July 25, 2010

One Week Can Change Everything

24 hours from now a group of our students will be kicking off their week at Global Youth Camp. It never fails that this one week at camp becomes a turning point in the lives of some students. It will be a week that we'll look back on & recall what God did in their lives & how the course of their lives were forever changed. It's great to be a part of it because I know God is going to do something ridiculous, but I never know exactly what it is that He's going to do. The anticipation is half the fun. Please remember our students as we're away for the week.

July 19, 2010

Putting Yourself Out Of Business

Recently I had to talk to a group a little bit about the issue of ministers' leaving one place of leadership for another & how at times people are rocked by the departure not just from an emotional & relational sense but also in the spiritual sense. There are times when those we have served & led feel as if their spiritual life has taken a massive hit because the pastor they have learned from is leaving, & while there are many factors involved in this, it's important to understand that it's up to us as leaders to walk away knowing that we've done everything we could do in our role to ensure that this doesn't happen to the people we have served.

If someone we've led feels as if we are their connection to God, then we have not done our job. The role of a pastor is to equip & prepare the people of God for the work of ministry. The role of any leader is to empower the people he leads to do more together than any of us could ever do on our own. That's why my personal philosophy of ministry & leadership is that I should do my job so well that I am constantly putting myself out of business in one area or another. Of course there is the need on the part of those that we lead to take personal responsibility  for their own growth, but as the leader, we have to make sure that we are putting measures in place to issue that very challenge in a variety of ways. Otherwise, you will leave one day to take on a new challenge & the work you leave behind may crumble because you built, probably inadvertently, a ministry & organization on what you could do & not on what others were being equipped to do.

This concept holds true in every area of leadership. Whether you're a parent, a business leader, or pastor, do your job as the leader so well that it's putting you out of business.

July 14, 2010


"The evil habit of seeking 'God and' effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the ‘and’ lies our great woe. If we omit the ‘and’, we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing."

These are the words of A.W. Tozer in his classic The Pursuit of God. They were written over 60 years ago but are just as relevant to our 21st century world. Most believers fail to encounter & experience God because they are seeking God and something else. In so doing, they effectively negate the part of them that might pursue God. God requires a single minded pursuit of Him. Pursuing His will, His plan, His protection, or His blessings is no substitution for simply pursuing Him. In pursuing Him, we find Him, we come to know Him, & eventually we find & experience all those other things that we have longed to find.

What is your "and"? What have you attached to your pursuit of God? How can you cut it loose & simply & purely pursue God & God alone?

July 8, 2010

Paralysis Or Freedom

When life comes along & punches us in gut & shatters our illusions of control, most of us will respond in one of these two ways: paralysis or freedom. The realization of just how little control we have will either cripple us or set us free.

Many are paralyzed by this realization. The result is worry & anxiety. This paralysis leads you to worry & stress over everything. You even worry about worry. In fact, that's pretty much what anxiety is. It's the worry & fear of worry & fear. It feeds itself, & it has the power to completely bring your life to a halt.

The opposite reaction is one of freedom. The result of this is growing faith. When you realize that the world around you doesn't hinge on your ability to control everything but instead rests on the power of God, you will feel an awesome sense of relief & freedom. No longer do you have to make things happen. You simply have follow God & His plan for your life. He will make things happen.

So when life shatters your illusion, how do you typically respond? I know this isn't a popular idea, but worry reveals our lack of faith. Whatever it is you stress & worry about, that's an area you have not trusted God to control & take care of. Let go of it; give up the worry & experience the freedom of knowing that you don't have to be in control because God Himself is in control & at work to take you where He wants you to go.

July 6, 2010

Shattering The Illusion

Yesterday I made the statement that in the big scheme of things, we don't really have control; we merely have the illusion of control. And every once in awhile an event or series of events comes along & shatters that illusion. The unfortunate thing about this idea is that it's not intuitive. I don't know about you, but I don't wake up & think about the fact that I'm not in control. In fact the opposite is true. We tend to focus on the handful of things that we do have some control over, & we overestimate our control at that. In addition to that, we scramble to acquire more control over more & more of our lives. Then it happens. That event comes along & slaps us in the face & shatters the illusion we've worked so hard to maintain. The scary thing is that most of us have to experience the shattering of our illusion.

It says in James chapter 4, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." And is there anything more proud than for us to think that we really have total control? Like I said last week, "Spiritual maturity does not equal self-sufficiency." As we grow in our faith we actual should recognize our lack of control & our dependency on God. When we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we should, we are putting ourselves at odds with God. It shouldn't surprise us that just around the corner lurks something that reminds us of just how little control we really do have. So the first thing we need to do is to remind ourselves everyday of our dependency on God. Again, this is not intuitive; we have to be intentional about building this into our lives & the way we see the world. If you go read the model prayer given by Jesus in Luke 11, you'll see that Jesus intends for us to be reminded daily of our desperate need for God, even for something as basic as our food. If Jesus wants us to be that aware of our need for God's provision, maybe we should take note.

July 5, 2010

Our Grand Illusion

The other day I was having a discussion with people & the idea of control came up. We were talking about how we like to have control over our lives, jobs, churches, etc., & that when things come along that take away that control, it messes up our little world. However, as we were talking, this thought came to mind:

Did we ever really have control, or do the events in life that seem to take the control away from us simply take away the illusion of control?

Right now, about 20 to 25 miles away from my living room is a beach, and on that beach is a reminder that we are not in control. On top of that, we didn't lose control when there was an explosion on that oil rig & the spill began. We simply thought we had control. Think about it; a hole in the ground, a mile under the ocean's surface was all that it took to remind us that we are not in control, & as hard as we try & as advanced we become in some areas of life, we really don't have that much control over the world.

I may be overstating things a bit, but if what I'm thinking is true, what do we do about it? This realization will probably drive people to two opposite reactions: paralysis & freedom. This week I want to explore this idea a little more & would love feedback from you.