Your turf, or mine?

I love the description of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem under Nehemiah’s close eye.  We read phrases like “next to him”, and “beside him” throughout the narrative as each family group takes responsibility for a part of the reconstruction.

Obviously, Nehemiah couldn’t accomplish the project on his own; it may have been his vision, but the people’s participation was not only expected, but necessary.  There’s a lesson for the church right there—pastors can’t do it all; in fact, not even most of the work in building God’s kingdom. Continue reading “Your turf, or mine?”

Don’t forget the trash

Here’s a progression of leadership that I find interesting, not that you have to be recognized “leader” in this sense to make the lessons noteworthy.  This is, however, a true countercultural mindset that I personally find very informative and challenging.

And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had greatly blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

In other words, one of the main reasons God blesses me is for the sake of His people.  (Wait…you mean it’s not about me??) Continue reading “Don’t forget the trash”

FOMO

Here’s a new one on me: FOMO, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out.  In a social context, I think it means that staying home to read a book may lead to a missed opportunity at a good party.

Typically, I’m more of a bookworm myself…

Nevertheless, people-connection is important for several reasons, albeit in varying amounts for different people.  Here’s the story of a big event back in the Old Testament—the first real Passover in a L-O-N-G time.  King Hezekiah has chucked his family culture of worshiping idols and made the decision to follow after God “wholeheartedly”.  As the party is gearing up, he sends out invitations with an interesting response:

“The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.  However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.”

Hezekiah was offering them more than a good time, (which it was, BTW, and lasted two weeks minimum!)  He was summoning the people back to truth, to know and worship the one true God, and such invitations usually have mixed reactions.  Here’s what I see:

Truth is not compulsory.  These people were invited, not threatened.  Likewise, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He forces Himself on no one.  This is a tenant of God’s truth: coerced Christianity is an oxymoron, and historically, a tragic mistake.

Truth invites open derision.  Not a mere polite, “no, thank you”.  I should expect my fair share of it.  After all, Jesus Himself was crucified.

Truth will have a minority following.  I’m certainly not against large churches, as long as the people are taught truth.  But, related to point #1 above, since truth is offensive, it always leaves the door unlocked for those who choose to leave… 

…because following truth takes humility.  Humility is seeing myself as God see me, which is usually not how I see myself.  Humility brings me into a right relationship with my Creator.  As such, true humility is a gift.

Now here’s an interesting postscript:

“At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the LORD.”

If that doesn’t demonstrate the importance of being a part of an active church fellowship, I don’t know what does!  Contrast the reaction of the people in Judah, the hub of God’s activity, the ground zero of His spiritual explosion, with the reaction of the people on the fringe who were far removed from this fellowship. 

So, here’s my last point:

Accepting truth is one thing, but stewarding that truth in my life is different matter.  We are created to need each other—encouragement, correction, support.  That whole “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” takes on practical perspective.  In fact, the rest of the chapter is a fine example of healthy spiritual momentum, and the social part it plays in our lives.

card-1800383_1920Too bad the people who were left out of the party didn’t have a little more FOMO, because this was a gig they didn’t need to miss.

Thankfully, the invitation is still open for us.

2 Chronicles 30: 10-12  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Big Stick Faith

tr-bigstick-cartoon
William Allen Rogers’s 1904 cartoon (Wikipedia)

Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt is famous for the phrase, “walk softly, and carry a big stick”.  It’s that idea of unarguable authority, and conveys the message that it would be in the opposing party’s best interest to rethink their own intentions before proceeding further. 

Which is something I see clearly in Judah’s good King Hezekiah and his encounter with the big political enemy of his day, Assyria.  It’s important to note that, in the middle of a longstanding family history of spiritual genocide, Hezekiah opts to follow God instead.  This decision, however, doesn’t exclude him (and his people) from the problems of the day, one of the biggest being the bully, King Sennacherib. Continue reading “Big Stick Faith”