Friday, August 6, 2010

Everyone wins when...

I am at the Leadership Summit. I am attending the Summit at a satellite location in Connecticut trying to serve two purposes: getting my leadership tank filled and visiting my in laws

As I left the house yesterday, I got a later start than I had wanted. Google maps said it was about a 35 minute drive and I wanted to leave room for margin, but left just on time. Then on my way I got lost. Although I have a bad sense of direction, the Connecticut road signs leave much to be desired and are non existent at times. In fact, I asked a woman for directions and the woman who told me she was a realtor validated my feelings on the lack of signage. Even when I thought I was going the right way, I was doubting myself because signage is so bad.

While driving and then doubling back and then realized I had been going the right direction and should turn around again, I said to God, “God, how do I get refreshed?” I was wondering if I had made a mistake and that maybe I was just being selfish in carving out this time.

Finally I found my way to the location, which is a great setting. Although a few minutes late, I didn’t miss the worship which I had felt I needed. During the second song, tears were streaming down my face. I just felt God minister to my soul as we sang Hosanna in the Highest.

Then Bill Hybels began the first session saying, “Everyone wins when leaders grow.” Again, that just spoke to my soul and filled me up. It is a reminder that investing in leadership conferences is well worth the effort. Everyone wins when leaders grow. Children win when parents invest in their own growth. Employees win when bosses invest in their own growth. Churches win when pastors and staff workers invest in their growth. It isn't selfish to invest in growth it is wise, practical and necessary.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Love of progress

As Americans we love progress; we love moving forward. It was a desire for progress that settled the West and landed us on the moon. We set a goal and move towards it. Desire for progress and moving forward is good. We serve a God of progress, who has a plan for history. However, the way God goes about progress often differs from how we go about it.

The message this weekend at Nativity is about the battle of Jericho and the preparations leading to Israel conquering the city. God gives Joshua and the Israelites several instructions of how they are to prepare for the battle. I read through last night the first 6 chapters of Joshua and found two instructions pretty interesting.

The first instruction was that representatives from each of the 12 tribes are to bring a stone with them from the Jordan River as a reminder of what God did for them. He tells them in Joshua 4:6-7, “When your children ask in a time to come, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the sons of Israel a memorial forever.” The stone reminds them to look back to the past on the faithfulness of God.

Then he gives another instruction before the battle takes place; God gives a strange command. He tells the men to be circumcised. The timing seems odd, but the action was a reminder of the promise he had sworn to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan, the land Joshua and the Israelites were moving to conquer. The sign of Abraham’s covenant was circumcision. Every male had to be circumcised. In asking the Israelites to be circumcised, he was calling to mind the promise of the past and that he is a God that keeps his promises. He will bring to fruition his promises in his time, if not ours.

I read this week that we often see God’s presence and involvement in our lives only in retrospect. Only by looking back on our lives do we see God’s presence and activity in our lives. We often get so concerned about the destinations that we forget God. Instead, we just try and push forward on our own. The battle we fight is not over whether we will get where God wants us to go. If we follow God’s lead, he will get us to the good places he has in store for us as is seen by the incredible story told in Joshua 6. The destination is secure if we go where God is leading. The battle is whether we stick with God through the process. God leads us through a process that is not just about getting somewhere, but about changing us into people who trust completely in him and walk in his ways.

Monday, August 2, 2010

More Thoughts on Past Weekend's Message

This morning a few more thoughts came to me about the battle of good and evil.

1. God does not fight battles - at first. Michael and his angels fight the devil and his angels. Then God allows Adam to fight the devil, even gives him the charge to "guard the garden." However, when Adam fails and falls, God begins to make the plan of salvation, eventually sending his Son to battle the devil. His Son becomes man because it is God's will that man learn to fight and battle and defeat the devil and forces of evil. So just as in the first battle, God allows the angels to fight and choose whether they are with HIm or not, so now God wants men and women to fight and choose whether we are with him. We can only be successful because Jesus, the God/Man fought the devil and chose to give his whole life back to His heavenly Father. We can only succeed because Jesus' life is in us.

2. Evil is on the run. The devil's time is short. We should "Fear not" and take courage in our relationship in Christ. Jesus defeated the enemy by the cross. We still have to battle for our own hearts, but since Jesus lives in us we have the power to defeat him.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Life is a Battle

I just finished up on preaching the first Week of War of the Worlds. To hear the message go to Here are some other thoughts in my head related to the message that didn’t make it in.

1. The war is fought because the devil thinks he can make himself like God, he thinks he can be God, that HE can make himself like the Most High God. God wants to make us like him. God wants us to be like him. The big lie of the devil is that WE can make ourselves like God. God wants to make us like him, but that is God's work not ours.

2. Good things in this life will only come by fighting for them. If you want an excellent marriage, you will have to fight for it. (Men, that means you will have to fight for your wife’s heart. - especially after you are married.) If you want a great relationship with your children you are going to have to battle for it. If you want to succeed in a craft or skill, you will have to fight for time to practice it and fight against your own laziness. The fact you have to fight hints that it is something important and worth fighting for.

3. The devil and his angels, the demons are on the earth. They aren’t everywhere because the devil is not omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent. He isn’t all knowing, all powerful or everywhere. That’s God it isn’t the devil. The devil’s power, presence and knowledge is limited. It is limited, but his presence is real.

4. My illustrations this weekend and the note above were intended to discount dualism. For a great refutation of dualism (that good and evil are equal) read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.