Spill the Beans!

Do you ever feel like you’re at a loss for words when it comes to sharing your faith? You feel like you should say something, but your palms start sweating, and knees start knocking. To be honest, I do too. There are times that we all struggle to share our faith. Take a look at Mark 16:5-8:

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.


Go for the ONE

In 2017, my family and I joined an incredible ministry here in Stockbridge. We knew little of the beautiful surroundings, incredible history, or lovely people. We knew that God had called us here.


Using the Bible as a Roadmap

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

As we conclude our #Familyroadtrip, we need to consider one more vital aspect of a road trip. It is that of navigation. We all need help from time to time finding our way.


Are you the missing piece?

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
1 Corinthians 12:18-20

Tony, our children’s pastor asked us, “Are you the missing piece?” In every family road trip, there are roles to be held and each person is vital to the success and enjoyment of the trip itself. (Drivers, navigators, DJs, photographers just to name a few.) Yes, you could do without a few of the roles, but that means that others will have to pick up the slack somewhere. Trust me, you do not want me in charge of photography!


Learning your Father’s Voice

#Familyroadtrip is upon us! Throughout the month of August we will be doing church a little differently. We will be emphasizing families and the everyday nature of our relationship with God. This past Sunday we discovered God’s desire to be heard and communicated with. I love the way the message phrases Proverbs 3:6 “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” God desires to speak to us today. He is our heavenly father and wants to have a relationship with you.


Instruments of Praise

“In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”
~Nehemiah 9:38

As we’ve journeyed through the book of Nehemiah together, we’ve experienced victory and achievement. We’ve celebrated with the Israelites as they completed the wall, experienced the conflict as they confronted their enemies, and witnessed their confession of sins and of the faithfulness of God. Now we turn to their covenant. A decision which would turn their lives into instruments of praise. I’ve always been fascinated by music, especially watching experienced musicians play with such ease. One common theme among those I’ve heard is that they always tune their instrument to the correct note. In other words, they adjust their instrument to make a pure sound. I have even witnessed them tuning their instrument in the middle of a performance because the purity of their note slipped. Often when we think of the covenants of the Bible and living a lifestyle of holiness, we think of rules and regulations. What if we began to think of a covenant as a way of tuning our lifestyles of praise?


Responding to Victory

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

~Nehemiah 8:9-10

We’ve all met the people whose victory becomes their own defeat. They fail to respond to the victory they have achieved and in a short time find themselves failing. How we respond to our victories and successes in the present help to determine our future outcome. Think about all of the professional sports teams that we marvel at their ongoing success: The Golden State Warriors, The New England Patriots or individual achievements like Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal. We see their victories and are astounded by their consistency. They have developed the skills to go beyond a single victory and enter the realm of continuous victory. Nehemiah and the Israelites now find themselves in the midst of a glorious victory. They have done the impossible and built a wall in fifty-two days in the face of opposition, but that’s only half the book! There is more to be accomplished, and Nehemiah sees this. He calls on Ezra the priest to step forward and begin to take them to the next level. We must learn to respond as well in victory as we do in defeat.


It’s Personal!

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

~Nehemiah 6:9

Last week we talked of how “it begins with me” and the need for us to develop a personal change. When the enemy could not bring Nehemiah down with critique of his workers, physical intimidation (Neh 4) or with division among his leaders (Neh 5), he turned to attack Nehemiah’s integrity. The enemy realized that he must bring down Nehemiah if he was to destroy his destiny. The enemy of our souls still knows this is true today. He strives to bring down our example in our communities. In fact Brennan Manning says, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him in their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Is serving God personal to you? It should be. It should be a matter of utmost importance that we learn to glorify God in all that we do and all that we are. Notice that Nehemiah prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” When situations arise that would serve to distract you from God’s calling will you join Nehemiah in this dependence on God?

The statement “now strengthen my hands” is even more powerful when you consider where the enemy had desired to meet Nehemiah. He asked to meet him in the Valley of Ono (Otto) meaning strength. In a way of speaking, he wanted Nehemiah to meet him with his own strength. Nehemiah realized that his personal strength came from the Lord. The Lord is the one who had given the task, defended the task and empowered the task to this point. Nehemiah knew that despite the accusations raised against him, God would continue to be his fortress. God’s power was personal to Nehemiah. He would not be enticed to simply use his own means to overcome an enemy of God. He would trust in the power of his God. Today, you may be tempted to use your own business prowess to land you the account, you may be enticed to use your own wisdom to restore your family, but will you ask and wait on the Lord for his wisdom and discernment? God longs to direct your path in every matter of your life. Its time to declare that serving God is personal to you!

If it’s personal, it will show in your lifestyle. It will show in the way that you handle your business. It will show in your the way that you lead your family. Will you join with Nehemiah today and pray, “Now strengthen my hands”?


It starts with me!

Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.
Nehemiah 5:16

Have you ever been bothered by the negativity of your work culture, circle of friends or family? As we continue our journey through the book of Nehemiah, we come to chapter five and discover that Nehemiah is not struggling against an external enemy, but his fellow citizens of Jerusalem. A scandal is brought to light that stopped him in his tracks and forced him to rebuke his fellow leaders. The citizens have lodged a complaint. The local rulers and nobles are taking advantage of the famine and work on the wall by charging exorbitant interest on loans, foreclosing on property and selling people who cannot repay into slavery. The very slavery that Nehemiah and others are working so hard to get them out of. Nehemiah’s redevelopment program in Jerusalem was to rebuild lives, restore families and reignite passion, yet it doesn’t seem to be taking root. Why?


When Opposition Comes-PRAY!

After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” ~Nehemiah 4:14

God calls each of us to do the impossible. An Adidas ad from the early 2000’s ran the following quote, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”