Let Scripture Speak

March 9, 2010

Sometimes, I just can’t find the words to say or to share just the way  I want.  I like to turn to the Bible and let it speak to me, speak for me.   I can’t do a better job than God.  Psalm 51 was a psalm of David.  He wrote it after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sins with Bathsheba and her husband.  He wrote it when he felt probably the lowest spiritually in his life.  No,  I didn’t do anything like David did, but I’m can identify with him and how he felt.  I long for forgiveness and a fresh start in life, ministry, and with my family.   I pray that I will never again find myself far away from God and that He will keep me on the straight and narrow path.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
       according to your unfailing love;
       according to your great compassion
       blot out my transgressions.

 2 Wash away all my iniquity
       and cleanse me from my sin.

 3 For I know my transgressions,
       and my sin is always before me.

 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
       and done what is evil in your sight,
       so that you are proved right when you speak
       and justified when you judge.

 5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
       sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ;
       you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
       wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
       let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

 9 Hide your face from my sins
       and blot out all my iniquity.

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 11 Do not cast me from your presence
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.

 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
       and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
       and sinners will turn back to you.

 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
       the God who saves me,
       and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

 15 O Lord, open my lips,
       and my mouth will declare your praise.

 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
       you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
       a broken and contrite heart,
       O God, you will not despise.

 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
       build up the walls of Jerusalem.

 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
       whole burnt offerings to delight you;
       then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Taken from the NIV Bible

A Boy, A Prostitute, and A Murderer

February 25, 2010

OK, quick let’s play a round of try of Tri-Bond.  It’s the game where you list 3 things and then name what they have in common.  So here goes, what do a boy, a prostitute, and a murderer all have in common?    The answer, they were all used by God to do godly things for the Lord.

This post is for me, more than anybody.. Sometimes I have the habit of being very judgmental.  Sometimes it’s on myself and sometimes it’s aimed at others.   If you take some time and thumb through your Bible you will see quite a wide list of people who God choose to use to accomplish His will.   Below is a short summary of a few of the different kind of people who choose to use and the scriptures where you can read about them.

Each of these people had 2 things in common.  1.) They had to learn to let go of their past in order to move forward into what God had asked them to accomplish.  2.) They had to obey God and do what he asked them to do with what resources they had.  Yes, some of them questioned God and wanted to run away from it at first, but they all eventually let go of their past and obeyed God’s desire for their life. 

This is really a 2-sided coin, or rather 2 ways you can look at it.  Sometimes you might not feel like you are not the right person for the job or that you are incapable of doing what you know God has put on your heart, stop listening to the lies of Satan and take a lesson from the many pages of the Bible where God used ordinary, plain, average people to accomplish his will.  I love the scripture “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13.  Give me hope for myself.

On the flip side of the coin, you have to be careful that you don’t make judgments based on the outward appearance or past of people.  God can change people in an instant and with God’s help He can motivate ANYBODY into new areas leadership or accomplishments.  The old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind.

Take the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John 6:1-15.  Keep in mind the 5,000 was only the men counted.  There were other women and children there as well.  Jesus saw were the crowd was tired and hungry and he wanted to meet their needs.  He asks the disciples; “Where will we get food for these people to eat?”   I love the response of Phillip, “8 months wages would not buy enough for all these to have a bite!”  Then comes Andrew, Andrew was always a man bringing people to Jesus.  He brought his brother Peter to Jesus, and now he was bringing this little boy to Jesus who had 2 loaves of bread and 5 fish.  Andrew didn’t know what would happen and how it would happen but he knew that Jesus had the answers.  Be an Andrew in your life.  Always look for people who God can use no matter what they look like or what they have in the way of resources, education , social class, race, etc…

Also be like this little boy who didn’t have much, but he was willing to give it to Jesus to help or be part of the solution.  That’s what God wants from us, only what we have, and not any more.  Are you willing to give up all you have to let God do something great with it?  Will you be like Moses (a murderer)  or Rahab (a prostitute) and let go of your past and do what God has called you to do and let him use you to accomplish something great?

Project Isaac Update

February 22, 2010

I thought I would just leave a quick post about project Isaac and something that God had shown to me last week and this earlier today.  It’s almost the end of February and for the longest time I had no idea why God put the idea on my heart.  Sometimes I asked myself was it just a pointless idea that I thought I would challenge myself to complete?  Until last week I might have answered yes, but then God opened my eyes to something and allowed me to see a little into the past and into the future with the respect of Facebook.  Without going into personal details here is some of what the Lord showed me.

I had allowed my desire and passion for relationship with the youth and others to get to me to a place where I thought I had to be constantly connected to them via, Facebook, texting, and other ways and had put way to much emphases on the relationship with the students as well as giving them the truth of God’s word.  A good relationship with the students you minister to is ok, but you can’t allow it to get out of balance. 

In his book, The Disconnected Generation,  Josh McDowell has a formula in his research that says;

Rules + Relationship = Positive Results.

This relational formula works for parents, teachers and ministers.  This can be also seen in the area of teaching students God’s word.  I think a similar formula would be something like the following;

 Teaching the Word of God + Relationship = Positive Results.

You need both to create that hunger and thirst for a growing relationship with God, but if you have them out of balance you don’t get the same results.  If you have too much relationship it can lead to a too comfortable relationship where you lose some of your teachable position.  If you keep the proper distance, you can maintain that in a good way.  If you have too much Teaching of the Word of God and hardly any relationship then the students can often lack the feeling of affirmation and other feelings that you as the student pastor care for them as a student.  The old saying goes “They don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care.” 

In my recent past I have made some mistakes in this area and I think that God has allowed me to see again through Project Isaac the folly of my past mistakes.  I have recognized before that i must keep a good balance between my relationship with the students I teach and continue to preach the Word to them week in and week out.  I have a big burden upon me about the way I had interacted with some students this past fall and how I treated them.  I will have to answer to God for my actions with them and I hope that maybe some day I might get the opportunity to make it right with them and sit down and talk with them again about what I have learned.  I only hope that my actions don’t have lasting consequences for those I may have hurt.  That would be the worst fear knowing that I pushed someone away from the Lord.

So in closing, after the month is over you can expect me to not to be back on Facebook as often as I was before and the same goes for texting, emailing, Instant Messaging, Faxing or any other new way they come up with in the future.

Leadership Principle #7 Say Your Prayers…

February 18, 2010

Leaders take their followers to prayer before God.  Prayer Changes things, even the mind-set of God.

Well after Moses was up on the mountain God tells him what the people are doing and tells him to go down the mountain to deal with them.  God told Moses that he would wipeout all the people and make a great nation out of the descendants of Moses.  Moses does what every good leader would do next.  Moses prayed to God to save his people.  He took them before the Lord in a way as to stand in the gap for them and to intercede for them when they were not able or ready to go to the Lord.

Leaders pray for their followers, there Bible study groups, their parents and families and intercede for them to the Lord.  The reason Moses prayed for them was that he cared for them.  They were under his care and his control.  This came first nature to Moses because of the things we have seen from him and his past.  Moses had just spent the last 40 years in the desert tending sheep, he was a shepherd to the people too.  Just as we know a shepherd keeps his sheep out of danger from wild animals and other hazards, so does a shepherd of the flock on God look after his people who God has given care over.

 As leaders, teachers, and ministers of the gospel of Jesus we know that there are many dangers in the world that can take hold of God’s sheep and entrap them into places where there is little hope of escape.  It is our job to look after them in ways to keep them safe from harm.

 One of the biggest ways to do that is to pray for them.  The older I get the more I learn to be a silent prayer warrior for those under my shepherd staff of leadership.  As I have grown in my knowledge of prayer and become more consistent in the practice of it, the more I am confident that it should be a first response rather than a last resort.

 The book of James shows us some basic principles of a godly and effective prayer life.  I would encourage you to read it and notice the following principles.

  • Pray with expectation that God will answer your prayers in His way.
  • Is there any sin in your life that would keep your prayers from being heard?
  • How earnestly do you pray?  How often do you pray to God?
  • Don’t just pray by yourself, involve the many to join you in prayer.
  • Pray for those when God puts them on your heart.  Don’t wait.

 There are so many great examples of others that went before the Lord and prayed for the people of God to wake up, to move, to stop sinning, to work together, to stand firm, and more for the Lord.

 Moses prayed for God’s mercy to be on the people and for him to “relent” his decision to destroy them all.  (v.11-13)  In verse 14 it tells us that God did relent in his decision to destroy them all.  This can not be over looked here.  Do you understand that the prayer of one man brought earnestly before the Lord caused God to relent of his decision for the people.  Know that when you go before the Lord that God listens to your plea for the people you are praying for and he will respond to you as well.

 I am learning currently in a situation that I am going through right now that those prayers will often take a great deal of patience and waiting on the Lord and His timing.  Often I want to jump ahead and try to do things in my own power and way, but I know God has called me into a season of prayer for the students I am over and I am asking God to move in their life and for them to get serious about their faith.   I must trust God’s plan for each of them and His timing is perfect.


February 14, 2010

Today being Valentines Day, I thought I would share the passage of Scripture from the Bible that sums up a good bit about love. Enjoy.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Taken from the NIV translation

Who do I File a Complaint With?

February 1, 2010

One of the great blessings you can receive from being a leader is to have a great group of followers.  It’s always encouraging to have people who are under your leadership that will support you in your endeavors and not question your actions and motives.  It helps build unity and can have a synergistic effect on the group, or body of Christ.  Just like becoming a great leader takes time, so does become a great follower.  And then again some people just never get it for what ever the reason.  Realizing that it takes time to develop will hopefully give you a little more patience and understanding in your area of leadership.

BUT, what do you do when you have those in the group that want to complain about something?  The complaint may be against you or something else that you have no control over, but as the leader you are the one that they will come to complain to, aren’t you the lucky one. 

When you move on in life you will always find complainers in everything you do.  The Israelites first complained to Moses saying we should have never left Egypt, at least we had food in the pot there.  (Ex 16:2-3)  They had taken a step of faith to follow Moses into the dessert and again just like the grumbling at the Red Sea, they began to grumble and complain at the first sign of trouble of no food.  Verse 2 says that the entire community was a part of the grumbling.  This just goes to show you that the Israelites must have been Baptist, you can’t mess with a Baptist’s food without expecting repercussions.  In reality it shows you that complaining can get to everyone and it can spread pretty easily.  In church and ministry situations you can find complaints coming from the most unlikely sources as well as the expected ones.   I imagine that the complaints started in one area or two of the entire camp and quickly worked their way around to the entire camp.  Times haven’t changed much and I know still that people like to talk.

Again, Moses wasted no time dealing with the complaints but immediately went to the Lord, he knew that God was the only source for his answers.  I remember as a young minister that I think I had to rely on God in a great deal of areas because there was a lot of new territory I was crossing into, granted I made my share of mistakes and still do, but as leaders earn more experience I think there is a tendency to rely more on yourself than on God as you did perhaps before.  We must always remember to rely on God for everything, big and small.

God responded to their need by giving them the quail in the evening and the Manna (heavenly bread) in the morning.  He gave them specific instructions on what to do to collect it and how much to collect each day. (Exodus 16:4-5, 14-19)   There is another lesson here that you can also pull from and remind people that God is a God of details and we need to be a people of details, obedience is important to God to the very smallest detail.  When you give instructions to those that are following you, they will not always be followed just like you asked them to be. (Exodus 16:20)  No matter how clear you make the instructions.  There will always be those who think they know of a better plan or way than what you have laid out before the people, while this may or may not be true, they still need to follow the lead of God’s chosen person unless it involves something unbiblical or unethical.  That’s why God put them in the place of leadership.

Also remember that people are slow learners sometimes, we may see the same pattern repeated over and over until the learning curve is met.  If you want Biblical proof, just look at the next chapter, Exodus 17, After the people complained about having no food, they then complained about not having any water to drink and began grumbling again, so soon after the Lord took care of their need with food.  (See Exodus 17:3)  So just keep that in mind that there will always be those who will grumble and who will complain and even those who will not follow the instructions given and cause trouble for themselves and others around them.

Leaders Lead

January 31, 2010

As I read through the chapters in Exodus I got to the part where Moses had lead the people to the Red Sea and they were about to be met by the Egyptian army when the pharaoh had realized that he should have not let them go.  (Chapter 14)  The thought that came to mind in the way of leadership was this.  Anytime you take a position on leadership, you can expect for not everyone to understand your decisions or to be happy about the way you do things.  They question your decisions, your actions, and your motives.  

The Israelites panicked and started grumbling to Moses.  They asked him “Were there not any graves in Egypt that we could have been buried in, we have to come out here and die in the dessert?”  (Ex 14:11-12)  This is the first of many times that the Israelites complain and rebel against the plans that God has for them.  This time, God didn’t allow them to complain to long.  He quickly told Moses to stretch out his arms and let the people cross the red sea on dry land.

So as a leader, what should you do if you find yourself face to face with the grumblings and complaints of those you are trying to lead?  Here are a few points from the scripture.

  1. Moses answered the people’s complaints and questions.  He didn’t ignore them and say, you silly little people, I’m the leader, now just hush and follow me.  The first thing Moses said was to not be afraid.  Sometimes we all need that reminder as we step into new territory in our faith.  Next he reminded the people that God was in control even when things didn’t seem like it or look hopeful.
  2. Moses listened to God and took action.  When God sets you as a leader in anyway you have to remember that you must follow through with the plans you have.  If you stop and deal with the complainers and grumblers you will still be there weeks later trying to fix everything.  Sometimes the best way to stop the negative talk is to take action and let the results speak for themselves.

 I love Exodus 14:14, a friend gave it to me as a encouragement a few months ago, and I was reminded of it a few weeks ago in a sermon and again tonight as I read the chapter.

 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14

 When you know that God has called you into a direction and called you to a place of leadership, you can rest assure that He will help you work through and complete the task.  If God has called you to lead a class, lead a position in a ministry, or even a leadership position in a secular area, you know that He will be with you, just like He was with Moses in the Pillar of fire and of cloud leading them through the dessert.

Being new in a leadership position you have to earn the respect of the people you are leading.  Just because you have the title, doesn’t mean you have earned it yet.  That respect relationship takes time and a shared experience with those you lead.  The last verse in chapter 14 sums up the results of Moses’ first test as a leader, see it below.

 And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.  – Exodus 14:31

So You Think You Know Them?

January 24, 2010

Reading through the book of Exodus now.  It is a really interesting book and the stories about Moses can teach you a lot about leadership if you are looking for them as you read.  I figured I would post some thoughts as I read through the book.

The very first thing I noted from the story of Moses in Exodus was that Moses was not the most likely leader that humans would have chosen.  This is often the case with many people in the Bible stories.  There are a good variety of people in the Bible young, old, rich, poor, and etc, but for the most part I see where God used the average, ordinary person to carry out what he desired.  Below is just a list of a few people who come to mind in particular order.

  • The disciples (love acts 4:13 to describe them)
  • Esther
  • Moses (more on him in just a minute)
  • David (A Sheppard )
  • Nehemiah
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

So what about Moses, well, he did grow up in the palace of the king of Egypt, but remember after he grew up he committed murder.  He saw the Egyptian mistreating his own people and he killed him.  He got scared for his life and ran off to the dessert where he could live in peace.  Until God showed up and messed up his plan.  God told him that he was going to be the one to lead the Hebrews back to the land he promised Abraham.  Moses was a murderer and God still used him.  It’s funny how so many times we write people off when we think they are not any good to society any more.  That’s just it, we are not good to the world, but to God we are always useful.  I know in the past I have often looked at certain youth and perhaps thought that God would not use them because of what I see on the outside or because I see the unfinished project.  I have learned over the last 13 years in ministry not to do that, because God can  surprise you with some awesome things.  So the next time you think you know who will make the next preacher, missionary, or Sunday school teacher you better be careful and just let God take care of that.  After all, it is God that calls people into ministry and not the local pastor or youth pastor.  It’s just our job to train and guide them along the way.

Project Isaac

January 23, 2010

A few weeks ago  I started to look at challenging the youth in some different ways through the Bible studies on Wednesday night.  The Theme of “Tests” came to mind and I thought we would compare some of the people of the Bible and see how they were tested.  I started with the scripture “the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:3) where it states that the tests we go through are for our benefit.  God begin to bring back different places in the Bible where He tested the faith of various people.  One of the first people to come to mind was Abraham and how he was tested with his willingness to give up the one thing that he had hoped for all his life.  (Gen. 22)  Once he got it, would he give it up for God.  Just what was his one thing he wanted most?  Why a son and someone to carry on the family name.

I’ve thought a lot about what I might do if I was in his shoes. I’m not sure I’d be as obedient as Abraham was. I’d have to know without a shadow of doubt that that’s what God wanted before I moved one inch. Abraham waited 25 years for God to fulfill his promise and even after trying things on his own, God kept His promise to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3) and years later it came true. If you want more back ground on the Bible story you can go to the Bible Study tab and download the PDF.

As I was laying out the details of the Bible study I felt led to try something similar to what Abraham experience. I pondered what do I think that I just can’t do with out, What brings me real joy and satisfaction? The first answer I came up with was my job, I love working with students and building relationships with them. I realized that I couldn’t quit my job and still keep a happy house so I looked for something else in the same arena that I might give up for God. Facebook/Myspace came to mind. I really love talking and interacting with the youth, but does that stand over my devotion to God? Do I spend too much time on the internet and not enough time in God’s word? I decided that in the month of February I would sacrifice my time online on Facebook and Myspace and give more time to my relationship with God. I nic named it Project Isaac after the example of Abraham. I am really looking forward to what it may do for me and for my family. I may even get a few more hours of sleep. I will keep a running journal from time to time and may even post a few of the entries here.

Under Fire

January 19, 2010

I decided a few days ago to start writing out my thoughts on a more regular basis and publishing them online.  I have been hesitant to do this in the past because I know that whatever I write will be open for criticism and can be looked at under the microscope by different people.  If you are going to post things for the world to see you should at the very least be responsible with what you post.  Most of all, I wasn’t sure I had the time to give to it.

As a student pastor working with teens, I already, have to make sure what I say and teach lines up with the teachings from the Bible and not just a good thought or my own personal opinion about a subject.   In a world that loves a subjective truth and moral relativism the truth is so easily lost in the endless voices of anyone who can blog and post to the internet.  If anything I think the online posts will cause me to strive to give my best and  make sure I have an eye for the details.  

At first, truth can be hard to swallow, and is often met with excuses and ignored by many people.  We all tend to get a little defensive when we are brought under the microscope or examined closely.  In the end, it is like the much needed medicine that can cure us from our aliment of sin and, we are glad we recieved it.  I see this all the time from students who want to justify the way they live their lifes against the truth of God’s word.  In the end it always comes back to bit them, no matter how many times they deny or ignore it. 

Why am I doing this?  My aim to try to represent the one true God of the Bible that I love and serve by presenting a world-view of the events that will unfold around me in my world.  I’m not looking for fame or a following, just a opportunity to represent Jesus in a Biblical way to a world that needs a savior.   I see so many examples of people who call themselves Christians or disciples of Christ, but when they open their mouths, type on the social networking pages, or live out their life in ways that are so contrary to the Bible and the way Jesus lived.  I just want to announce in a loud voice “That’s not God!”

Realizing that NO ONE is perfect and we will all fall short of God’s purpose and plan for us (Romans 3:23) I want to make sure that you know that I am no better than the next disciple of Jesus, giving my best for him, is still not good enough.  There are 2 kinds of followers of Jesus I believe ones that try to live their life the way God intended, learning more and more as they grow in their faith and then the other group of Christians who know the differences between right and wrong and they continue to disobey God’s desire for their life, ignoring conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I’ve been both kinds of these and I have to constantly guard myself from slipping back into the second type EVERYDAY.  Perhaps this blog will help hold me accountable to live like the first kind of follower of Christ.

We know that people look at us and judge us, right or wrong, everyday.  It’s so important to live the kind of life that best represents a correct life-picture of what the Bible says and how Jesus lived his life.   Looking at Christ not each other is the key of course, but when is the last time you saw Jesus, physically I mean, and how many people are just running to pick up the Bible and read it to discern the truth for themselves these days.  We rather read about vampires and other more interesting things, not that those are inherently bad or evil.  That leads to the importance of us as believers to live out in front of others the most correct interpretation of the Bible and Jesus that we can. 

So go ahead and let the fun begin and if you read anything you want to comment on please feel free to do so.  I’ll be glad to read your thoughts on the subject also.  I now consider myself “under fire.”  Anything I post is fair game.