Thursday, June 30, 2011

WITH God: The One Exception

I referenced earlier that there's one time that you cannot walk with God.  

Maybe you already know what I'm referring to, but lets look at Numbers 14 for a great illustration of it.   

The people of Israel had just received word that the promised land might be harder to conquer than they thought.  The majority of them reject the promise of God and want to look for a new leader and head back to Egypt.  

Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua plead with the people in verses 8 and 9: "If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us – a land that is flowing with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection has turned aside from them, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them!"

The people of Israel don't listen.  God disciplines by sending them to wander in the desert for 40 years until everyone older than 39 passes away.  When the people here this judgment, they have a change heart.

Let's pick up at verse 40: "And early in the morning they went up to the crest of the hill country, saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place that the Lord commanded, for we have sinned.” But Moses said, “Why are you now transgressing the commandment of the Lord? It will not succeed! Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, and you will be defeated before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. Because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.

Suffice it to say, you cannot walk WITH God while disobeying him.  That's why sin is such a big deal.  It ruins your relationship with God.

(All praise to Jesus for restoring that relationship that I daily break!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

How I Read It: Samson and the Pirate Monks

A few thoughts after finishing: Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin

Quotable: This quote didn't have much to do with the rest of the book, but I really liked it: "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." - General Eric Shinseki. 

Brutal:  The first half of the book is a brutal story of the author's descent into sexual addiction.  And when I say brutal, I mean brutal.  I found myself barely able to believe the fact that this was someone who pastored a church, went to Bible school, and new all the "right" Christian things.  Suffice it to say, if you or I think someone might be struggling with an addiction (to anything, but especially lust), we should throw them a life-line.  Thankfully the story ends with the author's redemption through the grace of God and a community of believers.

Simple:  I loved loved loved the simplicity of a 'Samson Society."  Basically the second half of the book details the formation and model of a men-only, completely honest, 'Samson Society' meeting.  Apart from detailed explanations of specific parts, the entire model fits into just a few pages.  I love it!  I'm not sure if I'll seek to start an exact replica of a Samson Society, but I do plan on using some of the ideas in my disciple-making efforts.

2011 Personal Impact Ranking:

  1. One thing You Can't Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill*
  2. Fight Clubs by Jonathan Dodson*
  3. Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck*
  4. The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis
  5. Humility by CJ Mahaney*
  6. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
  7. Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin*
  8. Crazy Love by Francis Chan*
  9. The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott
*I own these books, let me know if you want to borrow them. I'd love to share.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WITH God: Through Trials

Most of us are familiar with the story of Joseph.  If you're not, read Genesis 37, 39 through 47.  (You can read Genesis 38 if you're feeling extra bold.)

Here is a quick summary of all of the bad stuff that Joseph goes through: he is thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct, thrown in prison, and forgotten in prison.

If we're going to be honest, most of us have not had that bad of a run.  Look at these verses in Genesis light of the crazy trials Joseph went through:
  • 39:2 The Lord was with Joseph. He was successful and lived in the household of his Egyptian master.
  • 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden
  • 39:23 The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful.
  • 41:16 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power, but God will speak concerning the welfare of Pharaoh.”
  • 41:51-52 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, saying, “Certainly God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.”  He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
  • 45:4-8 Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life! For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
The inescapable conclusion?  God is WITH you, even in the midst of trials.

Monday, June 20, 2011

BOOR June 2010: Aim for the Heart

This comes via my wife's online reading.

You can read the whole post here.

This is my favorite section:
Question: In our efforts to raise our sons are we teaching them that if they do good things they are good?  Righteous even?  If we teach them that being good is all it takes…if our discipline and training focuses on their behavior…how will they know they need a Savior?
Are we raising little Pharisees?  Or raising Godly men with a heart for God?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WITH God: Even in the Mundane

Quick!  Make a short mental list of all the boring and mundane activities you do every week.

Here's mine: dishes, driving, email, mowing, taking out garbage, paying bills, scheduling staff, entering info into a database, cleaning

Go ahead and think of yours.  (No really, do it!)

Now read Genesis 21:22-34.

Funny story right?  It's actually pretty boring if you ask me.  Abraham gets in an argument with Abimelech and it gets resolved.  But look at these verses that bookend that passage of scripture.

Verse 22: At that time Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do." 

Verse 33: Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer Sheba. There he worshiped the Lord, the eternal God.

In verse 22 he gets told that God is with him.  And the story ends with him worshiping the Lord.  If Abraham can walk WITH God through a boring time in his life, you can walk with God through any mundane activity.  Even those activities in that list you just made.  Walk WITH God even in the boring moments of your life!

Monday, June 13, 2011

How I Read It: One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven

A few thoughts after finishing: One Thing you Can't Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill

Boldness:  First, a word about why I wanted to read this book right now.  Recently the boldness of the early Christians in the book of Acts has been slapping me in the face.  I am not a bold individual in general, but especially and unfortunately so when it comes to sharing my faith.  I was looking for a swift kick in the pants to help me grow a little boldness in my everyday life.  That being said, this book was definitely what I needed to read.

Quotable: "We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but we have only one swift hour before the sunset in which to win them."- Robert Moffat (from the Study Guide, page 3).
"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to @#!*% over our bodies.  And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay." - CH Spurgeon (page 93)
"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of @#!*% ." - John Wesley (page 184)

I Loved It:  Mark Cahill played college basketball at Auburn University with Charles Barkley and has an ongoing friendship with him.  In chapter six there are several stories about sharing the Good News with Barkley, Michael Jordan and others.  They were great stories and also very challenging to me: If the author can be bold enough to share the Gospel with Michael Jordan, then I should be bold enough to share it with anyone.

How I'm Going to Use It:  Due to the busy summer season, I'm actually going to stretch this post into the future.  I'll be listing some ideas for how I'm going to use what's taught in this book to boldly share my faith.

I'm Still Wondering: ... if I agree with this statement: "Before someone accepts Jesus he must be thinking about his eternal destination." (pg 73).  I'm wondering why someone couldn't accept Jesus just based on their current life.  What do you think?  How important is pointing to the eternal destination in conversations about witnessing?

2011 Personal Impact Ranking:
  1. One thing You Can't Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill*
  2. Fight Clubs by Jonathan Dodson*
  3. Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck*
  4. The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis
  5. Humility by CJ Mahaney*
  6. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
  7. Crazy Love by Francis Chan*
  8. The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott*
*I own these books, let me know if you want to borrow them. I'd love to share.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WITH God: Anytime

What would it look like to walk WITH God every moment of your life?

Read Genesis 5:21-24.  (I'm not going to quote it here.  Get out your Bible or click the link to read it yourself.)

Twice in those verses we see the phrase "Enoch walked with God."  I did a little digging on the Hebrew language behind that phrase.  This definitely refers to more than a weekly stroll through the park.  To quote the NET study Bible: "The phrase suggests that Enoch and God 'got along.'"  It's almost as if the study guys didn't know how to sum it up... they had to put "got along" in quotes.

When was a moment you walked with/got along with God?  One of my walking with God seasons was when I spent the summer as a counselor at an overnight camp.  The second week of camp I had a rough group of kids that caused me to focus on the Lord in prayer.  That focus continued throughout the summer.  It was amazing to be walking with God like that.

What about you?  Have you had a moment or season where you walked with God?  Where you and God "got along?"

I'm going to suggest that you can walk with God anywhere while doing anything.

There's one obvious exception to that, but we'll get to that it in a few weeks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

So it begins

Today is the day Camp of Champions starts an 11-week run of summer day camps.  We'll be open from 7:30-5:30 from now until August 19th at six different locations in central Illinois.  Every summer God does amazing things: the amount of potential ministry right now is through the roof.

But I want to do my part to see that it becomes realized ministry.  Here's the plan:

(I'm sharing it with you for two reasons: 1) So I can have clarity on these ideas, 2) So you can take an idea useful to you and steal it!.)

Why? The word of God is really important!
What? Memorize the 2011 Summer Memory Verses.  Be able to quote them without looking on August 31.
More: Each year we give the campers one memory verse a week.  Some summers I memorize the verses, others I don't.  I want this summer to be one summer I do.

Why? Being with people is more important than sitting in my office.
What #1?  Set a one-hour timer when you need to do office work.  Leave when it goes off.  Rotate when this office time happens.
What #2?  When I arrive at a camp location set a one-hour timer. Don't look at my task list until the timer goes off.
What #3?  Use paper (and not my computer) to keep track of my tasks and to-dos.
More:  I always default to less important work. (If we're honest I think most of us do.)  If I let myself, I will put typing an email or checking a box on a to-do list as a higher priority than just being with real people.  All of these are my attempt to curb that.

Why? Time with my family is just as important as time at camp.
What?  Label two or three days each week as "Energy Conservation Days": Attempt to purposefully conserve energy (to use later in the day with my family).
More: I don't want to come home totally wiped each day.  I need energy and awareness for my wife and kids.  (Note: This isn't an excuse for laziness at work.  Its just that on these days I don't need to be playing 20 games of dodgeball and freeze tag for three hours.) 

Why? I need to intentionally check up on myself in these areas.
What #1?  On the third week of camp, record what I do every 15 minutes.
What #2?  Have some close friends ask me about these goals weekly.
More: A couple weeks into the summer, I want to take a look at the numbers.  What am I actually doing with my time and is it what it should be?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WITH God: The Introduction

Starting Monday, summer day camp at Camp of Champions officially takes off for a full 11 weeks.  One thing I really enjoy each year at COCUSA is leading a weekly staff devotional time during morning meetings.  This year I'm also planning on posting these devotionals in blog form. 

The theme at Camp this year is 'The Great Adventure.' We're going to be telling the entirely storyline of the Bible over the course of the summer, starting in Genesis 1 and going all the way to Acts 28.  (We didn't think grade school children needed too much eschatology from Revelation.)  For each section of Scripture we're sharing with the campers, I'm going to trace the call to walk 'WITH God' throughout the Bible.  Not only does the Bible present a 'Great Adventure', but it also calls each of us to join in and fellowship with God along the way.

We'll start in one week!

Note: The idea for this devotional series came from Skye Jethani and is being done with his permission.  You can find one of his sermon on the concept here (the second one from the top).  And a free PDF of the first chapter here.