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Every Minute

of

Every Day

We have the choice

 

Love or Hate

Fear or Faith

Hope or Despair

Teardown or Buildup

Unity or Division

Self or Others

Compassion or Apathy

Criticism or Encouragement

Persevere or Quit

Deception or Truth

Life or Death

 

These threads weave together to form the fabric of our existence

 

What Do You Know?

As this Corona Virus crisis began to ramp up a few of weeks ago, I tried to block it out. I’m not one who looks to interpret what God may be thinking by observing natural events; I’m more prone to see natural events through the lens of whatever He seems to be saying at the moment. But as events began to pile up, I started to get pulled into the conversation. I read credible Infectious Disease experts who said that this virus wasn’t much more hazardous than the seasonal Influenza virus, which also kills those with compromised immune systems, while other medical experts were speaking as though it was the return of the black plague. Like everything else in our culture, this virus soon became a political volleyball, which was being pounded back and forth across the net. As the preventive measures began costing people their jobs, and I saw people begin to suffer, I felt the frustration brewing in me, and stealing my peace. I found myself formulating an argument in my head, and it seemed to be pressing on my lips to get out. But before it was able to escape, the Lord broke in.

 

“What do you know?”

 

It wasn’t in a sarcastic or mocking tone. He was asking a simple and sincere question about what “facts” I had. There seemed to be credible voices on both sides of the argument, and everyone seemed to be speaking as though they knew exactly what was happening, and moreover, what was going to happen. But the Lord was challenging me, as a man who felt as though he had something to say, as to what I really knew. And in an instant, I knew that my words were of no value, and that my voice would just be more fodder in the trough. As I began to fully appreciate the degree to which I’d been sucked in, the Lord spoke again.

 

“What do you know?”

 

Though the words were the same, I sensed a different question. He wasn’t asking me what I knew about the Corona Virus, He was reminding me of the way He’s taught me to deal with the world. He’s given me “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”, so that I can live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. He was challenging me on what He’d said to me about this virus and/or pandemic, and as I pondered that, I realized that He’d not mentioned it one time. Again, a wave of regret washed over me, as I remembered that the “genuine Spirit of Prophecy is not only saying what God is saying, but it’s not saying what He’s not saying”. Indeed, if God wasn’t speaking about these things to me, what exactly did I have to say to anyone else. In the midst of my repentance, the Lord spoke again.

 

“What do you know?”

 

Again, same words, different question. This time He was striking at the depth of my soul. What is it that I “know” in my heart? “I know you Lord”, was all I could think to say. And with that, I sensed His loving hand on my shoulder, and I understood that this was all I would ever need to know.

 

Like everyone else, we are being impacted by what’s happening in our world. And now, more than ever, I find myself running back to the one thing that I know.

 

Care Giver

Now that I am on the other side

And the relentless pain is gone
Now that I am free of that broken body
And my tormented thoughts have been stilled
Now that my hope has become my reality
And I can view it from above
*
I can see the times it was difficult
And you responded with patience
I can see the times you were exhausted
And you found another bit of strength
I can see the times it was hurting you
And you refused to leave my side
*
In a season when my world got small
You chose to be a part of it
On the days I couldn’t remember who you were
You simply served in anonymity
During the most difficult miles of my journey
You decided to carry my pack

*

There are no words to do it justice
But there is a special gift waiting here for you

Denial refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem

Wisdom endeavors to see a problem for what it is

Fear magnifies and exaggerates a problem

 

Denial rationalizes inaction

Wisdom pursues prudent action

Fear produces over-reaction

 

Denial breeds apathy

Wisdom breeds contemplation

Fear breeds panic

 

Denial fights to maintain the status quo

Wisdom seeks a measured response

Fear makes a bad situation worse

 

Denial is emboldened by a stubborn will

Wisdom is empowered by a peaceful mind

Fear is fueled by a fruitful imagination

 

Denial results in complacency

Wisdom looks toward hope

Fear leads to desperation

 

God grant us the strength & wisdom to grab ahold

of the things you’ve placed in our hands

And grant us the faith & hope to trust You

for the things that are beyond our reach

And Lord, please give us the discernment to

recognize the difference between the two

Sons vs. Clones

Several years ago, an internationally known TV ministry sent one of its associate pastors to prepare our church for a visit from their senior pastor.  Everything about this man seemed to be an exact duplication of the senior pastor, his voice, his hair, his mode of dress, his mannerisms, expressions that he used…  He began his presentation by exclaiming what a great church we were and with a spiel about how he didn’t know what we were paying our pastors, but it was not enough, he didn’t know what kind of car they drove, but it ought to be a BMW…  Ironically, when the senior pastor arrived a week later, he began his presentation with a word for word rendering of that same spiel.

 

While it is not particularly surprising or even a problem that these two men would share certain characteristics, such a complete replication of someone else’s image edges dangerously close to a cult of personality. And in the midst of this, I felt like the Lord began to speak to me about the difference between “raising sons” and “producing clones”.

 

As a father of four children (two boys & two girls), I can attest that each of my children share some measure of similarity to me.  Though some of that is undoubtedly due to DNA, there is also the profound influence that comes from sharing life experiences together on a daily basis.  For example, how they see their mother and I relate undoubtedly helps to shape their ideas about relationship and marriage; just as our beliefs and attitudes about things like God, politics, patriotism, education… helps to form their conception of those things. A testament to the profound effect of this is that one of my daughters is not my biological child and yet I can see myself in her almost as clearly as I can in the other children.

 

But just as easily as I can identify the similarities, I can also see that all of them possess many other traits that we don’t share, and to be sure they are four completely unique beings.  They each have different gifts, fears, learning patterns, strengths, inspirations… I believe that this is a testament to the fact that while God may have used some raw material from their mother and me within the creation process, He created them to be far more than just an amalgam of the two of us.  He created them to go further than we’ll go, and to do more than we’ll ever accomplish. To be sure, we as parents must be diligent in helping them to forge a good foundation, but it is ultimately the “Master Architect” who designs what is to be built upon it.

 

There is a very natural temptation to want to duplicate the things that we view as being successful, but as the old saying goes, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.  It is often what has been successful that causes us to become protective of what we’ve already attained and reluctant to venture into new territory.  Some leaders fall prey to the idea of leaving a lasting legacy, which on the surface can almost seem virtuous, but which in practice can often cause what was once a dynamic organization to become little more than a lifeless monument.

 

In truth a legacy is not something that we ourselves can create, it is simply the byproduct of how others perceive us.  As much as I hope to leave a legacy of faith for my children, the danger in them asking themselves how I might handle a given situation is that they may never bother to ask God what He would have them do.  As we seek to “empower” the leaders of the next generation, we must ensure that they understand exactly where that power comes from.  We’ll know that we’ve genuinely “empowered” them when we allow them to draw different conclusions than we have, and when they are allowed to pursue visions that didn’t come from or through us.

 

As I considered the scriptural representation of these issues I thought of Moses and Joshua.  To be sure, Moses was an amazing leader, with an unparalleled record of achievements and yet it was God who ordained that Joshua would be the one to lead His people into the Promised Land.  There is nothing in scripture that seems to indicate that Joshua did anything to imitate Moses and I’m sure that it isn’t a coincidence that Joshua’s introduction to leadership began with a very definitive proclamation from heaven, “Moses is dead”.  That pronouncement seemed to signal the end of one very painful era and the beginning of another, more fruitful one.  While some might suggest that Joshua could never have done what Moses did; I would suggest that it is equally true that Moses could not have fulfilled Joshua’s mission either. In ways that may have only been known to God, Joshua was just the right man, at just the right time.

 

Those who count themselves as fathers need to be mindful that their children’s destiny is to be transformed into the image of Christ. If we are being effective in the discipleship process, they will look more like Him than us. He created each of His children to be a unique representation of who He is, and not one to be a replica of a person who happened to come before them.

The members of an orchestra don’t come together by taking their cues from each other, they do so by fixing their eyes on a singular person and responding to the promptings of that Conductor. And so it is with the Body of Christ. We will not achieve genuine unity through increased dialogue or simple cooperation. It will only happen when we collectively succumb to the guidance of the One, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 

When we allow someone to provoke us to say or do something we wouldn’t normally, we unwittingly place them in a position of leadership, and submit ourselves to their authority.