Saturday, December 27, 2008

To Do Or To Be...That is The Question...

Revelation 2:2-7

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for my name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place-unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolations, which I also hate. He, who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life; which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

Life gets busy; from Monday morning to Sunday night the list of things to do and places to go seem to be never ending. And all of them are good things. Meet with girls for discipleship, study for Life Group, leadership meeting, volunteer in the youth admin office, youth church…etc. All are good, but what is the toll taken on my personal time with Jesus? There seems to always be so much to do for Him that the person of Jesus Christ becomes neglected and pushed to the side in an effort to do it all.

There are a few main goals in my life that flavor everything I do (or at least I would hope they do) and one of them is to build the local church. Why? What is the driving force of this goal? This passion that consumes the majority of my weekly free time, vacation time is taken for camp and youth events, money is saved to help kids go to camp … what drives this in my life?

The cliché response would be along the lines of “because I love Jesus so much”. But I have to take a step back and honestly look at my life in light of Revelations 2. Jesus is having this conversation with the Apostle John about the church of Ephesus of all the great things that they are doing and accomplishing…yet as they got so caught up in doing everything for Jesus they forgot Jesus.

Do I spend more time doing then being? On average I would have to say that I get so consumed with the task that I forget to sit at His feet and have a real relationship. It would be time to pay attention to that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Proverbs 13:11

“Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.”

I have often thought about leadership and what it means to be a leader. In my mind one of the definitions of leadership is "to gather". To gather people for a specific cause or vision and then take them to that place. A football coach gathers a team in order to win the trophy…he first casts the vision for what the end goal is – to lean the game, work as a team, refine the plays and ultimately to win the trophy or title. So he gathers in order to win.

What would happen if I went out to gather a football team? For those of you who know me also know that it would end in disaster – I know little to nothing about the game of football. Even with no knowledge of the game I am a persuasive person and would have a good chance at gathering the team..but it would be gathering by dishonesty. I can’t teach what I do not know. The truth is I could gather them, but I can’t teach them the game much less lead them to victory. If I want to be a successful football coach it would take dedication on my part to learn the game, master the plays and excel on a personal level so I could lead a team to victory. It would take a whole bunch of work and labor for me to lead a football team to victory.

As I sat in the airport last Saturday morning I was pondering this verse in regards to my leadership in the youth ministry. As a leader I am gathering students to the cause of Christ and teaching them how to be successful in all aspects of their life; how to work as a team, how to respond inside of different situations they face on a daily bases and ultimately how to live a life that hits the mark daily and holistically. Much like a football coach teaches his team and leads them to victory, I pastor young people.

Am I the pastor that gathers by dishonesty? Numbers aren’t the goal – disciples are the goal. And just as I cannot lead a football team to victory because I have never invested the labor (hard work) into learning the game – I cannot gather, lead and teach young people how to be a disciple unless I am willing to put in the labor (hard work) to first be a disciple myself.

People are undisputedly the greatest wealth of all nations, states, cities, families and churches. We often have things a bit backwards – we pursue gold and material possessions at the cost of the relationships in our life. Parents miss years with their children as they pursue a career and turn a blind eye to the greatest wealth they possess…their children. What is the wealth we are building? What wealth am I building in my family? What wealth am I building in ministry? Am I putting in the labor necessary to cause actual increase?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is There Not A Cause?

1 Samuel 17:

“And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath…and…said, ‘I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.’ Then as he (David) talked with them (his brothers), there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard him. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid…Then David spike to the men who stood by him, saying, ‘what shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?’ …and he (Eliab) said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your hear, for you have come down to see the battle.’ And David said, ‘What have I done now? Is there not a cause?’´

We tell the story to our children. We daydream about the battles of the great King David and secretly wish we had it within us to be a giant slayer. We sigh and wonder what it would have been like to have lived in the days of warriors – of giant killers. So we daydream and we wish only to turn out the light after the bed time story missing the fact that not much has changed in the last few thousand years.

David’s giant was one of physical stature - beefy arms, hugs sword, 9 feet tall; the giants of our day may look a bit different but they are no less real and no less defying God and His people. The apostle Paul states “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12

Too often I find myself in the place of fantasy wishing to be someone of significance like David was, someone who made a difference – yet I find that it often never hits my reality. What if I took the Apostle Paul’s words literally and recognized that there are giants that roam this land that go unchallenged.? Goliath mocked the Israelites 40 days before someone had the nerve to stand against him. Is it possible that I was I born for more then just living a comfortable life? Can life truly be comfortable and what God intended under the rule of giants like fear, divorce, rebellion, selfishness, drunkenness, sensuality, immorality, perversion, abuse, lust and dishonesty? As I ponder this question I can’t help but look back on human history and notice the repercussions of being ruled by an oppressive source. It always ends in death and destruction. Who will have the nerve, the gumption, the backbone and the passion to stand up to the giants of our day? Are there those who like David will look beyond their own life, safety, comfort, even ability (David had never fought a giant before) and see what needs done?

Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

In his willingness to stand up to Goliath and believe the promises of God I have to wonder what battles were never fought, wars that never raged … simply because a shepherd boy took God at his word and was willing to stand up when everyone else cowered…even at the risk of his own life.

The obstacles are the giants of the land. The prize are the souls of a generation. The warrior…is me.