Friday, February 24, 2012

Stand up Moses!!

I feel like God has me reading the books of history in the OT and I kind of wonder why.  I mean the books of Samuel and Kings and Chronicles can be pretty interesting with lots of drama...and violence...but now Numbers?  I am not even sure Moses would want to read Numbers.  So I am working my way through...skipping much names and lists...who did what ...this many cows sacrificed for who...that kind of stuff. (I am sure one day I will get why they are there)  But then I began to see some things that were kind of subtle but, I believe, important...especially to leaders.
Last week I wrote about a Bishop and this odd ceremony held to promote him and it was very strange for me to watch.  Then I read this in Numbers concerning know the guy who is leading a whole nation out of captivity...the one who God says, “ I talk with him face to face.” Yeah, THAT Moses.  12:3 (“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble that anyone on the face of the earth.”)  It was written with parenthesis around it like it was added but someone else.  Look at what it said...very humble...more humble that anyone else on earth...this leader...called by God...humble.  I watched the video of this guy being toted around on a throne type of chair...and I have to confess...the word humble never entered my thoughts...never.  Other thoughts did but I will not share those...but Moses...he was humble. 
You might think, “Of course he was humble...that was a huge job leading all of those people.  And then talking to God face to face...humbling.” I find we tend to go two directions during times like that...yes, we can be humbled...but we can also begin to see ourselves as being someone know God’s chosen. Pretty heady stuff...that could call for a parade...maybe a real title with some pizzazz to it.  Moses stayed humble.  
As I read further I began to see something that I had not noticed before, well it is not like I read the book of Numbers a lot.  I began to see Moses do something and sometimes Aaron with him, in front of the people, that might be one of the greatest leadership techniques I have ever run across. I don’t think you will see it many books on leadership...but you will read it in my  Oh, wait that sounded very un-humble on my carried away. The first time I see it is where the people are rejecting going into the promise land because the people there are too stinking big.  They begin to cry to go back to reject God. The scripture says this, “Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.”  THEY DID WHAT??? Leaders don’t do that do they?  Shouldn’t they have waded into the crowd and began slapping people around...shouting about what the vision is...jumping on a camel shouting for the people to follow’s go take the land!  They fell on their faces right in front of the  Well, OK this one time of will be OK. Sooo later in chapter 18 some guy named Korah is stirring up trouble...challenging Moses leadership...probably did not like a leader who falls down a lot. Korah asks, “Why, then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly? When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.”  Come on Moses...stand up to him...put your finger in his face and let him know who is boss here! YOU ARE GOD’S ANOINTED GUY!  Don’t we want leaders who will lead...lead with strength...even forcefully lead?  Moses falls facedown...then he stands and says, “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to Him and who is holy, and He will have that man come near Him.”  Wow!  I think when Moses was facedown He and God were talking...and God whispers, “I got this Moses.” (Bill’s paraphrase)  
I am beginning to think Moses is giving us some leadership tips here...maybe...verse 22 of chapter 16 gives a little insight on what happened when they were facedown, “But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, 'O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”  You really should look into this story is you like extreme action...the earth opens up and...well I don’t want to give it all away. Moses is being challenged...his leadership is being questioned...and he prays for the people...face down.  Just so you know he does it again in verse 45...”And they fell facedown.” 
So why does this get my attention?  What is so impressive about all of this falling front of the people?  I guess I see a couple of is Moses is definitely humble...he knows he cannot do what God is asking and he keeps going right to Him for strength and wisdom.  Then he is doing something that is subtle but so important for a leader...he is modeling for the people what a humble and holy life would look like.  He is not afraid to fall on his face in front of the people...and I suspect he did it behind the scenes also.  He is saying, without using words, humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.  That being strong in the Lord means being weak in lead he had to follow.  I read lots of leadership books geared towards Pastors...never saw this in any of them...if you keep reading you will find another leader picks up where Moses left off.  Joshua...go ahead and look in tot he book of Joshua...yup...he falls down...face first. Hmmm wonder where he picked that up?

So I really, really like Moses...a real stand up guy...Oh wait...a real facedown guy.  A leader.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What in the Church is Going On? Part 2

A few weeks back I shared a blog called “What in the Church is Going On” or something like that anyway. Found myself getting a little frazzled and frustrated with what I saw and heard going on in the church and the leaders of the church.  Pulled myself together...took a deep breath and moved on, realizing I have my own stuff to deal with.  Then...someone sent me a link to a video...a video of a pastor...Bishop Eddie Long and now a few more titles...and a ceremony that was unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced in my life as a follower of Jesus.  Or even as a non-follower!  I am not going to put the link out...if you are interested, go to You Tube and look for Eddie Long will find a lot of stuff but if you look through the rubble you will find the service where Bishop Eddie is called a king and some other stuff...carried around the platform by four very strong guys as he sits in his big chair.
I only bring this up because it is so confusing to contrary to how I see leadership in the church...I feel like an outsider looking in at a secret ceremony.  Like maybe it is a Masonic ceremony where only insiders understand...or me looking at a Islamic ceremony...maybe even a Mormon ceremony.  And I wonder, “what are they doing?”  As I watched the video I think my mouth was open the whole time in wonder at what was going on...and I also wondered how come the people there were not running out of the building as fast as they could.  (listen there is so much more to this story...I would not even attempt to coverall the baggage involved here.)
One thing I have found as you lead is that you are always tempted to believe whatever you are doing is the best thing...the really right thing...the truly God thing.  You want to be the guy getting it really right...don’t you?  You surely don’t want to be the guy who is so wrong that in the end everyone looks at you and wonders, “How could he get it so wrong?”  And I do not want to ever hear these words, “Depart from me....I never knew you...says Jesus.”  Hey wait a minute...this is remember me...I got it right!  So I live in the tension of leading in what I know to be true...not more than that...not less...what I see in scripture to be known and practiced.  
It gets hard at being at a family reunion and seeing one part of the family that is acting crazy...maybe too much to drink...or too mean and always fighting...too loud...and people are beginning to stare because of the turmoil and noise...and there you are one of them!  You might yell out that you are not really one of them...just kind of related...but a distant relationship for sure...really distant.  But you are are seen as one...of them...and them could be...a right wing republican...a wild, chandelier swinging charismatic...a fundamentalist...a gay hater...a conservative...well, you name it...that may be the label handed to you. You love Jesus...that is all you ever wanted was to love and follow and act like did not know what the whole family would look like...or act like.  We thought it would be about looking and acting like Jesus...what happened?  How did we get here?  Don’t you want to yell at our Father and tell Him to do something about our family...correct them..make them act better...make them like me...I mean, like Jesus!  
So I am back to...I don’t know what in the world those guys were thinking on that day...why it seemed good to them when it seems so weird to me...not sure why God did not pull the plug on that one. Just pull the plug on the camera or turn the electricity off for and hour or two...PLEASE!  No one from that side of the family is asking for my opinion...I would love to give it...and I could do it in a loving manner because I do love this thing called the Church.  But no e I will go on with the expression of the church God has called me to...and I know to some out there, we are one of the strange relatives...we act a little odd to some of the family...they are not comfortable around us. But it is what I I read the Bible...see the church...I think we are pointing to Jesus more than ourselves...I think we are trying to live more like more like Him.  So maybe that is why, even as I watch this stuff and think it is goofy...kind of give me a sick feeling...and also it makes me cry...and pray...because we are so not like Jesus...what else could you do?  
I also have a challenge to throw out there...this goes out to all you out there that have great titles...Prophet...Apostle...Evangelist...Bishop...whatever your self inflicted title might be...(self inflicted might be a bit harsh...but it is my blog) STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT...IF THIS TITLE YOU HAVE MEANS ANYTHING...SAY SOMETHING!!!! (yes I was yelling...sorry)  Use your so called authority or turn your badge in...there now I feel much be honest most of what I have seen around me, as you see guys and gals with spiritual sounding titles, is a competitive world that causes good men and women to strive for titles and forget what the title was for.  Bless me clubs who basically say, “I will make you a bishop if you make me a prophet...or an apostle...”I dislike titles...big time...titles equal entitlement on many levels.  I don’t even really like being called “Pastor” for the most part, because it can create a division between members of the body...can create levels of esteem, I guess, where one is more esteemed than another.  It is what I do...not who I is my role in the church body...but God knows me as Bill...or even His best friend Bill...
Wow! Think I ended a little is my blog...I have to keep reminding you...but my love for Jesus...His Church causes me at times to say what I am thinking...and I am never saying here, I am right and they are wrong...I am just working out my frustration with parts of this family that make me cringe...