Monthly Archives: June 2011

Failing For Success

As a leader in ministry one of my favorite things to do is read books on leadership.  While reading leadership books over time I have come across a particular leadership principle in many books.

Leaders need to set others up for success.  

Any one who has read leadership books has read this principle.  I have never met a leader who disagrees with it.  After all, we don’t want those under us or around us to fail, do we?  So common sense tells us we should set others up for success.  Not set them up for failure.

Obviously I don’t think we should set others up to fail.  But I do believe Continue reading


“I Got A Hero Card!”

“I got a hero card at work today!” were the words that came out of Lauren’s mouth a couple of weeks ago when she arrived home from work.  Not sure what a hero card was, I replied, “That’s awesome! What’s a hero card?”  

Before I explain what a hero card is, let me explain the role in which Lauren works.  Lauren works at a behavior center for troubled youth here in Central Arkansas.  She works as a mental health para professional.  Which means she spends lot’s of time talking with youth about issues in their lives, taking field trips with them, eating meals with them, and even breaking up pretty serious conflict at times.  There is a lot more to what Lauren does at work.  But in a nutshell, that is what she does.

A hero card is given to employees once a month, which have gone above and beyond at the center where Lauren works.  In other words the employees that spend a lot of time with students helping them process their circumstances and paying close attention to detail in the lives of the youth are given a hero card.

After Lauren explained to me what a hero card was and why she received it, I was very excited for her!

Why?  Because Lauren was rewarded for her diligence and commitment to helping the youth at her job.

I think our Heavenly Father is eager to reward us with “Hero Cards” each and every day of our lives.  As we obediently follow Jesus Christ and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through our lives, we draw near to God.  When we draw near to God we can’t help but to become passionate about the things he is passionate about.  Desire the things he desires.  Love the things he loves.  Burdened for the world the way he is burdened for the world.

When we get lost in God’s passion we will naturally find ourselves walking in the Lord’s will.

When we walk in the Lord’s will we will be rewarded.  

In different way’s, every day, our Heavenly Father is rewarding those who walk in his will with their very own hero card. 

“…he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6


Back From Smithville

This week I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at a youth summer camp in Smithville, Arkansas.  There were about 250 students and 50 adults at the camp.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to deliver God’s word to this group of youth and youth workers.  I was not exactly thrilled on Monday afternoon while I was driving to the camp.  I am used to traveling with my wife or at least some one I am close too.  Not this week!  I was flying solo!  But God did some pretty cool things.

  • Zeb Balentine was the worship leader I got to work with at camp.  Zeb and I went to college together, but we haven’t talked much since graduating.  It was good to catch up and watch how the Lord is working in our lives. 
  • I asked God to draw 10 students to himself and give them the gift of salvation through his son Jesus Christ.  13 students accepted Christ at camp.  God answers prayers!
  • Many students filled the altar for prayer at the end of our sessions each night.  I love to see students in the altar, praying and wrestling with the word God is speaking into their lives.
  • I was able to meet some new people.  Always a good thing to meet new people and encourage others in their ministries.  I was blessed with the chance to encourage several student pastors to keep on loving their students and pointing them to Christ.
  • My eyes were opened even wider to how AWESOME our students and youth workers are at Oasis Church.  Don’t get me wrong…I never fail to appreciate our students and youth workers.  But God used this camp to deepen my appreciation. 
It’s a blessing to a play a role in the kingdom of God.  Six years ago this month I felt the Lord calling me to preach.  Six years later I had the opportunity to preach at a youth camp.  So awesome to watch God unfold his vision for my life over time. I am thankful.

Uncommon: He’s Got Your Back

“Why then were you not afraid 
   to speak against my servant Moses?”

 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them.

  When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease,” – Numbers 12:8-10

As this series of posts “Uncommon” closes out today, I am speaking at a youth camp in Smithville Arkansas.   Enjoy the last post of this series and keep me in your prayers as I prepare to speak tonight, Wednesday night, and Thursday morning.

We learn a lot from Numbers 12:1-10.  We see the results of the uncommon humility that Moses lived out.  It’s these results that Continue reading

Keep Your Temple Quiet

I’m no master craftsman. I like working with my hands, but you’d probably couldn’t tell it from the quality of the few simple things I’ve built. Most of the work I do in the yard, or in the garage, or around the house, is accomplished with lots of short-cutting, trial and error, and words that probably wouldn’t make my pastor proud.

Take the clock April’s parents bought us recently. It’s a big wall clock, and too heavy, I figured, to hang by a single nail from our sheetrock walls. So out comes my stud finder, some picture-hanging wire, some screws and nails, a hammer, laser level, pencil, and some wood glue. Seriously. For a clock.

It took me a whole afternoon to hang that clock. The wall where it hangs now boasts about half-a-dozen new nail holes. And two weeks later, the clock fell. Y’know, because even with enough tools to build a clock, I apparently didn’t get the job done right.

Still, there it is, on our bedroom wall, safely secured for the last couple of months without incident (hopefully it’s still there when I get home this afternoon).

When it comes to hanging a clock, it doesn’t matter too much how you go about the job, as long as, in the end, you’ve got a clock on the wall. When it comes to building a temple, though, the means matter as much as the ends. Continue reading

Chasing Cars

What happens next?

“What happens when the dog finally catches the car?” It’s a question we should ask when we catch ourselves wanting more than we already have.

I’ve prayed for a lot in my life: more money, new houses and TVs, new jobs and promotions, opportunities to see the world, healing when I was sick, happiness when I felt defeated, and more. Most of the time, I convince myself I deserve the objects of my prayers because I work hard or “do the right thing” (whatever that is), or because I haven’t done anything not to earn it. As if anyone who keeps their head down and puts in their time automatically qualifies for an easy life.

What really qualifies us, though, in God’s eyes, for health, wealth, and happiness, isn’t tenure or good behavior. It’s a plan to use those things for his glory.

Ask yourself: Continue reading

Uncommon: You’re Gonna Have Haters

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.  “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)  – Numbers 12:1-3

Moses had a lot going for him.  He had a face-to-face relationship with God, clarity, vision, faith, and to top it all off, scripture says he was the most humble man on the face of the earth.  He was one of if not the greatest leader of all time.  But with all the influence Moses had, it also came with much responsibility.  He also had some haters.  

Miriam and Aaron were jealous of Moses.  They were insecure.  They wanted what we had.  But instead of looking at Moses’s life map and learning from Moses, they hated on Moses.  They talked bad about his wife.  They questioned his relationship with God.

When you live Continue reading

Uncommon: Clarity

“When there is a prophet among you, 
   I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, 
   I speak to them in dreams. 
But this is not true of my servant Moses; 
   he is faithful in all my house. 
With him I speak face to face, 
   clearly and not in riddles; 
   he sees the form of the LORD. 
Why then were you not afraid 
   to speak against my servant Moses?”  (Numbers 12:6-8 NIV)

Last fall I read a bible study that focused on the topics of faith and clarity.  The author wrote about how we pray for clarity, but that God has not called us to live with clarity but by faith. He went on to say that instead of praying for clarity we should pray for faith.  I have never forgotten about that one particular devotion.  Why?  Mainly because I agree and disagree with what the writer says.

I do believe and understand that God has called us to live and walk by faith (Hebrews 11:6).  However, Continue reading

Who you are when no one’s looking

I’m kicking off this week with a little peek behind the curtain at NGYN. A little meta-blogging, or blogging about blogging. Because when I sat down to write this morning, I came to a realization to which you can probably relate: I don’t always do this for the right reasons.

When PJ and I started Neutral Gets You Nowhere last year, we had a clear mission: to record our own spiritual growth in written form and think (or write) through questions we faced as we studied the Bible and experienced God in our lives. In doing so in this format, we hoped to help others grow and find answers, too.

That all sounds pretty noble, but – and I’m speaking for just myself here, not PJ – I didn’t take into account from the beginning what a huge role my ego would play in this process.

That’s brings us to this morning, when I sat down to write. I fired up my browser, logged into WordPress, and, on my way to the “Add New Post” button, I glanced at our site’s statistics. Over the last few days, we’d had just a handful of visits. And for a minute, I thought to myself, “It’s not worth writing today. No one’s reading.” Apparently, this blog transformed for me from a noble pursuit to a vanity project.

This happens a lot. It’s a struggle that’s inherent to us worldly humans: if we enjoy or benefit from doing good, are we really doing good, or are we just making ourselves feel good? (This question’s so universal, in fact, I can even remember a Friends episode devoted to it.) Continue reading

When is a sin more than a sin?

I’ve noticed a trend in the way people – including me – pray: we spend a lot of time praising God and asking for his counsel and intervention (which is good), but not so much confessing our sins (which is bad). I think there are a couple of reasons. First, we’re embarrassed by our shortcomings and don’t like to admit when we’re wrong. No big surprise, there. Secondly, though – and this is something that can really undermine our repentance – we don’t understand our sins.

In Hebrew, there are several words for sin, each with its own distinct meaning. There are unintentional failings, bad habits that have become so commonplace the sinner doesn’t even consider whether they’re right or wrong, and intentional acts of wrongdoing performed out of rebelliousness. How often, though, have you heard or prayed a prayer that closes with a non-committal and totally uninspired “and God, please forgive us where we’ve failed you, amen”?

When you pray that way, do you even take the time to consider where you’ve actually failed God?
Do you stop to consider what your motivations were when you sinned?
Do you make plans to get your heart right and not make the same mistake again?
Do you ask God to help you overcome sin in the future, in addition to forgiving you for sins in the past?

Personal growth requires self-reflection. You have to identify bad habits before you can break them, and strengths before you rely on them. Painful as it is, you need to be honest about your motives if you ever hope to change them.

I pray God’ll give me a greater understanding of my failings so that one day I can overcome them. I pray I’ll have the humility and strength to admit the selfish motives behind my sins and then become the servant to others I know I should be.

I pray the same for you.


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