Respect My Authority! Judges 8:16

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He took the elders of the town
and taught the men of Succoth
a lesson by punishing them with
the desert thorns and briers.
Judges 8:16

Sadly, as I continued the journey of this passage, I found in verse 16 that Gideon is truly a man of his word.  He promised the defeat the kings, and to return to the men and punish them for their lack of belief in him.   He captures the kings, and then makes a bee-line for Succoth!

Gideon took the elders he gathered and set them before them men of Succoth.  The men of Succoth were about to learn a valuable lesson, both from Gideon, and from the Elders of their community.Decision-Making

Leadership has a cost

Yes, leadership has a cost!  The Elders of Succoth would make a decision for the town, not to supply bread to Gideon’s troop, knowing full well they could suffer from their decision.  Though the passage does not give us their counsel notes or dictation of their discussion, one can be sure that they carefully weighed the weight of their decision, and were willing to stand by it and suffer for the greater good of their community.  They could not allow the threat of Gideon to influence their decision.  The leaders had to consider the impact on the people, and look past the possible pain they could endure for being wrong.  They believed Gideon could possibly win, but decided that past history and the size of the troop of the Kings had a higher possibility of winning.

Sometimes you have to bear thorns and briers!

chess1I am sure they heard the cascading message of the battle, and braced themselves for the encounter with Gideon.  While they hoped the moment would pass, they were ready to face it, and prepared to embrace it.  And true to form, a leader will always have to answer for his decisions.  Many of us have been chosen to bear the scars that come along with leadership.  Leaders make decision knowing that they receive the full showering of the victory, and the terrible lashing that come along with defeat.  Yet, we lead.

Potential Pain must not influence the Decision!

decisionLeaders must stay balanced, accepting the good with the bad, focused on the people, not on the potential pain.  And while they might learn and choose differently in the future, they remain at peace with their decision, because it took into account the information of yesterday, not the data of today.    The reality is, everyone is correct after the fact!    Leaders know this, and don’t waiver with criticism or failings.

Respect is often Earned

Gideons goal was to teach the men of Succoth to respect him by inflicting pain uponwhip those that they admired and respected.  And truly they did.  They watched as their leaders were punished for the decision they made with them in mind.  And while some of them feared Gideon, I am willing to bet some gained more respect for the ones that bore stripes from the thorns and briers.

Gideon on a rampage is determined to earn the respect he believes he deserves.  Maybe the desertion of the original soldiers has left him feeling the need to assert himself among the onlookers?  Maybe some past failings has led him to want to prove himself?  We don’t know!  But we do  know that the taunting words of the men of Succoth have vexed him so, that he was determined to come back and make them respect him.

cartmonYes, he made them put some respect on his name.  Where they might have spoken his name causally, he wanted to insure that it was spoken from this point on with reverence, fear and trembling.

Before we put Gideon on full trial, I guess this would be the right moment to disqualify ourselves as good character witnesses!  While Gideon is clearly wrong, it is safe to conclude that his shoes have been worn by us all at some point in life.  We have all allowed the words of someone to serve as the driving force and reason for our actions. 

And yes, again, this is wrong; but God allowed it.  Maybe God allowed it to further motivate Gideon? God allowed this to be a part of his story, and was so kind enough to document it so that we could also identify with his journey.  Sadly, there are some stories like this in my past.  And while they have not been marked into the paper, they have been etched into the tree!  God has died for the sins both you and I have committed.  His blood covers the penalty and helps us deal with the shame.  His love covers us, and allows us to start each day new, knowing that the only respect due is to God, and the only opinion and approval that matters comes from Him.

 

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

Queen Vashti: Your Example Esther 1:12

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But when the attendants delivered the king’s command,
Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became
furious and burned with anger.  Esther 1.12
Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout
all his vast realm, all the women will respect their
husbands, from the least to the greatest.”  Esther 1:20
He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom,
to each province in its own script and
to each people in their own language,
proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household,
using his native tongue. Esther 1:22

 

VashtiThough it would be fun to start a tense dialogue, I dare not ring the bell to start the war of the sexes.  Far be it from me to jump into this text and risk every female reader (including my own wife and 5 daughters protest and attack me for discussing the ins and outs of the text), but I will, but in a different manner; kind of.

When looking at this text, I looked at it from the perspective of both Queen Vashti and King Xerxies.  Settling on Queen Vashti, I wondered most why she refused to come to the King, but as I read, I wondered if she considered the affect her refusal would have?  Sure she thought about how tired she was, and I can def identify with being tired of the “dog and pony show”, but she was more than Vashti, she was Queen Vashti.  Much like you are not just Bill, but you are a Father, Mentor, Coach, Teacher…. and your actions and decisions extend far beyond a moment.

Didn’t she consider that her example was an example?

How you respond is translated by those who follow you,
and transcribed into their lives.

Queen Vashti understood that there were potential consequences to her disobedience to responding to the King in the manner she did, but her consideration included like most of us, herself.  memyselfirene

Who are you thinking about before you act?  And yes, this would be a perfect moment to interject our Lord and Savior, but who are you thinking about?  I believe most, if honest, are thinking about a small sphere called “Me, Myself and I” (Irene if  you are silly).  The moment we are experiencing is so powerful, that the weight of the moment to impact our future and the live of those following us.

If you are like me, you are probably thinking of at least two Queen V moments!  How many moments would you like to take back, not for yourself, but for others?  Moments where you forgot that people were watching you.  Not watching you for the sake of judgement, but watching with the intent to learn from and draw from your example.  There are people within your sphere that take notes on your life, and use your example and model as their blueprint.

Or maybe she was just so “fair to look on”
that she considered herself irreplaceable.

removecrownIt could be possible that she over estimated her beauty and the influence it had over the king.  Maybe she thought the favor she obtained from the king through past encounters would ensure that she would be given a second opportunity, or that her disobedience would be over looked once he looked her over? 

She was wrong! 

And so are we when we loose sight of the privileged we have through the positions we have been placed in.  Sad to say, Queen Vashti received the Queen B treatment, and was told to move to the left.  Worse, she thought herself to be irreplaceable.  Then still found she had to bow down(I’m really not a big fan, but I have 5 daughters!!!). leftbeyon

How many times have you been right, but wrong?  She was wrong about the outcome of her decision.  Her decision forced the King to make a decision regarding the wife he was so proud and pleased of.

Beyond his anger, both he and his counsel understood that the example set by the Queen would have implications far beyond the King’s castle.  They knew word would spread from home to home, starting with the leaders, and work its way down to each citizens home.  Her disobedience had the potential to shift the entire direction of a nation.   And so can yours!

Example-stamp

I look at the state of our homes, our communities, and of course our churches.  I wonder how many Queen Vashti decisions we are struggling to correct?  How many bad examples were passed down from mothers, fathers, councilmen, senators, pastors and parishioners that we have adopted as acceptable behavior?

As we watch the entertainment industry being unclothed and politicians being exposed, I am not only disgusted by the actions of these individuals (not that I am without sin), but am bothered by those who have emerged to testify that they knew what transpired, but kept quiet so that their means of income would not be disturbed.   For every abused woman and abused entertainer, there are multiple witnesses that chose not to speak up for fear not only of being not believed, but being black balled from pursuing their careers.  These actions had transpired so long, that it became and acceptable practice in the industry, and they had a start.  There was an original casting couch, much like there was an original oral office (Bad Clinton Reference).  Somewhere, the abuse and misuse of power became acceptable and idolized and not reprehensible.  It was admired by those who desired those positions, and supported by those who watched quietly to keep food on their tables.

Old books, inkstand and scrollThank God King Xerxies administered a decree!!!!  He administered a decree to address the unacceptable actions of the Queen.  I wonder how our families, communities and churches would be different had those in power bound together to do what the felt best for the kingdom, not just the King or the Queen?  Oh that decrees would have been made before the actions of one or two had become so prevalent that it became an acceptable part of culture.

#PastorJDO3

Is Everything Ok? (pt.2)

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When Jehu came through the gate,
she said, “Is everything okay, Zimri,
murderer of his master?”
2 Kings 9:31

After finishing the previous verses, it culminates with one last question from Jezebel, the power behind the power. “Is Everything okay?” Jezebel asks?  She question, more a statement, in that she knew the havoc she had caused, and had heard the word of the prophet Elijah, and now Elisha as well as the reports of the messengers about the death of Joram and Ahaziah.

Testing the waters with her lips, which had been prepared for this next strategic battle with another man of God, she questions like the serpent, as if to ask, “did God really say?”  Her words are staged to cause him have doubt about following through with God’s instructions.

What I love about the passage is that she encounters him not when he gets in the same room with her, but she leans out the window and catches him as he comes through the gate!  Queen-Jezebel

This lead me to ask the question “when does warfare begin?   Many of us don’t realize that the war has begun.  We are waiting to stand face to face with the adversary, building up to a mighty showdown, and we are unaware that the adversary began undressing us at the gate.  Small aggression’s, designed to disarm us, peeling off our armor and weakening us before the face to face confrontation occurs.  We enter the gate filled with His power, determined to carry our His purpose and to fulfill the assignment given to us, and little by little, one word at a time, we are disarmed.  Where did you loose the battle?  At the gate!  I think of the students testing, the boxer in the ring, the saint chasing righteousness and realize that the battle is often lost before is ever fought.  It’s the small piece of doubt that is able to topple the mission.  

“Is everything ok?” she asks?  Looking innocent I  would assume.  Presenting herself as harmless, her words soft and sweet, lacking the edge the contained with Elijah.  She spoke to him in a melodious tone, grabbing his ear in an effort to bridle the passion in his heart.  And then took her first jab to keep him at bay, “Zimri, murderer of his master?” she says.  Jezebel, the crafty one shows that she is more than her physical appearance, revealing knowledge and whit to position herself for power.  Zimri was only King for 7 days, after taking the life of the King Elah from the instructions of Jehu.  Jezebel wanted to plant a seed of doubt in Jehu, letting him know that becoming King and remaining King was not contingent on killing the King or his family.

Her words offer him an alliance with one who has been in power and has influence; Jezebel.  As the sitting leader, Jezebel as a partner could prove a powerful tool and partner in maintaining his new position as King.  This is a trick of the adversary.  The assignment of Jehu is not to become King, but to restore the Kingdom to holiness through returning to worshiping only Yahweh and not Baal.  She wants to take his mind off the purpose of God placing him in the position and get him consumed with getting and maintaining himself in the position.  Yes, if Jezebel can get him focused on the power of the position instead of the power of the Lord, the adversary wins, even if her life is taken.

It is funny how the influence of the adversary works!  Eager to call out the actions of another, but not willing to own up to their own actions.  “Is everything ok?” she ask in reference to herself, but is eager to vocalize the actions of Zimri.  Crafty she is.  What will Jehu do?  What will you do?  What have you done?  Win the battle at the gate!  And remember, the power in the position and the time spent in the position is not dictated by man, but by God who places rulers in authority, and allows longevity those who continue to serve and worship him and determine not to lead God’s people astray.

 

#PastorJDO3

Behind Closed Doors (John 20:19-23)

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On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,
the disciples had gathered together and locked the
doors of the place for fear of the Jewish authorities.
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”  When He had said this, He showed
them his Hands and His side.
John 20:19-20

In life, we face challenges from every hand.  Our brothers find themselves struggling after witnessing the crucifixion and burial of their leader, The Messiah.  They watched as He suffered at the hands of the Jews, and must have felt their power and influence to be unstoppable.  For this, they locked themselves in a room to protect themselves from the fears they had.

Though the room doors were closed and locked, I believe the first doors closed and locked were in the disciples minds.   They had the promise of the Lord that the would do greater things than He, that the church itself would be established on one of them, and would flourish at their hands.  They had miracle working power, as well as the Messiah interceding on their behalf, and because of what they had witnessed, they were unable to carry our the full breath of their ability discouraged by what seemed to be inability.lockeddoor

Oddly enough, we like the disciples often mislabel inability or confuse restraint for powerless.  In stead of being in awe of the power and restraint Jesus showed by enduring and being committed to completing His Fathers will, they were discouraged by the crucifixion.    Thus Jesus comes to them, and showed them the Resurrection.  In times of despair, we must choose to look at the victory over the grave, not the pain and suffering of the cross.  Jesus had to show them that there was victory of the grave, and a power greater than any earthly power that could be displayed.

I was encouraged not only by His appearance to them, but the fact that He was willing to stand with them in the midst of their fear.  It is encouraging to know that we have a Savior who will appear and stand.  He comes to us in the hour of our greatest need, even when we have failed Him.  It is just like God to remind us of who He is and who we are in the midst of falling apart. Thank God for a Savior who is there for us, despite our abandoning of Him when He needs us most!

Though I wanted Him to tell the disciples, I have dealt with the Jews, or they wont bother you, I was disappointed that He simply said, “Peace be with you.”  He doesn’t promise them there problems will disappear.  He doesn’t promise them that they won’t be punished or crucified.  He simply speaks Peace to them!  In other words, you will have storms, trials, tribulations, and for most of them, the cross, but while enduring, you will have “peace”!  

He then gives them good news and bad news!  The good news, “Peace be with you”  the bad “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  We praise God because their bad news is our good news.  They were armed with the Gospel, the Name of Jesus, and the soon, the Power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that was ascribed to them.  Jesus knew the commitment they were being asked to make.  They were building a Kingdom and would be considered royalty, but their lives would not be filled with comforts and convenience.   They were being called to Martyrdom.  They wouldn’t be asked to make the same sacrifice, but a similar one.

Their lives were now to be lived for the Lord, a living sacrifice for others.  From now on, their lives would be on the line, and the responsibility of showing people to the Father would rest upon their shoulders.

They; true to form were panicked!  They knew that this would be impossible to do without Him; and they were right.  Without Him, they were sunk!  Who would calm the seas?  Who would raise the dead?  Who would cast out demons?  Who would give sight to the blind?  Who?  They had already displayed the sum of their power and ability!  Jesus thus “breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”  (V. 22)

The power they needed to do would now match the peace they needed to be.  And we too have all we need to take this world by storm.  Thus we are asked to “Go ye therefore” and are challenged to live our lives considering the lives of others as important as ours and the will of the Father first in our lives.  God does not stop “life” from happening, so he has equipped us with the power and peace to overcome the world just as He did!  Thus, let us not stay behind closed doors.  Let’s us advance and accomplish His will!

If He Killed Saul;… (2 Samuel 1:15-16)

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2 Samuel 1:15  David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” 16 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died.

In life our paths are crossed by many faces, feet and hands.  We are constantly put into positions to make judgement calls as to ones purpose and intentions towards us.  Men and Women approach, often with oaths and gifts, speaking words of favor, lending flattering thoughts and encouraging words.  Once in power, the favor of man, and loyalty of man is offered upon a platter to the one wearing the crown, leaving the man with the important task of discerning who is for them, and who is against them.  

Here David is; encountering a man that is doing and saying all the right things.  He comes before him in verse 2, and “falls to the ground to pay him honor.”  He humbles himself in the Davids presence, giving a visible sign that he both sees and receives him as the new and rightful King.  Furthermore, his posture shows respect for Davids power and authority.  He recognized him as a mighty warrior and valiant man, worthy of praise and honor.images

I wondered to myself, “How many of our Kingdoms have fallen from the Posture and Presentation of a man/woman?”  Our desire to be respected and revered can open us up to the infiltration of the adversary, delivering to the sacrifice of praise, playing to our ego and leaving us vulnerable to loose it all.  It occurred to me while reading that the posture was not in respect, but it was to get close and to gain the favor of the King.

The sad truth is, most of us know what submission looks like, but don’t know what it is.  When we view submission, respect and honor as physical, then we will find ourselves easily fooled and jeopardizing our camp.  Submission is a matter of the heart, not of the mouth, or the bending of a back.  Even our Lord highlights this by saying we must “confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts”  Romans 10:9.

David listened to his story, treating him with the utmost respect.  But while he recounted his story, David, like our Lord was listening to His heart.  He wasn’t persuaded by the presentation of Saul’s Crown and bands.  Most of us would have received the gifts and treasure as a sign of loyalty and respect, and given its deliverer the honor of being in our inner circle, and or laid hands on them and given them influence in our camp.

David however, morned the loss of Saul, more so the loss of Jonathan, whom he says loved him better than more wonderful than a woman. V 26  He wasn’t caught in the trappings of the title, but was peering into the responsibility and began of his reign and journey carrying out the will of the Lord on earth.  He understood that the crown he would bare, would not be one that was won or delivered by human hands, but one that was given to him from above by the Devine who had chosen him because of his heart and not his appearance or connections.

Too many of us are eager to wear another mans crown!  Many of us would have placed the crown on our head and reveled in our new assignment.  But not David!  Many of us have assignments from God, but have received our crown from men!  Our assignments have be tainted by a lack of judgment and the formation of un-heavenly earthly partnerships and relationship that will get us off track.  We must, like David, remember that the crown is not the determining factor of who is King, but the oil that has flowed upon our heads.  Words and treasure and earthly garnishing that lull us into corrupt ways and an unrighteous end.

After morning, David questioned the man, asking him the question of questions, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” V. 15  David after listening to the Spirit knew that he too was God’s anointed.  While the man looked to gain favor by reporting that he killed Saul, his claim revealed his heart which had no respect for the anointing and the office.  His power move with most would have been successful, but David was wise and able to discern what was behind his tale.

We can learn much from watching the way those who sing our praise treat authority and speak of the office in which we currently reside and are due to obtain.   If they will verbally execute another minister or ministry, co-worker, supervisor, then assuming that you will be or are currently exempt from their fruit is foolish.  There should be something about that individual that has such respect for the office, that it proves painful, impossible even, to speak against the man or woman God has chosen to serve.  While this is true, many offices have been captured by the sweet songs of one who destroys and disrespects another in our presence, somehow believing that their posture and presentation are signs that we are above their accosting.

We are just one of a few that have been chosen, and while unique, we are not different.  We are different is assignment, but all chosen by the divine to carry our His will and to speak forth His truth!

Not only was David able to discern his intentions, David also knew the man was lying.  David spoke, “Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the LORD’s anointed.’ ”  V. 16 The man was lying the whole time!  He was lying and wanted credit for Saul’s death to gain favor with David.  Though he had not committed the act of killing Saul, David killed him based upon what was in his heart.  David came to the conclusion, “If He killed Saul, He will kill me!”  I challenge you to look into your camp, and to identify those attached not for relationship, but for resources.  Identify those who have great presentation and posture, and hold a magnifying glass up to their hearts!  Now, don’t kill anyone! (gotta put that in writing!!!!)  And don’t have anyone killed! (gotta put that in writing too!)  But evaluate the camp so that you will know what you have attached to you, and pray for discernment so that you can rule well and handle the assignment God has given to you.

In final, a question, “What’s in your heart?”  I chose for this blog a picture depicting worship.   I wondered to myself how God feels when we are in His presence.  See, we all know what worship looks like.  We all know what submission looks like.  We all know what praise sounds like.  But, do we really know what all of these things are? And are they truly whats in our heart?  Could it be that God listens to our praise, and receives the crown and bracelets in the offering plate, and is still haunted by our hearts that are far from Him.  Could it be that God hears our praise and is bothered and disgusted by our worship, knowing that our words are just to gain favor with him, and not to build a relationship with Him?  God must be more than a resource, He must be our source!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe & Flow John 7:38

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“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:38

waterfaucet2Jesus speaks powerful words to the Disciples.  He shares with them the true source of strength and power.  They have the teachings, they have the teacher, but they lack the power to accomplish the super natural.  Their circumstances had improved!  They were closer to the promise!  They were empowered by the Word Himself!  And yet, they were only informed and led.  The watched in awe as Jesus performed miracles, learning from His walk, privy to insider information, wiser than most, because they were chosen by the source the receive revelation beyond the general teaching, yet still, they lacked.

The reality, they were still not completely aware of the how close they were, and just who they had been chosen to follow and receive.  Jesus sets the backdrop for the fullness of the covenant that God was in the process of completing.  God’s plan was not only to restore relationship with His creation, but to empower His creation to not only look like Him in regards to character, but in relationship to His power.  God, the unselfish, generous God, not only would give mankind access to Him, and the authority accomplish through the name of Jesus, but would supply them with the same power to do even greater works than He himself did during His time on earth. waterfaucet

This power would give us the potential to do the extraordinary on earth!  That power, The Holy Spirit.

Upon reading this passage, I saw the disciples as faucets, able to bring forth living water to any situation.  The stood before me as vessels of potential, housing a power that could both erode and break through any situation.  We too are faucets!  We have this same power, but we are off!  Our handles are set to block the flow of the Spirit.  We harness its power, grieving it by locking it, and restricting it, causing that which is alive and active to sit in a dormant state.  Our power is “standby”.  Standby power means that it is connected to the power source, ready to be used, but not being drawn.  Situation after situation can be handled by cutting on its power, but they remain unresolved because we will not open up and allow the Spirit to flow.

In my head, I saw a new bar of soap in the sink under a constant drip.  I could see the physical change the next morning because of the drip.  I imagined leaving the soap there not just under a drip, but under a constant flow.  I could see the dent in the soap!  Then I imagined standing back and opening up the faucet for maximum flow.  I could see the not only the soap being impacted, but the sink being filled and the things on the sinks edge being saturated by the contact of the waters flow.  

If only we would open up!  If only our lives were just one constant flow.  If only we could see ourselves walking in the Spirit, yielding to its power and to its lead in our lives.  If only we could see ourselves, not on standby, cutting the flow on and or, or not drawing from its power at all! We could change not only our lives and circumstances, but we could change the world! There is a world waiting for you to connect and to utilize your power. Will you remain dormant?  Will you keep your mouth closed?  Will you stay in the confines of your home?  Will you watch injustice?  Will you walk in power and authority?  Will you believe and will you flow?

We have too many people that believe and will not flow!  Unlike the disciples in this text, we are not lacking!  We are filled, but not willing!  We need an army of believers that understand that they are armed with the greatest power ever given. More powerful than any nuclear device, our temples are filled with that which can cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, restore families…. We need people that will flow!

The month of November for The Body Church will be the opportunity to flow! In faith, we are walking firm towards our destiny and God’s unfolding promise.  For the first 21 days of the month, members of each Discipleship Group (DG) are begin asked to fast, drinking water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as denying themselves one item of their choosing.  During this time, each Disciple is asked to fast, seeking God about whom they are to witness too, and how they can best serve in the community service projects.  We know God will give you strength and the focus needed to get closer to him, as well as further discipline yourself to strengthen your faith walk.  We also believe God will reveal to you the people whom the Holy Sprit has prepared for you to bare witness too.  Be prayerful, and may the Lord continue to be your strength!

#PastorJDO3