Archive - May, 2012

Rise and Go: How to get where God wants you to be.

Most people wrestle occasionally with knowing God’s will for their life. This often perplexing endeavor can become especially frustrating for people like myself who like to have a detailed plan before they take their first step. But, God doesn’t always give all the details, and waiting for them may actually keep us from experiencing what He wants for us.

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-40 describes one such situation. Simply put, God wants one man (Philip) to meet another man (Ethiopian) so that Philip can tell him about Jesus. Through divine prompting, Philip is given a location and told to, “Rise and Go.”

Philip doesn’t know why he’s going or what he’s going to do when he gets there. He doesn’t have a plan. He doesn’t have all the details worked out. All he knows is that he is told to “rise and go” so he “rose and went.”

Even after getting where God told him to go, he still doesn’t know what he’s doing there. Only after taking that first step, does God tell him the next step to take.

The same is true in our own lives. Discovering God’s will is a faith process that requires continual steps of obedience. It is a series of “next step” moments we have to take until we finally find out, “This is why God led me here.”

And consider this, if Philip doesn’t go, the story never happens. The Ethiopian might have someone else guide him to Jesus, but Philip doesn’t get to be a part. Even if Philip hesitates for just an hour, the Ethiopian is down the road and Philip misses out on the opportunity. But, because he listened and obeyed, he’s at just the right place, to meet just the right person, at just the right moment.

Do you feel like God might be leading you somewhere to do something? Remember, you probably won’t know the entire plan. Don’t wait for all the details before you move. Don’t be the story that never happened. “Rise and go” and trust in God to guide you along the way.

What do you think it is about most people that makes us want to have all the details before we move? 

Advice for Graduates: Things you might not learn at college.

Graduation announcements have been streaming into my mailbox. Over the next several days, I will attend parties for many of these young men and women transitioning to the next stage of life. Here are a few things I would share with them (and the millions of other soon to be collegians), about what you might not learn at college.

Many of your peers are lost and confused.
These same lost and confused people will engage in behaviors for no good reason other than the fact that someone else is doing it. It is the “lost leading the lost” and it is never a good idea to follow people who don’t know where they’re going. Have a purpose and a reason (good ones) for the things you do.

You don’t have to figure it all out.
A lot of people head into their college years with a well-thought out plan about what they want to do with their life, others have no idea. Either way, remember that life and wisdom and maturity have a funny way of shaking things up and directing us into places we never imagined we would go. Even those with a plan often times end up changing it. Be okay with figuring it out as you go. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Wisdom is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is good, but wisdom is better. The world is full of really smart people who do really dumb things and those dumb things have a way of negating all of their intellectual potential. Spend your college years working on your character as much as you do your studies and you will be wise instead of just intelligent. (Proverbs 4:6-7).

Decisions have consequences.
Many college students say, “This is college, This is the time of life you’re supposed to be wild.” That’s garbage. I’m all for having fun (and highly recommend it), but there is no such thing as a choice that doesn’t have consequences (emotional, physical, spiritual, legal, mental, etc.) College is not some kind of magical “no consequence” zone that erases all the stupid things people do when they graduate.

Seize the moment.
After college, most graduates start a job, get a mortgage/lease, get married, have kids, etc. The reality is, these well-worthy responsibilities severely limit your ability to “go.” So seize the moment. Do something epic. Go big. My specific advice… spend a summer, a semester or an entire year serving Christ somewhere. You will not regret it. (There are lots of great organizations that do this, here is one example: http://www.adventures.org/trips/?prg=passport.)

What additional advice would you offer college students?

6 Ways to Kill your Marriage

As a pastor, I often deal with marriages that are either failing or in jeopardy. Here are six things most of them have in common.

#1. Care more about your own needs.

Each of us have our default setting on “me.” Getting my needs met… getting what I want. Unfortunately this doesn’t lend itself to healthy relationships. Healthy marriages consider the needs of their spouse and are willing to put those needs above their own. (See Philippians 2:3-4)

#2. Stop dating.

There’s a reason couples feel the way they did when they first met. They were working hard to win the other’s affection, they were trying to impress, so they went above and beyond to do and be their best. Amazing how that impacts a relationship.

#3. Make _____ more important than your spouse.

Fill in the blank with whatever you like: work, a hobby, friends etc. No spouse wants to be, or should ever be, second to anyone or anything (other than Christ.)

#4. Have unrealistic expectations.

Unrealistic expectations mean one simple thing- you will always be disappointed and continual feelings of disappointment lead to bitterness and resentment. Strong marriages keep expectations in check and show gratitude for what they do have in their spouse, instead of always thinking about what they don’t have.

#5. Stop working at it.

Anything worth anything requires work and marriage is no exception.

#6. Neglect your spiritual life.

A weak spiritual life is often a good indicator of a weak marriage. We must rely on the Spirit’s power to enable us to live beyond our natural self. We must embrace the values and priorities of Jesus to guide how we relate to our spouse and we must see that our marriage is an opportunity to bring Glory to God.

What other sure-fire marriage killers have you seen?

The Next Adventure

The time has arrived. After years of consideration, it’s finally time to venture into the land of the blogosphere.

I can’t recall a time that I witnessed the launch of a blog, so I’m uncertain as to any protocol for how to smash a champagne bottle on the bow of a blog.  So the best I can think of, is to offer a few brief thoughts on why I’m venturing into this new land and what I hope it will become.

I know it sounds cliché, but I truly believe that life is a journey, and we are all on it. We are all moving and progressing… none of us is where we started. Our past is behind us, our future is ahead of us. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul knew when he wrote:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

None of us have arrived, but we are moving forward to what lies ahead. Not for the sake of the journey itself, but because of Christ who has made me his own.

So this blog is simply some thoughts along the way. As I journey, my blog will cover a variety of topics including theology, the church, leadership,  marriage, parenting and whatever else seems to strike me as something worth discussing out loud.

I look forward to having you join me!