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Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

A Few Stories About Water: Salvation

November 1, 2011 1 comment

God’s covenant people, the people who were the promised descendants of Abraham, are stuck in Egypt. Enslaved in Egypt. Through a series of acts of warning, YHWH convinced Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go. So, taking everything they could get their hands on, Israel left. But Pharaoh had seller’s remorse, so he took his army and went after Israel. When he and his army caught up with the Hebrew men, women, and children, they were by the side of the Red Sea. Israel had two options, die or go back to Egypt as slaves.

There was no hope. There was no way humanly possible for Israel to cross the massive body of water. God we would have to intervene. Moses spread his arms over the sea and YHWH divided the waters. Land appeared. The water that would have brought them death was now their way into a new life. The overwhelming and deadly sea was rendered impotent because God did something he had done before. He gathered the waters together so there was dry land for humanity. By the hand of the Creator, through these divided waters Israel walked. From the deadness of a life in slavery, they walked to new life.

I don’t think we’re supposed to read the Red Sea story and think “hey, this is just like creation!” It’s not. But we are supposed to see the parallels. Israel surely did. There aren’t that many points in Scripture where we have this same imagery of the water dividing. The imagery of God’s manner of salvation is the same in the story of the Red Sea as it is in the story of Noah. Dry land appears where once there was only a world of water. The entire world isn’t being remade when Israel walks across dry land, but Israel is walking from slavery into a new life in a new world. It is a magnificent act of God that preserves his image in His creation. As we saw in the Noah story, a part of this preservation of God’s image is eliminating those things on earth that are distorting his image and destroying his image.

After Israel had crossed through the Red Sea on dry land, they still had a serious problem. Pharaoh and his armies were still pursuing them. Pharaoh was still set on taking them back to Egypt into slavery. While the Egyptians were between the waters, Moses spread his arms again and YHWH closed the waters over the Egyptian armies and they died in the water. God was saving His image from the distorters and enslavers of His image. And He used water to do it.

Flood anyone? It’s not the same. God isn’t flooding the whole world. He isn’t getting rid of everyone. But it’s very similar. In both stories God uses water to destroy those people who were ruining Creation. He got rid of those people who were messing up the world in order to make the world better. He eliminated those who were destroying the innocent. In both stories the people of God come out of the same water that God used to destroy others. In both stories, God’s image in humanity is being repressed, controlled, ruled over, ruined, and distorted and through Creator acts, God preserves what makes humanity human.

The tale of the Red Sea is about more than just its parallels with the previous stories. This story is about God’s final magnificent act of saving the Hebrew people and judging Pharaoh. The crossing of the Red Sea is about God keeping His covenant with Abraham, preserving the children of the promise and continuing the process of bringing them into the land YHWH promised to Abraham’s descendants a long time previous. The crossing of the Red Sea is an entering into freedom. Israel was now free from the evil that oppressed them so that now they are free to live as the covenant people of God. Israel’s freedom gives them the ability to reflect the image of God as a nation, proclaim His power through their story, and live in right relationship to YHWH, that they would be blessed and would be a blessing to all nations.

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If I Had To Write A Book On Leadership It Would Go Something Like This

February 17, 2011 3 comments

I’m not a super experienced church leader. But for a while, I was well on my way to becoming one. I was in high school and I led my small group, led middle schoolers, mentored those younger in the faith, was on leadership teams, read leadership books, and went to leadership conferences frequently, As a freshman in college, I did the same thing on a different level. I started a college church group with a friend, led a bible study there, led leaders there, kicked leaders out of there, led some more, kept reading leadership books, then left that whole deal. I’ve played the church leadership game. It was fun.

I got all the comments that people want to hear too. “You’re a very strong leader.” “I have a lot of respect for you.” “You have so much leadership potential.” “A lot of people look up to you.” “I’ve never seen a leader like you.” Blah blah blah. They were nice to hear. They were encouraging. But the more I read Scripture, the less I really saw about leadership. At least not of the same sort I heard describe described by others around me, church heads, and the many books I read on the topic.

It felt like people all thought that the same skill set for leading in the business world was the skill set needed for leading in the church. I had the skill set for leading in business environments, but that only works in the church if it functions primarily like a systematic organization. The business style of leadership worked for me. Uh oh. I became disenchanted with the whole deal, with the whole idea of leadership that I felt I had been taught.

The longer I live in this brief life, the less and less important the idea of leadership seems to me. As far as the world of Jesus-followers is concerned, I don’t really think that we need more great leaders. I don’t think that’s the kind of revival we’re looking for. I don’t think we need more people who really want to have authority over others in order to help them, teach them, or guide them. The global church doesn’t need more initiators or people that really take charge. The gatherings of believers in the world do not need to spend more time focusing on potential future leaders to build the kingdom of God on earth.

Moses is a classic leadership example that I am going to use. A lot of leadership books have used the example of Moses. Then they go into a discussion of these different leadership characteristics he had and the way that he led and they say things about the story that just don’t seem quite true, but fit into their book. I’d like to just stop at Moses.

Moses was a terrible candidate to be a leader. If he had sent me a resume to be the CEO of my company, I wouldn’t even have given him enough credit to send him a letter telling him he didn’t get the job. He wasn’t exactly good with people. To get revenge for a violent, but still normal and daily, action by an Egyptian, he killed him secretly. That was his strategy for helping. As a result, he made the Egyptians want to kill him and his people mock him and criticize him. I guess you could call him an initiator, but you could also call him a fool who wasn’t in control of his own actions. Then he goes off into the desert to hide. Bold and courageous Moses. He helped some hot women get some water (which is awesome), then defaulted to marrying one of them. Being the ambitious self starter that he is, after a long period of time we find that Moses’ career path is… to tend sheep for his father in law. He took life by the horns and wrestled it so he could live the dream – working for his in laws. Then God calls him in a miraculous and powerful way. And our self-confident leader Moses says he’ll go, sort of. As long as God lets Aaron do the speaking for him.

Do you see what I mean? For those involved in church leadership, is this the dude you would choose to lead hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children into the promised land? Does he have what you look for in young leadership to develop to be the future of the worldwide assemblies of believers in Jesus? Is Moses the guy of Maxwell, Stanley, Blanchard, or Hybels? Does he have the right qualities to be a leader in today’s church?

I love Moses. Moses is freaking amazing. He is, in so many ways, such a great model for our lives. But he is not a good model because of his many leadership qualities. I think he is a great model because of one leadership quality. Numbers 12: 3 “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone on the face of the earth.” We see this in his first direct interaction with God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt.” He’s no one. And he knows it. In his humility, he knows it. Through his honest humility, he develops a relationship with God where despite Moses’ weaknesses, lack of confidence, and incapacity, YHWH works through him to do amazing things. Moses was not a typical leader but that didn’t matter to God. Moses’ lack made no difference in his effectiveness. Because God’s Spirit gifted Moses with the ability to lead, Moses’ effectiveness at leadership could only limited by his pride, and he had less of it than anyone on earth.

I do not believe in developing leaders. I believe in developing people (which includes leaders). I believe in speaking the word of God to people to be humble, and in humility live in right relationship with God, and through humility receive God’s power. And if in one’s love for God and others, gifted by the Spirit of God, they find themselves called to be a leader let them lead and do so diligently. But if their gift is serving, then let them do so cheerfully. If it is prophecy, let them do so boldly. Let them all exercise their gifts out of humble love.

If a leader is leading because of their leadership qualities and desire to lead and not out of the empowering of the Holy Spirit brought about by the person’s humble relationship of love with Jesus, that’s a serious issue for our churches. God then is working through these persons misactions and misguided heart rather than through their humble obedience. And in their desire to lead and in successful leading, the leader so often becomes deluded, believing that leadership is their honoring of God, is tantamount to obedience, and is their necessary path to being like Jesus. For many, leading in the church often comes at the expense of intimacy and humility. And others who are close to God are ignored by those positioned in some sort of spot of authority in the church because they lack leadership characteristics. There is a tendency to prop up quality business leaders in our church gatherings at the expense of the humble men and women that God would rather position there. Be wary.

Also, to quote my favorite author outside of the Bible, “at least 20 percent of what I am telling you is wrong, but I don’t know which 20% it is: I make many mistakes in life, in relationships and in work, and I don’t expect to be free of them in my thinking.”

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