Wednesday, July 28, 2010


'No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.'
-Jesus (Matt. 6:24)

'The church doesn’t want something from you; the church wants something better for you.'
-Perry Noble

When was the last time you went to the fridge...looked inside of it and said 'there's nothing to eat'? When was the last time you went to your closet and said 'there's nothing to wear'? When was the last time you went to Best Buy and saw the coolest flat panel tv...starred at it, maybe drooled a little bit, and thought to yourself, I NEED it?

I'm continuing on with my thoughts on Perry Noble's series on the '5 Lies of the Devil'  and you can watch the message he gives by clicking on the link. Anyway, tell me if the above didn't ressonate with you on some level? I'm sure the Best Buy one clicked more for the guys than the girls, but I don't want to assume anything...

The main scripture he focus' on is from 2nd Kings 4: 1-7 (please open your Bible). It's about a widow who comes to Elisha asking for help because her husband is dead and his creditors are about to come and claim their children as payment. Interestingly enough, the title of this section in the Bible is usally titled 'Elisha helps a poor woman'...or something to that affect. Now, today we still have creditors and if we're unable to pay, they come to collect-make phone calls and write letters to seek payment. Back in Biblical times, they took your children or family as payment (check out Matt. 18:23-34). Today...if we continue our current path our children will pay for our mistakes-our debt.

Anyway, the nuts and bolts of this story is more about the 'irrational jumps' you and I make concerning our God. For example: when you become a part of a church body, you assume that the church wants your money-often forgetting that they don't want you money, they want something better for you in this life. Too often we associate the church and money in a negative way, when really it's not about the church, it's about our worship of God.


Again, it isn't about the church wanting your money it's more about whether or not you're following Jesus with your money. And the real issue is whether or not you can be trusted with what God has already provided you (Luke 16: 10-14). Let me be the first to admit that I too haven't fully followed Jesus with my money...I've usually had the philosophy that since I don't have much money anyway (life in unordained ministry-like a youth pastor), the giving of my time and energy in other areas makes up for my lack of financial commitment. I am wrong and I have begun a deep converstation with my wife about some changes we need to make.

Now the question about you?

You and I have a nasty tendency to focus on what we don't have instead of what we do have. We have overlooked God's blessings in our lives and have decided we don't have enough money, a big enough house, a new enough car, or the latest and greatest cell phone! You and I are addicted...and if we don't 'handle our desire to acquire' then we're doomed to forever be unhappy-in this life and the next.

I love you, but go to hell!
Jesus I love you, but keep your fingers off my money!

I guess at the heart of this is a fundamental question: Are you ever happy with what you have? Do you see the blessings in your life or do you only see what you don't have? Is your focus on this world or the next? Because the answer to many of our problems isn't whether or not God could give us more, but whether or not we can manage what God has already given us. Whatever the situation, whether it's financial or not, do you accept the situation you're in and know the way out? Sometimes it's not easy to do what needs to be done-it's always 'easier said than done', but what needs to be done is what's important.

Isn’t it amazing how we wonder or even blame God for ‘bad things’ that happen in our lives? Why is it that we don’t give Him enough credit, honor, and praise when things are going well? Why is it that we only turn to Him in the midst of our problems?

At the core of all this we need to ask ourselves this: Are we ever happy with what we have? Why do we feel the ‘need’ for more? And who placed that desire there? You and I need to stop conforming to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:1-3), stop serving the many masters of this world (money, fame, and pride) and follow the one that truly loves us-God.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


' might be in a valley, be coming out a valley, or about to enter a valley...'
-Perry Noble

'Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you...Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'
-Spirit of the Lord (2nd Chronicles 20)

Perry Noble did a 5 week series a while back called the 'Five Lies of the Devil'. In the first week he talks about the first lie: 'God will never put more on us than we can handle'. He points out that most well-meaning people and even pastors will use that very phrase to offer some sort of hope-I know I have, and that they got it wrong-he admits he had it wrong too.
The scripture that is often refered to and used is from 1st Corinthians 10:13 which reads: 'No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.'
Now, the question becomes...where did we go wrong in our interpretation of the verse itself. I personally think it comes from how we were brought up to think-you and I have been conditioned by today's society and culture to shrug off our need for God's help. It comes back to how we rationalize and justify things in our mind and how we try to convince others and ourselves that we're still 'in control'.
So Perry is covering 5 lies that Christians believe and the first one deals with the contextual issue of the above scripture verse. If you re-read it, the verse doesn't say that you won't have to deal with temptation-we all know we do and will, rather, it says 'tempted beyond what you can bear'. Meaning, there's a choice that has yet to be made concerning the temptation-whether it be to cheat on a test in school, call in sick to work so you can sleep in, or make change in the offering plate as it's passed.
The verse is simply saying that you will be tempted, but you have options.
Too often we use this verse or reference it to give comfort to someone who is in the midst of a crisis or to give comfort to ourselves-forgetting that the choice has already been made and the situation we find ourselves in is a direct reflection of the choice we may have made or haven't made. Confused? Don't be. Re-read the scripture again and tell me if you agree. *It's okay if you don't, you won't hurt my feelings. This is merely my thoughts and opinions-I just happen to agree with Perry on this one.
One last time, it doesn't say that we won't face problems in our lives, but it does say that we have choices and options that will either make our lives more complicated or easier-by what we decide to do and decide not to do. It can be confusing at times and I will be the first to admit I misused the above scripture to give others comfort-not knowing I too was spreading the lie around.
A bad situation, though tragic, doesn't have to remain that way or get worse. If we give up the thought that we're 'in control' and realize our dependence on God- things become clearer. Maybe not easier at first, but once we trust in Him and get out of our rut we can begin to see things in a whole new way (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)
So the challenge here is to give up and give into God (Matthew 11:30). God may put more on our plate than we can actually handle (2nd Chronicles 20), but perhaps it's because God is trying to get our attention-perhaps our relationship has suffered and we no longer rely on Him.
Perhaps He is using your situation to break you down...He may be trying to bring you to your knees or even face down in order to bring you back to where you should be. If  this is you, know that 'the battle is not yours, but God's' (2nd Chronicles 20:15).  *Remember: Phil. 4:13

Thursday, July 22, 2010


'If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.'

'If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.'
-1st Cor. 13: 1-3

Most of us have fallen in and out of love with someone or something in our lives-whether it's a relationship with the opposite sex, a job, or our personal journey with God. We have struggled with loving others and even ourselves, but there's still someone we really struggle with...GOD. One needs only to pick up the Bible to find stories of mere mortals struggling to find their purpose or reason for living-seeking direction and in the midst of their brokenness find a feeling they cannot escape...the warmth of love, grace, and forgiveness.

Since the O.T. when Moses was about to reveal God to the Isrealites we've been trying to wrap our heads around this God who claims to be the great 'I AM' (Exodus 3:13). And there have been many who have been angry with God too-we need only look at the prophet Jonah...he thought the people of Nineveh deserved God's wrath, but God gave them mercy and it made Jonah a bit grumpy.

Sometimes we just don't understand what God's trying to say to us. It's not that he doesn't answer prayer, it's just we have a tough time listening and accepting His answers. Sometimes we're asked to give up our desires to meet the needs of others-friends, family, or complete strangers and that's hard sometimes.
So how do you define love? I provided the 13th Chapter of 1st Corinthians, but we have our own words and ideas's what's commonly described as love:
-An emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.
-A virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection.
*Interesting how similar that is to what is described in the 13th Chapter.

Change isn't easy, but if we're committed to this relationship we know it will have it's ups and downs. Love isn't some obligation to someone or something. Love is merely something that is in our nature. If we force it, it's fake and loses it's flavor (Matt. 5:13-16)-we no longer become interested and we are no longer interesting. Think about it...what is it about us that attracks others? Sure, we can be funny and humorous, but when friends are in need they aren't looking for your humor...they're looking for your comfort, time, and compassion. When we are broken and lost we seek out those we trust most in our lives for direction and advice. I pray that we don't forget that God is a part of this equation too-the equation to happiness and life.

*Below is a link to a couple videos-more importantly they are songs by Jason Gray called 'More Like Falling In Love' and Jars of Clay's 'Love Song For A Savior'. I think both are fitting for this blog. Listen to the words and see if they don't speak to you from deep within.

I challenge you to ask yourself the following questions:
-What areas of my life do I not care about that I know I should care about?
-In what areas have I fallen short of God's standards and my own potential?
-In what areas have I settled for just getting by when I know I could do better if I really tried?
-In what areas have I decided that things 'will always be this way' without ever putting the kind of effort that really changes things?

We should recognize that our relationships are always in flux-changes need to be made. It's like a dance and sometimes we get out of step with God and distance ourselves...we only need to realize that we need Him and that if we seek Him in all that we do, He will make our paths straight. No one said it would be easy because it isn' requires us to be flexible (Romans 12:1-2).

CLICK HERE for Jason Gray's video

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I recently picked up a book called 'The Christian Atheist: Believing in God, but living as if He doesn't exist'. I didn't just pick this up because the title was catchy, but because it reminded me of something another book taught me-that there are more than two types of people out there. In fact, there are three types of people out there: 1. those who are saved, 2. those who are unsaved, and 3. those who are saved but unspiritual. Of course, the book I'm referring to is older and considered out of date, but this book brings it new life and meaning. Not because it's repackaged, but because it speaks truth about today's culture and society-taking a more dynamic look at this phenomenon.
While a majority of today's population (95% of the U.S.) say they believe in God I would say that it doesn't look like our country reflects that Christ-like character or behavior. Where's the grace, patience, and forgiveness (1st Cor. 13) in senseless acts violence-I don't see the 'Goldren Rule' (Matt. 7:12 or Luke 6:27-31) lived out in the pages I read in the paper or on the internet.
Back in the day, 'my word is my bond' used to mean something, but is cheap. You may talk a good game, but can you deliever? And if you don't deliver or fall short (Romans 3:23) you're ruined-just ask Tiger Woods about the judgement he recieved. I know I've used this before, but I'm going to use it again because we have a nasty tendency to 'judge others by their behavior (our preception) and judge ourselves on our good intentions'. Too often we're the ones asking for some 'slack' when the heat is turned up on us and we're too quick to throw someone under the bus or place blame-when it falls on us alone.
So where am I going with this...simple...if 95% of Americans claim to believe in God-why isn't there enough love in our communities? There are many who go hungry in our very backyard, and many who go un-noticed in our own church pews on Sundays. I really think there are too many of us out there who are truly Christian Atheists-by the words we speak and the things we do...they will know IF we are Christians.
My challenge to you is to 'DO HARD THINGS' and stop just talking about it and starting doing something about it. God has put you here for a reason and it isn't to just see things pass you by or for you to hear of needs, but to meet the needs of others and do see a need and take action!
-Questions to ponder:
Are you a Christian Atheist?
Do you know someone who is?
Do you know someone who glows with the love of Christ?
What is getting in the way of you taking that next step?
*Prayerfully consider asking Jesus to take over...for real this time-no passenger seat.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Last night was another great night for the youth and the youth leaders. During campfire Chris and I talked a little more about what it might look like to go back home and actually do hard things-making hard choices, but the right choices-even if it might be an unpopular one to make. We asked them, 'what might it look like or require of you' to go back home and do what is right?
Our scripture came from Ester 5:1, where Ester is standing in front of the thrown room entrance, dressed in all her royal guard-knowing that what she's about to do next could cost her-her life. You see, Ester was a 'no body' by today's standards-and even back then too, but God moved her away from all that and moved her into a situation in which she had great power and influence.
Nuts and Bolts:When her cousin Mordecai 'disrespected' Haman-someone who was more or less the 'right hand man' of the king, he was enraged and upset and decided to plot against the Jewish people in all of Persia. When Mordecai wouldn't bow down to Haman, he decided to form a plot against the Jewish people-using and abusing his favor with the king to make himself feel justified (thinking 'I'll  teach him a lesson). Well, Mordecai went to Esther and told her to talk to the king and save her people. She wasn't quite sure she could do it and when the time came...she stood before the entrance knowing it could cost her everything-her very life.
When Chris presented it to the youth...the spirit worked from within. Because when he was done, we had quote a few come up and talk about the 'hard things' they're scared to face when they go home and the 'hard things' they are struggling with this week-knowing they have to do something, but are afraid.
This week has been an awesome week and we have one last campfire to go-where we will bring it full circle! Pray that those who haven't shared and those who feel they should-will indeed stop denying their call and share what God has put upon their heart this week (maybe not at campfire, but in small groups, or during their quiet time with God alone). Our goal is to have them be honest with themselves, others, and their creator. I know not all of them will share at campfire, but I know they will sometime down the line...maybe not this week, but the next.
Again, continue to pray for growth in the lives of  these young people. And throw one or two up there for the bus drive and the youth leaders as we journey back to Lincoln, NE.


Today was the final work day for the youth! They completed over 600 hours of work this week and managed to impress all that they helped.Our final project was at a Christian Dude Ranch called 'Wind River Ranch'. For a summary that's already done, click and read Chris' blog post called: FINAL WORK DAY