Monthly Archives: February 2011

It’s Simple, Stupid

God’s plan for your life is not confusing. But it may be disappointing.

How many times have you said (or heard someone else say) something like “I just don’t know what God wants me to do here, I’m just so confused!” I’ve done it, and I’ll bet you have, too.

If we’re being totally honest with ourselves, though, what we ought to be saying is this: “I want something for myself other than what God does.”

April and I have made a lot of changes over the past three years, all in hopes for a better future. I went back to school, she started a new career, and we’ve made some pretty major changes to our budget in order to save and give more. All the while, we had in mind a clear picture of what we wanted our lives to look like as a result of our actions. Three years later, quite frankly, that picture hasn’t materialized.

It’s really tempting to call ourselves failures. To throw our hands up and call it quits. Go back to the way it was before. We’ve spent three years living according to the principles of some of the most well-respected financial, marriage, and career advisers around. We’ve thoughtfully developed measurable goals and committed ourselves to achieving them over time through simple, daily practices. By every worldly measure, we’re doing what we should. So why haven’t we moved on to the next chapter in our lives? Easy. We’ve been working toward the wrong goals: ours.

Blasphemous as it may sound, I have to admit that I’m disappointed sometimes by God’s plans. It doesn’t seem fair that we can work hard and commit ourselves to noble goals and still fail. But it’s helpful to remember that God has a different perspective. From his vantage point, our lives are not as confusing and muddled as they appear to us.

If you’re twenty or older, you probably look back on your teenage years and roll your eyes at how little you knew about life. I spent the better part of a decade confused and riddled with angst. I couldn’t understand how I life could be so painful. Why the girls I liked didn’t like me back. Why friends did things to hurt and upset me. Why things I did went unnoticed by people I wanted to impress. In retrospect, I realize that my life wasn’t confusing at all, I just lacked the perspective to understand its simplicity. I missed out on the fun of being a kid. Humbling as it is, I accept that the same is true of my life now. I spend so much time and energy working toward my own goals, I fail sometimes to appreciate the gifts God gives me to enjoy in this particular season of life.

If you’re confused by God’s apparent will for your life, you’re probably trying too hard to figure out the wrong plan. God doesn’t hurt, confuse, or manipulate us. We do those things to ourselves when we try and either avoid his plans or manipulate them for our own gain. Stop fighting it, accept that His will is better than your own, and you’ll I’ll wager confusion and hurt will give way to joy and courage almost immediately.

Philippians 3: 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”


My Boring Testimony

Are you embarrassed by your life story? I was.

To boot, I was jealous of people whose testimonies sounded like an Oscar-winning screenplays. Churches are full of them: people who lived on the streets; dealt and did drugs; spent time in prison for theft, assault, or worse; and then accepted Christ, turned their lives around, and now serve God in mission fields near and far. These are people who lead others to Christ through just the recitation of their own salvation story.

My upbringing was… quieter (read “boring”). I was a good kid, made good grades. I grew up in church. Went to a Christian college in my hometown, married a wonderful girl, and got a decent job right out of school. There were a few years where I didn’t go to church, but my the world’s standards most would argue I’m one of “the good ones”. And at times, I’ve hated that.

A few years ago, I was called to give my testimony in church. It would be the first time I’d do so. I’d never even thought about telling the story of my salvation, maybe because I was subconsciously afraid of putting myself to sleep. The evening came, and I stumbled through a five-or-so minute recollection of the steps that eventually led me to the church April and I attended at the time. Looking back now, I realize I didn’t really get the point.

If a testimony is the story of your salvation, and your salvation is a matter of rebirth, then it stands to reason that change should factor somewhere into the tale. Continue reading

If You Don’t You Won’t

This is a post about prayer.  Another post about prayer?  Yes, we have posted a lot about prayer here at NGYNW.

For the past several months I have felt the Lord tugging on me about my prayer life.  It needs to be stronger.  It needs to go to new heights.  I have read books, listened to  sermons, read blogs, and have talked with others about prayer quite a bit recently.  I currently attend a small group at Oasis Church that is dealing directly with prayer.  We meet on Wednesdays at 11:45…you should come check it out.  The point is, prayer is a discipline I am trying to get stronger at in this season of my life.

Today in group we discussed the importance of having a Pattern of Prayer. This thought came from our study titled Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels. Great book by the way!

I have gone back and forth over the last few years about having a prayer plan, routine, or pattern. Continue reading

The 2nd Greatest Story Ever Told

So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them. Mark 5:20 NLT

Every follower of Christ has a story.  A story of their life before Jesus Christ rescued them from sin, how Jesus rescued them from sin, and how he has changed their life since he rescued them.  This story is often called a personal testimony or salvation experience.  Every believer has one.

Unfortunately too many believers buy into Satan’s lie that their story isn’t worth telling and that no one would want to listen to it.

Have you ever felt that way? Continue reading

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

For the past 2 months our church staff at Oasis has been making preparations for Friend Day.  Friend day is one of our biggest days of the year.  Friend day is this Sunday!  Many guests will attend our church on Friend day.  Some of these guests have not been to church in weeks, months, years, or even their entire life.  Why will they attend?  Someone took the opportunity to invite them.

For the past two weeks I have been cranking up my invite others to church “temperature.”  I have invited total strangers and left invite cards almost everywhere I have gone.  But I’m going to be honest. Continue reading


Are people Refreshed when they are around you?

This is a pretty important question for you and I to honestly answer.  Do people find themselves refreshed after they have spent time with you?  Do people look forward to being around you because they know you are refreshing to be with?

I started thinking about this question the other day while I was reading in Romans 15.  In Romans 15, Paul is telling the Roman  believers about his plans to visit them.  In verse 32 Paul says “so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. “

Apparently there was something about these believers that was refreshing.  Paul looked forward to being with them.  He knew it would be a refreshing experience.

As followers of Christ, people should be refreshed when they are around you.  And they should walk away feeling like their was something different about you.  Why? Continue reading

Bible Study Breakthroughs

Hopefully if you are follower of Jesus Christ you are carving out time from your busy schedule to dive into his word daily.  This time is often known as a bible study, devotion, quiet time, or private worship to name a few. No matter what you call it, I hope are making it a practice in your life.  Anyways, to the point.

Do you ever get stuck in a rut in your personal bible study time?

By “rut” I mean several things.  Maybe your in a rut of not consistently having this time in your life.  Maybe you have your bible study daily, but when you do, God seems distant.  Maybe God doesn’t feel distant, but quiet.  There are a number of things that can cause you and I to fall into private worship ruts.  I personally, often, go in and out of ruts

The past couple of weeks my quiet times have been good, steady, daily, consistent.  The Lord has felt close.  But in all honesty the Lord has seemed quiet.  When the Lord is quiet, I struggle.  I want to hear him.  I want the revelation.  But sometimes he is quiet.  Today the quietness broke.  I had a bible study breakthrough.  I felt myself break out of that quiet rut.

The truth is, we are all going to find ourselves in ruts in this area of our walk with God.  We must continue fighting for our faith during this time.  So what are some keys to bible study break throughs? Continue reading

Eating the Elephant

I failed big yesterday, because I let irrational fear get the best of me.

April and I took Samson to the dog park to play in the powdery aftermath of Snowmageddon 2011. We parked next to the only other car present, turned Sam loose, and wound up engaged in friendly conversation with Richard, another local dog-lover.

We talked for probably 15 minutes, long enough to learn Richard’s name, where he lived, that he was exceptionally warm-natured (short sleeves in the snow, man!) and even a little about his past. Long enough for all of that, but not for me to muster the courage to invite the dude to church.

Why is it so hard to spread God’s love? Fear, plain and simple. In my case, it was fear over something silly: how I’d respond if he turned me down. Seriously. I balked at the chance to bring someone to church because I was afraid of an awkward segue if he said “no”.

In retrospect, a bit of scripture from the book Mark springs to mind:

“Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)

I froze because I got worried about what to say after I’d done what I felt prompted to do. A case of analysis paralysis, I guess.

I hope my failure and embarrassment will inspire somebody out there to be bolder than me when the opportunity presents itself. I pray that God will make me more courageous the next time I get the chance. I pray, when it’s time to eat that elephant, so to speak, I’ll do it the only way I can: one bite at a time.


“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Leveraging Frustration

Are you frustrated with something in your life?  If not, you soon will be. No one really enjoys frustration.  But everyone has to deal with frustration. Unfortunately too many “give up”  when they experience frustration in an area of their life.  How we view frustration determines how respond to frustration. Frustration isn’t the time to tap out and give up.  I used to think it was.  Wow, I was so wrong.  Frustration is an opportunity to get focused, get better, and fine tune areas of our lives.

I have a student in my youth group that recently accepted a leadership position in the group.  I recognized lots potential in this particular student and decided it was time to challenge him a littler bit more with an opportunity to be a leader in the group.  I also knew this would present frustrating circumstances for him personally. And it did. Continue reading

Achieving Greatness

I think everyone has at least, a little bit of desire within themselves to achieve greatness. The areas in which we dream to achieve greatness are different for all of us.  However, one of the most critical keys to achieving greatness is the same for all of us.

That key is SERVING.

Want to be great?  Serve somebody.

Want to leave a legacy?  Pour yourself into those around you.

Want to really achieve greatness in that certain area of your life?   Stop focusing on you and focus on those God has placed in that area of your life.

Achieving greatness is achieved by serving.  People that leave legacies of greatness are known for looking past themselves and into the lives around them.

Jesus achieved greatness.  Not by proving anything special.  He was and is the son of God.  That was greatness alone.  But when he walked the earth, he served.   He healed people.  He taught people.  He looked people in the eyes and spoke words of truth, love, and conviction.  He showed his disciples how to pray.  He laughed with people.  He cried with people.  Notice the trend?  He was about people.  He served the people.

Want to achieve greatness?  Start by serving.

“..the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” Matthew 20:28



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