She Blended Well

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In a very male dominated society, she broke the glass ceiling. We are not told how she did it, but she did. And she was very wise about how she “wielded such authority.” 

Deborah broke that glass ceiling and led (aka “judged”) Israel for 40 years. She herself was a very wise and noble woman. Some suggest that she was a “burning woman” in the sense of a Light for Truth and Justice; a torch for Righteousness. (This is seen in v. 4: instead of “wife of Lappidoth,” it could also be a “a woman of a torch-like spirit.”)

As a prophetess, the LORD had spoken through her to command Barak to take the leadership in a very decisive battle. He balked, but instead of commandeering the leadershipand still obeying the LORD, Deborah wisely accommodated Barak’s hesitancy (see 4:6-10).

 And then she did something rather outstanding, at least in my mind: She blended well with Barak in a beautiful duet! (This rather extensive song is found in Judges 5:1-31a.)

I am so impressed with this. She could have sung a solo. She could have even relegated Barak to a backup voice. But in her nobility and wisdom, she blended her voice with his. This is true godly leadership: Knowing when to stand up, stand out and blend with those we serve as leaders.

Do you think this is one reason why her story is included in the Bible? What do you think?

Main Text— Judges 4:4-5; 5:31b (ISV) 4 Deborah, a woman, prophet, and wife of Lappidoth, was herself judging Israel during that time. 5 She regularly took her seat under the Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountainous region of Ephraim, where the Israelis would approach her for decisions. … 31 Then the land enjoyed quiet for 40 years. 

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.(2 Timothy 4:5 (NIV)

   To each person has been given the ability to manifest the Spirit for the common good….  Now you are the Messiah’s body and individual parts of it.1 Corinthians 12:7, 27 (ISV)

 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.—Romans 12:16 (ISV)

Lord Jesus Christ, empower me to faithfully fulfill the task You have prepared for me in advance to do with the gifts You have given me. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Second is Like It”

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My Thoughts:

Perhaps you would agree with me, that if we were asked which is the greatest commandment for a father, it would be that famous saying,  “the best thing a father can do for his children is Love their mother.” But there appears to be a “second like it”. (Just like our Lord Jesus has “two great commandments.”) This second commandment for fathers is to manage themselves: This is what Bill Hybels calls, “Self-leadership.” He alludes to Daniel Goleman’s observations: “He [Goleman] calls it ‘emotional self-control. … this form of self-control is exhibited by leaders when they persevere in leadership despite overwhelming opposition or discouragement; when they refuse to give up during times of crisis; when they manage to hold ego at bay; and when they stay focused on their mission rather than being distracted by other people’s agendas” (Courageous Leadership, p. 184).

I know I need a lot of work on this “self-leadership.” And I know I definitely need the Lord Jesus Christ: He is my grace when I do not persevere in leading my family—whether they follow or not; He is my courage in times of discouragement; He is my strength in my moments of weakness; He is my focus when my vision blurs….

Oh, I’d like to share that I came upon this quote just last week. I was preparing myself to have a personal quiet time instead of sermon preparation when I felt a strong nudge in the Spirit to read this book, Courageous Leadership. “Aaa, Lord, I really would rather read Your word…,” but the nudge became a poke and then a—well, you get the picture. And I happen to read where a book marker was so conveniently placed…. “Yes, Lord, I’m listening.”

Lifestyle worshiper, maybe you have the same personal struggle I have: leading when it appears that no one is following? I am often mystified at how Moses didn’t want to lead, but he was leading. And He was leading people who didn’t want to follow, but they followed (you remember, out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, into the wilderness). As I lead my family, I often desired to see the responses I would get as a coach. We run a drill, no questions asked. If there’s any whining or slacking, “Take a lap,” and you know what? They did. But in the home, I just can’t say, “Drop and give me 20! Nope.

So, dads, perhaps you’ve already learned what I’m in the process of learning: Lead anyway! Love anyway! Persevere and hang in there. This second ‘greatest commandment’ for dads is truly a challenge, and that challenge is remembering to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ to be the dad in my Life He designed me to be and ‘lead’ myself toward Him. Just maybe the rest of the family will follow—especially if I’m also loving the mother of my kids, eh?

Main Text: — Matthew 22:36-40 — 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  — Colossians 3:13 (NIV84)

In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers. —1 Peter 3:7 (ISV)

 In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church. — Ephesians 5:28-29 (ISV)

 Heavenly Father, empower me to lead with integrity and courage. Strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees. Embolden me to lead my family in Love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“Relationships Can Be Rebuilt”

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Date: 02-24-15

The Big Idea: Relationships can be rebuilt but it will take a miracle.

We pray and pray and pray, praying to God for a miracle. Praying He will heal and restore this broken relationship, this estranged family member. And as we pray, we grow weary in the delay. Oh, we want it to be fixed—yesterday. We want things to be as they were: comfortable; innocent. And what I have found is: It is at this point many give up and quit praying because the miracle hasn’t come as quickly or as obviously as they would have liked….

Relationships can be rebuilt, but it will take a miracle. And what I have found is many are too impatience to wait for the miracle. Sadly, I have observed over the years of counseling and pastoring that many relationships stall in the second stage of a relationship: Innocence lost.  Perhaps you have noticed it, too, but I have discovered that every relationship goes through two stages, and, as I have noted, few make it to the third stage.

The first two stages are (1) innocence found and (2) innocence lost. We start out a romantic relationship or a friendship in the “innocence found” stage. It is new, refreshing, invigorating. There is a spring in our step and a lightness in our heart. But then something happens in the relationship to violate, ruin, disturb the innocence, and whoosh, innocence is lost–the second stage. It is here that everyone has a choice to make: (1) Leave the relationship and find a new, fresh one filled with that invigorating innocence; or (2) Work through the relationship until innocence is restore. Sadly, many choose the easier and, in truth, less fulfilling first option, leaving the landscape strewn with a profusion of “innocence lost” festering relationships. These continue cascading down the pinball machine of life bouncing from one frantic relationship to the next….

In choosing the second option, however, we give ourselves a chance to advance to the third stage of Innocent Restore. In this stage the relationship is rebuilt and restored and, in fact, is stronger than it was at the first. Now, at this point you might possibly be thinking, “Not in my broken relationships. It would take a miracle to repair this and restore the innocence that was deeply wounded and violated.”

And I would say you are right. It would take a miracle!

In the main text, noted below, we see Nehemiah’s servant leadership result in a miraculous rebuilding. And all those who witnessed this noted “that the work had been done by our God” (v.16). In all this, let us not miss the miracle. Period! Yes, this miracle was speed; building this wall in this short period of time is indeed miraculous. And when I note this miracle, I am not saying that your broken, fatigued or strained relationship will be fixed, repaired, or restored in 52 days—or two years, but what I am saying is: This passage gives us the hope of a miracle of rebuilding and restoring. And besides, it doesn’t depend on us. Remember the Miracle we pray for will ultimately be “done by our God.” Yes, we are co-laborers with Him in this outstanding miracle. But He does the ‘Work’!

So I have to ask myself as well as you: How’s my co-laboring going? Or have I given up? Let us pray for one another and spur one another on to complete the wall…,  and witness a Miracle!

Main Text: — Nehemiah 6:15-16 — 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul in 52 days.16 When all of our enemies—including the surrounding nations—heard this, they became very discouraged, since they saw that the work had been done by our God.  [ISV]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

— Galatians 6:9 (NIV84)

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

— 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV84)

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. — Romans 12:19-21 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  I put You on as my Slippers of Patience: The Right Slipper of Forgiveness and the Left Slipper of Forbearance. Let me be a peacemaker who sows in peace in the confident hope that there will be a harvest of Righteousness. In Your Name, Amen.

Coach Mike

“Call It As It Is”

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Date: 02-20–15

The Big Idea: Calling it as it is in Love builds trust and aids in repairing those broken walls of fractured relationships.

My Thoughts: There is a saying I oft quoted much of my life: “Tell me the truth: Hurt me once; lie to me: Hurt me twice.” I’m going to find out the truth, so just let me hear it from you straight up in Love. But have you discovered that if you are lie to, not only will the truth hurt when you discover it, but the breach of confidence will only double the hurt? I have….

Lifestyle worshiper, because a servant leader is more concerned for those s/he leads, they call it as it is. With as much candor and as little bias as possible, a servant-leader learns to speak the truth in Love, but in doing so s/he does not soft soap or PC it to meaninglessness. I have found on my own journey with Jesus that I have often been too brutally blunt when ‘telling the truth,’ so I have had to learn to be more diplomatic. (Others I have known need to be less PC.) I had my first shot at practicing this lesson of diplomacy when I had to fire one of my maintenance assistants. At first I said, “I’m freeing you up so you don’t have to come in to work any more.” Oh, that missed the target, for he was stoned out of his mind and said, “Cool, man, you mean I can do whatever I want and still get paid?” Ah, no…. Finally, after a few tries of diplomatic phrasing, I simply said, “You’re fired!” “Aw, man, that’s a bummer.” Off he went….

When dealing with the broken walls of fractured relationships, sometimes we have to quit lying to ourselves first and finally admit the truth. Now that truth may be we are the major source of the fracturing. Or maybe it is finally admitting the problem is far more serious than we’re willing to admit—and we need some help. But whatever the truth is, it will hurt a lot less that continuing in the lie. And I have discovered as a servant-leader, I do not have the luxury of hurting others twice!

Lifestyle worshiper, when we have our hearts filled with a genuine concern and a deep affection for those we lead, we will see the wisdom in calling it as it is. Speaking the truth in Lovecalling it as it isbuilds trust and aids in repairing those broken walls of fractured relationships.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 5:9 —   So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

— Ephesians 4:25 (NIV84)

Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.

— Proverbs 8:6-7 (NIV84)

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ

— Ephesians 4:15 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  I put You on as my Belt of Truth and my Belt of Love. Stir in my soul a deep compassion for correcting those in my charge. May I do so with a Righteous Love. In Your Name, Amen.

Coach Mike

“Servant-Leaders: Be Available”

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Date: 02-17–15

The Big Idea: A true leader, a godly leader, is one who models a servant-leader lifestyle.

My Thoughts: A servant-leader is one who cares more for the people s/he leads than for his/her personal gain. A servant-leader is one who can successfully relate to the people s/he is leading because s/he has made him/herself available to not just hear, but listen to their concerns and needs.

Lifestyle worshiper, have you noticed in our culture today that public servants are neither? In general, they do not appear to have the public’s interest in mind, nor are they serving the public. Rather, it appears that it has turned into a self-service opportunity. But a true leader, a godly leader, is one who models a servant-leader lifestyle, much like Nehemiah demonstrates in the main text noted below. He could have “walled” himself off from the people, creating a barrier between them and him. He could have pretended to listen to them, and then do what he thought was best for the people anyway. But, instead, he walked among the people and sincerely listened to their very severe concerns, some of which he may not have genuinely been aware of, but now he is….

Lifestyle worshiper, join me in living a life that worships our Heavenly Father in Spirit and Truth by being sincerely available to hear the concerns of those around us, especially those of our immediate family. Then we can more effectively rebuild the walls of broken & fatigued relationships.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 5:1-5 — 1 Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their Jewish brothers. 2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” 3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” 4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.— Matthew 9:35-36 (NIV84)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.— Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV84)

It’s important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God’s house, be looked up to—not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry.— Titus 1:7 (The Message)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  be the Servant Leader in my life, one who will model Your Life in a way that is pleasing to You and genuinely effective with others. May my ears be attentive to Your promptings as well as to the concerns of my loved ones. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike