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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: Responsibility

The Road Less Traveled

Wesley Skinner

There are a lot of verses that stand out to me when I think about what is most important. Most people have a few verses that they like or maybe they are comforted by. But my favorite verse is one that embraces discomfort. 

1 Samuel chapter 15 has influenced the direction of my life more than any other passage I can remember.  

Samuel, the prophet of God, has just told Saul, the king, his marching orders from God; 'Go and completely destroy the Amalekites;men, women, children, livestock. Anything that moves or breathes, I want their name blotted out of the history books.'(paraphrase) But that's not what Saul does. Saul destroys everything excepet the king and keeps the good of the livestock to make a sacrifice to The Lord. We find out later, whether it is true or just an excuse, that he did this because he gave into what he thought was expected of him by his soldiers. 

What Saul did was the good and right and acceptable thing in his culture. Their custom was to save the good of the livestock to make a sacrifice to God, thanking Him for victory. The problem was, God didn't want the culturally acceptable thing, He wanted obedience.  

The first time I remember this passage standing out to me was early in college. I was at a conference, sitting in the floor of the hotel lobby just doing my daily scripture reading. I had been wrestling for a while with the question of what God wanted from my life, and here was the answer. Obedience.  

What I had been trying to do for so long was work God into my plan for my life. I had bought into the Christian spin on the American dream. My focus was wife, kids, nice house, good job, lots of toys, to be important some how and give God 10%. The other 90% was mine. Or even to try and figure out how to serve God in a good and right and culturally acceptable way like be a youth pastor(nothing wrong with that just not where God was leading me, thank God!) I knew what God wanted out of my life and being a missionary, especially one who lives in America and hangs out with college students, doesn't fit the culturally acceptable paradigm. I knew that some people wouldn't understand, and after 7 years of this some people still don't. Even friends of mine in ministry that infer or sometimes just flat out say, 'when you're ready to do REAL ministry come plant a church with me.' The problem was then, and still is today, that would not be obedience to God's call in my life. 

Understanding that obedience to God will not make sense to everyone and you will feel pressure to compromise, even from well-intentioned friends is a tough reality to embrace. It is also not always an easy road, but this less traveled road makes all the difference. 

 

Even Moses can't do it alone!(Exodus 17-18)

Wesley Skinner

Delegation is great! There are a lot of times, when Monica has been talking about me, she says, 'Wesley doesn't actually do anything, he just gets other people to do stuff!' In a lot of ways that is really accurate. I'm the idea guy! And I love being the idea guy! I love dreaming big, casting vision and getting things started, then afterward, I love evaluating and seeing how we can improve. I am a great starter and mobilizer, I am not a great finisher. This is where Monica and I make a great team! I can easily get a lot of things started and not finish any of them before moving on, this is why I have read the first half of most of the books on my bookshelf. Monica is not that way, she needs completion before moving on.  

I have noticed this same problem with getting consistency in running again. I want to run. I have a great plan. When I am in shape, I really love to run. But the last time I had consistency was when I was on the cross country team at UAH. Having the team really helped me to stick with it. I have noticed this in other areas as well, I can run really hard for a while, I can juggle a lot of things, I can get a lot of cool things rolling, but unless I have other people with me, I will burn out. This is a lesson Moses had to learn. 

We get this cool picture of battle. A battle is happening and as long as Moses holds up his hands, Israel is winning. But as time progressed, he needed his friends to hold up his arms for him. Then we see Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, give him some golden advice 'The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.'

Moses learned two things here: 

1. Delegation is a beautiful thing.  

2. It is good to have people who can look from the outside in and give advice.  

Random observation: Jethro ate, with Moses and the elders, in the presence of God. 

 

A burning bush moment(exodus 1-4)

Wesley Skinner

A moment we all wish we had, that burning bush moment. How many times have you longed for God to speak to you in some unmistakable way? If only God would appear to me in some dramatic fashion, I could do what He says with confidence... Let's look at the story of a man who had that chance encounter. 

Moses, the man we will follow for the next month or more, enters the picture. As a baby, he is taken in by Pharaoh's daughter, rather than killed, like other Hebrew boys. He grows up with all the Egyptian luxuries he could want. One day he stands up for a Hebrew slave being beaten and kills an Egyptian. Moses runs for his life. He finds a place in midian and marries. At the age of 80, God speak to him from a burning bush. 

And what does God tell Moses in this miraculous way? 'Go tell pharaoh to let my people go! ' Moses, a man uniquely qualified for this job. Raised in Egyptian royalty, educated like the king, raised as brother to pharaoh, passionate about fair treatment to his kin. If anyone is qualified for this job, it is Moses and now God is speaking to him directly in a miraculous way. How does Moses respond? He gives every excuse in the book to get out of doing what God says!

I am always so quick to pass judgement on Moses. This same judgement will be a frequent theme in coming weeks, as I struggle to understand how Israel can turn from God so quickly, time and time again. But, if I'm honest, I wonder how different I really would have responded. Obedience to God is no different for me than for Moses. Sure, I don't have a burning bush telling me to do things, but when I know what God is asking of me, how often do I respond exactly like Moses? I'm not you're guy. No one will listen to me. Who do I tell them sent me. I'm not a good enough speaker. People won't want to give money to see the mission happen. Being vulnerable with people about struggling to have a baby will be too embarrassing. Calling people to go on mission will seem too pushing. Sharing the gospel with that person will end in rejection. Being myself will be insuffient. 

In the end, I wonder, if we are not quickly obedience to God without a burning bush, what makes us think we will be obedient with one? 

 

Don't try to resist sexual sin, flee!(Gen 39)

Wesley Skinner

Anytime I get to talk about sexual temptation, Genesis 39 is my go to. Joseph is more concerned about honoring God than what other people might think of him. That's integrity. 

In Genesis 39, Joseph is employed by Potiphar, an Egyptian official, and Potiphar's wife continues to make sexual advances to Joseph. Now, before we go any further I have to put this out there, Potiphar was an Egyptian official, she was probably much younger than him and hot. So don't give me any of that, 'it was easy for Joseph to not give in to temptation because the girl wasn't hot' , rich, shallow, godless people have trophy wives. Potiphar was likely no exception. 

So what do you learn from Joseph? 

1. Don't put yourself in easy situations to sin. This is the first thing I talk to with students about boundaries, either in a relationship or personally. Your far more likely to give in to temptation when you're isolated than not. In a dating relationship, be careful where you spend your alone time. Third wheels and public places help keep your hands where they should be.  

2. Honoring God is paramount. Joseph acknowledges sleeping with Potiphar's wife would be a violation of the trust his master had given him, but Joseph was more concerned with how it affected his relationship with God. 'How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' If your concern is only for yourself, it is easy to sin. But if you think about how it affects other people and ultimately if it honors God or not, a simple thing becomes more significant. Integrity, character. Because even if no one knows, God does. 

3. Flee from sexual sin! Joseph knew that it was better to run away and face the consequences than to stay in the place of temptation. When you are tempted, get out! Don't just think you can resist and fight the temptation, leave. And I mean leave, physically. If it's at home alone when temptation comes, get out of the house. If you are in a danger zone on a date leave that place, get around people, or at least not in an environment that leads to going farther. This might make you a weirdo, but you have honored God and respected the other person.  

Later in scripture we see Jesus make statements like, 'if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out', I don't think he actually means pluck out your eye, but we need to take radical steps to avoid sexual sin. The story doesn't end well for Joseph, he did the right thing and got thrown in prison, but he honored God and ultimately this may have been God way of getting Joseph into a position of influence later on in Egypt. 

4. Men need to take responsibility for sexual purity. This seems unnatural in some ways because today, men as the sexually aggressive ones. Being a man is not about having sexual exploits to brag about, it's about having character. Men need to be the ones to stop things before they start. In a dating relationship a man will honor his girlfriend and respect her. He is responsible for guarding the purity of that relationship. So men, step up and take responsibility!