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Welcome

to the online home of pastor, author, teacher, and speaker
Thomas E. McDaniels

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A Great Sermon isn’t an Accident

sermonSermon prep is something I have been doing for over 30 years.  When comparing notes with other preachers some of us are similar, and yet others of us are quite different.

 

In my earlier years I was more focused on making sure I did not look bad.  My personal insecurity was a driving force and controlled my presentation.  It was also something that God used for my good.

 

In my insecurity I was also deeply dependent upon God to show up.  During those years I was also focused more on praying for myself than praying for my audience.

 

These days I am focused on my audience and their needs and less of my own.  I also have lost the fear of being embarrassed or afraid to fall on my face.

 

I preach often. About 48 weekends a year. Again, in my early years I preached over 100 times a year.

 

At this point in my journey I have learned that it is not about me, and allowing others to contribute only makes us a better church and me a better leader.

 

I preach from a yearly calendar.  It is flexible and can be changed if the Holy Spirit is leading a different direction.  I begin the calendar with topics that I know are important to our church and then add the holidays.  This fills in nearly 10 weekends.

 

From there I take a look at the church and the current areas where we need change, teaching, or training.  This is the formula that creates the planning and the outcome for the coming year.

 

Creating the Content

 

I write my sermons the week I preach them and most always on Friday and Saturday before the Sunday.  I begin my meditation on Monday morning and often make notes all week in my prayer times, drive times, and other places.  I then add the scriptures.  I normally read every scripture in the whole bible on the topic I am studying.   My final step is adding the personal illustrations.

 

Prayer is the factor that brings it all together. Praying adds the transitions and saturates me with God’s presence.  This is where I pick up a sense of His leading and even His passions.

 

I have always spent time praying each morning and I am convinced the power of preaching begins in the prayer chamber!   

outcomes

 

I am actually consumed with my message most of the week.  I average about 5-8 hours on most sermons.  That is actually half of the time it was only 10 years ago.  I used to invest about 13-16 hours a week.

 

Those days I was consumed with the message.  These days I am convinced with the man being ready to deliver it.

 

I have learned you must trust the anointing.

 

A few years ago I was guilty of trusting in my studies but now I trust in my teacher.

 

I now prepare the man for the message rather than the message for the man.

 

Would love to hear from you.

 

What would you add to this post?

 

 

 

Serving: The reward is greater than the cost

In this clip Pastor Tom reveals that the reward of serving others is always greater than the cost.  He also enforces the truth that we can serve others and actually it cost us very little! 

Prioritize Your Calling

In this short clip Pastor Tom uses a white board and deeply explains 6 words that will revolutionize your priorities.  This is very insightful and inspiring!

Miraculous Things Happen When We Use Our Gifts

MADEI find that most people are generally in search of wonderful experiences and on a daily basis expect positive things to happen.  Some of us are looking for miraculous things to occur.  And still others may be looking for something spectacular.

 

We search for the spectacular in a variety of places. We search for it through high profile people, or people we feel have mastered certain talents. We search for it through social media, TV, or at our places of worship.  

 

The most amazing thing is that we often fail to expect it from ourselves. 

 

Only few of us ever realize that the greatest genius of all is the genius to be YOU!  I purposefully used the word spectacular only to contrast it with the word supernatural.  Because as people of faith we look not to the spectacular but to the supernatural. 

 

The supernatural can also be overlooked and under realized.  Because it begins with who we are, and not necessarily what we do. Let’s begin by realizing we are each made uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully by God our creator.  I love to say you are YOU-nique!

 

The most supernatural things occur as God adds super to our natural.  I often watch the supernatural occur as men and women of God step into moments of just being themselves.

 

me

 

I watch miracles happen as people use their natural gifts and callings.  As people step into situations that they were born for. It is in moments like this that their gifts go higher, their senses heighten, and everything in them goes to another level. We also call this “the anointing.”

 

I have seen it in crisis situations.  I have seen it in places where compassion was needed. I have seen it while people are clearing away the debris of a tornado. I have seen it on stages for presentations, sermons, dramas, and dance recitals.

 

This is the where the supernatural occurs.  It occurs most in those moments when we are leveraging the gifts and abilities God has entrusted to us. This is why it is vital to use your gifts and callings.  We were created with the ability to serve others and make a difference in our own unique way.

 

Most of us are searching for the supernatural to come to us and fail to realize it flows from US!

 

So what should we do?

1. Desire

Desire is defined as; to be zealous for, to pursue with passion, to yearn for with eagerness and intensity! Desire is big.  Why?  Because everything starts with desire.  That’s why it is so important to develop and select the desires from good choices and never from feelings and emotions. Set your desire to discover the gifts that make you who you are! 

 
2. Discoverdiscover

Discover means to find or identify, to learn or take notice, and to observe.  In order to maximize our lives it is imperative for us to discover our gifts and callings.  This means we must get involved.  Discovery happens when we decide to take risks and make a difference.  Your gifts are rarely discovered in the classroom.  They are most discovered in the game, serving others, fully engaged.

3. Develop

Develop is defined as; to cause to grow or expand, to generate a new level of effectiveness, to act out the total capabilities or possibilities. Once we discover our gifts and talents we must find a place to develop and master them. This is also progressive.  Many of us want to start at the top but we must be willing to set ourselves up for growth and overall success.  This means finding a mentor and a safe place to exercise the gifts I have on the level currently developed. 

 

Remember, the next level is always uphill. 

 

OK your turn. 

Your comments are appreciated and solicited. 

 

Little Things Matter

differenceLittle Things can truly make a Big Difference.

 

A little thing like serving..big things happen.

 

A little thing like giving a donation..big things happen.

 

Most of us think if we can’t do a Big Thing then let’s do no-thing.

 

Never forget it’s a lot of little, that turns really BIG!

 

OK.  Your turn to share a little thing that turned out really big? 

Are you a Hostage?

rope

There is rarely anything good about being a hostage. I have been kidnapped by friends a few times in my life with the intended outcome of experiencing something special. But being a hostage mostly has a negative connotation and few of us enjoy being controlled by anything or anyone.

 

God designed us to be dominators and never to be dominated. God sent Christ to be our freedom fighter and to set us free. Satan and his forces have a totally opposite strategy for us. They desire to bound us up and keep us in bondage. Satan searches our hearts, thoughts and behaviors in hoping to find an entrance to capture us and make us a hostage.

 

The word “hostage” is defined as a person controlled by or captivated by a past or present event, situation, or pattern of thought. A hostage is a person that is ensnared, enslaved, or taken captive by an intruder or enemy.

 

All of us have enemies that cannot be seen with the physical eye. They reign in our mind and hearts. They find their permission to trespass on our lives through our struggles, circumstances, and issues. These struggles range from childhood trauma to severe adult tragedy.  

 

I have found the enemy uses our broken places to find a place to reign and rule. This includes our hurts, hang-ups and our unhealed emotions.

 

Many of us live with thoughts that imprison our soul and engage our darkest emotions. I call these thought predators “hostage takers.” When we yield to the traps and suggestions of the enemy we become ensnared by their planted thoughts and evil methods.

 

Numbers 14: 1-2

“So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt!”

 

Can you imagine coming to the point in your life where you just wish you were dead? Maybe you have been there. This is a perfect example of the strategy of the enemy. This situation was manageable and there was hope. But the enemy makes it an all or nothing moment.

 

We often open the door to the enemy by allowing all or nothing moments into our life. What do I mean? I mean that when we set God an immediate ultimatum to answer our need we set ourselves up for failure.   I wonder how often we forfeit God’s promises and allow our circumstances to determine our condition. Your condition is never your permanent position. They were in a temporary condition and were determined to make a permanent decision.

 

Let’s look deeper.

Numbers 14:3-4

3 Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and” go back to the place where we were before to the good old days.

 

Sometimes we think the good old days are better. This is a trap. An open door to be taken as a hostage.  

 

The “If Only” Folk

We are often held hostage by the “if only’s.” If only I hadn’t taken that job. If only I hadn’t married that deadbeat. If only I hadn’t done that. If only I would have graduated from college.

 

Along with the “if only’s” we have an enemy who keeps us so focused on the shoulda, woulda, or coulda’s. The enemy convinces our minds and our hearts that everything should be better. This is a trap of the enemy and his full intention is to control us and to take us captive and eventually to make us his hostage.

 

He tempts us to rehearse decisions that we’ve made, opportunities that we’ve missed, and things we’ve failed to act on. And the enemy also tries to convince us of missed opportunities. He keeps us so focused on the negatives that we have a tendency to go back. Back to the old and the familiar.

 

This makes us a hostage to our past. We also have the tendency to treat the symptoms of our struggles and ignore the cause.

 

We treat the anger. We treat the depression. We treat the frustration. We treat all of the symptoms and never get to the real problem. Oftentimes situations come into our lives that take us hostage and we keep treating an external symptom when God is saying it is an internal problem.  

 

We must discover why we drink not because we drink. We must find out why we’re mad not because we’re mad. You can develop a permanent disease called pastitis. If we put pastitis together, it means something progressive. But if you break it apart, it literally means past-it-is.

 

We must discover the inward truth. We don’t have to live in the “if onlys”, we can live in God’s destiny and purpose.

 

Chuck Swindoll so elegantly said, “Life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how we react to what happens.”

 

We are people filled with the Holy Spirit. We are people empowered by God. And like the children of Israel, if we look over our shoulders, if we drive by our rearview mirror, our lives will be frozen like a snapshot in a frame of time that cripples us. This type of action will hinder us from moving into our future.

 

No longer slaves

The children of Israel in Numbers 14 are no longer slaves. They have been set free. They were no longer in bondage to the Egyptians. They were totally removed from their former situation.” They are completely removed from their past struggles.

 

They were set free from slavery for months yet their hearts we’re still caught up in the past. God had shown them a variety of ways to show his power. He had provided for them in every way. They had a covering by day and a fire by night.

 

Like us, they were given promises, power, and authority. We have been given everything we need to that pertains to life and godliness, but the enemy wants to keep us a victim of our past.

 

If we are saved then we are not a slave. We may live like a slave and certainly so if we allow our self to become hostage to a slave mentality. This means we are a hostage in our mind. Some things in our past cannot change, but we can get beyond. Some things in life we cannot stop, but you can stop how we respond to them.

 

But even though we struggle with certain areas they do not have to control us. They never have the power to permanently damage your life. The children of Israel were in a new place!   They were removed from their slavery but they were not removed from their old mindset.

 

Attention Takers  

We often allow the enemy to breath big lies into our hearts and mind. Now catch this. Remember when they asked why they did not just go ahead and die in the wilderness? I say they died! Let me tell you why. Because when your life is so miserable that your vision is not greater than your past, you’re considered dead.

 

Maybe you are a hostage is such a way that your life is frozen in a snapshot of time that keeps you stifled because you are crippled to move forward. So crippled that you have no vision for your future. A person without a vision will live in or return to their past.

 

When we live in the past it’s like driving our car through the rearview mirror. If we do that, we will eventually crash. You cannot drive your car forward by looking backwards.

 

past

 

Yes, we all have a past. We all have things we do not understand. We all have struggles. But I’m here to tell you that we also have a God that heals. We also have a God that’s greater than our disappointment. We have a God that’s greater than anything we have ever experienced or anything that you are currently facing.

 

We can be healed. We can get beyond your pain. We can certainly get beyond our “if onlys”. But we must begin to discover God’s truth that sets us free!!

 

Build your future

Leonard Sweet was rightly said;The future is not something we enter. It is something we create.” We must build our future so big you can’t help but chase it. Make God so big that everything around you is meaningless

 

George Orwell said this “He who controls the past, controls the future. And he who controls the present has control of the past.” The key to your present joy, your present healing, and your present wholeness is because you have learned to get past your past.

 

The apostle Paul said one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind. He’s talking about the negative things. He’s talking about the things that held him hostage.

 

God wants our vision to be big. God wants us to factor Him into every problem. God doesn’t want us to be victims or overwhelmed by situations of our past. God wants us moving forward, reaching for Him, and designing our life by His intended purpose.

 

We have the opportunity to design our life through controlling our thoughts and decisions, and realizing that we can get past our past. God wants to raise up a people that live victoriously and powerfully. A people who know who they are in Christ.

 

Choose life and you can live hostage free!

 

I would love to hear from you.

Position Yourself for Promise

chessPosition is everything.  We experience what we position ourselves to experience.

 

To experience the Dallas Mavericks in person we must choose to go to the arena, purchase a ticket, and enter the stadium where the game is being played.  Actually you can go there, buy a ticket, stand in the hall, and fail to position yourself to experience the actual game.

 

If you choose to stand in the hallway you can hear the game, but you will not experience the actual game. I often see people in venues, at events, and even at church and they are standing in the hallway, hanging around the bathrooms or just wondering around.  I wonder why are these people not positioning themselves to gain the most of this experience?

 

Position always postures you for an experience.

 

I am also an avid chess player.  I love the game of chess.  It’s all about position.  In the game of chess every piece has a position and every move you make has implications on the game.  In other words; every move is vital to the outcome.

Fortunately in life every move is not a life or death situation but some moves must be the right move to put you in position to receive maximum benefit.  I think God has a plan for you to receive maximum benefits relationally, occupationally, and spiritually.

 

Spiritual Position

I am a man of faith and my faith is in Christ.  My faith in Christ leads me to believe that He has a big plan for my life. For more than 30 years I have learned that getting in the places that God has assigned for me is huge!  This is all about position and the big picture.

 

The bigger picture is God has a big plan, purpose, and assignment for my life and many times it comes down to being in the right place every day.

 

The Bible says that God has ordered our steps. 

 

I want to walk in the ordered steps of God. So here are a few suggestions to finding the sweet spot of the right position.

 

1.  Say Yes to God

Saying yes to God means letting go of your own life and making the determination that God can order your steps and get you in the right position for His plan.  This will mean connecting to God and then submitting to His word and His way.  On a deeper spiritual level this will also include obeying urges to stop at certain places, talk to certain people, or even drive home a particular route. We call this walking by the Spirit.

 

2. Recognize Your Calling

You have a calling from God. I believe God divinely orders your steps. The more important the step the more vital the need to hear and obey.  You can work just anywhere or you can position yourself to work where God has assigned you.

Entering your calling will require some tough decisions. You will have to say yes to some things and no to others.  God calls us out of situations and into others.  Saying yes often means leaving good things to get to great things.  You will need both advice and courage to get where God has positioned you!

 

3. Connect Faith and Patience

I would like to say this is all easy. It is far from that. I have made decisions that were not positioning me for what God had for me.  I have made rash decisions that positioned me for difficulty and not for success.  We can have faith and make the wrong decision.

 

I once started a business by borrowing 100% of the investment.  The business was God’s idea and the plan was mine.  I struggled to make the payments.  This created stress, anxiety struggle every day.  This was definitely the wrong position.patience

 

There are times that God delays His answers. It is often in delay that we make our greatest mistakes. God’s delay is not His denial.   The scripture encourages us to not get weary when we are doing good, for in due season we will reap of we do not draw back.

 

Patience is a positive position that most of us can benefit from.

 

Positioning  Required

Life begins with aligning.  Aligning to the purposes of God and the people He has chosen for us to be with.  This positions us into our assignment. Our assignment is about the things that God has assigned for us personally.

 

Life is full of promise and God has a flourishing promise for you and me. We must learn that a part of positioning is listening, hearing, and responding to life.

 

Responding by faith.

 

And going at it in a little slower pace with others in the forefront of my mind.

 

OK, it’s your turn. We would love to hear from you.

 

What decision would greater position you for the life God has for you?

Our Hope is Never Lost

Of all the miracles in the scripture, this is certainly one of the most popular. One of the first things that stands out in the text is this lady has been sick for many years.  Can you imagine being sick for 12 years?  Sickness is a thief. It steals our life and our money. Eventually it tries to steal your hope.

We must remember that regardless of our circumstances or issues our hope is never lost.

Miracles are a Mystery

Miracles are always a mystery. The big question seems to be what is my role and what is God’s role?  If God wants to heal me then why would I have to do anything?  If it’s providence that I will be healed then should I just wait and do nothing? These are great questions and I hope to assist you in some level of discovery.

Holy Ghost Mom’s

In this hilarious clip Pastor Tom is revealing a thought about the Holy Spirit!

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