August 25, 2010

God Is Up To Something

The other night I got a Facebook message from a friend of mine who recently Wales. That's right, that Wales; the one across the pond in the U.K. He & his family have picked up & moved to the U.K. to do mission work with the teenagers & student ministry workers there in Wales for the next few years.

Well, to make a long story short, my friend & his family couldn't even get through customs on Saturday morning in London before they ran into some roadblocks. It turns out that there was an inadvertant mistake in their 3 year old daughter's paperwork for her visa. The British officials said she had to go home. So my friend put his wife & daughter back on an airplane to the States in order to straighten out this mix-up. First day on the ground & he has immediately been separated from his family; immediately the enemy attacks.

Well, I prayed for my friend. I know he is exactly where God has called him to be & I know God has something amazing in store for them & the Welsh people. Then I got up early on Monday morning to get started on the first day of a new semester of seminary work. As I worked, I picked up a book that I was supposed to read. I turned to the first assigned reading for the semester, & there it was staring me in the face in big bold letters: THE WELSH REVIVAL. Well, I stopped & prayed again because even if this was a coicidence, which I don't tend to believe in, it was a coincidence that reminded me that God is up to something in this world, & my friend is right in the middle of it.

So I'd ask that you pray for my friend Kevin Wilhite. Pray for him, his wife, Amanda, & their little girl, Hannah, as they are trying to sort this visa situation out. God is up to something in the place where a huge revival broke out over a 100 years ago. I pray that God would use Kevin's ministry to lead students to faith in Christ & to equip them to reach their land for His glory & Kingdom.

August 17, 2010

Gotta Brag A Little

Today I just need to brag a little bit on my alma mater, Union University. U.S. News & World Report issued their annual assessment of colleges & universities, & yet again Union was ranked as one of the top universities at both the regional & national level. Union has historically been a strong school, but I have to applaud the leadership of  Dr. David Dockery. His leadership has been instrumental in Union's rise to prominence. He has a vision for the university that is driven by his vision for God's Kingdom, not simply to have a successful university.
While I was a student, I watched the school literally transform, both physically (the campus got a great face lift) & in terms of vision. The faculty & staff at Union are top notch. Some of them have played pivotal roles in my life & ministry, & I still count them as friends & mentors. I'm proud to be a Union grad, but on day's like today, I get really excited about my alma mater & about how God is going to continue to use Union to equip students to advance the kingdom whether they enter the nursing field, the education system, the business world, or ministry.

August 16, 2010

Hitting The Links Early

Usually when I share some links it's at the end of the week, but I found some great stuff this morning as I was reading that I just had to go ahead & share with you. A lot of this stuff is directed at church & ministry leaders, but many of the principles laid out are just as important to apply in our personal lives as they are in our churches & ministries

Insider Language

The Death of the Five Year Plan

10 Characteristic of Growing Churches

The Pain of Growth

Name One Non-Negotiable Leadership Characteristic

These are some solid insights from some great leaders. How do some of these leadership principles apply on a more broad, everyday life kind of way for you?

August 5, 2010

To Live Big You've Got To Ask Big

Pretty much every believer knows that Jesus said that He came to give us an abundant life. However, few of them would say they're experiencing it. They're lives feel mundane, boring, & worst of all, predictable. Where's this adventurous, epic, abundant life that everybody talks about? After all, our lives rarely feel big or epic. Here's something to think about in regard to this whole tension. If you want to LIVE big, then you will have to ASK big. When your prayer life consists of "rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub" & "now I lay me down to sleep" kind of prayers, then it shouldn't surprise you that you're life feels sort of small.

I'm really learning right now that God's power to move in & through my life is directly linked to my boldness in prayer. Prayer wasn't given to us simply to ask God for stuff that later we're glad He didn't give us. Prayer is about power. Bold prayer brought before God unleashes Him to do what only He can do. When we pray boldly, we are expressing our expectation that God is going to show up in our lives & do something that is so amazing that it can only be explained by God & His power.

If you're life seems small or like it's not living up to what Jesus said about it, ask yourself if you're really asking God to work in BIG ways in your life. Because if you want to live big for Christ in this world, then you will have to ask big from God.

August 3, 2010

Global Youth Camp Takeaways

Here are a few takeaway ideas that I got last week at Global Youth Camp:

1) The reason why God doesn't show up in many of our churches is because we don't expect Him to.
When you come together with your church, what do you expect to happen? Do you come with great expectations of what God is about to do? Do you expect something life-changing to happen, or do you expect church?

2) God can use your adversity as a stepping stone to your destiny.
We studied the life of Joseph during camp, & if anyone experienced adversity, it was him. Set up by his dad's favoritism, hated by his brothers, thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, abused, falsely imprisoned, forgotten by those he helped in prison, he knew what it meant to face suffering & adversity. But God was at work behind the scenes using every bit of it to position Joseph in the right place at the right time.

3) Distracted passion will drag you away, but devoted passion will draw you near.
Joseph devoted his passion back to the one who gave it to him to begin with. He channeled his passion into serving God. His brothers on the other hand allowed their passion to simply run wild. Take a look at Joseph's brother, Judah, & everything that goes down in Genesis 38, & you'll see what happens when you're passionate about yourself & what you want.

4) Our ministries are not "for us"; they should be "by us" for a lost world.
We all fight the tension & temptation to not develop ministries that simply cater to our people. We know we're supposed be reaching the world, but it's awfully easy to turn inward. When we do that, all we are doing is robbing the world of the hope that they desperately need & that we have in Christ.

5) Prayer really does work.
Prayer is the real deal; it's not just some ritualistic activity we do to look holy. The problem is that we rarely pray bold prayers. Instead we pray weak, shallow prayers that really don't ask God to show up & do what only He can do. Bold prayer isn't about pride, like some people think; it's actually the complete opposite. Bold prayers are born out of a humility that recognizes that we can't make it happen. It's a result of a dependence on Him & His power.

August 2, 2010

What Do You Expect?

Every summer I have the same discussion with students & the leaders who work with our students. The question arises about the time students come back from their camp experience. Everyone wants to know how to "take camp home". After all, we've all experienced the amazing week at a camp, conference, or retreat only to watch it fade away within the first few weeks back home. It's demoralizing to everyone & sort of makes you wonder if what you experienced was even real.

Fortunately I've seen a few groups who didn't let that fire die. Somehow they managed to not only keep it alive but to feed it as well. The common thread wasn't that the groups "took camp home". If every week & everyday at home was like camp, then camp wouldn't be as special, but what they did was to take the core of what camp is back to their student ministries, churches, & lives. The bottom line was that they took home their expectations. For some reason when we're at a camp or retreat, we expect God to do ridiculous & amazing things, but when we go home we expect something different. We expect church to happen, but we don't necessarily expect God to fall on a place that is undeniable & life changing. When we change those expectations, God honors it. He shows up & does the amazing.

We express those expectations by how we approach everyday life & how we approach our times together as the church. When you come together with your student ministry, men's group, or entire church do you expect God to do something great, or do you expect to go through some kind of program? Do you beg God to show up & touch people's lives? It's time for us as ministry leaders to lead the way by coming to God on our faces begging Him for His presence & for a movement that can only be explained in Him.