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Friday, September 27

Winning The Lost ... Throw off religious frames of thought!

           "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise  (Proverb 11:30)."
     In these last days before Christ Jesus returns, we must do everything necessary to make sure that our partnership with God is strong. Only then will we be able to be truly effective at winning the lost, with God, God's Way.
            In 1987, I had a contemporary band that I put together for ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ through original music and lyrics. The band members and I were invited to a church in Roanoke, Virginia to do a concert for the purpose of reaching out to the lost young people in their city. As the event date drew near, I specifically remember asking God to pack the auditorium with lost teenagers, hundreds of young guys and girls whose hearts and lives we could win for Christ during this upcoming evening. After all, the more people we draw in to a concert event, the more effectively successful the outreach ministry will prove to be. Everybody knows that, right??!!

            We believed that our motives were pure, but our goal to draw the biggest crowd had become a bit too high in our outreach priorities. That popular, misguided, religious frame of thought, "the bigger our crowds, the better our ministry" led us to become too focused on mainly drawing the crowds to our concert rather than preparing to meet the needs of individuals who came. I was unknowingly well-on-my-way to becoming desensitized to the increasing need of the folks coming to the outreach concert ministry. Was I doing a good thing? I surely was, without a doubt! Was I doing the "right" thing? Not nearly as much as I should have been!

            A few days before the concert, after I had been praying for only about 10 minutes, The Lord said something that would forever change my life, especially in the way I would conduct my band outreach ministry from then on. The Lord said to me, "Keith, do you know why I was so successful at reaching the masses during My earthly ministry?" I replied, "Why Lord?" He said, "Because My passion has always been for loving people on a personal one-on-one basis, first! If a crowd assembles to hear you share what I have placed on your heart for them, then that gathering should be held for no other reason than for those in attendance to receive My Word of direction, correction, encouragement, or affirmation. And we make sure to address their individual lives first, then address the group. Always remember, I never call an assembly for entertaining individuals. I will only call individuals to gather together for solemn assemblies."

            In this age when a church's success is largely based on the number of people that are in attendance, or the amount of money that is in its coffers, it is no wonder that much of the body of Christ in America is in the impotent state that it is, especially where winning the lost God's way is concerned. Jesus said, "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer (permit) ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence  (a false show)  make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte  (be converted)  , and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves  (Matthew 23:13-15)."

            I know that this may be a bit hard to swallow, but Christ Jesus could just as well be addressing the vast majority of church organizations in this country today, with that same message. God loves loving people. He hates when His people put anything ahead of loving Him and loving others. Before we can truly become effective at reaching people for the reasons God wants to reach them, we must understand that, contrary to popular belief, God is not at all impressed with our buildings, bank accounts, programs, or any other outward thing that secular society deems is an outward indication of inward spiritual maturity. In fact, secular society operates contrary to the ways of spiritual maturity. Therefore, with a lack of spiritual maturity in the lives of church leaders, the church's function will, in great part, sadly be operating in this all-too-popular religious frame of thought.

            Why have those religious mindsets and secular things become sought-after in churches, even more-so than the will of God for people? In short, it is because the church has allowed popular culture to affect the church more that the church has intentionally affected pop-culture. No matter what growth experts may tell you about buying facilities or adding programs, God's passion is for having an intimate relationship with each one of His individual people, individually. Not that I'm saying money and what it can buy is bad; I am saying that, when the pursuit of these things is hindering our ability to demonstrate God's Love for people, we have, as I like to say, "put the cart before the horse." We have to play a more effective role in winning the lost, as well as encouraging currently-active believers in the church. Millions of dollars are being squandered away on things, like the construction of facilities, the purchase of buses and other equipment, and developing exorbitant programs, that, for the most part, are never fully utilized for the purpose that they were acquired. It's just bad stewardship.

            In Matthew 6:33, Jesus gives us the starting place where it all must begin, "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."

            As you hold on to that thought, Part II "Winning the Lost...We Can Only Give From What We've Got" is coming soon, then Part III, "Winning the Lost...Counting the Cost" after that too. We encourage you to ask the Person of The Holy Spirit to meet with you in the pages of God's written Word where He helps us develop our increasing WANT for oneness with others along with our become One IN God, IN Jesus Christ, and IN Him (The Person of The Holy Spirit). You see, for us to become truly effective at winning the lost in these last days, we must do everything necessary to make sure that our partnership with God is strong first. I once heard a very wise man say, "The best thing we can do to help the poor in this country is to not be one of them." The same thing applies where leading the lost in spiritual things is concerned. Make it your goal to befriend people who are outside of your own circle of friends, and share with them all that The wonderful Holy Spirit brings to light in all those times God has answered your prayers and walked and talked with you in your life. The results will bless both you and them, as your hearts become filled with gratitude that compels you to offer up thanksgiving to Him, for Him, and for everything He IS and does.

            We must always remember Revelation 12:11, "And they overcame him  (the devil)  by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." And, no matter what,  KEEP PRESSIN' IN!.

            Our sincerest hope is that you are encouraged as you take in this blog. We'd like to invite you to take advantage of even more messages of encouragement, for you and your friends and family members, specially available now in one of our most-requested Toward The Mark books entitled, "Letters From The Front." We want to personally invite you to get your copies today.

            Our book  LETTERS FROM THE FRONT is a special collection of 12 of our most-requested teaching titles:

Sin Makes Ya Stewpit
The Cart's Before The Horse;
The Crisis of Eroding Integrity
The Fruit's at the End of the Limb
Too Quick to Compromise
The Rarest of All Breeds
Please...Stop Stinkin'
3 Keys to God-Pleasing Faith
Let It Go!
Understanding the Fear of The Lord
Into The Secret Place
Give to Give!

This collection of twelve teachings, when taken to heart, will help you emerge triumphant over seemingly impossible situations... "LETTERS From The FRONT" available at TowardTheMark online. If you would like to request a special order of this resource or any product from Keith Shealy and Toward The Mark, or if you have questions about our work, resources, or giving tax-deductible donations, please click here to e-mail us.

Would you write and let us know how this message has fanned the flame in your heart for Christ Jesus, His Ways, and God's Plan for your life?  We welcome you to mail us a letter addressed to TOWARD THE MARK, P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.  If you would like to e-mail your letter to us, please click here to e-mail us.
May you be greatly blessed as God writes this message in your heart. We praise Him, with eternal gratitude, for our loving Toward The Mark Family without whose help and support this work would not be possible!

Your friends and servants in Christ,


To Show GOD BIG in a world that Sees Him small… 
sums up the reason Keith stepped out in faith to focus on reaching the lost and strengthening believers everywhere, through Toward The Mark, Inc. We are praying that our Father in Heaven is able to encourage and edify your heart and life by the written and recorded products of Toward The Mark, Inc.

We couldn't do this without the help of our friends!
What you have just read is the 1st blog of a 3-part blog message. This blogspot, along with each of our original podcasts, music and video recordings, books, magazines, and other resources in our ministry collection, is made possible by the faithful prayer and financial support of the TTM Family of Sponsorship Partners. If you would like to become a part of the TTM Family, your monthly financial support of any amount will help toward fulfilling God's call on our lives to make Holy-Bible-based messages available to the churched and un-churched individuals alike. You are invited to partner with us in working with God to fulfill His desire for everybody to know Christ Jesus as He IS... The Way, The Truth, and The Life... personally. We will remain steadfast to "... press Toward The Mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14)." Would you consider helping us expand our outreach capabilities by becoming a monthly financial partner? Your support will help toward providing effective, practical outreach tools for ministering the love, truth, and salvation of Jesus Christ.

Every gift is appreciated and helps.

Mail tax-deductible contributions by check or money order made out to:
Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152. 

Thank you in advance for sowing your financial seed into the vision and mission God has given to this ministry! We pray God bless you with a 100-fold return for your generosity!

 see and hear, follow and share, more from Toward The Mark, Inc.:

Keith and Brenda "Between The Lines TTM" on our Libsyn Podcast Channel

"See sidebar Pressin'IN Blog titles"

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(757)251-2440 | TowardTheMark.com | Resources@TowardTheMark.com

Thursday, September 12

AWARD shows ... and idols?

What is the purpose behind "AWARD shows"? For the most part, award shows, hit charts, and the like are venues for parading and celebrating sinfulness. They provide public recognition for those who Satan has deceived into misdirecting their God-given talents. A platform of opportunities to magnify God in the eyes of all who watch is rather programmed for self-centered misuse of one's gifts. These worldly programs also set up fleshly idols in the eyes of the viewers, especially the “get ‘em while they’re young” shows, pitting young souls against one another in front of millions of viewers.
            What is the goal of the contestants? Each one of them hopes for the coveted label of idol. That was also the quest of Lucifer. The result for Lucifer was he earned his way to the final decision of "The Judge", to quote another popular TV show, “You’re fired.
            The use of that word “idol” is very revealing. For thousands of years, idols have been used by Satan to sway the hearts of men away from God and into bondage, thereby keeping them from pursuing their specific role in God’s plan for Creation. The objects humans worship such as idols, graven images, famous or infamous people, charms that are perceived as having some magical power, and so on, are no different from the bait the award shows offer, as mentioned earlier. Rather than being worthy of adoration, however, idols are nothing, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world (1 Corinthians 8:4).”

            You may be thinking or saying to yourself, “Hey guys, hold on a minute. I don’t worship these people. I only watch those shows for entertainment.” Perhaps you are merely interested in the music, but stick with us on this and consider the wisdom in the Scripture, “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:5).” The music of a person seeking the status of “idol” most certainly falls under the classification of “the song of fools”. So, with that in mind, I encourage you to choose the better part and hear the rebuke from a wise man named James, an Apostle and half-brother of Jesus Christ, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).”

            According to the James 4:4 Scripture, friendship with the world is spiritual adultery, making a person the enemy of God. Another wise man, the Apostle John, wrote, “The whole world lieth in wickedness … keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:19, 21).” John told us that the whole world lies in wickedness, not just some of the world. He specifically mentioned that we are to have nothing to do with idols. Then, yet another wise man, Apostle Paul gave this admonition, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).” The good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God, then, is to be found in the renewed mind that is not conformed to this world.

            The combined message from these three wise men can be put into the following summary… Don’t be conformed to this world because the whole world lies in wickedness; But if you are conformed to this world and don’t keep yourself from idols, then you are a friend with the world, an enemy of God, and a spiritual adulterer.

            In light of those stern words, observe the promise God made to those who choose to heed the warnings defined therein. That is, God’s promise is for those who turn away from the ways of the world in order to pursue friendship with Him, to pursue the renewed mind that is not conformed to this world, in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of The Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith The Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith The Lord Almighty."

            This is such a wonderful promise of God! He will receive those who come out from among the world and remain separate unto Him, not touching that which is unclean. The Lord Almighty will be their Father and they will be His sons and daughters. So, then what will happen to the idols? The prophet Isaiah told us, in Isaiah 2:17-18, "The LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish (destroy)."

            If you have not invited Jesus Christ into your heart to be your Lord and Savior in your life, stop right where you are and pray this in communication with God, "Father God, in the precious Name of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and The Lord of all lords, I lay my life at Your Feet. I come before You, confessing that I am a sinner, and I ask for You to forgive me of all my sins - those that I know I have committed, as well as those that I am not even aware of.  I ask that You come into my heart and be my Lord. I lay my life, and everything in it, at Your Feet, and ask that You please take me and begin to change me to be like YOU. I ask that You redeem the time that has passed, and allow me the opportunity to become exactly what You have predestined me to be, from before the foundation of the earth. I commit my life to You now, and thank You for receiving me as Your own. In the wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, I pray, Amen."  And AMEN!!!

            Every one of the sons and daughters of The Most High God need, and do well to heed the words of wisdom from Apostle Paul's writing in Philippians 4:8-9, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Selah... Amen (Let it be so as we pray in The Name of Christ Jesus)!

Check Out "Yours Is A WonderFull Life...No Doubt" podcast:

THANK YOU for choosing to plug in at the Pressin'IN Blog of TTM!

      We must challenge ourselves to watch for and record the breakthroughs God helps us to press in to pursue and recognize, daily, as James 4:7 promises, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)

      Halleluia! We look forward to hearing how we can stand with you in celebrating your wonder-full life with no doubt! God bless you,

...and the TTM Family!

Every gift is appreciated and helps.

Mail Tax-deductible Check Donations to:
Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.

 see and hear, follow and share, more TowardTheMark messages of the Gospel Jesus Christ preached:

Keith and Brenda "Between The Lines" Podcast on TTM's Libsyn Channel

Toward the Mark, Inc. © 2005 - 2019 | Privacy Policy and Terms of Use apply |
(757)251-2440 TowardTheMark.com | Resources@TowardTheMark.com

Monday, September 2

Feel What Quality Instruments Should Be!

We learned early on that using the best equipment is essential for producing quality products. This is especially true when it comes to fine musical instruments.
          It is a fact...cheap gear makes a job extremely burdensome, while the best tools actually make accomplishing a mission fulfilling. Kenny Marshall's unparalleled craftsmanship not only makes his guitars a joy to play but goes much deeper than that! What our team musicians and friends have found especially amazing is the way God's anointing on each guitar Kenny works on serves to pull out of its player a level of excellence that is an experience like no other guitar can offer.

          Having known Kenny since his days with ZION Guitars in the early 80's, I would like to offer my educated testimony on Kenny Marshall Guitars. Kenny Marshall is prophetically anointed by God to provide the kind of guitars that can actually transform God's psalmist from an ordinary player to excellent. Get your custom-made guitar from Kenny and you'll feel the difference...excellence as it should be!

          That, friend, is some sound advice.

          Special heartfelt thanks to our long-time friend and fellow-musician in Christ Mr. Kenny Marshall, and to all of our faithful partners without whom the work of TTM would not be possible. To those who have given up houses, lands, relationships, jobs, and their very lives to diligently pursue oneness with God, and resist all manner of distractions to fulfilling God's plan, we dedicate this work to you.

          In Christ, Keith, Brenda, and Team TTM.

Every gift is appreciated and helps.

Mail tax-deductible contributions by check or money order made out to:
Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152. 

Thank you in advance for sowing your financial seed into the vision and mission God has given to this ministry! We pray God bless you with a 100-fold return for your generosity!

 see and hear, follow and share, more of the work of TowardTheMark, Inc.:

Toward the Mark, Inc. © 2005 - 2019 | Privacy Policy and Terms of Use apply | (757)251-2440 TowardTheMark.com | Resources@TowardTheMark.com