Archive for the 'Mission/Justice' Category

Just As I Am

By drewFebruary 14th, 2012Blog, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Twenty years ago I met a beautiful girl in college.  She was a leader, smart and funny, in love with Jesus, and I loved being around her. We became great friends and then decided to take our relationship to the next level.  As we began to date, our conversations deepened and we began to discuss dreams and plans for the future. I remember the night we were driving somewhere and she began to tell me what she was hoping for in husband.  I wasn’t looking to get married at 18 but she was the kind of girl that definitely made me start thinking about it. I was on my best behavior and tried to come across like I had it all together and hoped that in some way I could impress her.  She shared what she had been hoping, even praying for in the man of her future.  She shared her desire that he be a passionate believer in Jesus, someone who could make her laugh, someone driven to succeed and become all that God wanted him to be. Up to this point, I was holding my own, I felt like I had a chance with this amazing girl. Then she added one last criteria, one last prerequisite. “I want him to be pure – to be a virgin”.  My heart dropped from what seemed to be the highest cliff in my chest and I’m sure my countenance changed.  I realized in that one split second I had been disqualified from the race to win her heart, that I might as well quit hoping and trying for a deeper friendship with her because I was not a virgin – not pure.  I began to cry.  She knew in that second that her desire for something more in a man wouldn’t be found in me.  I felt all the shame and guilt of my sin compounding in that moment. Now I hadn’t only disappointed and failed God, I had failed in my life and my future.  I felt with a stinging reality, a painful consequence of the “lusts of my youth”.  She began to cry. What had seemed like a beautifully charged moment of hope and destiny became a brutal awareness of the brokenness of sin. I don’t remember the exact conversation that followed but I do remember that at some point, she lowered her expectations and offered me grace. In the most real way I had ever experienced, I felt grace, undeserved favor – forgiveness.  That wasn’t the only time I disappointed that girl, and not the last time she offered me grace.  She’s been a beautiful, real, tangible reminder of God’s grace in my life.  She’s not perfect, and so I’ve had the privilege of returning the favor at times.  She has however taught me so much about how God loves me in spite of me, that even though I couldn’t measure up to His standards, God’s expectations and prerequisites were met in the holy, sinless life of Jesus. Jesus extended to me, through His sacrifice, a chance to have value, to be accepted, to be apart of His family. My sin disqualified me from a relationship with God, but Jesus applied His sacrifice to my life and I was accepted, given undeserved favor – forgiven.

Have you been so busy in your “work” for God that you’ve forgotten that moment His grace was traded for your sin? It’s easy to forget who we were, what we’ve done, or who we can be in our sinfulness. Let’s make time to worship this heroic friend that has made a way for us, whose grace is sufficient for all of us, whose love has accepted and justified us (just as if I had never sinned).

That girl became my wife nearly 18 years ago, and we now have two beautiful daughters who are teaching us new lessons on grace and mercy. We continue to be undone by God’s love and kindness for us and seek to model His grace for each other and those around us.

Rom. 5:8 (MSG)

“But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.”    – Martin Luther

For more study on this topic:

I Jn. 1:9 / Matt. 11:28 / Rom. 5:20 / 2Cor. 4:16 / 2Cor. 13:14 / 1Tim. 1:12

* Photo by Matt Britton

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Contagion

By drewJanuary 25th, 2012Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments

“This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.”

Luke 22:20 (MSG)

I recently watched a movie called Contagion.  It was pretty much a horror flick. Not in the classic sense set in a campground or on Halloween, and there were no monsters or crazy creatures – “only” a disease. What made it so scary weren’t visual effects or crazy costumes and make up design. It was the fact that the plot of this story could actually happen in real life.  The “monster” as it were, was a highly contagious disease contracted through the air and by touch.  Every angle and colorization of this film made you feel infected.  I found myself washing my hands excessively for days after this movie. Between that film and a recent stomach bug my family endured, I’ve thought a lot about germs, infection, cleanliness and cures.  If you’ve ever suffered through a bad flu or virus of some kind you know what I’m talking about. As the parent of two little girls both under 5, my wife and I are cleaning, disinfecting and gagging quite a bit.

I watched this movie with a parallel in mind. I couldn’t help but think about the disease you and I are both victims of. In fact, every human being contracted this illness from our mother and father – our original mother and father, Adam and Eve. Eden must have been an amazing place, no concerns, no illness, no fear, and only one rule. Adam and Eve disobey God, breaking that rule, and in the time it takes to compromise and bite into a temptation, they become sick, they feel confused, ashamed, and aware of their need to be covered. They were infected with Sin, this wasn’t the first case of the outbreak, it originated in Heaven. Lucifer sinned in his heart against God and suffered the consequence of being cast out of Heaven to later show up in our story as the influencer, the “pusher” of this forbidden fruit.  Since then the disease has been passed down in our very DNA. It is a part of the human condition. Our diagnosis is even scarier than that of the disease in Contagion because it’s not a matter of if we’ll get it or when, but that we’ve had it from even before we were born and the consequences are that of eternal death not just this temporal one. We didn’t contract it through germs or a bad meal. Instead, it’s lurking within us and affects everything we do and everything we are. We work to “disinfect” our lives, and think if we’ll follow certain rules we won’t meet the same fate as that of our disobedient ancestors.  In hopeful moments of the awareness for our own need to be covered, God in His grace shows us that there’s nothing we can do to fix the problem.  No ritual or work, no meds or therapy will reverse our eternally terminal illness. But He made a way, provided a cure and offers us life instead of our certain death without Him. That vaccine, that remedy, is the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing else will do, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Do you have the vaccine? Are you working towards the rescue of those who don’t know of this cure? Let’s tell the world of this breaking news, this antidote!

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For Further Study on this topic:

Matt 26:26 / Rom. 5:9 / Eph. 1:7 / Eph. 4:14 / Col. 1:18 / Heb. 9:11 / Heb 10:19 / Ps. 51 / Is 64:4

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Rebuild

By drewJanuary 12th, 2012Blog, Featured, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The ChurchNo Comments
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Hands And Feet (Haiti Tribute – Click to Play Song)

Today is the second anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated Haiti.  I woke up with the overwhelming thought, “what was that moment like when the whole world came crashing down?”.  I began to think about all those beautiful people who survived that event.  Does this day bring memories of loss and brokenness or hope and healing?  They say time heals all wounds, but wounds leave scars and scars remind us of pain and struggle. My prayer for that country is that their scars can also remind them of life and restoration, of God’s presence in the storm and be The Light that leads them out of the darkness.

I’m convinced that God allows tragedy and pain in our lives because of the change it can bring about in us.  In moments when I’ve been so full of confusion, broken-hearted and alone, I’m reminded that my only hope is in the Lord, not in who I am, what I’ve done or some delusional thought of what I can become. It’s not in my family or in my friends, not in what I have or want, not in anything but Jesus. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in those moments is that we don’t really understand or know what faith is until we really need it – have to have it. Growing up in church my entire life has afforded me the blessing of a foundation of faith in God, in my community, in my self.  But until we truly have no idea where the next paycheck is coming from, if the Lord will heal that disease, that broken heart, or relationship, we have to completely leave it at the feet of Jesus. No conditions, no expectations – just faith. Faith to truly believe that God is good, even when life is not. Faith to believe that He can use our story, no matter how tragic and confusing it seems to be in the moment of our pain. Faith to hope for days of peace and joy while walking through ones of darkness and depression.

Our God is a faithful friend, strong to walk with us, as together we rebuild what life has broken down. He provides all we need, and we work with the faith that at some point what looks like ground zero will be a place of unbelievable beauty – in His time.  We don’t remove our scars, we don’t hide those experiences, we paint around them, they provide context for the depth in our walk with Jesus and compassion for those around us surviving their own earthquakes.

What unexpected disaster has fallen down around you or someone you know?  Don’t act like it’s not there, that somehow no conversation is better than a word, a prayer, a supporting look or held hand.  Let’s run to those in pain, not with some lack of awareness that we can fix it or help in some way, but instead to just be present, just to stand with, just to listen.  God can and will heal and undergird our greatest life fractures, but let’s not let it just be a chapter in our story, but a building block toward something better, more beautiful, more dependent on our great God. He will rebuild and restore.

Job 22:21 (MSG)

“Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do; take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.”

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

* This picture is one I took of my dear little friend Modlay. He’s just one of the beautiful reasons to support the amazing work of Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti.  This little guy was born so small he almost didn’t make it.  He struggled with medical issues for the first part of his life, but you’d never know it by that smile.

* I wrote this song “Hands And Feet” just after the earthquake in 2010.  The proceeds from the sale of this song will go to help Modlay and his brothers and sisters at Hands And Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti. It will be one of the tracks on my upcoming project “I Am Becoming”.


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Trust-Worthy Worship

By drewApril 20th, 2011Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
Trust Worthy Worship Pic

I started in ministry as a youth pastor, not so much because I was trained in it or prepared for it, but mainly because I was a student myself.  My first job in ministry was the summer of my freshman year in college.  I was 18, optimistic and clueless, but loved kids and loved Jesus. At the time it didn’t seem like it would be that hard to imagine introducing them to each other and caring for them for a summer.  I’ll never forget in those earlier years of youth ministry trying to teach on trust.  I had my whole group of kids at a “ropes course” and we were about to do the trust fall.  I’d seen this done in my own youth group and remembered it being a powerful way to teach kids how to care for each other and to build trust in our group.  Thinking this would be a great lesson for our kids, I was standing toward the back waiting for the learning to begin when the guide says “Drew why don’t you come up and be first to fall and show these kids there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I was terrified, but had no choice.  I began to climb a ladder against a tree that led to an 8 or 9 foot platform.  He told me to cross my arms and to wait for the signal to fall backwards into the arms of my group.  I remember turning around to see the kids and noticing that the group was made up of mostly Junior High girls.  I was 6’3” and 250, and my faith in this exercise was waning by the minute.  The guide had the kids shout “Do you trust us?” and I shouted back, “I trust you!”. Without thinking too much more I let my weigh fall back and my heart race. In that moment my action proved my words, that I really did trust those kids.  They caught me, though they took me to the ground.  One by one they couldn’t wait to climb the ladder and fall themselves.

Our lives of worship are much the same.  It’s imperative that we not just say words, we must follow through with the fall, we have to trust God in the action as well. To worship and not trust, is to not worship at all.  When we live our lives as offerings to God, giving Him all that we are and believing He will use our mountain tops as well as our valleys, we’re trusting His sovereignty.  It’s one thing to stand and sing of God’s faithfulness, yet quite another to experience it.  It’s easy to form words and even muster passion in our hearts about what we believe and our commitment to Christ but still so much more to live lives of action, sacrifice, and obedience. God is more pleased when we obey Him over our liturgy as we “serve” him. (I Sam. 15:22).  God is blessed with our promise of trust, but we’re not trusting until we actually exercise it. Our songs and service to God are good but it’s not until we put our hands to the serving of those who are in need or put our feet to the journey of sharing Jesus with the world that our words, songs and worship have the substance of meaning, the proof in the pudding as it were. Missionaries worship as they build relationships and serve the poor, pastors worship as they shepherd the sick, families worship as they eat dinner together, reminded of God’s provision. The broken heart is full of worship as it hopes in the Lord, mourns authentically, yet trusts completely. Is your worship grounded in trust.  Don’t just yell out “God I trust you” without being willing to fall.

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Surrender

By drewJanuary 28th, 2011Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Music Biz, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Luke 22:42

42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Surrender.  It’s an interesting word.  It’s most commonly used in a military setting, meaning you give up the fight, to declare to an opponent that they have won, or to relinquish control because of force.  It could also mean to abandon or give up an idea or intention, or to lay down your rights. When I think about the word surrender, I picture a bloody field complete with soldiers muddy and exhausted.  I picture faces completely resigned to the fact that they can’t go on, that any further attempt to fight would be futile.  They throw down their weapons and their hands shoot up in the air to show their commitment to the loss.  Depending on which side you’re on is the difference in victory or defeat, joy or fear, life or death.

However, when we surrender our lives to Christ we don’t die, we live, we’re not defeated and instead WE are victorious.  The battle field with which you’ve wrestled with God my be bloodied by your stubbornness or arrogance, but when you come to the realization that it’s futile to fight with the One who loves you most, you too will resign all efforts to oppose His will for your life.  You’ll throw down every weapon or excuse and your hands will shoot up in the sky to show your commitment to Christ and His leadership in your life.  Jesus perfectly models surrender for us in this passage from Luke 22 and I think to remain committed to a life of surrender, it’s something we do every single day.

Father, accept my bowed head, and broken and contrite heart. My eyes closed and hands raised in surrender to You and Your will.  Forgive me for ever fighting or wrestling with You over my plans versus Yours for me.  I know You want the best for me and I lay my life down for You to do with what You want.  I relinquish my rights, and declare You Lord of my life and I pray as You did Lord Jesus, ‘not my will, but yours be done’.

For Further Study:

Matthew 10:39:

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

* The Picture above is one I took of a woman worshipping at the Temple ruins at Capernaum (Peter’s hometown) near the sea of Galilee.  Click on the image for the full image.

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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

By drewJanuary 13th, 2011Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
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This past Christmas season I was so overwhelmed with the joy of family, the warmth of nostalgia, and even the perfect “white” Christmas.  We didn’t see a lot of snow, but it was enough to make Norman Rockwell feel inspired.  I am a blessed man, that was the thought that kept playing in my mind as tears rolled down my face after watching my favorite movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  My heart recounted a list of all the things wonderful in my life.  At the top were my beautiful little girls, my loving wife, my amazing family, my church and all the community around us.  Just as I was having this moment “counting my blessings” as it were, I heard myself sobbing and realized that there was more to my tears than thankfulness.  Deep in my soul I was weeping for all the children around the world without a warm place to lay, a meal to eat, a family to love or a God to plead to.  My wife asked me if I was ok, noticing that I had gone from a simple crooked smile and occasional tear to out right water works.  In one split second I went from thankfulness to brokenness for those in need.  I felt convicted that because of all the blessings God had given us, I had been blinded to the great need around the world.  Only a few months back I had spent 10 days in Haiti, surrounded by beautiful children, some orphans with joy in their hearts because of the hope they’d been given by their caretakers and others with a vacant stare of numb loss.  My heart had made a quick leap from my two girls to all of those children.  These weren’t kids on a charity card or fundraising television broadcast, but faces and names and personalities I’d been blessed to hold, play with, and care for.  It’s amazingly sad how quickly we can forget the world of need around us, or at least put it out of our minds and return to our American nirvana.

As I type, as you read, children, men and women eek out meager lives of survival.  Even in booming economies or bustling international cities, people of all nations seek to survive.  If not physically from malnutrition or the crisis of natural disaster, from the emptiness of life without a Savior.  I found myself weeping over their needs physical and spiritual – feeling hopeless my sadness changed to prayers for them and giving them to the only One who can truly meet those needs.  As much as I loved being with those children and caring for them, it is nothing to the love that God has for them, for me.  It’s not enough to pray, we must go, we must do all that we can, but our mission doesn’t begin looking at a map, instead it may be weeping over their need and seeking the Father for next steps.  This Christmas season, I wept and remembered those in need. Next year I may be there in person, don’t know. My prayer however, is that I remember that Jesus came to be “God with us” and until the world has heard of his life, death and resurrection, and we as believers have loved the least of these as “unto Christ”, I’ll continue to weep for those in need and obey the Lord’s command to “go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of Jesus and teaching them all that He has taught us”.

* The photo above is one I took in the Sister’s Of Mercy Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.  She never smiled or showed any reaction or emotion at all. Her perfect face and lack of response made me think she looked like a little baby doll.  I can’t look at this picture without feeling the weight of that place and the needs so great every where you look.

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Good To Grace

By drewDecember 13th, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Worship3 Comments
Good To Grace pic

I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve been around business quite a bit and admired those who have succeeded at it.  I’ve racked my brain at times trying to think of the next “Facebook” or “Walmart” and though I’ve come up with some ideas, nothing ever seems to be significant enough for me to find the will or drive to just make money.  I’ve blamed it on lack of business savvy or right opportunity, but the reality is, that though I have an entrepreneurial spirit, God has set me apart to be a leader in the church, to rethink systems and motives and strategies, sometimes to simplify, sometimes to build structure, but one thing is for sure – the church is not a business, we shouldn’t lead it like one!

I love learning about leadership and being mentored by great men and women whether personally or through books but something that seems a common mistake of late is that pastors or church leaders can sometimes confuse the mission of the church, or how they lead the church, with that of some business or leadership book.  They are NOT the same.  I do believe, with all my heart, that we can glean and learn from great books not specifically written for the ecclesiastical application but we must be careful to not be misled about how to lovingly lead this bride of Christ, one book is sufficient for that, it’s His word.  As pastors we must remain accountable to godly counsel and healthy debate so that our agendas and sinful nature don’t wander into the family God has placed us in responsibility of.

The business book “Good To Great” by Jim Collins, is a great book about leadership, business, winning, and excelling in competition, standing out among so many other businesses or organizations.  There are some amazing nuggets of wisdom for church leaders in this book like this one:

“If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types. The twentieth century was a century of greatness, but we face the very real prospect that the next century will see very few enduring great institutions.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

This is a great quote for church leaders to be reminded that Jesus is the Chief Elder according to scripture, that this position of leadership is not for us or about us and we should be militant to fight the desire within us to surround ourselves with people who only agree with us. Instead, we’re called to serve and model this life in Christ.  Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” If you’ve ever seen this sharpening process you would agree that it’s not a quiet or uneventful one, but that the sparks fly and that it takes great heat and pressure to turn ordinary iron into that of a beautiful, functioning tool.  In the same way, if you as a church leader never see sparks fly or the heat turned up in loving discussion, then you will remain a safe, protected, useless lump of metal.  Be intentional to surround yourself with people who have a different world view than you, different approach to life or ministry.  Their input for your leadership will be invaluable. If they are loving in their approach and kind in their debate, yet truthful and honest, you can trust that what they’re saying is real, and being said to better and strengthen, not tear down or hurt.

(Prov. 27:6)

Pastors, have you created a culture where your input is valued more than the rest, or have you sought to lead through serving, offering your opinion as one of many, seeking God’s agenda and not your own?  If you’re serving more than being served and listening more than you speak, than you’re on the right track to lead as Jesus did.

“Good To Great” talks about ‘level 5 leaders’, these are people with an “unwavering will and commitment to do what is necessary to drive the organization to the top”.

That’s a fine and right approach for business but how does that translate for the church? I know a lot of pastors that would translate it to ‘unwavering will to serve the church over our own relationships in Christ or devotion to our families, driving the organization ‘to the top’ while driving our souls in the opposite direction. Is it the Kingdom way to shoot for the top? And what is the top in church leadership?  Have we really looked at our motives as church leaders recently?  This is where the agenda of “Good To Great” gets quite screwy when applied to the stewardship of the family of God. 

One of the most recognizable theories from “Good To Great” is the one about making sure you have the right team.

“Get the right people on the bus – that has to happen before the “what” decisions are taken. That can change if you have the right people, but the wrong people will certainly make the enterprise fail.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

I agree with Collins that you have to have the right group of people serving with you to accomplish your goals, and think his idea here is best if you’re building a team from the ground up.  However, once you’ve built that team or if you’ve found yourself coming into an existing team, this theory has to be tweaked a bit. You’re now called as a leader of a church to love and care for people, for their hearts, and for their families.  These are not just “seats on a bus” but family, each of them children of God with a unique design and imprint from the Spirit of God.  How you care for them or mistreat them shows more about the condition of your heart than what your words may so eloquently portray. We are called to love, to communicate clearly, and to lead with grace over greatness.  Matthew 18 is known well for Jesus’ directive to approach someone in sin but interestingly enough the chapter begins with the disciples arguing over who is the greatest among them. Not unlike what so many churches seem to be doing competing with each other in buildings, budgets and programs, instead of investing in people, making disciples and loving the least.  Jesus, pulls a child to His side and reminds the followers of the simplicity of the Kingdom of God and the warning to all leaders to keep our priorities straight, not misleading the body by doing all we can, to go from good to great.  Obviously I’m not saying that we can’t learn from this and other business books on leadership, but more that when our decisions begin to take on the strategy of Collins instead of the character of Christ, we’ve begun to be misled, all the while misleading those who follow us.  That seems to be the progression for many churches today. Working so hard to grow in number or to come across so perfect in performance that they’ve not only lost heart but the priority to be about changing them, developing them or caring for them.

Another lesson from Matthew 18 can teach us so much about the heart of God and practice of a great pastor.

Vs 10-14

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? and if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Does reading this change how you think God feels about your “seat on a bus”?  Obviously we as leaders have to assemble, manage and care for those on our teams but more so, we are called of God to treat them as family, with grace and a tenacity to love them in their coming in or their going out.

The Greek word for church is Ekklesia.  It is most closely translated family of God, not organization, not business, not board, committee, or denomination.  It’s time we as leaders, lead more like fathers not presidents, more like brothers not CEO’s.  In a family every one has a voice that is valued and though we sometimes drive each other crazy, we can’t run away from tension, we learn to navigate in the struggle and love with humility, forgiving seventy times seven, serving more than securing and trusting our chief pastor Jesus to shape us into something useable and beautiful together.

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Show Up

By drewAugust 27th, 2010Blog, Featured, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Show Up

Conflict and struggle can be hard to face, but how we respond will not only show if we believe in ourselves, but what we believe about God.

As a kid I remember at times being bullied and pushed around, not from kids my age because I was always a big kid, but usually from older kids.  (Doesn’t matter how old we get it, seems there will always be bullies.) I remember a few instances where the bigger kid would challenge me to a fight and like the wild west, he’d throw down the charge, “Meet me behind the school after class” or some other frightening phrase like it.  I remember carrying fear around with me all day like the books on my back, dreading and counting down the minutes until the show down.  It took everything I could muster to just show up.  Uncertain of victory or utter annihilation the one thing I could not do was not show up.  Like some unwritten code in my DNA as a man-child, I had to at least be there, to not run from the challenge, I may not have been able to walk away from the scene but at least I would show up.

Sometimes the first step in frightening battles we face in life is to just “Show Up”.  As men living life in the everyday mundane rat wheel it’s sometimes hard to find the strength or will to “Show Up” for the things that matter most.  Serving our families, praying for those we love, listening to a friend instead of talking about yourself, reading scripture or having consistent integrity.  Sometimes these things feel like the hardest, most impossible tasks of our day but still we must “Show Up”.  Being consistent as a Godly man is so important.  Trying to not be overwhelmed by always sizing up the opponent or big picture of paying bills and working more than you’d like or the effort to serve when you’d rather be served. But instead, take one day at a time, one loving act of kindness, one extra minute to care.  Soon we find that a few extra moments of selflessness and a couple of extra efforts of serving, make the difference in the lifetime of a child or the quality of a marriage.  Before we can be used of God to fight some battle waiting for us in our destiny, we have to be committed and determined to at least “Show Up”.

Once we’ve made the decision to follow through we must then “Stand Firm”, when I think about this phrase I have visions of William Wallace (Braveheart) or Maximus (Gladiator). These men were resolute in what they believed and fought for it, even at the cost of their own lives. Most of the time however, the Lord just wants us to stand, He does the fighting.

2 Chronicles 20:17 says “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

I think it’s so interesting that the Lord would have us dress up in our battle gear, and even take formation and prepare our footing for a fight, and then tell us to watch because the battle is His.  Almost as if to say, I’m allowing you to feel apart and encourage you, and even giving you the deep honor and pride of feeling important and useful and needed, but I’ll do the fighting.  As a kid I played every sport under the sun and in each one, some of the basic instruction included having the right footing, whether blocking out in basketball or blocking an offensive line man to make a tackle in football, the most important part of each was learning to stand firm and to be ready for the challenge.  Each of us struggles with temptation and failure but we have to be committed to getting back up after we’ve been knocked down and stand firm for the next challenge.  We often walk away with a black eye or a limp, but we can hold our heads high and our hearts steady when we Show Up and Stand Firm.

God asks us to trust Him with the battle but also to “Be Strong and Courageous” in the middle of it. God has promised, ‘the Salvation of the Lord’, and the assurance that you are not alone.  Maybe every fear is not completely subsided but there is a sense of confidence and faith and trust in the One who will fight the fight for you.

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Go back in your memory and be encouraged by the innumerable amount of times that God proved Himself before you, provided a way or answered a prayer. We must trust that God goes before us and loves us enough to call us into the action.  Let’s stand next to Him ready and willing to offer our lives, yet with the faith that the fight before us is His, and that we must not fear for He is with us.

One thing I remember about those school ground challenges is that I never knew when those days would come, that hasn’t changed as an adult. We have no idea what God is going to allow us to walk through from day to day, but whatever we face, we can trust He has allowed it in our lives and He is with us through the fight.

Praying that I/we will be willing to SHOW UP, to STAND FIRM, and BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.

Stand Firm

2 Chronicles 20:17 (Whole Chapter) [Exodus 14:13, 14 ] You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ [ 2 Chronicles 20:15 ] Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, [2 Chronicles 15:2; 32:8; Num 14:9] and the LORD will be with you.”

1 Corinthians 16:13 (Whole Chapter

Be watchful, [Gal 5:1; Phil 1:27; 4:1; 1 Thess 3:8; 2 Thess 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:1 ] stand firm in the faith, [1 Sam 4:9; 2 Sam 10:12; Isa 46:8 ] act like men, [Eph 3:16; Eph 6:10; Col 1:11] be strong.

Galatians 5:1 (Whole Chapter) [ Christ Has Set Us Free ] For [Galatians 5:13; Galatians 2:4; James 1:25 ] freedom Christ has [ John 8:32 ] set us free; [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to [Acts 15:10 ] a yoke of [ Galatians 2:4] slavery.

Ephesians 6:13 (Whole Chapter) Therefore [1 Pet 4:1 ] take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in [Ephesians 5:16] the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Philippians 1:27 (Whole Chapter) Only [Philippians 3:20 ] let your manner of life be [ Eph 4:1 ] worthy [Greek Only behave as citizens worthy] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] that you are standing firm in one spirit, with [Philippians 2:2; 1 Cor 1:10 ] one mind [Jude 3] striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 4:1 (Whole Chapter) Therefore, my brothers, [Or brothers and sisters; also verses 8, 21] whom I love and [ Philippians 1:8 ] long for, [Philippians 1:4; 2:16; 2 Cor 1:14 ] my joy and [Prov 16:31; 17:6 ] crown, [Philippians 1:27] stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Be Strong and Courageous

Deuteronomy 31:6 (Whole Chapter) [Deuteronomy 31:23; Josh 1:6, 7; 10:25; 1 Chr 22:13; 28:20 ] Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, [ Deuteronomy 20:4 ] for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. [Josh 1:5] He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Joshua 1:7 (Whole Chapter) Only be strong and [Joshua 23:6 ] very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law [Joshua 11:15 ] that Moses my servant commanded you. [Deut 5:32; 28:14] Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success [Or may act wisely] wherever you go.

2 Samuel 10:12 (Whole Chapter) [ Deut 31:6 ] Be of good courage, and [1 Sam 4:9; 1 Cor 16:13 ] let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and [1 Sam 3:18] may the LORD do what seems good to him.

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