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....
and gained what was promised
Hebrews 11 lists the accomplishments of great heroes of the faith. This phrase in verse 33 challenges me: “and gained what was promised.” The principle is that what has been promised still has to be gained. I know that this is obvious, but when I read this I confessed to God that I had been passive. “If God said it, I will wait to see it happen, but there is not much that I can do to make it happen.” On the one hand, just waiting is very realistic. There is nothing I can do given the magnitude of the things God has promised. On the other hand, this verse tells me that people of faith somehow “gained what was promised.” So I reflected on the things that I am pretty sure God has spoken to me, and spent time praising God, thanking him for what he had promised.
The second aspect that was highlighted to me is the source of the promises overshadowing the content of the promises. I acknowledged and...
Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2
God did an amazing job in completely changing the mindset of a whole nation. Here were people who had lived immersed in another culture. The Egyptian boys had the cool haircuts, they drove the fast chariots and had a nice tan. The Egyptian girls were allowed to have tattoos and body piercing. So how do you take a whole nation—men, women and children—and cause them to have different minds and different hearts from the culture they have lived in for 400 years? I believe there were some keys:
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.”...
He is the rewarder Hebrews 11:6
This week as I went for a walk this phrase came to mind and I meditated on it. We live too much of life thinking that someone other than God is our rewarder. A coach, a child, a peer group, a fund manager, a landlord, a teacher, a boss, or a company. Who is your rewarder? Who dangles the carrots that drive your donkey forward? You may be an independent sort that says, “I make my own goals; no one tells me what to do.” Good—but when you do what you do, whose eye is upon you? Is it the approving eye of man, or the singular eye of your true Rewarder?
Imagine a week in your life lived fully cognisant of the truth that God is the only rewarder that matters. No stuffing in of meetings that don’t matter, except that Thus-and-so will be there. No time spent on activities that posture but do not produce. No browsing through magazines or websites or TV channels to gain a temporary reward.
In some ways God rewards everyone. We will all be...
And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
It is not about us. How often have you heard this said, and wondered what it means? There are seasons when, in some senses, it has been about you. God loves us and simply wants the best for us. Psalm 35:27 says, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
The truth is, we also want you to be whole so that you are optimally equipped to serve God’s purposes on earth. He wants our healed hurt to be a source of healing for others. 2 Corinthians 1 makes it clear that we comfort others with the comfort that we ourselves have received. The Message puts it this way:
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father...