Daily Devotional for Friday July 28, 2006
Letting God Speak
(Psalms 29:4, 45:10, 25:9, 73:24)
I have shared with you in the past that one of the clearest ways God speaks to us is through our circumstances, those things out of our control. Our job is to do our best to "hear from God," give God our lives 100% unconditionally surrendered to Him and His will, do our best to be obedient and faithful to serve and follow Him by faith each day, and take those moments along the way to slow down, stop, and let God speak.
Nearly 4 years ago God spoke to me clearly about adding a secular television component to the Liveprayer ministry. Not the typical Christian TV program that everyone duplicates in some way, but a unique "live" program 5 nights a week designed to reach the lost and hurting masses on secular television. We were already using one of the greatest communication tools man has ever known, the Internet, and now we were going to marry that with the other powerful communication tool of our day, television.
The reason God told me to go strictly to secular television networks is that is where the lost and hurting masses were being fed the lies of satan 24/7 without anyone to tell them the real Truth. Millions of lives daily are influenced by what they see on TV. Sadly, the message of this world which is putting people into bondage and leading them into sin and eventually hell, is being broadcast boldly and aggressively on hundreds of channels every second of every day. God showed me that we could create a program to challenge those lies and not only bring Biblical Truth to the marketplace the church has abandoned, but bring hope to the hurting and salvation through Christ to the lost.
God opened the door for us to start the program on the UPN affiliate in Tampa, the 12 TV market in the nation, in March of 2003 We had one man and his wife donate enough to cover our costs for the first 3 months on the air, after that, I really had no idea how we would be able to cover the $40,000/ month addition to our overall budget. However, God moved on people to support the program to keep us on the air every night month after month, and best of all, He was using that program to proclaim the unadulterated Truth of the Word to a world that lives in rebellion to God and the Bible. Each night people were being saved and lives were being transformed by the power of God. The viewers were virtually all non-Christians and thousands a week were plugging into Liveprayer.com to be ministered to daily.
We took the huge leap of faith in July of 2005 to take the program to ABC affiliates around the state of Florida. It would cost an additional $100,000 a month, but again, God touched someone's heart to pay for that first month to get us going. I had no idea how we would keep the program on the air beyond that first month, but God moved on the hearts of many and the program was aired throughout the state of Florida "live" for an hour 5 nights a week for one year! Again, every night Biblical Truth was being proclaimed on major secular television stations, people were being saved, lives transformed, and hundreds of thousands of people were finding hope in their time of need.
Based on 3 1/2 years on major secular network affiliates and the ministry we were providing each night to hundreds of thousands of people who for the most part were not Christians, I knew we had the credibility and the right format to go nationwide and challenge the lies of satan with the uncompromised Truth of God's Word and bring Christ's hope to millions of hurting and lost souls. Even though NOBODY had ever done this before on a major secular television network, I knew God had called me and this ministry at this time in human history for this purpose.
The key, of course, was going to be how to pay for it. We didn't have the donor base to even come close to supporting what would be close to a $10 million a year TV budget to pay for the air time and related production costs. We were on a commercial television network, so we should have commercials like everyone else. I spent months researching, talking to industry professionals, advertising agencies, and quickly realized that it would take time to build enough of an audience to attract the major national advertisers. However, in talking to enough people I knew there were many smaller companies that had Christian management who could bless the Kingdom by supporting the program while advertising their product or service to the nation.
So we negotiated a long term contract with the "i" Network, formerly Pax TV, due to the fact they were accessible in apx. 90 million of the 100 million television households throughout the nation. We began to line up potential advertisers for our July 3rd launch. Again, NOBODY had ever done this or even attempted this before so there was no roadmap to follow. Because of the 40 months we had already been on secular television, I never doubted the fact we would generate a significant number of viewers and that we would be able to lead many people to Christ, while helping so many each night who were going through the battles of life. The whole key was sustaining the program financially month to month with enough advertisers.
As we got into the first week of the program, I immediately knew we were gong to have some problems that only God could fix. Several advertisers and potential advertiser dropped out after watching the program. They all told me they would love to be part of what we were doing, but that I would have to "tone it down," especially on issues like homosexuality, abortion, cults and false religions, and people going to hell They said, "be like Joel Osteen, smile and just talk about the positive things, stay away from those sticky issues that make people uncomfortable."
Needless to say, after I told them I don't answer to men but God, they decided not to advertise. Other "Christian companies" also decided that my message was "too controversial" for their taste. I was told there are too many "safe" organizations they can associate with. These were all Christians too! So I quickly realized we would have to rework our strategy on the fly to keep the national program on the air past the 4 weeks we had paid for up front.
Over the past 3 weeks, I have concluded that commercial sponsors are still the way to go. I am not going to get involved in all of the traps every ministry on Christian television has fallen into to fund their programs. It would totally defeat the purpose of what we were doing to reach the lost. I never mentioned money once the first 40 months I was on TV and gained so much credibility from the non-Christian viewers because of it. Long term, the program had to have sponsors.
So I began to formulate a workable plan that instead of normal advertisers, we would form some strategic alliances with key organizations that were financially solid and could benefit from reaching our TV and Internet audience. They would be a sponsor of the program, not just an advertiser. I have already been meeting with several who fit this criteria, and am confident those talks are going to bear much fruit since we share the same vision. However, these relationships simply can't come to fruition overnight and we are still a few months away from solidifying the ones we need.
Being one to never quit, I sought God in earnest last weekend for a way to keep the program going. We had done something nobody had ever done and I wanted to do all I could to keep the program on the air each night. The fact was, we were getting 300,000 to 500,000 viewers a night, had over 2,000 we know of come to faith in Christ, were getting over 5,000 emails for prayer every night, and tens of thousands of people each week were becoming part of Liveprayer.com. So in every way other than financially, the program was a HUGE success and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to keep this program on the air for so many who in just a few weeks had already become dependent on me being there each night.
My goal at the start of this week was to see if we could get enough people who had the resources to help us cover the $360,00 to buy another two weeks, hoping that some of these new alliances would come together in that time. Through the special gift from one dear man, those who responded to help us with a gift of $1,000 in return for a set of DVDs of our 20 national programs, and many others who God spoke to and obedient to step up and help me, we were actually at a place where I possibly could have bought 2 more weeks of air time.
However, deep down I knew that unless things just fell into place perfectly we would be right back at the crisis point again in a few weeks and that would destroy our credibility and take away completely from our mission to minister to the needs of those who watched the program each night. After all, the program is about the viewers' needs, not ours. So last night I made the decision to make this Friday our last national broadcast for now.
The fact is, I knew no matter what I would be doing what I have done every Monday through Friday since March 3, 2003, and that was minister to people through the Liveprayer TV program. I maintained my relationship with UPN and kept the program airing in the Tampa market at our normal 1 a.m. time slot where we have been since we started 41 months ago, even though it was being aired on tape delay since the national program was on "live" at midnight. The folks at UPN told me I was always welcome to do my program there, so as of this Monday night we will be back on UPN44 in the Tampa market "live" at 1 a.m.
For people outside of the Tampa market, they can watch the program live at 1 a.m. EST (Midnight CST, 11 p.m. MST, and 10 p.m. PST) on www.liveprayer.com under the FREE LIVE VIDEO link. We will also continue to archive our past 5 programs on the website under the "Show Archives" link. This way, people can still watch the TV program every night.
The plan is this. We will no longer have the program supported by our donors as in the past. We will maintain the commercial slots we started when we went national and fill them with local sponsors. I will be working over the next few weeks on lining up local companies to partner with us, for alliances with several key businesses in the local Tampa market who will become our sponsors to finance the costs of the program. We will also build in enough to those sponsorship packages to cover our Liveprayer.com budget so I can fulfill my pledge to not have to ask anyone to support us financially once we pay off the remaining balance of our outstanding debt.
The bottom line is that we will spend the next few months locally in Tampa refining and solidifying our sponsorship model, then begin to take that model into other markets, and within 6 months be back on nationally on the "i" Network or some other major secular network with a solid financial model that will be able to sustain the program until Jesus comes!!!
We took a HUGE step of faith and did something nobody has ever done over the past 4 weeks. I have learned much from the experience and can now refine the financial end of the program so we ready in 6 months or so to be back on nationally to stay. Those that God has led to help us with special gifts for the TV program will be used to help us offset the shortfall in the advertising revenues we needed to cover the $800,000 it cost us to be on nationwide for these past 4 weeks.
I hate to break this to satan and his emissaries out there. We may be doing our final national broadcast tonight on this current run of 4 weeks, but the TV program is NOT going off the air. Tonight is our 890th "live" program, Monday will be our 891st! We have invested apx. $3.6 million over the past 41 months into creating this powerful TV vehicle that has reached MILLIONS of souls with God's Truth and Christ's love. Tens of thousands have been saved, millions have found strength and hope in their darkest hours, and we have only just begun! We are going to continue in Tampa, use all we have learned to solidify the financial end of the program, and continue to bring God's uncompromised Truth and the hope and love of Jesus to the lost and hurting "live" 5 nights a week on secular television !!!
I love you and care about you so much. The work of God here at Liveprayer marches on. Because of the love and prayers and scarifies of so many of you, even though we still operate month to month as we have for nearly 7 years now, God continues to meet our every need. I wake up every morning and come to the office, doing my best to be faithful and obedient to the work He has called me to each day. I want to say THANK YOU to every person who has been praying for me and the TV program. YOUR PRAYERS HAVE NOT BEEN IN VAIN, IN FACT THEY HAVE BEEN ANSWERED. As I shared yesterday, our prayers are often not answered the way we would like, but God's answer is always the best answer.
We are forced over the next few months to work hard to solidify the financial model of the TV program so we are ready to expand into other markets and within the next 6 months, back to the entire nation. We have paved this new road and I pray one of the legacies of Liveprayer in years to come should Jesus tarry, will be for others to follow the roadmap we are creating to take the Truth of God's Word and the hope of Christ to the nation through secular television. Not on Sunday morning with the traditional church services, but with a format that can compete head-to-head with anything the world produces.
I will go in-depth Monday on the spiritual state of this nation. Because of the unique position God has placed me in, there is probably noboyd more qualified to address this issue on the planet than I am. Please don't miss this critical message everyone needs to hear! I am more committed today than ever to use the marriage God has led us to create between the Internet and secular television to bring His Truth to the masses and the hope and love of Christ to the hurting and lost. One of the people on my staff asked if I was disappointed. I told them yes, but only because I know every day people are dying and going to hell and we have the proven vehicle that can bring those same people the Truth and hope they are searching for. The world can find millions of dollars to destroy people's lives, I know God will help me find the millions I need to bring His Truth and hope to SAVE LIVES!!!
As you take your own walk of faith, do your best to follow God's voice. He will guide you, give you wisdom, and show you the way to go. There are times that you have to slow down and stop and let God speak. The goal of every child of God is to ultimately hear Him say, Well done thou good and faithful servant!"