#210: Are Ordinary People Made Extraordinary by Following God’s Purpose?

Is it true that ordinary people are made extraordinary by following God’s purpose? The Bible is full of examples of God calling ordinary people who accomplished great things for the Kingdom.

Gideon, Ordinary

Take Gideon for example.

Gideon, the Poor Farmer

When God called Gideon, he was threshing wheat for his father. The Lord told Gideon to conquer the Midianites, but Gideon protested saying his family was the weakest in the entire land of Manasseh and he was the youngest in his family.

In faith, Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling all the Israelites to battle, and 32,000 men showed up to fight. God reduced the size of Gideon’s army to only 300 men. Those 300 men plus God defeated the Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers.

The Israelites enjoyed 40 years of peace during the lifetime of Gideon.

Gideon was an ordinary young man, the son of an ordinary man, with an ordinary family.

Ordinary Family

Gideon described his family as the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. His parents had turned away from God and worshipped the idols Baal and Asherah. There were no nobles or powerful leaders in his family to show him the way.

Ordinary Trials

The first action the Lord demanded of Gideon was to tear down his parent’s altar to Baal and their Asherah pole. He was to replace them with an altar to the Lord. Gideon did exactly as the Lord commanded.

Ordinary Fears

Gideon was so afraid of what his father and the men of the city would do when they found the altar to Baal destroyed, and the Asherah pole cut down; he did it at night. Gideon was afraid to attack the Midianite army, so God arranged for Gideon to overhear a Midianite’s dream of being conquered.

Ordinary Difficulties

The Israelites had no army to wage war. Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling Israelites from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulun, to join him in the battle.

Ordinary Doubts

To say Gideon had doubts about God’s call on his life is putting it mildly. He asked God to confirm His call to attack the Midianites not once, but twice.

Ordinary People are made Extraordinary

There is a little bit of Gideon in all of us isn’t there?

We view ourselves as ordinary. We come from quite ordinary families and are leading quite ordinary lives. Perhaps even the weakest, least qualified person we know to be called by God.

Yet God calls us to serve the Kingdom.

Perhaps the initial call on our life is a small step, like Gideon removing the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole.

Even so, we experience fear. What might happen if I step out in faith? Will I fail? Will I look foolish? What will others think of me?

Then we imagine the difficulties that may lie ahead if we follow God’s call. The task seems insurmountable to us. We cannot possibly do what God is asking us to do. We forget that one plus God is always a majority.

Even with God’s assurances, we doubt we can do what God has called us to do.

This is Why God Calls the Ordinary

It is because we are ordinary that God calls us to do the extraordinary. It is when we act in faith despite our insecurities, our fears, and our doubts that we demonstrate God’s strength and His glory.

So, the next time you feel God’s call on your life consider young Gideon, the youngest and weakest of his tribe. Who, despite his insecurities, fear, and doubts followed God’s call on his life and became an extraordinary man of God.

Our world needs ordinary men and women to say “yes” to God and become extraordinary in the process!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you ready to move from ordinary to extraordinary as you heed God’s call on your life? If not, what is holding you back?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

 

#209: You and I are on a Journey to God Knows Where!

Have you ever been lost? You know where you want to end up, but you don’t know where you are, and you’re not sure how to get where you want to go?

Journey

I’ve been that lost. Just a few years ago, before cars with GPS, I was driving to meet a co-worker early in the morning. The sun was up, but the fog was so thick it was nearly dark. I lost my sense of direction and got completely turned around. Instead of driving north to the meeting place, I had turned south. I didn’t realize my error until I saw the Pacific Ocean in front of me!

When I was a young lad in Boy Scouts, I learned to hike a specific route through the woods out and back using a compass. I plotted a course out to the destination and followed the compass. After arriving at my destination, I plotted a course using the compass back to camp. With my compass, I never got lost. Without it, I would probably still be wandering around in the Idaho woods.

Life is like that. We make our plans. But then, like when I was lost in the fog, we get turned around and head off in the wrong direction. We plot our course. But without a compass (or a GPS) we get lost and wander about never reaching our destination.

There is good news. As pastor Kurt Johnston said in a sermon recently, “When you don’t know where you’re headed, God knows where He is taking you.” We do not have to get lost on our journey through life. God has given us the ultimate compass; the Holy Spirit to guide our lives and His Word to direct our path.

Many thanks to Pastor Kurt Johnston of Saddleback Church for giving me permission to adapt his sermon to this blog article!

We Don’t Know Where God is Taking Us

The challenge for us is we often don’t know where God is taking us. That makes us nervous and sometimes scared to death. Humanity has always been like that.

Remember the story of Esther? God placed her in a position to become queen and save the people of Israel from extermination. She had no idea where her life was headed, or where she would end up, but God knew exactly where He was taking her.

Gideon was the least of his tribe, and his tribe was the smallest of all the Israelite tribes. Yet God called Gideon to lead their army to victory over their enemies (Judges 6-8). Gideon was so skeptical God was calling him, he asked God for proof—twice!

David was the youngest of his family when God called him to be king. Do you think David had any idea what lay ahead in his life? Fighting Goliath. Being befriended by King Saul then hunted by him? Traitors and insurrection arose from within his own family. Yet David was the king who united the tribes of Israel. David, the young shepherd boy, had no idea where the Lord was taking him.

We see this and similar scenarios repeated throughout the pages of scripture. Sometimes people question where they are going. Sometimes they head off in the wrong direction (Jonah). Sometimes they doubt God is calling them.

Through it all, God knows exactly where He is taking us.

How to Get to Where God Wants Us to Go

Pastor Kurt offered three tips for getting to where God wants us to go.

1) Embrace the ambiguity of life. We want to have all the answers. We crave the certainty of knowing what comes next. But God is perfectly comfortable leading us one step at a time because He knows that’s all we can handle.

Jesus told the disciples not to worry but to seek God, saying “…do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34).

2) Persevere through adversity. Everyone faces adversity in their lives. Successful people persevere through adversity to achieve God’s best.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to persevere saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

3) Rest in His authority. There is no circumstance in this life that can derail God’s plan.

When he finally recognized God’s sovereignty “…Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1-2).

Our Journey as Leaders

Make no mistake. God has a plan for every one of us. We may not know where God is taking us, but He does.

As leaders, we must set an example for those who follow. We must embrace life’s uncertainties knowing that God cares for us. We must persevere through any and all adversity knowing that God will never abandon us. And we must accept and rest in God’s sovereign authority.

Remember, you and I are on a journey to God knows where! Even when we don’t know where we’re headed, God knows where He is taking us.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned where God was leading you? How did you feel at the time? Did you face adversity? Did you rest in the assurance of God’s plan?

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Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

 

 

#208: What is the Cause of our Deepening Cultural Divide?

There is a deepening cultural divide that exists around the world. Protests, riots, and wars are being fought over these political differences.

Cultural Divide

The disagreements run the gamut from annoyance to vehement disagreement. Some even live in fear of what action those with different views will take to advance their agenda.

This tension certainly exists between our government and the populace. It existed long before I was born, and has existed throughout all thirteen presidents who have served during my lifetime.

We have become a people who, for the most part, look to the president and the rest of our government to direct our affairs. When they do what we want, we like them, when they don’t, well, we hate them.

Many of the international, domestic, economic, and social issues that divide us have been around for a very long time. For example,

  • Some people want secure borders; others want open borders.
  • Some people want tight controls on drugs and guns, while others don’t.
  • Some people believe in limited government, while others see the government as the solution to most of the problems we face as a society.
  • Some people believe abortion is a woman’s right, while others believe in the rights of the unborn.

Secular versus Biblical Worldview

In every case, the various opinions are an expression of the differences in people’s worldview; either secular or Biblical.

A secular (or humanist) worldview places humanity at the center. The secularist rejects the idea of a supernatural being (God), preferring to explain the cosmos in terms of science. Morals are derived from human experience. Ethics are relative since there is no higher being (moral relativism).

A Biblical worldview places God at the center. The Biblical worldview accepts God as the Creator of all things. Morals and ethics are derived from God. God created man; man sinned against God, and God has a redemptive plan in His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no Biblical provision for a separation between the “religious” and “secular” life of a believer. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus did not say, “I am the way on Sunday, but anything goes at work on Monday.” So, in the Biblical worldview, all aspects of the believer’s life, has at its core, a belief in God and His plan for humanity.

The Cause of the Cultural Divide

The cause of our cultural divide traces directly back to a difference in worldview.

Secularists, or in today’s nomenclature, progressives, espouse a worldview in direct opposition to a Biblical worldview.

What is difficult for me to reconcile is that many secularists I know say they believe in God, yet support secular beliefs. This inconsistency baffles me. How can someone say they believe in God and reject what He says?

Sadly, there are just as many who claim a Biblical worldview as Christians who manage to divide their lives between Biblical and secular life. This inconsistency also baffles me.

Christian Leaders and a Biblical Worldview

A worldview is comprehensive. It informs every area of our lives from work to finances, family, marriage, politics, and everything in-between. Inconsistency in the expression of our worldview weakens the testimony of the Christian leader. There must be no inconsistency in the expression of our worldview.

Writing to the church in Laodicea the Spirit said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15 HCSB)” The last thing a Christian leader should be is “lukewarm.”

A Christian leader who holds firmly to their Biblical worldview becomes spiritually mature and Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:13).

If you are a Christian leader, who holds firmly to a Biblical worldview, congratulations! Be strong and courageous.

If you are a Christian leader who recognizes some inconsistency in the expression of your worldview then pray for direction from the Holy Spirit, spend time in God’s Word, and seek out other Christian leaders with whom you can share your struggles.

No matter what, do not remain lukewarm!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How does your worldview influence your life? What role does your worldview play in decisions you make?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

#207: What Can We Learn From A Courageous Slave Girl?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

What can we learn from a courageous slave girl with a simple message? As I’ve said before, I love studying lesser known characters in the Bible. Few of them are “lesser known” than the young woman described in 2 Kings 5:2-3:

Slave Girl Naaman

“Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.’”

Her place in history is short and not even marked with her name. We only know that she was a young Jewish girl taken captive in a Syrian army raid. She was forced to be the personal servant of the wife of Naaman, the Syrian army commander.

While Naaman was a highly-regarded military commander, he suffered from leprosy. Leprosy was incurable and made Naaman a societal outcast.

This young Jewish girl, serving as a slave to her mistress, boldly suggested that Naaman could be cured of his leprosy if only he would go and visit God’s prophet (Elisha), who lived in Samaria.

4 Lessons from a Courageous Slave Girl

Despite her brief appearance in the pages of scripture, we can take four important lessons from this unnamed slave girl.

  1. She accepted her situation without bitterness or rancor. We see no indication that being torn away from her family and forced to serve her captors made her bitter. In fact, this situation describes someone with a remarkably positive attitude.
  2. She retained her faith in God. She does not curse God for placing her in this situation. Rather, her actions demonstrate a strong faith in God’s power and grace.
  3. She acted on her faith. When the opportunity to act on her faith arose she took it. Her faith did not remain hidden in a closet but was shared with her captors as she witnessed to them.
  4. She wished her master would experience God’s healing grace. You can sense caring, perhaps even love, in her plea for her master to be healed of his suffering.

2 Important Conclusions

This unnamed young girl didn’t have much of an opportunity to serve the Lord, but when her opportunity arose, she laid ahold of it and acted. Without her courage, Naaman would have remained a leper the rest of his life.

  • How often do we allow an opportunity to serve the Lord slip away because we are afraid or we think the task is too small?

Along with courage, I see a young woman who was gracious. Despite her trials, she reflected God’s love to her captors. She did not stop serving God, nor did she become bitter because of her circumstances.

  • How often do we look away from someone who is struggling because we think they deserve it? How often do we refuse to share God’s love and mercy because someone disagrees with us?

Hurting people surround us in the workplace. As Christian leaders, we have the opportunity, no, the responsibility, to be courageous and gracious as we share God’s love and compassion with those who need it most.

If not us, who will shine God’s light on a darkened world?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you been placed in difficult situations in which you were able to shine the light of God’s love and grace to an unbeliever? What happened?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God