William Howell

Transparent | Innovative | Relational

You will be rewarded for this;
   your hope will not be disappointed.
Proverbs 23:18

Could you imagine this promise from God’s word coming to pass in your life? Knowing that if you don’t give up and if you persevere, that your hope is going to be rewarded should be the catalyst of your faith that God will fight on your behalf.  I love the fact that God, in His infinite grace, brings us out of the despair and in the hope that we will overcome.

What is this hope that is talked about all throughout scripture?  The best definition that I have heard is the “confident expectation of something good.” I am not just expecting something good. I am confident that it will happen. I am grateful that we are given the expectation of something good in our lives otherwise we would be doomed to sorry for the rest of our lives.

 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
  but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life
Proverbs 13:12

 

If God’s word is so explicit on what hope is and how it affects our lives, would not the God who put the word into action fulfill that very promise?

 

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.  Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20

 

       Hope isn’t something that is flippantly written throughout God’s word. It isn’t a “well I hope it happens” or “I hope that it comes through.” Hope is a powerful word that we can be assured that God will fulfill in our lives.  Will it happen automatically or quickly? I won’t yes because that is not entirely true. More often than not, hope fulfilled takes time. Patience is at practice here because we don’t always see it happen right away.   I have seen in my own life that it came to pass sooner than it should have.

       I have always wanted to be married and a dad. It was my dream growing up which I looked forward to. For a while, I thought it would never happen. I eventually swore off dating and decided that I was destined for singleness. A bit extreme, but that is how I felt at my young age. Not long after I moved to St. Louis, I met my beautiful bride in an unexpectant way and not in my timing. Not long after we met we were married and began having our family.  Sometimes, God will use a move or something unexpectant to fulfill the hope that is in your heart.

       If you are losing hope or feeling hopeless, know that you are not alone. Even now as I type this, I have struggled with having hope that anything better could happen for our family. Just like you, I have to remember God’s word and pray.

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Ever have a moment when everything is in a whirlwind and you feel that you have so much to do that your time with God tends to take a backseat?  Instead of God being our driver or our pilot, He often ends up being the backseat driver that we find annoying.  It is a sad analogy but we both know that when we are living our lives that most often God isn’t the most important thing to us.   I have often found myself here and so have many of the wonderful people in the Bible.  From the Israelites to their kings, we find over and over that God was put aside while their own agendas were put in the forefront.

When I was reading about Mary and Martha, God revealed two things for me. 1) You don’t have to work to get my approval.  2) Though work is important, it isn’t the most important thing.  As men, we thrive on work and approval.  We desire nothing more than to see God happy with us.  Our definition of happy is not the same as God’s.  God was happy the day that you and I said: “I believe.”  He is no happier if we are busy making millions of dollars that we are making a meager salary. He is no more pleased if we decided to be a pastor than being a stay at home dad.  We as men don’t have to perform for God!

Do you know how freeing that is?  Perhaps you received that revelation.  Maybe you are not like I am who is performance-based and thinks that I have to do something to get something.  As children of God, we often find ourselves in a destructive pattern of “doing” instead of “being.”  The story of Mary and Martha is a great example of that.

Martha welcomed Jesus with opened arms into her home and got busy working for the Master.  Jesus sat down and along came Mary who sat at her feet, listening to what Jesus was saying.  Martha was “distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” God emphasized that Martha was focused on the “doing” instead of the “being.”  Mary sat at Jesus’ feet.  Not out of disrespect out of Martha’s work or even Jesus’ authority but she wanted to hear what Jesus had to say.  Dinner can come later. Jesus had something important to say and Martha was distracted.

Jesus spoke to Martha after her stiff rebuke of Mary, “you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” Then Jesus gave her a hint of what she should be concerned about, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Men, work is important.  It is vital.  But it is not the most important thing.  The most important thing that you and I can do as men are to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.
Mark 7:7

Could you imagine a time when the religious hierarchy had more power than most governors or kings? It certainly appeared to be that way when the Pharisees walked into a room. But Jesus, in His typical fashion, did not shy away from the elephant in the room. During this time, the Pharisees had written rules and regulations that the common townspeople had to follow if they wanted to be a part of the religious community.  When Jesus began to question their practices and religious regulations, the Pharisees began to push back.

“Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him,  “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”
Matthew 15:1-2


Regardless, Jesus never backed down from a righteous fight. He pointed out the elephant in the room and then went further;

 

“Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.”
Matthew 15:3-6

 

Like salt in the wound, Jesus made it clear that you cannot have spiritual hypocrisy. There were things going on with the Pharisees that ought not to have been happening. And with that, Jesus reminded them of the prophecy in Isaiah;

 

“You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
 ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
 for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
Matthew 15:7-11

Ouch! He didn’t mince words, that is for sure.  A few feathers were ruffled during this confrontation. Jesus did not care about being politically correct in this situation. He only wanted to say what was true and right. He wasn’t impressed by their clout and He wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is. However, His disciples were concerned.

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
Matthew 15:12

In His typical fashion, Jesus made sure that His disciples would not be as alarmed. Again, He wasn’t impressed by the clout that the Pharisees carried over the townspeople.

 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,  so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
Matthew 15:13

Just another jab at the religious elite.  Jesus’ words pierced through the scriptures to us today as we are each called to be light in a dark place. Here’s the problem though. The religious elite is not our pastors or teachers. They are you and me. I easily get caught in the trap of pointing my finger at someone else’s sin when my own is still glaring at me in my face.  Jesus even spoke on this;

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
Matthew 7:3

Jesus wants us to take out our own business before we try to take out someone else’s business. Let us be careful to not become part of the religious elite and believe that we are better than any other person. Let our hearts be open to better ourselves without judging another.

 

 

 

 

Recently, I began a new adventure. As many of you, my readers, know that I was unemployed for quite some time. On September 5th, I began my new journey in IT with a  new job. What did that mean?  My regular postings on my social media platforms took a huge hit. My videos fell behind. The preparation for new posts took a backseat with the new material I had to learn for my job.

I failed. Yes. I failed at something crucial and I saw it coming. I knew that I would be busy learning a new job and working on my training. I didn’t prepare for it and discovered this simple truth – sometimes, the new things drown out the old. Perhaps not intentionally, but it happens. Here’s one thing that encouraged me – YOU have shown me a lot of grace for the past month.

I learned three things that are vital to keeping a blog going when you go through a huge change;

Schedule Your Blog Posts. I did this with excellence. Every Monday, my blog automatically posts a new post religiously. Truth be told, this is important because you don’t want your audience to run out of content.
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Schedule Your Social Media Posts.
This is where I bombed it. When I say bombed it, I mean a huge bomb. The platform that I used quit working and I let it slide. Make sure that you schedule your posts at least 10 days in advance. Why? This will give you time to adapt to your new change and get ready for the next chapter.

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Pre-Record Your Videos. If you do vlogs like I do, pre-record them at least 4 weeks in advance. This will give you time to create new content when you get a free chance. Make sure you schedule that time too!
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From not doing these things, I witnessed a sharp drop in activity! So, learn from my mistakes. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to go MIA without going MIA on your blog/social media.

For what I learned about after I lost my job, read UnPacked: Life Lessons of an Unemployed Rockstar for $1.99 on Amazon!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Do you ever feel like you have no direction in life? Do you ever wonder what’s the point? So often, we get caught up with our purpose in life that we forget the One who created that purpose in us. I am guilty of this for sure.

Right now, I am working on finding my purpose in life. For over 20 years, I worked in the same field finding myself frustrated with the direction that I should take.  An entrepreneur at heart, I had several business ideas that failed and a few that were successful. Because I have a family, I have had to put a lot of those ideas on the back burner until something changes in our situation.  Does that mean God doesn’t have a plan or purpose for me? Absolutely not.

“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”
Proverbs 16:3

 As we commit our actions to God and give it to Him, He puts the process into place for success to occur.  I haven’t quite seen that in my life yet. However, I have seen it in the lives of several people that I personally know.  They wouldn’t have seen that success unless that followed the heart of God’s word.  Success doesn’t come to those who just want it. The natural flow of success found in God’s word can be seen in the following scripture;

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and proseper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalms 37:3-5

The steps to success are as followed:

  1. Trust in the Lord and do Good. The word trust here in the Greek means to have confidence in the Lord. We don’t just simply believe that He has our best intentions at heart. We are confident in it. As we find that confidence, we are to do good which translated is to do better.
  2. Then You Will Live Safely in the Land and Prosper. You cannot have the safety in the land and prosper unless you are confident in Him.
  3. Take Delight in the LordDelight in this scripture was a little strange to me, but it has two meanings. 1) to be delicate and 2) to be happy about.  The translation from this Hebrew attribution can be read as the following “to live softly and delicately for the Lord.” In addition, it can be read as “to be happy in the Lord”.
  4. Commit Everything You do to the Lord. To commit is to trust everything that you do for the Lord.
  5. Trust Him. It all comes back to having the full confidence in the Lord. You cannot have success unless you have full confidence in God.

Just in this simple scripture, we have pulled out five keys to success in fulfilling the life that God has for us. We all have a different definition of success. One might find themselves successful if they have a lot of money. Another person might find that having children is successful. The list could go on and on. The question now lies with you. What is your definition of success?

 “I can do what you cannot do. You can do what I cannot do.  Together we can do great things.” 
Mother Teresa 

        Have you ever gotten involved in a project that seemed to be overwhelming?  Did you try to carry the burden of another employee only to find yourself overwhelmed with the task?  Moses was found guilty of that when he led the Israelite people out of Egypt.  I can relate to this because I was and still am certainly the same way.  Moses would settle the disputes among the Israelite people all day long.  

        First, this was very time consuming and because of this, he could not his other leadership goals.  Second, it took his energy to settle these disputes.  There was always someone who was unhappy with is ruling and surely, they made it known.  It took his father-in-law to say something to him about it. 

 “The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.”  Exodus 18:13-17 NLT

        Moses had the right heart.  He wanted to carry everyone’s load and help them.  The only problem was when he did carry their loads he couldn’t carry his own.  He was on the brink of utter disaster, not only in his ministry but in his personal life.   We are not built to carry a load of other people on our own.  

       In Galatians 6:2, Paul wrote to the Galatians that they were to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV).  We are built to help one another out, absolutely, but we are not built to carry the load alone.  Often in scripture, God refers to the multitude in servanthood.  Over the past year, I have found in leadership, that I cannot carry the weight of our load on my own.  With the help of my wife and the great team that we serve, I am able to delegate and walk with a lighter load.

         “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” Exodus 18:18-23

        Moses’ father-in-law saw could sense that his son-in-law was getting burned out.  Could you imagine carrying the weight of the world, or nation, on your own back all alone?  This is why so many people cave under pressure. This is why pastors quit serving.  This is why single moms are overwhelmed.   God made the law of two.  In Matthew, Jesus said, “When two or more are gathered in my name, so am I there.”  When God created man and woman, it was a law He made because either one did not have the capability of living life on their own.  Perhaps, He also did this so that we would rely more on Him making it more than one.  The power of more than one is extreme.  So many leaders crack under this law because they don’t have the team surrounding them to give them the help that they need.  You are not a one man show. Let me just make that clear.

       Early on in ministry, I set things up to do alone and found myself constantly frustrated. I always seemed one step ahead but would fall two steps back.  It was when I conducted an “Experience It” session, which was our mobile coffee shop experience, in 2010 at a men’s conference that brought this to my attention.  We were asked to close our eyes and listen to what God was telling us.  Not just listen but to visualize what He was saying to us.  I had a vision of an outlet that was uncovered and a plug lying on the floor beside it.  I thought it strange that God would put that in my spirit.  Later on, I asked Him to elaborate.  In my spirit, I heard His voice say, “this is a season of connections and you are not connected.”  It jolted me.  This was a wake-up call for me. It was time to surround myself with people who could make this vision happen and to begin to create a team that would make a major impact.  I needed connections!  I could not create this ministry or business on the account of doing it alone.  

       A year or so later, when I started writing “Visual Impairment”, I sought out men and women who could add value to the book.  I sought people who could give me advice, counsel, encouragement, and support.  I valued their opinion and their heart.  In Psalms 1:1, David wrote that “blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.”  

       We need that righteous counsel.  God gives us the warning to be careful of what we hear and who we counsel with.  We are to use wisdom (James 1:5).  There will be times when God will use someone to give you a great idea.  I had this happen while working on “The Chipped Mug, a coffee house that my wife and I own.  It was founded by a dream that I had but the essential part of how it exists is a community.  Without the power of the multitude, The Chipped Mug doesn’t exist.  But there would be counsel that did not align with the Word of God on how to run our business.  Politely, I would decline the advice.  However, when there was godly wisdom, I felt the need to take it.

      Moses would heed to what his father-in-law said and from that point forward, he handled the major issues and left the minor issues to his delegation.  Moses had formed a dream team around him.  Much like Moses, Jesus formed a similar team around him while He was in ministry.  These men and women would care for the ministry, prepare, take the finances and delegate, and help in making crucial decisions while Jesus would minister.  Jesus could have impacted the places He went to simply by visiting them.  But it was Jesus’ dream team who carried the gospel of Christ all around the world. Sure, there were those that failed him at times.  But in the end, the goal was accomplished; “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.Matthew 28:19 To sum it up, I would like to quote John Maxwell from his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of LeadershipWhen we see any incredibly gifted person, it’s always tempting to believe that the talent alone made him successful.  To think that is to buy into a lie.  Nobody does anything great alone.  Leaders do not succeed alone.  A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.  What makes the difference is the leader’s inner circle.”  (Pg 127) There are no self-made men, only God made teams! 

When forming yourself as a leader, what do you want others to see in you?

  • The Optimism of David
  • The Compassion of Jonathan
  • The Wisdom of Solomon
  • The Tenacity of Peter
  • The Intensity of Paul
  • The Meekness of Moses
  • The Righteousness of Noah
  • The Boldness of Joshua
  • The Courage of Esther

God, mold and shape me to my full leadership potential.” – Bill Hybels

When forming your team, look for the three C’s:  Character, Competence, and Chemistry.

Character

  • Integrity
  • Reputation
  • Testimony

Competence-Doesn’t always have a Ph.D. at the end of their name.

  • Adequate
  • Sufficient
  • More than able

Chemistry

  • The interaction of one personality with another.

When forming your team, take the basin/towel concept. You are not over your team.  You work with your team to accomplish a more efficient goal.

What am I personally looking for in a dream team?

  • Integrity- When someone says that they are going to do something that they will follow through with it.
  • Character
  • Competent
  • Courageous
  • Willing
  • Ready

 

“After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. ”
Acts 14:21-22

In the true art of reading God’s Word, I found a portion of scripture that we’d all like to skip over. You know the ones that I am talking about- the ones that make you wonder about the whole package that you signed up for when you became a Christ follower. When I came across this, the question that arose in my heart for the title was “must I suffer?”  Do I have to go through the trials of life and deal with all of the disappointments that come with them?

It is easy to get sold on the fact that if we follow Christ that we will get our Rolls Royce, gold watch, and a million dollars in the bank. Unfortunate as it may sound, these promises that many teachers give for coming to the altar, are simply not true. If that is the case, I need to know who lost my contract with God on this.

In all seriousness, when we go through these trials in our lives, I believe that it makes us appreciate our lives even more as we are going through it. The believers in the passage in Acts were going through the great tribulations of life. However, they knew that if they stood the test that they would be able to see the treasure on the other side.

It has helped me to read God’s word to see that we are not alone in these trials. As a matter of fact, in James 1, we read where the church was encouraged to persevere because their faithfulness would pay off.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

Can you imagine that there will be a time that we will find ourselves in a perfect state, complete, and needing nothing? It is hard to fathom the simple truth that we will see a day where these things will come true. While you and I are going through these things, our hope is that we will come out stronger and find ourselves in a better place.