Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Follow the Leader

But Ruth replied: 
Do not persuade me to leave you
or go back and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Ruth 1:16

The story of Ruth and Naomi started as a tragedy. Naomi's husband died, but she still had her sons. Those sons married the moabites Ruth and Orpah (Not to be confused with Oprah). A few years after those marriages Naomi's sons died. In that day the women had little hope of living without husbands. It was essential that both Ruth and Orpah married again as quickly as possible. Naomi urges her two daughter-in-laws to leave her and find new husbands.

Ruth, I assume, urged by the Holy Spirit and a love for her mother-in-law says that she will not. She did this at the risk of being a beggar for the rest of her life. She listened to the Holy Spirit in this life or death matter and made the illogical choice. Ruth's illogical choice became a victory in God's book even if it didn't make sense to everyone else. Ruth became the grandmother of King David, and it was through David's lineage that Christ came.

It is essential that we listen to what God is telling us to do. Sometimes it doesn't seem logical, sometimes it seems really stupid, but God sees the future and knows that our small obedience will lead to big victories. God is wanting to use those people who are ready, willing, and obedient.

I think I could keep writing about this verse, but I'll leave it here. If you have any input or other perspectives please leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Financial Alcatraz

Jorge Garcia in Alcatraz

I was a huge LOST fan. I've seen every episode and dissected them all. One of my favorite characters from LOST was Hurley played by Jorge Garcia. Alcatraz has a mysterious island, Jorge, and a science fiction story... I'm all over that. The first episodes were really interesting and I definitely didn't feel like I was waisting my time. I'm excited to tune in next week.

If you're anything like me sometimes your financial situation can feel like Alcatraz. It seems like there is no way out. My wife and I try our hardest to stretch every penny. We have some debt. The huge majority, I'd say 95%, is student loan debt. There are times when I look at the bills when they come in and I feel like I'm never going to pay those things off. They feel likes chains.

Proverbs 22:7 tells us, The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender. The reason it feels like prison is because it is. Debt means we're not in control of our destiny. When we have debt our master becomes who we borrowed from. Many people are stuck in jobs they don't want because they have debt they are imprisoned by. Marriages are being destroyed because debt controls their marriage, not God. It was pretty easy getting where we are. The real trick is figuring out how to escape the prison of debt.

My wife and I are in the beginning stages of trying to escape the Alcatraz of debt. It's going to be tough, but over the years we are going to escape. Our new series Man Vs. Money is going to be life changing. If you feel like you're in a financial prison I really want to encourage you to join us on Saturday Night at 8PM or Sunday at 10:30AM. We're also doing a small group study called I Was Broke and Now I'm Not. If I could tell you that in 6 weeks you could learn the escape route to your financial Alcatraz, would you do it?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Immediate Obedience to God and How I Helped a Guy Seizing Because of it

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Last night at small group we talked about being immediately obedient to God. Something that I'm not always too good at. I like to think things over for a little too long, but sometimes, sometimes, I get it right. I can point to a few of these times in my life, but I quickly want to share a story that happened to me in the past week.

Allie, my wife, and I were supposed to pick up some new trashcans for the church at Walmart before Saturday night service. We forgot. Later that night, against everything I wanted, I drove over to Walmart again. That part took me about 2 minutes. I grabbed the cans and I was heading to checkout.

At this point it was about 10 PM and there were only 2 registers open. I had a choice: 10 items or less or the short line. A strange tugging seemed to pull to the longer line. While I was standing in line a couple of positions ahead of me was a 25 year old guy buying what I believe to be a sleeping bag. From out of no where I hear a crack sound and watch his knees fall out from under him. His debit card flew into the air and his neck had all the tention of a dead chicken's. His whole body landed with a thud and crescendoed with the knocking sound of his head bouncing off the hard linoleum.

He was slightly shaking on the floor and fluttering his eyelids. I believe he was having a seizure. He got up no more than 30 seconds later and acting like nothing was wrong. Seconds later everyone in line heard that same crashing sound of him falling on the credit card swiper. This time me and another man ran to him and locked our arms underneath and carried him to bench. I yelled out, "Someone please call 9-1-1!".

I watched the guys breathing and made sure he wasn't going to fall off the bench we laid him on. Soon I was on the phone with 9-1-1 talking him through some cognition tests. Within in maybe 3 minutes EMS was on the scene. I left him in much more capable hands.

The story ends there. I don't know what happened to the man, but hope maybe I can find out some day. I prayed for him while he sat on that Walmart bench. I really hope everything turned out fine.

I believe that God wanted me in that line. I was one of two men anywhere near close enough to help this guy in time. Could God have used someone else in Walmart? Sure, but because I was obedient to his voice I was able to make a difference in this guys life.

If we would learn to be immediately obedient to God we would be able to impact, help, and support people whom God has called us to.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rick Santorum, Iowa, and Underdogs Like Me

Rick Santorum Potential Republican Nominee

Some people love the political process but it makes many sick. Most people, I think, just put up with it. When the time comes to vote they'll step in that booth, get their button pushing finger limbered up, and push away. Many of them voting for candidates that they know nothing about.  I'm an active news reader and talk radio listener. I try to discern who it is I'll vote for by how closely they line up with my beliefs.

Last night, January 3, 2012, Iowa had their caucus. Mitt Romney won by eight votes. He edged out Ron Paul Newt Ginrich Rick Santorum but just barely. Who in the world is Rick Santorum? I remember seeing him on the stage at debates. He would barely get a chance to speak. He was a true underdog who surged at the right time. Almost every other Republican potential nominee has had a huge surge in the poles, but none of them were at the right time except Rick Santorum. One could say he is the Tim Tebow of the republican potential nominees.

There is a long road ahead, and we really don't know who will be the nominee for Republicans. At this point anything can still happen. What we should pay attention to is the narrative of the underdog.

Me and you are underdogs in a race that we're not capable of winning. We can try hard and show promise. We struggle and preserver, but we're underdogs that will never come back in the fourth quarter. One of my favorite songs of all time by one of my favorite bands is a song call Underdog by Audio Adrenaline.

I'm in this race to win a prize
The odds against me
The world has plans for my demise
What they don't see
Is that a winner is not judged by his small size
But by the substitute he picks to run the race
And mine's already won

The race of life has already been won. Jesus Christ took death and crushed it under His heel. Jesus picked us to be on His team, but we have to say yes if we're going to win. Christ takes an underdog like me and gives me victory.

Dueteronomy 20:3-4 says, ...In a few minutes you're going to do battle with your enemies. Don't waver in resolve. Don't fear. Don't hesitate. Don't panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.

Really it's unfair. If Christ is your leader and forgiver you've won no matter what happens. That means that when time runs out you'll come out the winner because you have more than a cheerleader. You have a teammate.