Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tough Love

In the story of Joshua, verse 17, we witness a story of tough love. Joshua used this approach with the people of Israel (people of Joseph) as they grumbled, because they felt they weren't allotted enough land. They thought they were too great, too numerous, and too blessed to not get more land, so they complained to Joshua. Joshua said, 'since you are so numerous and since the land is not enough for you, then you can go up into the forest and clear the land yourselves.' But the people still didn't like that idea. They were afraid of the Canaanites and the others who lived in the surrounding areas. Instead of Joshua feeling sorry for them and just giving them something for nothing, he made them work for it. And he did so in an unyielding, caring and encouraging way. Tough love.

Tough love is about ensuring people earn their keep. This way they will come to appreciate things. I learned this with my kids a long time ago yet it's still difficult sometimes, because when you see your loved ones in "pain", you want to jump in and help. But "no pain, no gain." They have to do it for themselves. That's how we all learn to navigate through life. I know now, after much trial and error, the things I always gave my kids left little gratitude and appreciation from them. Consequently, I learned to lead from an unwavering place of gentle nudging and persuasion. And the outcome has been better and more effective. Tough love.

Joshua gave the people something they could be proud of. Empowerment. He told them, 'you are numerous and very powerful. Clear the land of the Canaanites and its farthest limits will be yours. Yes the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out. I know you can.' He believed in them. Now, that's motivation.

So in essence I'm taking a play out of Joshua's play book. He wanted them to develop their own drive and determination to do it themselves. And that's what tough love is all about.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

You've heard the phrase before, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." Who hasn't? We've heard it when it comes to getting a job, getting a promotion, or getting into a certain school. And since we don't have all the answers when it comes to our lives or anyone else's life, we need to go to the person we know, God. The Lord is there whenever we want to talk. So why not just ask Him first? He is the one with all the answers in whatever form He decides to share it (or not) with us. He will tell us who to speak to, where we need to go, what we need to do, and how we are to go about getting there.

In Numbers 16, this is exactly what Moses did when Korah and his followers didn't want Moses to lead them anymore. Moses fell facedown and spoke to the Lord. Korah and the 250 men with him told Moses and Aaron that they had gone too far and they questioned Moses and Aaron asking why they set themselves above the Lord's assembly. In other words Korah and the others wanted to lead, because they didn't think Moses was worthy of the position. Moses, knowing the Lord, didn't answer them with a deep explanation. He simply said, meet in the morning at the tent of meeting and we will just let the Lord decide who He wants to run things.

In verse 28, Moses told them the next thing that was going to happen would prove what the Lord had to say about it. Moses said, "you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea." Then look what happened to Korah and the assembly of people who were with him, after Moses spoke to the God he knew:
31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart. 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions.33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!” 35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men..."
Don't you think had Korah and his followers knew the Lord, things would have turned out differently for them? The one thing I know is that Moses surely knew the Lord and He was with Moses all the days of his life.
Tent of Meeting was
set up outside the camp


Monday, April 6, 2015

It's Just Not the Same

You ever hear people say they don't go to church because they watch a certain pastor on TV or online? They say that's how they get their dose of God.

There's nothing wrong with listening to a church service at home or online from time to time, but there are certain things we can't get from a sermon from home. There are certain reasons why the church exists. One being the help and support we usually get from others ("may he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!", Psalms 20).

There's nothing like hearing a pastor in person and getting that nudge of hope or that head shake of agreement from the person next to you or that hug from the person behind you during meet-and-greet or that all encompassing corporate prayer. There's lots of encouragement in the church. And when people think they're always getting the same touch of God from home as they get from His synagogue, there can be a big disconnect.

Consider math instruction from a teacher by TV or online. How can that teacher show us where we went wrong if she can't see our work? Who's going to see us work the problem through step by step? Our TV or online teacher can't do that. It's just not the same. Or that special concert you're excited about. Imagine catching the shirt of the artist when he looked right at you and threw it directly to you. Or seeing the look in his eyes when he's singing that song and people are waving their hands in unison. It's just not the same on TV or online is it? How about being in the stands at an NFL game? The energy from the crowd is awesome, especially if you have prime seats, but honestly it really doesn't matter where you sit. Or that team mascot who decides to dance with you, yes you. And now you're seen all over the world. What if you stayed home?

It's all about the atmosphere. And there's nothing like the Lord's house. There's nothing like the active engagement we get from being in the house of God (his tabernacle, his holy place) and around other people. Being at home every Sunday or during bible study does not have the same impact as being at church. It just doesn't...because it's just not the same.