Monthly Archives: April 2011

RADICAL (Ehud: At First Glance)

“Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer-Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.” Judges 3:15

My current bible reading (www.dailyaudiobible.com) has me going through the book of Judges and the other day I read about this man (a deliverer and judge) named Ehud.  His story caught my attention.  I think for many reasons.  He was left handed, as am I.  He was brave, a man of direction, and an out front kind of leader.  Plus, his story is one of radical action.  He goes straight to Eglon king of Moab, tells Eglon he has a message from the Lord, the king leans in, and Ehud draws his sword (with his left hand!), and violently plunges the sword deep into the king’s belly to deliver his people from Eglon’s possession.  WOW!! My kind of guy!  Boldness!

At first glance, Ehud’s career as a messenger, leader, and judge for Israel may not appear to have any connection to us.  After all he did live in a world that was much different than our present day world.  What do we have to learn from a guy that took radical and violent action to free his people?  A lot!  Through out my next few posts, we will learn more about Ehud, how he is relevant to us, and I will elaborate on the points below.

1. We are exactly like the Israelites.  The Israelites would return to God for a season or seasons and obediently follow him.  Only to return to the world and not rely on God.  When times would get tough, they would cry out to God.  God would deliver them through delivers, like Ehud.  Who is our deliverer?

2. We have things in our lives that need to be radically removed.  King Eglon had to be removed for Israel to have peace.  Ehud took radical action to remove him (Judges 3:20-22).

3. Our obedience or lack of is an example to those around us. 

4. God can use us just the way we are.  There is a reason why God spoke through the writer of Judges to inform us that Ehud was left handed.  We all have unique abilities.  God can use us all right now, just the way we are.

Stay tuned! Next week we will continue to look at this Radical story and our need for a Radical deliverer.

P.J.


What’s Going On? 4/25/11

Thanks for stopping by NGYN on this Tuesday. We appreciate your visit to our blog and interest in our posts.  Today’s post is little out of the norm for me.  I just felt like sharing a few things that have happened, are happening, and will happen soon.

  • This past weekend we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  What an amazing weekend of reflection and worship with my Oasis Church family. We had a very intimate and worshipful Lord’s Supper Friday night.  Followed by several out reach oriented Easter egg hunts on Saturday around Central Arkansas.  Saturday night we had an awesome service for our students called Fusion.  I spoke on what the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished. Students filled the altars during the invitation.  To close out the weekend, on Easter Sunday, both services were filled with repentance, confession, testimony, praise, and much more during invitation at Oasis Church.  The kingdom of God is among us and the Holy Spirit is making himself felt.
  • Revival in Central Arkansas.  We are witnessing spontaneous revival in Continue reading

God’s Grammar

I’m a words guy. I write for a living, read daily, and genuinely enjoy talking about geeky stuff like semiotics and etymology. In short, I think words matter. Without the right words (or gestures, or symbols), we couldn’t communicate ideas, express love, or teach our children to maneuver through this world.

When God wanted to disrupt the selfish plans of the people of Shinar – who wanted to make a name for themselves by building a tower “with its top in the heavens” (Genesis 11: 1-9) – he didn’t smash their walls or call down fire from the sky or open the earth under their feet. He just confused their language. He took away their ability to communicate, and the people abandoned their plans as hopeless.

Like city-building, every task requires its own grammar: a set of words and symbols or way of communicating that allows coordination and progress. Football teams have a grammar in the form of complex plays and words that take on special meaning in the context of a game – like “downs”, “yards”, and “quarterbacks”. The corporate world is rife with jargon, too. Visit any board room in America and you’re likely to hear about “low-hanging fruit”, “ROI”, “the bottom line”, and “employee engagement”.

Without a basic understanding of a task’s grammar, you’ll never realize your full potential in that context. Step onto a football field without an understanding of your role or the rules of the game and you’ll be crushed by a linebacker before you know it. Same goes in the board room: try engineering a contract without understanding the basic language and rules of business and you’re liable to find yourself broke, out of a job, or worse. Continue reading


Neutral Gets You Nowhere: Live from Oasis Church!


Hello, My Name is Pilate

It’s Good Friday today: the day Christians set aside in remembrance of Christ’s death. We owe eternal gratitude to Jesus for his sacrifice on our behalf, but another figure from the crucifixion story is on my mind today, too: Pontius Pilate.

Today is Jesus’s day, but I think we’d do well today to remember Pilate, too. Not for his historical contributions or righteousness, but because of all the people who played a part in Christ’s final days on earth, Pilate’s the one with which I most identify.

See, Pilate isn’t the one who actually killed Jesus. He only gave the order; it was the Roman soldiers who did the dirty work. Pilate actually tried to convince the Jews to free Jesus and crucify somebody else: a criminal named Barabbas. In the end, though, as the guy in the charge, no amount of symbolic hand-washing will change the fact that Jesus died because of Pilate’s order.

Just the same, we’re not directly responsible for Christ’s death, at least in the sense that we are centuries removed from the day of his death and played no part in his actual crucifixion. Like Pilate, though, we are the reason Jesus died. He died for us. If not for our sin, Jesus would have had no reason to sacrifice himself. Continue reading


It Starts With You

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”  Luke 17:20-21

Where does the kingdom of God start?

It Starts With You. 

Have you ever heard about places where God is working mightily?  Where churches are exploding with growth? Where the hungry are being fed?  Where orphans are being taken care of?  Where a neighbor helps another? Where a ministry reaches thousands? Where a church fills an arena for Easter Sunday?  And then thought to yourself “Wow!  I want to be part of that!” 

Guess what?  You can!  Because the kingdom of God starts with you!

The kingdom of God is not just in Africa or China. The kingdom of God is not just at some church that is reaching lots of people. The kingdom of God is not something where you can say “Oh, there it is over there…let’s go over to the kingdom!”

The kingdom of God starts in the hearts of followers of Christ!

Do you want to be where God is working?  Do you want to see the kingdom of God manifest itself in your marriage, family, neighborhood, community, and church?

That starts with you taking a long hard look in the mirror, getting real with yourself, and then asking God for the courage, boldness, and strength to live out the kingdom of God in your own life.

The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

P.J.


You Will Still Have A Difference To Make

“Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.” Joshua 13:1 ESV

While you are here on earth You Will Still Have A Difference To Make. 

Far too many people reach a stage or stages in their lives where they begin to feel old, washed up, useless, without purpose, and believe the time has run out for them to make a difference.  I can kind of see why a non-believer could feel this way. But what burdens me even more is the amount of Christians that buy into this belief.

I see and hear about this in churches often.  People’s kids grow up, leave the nest, get married, start a family, and attend a new church.  And for some reason the parents of those who left, no longer serve in their church, attend services less often, and make excuses for why they can no longer be as involved as they once were.

People reach the age of retirement and instead of pouring their life and wisdom into the kingdom of God they begin to withdraw and say things like “That is for those young people, I am too old to do that, I have served my time.”

This is wrong.  As long as God allows you to walk on the earth, You Will Still Have A Difference To Make!

Just like the Lord told Joshua there was still land to be conquered, I believe he would tell you; I still have work to do through your life.   You too will still have land to conquer. 

The child has a difference to make in the lives of those he or she grows up playing with.  The teen has difference to make in their family, school, and extracurricular activities.  The college student has much strength and energy to pour into serving the Lord.  The young adult has a difference to make in their work place.  The young married couple has a godly marriage to build as an example to those around them.  As parents raise their children they have a responsibility to point their kids to God’s vision for their lives.  The empty nester has people to pray for and lives to touch with godly wisdom.  The old sage has a young warrior or king to lead along.  The grand parent has grandkids to show the love of God too.

You and I never reach the age where the Lord decides he is done using us.  Until we breathe our last breath the Lord still wants to work through us.  I don’t care what stage of the game you are at.  You are not too old to be used. You are not with out purpose.  The Lord is not done telling your story.  You are not too young to begin changing the world.  The Lord is eager to watch you fulfill the destiny that he desires for you.

“And now behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.” Caleb  (Joshua 14:10b-11 ESV)

Do not put your life in coast.

You have a difference to make and You will still have a difference to make. 

P.J.


 


A Spontaneous Movement

PJ and I have mentioned before our affiliation with Oasis Church in Maumelle/North Little Rock, AR (he’s the church’s student and small group pastor, I’m a member), but I’ve never been as proud or excited of that relationship as I am now.

For the past several weeks, Oasis Church has been experiencing a real and spontaneous movement of God’s Holy Spirit. We had more baptisms on April 3 than we’ve had in the past year (maybe more). We’ve seen families join the church, recommit their lives to Christ, and join in prayer at the altar with a degree of passion and excitement to which I’ve never been witness. Then yesterday, things reached a new high.

In the first of two services, the electricity went out in the sanctuary following the (awesome) worship set. “It’s all good,” came Pastor Todd West’s voice from the darkened stage, “we’ve done this before.” And so he continued with his full sermon, lit only by a sliver of daylight coming through the opened exit door. Then, when he finished, the tide begun to surge. Throughout an extended invitation, people came to the stage in pairs and groups to confess their struggles and pray with one another in the dark. Despite the power outage, things were electric. Our service host put it well after the invitation’s eventual close: sometimes God has a way of helping us ignore everything but what really matters.

The excitement still wasn’t over, though. Continue reading


SWOT

There’s a commonly-used tool in the corporate world that people use while planning projects called a SWOT analysis. With regard to a particular goal, the tool helps identify resources, obstacles, opportunities to improve on the planners’ circumstances, and things that may threaten to keep them from their goals. (SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).

Last night while I was lying awake waiting for tornado sirens to stop blaring, it occurred to me to perform a quick SWOT analysis of my own life. Here’s what it looks like, in the context of a general goal of professional advancement:

Strengths: I’ve got a stable job, meaningful education, diverse skills, and the support of family and friends

Weaknesses: I’ve got a lot of obligations, low self-esteem, and I tend to be easily distracted

Opportunities: Relationships with others (from whom I can learn or who could coach me on career decisions), availability of training and education (my employer promotes and even pays for relevant classes and conferences)

Threats: Competition for available positions, weak economy makes transitioning to other roles harder

You can probably see how this kind of exercise could be helpful in maximizing resources and overcoming obstacles. Once I’ve identified these things, I see that I’ve got people who can hold me accountable and help me overcome my weaknesses, and while there are some things beyond my control (the economy, others in the workforce), I’ve got plenty of opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

What happens when you apply the same template in the context of your spiritual life? Let’s assume that your goal is to make it to heaven. Let’s take a look at how a “typical” person’s strengths and weaknesses determine where they’ll spend eternity.

Strengths: Let’s say they consider themselves a “good person”. They give to the poor, don’t cuss or drink “too much”, provide for their family, and volunteer at several charities.

Weaknesses: Person X has a short temper, a cigarette addiction, and they’ve been known to flirt with people at work, though they’d “never cheat” on their spouse.

Here’s where things get interesting.

Opportunities: Whether they’re a believer or not, Christ died for their sins, giving them an opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven if they’ll accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

Threats: Temptations are all over: on TV and the internet, at work, at the grocery store, even at home.

It becomes very clear, if we’re honest about our own virtues and flaws, that no matter how “good” we are, we all fall short of perfection. We will always have something to put in the “weaknesses” column.

It’s equally clear that there are forces working against us all the time – our own sinful nature, Satan, and other fallen people – threatening our salvation. Unless we take advantage of the one opportunity that matters: Christ.

Jesus died for everyone on earth. Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, alcoholics, homosexuals, gossipers, murderers, rapists, prostitutes, conservatives, liberals, and even people who cut you off in traffic. We all have the same opportunity, regardless of our past actions or current circumstances: to accept Christ’s lordship and God grace and to spend eternity in the presence of our heavenly father.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)


Got Diligence?

The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;

But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”

Proverbs 13:4 NKJV

Do you have an idea of where you want your life to be in 5 – 10 years?  Do you have a goal of how physically fit you would like to be in 6 months?  Do you have a dream to see your kids know the Lord and serve God in their generation?  Do you have a vision of how you want to make a difference in your lifetime for Christ?  Do you have a desire to leave an impact on those you go to school with, play sports with, or ride the bus with?   Do you have a yearning to be in the word of God on a more consistent basis?  Do you want to walk with God daily?

We all have desires, dreams, goals, plans, and visions in our minds of where we want to be, and who we want to be.

The difficult part is actually doing it.  This is where DILIGENCE enters the picture.

Anyone who has ever reached goals, seized a vision, made a difference, left a mark, or developed a richer relationship with God practiced diligence.

Diligence is tough.

Why?

Diligence is being persistent.

Taking action.

Going for the dream.

Prayerfully asking God for his power to convert into strength flowing through your life.

Diligence does not quit.

The problem is too many believers have the soul of the lazy man.   They desire, but have nothing.  Why?  Because it’s easier to dream than it is to actually have the diligence to make the dream come to pass.

I know you have dreams and hopes for your future.  We all do.  But the real question is Do You Have The Diligence to make it happen?

The soul of the diligent shall be made rich.

P.J.


 


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