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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Believes ‘You Are Next’

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

It’s always a nice feeling to hear about a friend or family member who has achieved a level of success or fulfilled a long held dream they have been chasing. 

You compliment them, extend your support, and even give them a pat on the back for a job well done.  But then, in a quiet, highly vulnerable moment you ask God a few simple questions. What about me?  When will my dreams come true? Why have you forgotten me? 

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez believes that most people never seize their moment because they are paralyzed by their own thinking.  In his latest book, You Are Next, Rodriguez uses the New Testament account of Jesus healing the paralytic man to illustrate that it actually might be us standing in the way of making our dreams come true.

I recently spoke to Rev. Rodriguez about why so many people believe that living an abundant life is simply out of reach, how to discover God’s call on our lives, and a few tips for overcoming a victim mentality.

I believe You Are Next is your fifth book. What was the catalyst for writing it?

I lived it.  It was a personal experience. The inspiration derives from the narrative of John 5. That chapter is based on the story of the man who was paralyzed for 38 years. He has an encounter with Jesus. In his own words from John 5:7, he constantly missed his turn because he depended on other people. That guided me, motivated me, inspired me, instructed me, compelled me, and drove me to the reality of acknowledging the fact that in that in my journey I have experienced moments of paralysis.  I have had times in my own life and ministry where many facets of it were so paralyzed because I depended on other people. And when we depend on others more than we depend on God, perpetual paralysis will define us. That's what drove me to write the book. What happens when you encounter Christ? Paralysis comes to an end. And I am convinced with Biblical substantiation that if you are in Christ, you never miss your turn again.

Why do you think so many people have resigned themselves to thinking that the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us is so far out of reach?

We are paralyzed by skewed thinking. The number one thing that paralyzes us is an erroneous application of scripture that becomes an ill interpretation of God's will for our lives. It must be God's will that I must be paralyzed for 38 years. It must be the will of God that my family is in a multigenerational state of abject poverty. We need to repudiate that. And when Jesus confronts this man, He asks him in one of the greatest exchanges in Scripture, “Would you like to get well?” That query requires a yes or no response. It's the same thing as if I ask you, ‘Do you want a caramel latte from Starbucks?’ It's either yes or no. It's not complicated, right?

His response was, “I can't.” Well, Jesus never asked him if He could. Parenthetically speaking, Jesus, looking at the man said, “Listen, sunshine, if you could, you wouldn't be there in the first place. You need to get over yourself. Not only is your body paralyzed, but your spirit, your soul, your destiny, any vestige of a minimum amount of faith, you may not have all of this because you're fooling yourself. It's not about your ability. It's about My anointing. It's not about your potential. It's about My power. It’s not even about your gift, it's about My grace.” It’s not about what we do for God. It's about what God already did for us. And the moment we get that right, that it’s about Him, His Word, and His will, then we will come out of paralysis. But we're paralyzed because we think that it's all in our hands and it's up to us when it's actually up to us acknowledging that we are indebted to God. He lives in us, with us, and through us. And then we can stand up, pick up our mat and start walking. 

Let’s talk about you for a moment.  This book is all about embracing the unique call God places on our lives.  How would you describe your own personal discovery of God’s call on your life?

Since I was a little child, I had a very unique, multigenerational experience.  My grandfather was an evangelical pastor and preacher. But my mother was not a pastor and my father was not. It skipped a generation there with my parents, but I had a strong affinity toward the Word, toward prayer, and toward God. At the age of 14, that calling became very well defined. I had an encounter with the Lord that was transformative. I’m a faith and science guy, an evangelical Trekkie if you will. I graduated from Lehigh University. I'm a thinker. I may preach like William Shatner but I think like Leonard Nimoy. But the fact of the matter is I had a compelling encounter with the risen Christ that prompted me to say I'm giving it all for Him. And I have seen the evolution of this journey in the call. I thought preaching and pastoring would come through the conduit of a microphone in the pulpit. Now I know that it includes movies, social media platforms, books and creative content. It includes relational networking. And it includes so many other avenues and means by which we disseminate and distribute the Gospel of grace, truth and love. So it's been an amazing journey indeed.

Thank you for sharing part of your testimony and the call God has placed on you.  Conversely, how do you know what God’s call is on your life?  How does God reveal this to you?  Is it different for every single person?

It is. There isn’t this sort of cookie cutter motif or rubric laid out there for a person. But there is a Biblical framework that is generic that will enable someone to enjoy the journey of knowing completely what their calling is. For example, it includes a very rigorous, disciplined prayer time on a daily basis. Engage in God's Word, pray, worshiping and listening to the Holy Spirit. I assure you and this is substantiated … if you pray and you worship and seek God's Word, you will hear from the Holy Spirit. Absolutely. Clarity will be brought forth as it pertains to the particularities of one's calling and destiny. Every single person has a purpose. You're not here by coincidence. You’re not a Styrofoam cup and you're not here to occupy space. You're here for a purpose and that purpose will be fulfilled as you pursue righteousness. You will see that calling become clearer and clearer every single day. 

Why are so many people in today’s culture, prisoners to a “victim mentality”?  Practically speaking, how can people break away from this?

The Word, the Word, the Word, the Word, the Word in the Holy Spirit. You read the Word. You embrace the Word. You let the Holy Spirit take the Word and apply it to your life. And all of a sudden you start walking like a conqueror, like a child of God. And then you believe what the Bible lays out. God conquers because our children inherit. I'll repeat that. God conquers. Our children inherit. The moment you push back on that way of thinking, it paralyzes us. Destiny is completely open as it pertains to your fulfillment in accomplishing the will of God in your life and through your life.

Being transparent, something I have battled through in my own life is dealing with the criticisms that sometimes confront you when you are chasing something like a dream or even a belief system.  How can we successfully navigate around harmful criticism?

This man who was paralyzed for 38 years stands up with his mat. He walks, he confronts a critic. The critic criticizes him. His response is one of the greatest responses in all of Scripture. The critic, who was a religious leader said, ‘Who gives you the right to carry that man on the Sabbath, who gives you the right to carry what you're carrying? His response is epic. The man looks at the critic and says, ‘You're asking me who gives me the right? The One who healed me gives me the right.’ That's powerful. That's how we respond to our critics. Who gives you the right to think the way you think, act the way you act, behave and dream and pursue the way you pursue? We must respond with clarity, conviction, and courage. The One who saved us, delivered us, and healed us. He gives us the right. That's a powerful declaration. How do we respond to the critics? We love them, we bless them, but if we have to, and in a way, as it pertains to social media as much as possible, ignore it. It's all a distraction. Don't give any attention to it whatsoever. Keep walking. 

After people have read You Are Next, as an author what would you like your readers to get out of that experience?  What is your greatest hope for the book?

That never again will they be paralyzed and never again will their faith, family, or future be paralyzed. That they will understand that in Christ you are next. 

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