Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

First off, IM BACK!

        Couple years ago I read a book that talked about Nehemiah and his God Ordained passion. If you read through the first two chapters of Nehemiah, you begin learn this story of a man who has his heart broken for a people. Nehemiah was cup bearer for the king which was a pretty easy job. He pretty much had it made. Ran into some people, who like him, were from Jerusalem and informed him that the walls had been torn down. Now back in those days, walls were everything to a city. It was what protected the city from pillagers and wars. People depended heavily on their city being protected by a wall. When Nehemiah heard this, he became heart broken. The author described it as a "God ordained passion" or something that causes you to beat your fist on the table crying out of an emotional response to your passion. Long story short, the king physically saw Nehemiah's heartbreak and God provided IMMEASURABLY more than Nehemiah needed in order to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall over the next chapter.  Coolest part, Nehemiah had no experience or expertise in wall building. He went from his crazy comfortable position in the kingdom, to being an untrained wall builder, but that didn't hold him back. 

       So Nehemiah, if you can't tell, was a guy that was sensitive to God's "still small voice." His response to heartbreak was to fast and pray for days. But what I'm learning from reading more into Nehemiah is how great of an example of a leader he is. So starting in chapter 4, after the wall is half way built, the problems start coming his way. First, They face trouble from the outside. Other rulers in the area hear what Nehemiah is doing and begin to plot against him. Word gets back to Nehemiah that they are under threat of attack. His response is outstanding. Nehemiah rallies his people. He prepares people to defend the wall and tells them to "Remember the Lord" because Nehemiah knew who was in control. (And on a side note, different lesson from the same chapter. Nehemiah had the people of Jerusalem continue working with one hand, and with a weapon in the other hand. Great example for how we should do kingdom work. Always move forward on what God has called you to, but be prepared for Satan to attack. Always be working, and ready in the same. Never let your guard down on the enemy)

     Disaster averted right? Nehemiah handled it well, enemies decided not to attack because they knew that Nehemiah was aware of their plan. butttttttttt something else happened. So threat from outside extinguished. But then there became an outcry from the inside. The people from Jerusalem had been rescuing fellow Jews from slavery in places outside of Jerusalem. But when a lack of food became and issue, people started selling their land, and families to people within Jerusalem. So they were rescuing these people from slavery and putting them back into slavery. Didn't make sense. So financial unrest combined with a lack of food forced people to cry out. Nehemiah stepped in and showed the ones doing the wrong why they were doing wrong. They agreed it was a wrong and promised to stay away from it. 

What you can take away as a leader....
1. Responding to OUTSIDE threats to your God Ordained Passion: 
BE READY! Satan doesn't want you to accomplish what God has placed on your heart. Be expecting he will bring everything in on you from the outside. Whether it's financial struggles, illness, accidents, bad school work, or even busyness. Be prepared. Continue your work with one hand while staying on guard with the other. 

2. Responding to INSIDE threats to your God Ordained Passion:
 In anything, especially ministry, I have learned your going to face issues from the inside. Whether it is a small disagreement about ways things should be done, or someone completely trying to destroy what you are doing from the inside. But look at how Nehemiah responded in Nehemiah 5:6-7 
 "6I was very angry when I heard(F) their outcry and these words. 7I took counsel with myself,"
    He could have busted in and made a big fuss. But no, Nehemiah got his composure when he caught himself getting angry. He knew what God had called him to do. He knew that this was going to get in the way. He faced this issue head on after getting his composure. Something all leaders NEED to get.

more to come soon...hopefully.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Let's Risk the Ocean

        Last week was one of the most eye opening weeks of my life. I spent a week the furthest west I have ever been, in the delta of Mississippi at the intersection of two roads in a community called Ferrell-Sherard. This place automatically finds a place in your heart. You literally drive on a completely straight road for an immeasurable amount of time surrounded completely by farms. You come across this cluster of small, colorfully painted homes with a brick building in the middle of them. It's the Habitat for Humanity guest house where me and 36 other BCM-ers were to stay. It's a place there will forever be in my memory. The people have so little there, but are completely/humbly thankful for what God has given them. The residents would introduce themselves as homeowners if they owned a home. How often do I meet someone in Kennesaw to hear "I am Steven and I am a homeowner?" Never. One couple ( the pastor and his wife) came and met with us one night to tell us we would be working on their house some. Come to find out these people had lost two homes and two children. Still so faithful and relient on the Lord. One home lost in a fire, another lost in tornado. I heard the wife, Mrs. Debbie, telling us about giving her sons organs up when he passed and her emotion when she met the man who had her sons heart. She said, while getting teary eyed, the connection was so strong. I write all this to say that sometimes when God calls us, we don't know what we are in for. In the end, all our fears come back to one thing, the unknown.
     While we were in Mississippi I was asked to do a devotional one of the nights and I hit on this very topic. I used a scene from Monsters Inc. to set this up. There is a great scene where "Boo" is discovered in the restaurant and the people go into mass panic mode. They don't know what happens when a child is in their world. The mosters overreact and start seeing/saying crazy things like the kid blew up a car. Basically showing a perfect example of how we react to the fear of the unknown. So I wondered how I could tie this into some scripture and thought of a story in Matthew 8:23-27.
     Jesus and the disciples get on a boat, whether it was to travel or to get a break from the crowds, and Jesus goes down into the deck to sleep. A storm comes up and whips the boat around scaring the disciples. They quickly go get Jesus out of fear who in reply asked them why they have so little faith and stops the storm. I chuckle when I read that passage. Think of the disciples freaking out like the monsters from the movie. I can imagine them running down there "Jesus help! The waves are 100 feet high. This is the worst storm I've ever seen. The boat will be destroyed." and Jesus simply tells the storm to be calm, and they are over. I bet the disciples (although in awe), felt like ding dongs, for lack of a better term.
     The crazy thing is, jump back a few books and look at the kind of disciples Jesus picked out. Matthew 4:18-21 talks about disciples who, when called, "immediately"(nasb) or "at once"(niv) got up and followed him. They were more than willing to serve even though they had to give up their known (being fishermen) for the much scarier unknown.
    A lot of us are ready and willing to serve. One perfect example I think of in my circle of friends is a guy named Daniel. There is a guy who's heart is willing to serve no matter where God leads. Something I admire greatly. Daniel recently got accepted to Journeymen where he found out Thursday, he will be serving in Japan. On friday Japan experienced one of the most intense natural disasters in history. Everything in my gut says God has big plans in Japan after that. Yet Daniel, who is facing I'm sure an unbelievable amount of unknowns has not wavered.
    Many of us are like the disciples, and like my friend Daniel. We are ready to go where God leads us, but unknowns cripple us. What we have to realize is God will calm those storms. Bottom line, Romans 8 especially verses 28-30. God takes care of those he calls, and gets the glory for it. Win win situation. Love. Like Crowder says in his new song on the Passion cd, "Let's risk the ocean, there's only grace"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Success Breathes Complacency

   The last year has been so awesome for so many reason. God has opened so many doors, and brought so many good people in my life. There are a lot of this I would say have been successful this semester. BCM being one of the most important things to me, I think that it has been super successful thus far. We have had higher attendance across the board. Fusion is well over where it has been in the past, we had more people apply for summer missions than ever, and we have over 30 people going to Mississippi for spring break missions. I have people put their trust in me with things they are going through. Struggles they are coping with. I've seen people step up and take charge, and freshmen grow comfortable in their own faith outside of mom and dad. Knowing this, I fear that I have become numb to what needs to be done.
    Yesterday morning, Mike Linch said "Success Breathes Complacency." How true is that? So often we catch ourselves thinking about what we've done and completely lose thought. It causes us to get stuck in gear as Pete Carney described it last night at leadership. We are on our dirt bike, and we want to get further, but if we don't change gears, the engine will blow! I pray that doesn't happen. My heart is that BCM would be a ministry that is different. I don't want to revert to the old. I want there to be change that lasts.
   Prayer: God, help us to see not what we have done, but what has yet to be done.


Monday, February 14, 2011


     Nature is amazing. If you take the time to look, there are patterns in nature at every corner. Some of these patterns are completely unique, others are found in different spots all over the world. Not only are they seen in plants and animals, but in weather and seasons. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter is a patter or a cycle that is predictable and repeating, but also serves a purpose. Without each of these seasons, plants would not be able to survive, They either would not get the needed water, would not produce seed, not get needed sun, or a number of other things. Patterns are undoubtedly a good thing in nature and completely driven by God's devine creation, but can patterns be a bad thing. Not necessarily just in nature, but in our lives? I think its obvious the answer is yes.
   I think more than anyone I know, I tend to fall into patterns and motivate my self to get out of them with no hope in the end. With me its anything from controlling my money, to not being late to work, not doing homework, and even not reading my bible consistently. Patterns not only exist with something that is there, but can alos exist with something that isn't there. You can be in the pattern of no pattern which in it's self is a pattern, not to confuse you haha.
  Do you catch yourself in a pattern you cannot escape? If you are my age, relationships would be a great example. Do they constantly not work out for you? Are there bad endings every time? Maybe that is a sign of a pattern you need to break. In prison systems there is a problem with the number of people that leave prison and end up coming back. There is actually a diagnostic name for this (Recidivism).  Do you find yourself struggling with money like me? Yet, you still find ways to spend it all every time you get more in your bank account. If your like me, you also get in the pattern of just holding your tongue when it comes to things that should be spoken about. The Bible says that Adam set a pattern for us when he took that fruit and ate it. (Romans 5:14) We were out of luck from that moment on. Satan uses patterns against us. He gets us comfortable in our routine and keeps us there.
  These patterns can be discouraging, but require action on your part. If you have a pattern re-occurring in your life that does not glorify God, I would encourage you to find a way out. 2 Timothy 1:13 says to "keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with Faith and Love and Jesus Christ." In order to get out of your pattern.  Find a mentor or someone who can be praying for you to get out of the rut.
   There is an awesome ending to this idea of patterns.
            Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.(Romans 12:2)
    Jesus calls us to avoid these patterns. To stay away from what the world considers normal. And that doing this, God's will can become more recognizable in your life.  Jesus wants us to escape the patterns, will you?


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oh yeah, camp.

Found out my route for camp this summer, and let me say I am excited. Never in my life have I been further west than Nashville, TN. My team got assigned the Texas and Louisiana locations. Meaning that I will be spending my summer as a production director for WinShape camps as follows(as long as nothing changes).....

June 6-10: FUMC Killeen, TX
June 13-17: East Bayou Baptist Church Lafayette, LA
June 20-24: FUMC Frisco, TX
June 27-July 1: FBC Pasadena, TX
July 4-8: Cross Church, Rogers, AR
July 11-15: Summer Grove Baptist Church Shreveport, LA
July 18-22: FBC Covington, LA
July 25-29: Trinity Baptist Church Lake Charles, LA
August 1-5: FBC West Monroe, LA

...and a map. http://bit.ly/hFYHdO 

In case you were wondering, this means I will not get to see much family or friends during the summer. Be praying for me and my team as we prepare for what God has in store for this summer. So pumped to go love on these communities. 

Lessons for a Fourth Grader

Every other week I build up the courage to enter a small group full of about twenty or so fourth grade boys. Now don't get me wrong, I love being around these guys. A lot of times their answers to my questions blow my mind and sometimes even open my eyes to things. The view from the stance from a fourth grade boy can be interesting at times, Even more often, I catch myself figuring out the answers to the questions I am asking them. Almost every week, I learn a lesson through what I am teaching. I hope to share some of these over the next couple months before I prepare for camp.
      The last month has been centered around the idea of determination. That is their "virtue" of the month. Today's lesson was pretty heavy stuff for anyone let alone a fourth grader. We looked at 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 where Paul is talking about what he has been through. Finishing it off with Acts 20:24
 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."
    That first half of the verse gets me. Paul had no ounce of selfish ambition. His single goal was to continue to testify the good news! He cared about nothing else but completing his task. Despite the beatings and danger that Paul faced in 2 Corinthians. That's some pretty awesome determination. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Door Holder

So the first BCM Fusion of the semester is but a week away, and although it stresses me out more than anything sometimes, I am super excited about it. I have thoroughly been changed through my experience with BCM over the last couple of years.
I've been really wanting to share that experience, even though I know that it is not how some people are meant to serve. But I had the idea, what if we show people what BCM has done in the lives of their peers? What if they see the impact that they can have through our student lead ministry? What if we quit depending fully on the people who are paid to help and started depending on people serving because they want to see change? Our first week back, we will be doing video testimonies. Stories of how people, like me, have been changed through BCM. My prayer is that it shows those at Fusion the impact they can have.
One thing that helped spark my thought was seeing the shirts that volunteers at Passion 2011 were wearing. They had shirts on that said in giant letters "Door Holder." If you haven't heard Louie's message about being a door opener for Christ, make sure you are at Fusion next week because we will talk about it. The reason it strikes a chord in me is because we have done Door Opening ministry at BCM for years. It's where we simply go and open doors on campus and smile at people going in them. If they ask, we tell them why. But we just serve them. Take time out of our schedule. Nothing more, nothing less. For us, it serves as a reminder. First off, standing there and just looking in people's eyes as they pass is powerful. What is their story? Second off, as Louie talks about, we are to be door openers to the Kingdom. To be the person who invites them in, and let God do the work. It's an awesome analogy that us holding doors is a reminder for.. It's based on some unlikely characters from the old testament who's names you have probably never heard but they are mentioned in God's word simply because they were gate keepers/door holders. I'm not going to give them away yet. More to come on this later. But can I ask you to pray with us for the first worship gathering for the year at BCM! Much Much Love.