October, 2010


28
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: Stepping Out

“And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'” Joshua 3:8 ESV

I was writing this post last night when my phone crashed, but God very clearly had other plans, so here we go again!

I was struck by the simple truth that someone had to be the first person to step into the Jordan. It wasn’t the crowd who had to take the risk–it was the priests.

As a leader, you can expect to be the one to take that first step of faith into the work that God is wanting to do. Sometimes God leads us into those things gently, but sometimes He leads us in by storm. The greater the risk and uncertainty, the greater the need to throw yourself completely on God as you take that step. As a leader, you have a tremendous responsibility for the people behind you–your foolishness can cost their lives, but your cowardice and unbelief can keep them from taking possession of the land God wants to give them.

I believe God is raising up a generation of people who are willing to take God at His Word in a big way. If God is calling you to be a Joshua Leader in your generation, He has a vested interest in developing strong faith in you. However, that won’t come easily, and you can expect Him to confront your sense of safety, comfort, risk, and faith. No difficulty will be wasted, and He will use that to equip you for the future.

Look at your life now. Are there things that don’t make sense, where you’re asking God why? Are there things that seem impossible, where you’re asking God how? Take a moment to step back from the situation and look at the big picture. God is using this to mold you and prepare you for the future. All He asks is that you cooperate with His plans.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart!

For Christ and His bride…


27
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: God’s Blessing of Favor

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” Joshua 3:7-8 ESV

This verse leapt out and grabbed me, and I’ve been mulling over it, unsure how to address it. This morning I will give it a try.

I’ve noticed a mysterious element in certain people, particularly certain leaders, that attracts favor from other people. It’s not exactly clear what it is, but I have a few thoughts.

First of all, I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not people-pleasing. In the world’s system, the leader carries a tremendous responsibility to make sure people like him. That’s his way of ensuring that his crowd will follow him, and it’s a major underpinning of modern-day politics. However, that’s an incredibly shaky foundation upon which to build your leadership because people’s opinions are quite fickle. Like many things in life, it seems that when you start pursuing favor for its own sake, you lose it.

The second thing that is clear is that it’s a gift from God. God clearly told Joshua that He would exalt him in the eyes of the people. I have often quoted Proverbs 21:1 to my friends, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” However, there’s an equivalent statement that’s also true, which is that the people’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, and he turns it wherever he will.

You see, God never intended that people-pleasing fall on our shoulders. Every leader, in small or big ways, can relate stories of people’s displeasure. It’s true that sometimes this is caused by the immaturity of the leader, but sometimes it’s the immaturity of those following.

So if we are not to please people, what are we to do? If favor is a gift from God, do we just sit around and wait for it to fall?

No!

Scripture has made a very clear path for us in Proverbs 3:3-4, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

I believe that one of the characteristics of the Joshua Leader is that he walks in this favor, not only in the sight of man but also in the sight of God. If it feels like it’s not happening for you as a leader, your job is simply to hang onto steadfast love and faithfulness, then let God fulfill His promise in His time. Similarly, if God is calling you into leadership, pursue this steadfast love and faithfulness, because this favor is not something you want to live without.

And in case you think I’m crazy (which you probably don’t), the concept of favor was significant enough for Luke to mention that Jesus grew in favor in Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” And if Jesus grew in it, why don’t we?

All for Christ and His bride.


21
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: Empowering Our Leaders

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.” Joshua 1:16-18 ESV

I don’t know what your experience has been with leaders, but many people have been wounded by their leaders, whether at home, at church, at work, or wherever it might be. Some of you may cringe over this passage because of your experiences, thinking that such devotion to your leaders is only setting yourself up for being hurt and abused again. Others of you may actually be leaders, wishing for a response like this from those God has entrusted to you!

The simple truth is this: it’s not about you or your leader. It’s about God. What is His vision? Where is He wanting to take his people? God wants us to join together as a team to accomplish these things. But many times our selfishness gets in the way.

In today’s world, we value leaders with charisma. We think that with enough energy, we can motivate people to action. However, I’d like to call that into question, because I think it undermines a basic principle of leadership.

Reread the passage. Can you hear the raw energy from the followers? That’s how we should be towards our leaders. We are attracted to charisma because it gives us a sense of momentum, but the truth is, we ourselves hold the momentum.

I would like to suggest to you that leadership has just as much to do with those of us in the crowd, and that leadership is God’s gift to us to keep us from wasting our energy. Ask yourself this: if you had a crowd with as much momentum and energy as expressed in this passage, what would happen if it were all let loose? It would be purposeless at best, destructive at worst.

Enter the leaders. It is their job to hear the heart of God, to channel and focus the energy of the crowd, and to take care of distractions that slow us down. The leaders, in a sense, do absolutely nothing. They simply provide the things necessary for the crowd to fulfill God’s vision and call.

Think of it like a car: steering + moving = driving.

The crowd is the forward motion, the momentum. But to drive a car, you need something more–you need steering. On the other hand, if you have no motion, you can have the best steering in the world and still get nowhere.

This is easy to see in the context of marriage. When men don’t steer, women either grab the wheel or stop supplying power to the engine. Alternatively, men might be prepared to go places, but the woman is so scared that she might grab the wheel that she applies little power, and with no momentum the man goes nowhere. This leaves marriages stranded, undirected and powerless. Without the momentum and power, direction is meaningless. Without direction, momentum and power are meaningless. Together, the possibilities are wide open.

Here’s where it gets practical. God has placed you under someone’s authority. I challenge you first of all to actively pray that God would be with your leaders as they seek God’s direction. With that, I challenge you to be that power or force or momentum for your leader, not taking over the steering, but helping to supply that raw power to the engine.

There you have a few of my under-developed thoughts. I’d love to hear your thoughts from you!

All for Christ and His bride…


19
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: God’s Orders

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 ESV.

God gave Joshua two clear orders for fulfilling the task before him:

1) Be strong and very courageous.

This seems like a strange command, perhaps different from what we would expect. God didn’t tell Joshua to surround himself with the right men, nor did He tell him to plan his work strategically. I’m sure those are important, but God chose to emphasize one thing: being strong and courageous.

Why? Because God wanted to do great things, and He didn’t want Joshua’s unbelief to get in the way.

2) Meditate on the law to be careful to do what it says.

We live in a day where many people ignore the Word of God and the importance of holiness and righteous character. Unless that is woven into the fabric of the Joshua Leader, he will gauge his walk with God by the works of God and be led astray by his own self-confidence and pride.

What does this mean for me practically?

First of all, if I am honest, I hope that I too will need this be-strong-and-courageous command from God, not because I want to be a wimp or a coward, but because I want to participate in a work of God that is so audacious that God Himself commands me to be strong and courageous.

Second, I must choose, each day, to live in the fear of the Lord and to continually search the Scriptures, because my success, like Joshua’s, hangs on that.

If we’re going to see this kind of Joshua Leaders in our generation, we’ll need a generation of men and women to rise up and follow Joshua’s example of strength, courage, holiness, and character. Christ wants to empower you to live that kind of life. Will you let Him?


18
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: Purpose

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6 ESV

Okay, this one will be short!

After God promised He would be with Joshua, He clearly defined Joshua’s purpose: to lead the people into their inheritance.

We still need leaders like this! We are no longer needing a man to lead God’s people into their inheritance of the promised land. Rather, we are needing men and women who will lead God’s people into their inheritance in Christ.

Once again, by the power of God’s grace working in me, I want to be one of those people! Join me in that, will ya?


16
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: Vision vs. Promise

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:3-5 ESV

It’s no coincidence that God starts out Joshua’s call with a promise. That, in fact, is an important difference between merely being a great leader and being a Joshua leader. A great leader builds his leadership upon vision, and certainly you can’t lead without vision. However, a Joshua leader builds leadership upon promise, and that’s the basis of his vision. The vision of man may mislead us and may fail, but the promises of God can never fail.

What does that mean for me practically? Simply, it means I crave to know the promises of God over my life, because that’s the solid foundation on which I can build the vision for the things God is laying on my heart.

Extra Freebie Challenge: How would you live your life if you knew God would give you every place where the sole of your foot treads? What territory would you reclaim for the kingdom of God?

Remember, God is the same yesterday,  today, and forever!


13
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: Your Preparation and Waiting

I remember being blown away the first time I read this verse:

“I [Joshua] was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart.” Joshua 14:7 ESV

I was blown away because this meant Joshua was 80 years old when he started leading the Israelites. As you recall, the Israelites spent forty years wandering in the wilderness after they refused to enter the promised land, and Joshua died at the age of 110 (Joshua 24:29). This means he spent only 30 of his 110 years of life actually  leading.

We are trying to raise a generation of revolutionaries, young leaders to seize opportunities for God. I think we have great potential for equipping them with tools no other generation has had. However, every leader who is called to a Joshua Leadership can expect a time of preparing and waiting, sometimes a lengthy one. For our own sakes, God does not give us more than we can handle, and the bigger the task, the bigger the waiting.

Further, as a Joshua Leader, you may need to wait on the people God is calling you to lead. Joshua had to spend those 40 years in the wilderness because of other people’s unbelief. I wonder what went on in Joshua’s mind during that time. It could easily have seemed like a detour, and he could easily have become bitter towards the Israelites for their unbelief. However, I can recall no indication in Scripture of such a response.

What does this mean practically?

If you find yourself “stuck” by someone else’s unbelief, know that God’s promises for your life are greater than anyone elses’s action. Resolve in your heart to keep walking with God, believe His promises, and not let yourself become bitter.

If you find yourself in a time of preparation, enjoy it! God is transforming you into the man or woman He has called you to become, and that’s a beautiful thing! If it seems slow, it may be your own stubbornness, or it just might be that God has great things in store, and He’s waiting to take you there until you are thoroughly equipped to handle the task He has prepared for you.

Remember, the bigger the task, the bigger the preparation, the bigger the wait.

All for Christ.


13
Oct 10

The Joshua Leader: Your Predecessor

I have recently been struck by the life of Joshua, and I have officially made him one of my heroes. I’m kicking off a series on “The Joshua Leader” in hopes that I, too, may live my life as close to the heart and power of God as he did. But even more than that, I am writing this in faith that God is raising up a generation of “Joshua Leaders.”

Joshua’s entry into leadership is profound and peculiar:

Joshua 1:1-2 ESV: “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.”

How would you view leadership if you knew someone had to die so you could take their place?

The trouble is, most of us don’t realize how much we are given. I am asking God to teach me humility, and He’s reminding me and showing me how I am standing on platforms that other men and women have built. I would love to take credit for my intellect, but I had no choice there. I would love to take credit for my computer skills, but I landed my career by my brother’s mentoring, not by my own trailblazing. I would love to take credit for my values and character, but my father and mother poured deeply into my life, shaping me into the man I am today. I would love to take credit for the ways I am impacting the world, but the opportunities God has opened up in the recent past is because of those who went before me and labored long and hard to create those opportunities.

I’m sorry to say that I’ve been very ungrateful for what these people have done, but it’s true. Each of these people gave themselves for me, allowing me to move beyond the places they’ve been. And in that sense, they’ve died a little bit so I might live.

But it’s even more sobering to me to realize that one day, God may place me into a position of leadership for which an existing leader, one older and more experienced than I, would have to step down to allow me to lead.

From this, I resolve three things:

* I will honor those who have poured into me and provided a platform for me in each of the areas of influence and leadership that I have been given.

* More than that, whenever I enter a new position of leadership, I will honor my predecessor for surrendering his or her position of leadership to allow me to lead.

* When my time is up, I will willingly step down from any position of leadership to allow the next person to lead.

And oh for God’s grace to live this out!


9
Oct 10

Time

I wanted to start this out with something clever and catchy, but truth to be told, I have nothing like that. Simply put, God has been teaching me some things about time.

Time, as you know, marches ever onward, and we can do nothing to stop it. Have you ever watched people as they try to fight time? They break into a sweat, cut back on sleep, eat fast food, and generally drive themselves crazy trying to gain time. But time is something that comes and goes, and we can‘t speed it up or down. We can only decide what we do with it.

You will always feel trapped by time when you try to control it. You need to let time run its course and choose to bring your life under that. Several months back, I realized that I wanted more time with God. Rather than try some superhero disciplined effort to make time, I chose to drop some things I was doing for several months (specifically Facebook). Quite simply, as I quit spending time on Facebook, I had more time to spend with God. We cannot gain time; we can only change how we decide to use it.

You see, when you‘re dealing with time, what you don‘t do is just as important as what you do. My choice to take a break from Facebook opened up the opportunity to invest that time differently. Every “yes“ is a “no“. Your only choice is whether it will be intentional or accidental. If you say “yes“ without saying “no“, you‘ll only say “no“ to the things that aren‘t screaming loudly, and unfortunately the important things of life rarely scream loudly.

Here‘s where this part gets practical:

* Write down your vision for your life–or better yet, God‘s vision for your life. What is your role in the kingdom of God?
* Think about the things that you need to quit doing and write them down. Quit doing them.

You can fight and scream, you can hope and dream, and you can jump up and down until you‘re blue in the face. But until quit doing things that don‘t fit into your life call, you‘ll only find yourself frustrated (if you’re lucky) or drifting apathetically and aimlessly someplace you don‘t want to go (much worse).

One last thing.

Some of these same principles apply to your relationship with God.

If you are going to understand what God is doing in your life, you need to understand two things. First of all, you need to understand your destiny, because this is where God is wanting to take you. These are the promises God has over your life. Second of all, you need to understand the current season of your life, because that‘s the current step in the journey to your destiny. In short, you need to understand how God looks at time.

Unlike man, God is never late and never hurried. He will accomplish what He wants in His time. For Abraham that meant waiting for a son until He was a hundred years old. God is sovereign, and He will do with your life as He wishes. After all, everything that you have, you have been given. If you get to see His promise fulfilled early in life, glory to God! If you need to wait until the end of your life to see the promise fulfilled, glory to God! It‘s all a gift; what does it matter when you get it?

For much of my life, I‘ve told God what I want. I‘ve told Him what I want to do with my life, and I‘ve told Him the kind of person I want to become. But the simple truth is, God is sovereign, and He will give me what He wills in His time. I keep learning to stop trying to control God and just accept with gratitude everything He pours into my life.

You see, nothing I do can hurry God, but I am able to drag my feet in the dirt and slow Him down. God has me in a certain season right now to prepare me for my destiny, and He has me in this season because of something He wants to teach me. I cannot tell God what to do, where to take me, or when to move me on; I can only cooperate with God to learn the lessons He has for me here.

Sometimes it‘s clear to us how we‘re not cooperating with God‘s plan, but sometimes it‘s difficult to see. Remember, every “yes“ to one thing is a “no“ to something else. You might not be blatantly saying “no“ to what God has for you, but you might be doing that implicitly by the things you‘re saying “yes“ to.

Let‘s get practical one more time.

* Take a moment to seek God and find out what season you‘re in.
* Ask His Spirit to reveal the ways that you are not cooperating with Him for the season you‘re in. Ask Him to show you things you are saying “yes“ to that are turning into a “no“ to His plans.
* Change your way of thinking and way of life to cooperate with God‘s plan.

And that, my friends, is a little bit of what God is teaching me about time. You can‘t control it; you can only use it. And you can‘t control God‘s time and seasons; you can only cooperate with Him. Take hold of those truths and spend your time with eternal impact and eternal rewards.

Soli Deo Gloria.


4
Oct 10

Discovery of Truth

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.“ John 16:13 ESV

How do we discover truth?

Our western culture has placed a great emphasis on our mind, and we‘ve come to believe the human mind will lead us into truth. However, we can easily deceive ourselves with our own mind. Much of modern advertising is built on people‘s ability to rationalize what they already want. For example, if we‘re purchasing something that we can‘t afford, we will justify it in our mind (somehow!) to set ourselves at ease. Our mind has an incredible ability to rationalize almost any action.

As Christians, we have sometimes bought into this same emphasis on the mind, thinking that somehow our mind will lead us into truth. However, if we rely on our minds to lead us into truth, we will not learn to know Jesus. We only learn things about Jesus, and we will only end up with an intellectual gospel void of relationship and life.

Now, I‘m not calling for a mindless Christianity, because our mind is a powerful checkpoint against deception. If we don‘t use our minds, we will be led astray into every wild and hectic swing of doctrine. Our minds need to find their rightful place.

There‘s one more aspect about this verse, which is what it means for me practically.

For me, it means that when I‘m facing a faith-stretcher, I will not use my mind to try to find my way out of it, because it‘s not my mind that will lead me into truth. Rather, I will wait for God to reveal the answer, because Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would lead me into all truth. It doesn‘t mean that I discard my mind, but rather, that I throw all of my faith on the wisdom of God and not on the wisdom of my own mind.