What Is Your Jericho?

jericho

For 40 years, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Then they made it to Jericho. This wasn’t what God actually promised to THEM specifically. God promised Jericho to the generation before those who made it. This was a new generation, but it was the same promise from the same God.

Have you ever heard people talk about those praying grandmas from church? There are those spirit filled praying grandmas that change lives, even when we don’t know it. People have been praying for you since before you knew it. People are praying for you now, and you don’t know it. Your life is changing, because somebody has been praying for you. You may even be reading this right now, because someone prayed that this very message would speak to your heart.

Just as those grandma prayers are answered in time and just as the Israelites made it to Jericho in time, your prayers will be answered and God’s promise will be kept.

But here’s the problem: most of us don’t know what we’re praying for. The Israelites prayed for the Promised Land and they received it. What is your Jericho? What is the dream in your heart? What is the goal in your life? What is it that you want in your life that only God can do for you? That is your Jericho. Something that seems so far away and impossible, but God can give it to you. God can’t be intimidated by your dreams. He’s the one who put them in your heart in the first place, so do not fear.

God wants you to voice your wants to Him. This is not because He doesn’t know what you want, but because He wants YOU to know what you want. In Luke 18, Jesus was coming to – you guessed it – Jericho. Outside of the walls sat a blind man who called out to Jesus. This man was blind and it was pretty obvious what he needed, but in verse 41 Jesus asked him “What do you want me to do for you?” We need to make ourselves clear not only to God, but to ourselves when we pray. The blind man said he wanted to see, and Jesus healed him and gave him sight.

Are you voicing your needs? Are you walking circles around your Jericho? Are you praying about your wants, needs, and dreams? This takes time and prayer. Remember, they circled Jericho for 7 days without talking. This took time and obedience, but God gave them their promise and miracle.

It’s okay to dream. It’s good to dream. It’s good to circle those dreams and goals for your life in prayer. Pray with your whole heart; it is never something you will regret. God will ALWAYS answer your prayers. It may not always be the answer you want, but when you’re in such deep prayer with God, you only want what He wants for you anyway.

Keep dreaming and keep praying. Those walls will come down. It’s a promise from God, and God never breaks a promise.

On Justice Bigger Than a Hashtag

By Allison Myers

on justice
Saturday night, some of us from our young adults bible study were gathered.
We were talking about this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in American history. We began discussing what it would look like for us to really take up arms against racism, to really fight hard. What would it look like if we named it, called it out, condemned it. What would it look like for our generation to say, “Nope. Not on our watch.”

Our convictions: What about our lives besides our Facebook profile says that we really believe that #BlackLivesMatter? How are we serving and valuing our brothers and sisters in law enforcement? What would it look like to make justice bigger than a hashtag. To make it more than a change in profile picture or a fiery comment on a stranger’s blog.
We talked about the good in social media. How it unites people. How it informs people. How it starts dialogue and conversation and how, yes, it’s a good place to be publicly supportive of this or of that. But it cannot stay there. It cannot start and end with a brief, self-important status update of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims of the latest tragedy we’ve become numb to, while we are otherwise silent as racial tension continues to boil over and kill our brothers and sisters.

Can a community, a nation made up of people from different races really come together to unite against hate? Does that look like a “colorblind” world where we refuse to acknowledge race at all? I don’t think so. I think it looks more like, seeing a person of a different color and not hating them for it. Not being afraid of them for it. Not believing they are inferior for it. Not making fun of them for it. Not laughing at other people who make fun of them for it. (Your racist jokes are setting us back, just so ya know, so, could you not?) I think it looks like reaching out and saying, “I’m here to listen. I want to hear about your life and your grief and your pain as a person with a different experience than me. A different ‘normal’ than me. Different fears than me.”
And of course, that’s all easier said than done. As it takes years of repition to learn something, so does it to unlearn. We are unlearning. I am unlearning. Every day, I am unlearning. And as we unlearn, we undo. Little by little, we undo an establishment of indifference and of blind privilege. An establishment that’s told us that different is synonymous with bad. Be patient with one another.
It’s so easy to paint people with broad brushes — ”Thugs,” “Cops,” “Minorites,” “Whites,” “Muslims,” “Black Lives Matter ‘Punks,’” as one former congressman so eloquently put it. It’s so easy to run to extremes when we’re scared. It’s so easy to politicize tragedies when we’re watching from behind our 5″ screens instead of going and actually mourning with those who are heartbroken. It’s so easy to strip someone of their humanity and publicly rip apart their character when you don’t have to look into the bloodshot eyes of the weeping parents who just lost their child. And Christians: isn’t it so easy to forget how bad we are, when we’re looking at someone whom the world deems “worse”? As if we’re not all a lost cause without Christ’s grace. It’s easy to forget the sweetness of that grace as we spew venom into the abyss that is a Facebook comment section.

We asked: How do we combat racism in our community? What are some of the conversations that need to take place? With whom? How do we start them? Is it going to be hard? Probably. Is it necessary? Definitely.
Plainly, we’re not sure what to do. It’s overwhelming. But as with most problems, it starts internally. As Pastor Todd Wagner said, we’ve first got to draw a circle around ourselves and remember that apart from Christ, there’s nothing good in any of us. You don’t eradicate something so deep-seeded overnight. But I think we can start where we are. We can start here. We can stop sweeping the issue of race under the rug as if it doesn’t exist. And we can continue to serve and love and faithfully share the gospel of a just God who promises to one day make all things right.

Ann Voskamp said, “The world needs prayer warriors who don’t see prayer as the least we can do but the most we can do. And then get on knees and pray us through.”
Pray that we will continue to unlearn and undo, to grow in compassion and empathy. Pray that God will be made much of. We know that any solution other than Christ is just an empty coping mechanism.
If you have suggestions or answers to some of the above questions, please feel free to chime in. It’s a terrible thing to feel helpless and tiny in the face of something scary and big. But the good news is that though we’re fighting something bigger than us, we have a God who is bigger than it. Though the media, the politicians and gray-haired, middle-aged dudes on Facebook tell us not to, we’re holding fast to a conviction and a belief that God is raising up a generation of helpers. Of lovers. Of fighters. Of light chasers and justice seekers. Of not just hearers, but doers of the Word.

Man of Her Dreams

By Jared duBois

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Growing up, I always wanted to be the best man I could ever be. I wanted to have a beautiful wife one day, raise children, have money to take care of my family, and to be “macho.” My view of what a man was was relatively normal from what I hear most other guys my age describe as what they want to be in this life. But the ideas of how to become this person were horribly twisted and confused by the society I was raised in. In America, we tend to believe that in order to be as manly as possible you have to have tons of facial hair, huge muscles, women surrounding you at all times, money, fast and loud cars, etc. I wanted to have these things so badly when I was growing from my teenage years into my early adult years. This destroyed definition of what a real man is caused a lot of pain in my life; rebellion against my parents, leading a romantic relationship in the wrong direction, and ultimately leaving me feeling helpless. It wasn’t until the end of my first year in college when Jesus took hold my heart and my life, and me surrendering myself to His calling, that I truly began to see that what I thought it took to be a man was all wrong. It took an extra year after that, though, to really make the changes in my own life.

A book that helped me tremendously – one that I will recommend for all of you young men to read – is Kingdom Man by Tony Evans. All of my non-biblical references in this post will be from this book, as well. Dr. Evans does a number of ministerial things in the Dallas area, as well as serves as the team chaplain for the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Cowboys. In this book he delivers a very powerful message as to why we see so many single mothers, hungry children, mentally disturbed individuals, and how men play a role in those statistics. He really helped me in my journey to realize God’s calling not only for me, but for all men.

What is a man, exactly? To understand this, let’s take a look at the very first man to ever live on the earth – Adam. God didn’t create Adam first out of incident. When Adam was created, God put it up to him to name all of the animals and creatures of the land, and gave him the first command He would ever give to any human. Adam had a very big responsibility in the garden: to never eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:15-17) Now, the Lord God saw that Adam needed a helper, and so of Adam, He created a woman. This already gives us an idea of what a relationship between a man and a woman should look like. The woman is of the man, and so the man is given immediate responsibility, while the woman is there to aid and encourage him. However, the two should work in one-ness as Genesis 2:24 tells us. This is a Kingdom calling for men to lead their relationships, and as we see from the fall of Adam and Eve, for men to take on the responsibility of keeping those within his sphere of influence in accordance with God’s Word.

In the world we live in, the cry of Kingdom Men to rise and take charge is loud. In Tony Evans’ book he puts it, “It is everywhere. It is loud. It is in the heartbeat of every child born or raised without a father, every woman’s dream drowned by an irresponsible or neglectful man, every hope snuffed out by confusing circumstances, every lonely soul of a single woman searching for someone worthy to marry, and every sanctuary and community devoid of significant contributions.” It is clearly evident in our world that there is a lack of men who can lead their homes and communities in a positive direction. This is because, since the fall of man, we have tuned our ears to a different calling than that of what our Lord has delivered to us. When Satan approached Eve in the garden, we see our Creator referred to as just “God” instead of “Lord God.” Doing this, Satan stripped the title of master and absolute ruler from God’s name, using this subtle twist to effectively undermine God’s divine and absolute authority. This has caused a heck of a lot of confusion as to what a man is supposed to be, because instead of looking to God’s unchanging and final definition, we begin to create our own.

There are only two answers to every question, including how a man should live and rule; God’s answer and everyone else’s. Men are making decisions based on their own thoughts, beliefs, or values – such as Adam did – rather than basing them on what God has to say as Ruler. We are choosing to rule ourselves. This sounds all fine and dandy but then you get the world that we live in today with all of the broken homes and families that we see around us. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us that the man who delights himself in the law of the Lord is sturdy, producing fruits of the Spirit, and prospers. 119:9-13 of Psalm tells us that in order to keep our ways pure we must guard our hearts according to the Word of God and to declare His rules. God will establish our steps when we delight in His way, and even when we stumble, we will not be cast headlong. (Psalm 37:23) So, we are told all of the wonderful things that come with following God’s calling, so why don’t we do it?

Something that was the breakthrough point for me in my relationship with God and allowing Him to develop me into a Kingdom Man was to let go of my worldly pride. It’s not much of a secret that men are prideful. We have grown men flaunting their status, fighting other men to establish dominance, and bragging about their sexual ventures. In a world that tells us that all of these things are pleasing a good, why would be let go of them? That’s between you and the Holy Spirit. I would have never let go of my pride if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit keeping me in a constant restlessness. It takes this conviction by the Holy Spirit for us to wake up to what God is trying to tell us. The next step to heeding God’s call as a Kingdom Man is to put Him before yourself in everything about your life. This is the meekness described in the Bible that men should have. Meekness is not weakness or timidity. Meekness is submitting yourself before God and His commands and ruling within your sphere of influence with the authority that our Lord has described to you. This is what we call the Headship of Christ.

Just as Christ is the head of the church, He should also be the head of our lives as men, keeping His word so that we may judge and guide our own lives by it. This concept of headship is beautifully illustrated in Ephesians 5:22-33. Here we see that a woman should submit to her husband, for the husband is the head of the marriage as Christ is the head of the church. This is a pretty touchy subject for many people, and that is because our idea of what rule is has been horribly manipulated. “The biblical concept of dominion, or rule, is neither a dictatorship nor a posture of domination, but rather it entails exercising legitimate authority under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Legitimate authority entails all that God provides for and permits a man to do, but not all that a man WISHES to do.” (Kingdom Man, pp. 26) Headship doesn’t determine or reflect a lack of equality. It is not a blanket ticket for male domination; rather this is a hierarchical structure for the home and for the church. The husband has authority over a woman only as long as it is consistent with the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and Ephesians 5:25-33, as mentioned above, gives us a great look at what the Word of God tells us.

So, men, heed the call for Kingdom Men to step up and take charge. Submit yourself before our LORD God in meekness, meditating on His Word so that you may rule within your sphere of influence in a righteous way. Be the head of your relationship, marriage, and family, as Christ is the head of the church. This authority is not an excuse to do as you please, recklessly leading your girlfriend or wife and family. It is the ability to use what our Lord God has instructed us to do to lead your family into a life of submission to His Love, repentance, and diligence to do what is right in His eyes. Hold Ephesians 5:22-33 close to your heart. Be the man God created you to be. Be a Kingdom Man.

Hidden Within

people-feet-train-travellingBy Brandon Upton

As I sit here at Palace Coffee, I am reflecting on my story and how I came to Christian leadership. Growing up, I knew that I had no intention of being the center of attention for anything. I avoided it like the plague! This mindset began to unwind, and morph into something worthwhile. I began to serve in children’s ministry at my home church, and began to question where God was leading me in the realm of leadership. I continued to serve in the children’s ministry for a while longer, and then God lead me to Ceta Canyon Camp and Retreat Center. This place holds a special place in my heart, as this place was where I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

My prayer life took root here, and the seed was planted for mentoring. I began to see the importance of mentoring and the power of prayer. I remember coming back every summer in awe of what God was doing. Transitioning forward, I started at West Texas A & M University in August of 2008. I went in excited and ready to get involved with the WT Wesley Foundation. I started to really take ownership of my faith, and really learned the importance of sitting in the presence of God. I served in a variety of different positions: Intern, Event Team Leader, Drama Team Leader, FNT Leader etc.

In my second year at WT, Beau Niewoehner approached me. Looking inward, Beau Niewoehner saw something in me that I didn’t see at the time. He saw potential.  He approached me and said “your relationship with God is authentic, and you have potential to really make strides in the kingdom”. I thank God for Beau every chance that I get. In my times with Beau, we journeyed together through many different leadership texts and through some books of the bible. My potential began to be realized, and we went further faster because of my mentor Beau. I began to mentor a couple of guys, and began to actively practice spiritual disciplines. I found out quickly that mentoring is the most rewarding, and the most challenging, thing you can ever do. Beau was obedient to where the Spirit was leading, and took that leap of faith.

Have you ever had that feeling that you were meant for something more? Have you ever taken the plunge, and served in some type of leadership? Do you possess the willingness to learn? I want to challenge you to continue to seek the Lord, and continue to pray. I promise you that Christ will lead someone to you!