Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Is Here

Candles flicker in the nativity scene.  Coloured lights twinkle in the dark.  Presents overflow their space under the tree.  Christmas is here.

John Lennon sings, “So this is Christmas.  And what have you done?”

What have I done to prepare for Christmas?  What have you done?

Christmas is a bit of a schizophrenic holiday.  There’s the busy cooking, baking, shopping, cleaning, make everything perfect, Santa’s coming personality of Christmas.  And there’s the Advent, slowing down, contemplating, preparing the way, and God with us side of Christmas.

Personally I don’t see anything wrong with a little bit of schizophrenia in the holiday season.  It’s only when the balance shifts to the busy, at the exclusion of God with us, that we have a problem.

December is our busiest time at work.  Not only do our clients want to get as much advertising as possible on the radio in December, but we also run our biggest promotion of the year as a station.  We work to bring Christmas Miracles to families in need of some love and help to make their Christmas season better.

By the time the week before Christmas rolls around we’re all pretty exhausted.  Late Monday afternoon another Manager came into my office. 

We were talking about how we were both looking forward to a rest over the Christmas season.  She made a comment about a book I had in my hand.  With a note of irony in my voice I shared what I’d just been reading from Ann Voskamp’s book, “The Greatest Gift”.

“The miscarriage of Christmas begins when anxieties crowd out space within simply to carry Christ.  Make room; be a womb.  Be a womb to receive Christ everywhere, and it is He who delivers everyone.  So you let the last of the trimmings go.  Cease the pace to do, buy, produce more.  Find the calendar and erase.  Somewhere make space.  And you can feel the space become a sanctuary.”

We looked at each other and laughed. 

“So this is Christmas.  And what have you done?”  Have you made space?  Do you have time to receive Christ as He comes silently tonight? 

Read the Christmas story starting with Luke chapter 1 and read to the end of verse 40 in Luke chapter 2.  Make space for Christ now.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2014

What Can I Do To Please God?

The first week of Advent is almost over.  Back on Monday I started reading Ann Voskamp’s book, “The Greatest Gift – Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas”.  It’s provides a reading for each day leading up to Christmas.

She includes scripture passages, some thought provoking reflection, and an activity for the day.  Yesterday’s activity was to do one thing just to please God.

I had to stop and think about that.  What could I do that would please God?  I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t have a good answer. 

I thought of Random Acts of Shineness.  On Wednesdays ShineFM, the radio station I work at, encourages people to do something kind and unexpected for someone; hence Random Acts of Shineness.  I could buy coffee for someone, but that seemed fairly unoriginal.

Walking into Walmart that morning to buy gifts cards for client Christmas gifts I thought, “Here’s my chance.  Maybe I can do something that will please God here.” 

I took all 65 gift cards (yes that’s 65 cards that have to be activated individually) to the cashier.  She began to ring them up and I felt sorry for her and the people waiting behind me.  What would please God in this situation?

“Give her one of the gift cards,” my brain said. 

Now it’s funny how we automatically question something that’s out of the ordinary.  “What, give her one of the gift cards?  That’s a little weird, and it throws my count off, what if she gets in trouble for it?”

But the thought persisted, so after she processed the last card, I thanked her for her trouble, took one of the cards, and tried to give it to her.  She refused, saying she was just doing her job. 

Well that attempt crashed and burned.  So, what else can I do that will please God? 

I stopped at Tim Hortons to pick up a Take 10 coffee box for my next meeting.  Another thought occurred to me.  When I paid for the coffee I asked the cashier to ring through six $5.00 gift cards.  After paying, I handed him back the cards.  He looked confused, but then I explained that one was for him to keep and the others were for the next few people in line.

This attempt went a little better.  He declined the one for himself, but asked if he could save them until the next morning.  He said he had regulars who came in and he’d like to treat them to a morning coffee.  We agreed this would put them to good use and off I went.

Did that please God?  Maybe, but I think it was more of a “Random Act of Shineness” than a God pleasing moment. 

I have to face the fact that most days I don’t think about whether my daily activities are pleasing to God.  Usually I’m caught up in the busyness of daily life and don’t take time to do the small acts of kindness that show God’s love.  Sometimes it takes a wake-up call like the simple question, “What can I do to please God?” to bring me to my senses and start paying attention.

I’m glad yesterday’s devotion made me think about this question. Because of it, I’m now more aware of the people around me during this Advent season and I’m looking for ways I can please God.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
What do you do on a daily basis that pleases God? 

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tasteless Grapes

It’s hard to buy good fruit in winter in Alberta.  Our -20° Celsius weather isn’t conducive to growth of any kind of fruit or vegetable!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to find some nice tasty grapes in Superstore.  This week, expecting consistent grape quality, I bought another package. 

Apparently it’s no longer grape season wherever these were grown.  I’ve had sweet grapes, sour grapes, crunchy grapes, squishy grapes, seedless grapes, and even monster grapes, but I’ve never quite tasted grapes like these.

They were completely tasteless.  I can’t even say they qualified as bland or bad, just completely void of flavor.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m…well what’s the word?  Let’s call it thrifty.  If I’ve paid for food I’m not about to throw it out. I’ll stuff it down whether I like it or not.  But I just couldn’t do it with these grapes.

I tried.  I munched down a few, trying to convince myself they didn’t really taste bad.  I was still getting nutrition and fiber from them, but my taste buds grew more outraged with every grape I put in my mouth.

I tried to figure out why flavorless grapes were so offensive, and then it occurred to me - all food has a taste.  It might be good or it might be bad, or even mediocre, but it all tastes like something.  As I was pondering this thought, a statement from Jesus popped into my mind.

“You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses it saltiness, how can it be made salty again?   It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”  Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

And what about this one…

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)

I’m not sure I truly appreciated the meaning behind these verses until I had my tasteless grape experience.  I actually did want to spit them out of my mouth!  How can salt not be salty?  How can grapes not be…well…grapey? 

And continuing with the analogy, what good are Christians if we’re not leading Christ-like lives.  If we’re neutral about our faith what kind of witness are we?  If we’re not passionate about shining the light of Christ, but simply come across as blasé about our faith, what good are we in the world?

Grapes should taste like grapes.  Salt should taste like salt.  Christians should strive to be like Christ, not only in their churches, but in their homes and communities, too.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

What does your life say about your faith?  Are you living out your Christianity or are you a tasteless grape?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not To Do - Lesson #4

We left Saul last week as he was about to lead his army into battle against the Philistines.  His army is successful and the Philistines flee.  The Israelite army pursues the Philistines, determined to drive them back.

Here’s the unexpected twist.  Saul decrees that his entire army is to fast until victory over the Philistines is complete.  Everyone except Saul’s son, Jonathan, knows about this.  Empty stomachs and the physical labour of battle don’t mix well.  By evening the men are weak and tired.

Ironically the army comes across food in the forest, but refuses to touch it because of Saul’s order.  Jonathan, not knowing any better, eats his fill and is refreshed. 

Later that evening Saul wants to continue to chase the Philistines, but the priest intervenes telling Saul to ask God what to do next.  Saul agrees, but no answer comes from God.  Saul suspects sin in the army is the reason God isn’t answering.

He gathers all his army leaders and demands to know what’s happened.

“Then Saul said to the leaders, ‘Something’s wrong!  I want all my army commanders to come here.  We must find out what sin was committed today.  I vow by the name of the Lord who rescued Israel that the sinner will surely die, even if it is my own son Jonathan!’  But no one would tell him what the trouble was.”   1 Samuel 14:38-40

Isn’t it interesting...not one of Saul’s leaders has the courage to speak up and tell him the guilty party is his own son? 

I suspect no one speaks up because someone had the misfortune of speaking truth to Saul before and it didn’t go well.  Perhaps Saul subscribes to the “shoot the messenger” theory…literally.

Saul doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who’s open to suggestions from the people, but as a leader it’s important to maintain an open dialogue with your staff.  Team members should feel comfortable making suggestions that will improve the work place.

Saul’s Leadership Lesson #4
Stay humble and open enough that your leadership team and staff are comfortable bringing ideas to you.  Keep an open dialogue between you and your staff.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not To Do - Lesson #3

The last few weeks we’ve looked at Saul and what NOT to do when you’re in a leadership position. 

We ended last week with these heartbreaking words from Samuel, the prophet, “…But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of the people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.  1 Samuel 13:14 (NLT)

The Bible doesn’t tell us how Saul reacts to this revelation.  I wonder if he really grasps the implications of Samuel’s words.  Does he understand that God has left him? Does he have any concept of how that affects his future?  It’s a chilling thought!

Regardless, we catch up with Saul again in 1 Samuel 14.  He and the 600 men remaining in his army are camped close to the Philistine troops.  I’m guessing they’re probably demoralized and pretty scared right now.

But Jonathan, Saul’s son, decides to take action.   With God’s help, he succeeds in throwing the Philistine camp into confusion.  Saul’s army witnesses a bizarre sight.  There’s an earthquake, Philistines are running in all directions, and mayhem reigns. 

Saul realizes Jonathan is gone, and is probably the cause of the confusion in the Philistine camp.  Excited Saul calls for the priest, no doubt to determine God’s will in the matter.  Should he attack?

Before the priest can go through the ritual for determining God’s will, the confusion in the enemy camp rises to frenzied proportions.  Saul can barely contain himself.  Read his next words carefully.

“…But while Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp grew louder and louder.  So Saul said to the priest, ‘Never mind; let’s get going!’”  1 Samuel 14:19

NEVER MIND, LET’S GET GOING!  Yes, you heard right!  Rather than wait for the priest to determine God’s will Saul says, “Never mind, let’s get going!”  In other words, I don’t have time to wait for God.  I don’t need His help.  I’ve got this one covered.

Right now I’m shaking my head, thinking, “Dude…really…you just couldn’t wait!?! 

But what I hypocrite I am!  I do the same thing all the time!

How often have you rushed into a situation without consulting God?  How many times have you tried to do things in your own strength, leaving God out of the picture?

Saul’s Leadership Lesson #3…
In your leadership role or in any decision you make…always take time to consult God.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not to Do - Lesson #2

In Saul’s Leadership Lesson #1 from last week we talked about not taking credit for someone else’s ideas.  We see Saul do this when his son, Jonathan, defeats the Philistines.  This account is found in 1 Samuel 13:1-4.

The Philistines aren’t a nation to take defeat lightly.  They raise up a massive army and make plans to attack the Israelites.

How do the Israelites respond?

“The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns.  Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead...”  1 Samuel 13:6-7 (NLT)

That’s right, the people of God cower in fear of their enemies.  They forget about God’s deliverance from their previous battles.

What about their king?  What’s he doing?  He’s waiting for Samuel, the priest, to show up.  Samuel is to make a sacrifice to God and ask for His help in battle. 

Waiting on God and relying on Him to guide the army into battle is what Saul should do.  The problem starts when he gets impatient waiting for Samuel.

“…Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear.  Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come.  Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.  So he demanded, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and peace offerings!’ And Saul sacrificed the burn offering himself.  1 Samuel 13:7-9 (NLT)

Samuel arrives just as Saul finishes the sacrifices.  He questions Saul about what he’s done.  Saul’s answer is filled with pride.

“…The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!  So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”  1 Samuel 13:12 (NLT)

What did Saul do wrong?  Offering sacrifices is the specific work of the priest.  His comment, “I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself…” indicates he feels he is just as capable of performing the holy sacrifice as the priest; when really he’s breaking God’s sacred law.

What's the result of Saul's pride-filled decision?

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed.  ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of the people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

It’s humbling when pride leads you to think you can do someone else's job better than they can…and you fail.  Sadly, I speak from experience on this one.   My foray down the pride-filled road only cost me a lesson in humility, but Saul’s costs him the kingship of Israel.

Saul’s Leadership Lesson #2…
Don’t let your pride allow you to think you know better than everyone else on your team, so you try to do their jobs as well as your own.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not To Do - Lesson #1

Last week I suggested that Saul was an insecure leader.  He’s found hiding in the baggage at his own coronation.  If that’s not insecure I don’t know what is.
 
Saul has a few other weaknesses besides insecurity.  He’s an outstanding example of what NOT to do in leadership.
 
1 Samuel 13, opens with an account of Jonathan, Saul’s son, leading a successful attack on the Philistines, Israel’s enemies.
 
When Saul hears the news of his son’s victory he decides to use it to his advantage…
 
“Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba.  The news spread quickly among the Philistines.  So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land, saying, ‘Hebrews, hear this! Rise up in revolt!’  All Israel heard the news that Saul had destroyed the Philistine garrison at Geba and that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever.  So the entire arm was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.”  1 Samuel 13:3-4 (NLT)
 
Did you catch that?  The part that says, “…All Israel heard the news that SAUL had destroyed the Philistine garrison….”
 
But doesn’t the story start by telling us JONATHAN defeated the Philistines? 
 
So Saul, the anointed king of Israel, takes credit for his son’s triumph, then uses it to his advantage to rally his army around him.
 
Before we’re too hard on Saul, I want to share what the commentary notes in my study bible say about this chapter.  It does indicate that it was normal in this cultural context for Saul to take credit for his son’s victory. 
 
But does that make it right for us today? 
 
Do you know a leader who’s stolen someone else’s idea and used it to climb the corporate ladder?  Maybe someone’s taken credit for your own work and you’re left choking on the bitter taste of betrayal.
 
If you’re in a leadership position today, always remember to give credit to the person with whom an idea originates.
 
Saul’s Leadership Lesson #1…
Don’t take credit away from someone else.  Always give credit where it’s due!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting It Right

There’s so much good stuff in the Old Testament.  There are lots of examples of what to do and how to do it right, but the ones I learn from best are the examples that illustrate what NOT to do!

Look at Abraham and David.  Both are held up as great men of God.  It seems almost impossible to live up to their examples.

But here’s the beauty of the Bible.  It’s not all about people’s success stories.  The Bible also shares the short comings of both Abraham and David.  And then there’s the account of Saul’s life; riddled with failure to remain in the perfect will of God. 

When I read these stories, I realize Abraham and David and Saul are just people.  People like me and you; trying to do their best to follow God’s leading.

Sometimes they do a fantastic job, and other times they fail dismally. 

But, they’re always wise enough to know when they fail, they need to come to God, own their short comings, confess them, ask for forgiveness, and receive it.   

We’re no different.  It’s only considered failure if we don’t come back to God, re-group, own our mistakes, ask forgiveness from God and the people we’ve wronged, and set out in faith to get it right the next time.

I really do feel for Saul in his role as a leader.  Over the next four weeks I want to look at four lessons in leadership we can learn from two chapters about Saul’s life in the book of 1 Samuel.

As a means of introduction to the next four posts I want to consider the following…

I’m fairly certain Saul suffers from insecurity.  This becomes evident early on in his role as king; as early as his coronation.  Samuel, the prophet, introduces Saul as the first ever human king of Israel. 

The rank and file of the tribes of Israel are called, leading up to the big moment of Saul’s introduction.  But where is he? 

“So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot.  Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen.  And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them.  But when they looked for him, he had disappeared!  So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”  And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”  1 Samuel 10:20-22 (NLT)

Starting a new job is intimidating.  I imagine being crowned the leader of God’s chosen people is a fairly scary prospect.  Scary enough that Saul cowers in fear among the baggage at the thought. 

Saul has his work cut out for him, but God is on his side…until Saul lets his insecurity and pride override his trust in God. 

We’ll look closer at the dangers of an insecure, pride-filled leader next week.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
When you fail in your walk with God do you immediately return to Him to seek forgiveness or do you wallow in guilt, beating yourself up over your failure?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gluten Free Berry Ginger Delight

Last week I volunteered to bring dessert for a meeting.  I found myself wracking my brain for a dessert that would meet everyone's dietary restrictions.  It had to be lactose free, gluten free, and relatively sugar free, but NOT taste free!

Since I only had an hour prep time it also needed to be quick and easy to make.

Gluten Free Berry Ginger Delight is the experiment birthed by my brain's imagination.  Since very little remained in the pan at the end of the meeting I can only assume that everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did!

Here's what you need.

1 pkg gluten free ginger cookies

 750 mL lactose free whipping cream

2 tsp. vanilla

An assortment of fresh berries - I used sliced strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, but pick and choose what you like

Dark chocolate squares

Crumble the cookies into the bottom of a 9" x 12" pan.  Melt chocolate and drizzle liberally over the cookies.  Sprinkle blueberries and raspberries over top. 

Whip the cream until fluffy and flavour with vanilla, spoon onto base.  Sprinkle the remainder of the berries over top, and drizzle liberally with melted chocolate.  Chill and eat.

HINT:  To drizzle chocolate - pour melted chocolate into a small zip lock bag.  Tilt bag so chocolate runs into one corner.  With sharp scissors cut a small portion of the corner off (make sure you don't cut off too much otherwise you won't be able to control the flow of the chocolate).  You now have an "icing bag" for chocolate. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Solid and Permanent

I’m blessed to live in a province that’s home to some of the most awe inspiring natural vistas in the world.  The Rocky Mountains.  Spiked grey crags and snow-capped peaks blaze stark and bright against a cloudless blue sky.

I gaze in wonder.  These are my friends.  Their familiar shapes welcome me.  Visit after visit, year after year they don’t disappoint.  They don’t change, they’re always there, ready to amaze and inspire, beckoning me closer to God, the Creator.

I wonder if the psalmist who wrote psalm 121 felt the same way about mountains.  He starts out by saying,

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

I look at the mountains and I can’t help but think of God.  His handy work is everywhere. 


In the brush strokes of wild flowers blooming in a mountain meadow.




In the roar of a cascading waterfall.


In the stillness of an emerald lake






In the majestic permanence of rock





In the whimsical flip of chipmunk's tail

 
In the liquid brown gentleness of an elk’s gaze.
 










I could go on, but I think you get the point.  God is everywhere.  And in the midst of it all, God is with you, watching over you.  Read Psalm 121…

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord Himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.  The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
Psalm 121 (NLT)

What an awesome thought!  Even more impressive than the mountains is God, Himself; watching over you.  Caring for you in your time of stress, of illness, of financial difficulty - whatever your trouble, God watches over you.

You can sleep soundly, knowing God doesn’t rest.  He’s always there, solid and permanent.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
What are you worried about today?  Trust God to watch over you.

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

What are you afraid of?  What thoughts fill you with stomach churning dread?

There are times and events in life we’d like to fast forward over...

  • the devastating cancer diagnosis,
  • the hard conversation at work, or with a spouse,
  • the breakdown of a marriage,
  • the loss of a loved one

The thought of any of these is enough to tie your stomach in a series of knots so tight you'd be awarded your Boy Scout Knot Merit Badge.

As I write this I’m faced with the unenviable task of a tough conversation at work.  It’s a black cloud on the horizon of tomorrow.

But throughout this week, I’ve been reading the book of Joshua and one overarching theme has come through.

I’ve lost count of the number of times the following words appear in some format…

BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.  DO NOT BE AFRAID.  GOD WILL BE WITH YOU AND WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU.

The first instance of the words, “be strong and courageous” appears in Joshua 1:6, it repeats in verse 7, and again in verse 9 and verse 18.

The Israelites are faced with many challenges as they move into the Promised Land.  It would be easy to let fear over take them, and yet over, and over again Joshua reminds the nation…

“Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged…be strong and courageous…”

This is a good reminder for all of us.  God is with us and will see us through the dreaded black clouds of life.  Pray for His divine strength and courage today.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Where do you need to be strong and courageous in your life?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Sacrifice Of Forgiveness

I'm not sure video blogging is my forte, but regardless, I decided to try something a little different this week.  The video below is a short monologue on the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  video
 
 
Things To Think About
Have you accepted the forgiveness Jesus offers at the cross?  Is Jesus your Saviour?
 
To share your thoughts click on "comments" below.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pride and Control...A Leader's Kryptonite

I wonder how many control freaks are reading this post right now.  Well, you're in good company; it's written by a fellow control freak! 

One thing I realized as I read through the account of the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land - Moses was not a control freak!

Why do I say that?  Take a look at Numbers 11.  The Israelites sing their song of complaint again.  This isn’t news to Moses.  He’s heard it before.  In fact, he’s heard it multiple times before.

This time he’s fed up and he needs to vent.  Sometimes leaders do that.  Days can be long and frustrating.  Working with different personality types is challenging and can leave you as twitchy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! 

Moses has a lot to say to God.  You can read his rant in its entirety in Numbers 11:10-15, but the last two verses give you the general sense of the level of Moses’ irritation with the people and his leadership role…

“I can’t carry all these people by myself!  The load is far too heavy!  If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me.  Do me a favor and spare me this misery.”  Numbers 11:14-15 (NLT)

Have you had days when you just want say, “Kill me now!”?  I know I have.

Moses earns my respect as a leader in the way he responds to what happens next.  God agrees with Moses and introduces a solution to the problem.  God tells Moses…

“…Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel.  Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you.  I will come down and talk to you there.  I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also.  They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.”  Numbers 11:16-17 (NLT)

Sounds like a great plan, right?  Suddenly the responsibility of the leadership role is split between a bunch of different people. 

But let’s be honest for a minute…

What if my boss came to me and said, “You know what Carol, I know you’re in charge of managing the six people on your sales team, but I’m going take away some of that responsibility.  From now on you’re going to manage one person on the team and I’ll assign someone else to be in charge of the other five."
 
Do you think I’d be happy about that change?  I’d probably think I was failing in my job as a sales manager and wonder when the pink slip was coming!

My pride would be hurt and I’d probably fight to hang onto control of what little responsibility remained of my job.

Control and pride – a leader's kryptonite.  

But here’s the lesson from Moses.  God does share the spirit of leadership among seventy men Moses collects and brings to Him.  They all begin to prophesy, a sure sign that they have the spirit within them, but Joshua, Moses’ assistant protests and asks Moses to make them stop. 

Read what Moses says to this…

“…Are you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lords people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all! " Numbers 11:29 (NLT)

What a great reaction for a leader!  Moses gets a gold star for this one! He isn’t jealous.  He’s not worried about maintaining control.  He doesn’t let his pride overcome his need for assistance in leading the Israelites.  He’s grateful for the help.

Oh that I would be as humble a leader as Moses!

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Does your pride stop you from asking for help? 

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Direct Communication From God...Are You Listening

I’m back to reading my way through the Old Testament, so be prepared for a number of posts focused around lessons learned from Moses and the Israelites. 

I really do love this part of the Bible.  The Israelites are normal people with messed up lives, and Moses struggles regularly with his leadership role.  It’s real life, devoid of the TV sitcom sugar coating!

A few days ago I came to chapter 7 in the book of Numbers.  This chapter takes 88 long verses to describe (in great detail) the offerings of dedication each of the 12 tribes of Israel brings to the Lord at the dedication of the Tabernacle.

Each one brings the same thing, over and over, and over again…x 12!!  I was getting a little bored, my mind was wandering, and I admit to scanning the text instead of fully reading it.

But then, the very last verse, number 89, caught my attention….

“Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement – that rests on the Ark of the Covenant.  The Lord spoke to him from there.”  Numbers 7:89 (NLT)

Moses heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him!  There are many occasions throughout the Old Testament where God speaks directly to the people…

  • Adam and Eve
  • Abraham
  • Noah
  • Samuel
  • David
  • Ezekiel
  • Jeremiah
  • Jonah
…and the list goes on.

My imagination was off and running!!  What was it like to have God speak directly to you? 

It terrified the Israelites when God spoke to them on Mount Sinai!  It must have been amazing and terrifying and wonderful and humbling and awe inspiring…I imagine it defied description.

But here’s what’s interesting.  Many of the people God spoke to didn’t want to hear what He had to say…

  • Eve – bit the apple
  • Moses – argued about going to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of slavery
  • Jonah – didn’t want to go and preach to the people of Nineveh
  • David – after being anointed the king of Israel, goes back to being a shepherd
  • Jeremiah – says no way God, I’m way too young to be your prophet

And yet, with the exception of Eve, all these people do eventually follow God’s call and accomplish great things for the Kingdom.

Many times I’ve wished God would speak directly to me, so I’d be clear on what He’s saying.  Today we don’t hear God’s voice speaking from the place of atonement, but we do hear His voice through the words in the Bible and through the movement of the Holy Spirit. 

God speaks through many people - pastors, church members, friends, family, co-workers, the person next to you on the bus, your spouse…

So it’s not a question about God speaking directly to me.  The real question is am I listening and willing to respond? 

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Are you listening to God?  Are you willing to respond?  What are you arguing with God about?

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