But First…Our Souls

But First Our Souls

At it’s core, the story of Gideon is a story of restoration.

We have such an individualistic conception of faith that we tend to see this story exclusively through the lens of Gideon’s transformation from farmer to warrior.  In his weakness, Gideon finds a strength from God that enables Him to do the impossible.  That’s completely right, true, and biblical.  But it’s not the only thing God is doing in the story.  It’s also a time of military, economic, and cultural restoration for Israel.  What God does through Gideon changes everything.  Families no longer go to sleep fearing for their safety and workers no longer toil fearing they’ll never see the fruit of their labor.  Through Gideon, God restores His people to a time of peace, economic stability, and freedom from oppression.

We need to see that larger story because so much of our culture and so much of our lives are in desperate need of restoration.  21st century America needs to rediscover truth, civility, and a sense of value and dignity for all as image bearers of God.  We need to fight back against the injustice of racism, abortion, human trafficking, and so many other forms of violence against humanity.  At times, our personal concerns seem small in comparison but we all know they are no less painful.  We want our marriages to flourish and our families to thrive.  We want to get some sleep, get in shape, and have energy again.  We want to love others unconditionally and stop getting so disappointed when they don’t meet our expectations.  We want to figure out how to make ends meet financially.

When we think about personal and cultural restoration, we need to do so through the lens of Gideon:

That night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.”

– Judges 6:25-26

Personal and cultural restoration starts with spiritual restoration and spiritual restoration always leads to personal and cultural restoration.  

It’s no accident that God calls Gideon to fight a spiritual battle before a military one.  Before he deals with the Midianites, Gideon needs to deal with the idols in his own house.  He needs to get back into right relationship with God and rediscover the joy of walking with Yahweh before he’s going to affect great change in the world.  The same is true for us.  We make a tremendous mistake when we attempt to divorce our spirituality from the rest of our lives.  The health of your soul has a direct impact on the health of your finances, your family, your body, and your relationships.  We so often want to avoid the pain and introspection of dealing with our souls and just figure out a practical solution to whatever is bothering us today.  But that shortcut rarely leads anywhere good or lasting.  Real restoration starts in our souls and radiates out to the rest of our lives.

But when real restoration has come to our souls, it will radiate out.  Your relationship with Jesus is designed to change every area of your life, the life of your church, and the life of your community.  Judges 6:25 starts with the phrase, “that night.”  The author is referring to the same night that Gideon met the angel of the Lord.  Gideon’s encounter with God immediately turned into spiritual restoration and a sense of mission.  There’s no gap.  Spiritual restoration, personal restoration, and cultural restoration are inexorably linked, not some multi-step, multi-year process.

The greatest gift we can ever offer others is a soul in vital union with Jesus.  When His life is flowing in and through us, the possibilities for restoration are endless.  So, start there.  When our souls are satisfied in Christ, it changes everything for us and for the people around us.

The Not Ready To Lead Club

Most Christians wait way too long before stepping up to lead in the church.  There are all kinds of reasons for this: over committed schedules, church cultures that stifle lay leadership and lack of opportunity are all too common.  But one I hear pretty regularly is, “I’m just not ready.”

To which I say, “Join the club!”

No, I don’t always feel ready to lead a church.  But I’m not even close to being the founding member of the not ready to lead club.  We have a long and distinguished history.  Consider a few of our better known members:

King Saul: “Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. Therefore they inquired further of the Lord, ‘Has the man come here yet?’ So the Lord said, ‘Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.’”(1 Samuel 10:21-22)  Samuel was ready to anoint Saul King and Saul is hiding in the baggage cart.

Moses: “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?'”(Exodus 3:11)  God calls Moses to free Israel from slavery and Moses spends two chapters trying to talk God out of it(Exodus 3&4).

Gideon:  “He said to Him, ‘O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.’” (Judges 6:15).  Gideon is busy explaining his lack of qualification to the angel of the Lord.

If you want to go New Testament on this one, just pick a disciple.  That whole crew was pretty inept!

Where are you offering God excuses when He’s asking for obedience?

My point isn’t that training, preparation and equipping don’t matter.  They do.  But if you’re waiting to lead until you feel ready, you’ll never get in the game.  God isn’t looking for people who are sure of their ability.  He’s looking for people who are utterly convinced of His.

If God is calling you to lead, trust He knows what He’s doing.

I’m praying for a wave of new Community Group Leaders at Restoration City Church.  We’ll train you and we’ll provide weekly Community Group discussion guides.  We’re not going to toss you into the deep end to drown.  But we need you to jump into the pool with us!

It’s time for some of us to get out from behind the baggage and get into the game.