The Motivation of Multiplication

In Genesis 1 God gave Adam specific instructions about life in the Garden of Eden.  I think it can be summed in these three concepts:  Multiplication  (more people), Dominion (more responsibility), and Cultivation (more production).
These three layers of work fill our lives.  We become very busy, but also very blessed in these works.  Multiplication is the work at the family level.  Children are always a blessing from the Lord, but they are also much work.  Stewardship and ownership of things in this world is a blessingbut it is also much work.  Productivity and contribution into bettering the world is a blessing but it is also much work.
Where do we get the motivation to see all our work at all levels as blessing and not burdenThe Motivation of Multiplication
Multiplication is what causes the motivation to do the work of dominion and cultivation
The physical reality of this is seen in family life.  As I write this, I am more deeply motivated to pray for and encourage those who struggle with infertility.  We all know someone who has struggled for years with the real and personal pain of not being able to multiply.  The desire for “more people” is natural.
The truth is multiplicationcauses motivation.  I believe most men start maturing and “growing up” when they have kids.  Life changes, instantly.  They see work and responsibility and marriage and home differently than they ever have before.  Why?  They are motivated by the lives they have responsibilities of dominion and cultivation towards.
The same is true spiritually.  Doing the work of church will lose all motivation if it is not the work of Christ.  Having responsibilities of dominion (stewardship) and cultivation (production) while not being a part of “new birth” is draining and exhausting.  Why?  The purpose is lost.
Seeing a person confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will never grow dull.  It motivates me to do more work. I am more committed to be more responsible and more productive in my work when I watch one life step out of darkness into the marvelous light.
Are you doing the work of multiplication?  Are you being a part of the celebration of multiplication with your Church?  If not, then you are facing a loss of motivation that no one else can change.  Changing ministries, changing churches, changing groups, etc.  will not solve this spiritual problem.  Only obedience in multiplication will.
Who needs to hear the hope, grace, and life found in Jesus Christ from you this week?  Pray that God would send workers into the harvest fields…and then say (as Isaiah did, “here I am, Lord, send me.”
A side thought:
Many churches have gone to special times of celebration for baptism.  I know at our church with 3 services and 2 campuses, this is the only way we can all pull together to celebrate multiplicationtogether.   So that is the positive side.  The negative side, is that many church members do not participate in these celebrations.  Honestly, you will love motivation if you consistently miss that celebration.
Last night we had an amazing FC United service.  Everyone there left motivated to be about the work of the Gospel.  I realize some miss such times because of other commitments, but many miss because they did not see the value in it.  This is the value.  Celebration of confession (multiplication) causes motivation.
If you want to find value in teaching in the Depot or greeting at the door or serving the homeless in a ministry, then you need to be with your church family for the celebrations of salvations.  You need it deep in your soul.
FC is not the only church doing these “special services.”  It is a growing trend.  As leaders, we need to make sure we are not missing something our people need, but also church members, make sure you are not missing something you need.  It is not simply an event at church…it is THE event that helps us all remember why we do what we do.

Run Harder…with me

Today I conquered a recent obstacle…the eight mile run. I have for some reason struggled to get back to this distance. Today I set out to the levee to run. I stopped by the church and saw my friend Chris Ladd. He is a strong runner and said he wanted to run with me. 

So we took off. I finished eight miles strong. The last mile especially. 
You see Chris has been an elite distance runner. He pushed me in three ways:  Encouraging words, Pace, and Technique. 
All 3 helped make the difference. In life, in faith, and in work we all need these things. 
I actually have struggled to go the distance because I am stubborn about pace. I want to maintain my 5 mile pace. Today I was off of that by around 30 seconds but I made it. Listen to the wisdom of others on pace. Some of you need to speed up; others slow down. 
The technique on how to finish helped. I was able to push through because I pushed different.
The encouragement made all the difference in the world though. “You can.” “Push through it.” “Great pace” “Keep it up” “Almost there” etc.
Find people in your life that speak these things and be this person in the lives of others. Honestly I feel as a pastor I have recently been speaking pace and technique well but without enough encouragement. Today’s long run helped me remember the importance of the words that change nothing yet change everything. That is what encouragement is. 
I commit myself to encourage more. What about you?  Who needs to hear words that change nothing yet everything?
Thanks for the life lesson Chris, you will be missed but supported. 

Doing Work

Doing work is something we do.  Some of us do it out of passion and purpose and others of us out of obligation and duty.  Meaning some find joy in it, while others find misery from it.

What does the Bible have to say about work?  Why do we have to do it?  What is its purpose?  Is it a good thing in Creation or a result of the fall of Creation?

That is what we will be examining in the next 4 weeks in #Doing Work at Fellowship.  We will discuss God’s purposes, his plans, his creation, and the discipline of rest.  Work will address your job you get paid for and the many more you do not.  We all have life duties and responsibilities (or work, if you would) we must do.

I want ask you a couple of questions for brain fuel between now and Sunday.  If someone were to look back at your social media accounts over the past year, what would they say is your opinion of work?

Do you begrudge the Monday Blues?
Do you sing the Hump Day song?
Do you yell TGIF weekly?
Do you complain and bemoan work?

We live in a culture with an increasing negativity towards work and a growing reward system for not doing it.  The younger generation believes their work is worth 10 fold what they have accomplished and the older generation is tired of carrying the weight.

More and more work is a negative necessity.  I believe God desires to redeem work.  God has good for you in His plans.  There is grace and purpose and passion and…even fun.

Are you willing to allow God to give you His view of what you do?
That change of view might change your whole life.

See you Sunday.

How to Win: Stepping In

I am going to backtrack and pick up where I failed to blog about the message from Joshua 3 and 4.  In these chapters, Joshua lead the people of God across the Jordan River.  The command of God was that the priests would take the Ark of the Covenant (a heavy wooden, gold covered box with holy relics in it that represented the presence of God in their midst) into the Jordan River…and THEN…he would part the waters.

The priests had to take the Ark into the water to see something happen.  This is odd to me.  I think carrying heavy boxes into water is not the way you get across them, it is the way you drown in them.  Yet they obeyed and stepped in.
Step in.
You must step into it before you can step out of it.

Whatever “it” is in your life.  An addiction.  A marriage problem.  A problem with your children.  Financial struggles.  You have to step in.
We so often never experience victory because we avoid the struggle all together.  We refuse to get our feet and robes muddy and wet and therefore we never see God’s deliverance.  We stand at the shores and demand of God, “Part the waters and I will walk forward.”  And God is saying, “Walk forward and I will part the waters.”
In most situations in life, we are much more interested with getting though something than going through something.  We want out…not in.  Faith means we trust God by stepping in…not just by stepping out.

But remember, God goes first.
The Ark of the Covenant was first…the literal presence of God in their midst.  God has gone before you.  He has conquered death, sin, and the grave.  FOLLOW HIM.
Expect the Victory.
Often we lose because we expect to.  Quit expecting a God that can do anything to do nothing.
Expend the Obedience.
Victory is costly. 
Experience the Power.
The order here matters.  The power comes along the path of obedience.

How to Win: Winners say what?

Joshua comes across an armed man and asks him “Are you for us or against us?”  He is then told by the man, “No.  I am the commander of the Lord’s Army and I have come.”  He is then told to take off his sandals because he is on Holy Ground.

I find this to be a very interesting interaction because Joshua expected a certain answer.  Either, “I am for you” or “I am against you.”  It was not a yes/no question.  The answer, “No.”

The issue that Joshua dealt with that day is one we must deal with every day if we are going to live victorious in life as followers of Jesus Christ.  It is the issue of having the right question for wrong person.  It is not yours to ask God, “Are you for me or against me?”  It is God’s to ask you, “Are you for me or against me?”

I know Scripture teaches us “If God is for us then who can be against us.”  The problem is that we assume that if in every decision we make.  Is God for your decision to sin against him?  No.  He is not in your divorce decision because your spouse is a difficult person.  He is not for that because he told you He is not for that in His Word.  No he is not for your plan to get rich by tithing to the church that says you will get rich by tithing to that church.  “The Son of Man had no place to lay his head.”  He said come follow him.

Winners quit expecting exact blessings and accept the ones extended to them.

Joshua did not get the blessing he wanted.  Yes, I am here for you.  He got the blessing of, “I am here.”
(I failed to blog on the previous week’s message about the crossing of Jordan River, but the priests had to step into the flooding waters before God did anything.)  The truth is that God is often telling us, “No, this is not all going away.  But neither am I.”  Yet, we want a different blessing.  An exact one.  A life of our choosing…not His.  Yet we still confess him Lord, while all the while lording over his lordship.

Winners quit seeking the victory and seek the Victor.

Jesus won.  Walk with him and win.

How to Win: The Price of Success

In the beginning of Joshua 5, we learn that the people that live in the land the Israelites have just entered are in great fear of them because God parted the Jordan River.  There was an expectation of greatness and victory.

The price of victory is success.  Success is both a reward and a price.
The more you win the more you are expected to win.  The more you do the more you are expected to do.  It affects jobs, marriages, churches, faith, and friendship.  This is a fact of life.  My wife, my children, my church, and my staff expect a great deal from me.  This expectation is not just built on who I should be; it is the result of who I have been.  You either keep paying the price or quit experiencing the rewards.  Success is costly.
The story continues on from my last blog post and the people of Israel celebrate Passover.  This festival reminds them of God’s work to deliver them from slavery in Egypt.  As a result of this obedient act of celebration, they lose their food source, manna.  Manna is literally bread from heaven that God has miraculously supplied his people for 40 years.  Now, however, they are in the land promised to them.  A land that flows with milk and honey and has plenty of produce.  They no longer need the manna.  
Winning means no longer receiving what you no longer need.
Walking in God’s promises today often means abandoning yesterday’s provisions.
We live in a day and age when people often begrudge no longer getting what they never deserved.  Whether it is a government subsidy or a personal pleasure in life, people learn to expect more than they appreciate the things that are often theirs by grace.  Be willing to let go of what you no longer need.  God has more for you.  It might mean it is time to work the land instead of pick up easy bread, but in the end, it is a much greater promise he has for you.
Winners stop seeking the emotions of past successes and seek the provision for current ones.
Quit trying to re-create the experiences of your past.  Do you really want a marriage like day one?  You want the same salary and housing that came with that season of life?  Find fresh love and new connection with your spouse in life as it is now.  
Quit trying to re-create spiritual experiences of when you got saved by jumping from church to church looking for a new or fresh experience.  Live out your faith where God has you and seek Him.
Winners stop seeking the victory and start seeking the Victor.
Jesus has already won.  Seek him, not just the benefits you desire from him.

How to Win: Are you marked?

Have you ever found God doing something different than you expected on the backside of something great?  It is not that life is bad, it is just not what you expected.  Often in these seasons, God is doing so much more than we can see.  In Joshua 5 we find the nation of Israel (the people of God) having just miraculously crossed the Jordan River.  Here they are now in the Promised Land…just barely.  They are there though.  After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, they are standing on the land promised to their forefathers generations back.
So what does God do next?  He commands them to be circumcised.  Then after they obediently observe the Passover he takes away the manna he has graciously fed them with for 40 years.  Then to top it off the commander of the Lord’s Army shows up and when asked if he is for them or agains them he answers a not “yes or no” with a no.  What in the world is God up to now?
God often puts us in a position of vulnerability before he puts us in a place of victory.  Think about what happened when all the men of Israel were circumcised.  (This was done because they had not been obedient in this command during the 40 years in the wilderness.)  They were vulnerable.  If they had done this on the other side of the Jordan at least they would not have been open to attack, but here they were in the wide open and easy to defeat.  This act of obedience was commanded of Abraham and is the mark of God upon his nation.  It is often during our seasons of vulnerability that God marks us as his own.
For brevity sake, I will not teach all of this chapter in one post, but I will encourage you to read more from it at my blog this week.  Why did the manna stop coming at this point in the story?  Why was God not “for them”?
The thought I want you to end with today is are you willing and ready to stop avoiding vulnerability and start finding security in God’s ownership?  Are you ready to stop living by your own plans and purposes and trust him.  Will you allow this season of pain, pressure, stress, disillusionment, discouragement, loneliness, or whatever tough time you may be in to be a season where you allow God to mark you as his own?  Will you allow your vulnerability to verify you as a child of the King?
That is what it takes to win at the things that matter in life.