Leaders impact people. While leadership is not everything. it is something. The behavior, character and competence of leaders has ripple effects in the lives of the people whom they lead. Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt, was in a tough situation. On the one hand, he had a free workforce to labor on his projects. On the other hand, he had an 80-year-old liberator telling him to let the slave laborers take a break to go and worship in the desert. Had Pharaoh been an enlightened leader he might have thought giving a week of Personal Time Off (PTO) was fair… but he didn’t, and the disingenuous cycle continued: start plague repent stop plague change mind next plague. After a while Moses said,
“You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.”
There was much back and forth, toing and froing, between Moses and Pharaoh....
We used to have early morning meetings which were the normal mix of coffee and conversation. When we got down to business, however, I would look across at one of the men and sometimes his eyes were open, but he was gone… fast asleep. “The lights were on,” as the saying goes, “but no one was home.” That was a little freaky because he was both present and potentially absent at every meeting. According to WebMD, “You might be surprised to hear that some people sleep with their eyes open. And it's more common that you'd expect. About 20% of people do it, including babies. Doctors call this condition "nocturnal lagophthalmos."” Keith Green called it “asleep in the light.”
The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
'Cause it's asleep in the light
I was reminded of this when I read a poignant account towards the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Some key things happened in quick succession, and you can...
and he as good as dead Hebrews 11:12
We know God specializes in taking things that are totally impossible from a human perspective and turning them into something totally miraculous. We just don’t like to be the ones in totally impossible situations. A good percentage of our prayers, whether for finances, for health, for favor, or for grace, are prayed so that we can get out of an impossible situation.
The fact is, unless we regularly get into totally impossible situations where we are in trouble, unless God shows up with a miracle, we may not be living a life of faith. Not all situations of faith come about in the same way:
The speed at which momentous things are happening in the nations and in the Church is astounding. Some of the change is traumatic, and some of it is terrific. Miracles are needed at national and international levels… and miracles are happening. I have to choose how I see what I see. I cannot ignore the fact that political leaders of all tents are making decisions counter to the Word of God. I am also seeing God do amazing things in “simple” ways. During 2020 we saw the traumatic tents of field hospitals and even temporary morgues. Today, revival tents are popping up all over the USA from Florida to California.
On the one hand we see political leaders wielding power and at the stroke of a pen foundational changes appear to be made. On the other hand we are seeing old fashioned evangelists pitching tents, literally and figuratively, hammering pegs of truth into grounds of adversity, breaking the soil. Thousands are finding peace with God through Jesus Christ....
I know that power has gone out from me.
“Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
“They laughed at him… but he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’”
A funny thing happened on the way to Jairus’ house. Jesus is on a mission to heal a sick twelve year old, the only daughter of an important person. Dad is distraught, Jesus is responding to the 911 call. If you were Jesus, you might be thinking, “I can handle this… stay focused.” But then there is the jostle of the crowd, and all of a sudden Jesus feels power go out of him. He knows that interruptions can be divine interjections, so he pauses to address the situation… during which time the patient dies. The young girl, that is.
Three things emerge from this passage. First, Jesus was feeling differently. His team was feeling the pressing, moving throng, crowding and almost crushing Jesus. He was feeling the touch of faith and the transfer of...
The inauguration of a new President in the USA has happened and, while I write for an international audience, it is an event that leaves many with questions. The title of this blog, God and politics, is a little grandiose because I cannot do the topic justice in a short post. I do want to explore a dangling question, however, as to whether, how, and how much followers of Jesus should be involved in politics. (In an earlier post I explored the difference between platform, party and personality so I will not reexamine the “how then shall we vote” question. There is no doubt that there were hugely different perspectives among people who all have a ticket to heaven.) As I have considered the “fallout” from this contentious election I am sensing a divide among people in the Church (the broad body of Christ, not some specific denomination or local church). Some are thinking, “We should stick to our knitting and stay out of this political stuff.”...
The calendar has clicked over on a new year and, not surprisingly, your problems have not magically disappeared and your dreams have not been fulfilled (unless you dreamed to live another day, perhaps). In between now and when things come to fruition is the waiting and I find that waiting reveals more about who I am than does moments of fulfillment. Put more simply, how I wait speaks to who I am. Paul told his protégé, Titus:
“For the grace of God… trains us… while we wait”
I remember years ago David Wilkinson (the Prayer of Jabez author) saying that he sinned when he felt uncomfortable so he learned to ask the Holy Spirit to comfort him, and this usually happened quickly when he consciously asked for comfort. Having to wait can cause discomfort, and when I am discomforted I can look for distractions: I look at YouTube (NFL Highlights, sailing, prophetic words, music… not necessarily bad stuff) or Facebook or Instagram. I find a...
but in the future Isaiah 9:1
I was reading Isaiah 9 and felt it had strong relevance to the challenge we see of getting people out of the common way of doing Christianity and into a kingdom walk. The big hurdle of “recruiting” people for this or that initiative has little to do with leave, time commitments, or finances; it has to do with the possible new future for people, and how our enemy is determined to help people avoid it. The two phrases that hit me from Isaiah 9:1 were “In the past…” and “but in the future.”
As we end another Venture season (which feels much like the Old Testament times when kings returned from war) I am so blessed that the future of many people has been radically changed by God’s interjection these past four or five months. The future of many consultants has been changed forever because of the training they received. They grew spiritually when they had to serve clients in a way that went beyond their skills...
We were designed for community; this is normal. Whatever the “new normal” may be, it should not include insulation and isolation: physical, social, emotional and spiritual. There are amazing examples from history of people who grew good fruit on solitary trees: Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus, Frankl, Mandela… and many more. Paul was a prolific prisoner writing enduring truths with the ink of isolation. Even then, he wrote of his longing for people. The luminary was not so lost in ideas that he did not yearn for human companions.
I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God… knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in...
The 2020 Christmas season is here. As we hang fragile ornaments on lonely trees it is important that we manage our hope levels. If we look at 2020 through the lens of sense and sensibility we may have plenty of reason to feel despondent. Hope is not just a feeling, however, but a choice. The beauty of hope is not that it shines when all is well, but that it prevails when life is bleak.
Google the origins of “hope against hope” and you will find the phrase derives from the Bible where the Apostle Paul is writing about Abraham, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken.” (Romans 4:18) Before exploring this hope Abraham exercised, let’s read it in a few other translations: