to happen. And we, in the “City Elders Movement” intend to change that narrative.

City Elders exists to govern the gates of our cities spiritually, politically and economically, so that:  life is protected, liberty is defended, Christ is exalted, suffering is alleviated and families can flourish.  That is our mission, plain and simple. 

We have identified spiritual leaders, elders, in the county seats of forty of Oklahoma’s seventy-seven counties.  These spiritual leaders are found in the church, in civil government and in the business sectors.  These are men and women of God whose spiritual influence reaches far beyond the walls of their own home and the church house.  These are leaders who realize the Lordship of Jesus Christ was intended to be recognized in every sphere of our lives, public and private.

Our goal is to have “Spiritual Governing Councils” established in all seventy-seven counties of Oklahoma by November of 2020.  We are well on our way to reaching that goal.  These spiritual governing councils are praying men and women who function in the same capacity as the City Elders of the ancient cities of Israel.  They were the influencers, the decision makers, the leaders of the city.  These leaders sat in the gates of the fortified cities of Israel and made judgement calls upon what was allowed in the city and what was disallowed.  They protected the city from invasions and intrusions.  And they were the first line of defense against attacks from enemies or anyone who would do the citizens harm. 

The concept of City Elders is not new; it is an ancient and Biblical form of city governance which recognizes the significance of dominating the spiritual atmosphere through prayer and proclamation.  Thereafter believers must wield their spiritual authority by influencing the sectors of civil government and business through participation and engagement.  This is governing and protecting the city and its inhabitants within the framework of a Biblical worldview with an understanding that we were and are made in the image of God and for the glory of God.

ABOUT: Jesse Leon Rodgers is the founder and president of City Elders, a reformation model of city and state governance that trains up and empowers Christian elders how to govern the gates of the city spiritually, politically, and economically.

He is the chairman of the Oklahoma Watchmen on the Wall Network; the pastor’s network of the Family Research Council, Washington, D.C.

Rodgers’ unique role with the Family Research Council and City Elders has positioned him to influence government officials from the local municipalities to the White House.

Learn to Defend Your Faith
Dr. Jim Burkett

75% of Christian young adults will leave Christianity if not trained to think logically through a Christian worldview based on the facts of Christian apologetics. What is Christian Apologetics?

  1. Presenting the reasons why Christianity is a factual faith.
  2. Defending the Christian faith.
  3. Making the intellectual case for Christianity.

HOW CAN I BE TRAINED IN APOLOGETICS?

Apologetics Study Chapters are available in the Tulsa area:

Reasonable Faith Chapter—Mark Goodnight

Meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each each month mark.goodnight@reasonablefaith.org);

Reasons to Believe—Dr. Dominic Halsmer

Meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month at Believers Church dhalsmer@oru.edu)

Oklahoma School of Apologetics & Practical Theology—Dr. Jim Burkett ccccpastor@aol.com

Courses have weekly schedule in area churches as well as APOLOGETICS-on-Fire Sunday Conferences at local churches

Next course:

The Case for the Bible—The Scientific and Historical Evidence

The Liberty Center (9410 E. 51st Street, Suite A, Tulsa, OK 74145 on Tuesday evenings 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM; January 14,21,28; February 4,11,18, & 25.

Register and Contact:

Liberty Center, Tulsa (www.libertycentertulsa.com) text 918-691-8756 or www.apologeticsonfire.com.

APOLOGETICS WEBSITES: www.oneminuteapologist.com Leading Apologists answer probing questions in 60 to 180 seconds. www.thepoachedegg.net One of the world’s leading apologetics websites. www.oklahomaapologetics.com


John Wyrrick Custom Homes and Remodeling

When I caught up with John Wyrrick this month, I wanted to get a better understanding of his plan for a successful building and remodeling process. I have done both. Sometimes well, and sometimes well—please don’t make me have to relive it by telling you about it. Just that one reference made my pocketbook cringe and my blood pressure jump a few points.

As easy as it looks with Chip and Joanna, the truth is good subcontractors do their best work with a clear plan but also when they know the person in charge knows how to do the job right. It’s just a fact. Wyrrick said, “My job is supervision, inspection, and management of all of the people and companies involved in the project. Having been in the business for a while, I have found that people do what you inspect and not what you expect.” He went on, “It is incumbent upon me to “inspect the expects” to get your desired results.”

Wyrrick continued, “Building and remodeling should be enjoyable and exciting. Based on my years of experience, I have found some essential steps, which lead to a happy ending. First, a clear, complete, and specific plan gives us our roadmap to the desired finish. Second, a procedure and protocol for progress meetings, inspections, cost updates and change order reviews must be established.” These items, which to some (like myself!) might seem like formalities, are critical steps in a successful project. They just are. Wyrrick went on, “I strive to deliver the best product for the best price, which results in our client receiving the greatest value. Having an established process and expectations coupled with my ability to inspect for quality results gets my clients the outcome they wanted.”

Behind the Scenes:

Architects/Planners

Depending on your desires, needs, and the complexity of the project, we recommend an architect to provide a full set of plans complete with elevations, sections and details. If you have a small project, we can employ a building designer. In either case, we make your thoughts and ideas come to life with drawings that allow us to pinpoint the costs.

Budgeting/Bid Process:

Plans are complete. So, now we meet with our team to cover all aspects of your project and prepare an accurate budget and cost. We work on a “cost plus” basis or a “fixed price” model. We will fully cover how each of these models work and which one might be best for you. We want our customer to be comfortable with the financial terms and conditions.

Construction Management:

We schedule a weekly meeting. Communication is critical; it allows both parties to be transparent with their thoughts to ensure the desired result is delivered. Project supervision is an important part of the process as well. We can provide dependable supervision at the level requested, either full time or project specific. Cost summaries are provided twice a month and change orders are executed in a timely fashion to eliminate surprises. These elements will make the construction experience amenable for everyone.

Subcontractors:

Skilled and knowledgeable tradespeople are a vital part of any project. We assembled a group of contractors who possess the quality construction skills coupled with integrity and dependability for our customers. Our subcontractors have a close relationship with us, which results in quicker response times and trusted results.

John Wyrrick, LLC
Custom Homes and Remodeling
Contact: Phone: 918-510-0331
Email:  jwyrrick@sbcglobal.net
Services: Custom Homes, Custom Remodels, Outdoor Living Spaces, Full Design and Plan Services





Rise&Shine: Are You Too Busy?

Written by Mike Henry Sr. – Follower of One

The Good Samaritan

The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10:30-37 tells of a person on the road to Jericho who gets mugged and left for dead. A Priest and a Levite both pass the man without stopping. Only a Samaritan man, one the Jews would have hated, stopped to help the man.

Jesus told this story to answer a question asked by an expert in the Jewish Law, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Would you stop?

I believe most people reading this magazine think we would stop. I’d like to think I would. But in 1973, J.M. Darley and C.D. Batson published a study “From Jerusalem to Jericho.” The study tested Princeton Seminary students. The students prepared a presentation to be given across campus. Half of the students were to present on career prospects and the other half on the parable about the Good Samaritan.

Some students were told they were running late for the presentation, some were cutting it close, and a third group had plenty of time.

Then, for the study, the path of each student went by a person who appeared to have just been mugged. The test was to see who would stop and help the victim.

While 40% offered some help to the man, only 10% of those who thought they were running late helped the man. Forty-five percent (45%) in a medium hurry stopped and 63% with plenty of time stopped to help.

Importance of Time

It seems the American epidemic is busyness. Most of us are in a hurry, period. Often we answer the question “How are you doing?” with, “I’m good, just busy.” Busy is the new black. If you’re not busy, you’re not very important. If you have time, you must not be in demand. Important people are busy.

Time, Attention, and Email

Another commodity seems to be attention. Do you answer all of your email messages each day? It seems fewer people read all of their email. I have friends with thousands of unread messages. If you need to contact these people, text them. And, then wait.

What Am I Missing?

How much of our busyness and attention deficit are related to our fear of missing out (FOMO)? New things happen daily. A new iPhone or a new movie just came out. Did you see this new viral video on Facebook? Our kids are in soccer and basketball, (and this and that) this year.

As Americans, we run from one thing to the next, consuming experiences like fast food and then running to the next experience.

We’re so consumed with our own lives, we never see our neighbors!

Love God and Love People

Jesus told this story because the Jewish lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. I guess he didn’t want to miss out. Jesus asked him what he thought, and the lawyer stated clearly the Great Commandment, that we love God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, and we love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus confirmed this man’s thinking. Then the lawyer asked, “And who is my neighbor?”

The Neighbors We Miss

As we race from experience to commitment to experience, I wonder how many neighbors we miss. Could it be our neighbors and the things we do for them will last? Everything else will burn up. Our experiences and our busy lifestyles load us up with treasures on earth. Moth and rust will destroy those. The memories may linger, but I doubt they’ll compare to eternal life. And, the treasures will stay here.

See Others

Can we make time for people? Can we put some slack back in our own schedule, so we have time for our neighbors? Intentionally “see” others in every setting, especially those settings, like our family and work, that aren’t optional. Can you make more time for your family? Can you focus more of your life to get to know and serve your co-workers? I wonder how our workplaces and our co-workers might change if we made more time for them? I wonder if they would experience more of Jesus and his eternal joy if we lived more gracefully toward them?

Let It Go

Drop one thing to invest in people at work. We all need to move closer to Jesus. Help your work neighbor see Jesus. They want their life to last. They need a savior who gives meaning and purpose in this life and the next. Create some time in your schedule to serve others and make Jesus visible.


Mike Henry Sr. is the Founder and CEO of Follower Of One, a ministry designed to mobilize Christians in the marketplace. Get started by taking the Marketplace Mission Trip.