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February 2010 Archives

February 3, 2010

Hearing God's Voice...literally

Exodus 19:19 (NKJV)
...Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.

Observation:
Wow. What would that be like? Not just the "still, small voice," but to hear God's audible response? It was God who said that He was "in the thick cloud, that the people may hear. When I speak with you and believe you forever." (v 9) Not only did God speak to Moses, He came down to meet with him (v 20). yet the people were afraid - "let not God speak to us lest we die." (v 20) 20:21 says that the people stood afar, but Moses drew near to where God was.

Application:
As a leader, the people you are responsible for want to know that you hear from God; they want (and need) to believe you, to trust you. Why? Because most of them are afraid to or unsure that they are able to hear Him for themselves. Our job is two-fold: to hear from Him, and to teach them how to hear from him. The first is to create confidence in people that God speaks. For them to believe it, they have to experience it. That's why it's important for a leader to hear from God, the otcome of which must bear the fruit of God's approval. The second is to model a method - drawing near to God. Who sees me do that? Do I model it?

Prayer:
Lord, let me hear. Help me lead.

February 11, 2010

Prohibition

Leviticus 10:8-10 (NKJV)
Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying: 9 “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,

Observation:
This directive is given after Aaron's sons died while fulfilling their priestly duties, presumably while intoxicated. Thier actions followed thier dedication unto the Lord for their assignment as priests.

Application:
My Mom grew up at a time when Christians avoided alcohol, makeup, and movies. My dad got saved as an adult while in the army and experience a pretty significant change in his lifestyle. This means that while I was growing up we never has any alcohol in our house. Then I grew up. The culture of the church had become much more permissive. The external demonstrations of "holiness" didn't have the same requirements of the past. Certain actions (in my circle of believers) such as cigar smoking, wine tasting, and lager not only became acceptable, but "trendy" as an exercise in christian liberty.

I do believe that we have freedom in Christ. We are not required to live restricted by man-made legalism. Yet there are God-ordained restriction imposed on the life of a believer. And there are old permissions and actions that I can let go of the more I take hold of Christ. As a Christ-follower, I am (we are) a part of a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). And the most important skill that any disciple must have is the ability to distinguish between what is holy and what is not. That skill must be continually applied internally, in evaluating one's self; my motives, choices, and actions. If I take my role as "priest" seriously, there are prohibitions will I choose to live. I cannot afford to be impaired in my ability to make distinctions between what is "clean and unclean, holy or unholy." Whatever impacts my ability to make those moment by moment, life-changing evaluations needs to be not just restricted, but removed from my life. If they are not, it could cost me my life.

Prayer:
Lord, I don't want any part of my life to be impaired. Help me see the things in my life that I am "intoxicated" with, so that I can really walk in freedom and fulfillment.

February 17, 2010

Corporal Punishment

Numbers 20:7-12 (NKJV)
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

God gave Moses instructions on what to do and what He would then do. Moses did what God said...kinda, close enough...and God did what He said he'd do. And then he disciplined Moses.

As a Christian leader, I've contemplated this passage many times. I keep looking for a deeper meaning to the story that what is obvious to me on the surface. But for all my "mining" this text, I keep coming back to this simple thought: Do exactly as your told. When in this situation in a previous setting, God told Moses to strike the rock. In this story, Moses is told to speak to the rock. In both cases the Lord brought water from the rock for the people. As far as anyone could tell, the method worked. I don't know if this was just a matter of neglect on Moses' part to God's instructions, or if he just got excusably carried away in the moment, or what. All I know is this little gaff cost Moses everything.

I think of different ways in which God's purpose is released in individuals via a leader's influence. One leadership style is to strike. For example, as a parent one option for discipline is to use the momentary sting of a spanking to imprint upon a child's mind the significance of thier transgression. Other times, words of correction or encouragement are sufficient to remedy the situation. Know when to implement these different tools to shape a child's life either releases the life within them, or permanently limits them. Leading people can be similar. Some leaders "spank" their subordinates through creating a high demand/high performance culture, which reshapes one's character and life disciplines (e.g. boot camp in the Armed Forces). Other times, words are the leader's tool that bring out or shape the potential (and occasionally the problems) inherent in the lives of the followers. Encouragement as well as confrontation can be equally effective if employed in the right timing and context. If either is wrong, the results can be devastating.

This story reminds me that even when all the circumstances seem to be the same, when I have access to the same tools, and the end result is the same, I still can't default to what I did the last time. Why, especially when the outcome is the same? Because the consequence for the leader is life changing. Following God's specific instruction is the most important thing I can do.

Lord, help me to lead through obedience, not presumption.

February 24, 2010

Prognosticators, Forecasters, Speculators, and the Decline of Civilization

Deuteronomy 18:12-14 (NKJV)
For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.

Observation:

Application:
So much of the culture today is shaped by editorialized information. News correspondents are hired to present speculation as fact. The more outlandish and abrasive their opinions, the more influence they yield. Investment bankers and Wall Street brokers sell educated “hunches” as commodity for which they are handsomely paid. Our nation’s policies are shaped by forecasts and projections, many of which have proven to be less effective than guessing. So much of life is influenced by well meaning people who are simply trying to find a way to tell the future. No matter how well educated their experience or well-meaning their intentions, their efforts fall short, often with devastating results.

The Lord warns his people against developing any structure – governmental, environmental, financial, social – that does not place Him clearly at the center of any policy or action. God clearly points out the self-serving yet futile natures of the nations surrounding Israel. He warns them not to be influenced by their processes. In fact, God promises to drive these nations them out of their lands. This is so when Israel possesses the land, they also implement a completely new structure and system; one that is dependant upon God, and not mankind’s delusional attempts for self governance and self reliance.

The church can even get caught up in the “talking head” approach to life. We can place issues ahead of individuals, policy ahead of people. But God calls us to live blameless. God invites us to live dependant. God frees us to live obediently.

Prayer:
Lord, dispossess us of from our self-importance. Drive out the abomination of self-serving pride from my life that I may live in the promise you’ve appointed for me.

February 25, 2010

Antidote to Default Living

Leviticus 24:12 (NKJV)
Then they put him in custody, that the mind of the LORD might be shown to them.

Deuteronomy 12:8 (NKJV)
“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today— every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—

Observation:
These verses in context really have nothing to do with each other. They just caught my attention. The passage in Leviticus is telling the story of how Moses deals with a man who has blasphemed God and decides the appropriate punishment. In Deuteronomy, Moses is describing the how the Israelites will worship when they possess the Promised Land. Although there isn’t anything that would connect these two situations to each other, but there is important insight for me that link these two verses together.

Application:
In the scene presented in Leviticus, a man had blasphemed God. Instead of rashly reacting, Moses resists the pressure to something immediately and creates an opportunity to hear from God. In the end, Moses’ ruling on the violation ends up being the result I had anticipated – the man was put to death. The issue for me is how Moses came to the decision. Instead of allowing the emotion of the moment to force the issue, he created space – space to clear his head and heart, so he could hear from God. Even though we could have anticipated the outcome, Moses did not presume. He stepped back and let God judge, and then obediently moved towards the right resolution. This reinforces to me the idea that the right process always produces the right outcome.

In the other story, God’s people are in the awkward “not yet” stage; they are not yet set up for the way it will be. This forces them to have to make adaptations. And in this context, God allows them some leeway to work things out the best way they know how. That “way” (of worship) in this passage is described as “every man doing right in their own eyes.” My paraphrase of this is “everybody did the best that they could in the circumstances they were in according to the understanding that they had.” But the thing Moses was pointing out was that although this was permissible for now, it was not to become the pattern or process that was going to be acceptable in the next season. In my life there are times that God allows me some leeway in the way I do things – as long as it works, He allows it. But just because He allows it now, doesn’t mean it’s the acceptable or even preferred way of doing things. What I do is allow the exception God allows to become the default behavior. Just because it works for today, doesn’t mean I have permission to do it this way all the time.

The overall thing I get from today’s reading I that I need to continue to push back my reactionary or default lifestyle. I need to not assume that what I’m doing is acceptable or right, even if I have justification for it. There is a way that God has for me to live. He wants me to know His mind on things. It’s my responsibility to understand the season and situation I’m in, so that I can know His mind and instructions for me.

Prayer:
Lord, let me know your mind and instructions. Let me not live by default. I want to live intentionally obedient in every situation.

About February 2010

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in February 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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