Tuesday, March 25

Silence the INTIMIDATING Roar of FEAR

It's Wisdom-Packed Wednesday!  Tell us how this blesses you...  
Silence the INTIMIDATING ROAR of FEAR in your life!!

What is "Intimidation" really?

          Do you know that feeling you get in the pit of your gut when you:
    -- ask your boss for a raise;
    -- walk any distance in total darkness;
    -- enter a room of people that you are suddenly CONVINCED are all talking about you; or
     -- step out to share your faith with anyone?

          Intimidation is THAT feeling, and it indicates that what you are about to do is something significant!

          It is the push-back you feel when you begin pursuing something significant!

          Intimidation and fear are among the ranks of demonic spirits whose job it is to "manipulate" us.  They are "lying" spirits that come to keep us from pursuing God and the fulfillment He has for us.  
  
Why is it so important that Keith would say that "Overcoming" it is crucial?

          When asked, "Why did you write your book 'Overcoming Intimidation'?" Keith's answer was different than you might expect.  His response was, "Once I saw how the spirits of 'intimidation' and 'fear' were crippling members of the Body of Christ, I had to expose those spirits by name.  I learned the hard way that, if I was going to do anything substantial with my life concerning becoming one with God and fulfilling my calling IN God, I would HAVE to become proficient at detecting the spirits of 'intimidation' and 'fear' when they come around.  Once I learned how to overcome them, I wrote the book to equip believers of all ages with what I've learned, so they too can identify, and destroy, this most stealthy of wicked spirits."

          Satan and his minions want to steal, kill, and destroy "life" itself.  Consider how abortion and homosexuality are closing the womb of women and stopping the birth of countless children.  In much the same way, the spirits of intimidation and fear come in and attempt to abort (in the spirit) the birth and fulfillment of what God has put in each of us to finish.  Jesus Christ *finished* what He came a long way to do.  And it's very important to note that Jesus suffered and "died" to fulfill His purpose on this earth.  The words "kill" and "abort" have one thing in common:  they both mean to "terminate before completion."  So, you see, Jesus was not killed, nor was his mission aborted!  He *finished* exactly what our Heavenly Father sent Him here to do!
    
        If we are going to *finish* what our Heavenly Father sent us here to do, we are going to have to become proficient at pushing through Intimidation and Fear.

How does my "Overcoming Intimidation" bring victory in my life?
          Diligence in seeking God includes confronting, and overcoming, those wicked spirits of intimidation and fear when they come to hinder you from reaching both God and your full potential IN Him.  Simply put, they are like a huge wall that, on the other side, awaits great reward.  

          Some of the most heartbreaking stories ever told are from people whose lives have been shattered because they ran AWAY, rather than pushing through the intimidation!

          Always confront!  Never run!  Why?

          Keith puts things in proper perspective in his book by sharing how lions pursue and trap their prey...
         
       
  As amazing as other animals' tactics are, he especially found the lions' method considerably more intriguing since intimidation plays such a primary role in the way they hunt for food.
          As male lions grow old, not only do they slow down considerably, but their teeth also become brittle and painfully sensitive, making it very difficult for them to chase down and kill prey.  In order for the big male lions to be able to eat on a regular basis, they recruit the female and young male lions of the pride to accomplish the difficult task of chasing down and killing their meals FOR them.  Here's how they do it.  With both the female and young males in tow, the big ferocious-looking male lion sets off on his quest for something to eat. Once he has spotted a herd of animals feeding in the distance, they very stealthily sneak up on them.  This is where it really gets good.  The big male, once in position, lies down as low as possible while the females and young male lions approach the desired herd very quietly from the opposite side.  Once they have encircled the herd, the old male lion rises up and lets out a tremendously loud and intimidating roar.  Not knowing that the big male lion is relatively toothless, the herd begins running in the opposite direction of the old male.  Unbeknownst to the herd, the female and young male lions are in position to catch and kill the members of the herd as they come right toward them.  Hence, the intimidating sound of the old lion's roar literally drives the prey right into the jaws of death.         
          The moral of the story is- whenever you are confronted with an intimidating situation, walk straight TOWARD it.  Therein lies your freedom!  If the unsuspecting animals had only run into the intimidating roar of the old lion, more of them would have been around to graze another day. (Hear Keith's "Run TO the Roar" by podcast.)                    On the other side of each struggle lies a reward.  The reward is God and working with Him to fulfill the part that only you, as an individual, can fulfill in God's vision for all of creation!  He is our exceeding great reward! 

Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."

Remember, go THROUGH intimidation and fear - not around, not over, not under them - and enjoy the exceeding Great Reward that is God Himself, and the fulfillment of LIFE that awaits you on the other side. 


We leave you with a 3-PART challenge for you to accept and share...


1.) Read this blog, and the scripture, every day this week, even 5x each day, until it becomes a part of your thinking.
2.) If you don't already have a notebook or journal where you keep notes of what God shows you in your life, start one.  Write down the areas of your life where you are struggling most with fear and intimidation, and where you commit to working with God to overcome those struggles in your life.  And...
3.) Remember that we always appreciate hearing from you, if you would like to share your thoughts and experiences with us as well.

Keith's book "OVERCOMING INTIMIDATION" has lots of scripture study and tips that you don't want to miss.  Get your personal copy at TowardTheMark.com.



For more Scripture-based truths to live a whole, wonder-filled life, follow:


We look forward to hearing from you.  Connect with us here again NEXT Wednesday,
PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS!

Wednesday, March 19

THIS Wisdom-Packed Wednesday CHANGED me

This Wisdom-Packed Wednesday will change your life!!

              A pastor friend once asked me this question, "If you were to prescribe just one thing that, if taken to heart, would immediately produce a profound change in the lives of those who practice it, what would that be?" Without hesitating I said "Gratitude!" He responded, "Why gratitude?" I went on to tell him how the Holy Spirit once revealed to me how a heart filled with gratitude for God is the key that unlocks "His gates" mentioned in Psalm 100:4. The verse reads, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful (be Filled with thanks always!) unto him, and bless His name." (Psalm 100:4)

              When our heart is filled with thanks for God, for Who He is more than for what He can do for us, God can most certainly smell it. Where a heart filled with gratitude to God is sweet in His nostrils, the contents of an UN-grateful heart go up before Him as a putrid stench. When God is our passion, so much so that we are continually grateful to Him- for Him, the contents of our heart rises up before His Throne like an invisible smoke, a sweet-smelling fragrance that is Holy, acceptable, and pleasing to Him. It is this sweet-smelling savor, or fragrance, that is the praise mentioned in the same verse. We must always remember, God is the consummate family man, and nothing makes Him happier than when His children love, and want, Him more than they do their own lives, or His "stuff" for that matter. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God (the kingdom that is God), and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

               I so enjoy watching the lives of truly grateful people. When you are with someone who is exceedingly grateful to God for Who He is, they will also be grateful for those around them. They will have and display a level of uncommon respect for others. They are quick to speak life. They are selfless and always looking for ways to help others in whatever way they can. They see others through God's eyes, always ready and willing to help others recognize and call out the gifts that God has placed in them. They fan the flame in the heart of others to complete the work that God has wired them to full-fill. And, lastly, people who love God wholeheartedly, and are grateful to Him for Who He is, want to tell everyone about Him. They are not only more keenly aware of the times we are living in, but will do whatever they can do to make our Heavenly Father be lifted up and glorified in the eyes of as many people as possible; Not because someone says they have to, but because God is their passion.

               We invite you to take advantage of these additional Scripture-based truths we have available to help you as you Press Toward the Mark of becoming "one" with your Heavenly Father:
"Keith Shealy & Toward The Mark" on Facebook
Keith's "Between The Lines" Podcast on Libsyn and

Wednesday, March 12

The Sweet Fruit of Overcoming Fear


THIS I'VE LEARNED... The spirits of fear and intimidation actually have a weakness. 
If you walk straight IN to them, THEY RUN AWAY!   

With all of the challenges people face in the world today, this is the perfect time to share how Keith "pressed through" fear and intimidation, to enjoy a sweet reward of blessings lasting a lifetime!
We pray Keith's story encourages you to overcome intimidation and fear in every area of your life, so you can walk victoriously in...
*  your family.
*  your calling.
*  your career.
*  your greatest heart's desires.

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and Am set down with My Father in His Throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

       This personal testimony is about the first time I was asked to perform my songs as a solo artist in a good-sized concert. In January of 1981, I was at a Bible study at a new friend’s home in Winston-Salem, NC. One of the guys there, having heard that I had been in full-time music ministry, asked if I would share a couple of my songs. I replied, with a bit of relief I might add, that I had not brought my guitar with me. At that, the young lady who was hosting the meeting said “wait a minute,” jumped up, ran down the hall, came back with her guitar, and handed it to me! So, I took it and tuned it up as best I could (not having played the guitar very long at that point!) and played two songs that I had just scribbled down a week or two before. A few days later, unbeknownst to me, the same young lady who hosted the Bible study called her brother, the President of the Christian Student Organization at the University of North Carolina (UNC) campus. She told him about me and my songs. A few days later, he telephoned me and asked if I would agree to be the featured musician at a concert on the UNC campus in Greensboro the following month. Immediately intimidation attacked me. I knew that I was standing at a fork in the road regarding my ministry’s future, and, by the intensity of the attack, I knew that something big was looming. What was I to do? On one hand, I could believe the intimidation that was telling me that I was not good enough, and perhaps miss out on something that God wanted to do with me. On the other hand, I could trust God, and crawl out onto the end of the limb.

       It was quite a limb! Though I had toured professionally as a drummer for a number of years, I had very little understanding of how to play the guitar, much less sing and play at the same time. To say the least, I wasn’t prepared to do a public performance of any kind! So you see, when the fellow from UNC asked me to do the concert, only God and I really knew that, by all natural reasoning, I was incapable of it. Not only that, but all I had at the time were six unfinished original songs, and they needed me to do at least fifteen. To add to the intimidation, he then told me that one of the area’s most well-known Christian rock bands would open for me that evening.

       So, there I was, standing at the threshold of a major decision. Was I going to walk into the roar of this extremely intimidating situation, or turn and run away? All of a sudden, in the midst of the storm that was raging in my mind, I realized that I was being presented with a priceless opportunity to glorify God, not only for that evening, but also for many years to come. With all of the strength that I could muster, I threw my shoulders back, gulped real big, and said to the guy from UNC, “I would be honored to serve you in this way!” I thanked him for his trust, and we prayed and hung up the phone. Within seconds, it felt as if the intimidating spirits that were pounding on my head during the conversation had called in all of their big-mouthed brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles to convince me that I had just made the biggest mistake of my entire life. There I sat facing the greatest step of faith that I had ever taken, with only six unfinished original songs to my name and an old cheap guitar I had paid forty-five dollars for at a local pawn shop.

       Accepting the offer to do the event had been a huge battle, but not as brutal as the next struggle would be: preparing for and doing the concert itself. The five weeks leading up to the event were some of the loneliest and most trying times that I had ever experienced. My pastor, his wife, and myself had recently moved to that area and were heavily engaged in the first few months of a new Church plant. Six weeks earlier, I had taken a job selling boats, in the dead of winter, working no fewer than fifty mandatory hours a week. Further adding to the difficulty, I had not made any friends in the area as yet, and was having to do this with very little to no support from anyone. As you might imagine, I asked God regularly to anoint me with the wisdom to finish up the songs that I had and to write the other nine songs that I would need. Now these could not be just nine more songs; they had to be nine songs that ministered life to people, drawing anyone who heard them into oneness with their Heavenly Father. Writing those songs took many hours of prayer and hard work to complete, but God was faithful. When the night of the event finally arrived, I placed my guitar into its handle-less cardboard case, climbed into my trusty Ford van, and headed for Greensboro. With every turn of the wheels on my truck, the war that was raging in my mind grew. Pulling up to the concert hall that evening is a memory that I will never forget. After finding a parking place, I decided to sit in my van for a short while and pray. With what felt like the proverbial stomach full of “really big” butterflies, I lifted my hands toward the heavens, let out a big sigh, and said, “Lord, let’s do this!”

       I then climbed out of the van and headed for the building. As I was almost to the door, I looked around and noticed that there were already many cars in the parking lot. There would be a big crowd in the concert hall that night! With my Bible in one hand and my guitar in the other, I took a deep breath and proceeded through the door.

       Inside the hall, people were frantically running around getting things ready, and the opening band was on stage doing their sound check. It was all rather overwhelming. When the promoter saw me, he immediately walked over, took me by the arm, and began introducing me to people and showing me around the place. Shortly thereafter, one of the audio guys shouted from the stage, “Keith, sound check in five!” Do you remember my telling you earlier about the intimidating spirits that had dropped in on me with all of their relatives? Well, they were back and doing a bang-up job of portraying the stage and growing audience as being Goliath himself. Five minutes later, shaking like a leaf, I made my way onto the stage, struggled through my sound check, and went backstage to pray while awaiting my time slot.

       Once the opening band had begun playing, I decided to make my way through the crowd toward the back of the hall and hang out where the sound guys were. As the band announced that they would be playing their last song, I started making my way backstage to get ready to go on. Man, were those guys good! And frankly, that did not make things any easier for me. I was staring into the eyes of a “Goliath-sized” situation, knowing that only one of us was going to step off that stage, one hour from now, the victor. As impossible as the whole thing seemed, I decided then that I was going to win the fight or die trying. As I was waiting for the announcer to introduce me, the intimidation reached a fevered pitch. All of a sudden, with only seconds to go, one of the sound crew guys walked up to me, leaned over, and whispered, “Keith, I loved what you did at sound check. And by the way, the guys said that they can’t wait to hear the rest of your stuff.” Praise God, there they were, the five smooth stones that I needed to win the fight: the testimony that God was with me!

       The announcer introduced me, and I walked out on stage to roaring applause. With a tremble in my voice and my hands shaking, I started to play my first song. As I was about half way through it, I can remember thinking to myself that it sure was a good thing that I was wearing long pants because my knees were quivering pretty much uncontrollably. As I finished my first song, I could not believe my own eyes and ears. The entire crowd rose to their feet and broke into thunderous applause. The mountain that had stood in front of me for five long and grueling weeks was removed in seconds, and I knew then that I had pressed my way through to victory. Not only had the intimidating voices been defeated, but I began playing, singing, and speaking with an authority that I had never experienced before.

       The testimony gets even better! After the concert was over and I was mingling among the crowd, something happened that further exceeded my greatest expectations. People started asking when I could come and minister for them. For example, in the crowd that evening was a lady who managed a local Christian night club. They had just purchased an old Assembly of God church building in the very same community where my pastors and I were in the process of starting our new Church. She walked up to me and asked if I would come and minister for them the following week. I accepted her offer and, as they say, the rest is history.

       A few weeks later, I was asked to play there one night a week, and shortly thereafter, the club’s board of directors invited our fledgling congregation to meet in their building as often as we would like. Not only was that in and of itself a huge miracle, but they allowed us to rent the entire facility for the “whopping” sum of only one dollar a year. God opened a flood gate of blessings in all of our lives, blessings that continue to this day!

       A few weeks later, I was playing at that same Christian club when I was approached by two local musicians asking me if I would be interested in their accompanying me whenever I was invited to do concerts. To make a very long and miraculous story short, that would be the beginning of The Keith Shealy Band and other fruitful outreach groups. Since then, thousands of lives have been changed for God’s glory, and so many wonderful miracles have taken place that we could not even begin to count them, all as a result of my accepting that one challenging invitation on that cold winter night in 1981!

       The good news for all of us is this: if you will only work as God’s partner to press through the intimidation that has held you back from receiving God’s best for your life, the same kind of results await you. Selah!

IN Christ Jesus,
                                
 
Follow "Keith Shealy & Toward The Mark" on Facebook and TowardTheMark.com website for more Scripture-based truth and encouragement, unveiling God's Secrets on real-life matters - what the devil DOESN'T want you to know.

 

Wednesday, March 5

PAIN is a GOOD Thing??

This is a motivating story that Keith shares to explain why we must welcome the "pain" that comes with growing spiritually.  When we give our heart and life to Jesus Christ, we begin to make changes in our lifestyle.  We give up our old habits that are counterproductive, and develop new habits that will grow our relationship, and our faith, IN our Lord and Savior.  If, like me, you identify with the painful experiences of this young believer Keith led to the Lord, you'll be blessed by realizing how, clearly, "PAIN is a GOOD thing."  Selah. 

Keith received a phone call from a young, and rather popular, guy in his youth group who, just a few weeks before, had given his heart and life to the Lord.  He asked Keith if he could meet with him to talk about a decision he had made and was struggling with.  Hearing frustration in this young man's voice, Keith made it a point to meet with him asap.  When they met and sat down to talk, with a stressed voice, the young believer asked, "Why do non-believers seem to have it easier than Christians do?  Why does it seem that, ever since I started going to church, and stopped hanging out with my old friends I used to party with before I made my commitment to Jesus Christ, my life seems to be falling apart?  I see my old friends having a good time, while I feel like I've been in an endless string of trials and tribulations.  Keith... is there something wrong with me?"  

Understanding how it feels to be harshly criticized, hurt, and rejected by old friends who don't know God, Keith replied, "What I hear you saying is actually really good news.  It tells me you are right where you need to be.  You see, the fiery trials and struggles are coming your way because God loves you.  I know that may sound a bit different than what you may have heard before, but let me explain what I'm saying.  Next to God sending His precious Son, the Person of the Holy Spirit, and His written Word for us, providing for our trials is His most valuable gift to us.  The fiery trials in life, for believers, is of utmost importance for our development into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.  Much like it takes intense heat to purify gold, and tons of immense pressure, and time, to turn a piece of coal into a priceless diamond, it takes fiery trials and pressures to burn away our old, stinking, flesh nature and purify us.  Only after that can our life become a sweet-smelling fragrance to God."  

Jesus fore-warned us that this would happen and, to encourage us to resist running from our difficulties and to stand firm through the trials that come, He said, "And ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:13)  The apostle Paul knew this first-hand, telling how he actually cherished his times in the fiery trials, saying, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

When the young believer asked, "Does it ever get easier?"  Keith replied, "No, it gets better!  You see, the more we submit to the trials when they come, and hold fast to them, the clearer God's voice becomes to us.  Believe me, when you begin to hear God's voice, all of the trials you have gone through immediately become inexplicably small compared to the awesome privilege of experiencing even one word from God's own mouth.  It is an experience for which there are no words to even begin to explain!  Jesus makes this point best when He says, 'A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.' (John 16:21)"

I encourage you, when the fiery trials of this life come, and they will, do not be so quick to try and escape them.  => Resist the temptation to run.  => Linger in them for a while.  => Let their perfect work be done in you.  => And watch what God will do.
 
________________________________________________________

Make sure to follow our "Keith Shealy & Toward The Mark" Facebook page  and "TTMSingingSgt" Twitter page as well.  Also, *NEW* this month, for more of what the devil DOESN'T want you to find, we invite you to listen in to "Keith Shealy's Between The Lines", fresh weekly podcasts for a full 52 weeks (an entire year) of uplifting messages at your findertips.

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