Read Gideon’s full story in Judges 6-8.

Have you ever felt yourself go into “survival mode”? When was that? How did that make you feel?

This is something I am constantly wrestling with. My personality is such that I like to get things done. I am often prone to taking on more than I can really handle. And it gets to the point that I’m just going from one project to the next without giving any of it much thought. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in the details of day-to-day “survival” to the point that I lose sight of the end goal.
It’s in times like that I have to hit the reset button. I have to take a step back and look at the big picture. Why am I doing these things? To what end? When we first see Gideon, he has no big picture in mind. He’s just doing what he has to do to survive. It take courage and intentionality to keep your end goal in mind. For me, if I’m going to move forward and not just tread water, I’ve got to be focused on the larger goal of disciple making. If the things I’m doing aren’t building disciples, then I’m doing it wrong. God’s plans are always bigger than our own. Gideon got that wake up call. And most weeks I need it, too.

Have you ever asked God for a sign? Did he give you one or not? How do you know?

Generally speaking, I don’t go through life looking for signs all around me. I don’t know that God has much to do with where I should eat or what I should wear or what my schedule for the day should include. However, on the bigger decisions I believe God has almost always given me a clear sign. I haven’t always asked for them, but God gives them anyway.
For instance, I felt God’s call to youth ministry stronger than I’ve ever felt him before or since. And with both of my full-time ministry jobs (both in Illinois and here in Indiana), God has made it clear through a series of seemingly unrelated events. They seemed coincidental at the time, but clearly it was God working in the situations to take us where we needed to be. I’ve found in my life that when God gives me some kind of sign, it cannot be ignored!

Read James 1:13-15 again. How could success actually be dangerous for you? Have you ever experienced that cycle in your life?

As a minister, I know that we are especially vulnerable to the temptations of success. Just look around at headlines across the country that keep popping up. Pastor after pastor fall from grace because of matters related to success, wealth, fame, and power. Deep down I want to be successful at what I do. But I know that if I try to make it happen on my own, that success will be hollow. Unless I am following God’s lead, there is a real danger in being dragged out with the current of cultural success into places I never could imagine. Would I like to make more money, have a bigger house, lead hundreds of students in weekly Bible studies, and get a contracted book deal from a major publisher? Sure! That sounds awesome! But…unless God leads me into those things, I’m setting myself up for even bigger failure. Desire is not neutral. Unless our sole desire is to do the will of God, then all other desires are evil and can drag us down to ruin and destruction before we even know what’s happening.
For Gideon, his success, power, and fame were his downfall. I do not want the same to be said for me.