We need to learn how to fight.

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I tell you there is a lot wrong with society today and I could write a book cursing the darkness and I won’t make a dent in it in my little blog post.  Also, there are many solutions to the many problems in our society but one thing that will help in many if not all of the areas that are crumbling is…we need to learn how to fight.

I talked to some students yesterday…they lost their friend to gun violence. An argument broke out and to settle it someone pulled out a gun and shot em up.  A few months ago my nephew came home to a party and after some words were spoken he was shot in the chest and killed.  Whatever happened to good old fashioned bare knuckle fights.  A guy called you out, you tried to turn the other cheek but finally you settled it like men.  You met, talked trash for a little bit and then swung fists and wrestled around in the dirt until one of you won and then you went home and told stories about it.  When I was a junior in high school, this punk Walker was always talking…I mean always.  He got on my nerves and then finally I spoke up.  He didn’t like it and wanted to fight.  I was a bit nervous but I was in.  We met and fought (I won). Guess what…the next day life went on.  I learned some life lessons about speaking my mind and he learned some life lessons about speaking less.  But it was over! No real harm was done.

Another area we need to learn how to fight is in the bedroom (no not that way you pervert). Spouses have to learn how to argue effectively.  Whenever I do premarital counseling I always include a session on learning how to fight.  How to resolve conflict.  You see too often we see the point of an argument is to win.  The point of the argument is to reach resolve.  Sometimes a couple will bottle up their emotions until it explodes and shrapnel of the relationship are spread for miles.  Sometimes the aggression comes out passively and eats away at the spouse like a hundred small piranha.  Sometimes it comes out through abuse…physical, emotional and spiritual.  Sometimes you just run from it.  Run to a bottle, a pill, a computer screen, a job, another lover.  Spouses need to learn how to speak with respect and listen with respect.  Value one another.  Allow for the possibility that you are wrong…or even that you are both right and find a way to compromise.  Learn how to hug one another when the argument is over and be able to say I still love you.  The opposite of love isn’t hate…it’s apathy.

There are many things we need to do as a society.  We need to respect our differences, we need to be less selfish and lord knows we need a spiritual revival but we also need to learn how to fight.

You need more than God

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Now don’t pick up your stones to throw at me yet…hear me out.  Better yet hear God out.

Genesis 1:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.” 19 So the Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it.And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found as his complement. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then the Lord God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. 

Adam had God all to himself.  He had all the time and attention to give to nobody but God. But the Lord realized that his creation needed more.  We need others.  We sing songs saying that all we need is God and some live their spiritual lives that way…simply between them and God.  We were not created to live that way.  We were created to live life with one another.

This month is JIBC CONNECTS at James Island Baptist.  We want you to connect to a Connection Group this semester.  Why?  Not because you need something else to do.  Because this is how God created you to function.  Journeying this spiritual life with others. If you miss church this week go to www.jibcfamily.com and go the the Connection Groups tab to inquire about one of our many Connection Groups.

 

Surge Year preview

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Every Summer I spend time praying and evaluating the previous year and plan the entire student ministry calendar.  This year we are focusing on missions.  We are doing 6 local mission projects, hosting Love God Serve Charleston (an area wide missions retreat) and are going to Honduras to work with children this Spring.  Not to mention MFUGE and supporting an orphan in Burma and raising food for the hungry and toys for Christmas time.

Check it out.  Even better, pray or get involved.

Can it be that simple?

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I am placing the finishing touches on tomorrows sermon.  I am having a tough time.  We are systematically going through the book of Romans. I am preaching on Romans 5:12-21. It is a great passage that contrasts Adam and Jesus.  Death and Life.  Judgement and Justification.  I don’t have a problem with the text or the message.  My struggle is the simplicity of it.  Basically Paul is saying about twelve different ways that we are dead in our sin inherited through Adam and are alive in Christ.  My struggle…is as a pastor aren’t I supposed to find some hidden jewel?  Some deep thought that eludes most layman?  But I haven’t so tomorrow I’m going to just preach Jesus…it is that simple. We are dead in our sin and need a savior.  That savior is Jesus.  Maybe it will run short…maybe the alters will be filled…maybe we will beat the methodists to the restaurants.  I hope if you read this Saturday you will make it out to James Island Baptist.  If not listen to it online at http://www.jibcfamily.com.  See if I nailed the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

3 ways to kill your Connection Group

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We are getting ready to launch a new season of connection groups. Let me give you a few things to avoid as you gear up this semester.  These are 3 things that will certainly reduce your effectiveness if not outright kill your group.

  1. Forget the purpose.  The purpose of Connection Groups are to connect to God, each other and the world.  A connection group must pour into God’s word, reflect on it and pray.  A connection group must do life with one another, laugh with one another and cry with one another.  A connection group must serve the community, pray for those serving around the world and serve the church.  That is the purpose of the group.
  2. Forget to prepare. I know you are busy. I know life can get crazy. But don’t try to wing it. Make sure you are read up, prayed up and rested up.  If you know you are going to have a crazy week…suggest that someone else in the group take the lead for the week.  Lack of preparation at the least makes groups awkward and at worst can be a stumbling block for new believers.
  3. Forget privacy. The Connection Group should be a safe place for people to share their hurts, habits and hang-ups.  If a group becomes a gossip circle or if a person’s story becomes fodder for coffee talk, that poison can kill the trust of the group and thus the effectiveness.

Avoid these things by remembering the purpose, prepare, and respect one another.  I am praying that you have the greatest season of groups ever.

Work from your wait

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You know why so many people long for Friday afternoon.  Because it is the beginning of the weekend, when most people get time off from work.  Many people long for that not so that they can recreate or relax but many of them are so weary from the work week that they simply check out.  How many times this week did you pass out at night rather than drift to sleep?

I think there is a healthier way…it is laid out in Isaiah 40:29-31 “29He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We all get weary and tired.  We all get to the point where we are just spent.  Call it burn out, wore out, bummed out…we are just out.  Out of energy, out of motivation, just out.

BUT…those who hope in the Lord will RENEW their strength.  The word “hope” means to hope for, long for or wait for.  When I read that verse I get the feeling of someone who leans in to the lord.  Like a tired child leans on their father.  We should lean in to the heavenly father, allow him to give us rest…give us strength.

From that strength…you know what you can do?  Anything and everything that God has called you to do!  You can’t get too tired to do what he ordains.  You can’t be too weak to accomplish what he calls you to do.  It is HIS strength!

Don’t rest from your ramblings…work from your wait.

The Nehemiah Strategy

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I am entering into year three of the student ministry at James Island and this year we are believing God for big things.  I prayed and sought the scriptures for a strategy to accomplish the goals we set for this year.  The goals are ambitious but not as crucial to the strategy and plan to get us there.

One of my favorite books of the bible is Nehemiah.  The book is a great story of a man who with boldness and purpose brought faith and pride back to his people despite adversity inside and outside of his camp.

I studied this book and found quite simply my strategy for ministry.

BURDEN

3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Neh 1:3-4)

For any strategy to work it must begin with a burden.  A desire to see right a wrong, fix what is broken or change the status quo.  Nehemiah heard that his people were broken and hurt and he felt a great burden to DO something.

My burden comes from the fact that less than 20% of 2100 students in our area are in church…much less a fully devoted follower of Jesus.

PRAY

11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” (Neh 1:11)

This prayer is important for a few reasons. 1) It is a reverent prayer that keeps the authority in focus.  Too often our prayers are arrogant pleas for God to bless our plans.  2) He prays for success.  Some people have growth-guilt.  They feel guilty if they seek success.  They feel guilty if they count people or evaluate their environments.  Success isn’t bad.  Success is good IF the success is the Lord’s success.  If the motives are to bring glory to Jesus then it is a very worthy goal.

PLAN

“If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me” (Neh 2:7-9)

This was a BOLD plan, to go to the King and ask for a leave of absence to go rebuild the walls and spirits of a foreign people…and for money and safe passage to boot!

If you make a plan…be strategic…know what you want and what you need and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

EXECUTE

“16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.” (Neh 4:16-17)

Though Nehemiah came against some obstacles, he never wavered from executing the plan.  Even in the face of danger.

This year, I will have setbacks.  I will have team members that will not rise to the challenge.  I will have students do silly things.  I will have budget constraints, however I must keep the plan in front of me and must execute the plan in the face of any obstacles.

WORSHIP

“5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”(Neh 8:5-6)

When all is done and we look back at the years journey and we see the goals have been met and the blessings have been great, we will declare the word of God and worship him with gladness and proclaim…AMEN, AMEN, and AMEN!

This is the Nehemiah strategy that Surge Student Ministry is using as we continue to Reach the lost, Redeem the generation and Restore the family of Charleston SC.

What do you think?