Church planting is difficult.  While we want to have a formulaic approach, it is difficult to make a one size fits all approach.

Having said this, I will now offer several formulaic thoughts that I have been working on:

  1. Church planters are often “culled through” by taking personality, ministry effectiveness, and spirituality tests.   While these are helpful, I believe they are only helpful to the planter and not the planter’s “network”.
  2. In many states planters “partner” with a church that will “assist” them in the planting process. This can range from real assistance to passing along a check each month.  (really!!) I believe this to be a horrible approach.  Instead,  pair a planter with a planting mother-church to be trained as a staff member for 6 months to a year then the planting church will be able to help the planter grow spiritually and experientially.  Many red flags can be addressed and the planting church will have an extra staff member for a year. Oh yeah, let the planting network help pay the salary of the planter during this time.
  3. Never, ever should a planting network give any financial assistance to a planter that the planting network has not provided training in church finances.  Also, the planting church should take the responsibility of managing the finances the new church during the fund-raising faise and the 1st year of the new church.  This provides a huge advantage for the network and the planter!
  4. The planting network should require monthly meetings with the planter, the planting mother-church and a representative of the planting network.  Casual calls and “how’s it going” emails don’t promote growth.
  5. Churches should plant churches with the assistance of the planting network – not the other way around.

Some of these – well all of these – are from personal experience.  I believe that these are not the complete answer but take us in a better direction.  Church Planting is crucial and deserves the attention and innovation that it deserves.

Jonah-WebWe’ve been talking since January about the fact that God walks with us. Our verse for the series has been:

Micah 6:8 (ESV)

8He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The idea is that God has a path in life for everyone. While the path in life that you walk may be different than mine, we both have the love and patience of a Heavenly Father who desire to walk beside us and guide us.

Over the last weeks of the series we’ve looked at some of the most famous of Bible characters and their paths:

  • Adam & Eve – Sin robbed them of their path
  • Abraham – God set him on a path to greatness
  • Joseph – He walked with God and knew that even though God seemed silent he was never, ever absent.
  • Moses and Israel – Moses led the disobedient children of Israel on their path even when they rejected that path
  • Daniel – Daniel lived in a foreign land under foreign control but he stayed committed to faith.

This week we’re talking about Jonah. The book of Jonah is a very short book in the Old Testament. We’re familiar with the part of Jonah being in the belly of the whale (big fish) – a favorite in Sunday School.

But the story of Jonah is one of grace. What happens when God lays out your path for you and you decide to run from it?

Jonah 1:1–3 (ESV)

1Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah is the only Old Testament prophet on record whom God sent to a heathen nation with a message of repentance.

Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, stood on the eastern bank of the Tigris River. It had walls 100 feet high and 50 feet thick, and the main one, punctuated by 15 gates, was over seven and one half miles long. The total population was probably about 600,000 including the people who lived in the suburbs outside the city walls.

It was a mighty city. We might look at this story and wonder why God plans to destroy them.   That’s often the question in the Old Testament – why is God so angry? The truth is God wanted to save them from destruction. He had given them the chance to follow him.

He was sending Jonah to save them. Here is where Jonah’s story becomes our story.

Jonah had his life laid out. He had his own plans and goals, just like Nineveh and just like we do.

The truth is our lives are given to something – our plans are made. For some it is our work or our children or church. We have important plans for our lives and the lives of our families. While these are important and honorable concerns, they are secondary to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Jonah ran from the plan that God put before him. He ran from the path that God had put him on. He is the only story that we have where he ran from God’s plans even before he got started.

It’s in Jonah’s life that we see two things:

First, God wants to make us messengers. In one sense God needs no one and nothing because He is self-sufficient. However in another sense He has chosen send His messages to His creation through people. Paul says it this way:

Romans 10:14–16 (ESV)

14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

Simply put God gives us the responsibility to preach, teach and lead others to Him.

That’s pretty much what you would expect me to say. God wants us to tell others about Him.

But Jonah shows us something different and when we look at the lives and paths of people in scripture we’ll see the same thing

God desires to change us!

That’s scary isn’t it? And to be honest a bit frustrating! Who says that we need to be changed? We’re OK right? We live good lives and raise our children and are responsible, right?

But what if? What if what we see as the best isn’t them very best for our lives? God know that. He knows that he has the best – for us and for the world!

He demonstrates that with us.

This is the second thing that we see in Jonah’s path:

As we examine God’s dealings with Jonah, He is persistent and patient with the messengers He selects. We see this in God’s not abandoning Jonah when he boarded the ship to Tarshish. We see it in God’s preparing a fish to preserve and transport him back to dry land. We see it in God recommissioning Jonah. In all these instances we see God lovingly guiding Jonah. We see God being to walk with Jonah through the plans that he has for him.

We don’t have to be preachers or teachers or foreign missionaries, but we are all called to be lovers. If we give our lives to this we will begin to see our purpose and our design with new eyes.

Paul said it like this:

1 Corinthians 13:1–7 (ESV)

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In other words God didn’t just want to use Jonah to share a message with Ninevah. And the truth is that God doesn’t want to just use us to share a message with the world.

He wants to guide us into being changed through the message that he wants us to share. He does want to walk with us and be our God, too.

Our Heavenly Father has not only given us eternal life but also earthy lives that have meaning and purpose far above what we can conjure ourselves.

When God walked in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve He demonstrated ultimate love for them. He wanted to spend time, conversation and air with His creation. It is this environment that we will live in the New Heaven and New Earth. But we can’t forget that God has always desired to be our God and for us to be his people, which means that we can receive the life that He desires for us now. A life where we walk with Him, talk with Him and breathe His air.

So Jonah relented and walked the path that God had for Him.

Jonah 3:1–10 (ESV)

1Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

The final message that I want us to see in Jonah is that God wants to give us His heart of love and compassion for those that are headed for destruction. In church we call them the lost or people that are far from God.

It is easy to be caught up in our own lives. But if we do we will miss the big story is God’s love and compassion was sent for everyone and we aren’t changed simply by church attendance or even simply by Bible reading or changed simply by prayer. We are most changed by lives that cling to God as our Savior – as the best thing for our lives and the lives of our children and the lives of our world. It is realizing that God’s love changes us most when we give it away. It’s then that attending church, reading our Bibles and praying will take on a whole new meaning.

What we need to do is begin obeying the call that God has given us. Hopefully our obedience will arise out of love for Him, but it may arise out of our learning that disregarding that commission can result in much pain for us. In any case we need to obey. Then God will begin to teach us love for the unlovely. That too may be a painful learning process, but God will be very tender with us as He teaches us. We will also enter into true fellowship with our Savior who wept over Jerusalem because we will share His heart of compassion.


I Need You

March 4, 2015 — Leave a comment

Being a parent has taught me more about God than anything that I have ever experienced in my life. The fact that the Bible says we can call God, Abba Father – Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, means that we should see parallels between us and God and us and our children.

When my daughter, Bonnie, was little when she wanted me or my wife really badly she would say, “I need you!” . She said it in her most gentle and loving voice with just a hint of a pout. And it made my heart melt. She would cling really close and put here face close into my neck. Ok, maybe she was a little spoiled but who could resist. She was so sincere and so much needed my attention and love.

Of course my boys did it a little differently as little boys. My oldest would say that he wanted us to spend more family time together. (He still does that) My youngest son would get up in my lap and sit with me. (We still sit together a lot) They all needed me.

I’ve been thinking about that lately. I don’t often enough come to God, my Father, and simply say, “I need you!” I don’t bury my face in Him and cling to Him, and I know that he wants that.

I challenge us all today to take some time and sit with God to say “I need you!”.  Then sit with him for a while and talk to him.

He is waiting!

Is God Real?

March 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

Question-markIt’s a valid question. What proof do we have – really? It’s a question that pretty much everyone wonders at some point. Certainly, it’s not a question to take lightly!

Science debates it, religions confuse it, and people often ignore it. Is God real?

It’s a question that you have to ask yourself. Are we here alone just trying to survive? Are we here trying to discover some hidden destiny? Is God real?

I can’t argue it with science. Science is fraught with contradictions and theory’s. And I can’t argue it with emotions. Emotions are fragile and simply change.

But I can argue God’s existence with my faith. Uh oh, you say. Here it comes. That faith thing. But stop and think for a moment. Isn’t everything based on faith? A scientist has faith that his experiment is right or his theory is well thought out. Jesus followers base their faith on what they experience and feel.  Experience is real!

So how do we know that God is real. God has said “if you will seek me you will find me“. We seek him.  We put our cynicism aside and give God “a try”.

My belief began by hearing about God from other people, asking questions, being open and honest about my doubts.

I found a Bible that I could read. I listened to one on my phone. I stayed quiet and I listened for him, and I heard him.

I got out of my bubble and began to care about other people.  When I started reading the Bible and watching other Jesus followers I noticed that they cared about other people (and not just other Christians!).  Once I began to help and care about others I realized that I didn’t need to fix them, I just need to care and tell them about Jesus.

I saw him then! I felt him. It was then that I realized that God is real!

It’s not difficult. What’s difficult is ignoring him or trying to come up with every reason to not believe. It’s worth a try. Isn’t it?

When Adam and Eve were in the garden, God walked and talked with them and the Bible says he walked side by side with them. He has always wanted that with each of us, and every time we mess it up. So He came to us. He came and died. I don’t know how it all works, but I know the results that my life has seen. Every time I get something in my life that keeps me from having time to share my life with God I find that I’m not really happy. When I give time to pray and talk with him about my life I find that I’m happy and satisfied. It’s that simple.

God is real! Why don’t you talk to him about it!


Micah 6:8 (ESV)

8He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Last 4 weeks we have talked about:

Adam & Eve – Sin robbed them of their path

Abraham – God set him on a path to greatness

Joseph – He walked with God and knew that even though God seemed silent he was never, ever absent.

Moses and Israel – Moses led the disobedient children of Israel on their path even when they rejected that path



We are looking at the paths that God has put people and how he walked with them.  The common theme is that God put them on a path and promised to love and care for them – to walk with them.

When we think of David we think most often about his defeat of Goliath, but David’s life is an amazing life of peaks and valleys that that shows us that God’s path often prepares us for what is next.

David is a wonderful Bible character because he reminds me of me. If you read the Psalms of David you’ll see a man who expressed both great joy and great pain.

I’m thankful that God shows us David both good and bad (warts and all). His fear, his joy, his anger and his happiness. We see in David a life with many ups and downs, challenges and often deep, deep despair.

Of the 74 Psalms that are attributed to David:

  • Lament  44
  • Praise  7
  • Hymn  6
  • Royal  6
  • Trust  5
  • Thanksgiving  4
  • Wisdom  2

This I think tells us that our paths often, often go through time of hurt and pain.

If we look at some of those Psalms we see the extremes that David felt.

Psalm 63:1–8 (ESV)

1O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 140:1–8 (ESV)

1Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, 2who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. 3They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah 4Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet. 5The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah 6I say to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord! 7O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle. 8Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah

Psalm 13:1–6 (ESV)

1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 145:1–13 (ESV)

1I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. 4One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. 7They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 8The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! 11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.

Notice that David not only expresses a huge range of emotions but that he always returns to God’s sufficiency or his grace or his power. David always acknowledges God’s ability and desire to do what is good and to reject evil.

Acts 13:22 (ESV)

22And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’

A man after God’s own heart? What does that mean? It is answered in the next phrase – “who will do all my will”.

He was a man who wanted to follow God all the way without failure.

But for as much as David is celebrated as the greatest king of Israel and was a man called a man after God’s own heart, David often failed at life.

I think God called him a man after His own heart because David wanted-to-want-to be that.

David was all these things: king, military leader, and great savior of Israel, but more importantly and I think most importantly David is a picture of a common man.

If we look at David’s life in detail we’ll see a man we’ll see something probably familiar to us men:

  1. He was celebrated and admired in his youth
  2. He had killed Goliath and was at that point on his game – he was the man.
  3. He was appointed king while the current king was in office – in other words he had all the potential and opportunity to really make his mark, but he had to wait in the shadow of a man who hated him – in other words he was literally held down/back by “the man”. He had a lot of in-between time waiting on his life.
  4. He got his shot when Saul died and had a lot of success
  5. He struggled with sexual sin
  6. He had problems with his children
  7. He disappointed God
  8. He had a great dream that he never got to live and eventually found out that his son would have to carry on that dream – he, himself, would never see that dream fulfilled
  9. He got old

For as much as David is celebrated he has in common what all great leaders/stars/elites have with us all – he was a regular human man!

What set David apart was his desire – his overarching – ingrained decision to follow God.

It’s what set him apart from other kings, other men, and other Bible characters.

So what is our landing point here? What can we see in the path that David walked?

For as much as David was celebrated he was also a man that was deeply flawed with normal struggles but he was also deeply loved by God!

How can we live this way?

  1. We can give up the idea or burden of thinking that our failures define us.
  2. We can have hope when we fail.
  3. We can trust God in the long difficult “in-between” times.
  4. We can see God standing up in the middle of our lives – loving us – despite how things look or how we may feel.
  5. We can realize that God does have a plan for us.
  6. We can realize that even when all we can muster it the want-to-want-to that God loves us and will see his plan for us to the end.



I0e2627119_1384032011_booktndudes-guide-to-manhood‘m going to go ahead and tell you – I loved this book!  If nothing else the cover is really cool because as we all know  – beards are cool!!

I’ve got to admit, the cover grabbed my attention at first.  Then Darrin Patrick’s name grabbed it a little more.  If you haven’t read For the City which he wrote with Matt Carter and Joel Lindsey then you need to pick it up here.

Manhood is a difficult journey.  As Patrick says “Many men are simply unprepared to face the journey of manhood, in part because they have never been prepared in the first place.”(Page XVI)  Patrick does a great job of describing a roadmap that can be followed and helps the reader understand real ways to live qualities of contentment, devotion, heroism and forgiveness.

The question of “will your life run you or will you run your life” echos throughout the book.  We have images of manhood around us but very few authentic men who are willing to lead their sons into a balanced and heroic image of manhood.  The truth is that we can’t become men alone.  We don’t have a map to being caring father’s, loving husbands and dedicated workers so we need every resource that is available to us. Patrick talks about our fathers, our friends, and our children, all of which are major topics for men. He helps the reader understand that Jesus demonstrated loyalty, honesty, character and many other qualities that we need.  Jesus also promised the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our paths. “True Manhood doesn’t mean being perfect ourselves; it means trusting in Christ’s perfection for us” (Page 159)

This book gives the reader a straightforward and clear understanding of manhood which may be just the thing that you need to find the path.

Check it out at Amazon or your local book store!  Also check out Darrin Patrick out over at his website for a ton of other videos and writings that will help you grow.

MosesMicah 6:8 (ESV)

8He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The last 3 weeks, we have been looking at the paths that God has put people and how he walked with them.  The common theme is that God put them on a path and promised to love and care for them – to walk with them.

Week 1 – Adam & Eve – Sin robbed them of their path

Week 2 – Abraham – God set him on a path to greatness

Week 3 – Joseph – He walked with God and knew that even though God seemed silent he was never, ever absent.

This week we’re going to take a look at the life of Moses and the Children of Israel as they came out of slavery into the Promised Land.

If you spent anytime in Sunday School growing up you know that the children of Israel escaped Egypt only to end up wandering the desert for 40 years because of their continual disobedience to God.

If you think about the Old Testament going forward disobedience and repentance is going to be a constant theme for Israel. It is going to be their modus operandi as they go forward into history.

It’s always amazes me to think how a blessed people can throw away their blessing so consistently as Israel does throughout the Old Testament.

Exodus 3:1–10 (ESV)

1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

What do we see in these verses?

  • God has heard the cry of his people. (vs. 7)
  • He has come to deliver (rescue them) (vs. 8)
  • Will take them to a blessed land (vs. 8)
  • God is going to send a rescuer (vs. 9)

Again this is going to be a common theme for Israel throughout the OLD Testament.

But it is also just like our story!

Think about Jesus

  • God saw the need of his people (mankind)
  • He has come to deliver (rescue them)
  • He promises to take us to a blessed land (Heaven)
  • God send a rescuer (Jesus)

Isaiah 43:1 (ESV)

1But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Colossians 1:13–14 (ESV)

13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The problem is that Israel continued to stray from the path the God had them on to the Promised Land.

  • They rejected what he provided.
    • When he fed them in the wilderness with manna and quail – they complained.
  • They turned to other gods.
    • When Moses went up on Mount Sinai Israel created a golden calf and began to worship it. Even after they saw the cloud by day and the fire by night that lead them. Even after they saw the Red Sea parted.
  • They were fearful.
    • When they arrived at the Promised Land they decided not to enter because of their fear of the people who were already there. Even after seeing all of the miracles and the plagues in Egypt. They had no faith in God.
  • They were faithless.
    • They complained, bickered, and threatened every time an obstacle came in their way. Even after seeing God provide for them time after time. They seemed to forget his love, provision and rescue.

But Moses knew that God had put them on a path to freedom and blessing just like Jesus has provided for us.

The truth is is that we are Israel.

  • We reject what he provides sometimes.
  • We turn to other gods or other ways of getting what we want or think we need.
  • We are fearful and very often faithless.

Our sin sometime puts us into a wilderness of confusion and fear and we think that we will have to work really hard to fight our way out all the while God is there waiting for us to trust so that he can lead us into a better land.

Despite all of Israel’s problems and disobedience they still reached the Promised Land.

God stayed faithful and Moses followed some wise principals.

From these principals we can discover our path and get to where God has planned for us. I’m not talking about Heaven but here on Earth.

  1. The directionthatyouarecurrently going on in your life is going somewhere – whether you acknowledge it of not – it is going to end up somewhere.
    1. Our choices
      1. Our spending
      2. Our relationships
      3. Our spirituality
  1. When we are uninformed of God’s plans and desires for us then we tend to wander without direction in our faith.
    1. Micah 6:8
    2. The Great Commandment –

Mark 12:28–31 (ESV)

28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    The Great Commission –

Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  1. We don’t drift in good directions. It takes making the choices that will take us in the direction that we want to go to get to the destination that we want. If our choices don’t take us toward God’s plan and desire for use then we are not making the right choices.



 Our central verse for this series is Micah 6:8.

Micah 6:8 (ESV)

8He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

For the past two weeks we have talked about how God walked with people in scripture.  We are looking at the paths that God has put people and how he walked with them.  The common theme is that God put them on a path and promised to love and care for them – to walk with them.

  • Adam & Eve – Sin robbed them of their path
  • Abraham – God set him on a path to greatness

This week we talked about Joseph the son of Jacob.

Genesis 37:1–4 (ESV)

1Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. 2These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. 4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

Joseph’s brother hated him.  It didn’t get better when he told about the dreams that he had had.

Genesis 37:5–11 (ESV)

5Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 9Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

This caused his brothers to be even more jealous so they took drastic action.  They sold Jacob’s favorite son into slavery.  They not only did this but also tricked their father.

Genesis 37:32–36 (ESV)

32And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

In Genesis 39:1-20 we see young Joseph (age 17) bought as a slave.  Not how he saw his life going I’m sure.  It certainly didn’t see to line up with the promises of his dreams.    Then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown in prison!

What did Joseph do next?

Did he admit defeat?  He had been a slave and now he was in prison with no hope of parole.  His life seemed to be over before it even really began.   I would have probably just given up.  I think many people would.

 But what did Joseph do?

He did what any man would do who had been sold into slavery, had been falsely accused of rape, and had been thrown into jail who knew that God was with him. 

He knew that even though God was often very silent he was never absent.

But God still blessed Joseph!

Genesis 39:21–23 (ESV)

21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

So Joseph prospered even in prison. He was the Warden’s favorite.  Not the story that you write home to mom and dad (besides his parents thought he was dead).  “Hey Dad, guess what?  I’m the warden’s favorite.  I’m chief prisoner!!”  Nope, not the best life but God blessed him!

But then God begins to prepare Joseph’s life for something else.

Genesis 40:1–23 (ESV)

1Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody. 5And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” 9So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.” 16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.” 20On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.


But the Chief Cupbearer forgot him.  Until . . . .

Genesis 41:1–14 (ESV)

1After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. 8So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh. 9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. 10When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, 11we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.” 14Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.

2 more years have gone by. Joseph has been in Egypt for 13 years. He is 30 years old.  Then one night Pharaoh has a disturbing dream.

Genesis 41:15–24 (ESV)

15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, in my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile. 18Seven cows, plump and attractive, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19Seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and thin, such as I had never seen in all the land of Egypt. 20And the thin, ugly cows ate up the first seven plump cows, 21but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke. 22I also saw in my dream seven ears growing on one stalk, full and good. 23Seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”


7 healthy cows – 7 sickly cows – 7 ears of corn, full and good – 7 more ears of corn, sickly and thin

Joseph is now standing in front of the leader of the free world.  A leader so powerful that he had declared himself as god.  To step in his presence meant that you faced the judgement of god!

What did Joseph do?

He could have buckled and said “This is too big for me”  or said, “Please send me back to prison where I can just live.  I’m the warden’s favorite – the guy – the man!” Nope!!

He did what any man would do who had been sold into slavery, been falsely accused of rape, and had been thrown into jail for 13 years and then stood in front of Pharaoh to risk his life to interpret a dream but who knew that God was with him.

He interpreted the dream!

Genesis 41:25–36 (ESV)

25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, 31and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. 32And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 33Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. 35And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

Notice he stands before god (little g) and declares the might of the real God (big G).   The power and the risk of doing this doesn’t phase him.  God is with him and he is with God!

Joseph is appointed ruler in Egypt second to only Pharaoh.   He is now on the throne!

The famine begins and the entire world is starving.  Except in Egypt.  This is when Joseph’s brother come back into the picture.  Joseph’s dreams are coming true.  He can now get his revenge.  He can punish them to the full extent of the law – because “he is the law”!!

But he doesn’t yet.  He sends his brothers to bring his younger brother, his father and the entire family to Egypt.  Joseph takes care of them.  He feeds them.  He give them land where they can live.  Joseph must be plotting his revenge.  He must be waiting. Surely he will punish his brothers!!

Then Jacob dies.

His brothers come, fall down and beg for their lives.  So here it comes – Joseph can have his revenge!!  Father is dead.  Nothing stands in his way!  He is ruler.  He is supreme!  They are bowing down to him.  Ok Joseph.  Gloat a little then kills these guys.  They hurt you.  The imprisoned you for 13 years!!  Kill them!!

But what did Joseph do?

He did what any man would do who had been sold into slavery, had been falsely accused of rape, had been thrown into jail for 13 years and stood in front of Pharaoh to risk his life to interpret a dream and declare God’s sovereignty to a man who declared himself to be god and ended up being promoted to ruler over Egypt but who knew that God was with him. And he knew that even though God was often silent he was never, ever absent.

Here is what he did.

Genesis 50:18–21 (ESV)

18His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

He saw the path the God put him on and he knew the work that God had done for him.  Joseph saw the big picture and was blessed by God even when God seemed silent.  His life was used by God and Joseph lived like the blessed man that he knew he was – even  – in – prison!

Where are you today?  Has your life seemed cursed or have you struggled with your circumstances and God’s silence?

May we remember this “even though God often seems silent he is never, ever absent!”.

NOTE:  This sermon and post is greatly influenced, driven and informed by one of my favorites sermons by one of my favorite teachers, Andy Stanley.  It was several years ago at Catalyst that I heard the sermon about one of my favorite people, Joseph.  The sermon changed my life drastically because God is always present even when he is silent!

We’re current going through the He Walks with Us series. Last week we talked about Adam and Eve.  They walked with God in the cool of the day but decided that they would rather be like God instead of walking with God.  They were more concerned about their plan rather than God and this drastically changed their lives.

This week we looked that Abrahams story.  Abraham was called by God and promised that God would bless the entire planet through Abraham’s offspring.

 Abrahams entire story is in Genesis 12-25

Let’s look at Abraham’s calling and His faith:

Genesis 12:1–9 (ESV) — 1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

It’s 2000 BC. Abram is 75 years old and God is asking him to leave everything. But he has given him quite a promise – I am for you and will bless the entire planet through you!

Notice also that Abram takes Lot and his family goes because he, Abram, is Lot’s surrogate father since Lot’s father had already died.  God send Lot goes as his child but ultimately we know that Lot chooses a much harder path later.

Also notice that Abram honors God for his blessings. (vs. 7,8)  He honored God for the blessing that he knew that he would receive and not necessarily the blessing that he had already received.  Do you honor God for future blessings?

It was over 500 miles from Haran to Canaan. That’s the distance in a series of more-or-less straight lines on a map. Of course mountain and desert paths are not straight lines. Imagine walking that distance at perhaps 10-20 miles a day, which would be really moving, so it probably was less each day and would have taken a really long time.(think walking to California)

What we see recorded is a long journey through mountains and deserts. Put yourself in Abrams shoes. Think about the long nights and the hot, humid days walking!

This journey took time, patience and faith – completely blind and trusting faith. Abram was walking into the unknown wasn’t he?

Abram’s journey lasted his entire life. It not only involved picking up and moving across the desert it also involved waiting on God to fulfill his promises.

 Abraham Wasn’t Perfect

If you look at Abraham’s life you will see that every time that he takes up the reigns in his own life that disaster occurs:

Think about the real mess that his family was in when he and Sarah rush to have a child through Hagar. Strife between the women. Abraham has to finally send his son away.

 But He Did Get it Right Sometimes

Look at Abraham’s life when he is patient and obedient to God’s plan. He believed so much that God was for him that it enable extraordinary faith

God tells Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac, the promised son.   Most of us would definitely balk at this. We probably would doubt if it was from God. We would make every argument not to listen to God. It seems insane doesn’t it?

Genesis 22:1–3 (ESV) — 1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Genesis 22:7–14 (ESV) — 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. 9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

The LORD WILL Provide – what a completely trusting statement. That is the key to Abraham’s faith. He knew and believed that beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would provide.

So let’s go back to the key verse of this series.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) — 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

To walk humbly with God we can see great examples in the life of Abraham.

  1. He went where God said go.
  2. He trusted God with the unknown!
  3. He honored God regularly for his for his faithfulness and for providing what he needed.
  4. He trusted when things seemed impossible.
  5. He trusted when God didn’t make sense

How can we Practically begin:

  1. Staying in His Word – SOAP
  2. Getting out of your comfort zone.
    1. Older needs to mentor the younger. (Titus 2:3-8)
      • Older ladies – look around at the younger women and girls. Younger ones look at the older ones.
        Older men – look around at the younger men and boys. Younger ones look at the older ones
      • Each of you needs to pick someone in our church and have him or her to your house once or twice a month. The older folks need to mentor and share their stories with the younger ones.
  3. Pick a local charity or organization in town – give them some money – but more importantly give them some time.

The Take-Away

These are our travels through the desert that will get us to somewhere new. They will grow us in ways that we can’t even imagine. The will make us into people who walk with God because we’ll need to trust him with our fears and our questions.





Finding Our Way

July 7, 2014 — 1 Comment

The Areopagus as seen from the Acropolis – modern day

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;* as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’*

(Acts 17:25–27 ESV)

Oh wow.  There is so much in this verse.  Paul is on the Aeropagus in Athens which was the main hangout for the religious and ruling class of Athens.  He had an opportunity to speak to a highly influential group so his words had to have meaning and power.

In this place where there were statues of gods and other deities that the city worshipped Paul saw something which told him exactly where these people where.  The wanted to cover all of the religious bases.  They wanted to find something, like all of us, on which to base their lives.

Paul understood this.  So he explained his God in the most simple way.

1. God made everything : “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth”

2. He is in control of everyones life : “having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place”

3. He goal is to point people to himself : “that they should seek God”

4. He desires for everyone to seek him : “in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him”

5. He is waiting and ready for your to find him : “Yet he is actually not far from each one of us”

Isn’t that simple and clear?  He followed these words up with a very clear definition of being a true follower of God, ‘In him we live and move and have our being’

So at this most amazing opportunity to share his God with a huge influential group in a huge influential location he said these words and then gave the simplest definition.  Because of who the true God is, because of what he has done, and because he is waiting for us to seek him by living, moving and having our being in him!