Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being A Man

This Sunday we had a special guest in our church service, David Jesse. David works for Promise Keepers which is an organization committed to challenging men across our nation to get into the Word of God daily and live out their beliefs daily. They hold weekend conferences and I was excited to hear that they were coming back to Washington (Kent-Showare Center) next summer-July 2015. I had the privilege to grab a coffee this week with David and as excited as I was about an event coming to town, I was astounded by the statistics that he gave me. The most staggering being this:
When a child is the first to attend church, 3 1/2% of the families follow.
When a wife/mom is the first to attend church, 17% of the families follow.
When a dad/husband is the first to attend church, 93% of the families follow. 
I think this goes way beyond church attendance. It goes beyond 'strategic planning' for church events. It shows that where a dad/husband leads-the family will follow. If a man wants to lead his family towards God it will happen. If he would rather lead his family towards the treasures of this world he will do so as well. 
Having a wife and 2 girls...ok...stinkin' cute girls-you got me-It's become clear that I'm starting to not just live my life, but I'm steering my family. And so the question becomes 'where' and not 'if'. Where am I bringing my family? 
'These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.' Deuteronomy 6:6-7
I know that as a dad I can love my daughters more. I need to pray for them every single day. I need to prepare myself for the 'dating days' now so that I will not implode when a young man walks through my door. I need to love my wife more. I need to show her that she is loved every single day. So that when disagreements come, there is no doubt that I'm not going anywhere. 
I know that as a man I need to love God more. I need to pray for his direction every single day. I need to reach out to other men around me and pray for them. I need to leave a legacy that didn't drag my family to church but decided that church is more than just a music style, fancy banners and programs. But that church is the body of believers. It's where I have completeness in my devotion to him. 

I realize this is a 'male heavy' blog post, but I want to challenge the ladies to pass this on. If you're married show it to your husband and ask for a response. If you're single, pass it on to your dad, brother, a family friend who needs to be challenged/encouraged. We are in a day where we have to stop being lazy about our faith. Your beliefs will be known by how you live. Not by what you like on Facebook. The vacations of summer are winding down. Let's get back on the battle fields in our  churches. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Amazing Things

I want to share with you one of my favorite passages from the Bible-Joshua 3:1-5. Whenever I'm faced with an impossible situation, I think of this story. I'm reminded that we serve a powerful God. A God that wants to work through us! If we underestimate God in these situations, we are throwing away an amazing gift!!

V. 1-2: Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp...God told the people of Israel to wait three days at the shores of the Jordan River (Joshua 1:11). All that time, the people of Israel saw a rushing river, swollen with spring rains laying in front of them. They must have asked, ‘How can we ever cross this river?’ It was one thing for a few spies to make their way across the river, as in Joshua 2, but here we are taking a nation of thousands, with all their possessions-how will we make it? At a moment like this, all the wonderful talk about living in the Promised Land probably sounded pretty distant. 

V. 3: orders to the people: 'When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levite priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Wouldn't Joshua want to send out the military? How about the engineers to look at building a bridge?? Instead, he sent the priests who carried the ark of the covenant, which was the visible representation of God’s presence with the people. Joshua knew this was a spiritual problem, not a feat of human engineering.

V. 4: Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.' 2,000 cubits was about one thousand yards. This was in respect of the ark of the covenant, but I think it was also so that these thousands upon thousands of people could see and know they were following the LORD.  

V. 5: Joshua told the people, 'Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.' To consecrate or to sanctify themselves meant to separate themselves from common things to focus on the LORD. This verse excites me because I believe the LORD wants to do amazing things today through his people!! Through you, through me, through HIS church!!

If you knew that God was going to do something amazing through you tomorrow how would you live today? Would something need to change? I have a feeling you already know the answer.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your Jonah Story

It's kind of funny how as we get older wonder and awe becomes sophistication and suspicion. That is our view of Jonah. As a child, Jonah was awesome. It had a huge fish swallowing a guy and then he throws him up on a shore of a city that was pretty evil-see the book of Nahum-and he was called by God to go there!!
What has happened as we become 'mature adults', is we use Jonah as a story to tell our kids, 'HEY! Straighten up! Follow God or this will happen to you! You will be swallowed by a fish! Spend a few days sloshing around in some gastric juices!' But honestly-that's what we do! Don't be Jonah because of this...don't be Thomas because of what he did here...don't be Sarah because she laughed here...and even Moses-don't be Moses because of what he did here...
When we start to sort people of the Bible into good/bad lists we are running the risk of becoming hypocritical, religious prunes. We need to realize that these stories are our stories. Stories of sin and redemption, death and new life. Like never before I realize my life is a lot like Jonah's. The Lord called me to ministry after high school, and I said no. Did I get on a ship like Jonah and head to Tarshish? No, but I believe 1 degree off is as good as 180 when we are talking about God's will for our lives.
So what is your Jonah story? The book of Jonah is 4 chapters-first 2 he runs away, swallowed up, says an awesome prayer inside the fish. The next 2 chapters-overturns an entire city for God. Does he still struggle? Sure. But God still uses him. I think for some of us we are still stuck in the first 2 chapters. Is it because we are still figuring out what sin is? Maybe. Or is it because you are too afraid that if people knew about your past life, things would change? Or is it that you truly believe that God has nothing more for your life than attending church and sitting in the same seat for the next 50 years? Sorry if your toes are getting stepped on, but my heart yearns to see God's people move. That we hear the word of the LORD and begin to move. Chapter 1 starts with the word of the LORD and Jonah goes the opposite direction. Chapter 3 starts with the word of the LORD and Jonah obeys. Is the LORD speaking to you? Is he leading, directing, pushing, guiding, or maybe even leading you through a wilderness so that you would obey him??

Frankly-I hope I become like Jonah. I live to be more like Christ, but along the way if I become more like Jonah, I'm good with it. A man called by God, messed up, repented, and then turned an entire city towards God!!! Yeah, I'll take that.