Men’s Ministry Meeting #3 ‘How to Deal with Opposition’

6 04 2009
The fight gets dirty. Are you prepared to endure?

The fight gets dirty. Are you prepared to endure?

So here we are at nearly the half way point in the study of one solid character- Nehemiah. I think it’s interesting to note that in the entire book God does not appear once either speaking or acting. I’ve concluded that there is no need for this since if we simply look at the life of Nehemiah we see everything that God wanted us to know about himself in the example of this godly man.

As a recap to the teaching time this last Wens. night here are some notes I took.

In the introduction to the teaching time is was pointed out that men generally tend to get halfway through anything. This is because at the halfway point reality sets in and the obstacles ahead come into sharp focus. Many men get discourage to the point of dropping out of commitment or project. But the old adage applies, ‘the difference between success and failure is often nothing longer than 5 minutes.’ Another wrote ‘success is defined by the obstacles you overcome.’ Remember, getting something started is the easy part, getting it finished is the tough part.

If I can encourage you men- you got it started, you’ve kept up for 4 weeks now but I also know that now participation in this ministry is getting more difficult. The principle of diminishing returns is setting it, what was new and exciting a month ago is now familiar and maybe even contemptible in your mind. All of these things begin to point your attention to the ‘EXIT’ sign. I want to remind you though that sticking this thing out will produce the sort of accomplishment and fruit that you eagerly anticipated on day one. If you cut a green orange off a tree you won’t be able to get the sweet juice you’ve been anticipating!

Therefore resolve yourself in the committment you made to attend this thing all the way through. May Nehemiahs life provide you encouragement to overcome temptations to wander in this purpose

The 4 Obstacles Nehemiah Had to Overcome

  • His critics and their criticism (Chapter 4)
    1. Success breeds critics and criticism (the tall poppy syndrome)
    2. When criticism sets in where will you spend your time..
        1. We see that Nehemiah was a fighter. He didn’t let his critics detract him from the work he as about.
      • As a fighter -or-
      • As as one who flees
    3. Nehemiah exhibited 3 types of self control essential for anyone seeking to stand firm against the critics.
      1. Self Control in Prayer- 4:9
      2. The Self Control not to Retaliate- he could have but he didn’t.
      3. The Self Control to Stay Focused on the Task at Hand.

Remember- success silences your critics

  • His Confrontation with the Opposition- Does Nehemiah have the strength to confront the rich and the powerful?
    1. We learned from Nehemiah that it is typically best to wait for the problem to come to you.
    2. Nehemiah stayed with the facts and kept his personality out of the inevitable conflict.
    3. He walked the talk he was using so he could point to himself as an example to contradict the claims of his opponents.
    4. The goal of Nehemiahs confrontation AND the goal of biblical confrontation is restoration of a broken relationship. The goal is not win/lose but restoration.
  • His Control over Anger
    1. Rather than giving in to violent anger and lashing out at his opponents, Nehemiah checked with himself, performed a ‘gut check’ before responding.
      • We learned that a principle for a person who controls their anger is to learn how to overlook the things you can’t control. This is a natural for men generally speaking and so has to be cultivated as a habit of response.
      • Give the issue to the Lord. Nehemiah turns to God in prayer.
      • Know what righteous anger is, what it’s limits are and what it’s dangers are. We too ofter justify sinful anger as righteous because we fail to understand God’s attribute of anger.

Remember when it comes to anger either you will master it or it will master you.

  • The Test of Success- most men will be corrupted by success not bettered by it.
  1. Nehemiah as a powerful and respected man he could have easily used his position for corrupt purpose like the governors before him but he does not. abuse the rights he has (see Neh 5:13).
  2. Nehemiah stayed on the job. Often with a little success we tend to wander and drift off into time wasting ventures. Nehemiah passed the test of success because he stayed focused on what mattered.
  3. Nehemiah also did not profit from the gain found in his success. He could have cashed the thing in for wealth or spun it for reputation but he did not. In fact he points to his example as the complete opposite example from those who have come before him.

Remember- Most men cannot handle success. So why spent all your time trying to pursue it in this world?

What can you do this week to put into practice these few points? How can you be successful when dealing with opposition? How will these truths impact you?

If I can encourage you, I would tell you that God commands obedience before understanding. That is to say if you don’t understand how to apply these things in your life, start smal and simple, be faithful and the strength you desire will come in the doing. Though you may feel weak now if you will commit to practicing the things you are learning from Nehemiah you will witness true and real spiritual growth. Press on men!

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Men of the Word Meeting #2- Prayer Challenge

22 03 2009
Valley of Vision

Valley of Vision

O.K. so you left Wens night full of passion about prayer. You figured what the heck, 5 minutes a day is nothing! But now it’s halfway through the week and I’d bet dollars to donuts half of you have run out of things to pray about or for. With brotherly compassion on my mind, I thought I’d jot down a few subjects, themes, ect, that you can use as spring boards in your prayer time. Remember 5 minutes a day, NO slacking!

People

  • Work
    • Boss
    • Coworkers
    • Vendors
  • Family
    • Parents
    • Siblings
    • Grandparents
    • Cousins
    • Aunts and Uncles
    • Spouses
    • Children
  • People
    • Neighbors
    • President
    • Governor
    • Mayor
  • Social Issues
    • Crime in your city
    • Homelessness
    • Children issues
  • Church
    • Your pastors
    • Elders
    • Lay leaders
    • Seminary students
    • Seminary professors
    • GCC staff
    • Missionaries

These have all been themes below are some prayer concepts that simply focus on God

  • Thanksgiving
    • For his righteousness
    • For his grace
    • For his mercy
    • For his glory
    • For Jesus Christ
    • For the Holy Spirit
    • For God the Father
    • For the fellowship of the saints
    • For the opportunity to worship
    • For the opportunity to study

Obviously there are many more ideas, concepts, topics or themes you can add to this list. Hopefully this helps some of you when your own tanks run out of gas.

If you don’t own a copy of “Valley of Vision” I highly recommend it.





Walking Billboards

19 02 2009

air-nzA couple of weeks ago I received an email from AirNewZealand.com inviting me to participate in a radical advertising campaign. For shaving my head and having a henna stained tattoo plastered on my cranium, I would be awared the choice of a round trip ticket to NZ or $777 cash. I seriously pondered the opportunity for a moment before fanciful visions of gawking hoards staring at my head, were dashed away by the wailing of a baby who had a stench emanating  from it that made the plaintiff cries all the more understandable.

Air New Zealand is not the only company to have courted bodies to act as walking billboards. The idea is simple- the image of an actual person being branded with an corporate moniker is so shocking that people are forced by their innate desire to stare at the strange, too look and this be unwitting recipients of advertising that has has the added boost of creating a visual image memory that’s hard to get rid of. People would become ambassadors of the companies whom they received payment from. It’s the ultimate quid-pro-quo relationship.18adco-inline1-650

Besides being both funny and concerning at the same time, the idea of using the body for advertising purposes is not at all new nor is it alien to Christianity. In the worldly sense body advertising is a mockingly cleaver adaptation of what all Christians are called to be in this world, Ambassadors, namely of Jesus Christ. This Pauline expression is found in 2 Corinthians 5:20 where we are told that as believers, God is making his appeal to the world through us. This makes sense right? In the preceding verse believers are defined as people participate in a new creation, are reconciled to God and given a purpose to life. The idea is that believers are brand new people living life with new biblical purpose! We are like shinny new cars- who hides a brand new Corvette in the garage? No one would! If a beloved seminary professor is any example you make a public spectacle letting everyone know you own a brand new machine!

I would argue that so too are we to act as Christians! Christianity is not a private affair, conduct in the confines of closet. Biblical Christianity by its very nature is a very public affair for it is through us that God is making His appeal to be reconciled to Him. How are we to be the walking billboards for God that we ought to be? Live as those who are new creations- put away sin! Live joyfully knowing the God has made peace with you by reconciling Himself to you through the cross. Live as those with noble purpose- you are ambassadors of the King!

As Air New Zealand undoubtedly got a lot of interest from their cranial billboards, think of how much interest would be generated in our God if we live up to the noble calling we have in Him! What attraction the pagan might grant God if we lived in the fullness of love that we ought to have for one another (John 13:35)! And yet it is sobering to look across the landscape of Evangelicalism and view not bonds of love in the pursuit of our noble calling but rather theological bomb craters, doctrinal concertina wire fences and hermenutical fortresses designed to keep ‘them’ out and ‘us’ safe. Is it any wonder that the world is painfully unaware of Gods message of reconciliation if His ambassadors aren’t representing him well?

As on ambassador to another I beg you to consider your purpose in life. Do you have one? Does it include the idea that primarily in every circumstance of everyday that you are showing people our God by your thoughts, deeds and words? That you are yourself the means of communicating the message of reconcilliation? That God has chosen you to be the witness in this world of his great compassion for sinners? Don’t miss the call, or you’ll drop the ball.





I’ll take mine with Blue Eyes and a Large Fry.

18 02 2009
Want a boy with blue eyes? Yes we can!

If you’ve never seen the sci-fi flick “Gattaca” I highly recommend it to you. Besides being visually stimulating the meta narrative featured in the film was envelope pushing in 1997 when the movie came out. The overaching reality that this movie presents is one in which parents can genetically order the child of their desires and thus avoid the roulette wheel that is represented in natural conception. “Valids” are those whose genetic make up has been selected to provide the best possible genetic combination of traints like gender, eye color, ect. “God Children” alternatively are those who were conceived in the same old fashioned manner as you and I along with all the genetic predispositions like eczema (a condition I am familiar with :).

In the modern era this narrative had roots in the1991 announcement of the Human Genome Project led by the national Institues of Health. This project provides the reality and tools to accomplish the picking and choosing of genes. Though the process are not fully in place or created yet the opportunity to provide “choose your trait” services will be to lucrative and necessary (sans, all those fighting genetic illness today), to pass up. In one sign that this day is approaching a clinic in Los Angeles will begin offering its services soon, allowing patrons to select the features of their children. The reputable WSJ reports….