Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thoughts About Mid Life.

46 years of age has not been good to me! I turned 46 and sometime later had to buy bi-focals. I had to have treatments on my foot for nerve problems. My wife mistakly thought the grey in my beard was toothpaste and a lady mistaked my son as my grandson. Not good!

To top all of this off. I went to one of our new church plants the other week and I realized that I was the oldest person in the room. This was not a very comforting thought. I looked around and saw all of these younger people and realize that I was not one of the guys but rather one of those older people I used to look up to for advice. I realize MID-LIFE HAD ARRIVED!

Now I know some of you are having a chuckle over this. In a way I am too. I’m not planning on going out and buying a sports car, change my wardrobe or take up sky diving (I don’t bounce as well as I used too). I am not going to consider liposuction or a face lift. It wouldn’t help anyway

However, I am going to do something that I observed in these young people in this new church. No I am not going to pierce my ear. I got enough holes in my head. What I am going to do is renew my passion for God. Each one of these young people was hungering to learn more about God and his truths. They desired to apply those truths to their lives. I thought to myself, this is why we plant churches: being a part of seeing people come to a deep passion for God. This is what it is all about, having a passion for God and letting it be contagious to others!!

How many people we could reach if were really passionate about God and what He has done for us? I read a statement the other day. It is by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French pilot, writer and author of 'The Little Prince. He wrote
“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" If we want to see a movement of God in our lives, in our neighborhoods, our churches, or our convention we don’t need programs, better structures or marketing plans. We first need as believers to learn to long after deep intimacy with God!

That is my desire and the desire of all Christians: To find people who do not have that intimacy with God, send out among them a person or persons who will live out that longing for God before them and teach others to long after Him. I have come to realize that it is not a desire or passion to reach the lost that we need to plant churches or do ministry even though we should desire to reach the lost. It is when we desire God, draw closer to Him in our relationship, and then we gain His passion to see others come to know Him.

My mid-life has taught me to become young again, not physically or appearance but rather become young again by renewing my passion for the Lord. My prayer would be that all of us as would have the same mid-life awakening. Let’s Get Passionate About Our God and Who He Is!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


"I'm not easily distracted... Oh Look a Squirrel!!" Its something we laugh at but it has become all too prevelant these days. Being distracted by something that looks better

Distractions are big among leaders now. I spoke with a pastor the other day who is doing a consultant job on the side; making trips to other parts of the country to see new innovative churches; talking to people about making a movie with his church people and then he asked me a question: “I wonder why my church is not really growing?” Maybe because of what I call pastoral or church ADD. Could it be the hard work or the wanting to be someone other than a pastor or maybe pride cause this pastor to go..... Oh look a Squirrel!

I like how Nehemiah handled distractions and Ministerial ADD in Nehemiah 6. There is a lesson for all of us.

KEEP WORKING IN SPITE OF DIVERSIONS. Nehemiah’s enemies they tried to sidetrack him. They said, Nehemiah, let's have a peace conference. Let's get together and discuss. They mentioned the plain of Ono, twenty miles north of Jerusalem. What could be wrong with that? But Nehemiah said, I'm carrying on a great project and I can't go down. Why should I stop the work on the wall and go down to you? He's saying, I'm not coming down. He would not be distracted until the wall was finished.

The time for discussion is past. It's time for work. Have you known people that want to talk more than they want to work? They discuss to stop you from working? That's what's happening here. Many churches never accomplish anything because everything they do, they assign to a committee and then they table it More than that, it would delay the project. "Why should I stop and come down to you when the work has not been finished?" You don't want to discuss, or debate. You have a hidden agenda and want to delay the thing. You want to keep it from being built."

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. The reason why Nehemiah finished it he wouldn't let anything distract him. He kept his eyes on his goal. They came to him four times. He said no each time.

YOU KEEP WORKING IN SPITE OF SLANDER. They tried to slander Nehemiah. You're just trying to build an empire. We know what you're doing. They were challenging his motives. They said, You're setting yourself up as king and you're hiring prophets to promote yourself. They sent this letter unsealed. It was like a letter to the editor. They wanted everybody to read it. It's meant to stir up rumors.

Anybody that sets big goals is going to be criticized and slandered by people who set no goals. Failures hate successes. Who is the most falsely accused man in history? Jesus. Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven."

Nehemiah discerns their motive. v. 9, I know what you guys are doing, you're trying to make me upset so I'll stop working and start defending myself. Have you ever had to stop work on something because somebody was criticizing you and start defending yourself? Nehemiah said I'm not going to get caught in that trap. I'm not going to start responding to rumors and innuendos. I'm not going to get discouraged and quit. Probably the most difficult thing to do as a leader is to handle false accusations. You want to give up! Nehemiah said I'm not going to do that. He denied the accusation and prayed for the strength. v. 9 "They were all trying to frighten us thinking, `Their hands will get too weak for the work and it won't be completed.'" He said, I'm not going to get involved in an argument

Abraham Lincoln: "If I were to try to read, much less answer all the attacks made against me this shop would close for business. I do my best, the very best I know how, the very best I can. I man to keep on doing it until the end. And if the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing that I was right wouldn't make a difference." Don’t take time from the task for silly fights.

KEEP WORKING IN SPITE OF THREATS:If you want to be a leader, keep working in spite of danger.
Now they're trying to scare Nehemiah by danger. Evidently this man, Shemaiah, a friend of Nehemiah's was evidently gotten to by the bad guy Sanballat and bought him off. He was told "Go tell your buddy Nehemiah there's an assignation plot on his life. We've put a hit man out on him. The only way he could be safe is to run and hide in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The bad guys won't follow in there for fear of God."

Nehemiah's response, v. 11, "I said, `Should a man like me run into the temple to save his life? I will not go.'" He would keep on working in spite of danger. Why didn't he give into this?
It would make him look like a coward. "Should a man like me run away?" I'm the leader of this thing. I'm building the wall around Jerusalem. If I run and hide in the temple what's that going to do to the morale of the people? .

"I realized that God had not sent him" Nehemiah was a very perceptive person. He realized that this wasn't advise from the Lord. This guy said he was from God, "I know! I have a word to you from the Lord. Run and hide in the Temple." Have you noticed that some people who say they're speaking for God, aren't? Some people say, "I think this is God's will for your life" and they have no idea at all. They may have a hidden agenda.

One of the basic lessons of Nehemiah is that leadership is essential for any project.

Four things I believe you need, as a leader, to succeed in the face of distraction, slander, threats and fight Pastoral and Church ADD!

1. A Compelling Vision: This is the very first element of leadership. It's something that pulls you towards that goal. It doesn't drive you, it draws you. You have to have a compelling purpose.
That's why, when they came back in v. 3, and said "Nehemiah, we want you to leave the wall and come out and have a little party with us. You've been working on the wall too long. Come talk to us, Nehemiah." Nehemiah said, "I am carrying on a great project." Nehemiah was very single minded. I'm going to keep the main thing the main thing. I'm carrying on a great project. I think we move on to other different projects that we lose the vision and call that God has given us.

2. You need a Clear Perspective: Nehemiah had incredible discernment, spiritual radar. Every time a trap came up, he sensed it. He could smell it every time. He was perceptive. James 1:5 "If any man lacks wisdom, ask God." When you spend time in the word of God you begin to take on the mind of Christ and you'll be a more perceptive leader. \

3. A Continual Prayer Life: Nehemiah was a prayer-addict. His first response to everything was pray. No matter what happened, he first prayed. That's the number one thing you do when you're slandered. Instead of taking it out on the person, you talk in out to God. Luke 18:1 "Jesus told his disciples that they should always pray and not give up."

4. A Courageous Persistence: One of the great keys to success is the ability to hang in there! Keep on keeping on! Keep on doing what God wants us to do!How can you be fearful and courageous at the same time? Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mad Max Meets the Apostle Paul

That was the description my friend gave to the movie "The Book of Eli." as we left the movie theater. Yes, I went to a movie that had blood, violence, and three times the "F" word. However the movie also had some great lessons that we as Followers of Christ need to adhere.

For those who have not seen the movie or do not care to see the movie, here is the premise (warning: this gives away the plot of the movie): Eli (Denzel Washington) has been on a journey for 30 years, walking west across America after a cataclysmic war that turned the earth into a total wasteland. The world has become a lawless civilization where people must kill or be killed. The barren roads belong to gangs of cutthroats who rob and kill for water, a pair of shoes, a lighter, or just for fun. Eli is a peaceful man who only acts in self defense, and becomes a warrior with unbelievable killing skills when he is challenged. After the war and the "Big Flash", Eli was guided by a higher power to a hidden book and given the task of protecting the book and taking it to its final destination. Eli guards the book with his life, because he knows that the book is the only hope that humanity has for its future and it is the only copy left.What is the book? It is the Holy Bible. Eli does all this because as He claims, the Spirit of God told Him to take the Book west to a place where it would be safe.

All through the movie, Eli reminds himself do not stray from the path. He is a man with a mission. He journeys towards his destination because it is his mission. Even when tempted by the evil person in the story with a women, water and power, Eli stays true to the course.

Like Eli, we must stay true to course that Christ calls us to. So m any times we are distracted by things that keep us from our mission: Glorifying God through the making of Disciples. many times we get distracted by the things that we need for survival or for what we think will make us comfortable or for a need to be recognized and we neglected the very thing that God has called us to do.

One of the most outstanding parts of the movie is Eli's faith. All throughout the movie, Eli states that God will sustain him and that his mission will be fulfilled. Even in a raging gun battle, Eli tells his companion, Solara that they will survive. Eventually they do. Even after Eli is shot, his faith in the one who calls him and the mission that he is on continues. This faith is the belief that he is truly called to this and that God will sustain him.

Its is interesting to note that as Eli's faith in God and His Word sustains him, the evil character, Carnegie wants to use faith to control people and manipulate them to build his own empire. Carnegie sees faith as a weakness to exploit; Eli sees it as strength to sustain.

The most amazing part of the movie was the ending. It seems all is lost when Carnegie finally gets the Bible. Eli still continues west with Solara towards the safe place. You think well this is it. Then Eli and Solara reach the safe place (I won't tell you where. watch the movie). Eli tells the care keeper that he has a King James Bible. The care keeper ask what condition. In his reply Eli responds " It is beaten up and worn." Then in the care keeper's chamber, Eli begins to recite the who scripture which is copied down. Eli was the the book. You see the other copy that Carnegie had was a braille copy that could not be read. GOD'S WORD MUST LIVE IN US. IT MUST BE LIVED IN US! Thy Word Have I Hid In My Heart!

What amazed me was that here was a secular movie calling us to become keepers and ones who live God's Word in a World that needs hope. This point is brought home when in the end, Solara, leaves the safe place with Eli's bag, gun and equipment and begins her journey home to share the Word of hope.

We are on a journey in a world that needs God's word of Hope. It is not to be hidden but lived before the World. It is our mission and our faith in Him will sustain us. The Book of Eli calls us to not only be hearers and readers of God's Word but ones who do and live it.

God's Word was Eli's Book. God's Word should be our Book: Written Upon Our Hearts and Life!!