Nehemiah 4:18-23

Nehemiah 4:18-23

This past year I took one of my former students to camp with me as a leader. He commented how his experience as a leader was different than his experience as a student. He had the blessing of being my roommate so not only did he get to hear me snore through the night but he quickly realized that being a leader meant that you go to bed later than everyone else, wake up earlier than everyone else, and spend yourself all throughout the day concerned with how everyone else is doing. This was the burden of leadership that he had never seen before.

Most people from the outside looking in see leaders as those who bark orders, make plans, and get stuff done. Sometimes there are “perks” of leadership like looking at a set of plans in an air conditioned office building while the rest of the crew works outside putting the plans together; most often though, the demands of leadership are those of sacrifice and service. It wasn’t any different for Nehemiah.

Cover

 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.  (Nehemiah 4:18-23 ESV)

In this passage he puts the trumpeter right by his side and he lets the people know, “When you hear the sound of the trumpet, run to the sound because that is where the fighting will be.” This communicated two things. One, that they would be able to know where to go should they be attacked at some point. Two, that Nehemiah would be right at the front lines of battle. After all, the trumpeter was with him!

Then Nehemiah went a step further and requested all the people to say in town so they could keep watch at night. It would have been easy for Nehemiah to post watches and go to sleep. He could have still taken advantage of his positions and taken baths, had his clothes washed, and even dined on a fine meal, but instead of taking leisure while everyone else was puling double time, he makes sure that he and his attendants serve just like everyone else. He sets the example.

Nehemiah made a promise to his people that when danger came he would be the first one into battle and that when the days got long and tired because everyone was pulling over-time, he would be the last one to get a bath. This type of leadership is called servant leadership. It doesn’t boast, gloat, or rule over others in a proud way. The people Nehemiah had come to help were already being exploited by people like Sanballot and Tobiah; they needed someone to lead them who loved them.

When I read this about Nehemiah I can’t help but also think of Jesus the ultimate servant leader about who the Apostle Paul wrote, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV).

Call to Build the Low Side of the Wall (Nehemiah 3:1-32)

Call to Build the Low Side of the Wall (Nehemiah 3:1-32)

The beauty of a God size task is that everyone has something to do. Every person no matter how small has some value to add. When it came to rebuilding the wall in Nehemiah 3 we see this principle worked out again and again. The priests, beginning with the high priest, lead by example, grabbing their work gloves and put their hand earnestly toward the wall next to them. The daughters of Shallum work tirelessly like their father. Everyone in town is engaged rebuilding the wall right where they are, no one it left out.

Cover

This is also how it works in the kingdom of Heaven. God puts us within proximity of other believers who will complement our weaknesses and who will need our strengths. It is often easy to look at others on a far wall and think they have it better than you or that their laborers are stronger and so you should go over there, but have you considered that your labor is needed where you are? Looking too long at another wall also proves that you have spent too much time looking and not enough time doing.

It is easy to get dissatisfied when there aren’t any stones in your hand. Often we point to where the wall is the lowest like it is a problem rather than our purpose to rebuild it. We often abandon the places that need our resources and ability in favor of the ones that have already been built by someone else. In doing so, we stand on the accomplishments of others rather than fulfill our own God-given purpose.

Letters to Young Men: Why Accountability Groups Fail

letters to young menRemember that accountability group in college where everyone went around the room and confessed their sins? You knew what everyone’s struggles were and sometimes you suspected your buddy was lying to you, but you didn’t quite have the guts to call him out. So it all broke down and everyone was still living with the same struggles as before. When you tried accountability you thought it was the key to everything… I mean it works so well on paper, but after you tried it you realized you were still lying to your mom, looking up swimsuit models on the internet, and letting curse words slip at the same frequency as before… but now you also had to lie about it once a week.

Here is the truth. Peer based accountability groups seldom ever work. I know they never worked in my case. Do you know why?… are you ready for it?… wait… wait… ok… here it is… The guys my age (myself included) didn’t have a clue! That’s right there is no, count it, zero wisdom in a room full of idiots… so maybe that’s a bit harsh (since I was in the room and those other guys might read this blog post). How about this… “You can’t tell someone how to get to where you have never been.” Jesus put it this way when talking about the Pharisees, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14 ESV)

The solution to this problem is actually quite simple though, you only need one person in the room who can see. Put someone in the room who isn’t an idiot and accountability might work (again I know this sounds harsh… but hang in there). Someone who has been around the corner can tell you how to get there (and doesn’t mind redirecting you when you blow it… because they actually know the next step)… That’s why there is value in having older mentors.

Do you want to be wise? Do you want to grow in your relationship with the Lord? Do you want to progress on the path of sanctification (be more holy)? Then find some godly older men to be your mentors!

When you are young you are looking for approval. It’s easy to hang with people your age because they are easier to impress. If you’re honest, part of you is a little bit threatened by hanging out with godly older men. I mean, after all… they aren’t talking theories anymore like you and your crew… they have actual battle scars (from real battles!) and war stories (from real wars!). But if you want first hand information on how to win the fight… these are the people you need to listen to (because they’ve been kicked in the teeth by the enemy and are still grinning!).

I was blessed early on to be mentored by several Godly men including my dad and my mom’s dad. I’ve served with two great pastors and sought out advice and wisdom from other great men along the way. There were times where I was intentionally the only idiot in a room full of wise guys because I needed their wisdom. My wife and I attended Sunday School Classes with older couples and intentionally befriended men and women who would invest in us. You see an idiot in a room full of idiots stays… get this… an idiot. But an idiot who will listen to wisdom from a wise guy… at least has a chance of becoming a wise guy.

Oh and one more reason you need to be mentored by someone older. You are looking for affirmation and you won’t find what you really need from your peers. But when an older guy affirms that you are on the right path, you are closer to becoming the confident young man God called you to be... so next time you feel the urge to get an accountability group together invite a godly older gentleman to the group and ask him to pour into you and ask him questions about whatever it is that causes you to struggle.

One word of caution: Not every older gentleman is wise about the same things. If you have financial goals pick a guy who seems to have his financial affairs in order. Unfortunately there are a lot of older men who spent too much time trying to impress their friends that they never picked up any wisdom along the way and they have little to share with you other than the testimony of wasted years. I pray you don’t become one of them.

Check into 1 Kings 12 to see a story about a guy who was more worried about impressing his peers than listening to the advisers his father appointed.

Girls Life Application Study Bible (NLT)

The Girls Life Application Study Bible is a great Bible for pre-teen and teenage girls.  The cover has a leathery feel and is a purple with the imprint of a pink butterfly and flowers.  It is quiet feminine in its appeal.  My wife and daughter (4 years old) were both very interested in flipping through the Bible once it arrived in the mail. The editors and artists who worked on this Bible have certainly done a great job of getting the reader from the cover into the pages of Scripture.

The Bible is full of great insights and articles that catch readers on a surface level and draw them into the text of scripture for an answer.  (Can I just say that it is refreshing to finally see a publisher put out a Bible that challenges teen and preteen girls to see what the Scripture says!).  Included all throughout the text are girl-specific applications.  The New Living Translation is a decent translation to read (especially for girls who are in the preteen age range).

I would highly recommend this Bible to teen and preteen girls who are wanting to grow in their relationship with God.  This is also a great Bible to hand to a girl who is a new believer or someone who is otherwise unfamiliar with the scriptures.  It is apparent that the Bible was designed not only to have a feminine appeal, but to be very user friendly as well.

The retail price is $29.97 (Imitation Leather) and is worth every penny. It is also available at places like Amazon.com for $19.78. I give it 5 Stars and would give it more.  It truly is a great Bible for teen and Pre-teen girls.

One Note: Amazon has it listed as Girls Life Application Study Bible NLT (Kid’s Life Application Bible: Nltse), it is not really a kids Bible, the publishers recommend it for girls age 11 and up (and I would heartily agree with that recommendation).

Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a complimentary review copy from Tyndale House Publishers through the Tyndale Blog Network program.  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it.

5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow – Give Away

Last month I wrote a brief book  review of 5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow, a book written by R.C. Sproul.  This month I have decided to give away a copy on the blog.  To enter for a chance to win all you need to do is read my Review and then come back here to briefly share about why you want the book (even if you want to give to someone else).  Then on  Monday (March 1st, 2010) I’ll draw a name by random and announce the winner in the comments section on this post.

If you win I will also contact you via e-mail so I can make arrangements to get you the book (so make sure you fill that part out when leaving a comment).

I have answered some frequently asked questions about the Wednesday book give away in earlier post and you can find it here.

Wednesday Book Give Away (Dug Down Deep)

Last month I wrote a brief book  review of Dug Down Deep, a new book written by Joshua Harris.  This month I have decided to give away a copy on the blog.  To enter for a chance to win all you need to do to briefly (100 words or less) share your story on how you became a follower of Jesus Christ  or a defining moment when you began to grow deeper in your relationship with God. You can see my examples below.  Then on  Monday (February 15th, 2010) I’ll draw a name by random and announce the winner in the comments section here.

My father was a pastor. When I was 14 my dad had a stroke and his church fired him. I hated God and the church and soon started action out in rebellion. My dad confronted my rebellion. I tried to be good enough to make up for the bad things I had done, but I still felt guilty. When I was 24 I finally trusted in Jesus Christ to remove my sin and my shame. Knowing Jesus has changed me and I want others to know about Him. He is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

If you win I will also contact you via e-mail so I can make arrangements to get you the book (so make sure you fill that part out when leaving a comment).

If you are interested you can find out more about my story by clicking here which will take you to the “my story” section of this page.   You can also click here to begin with the first of five posts on how I became a follower of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to reading your story!  It always amazes me how God works in our lives.

If you have any questions, I have answered some of those on an earlier post and you can find it here.

Review:”5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow”

5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow by R.C. Sproul is a great book.  Sproul does a great job of introducing 5 comon “means of grace” or tools that God uses to help us grow.  Each chapter is written in an engaging style.  Sproul uses an insightful story to draw the reader in, puts forth a solid case based on Scriputre, while pointedly drawing out application for Western believers.

The book is quite brief at 135 pages, but the content serves as a great introduction for new believers and a compassionate reminder for those of us who may have lost track.  This book seems like a great discipleship tool and aid to those who are longing to grow deeper.  The Sproul’s writing style is simple yet engaging.  This is a great book to give someone who wants to grow in their faith.  The books brevity and engaging style ensure that you don’t have to be an accomplished reader to get through it in a timely manner.

I suggest using this book as a discipleship tool. Maybe reading it for yourself and then passing it on to someone else.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in growing deeper in their faith.  5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow is an excellent resource. The retail price is $15.00 (Hardcover), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $11.70. I gave it four stars.

Disclaimer: A PDF of this book was provided for review by Reformation Trust Publishing. They will send me a complimentary copy after they see my revies.  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for me to call it like I see it.

5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow – Book Give Away