Monthly Archives: December 2014

Daniel, You and Me…

threeAs I wade through the spectacular dreams of the kings and hear Daniels prophetic interpretations I can’t help but notice what the end result is in each scene, it’s something we like to call a conversion experience. We see a change of heart that leads King Nebuchadnezzar to “praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven” (4:37). King Belshazzar even though we don’t know if he turned hos heart to the Lord was used by God to make his presence known among the people. Through the events of the lion’s den King Darius makes a decree that all in his command are to “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” (6:26)

Daniel held some high positions in government and administration but God had given him the gifts of prophesy, interpretation and endurance as he fulfilled God plan to reach all the people through the dreams and visions of the kings. Daniel may have had influence within the courts of the king, it was God’s calling on Daniel’s life that led him to be in the presence of the kings as they were confused and unknowingly had God working in them to change. God had used Daniel to impact the lives of unbelieving rulers who in turn had the power and influence over the nations.

Are we like Daniel today? I have the privilege of being in a workplace that encourages spiritual growth and understanding. Like Daniel many of us today work in places that don’t consider faith and religion acceptable and yet through Daniels experiences we can have the hope that God will use us in ways we may not be able to imagine. When I reflect back on the time and space that God has used me in the past, He has opened the doors to many relationships that one day may bring people closer to him.

Getting to know Daniel.

hearingThinking about the experience of God’s call to ministry in life has been in the forefront of my thoughts recently as I personally reflect on how that call unfolds in my life. When I think of Daniel in the Bible my mind typically recalls memories of the stories of Daniel in the lion’s den of the miraculous story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Today as I read with a specific purpose and look deeper into the life of Daniel I begin to get a glimpse of how he was called into service for the Lord.

Through the first few verses we are introduced to Daniel and his friends as they are being sought after by King Nebuchadnezzar as potential candidates to work in the palace as advisors to the king. Daniel was most likely from a family of royal or noble heritage, young and apparently “of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning and competent to stand in the king’s palace.”(1:4)

It would seem that Daniel had some good things going for him, what seems like a privileged upbringing, a continued higher education, and the potential of a position in the king’s palace. We also learn of the strong conviction Daniel had to be faithful to his upbringing in fulfilling the laws of his people. God had a plan for Daniel’s life. God brought him through life so far to be in this place, a place where he would be used to bring attention to the name of God. This was Daniels call; he was to be a prophet, one who God used to make His Word and self known among the people. God used Daniel to change lives. As a leader called by God I have the same responsibility, to make His name known among the people today. Reading the story of Daniel and experiencing his response to Gods call in his life is an encouragement and a challenge for me today.

Looking back… Looking forward.

looking-backVerse 1&2 of chapter 23 in Joshua read like this: “A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel…” Knowing his life on earth was near its end, Joshua takes one last stand as the great leader of Israel and calls together a meeting of the people to take them on a trip down memory lane. As I read these verses I wondered  what “rest” would have looked like for Joshua and the people of Israel? I can imagine that they began to settle in and build for themselves a home, a place were they could raise their families, establish their crops and get busy with life.

Even today we may find the same type of “rest”; we can become complacent with life, we can develop a sense of comfort within the day-to-day happenings and lose sight of where we have been and maybe even forget where we are heading. Like Joshua we need to take hold of the opportunities once and a while to look back on how God has been faithful to us in the past. We need to reflect not only on the good things in life but the things that were hard and how as a church or individual we have grown through those experiences.

Moving forward Joshua reminded the people of Israel that they needed to “fear the Lord, and serve Him with all faithfulness”. (24:14). Joshua challenged their faith and they responded by pledging to faithfully serve the Lord. This is my job; this is every leaders job in the church today, we must be taking our cues from men like Joshua. We must be marching forward serving the Lord and serving others so they might know who writes our story. We like the Israelites have to be reminded to serve with all faithfulness in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

God… The Master Planner

MapImagine for a minute the weight of the responsibility Joshua had to face in distributing the land among the twelve tribes. I often face adversity when having to referee my three girls as they protect their own space between their bedrooms and best places to play around the house. Joshua and the Israelites made it to a point where they could see beyond the major battles and conquests and begin to settle into the land that was promised to them through their fathers. I wonder about the disputes that happened between the people as the land was divided up, how many decisions would have been appealed because someone didn’t get a Dead-Sea view or beach access along the Mediterranean shores.

There is a certain amount of curiosity inside my mind that wants to see a picture of how Joshua approached this task. What did the planning documents look like, how did he select the land and why did the people listen to him. One of the things that I pick up on as I read between the lines of the awkward pronunciations of the names of the tribes, clans and cities is that Joshua is receiving his plans from God, He is orchestrating the whole event. God through Moses and Joshua had designed the plan for inheritance by direct order and some through the casting of lots.

Joshua’s dependence on God for direction in every area of this journey is inspiring, his faith in trust for protection as they battled, his kindness and patience as he distributed the land and his commitment to keeping the people on track with God is something to be desired as leaders. Joshua was a successful leader because of his faith in God. At the end of the day, at the end of my time it would be my hope and prayer that someone could write the same about me… Steve was a great leader because of his faith in God, not because it’s about me but because it is all about God.

The New Kid on the Block

Leader2Before I jump in and try and understand how Joshua built and managed the vast groups and teams entrusted to him I have to comment on his calling and direction from the Lord. Chapter one of Joshua outlines the commissioning of Joshua. After the death of Moses the Lord speaks directly to Joshua giving him instructions to move forward and take the people into the land that was promised to them. Joshua had a huge task before him and He knew that the Lord was with him just as he promised to Moses before him.

As Joshua assumes command over the entire nation of people he depends on the partnership of the officers and leaders and to help communicate the instructions handed down from the Lord for their journey ahead. Fitting into the shoes of one of the greatest leaders before him, Joshua had to be strong and courageous, a command given to him over and over at the start of his journey. As a leader it would have been music to his ears to hear the people respond as they did in verse seventeen of chapter one “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.

Joshua does not magically appear out of nowhere to become the new leader, he has apprenticed alongside Moses first quietly behind the scenes then becoming a commander of the army and his right hand man. Joshua had earned the respect of the people and I think that was one of the key factors in his success as a leader, aside for his own trust in the Lord. As I learn more about how God has been working in my life I see how he has been doing the same work in my life as he did in Joshua’s. As I continue to grow into leadership apprenticing with a strong leader and man of God it is my hope and prayer that I can gain the trust and respect that will help lead the way to building the Kingdom of God as God has called me to.

What Just happened?

bangheadonwallNehemiah completes the building of the wall and puts into place leaders that he feels are competent to carry on with the duties of caring for and maintaining the structure he has put in place. He returns to his post in serving the king of Babylon and later returns back to Jerusalem to check in with his leaders. Although I am sure the wall around the city was in good shape I don’t think Nehemiah felt the same way about what was happening inside the city, the appointed priest has setup shop a nice place for his buddy to stay in one of the storerooms. The Levites and the singers were left to their own resources and fled from the temple so they could survive. Last but not least they people had broken their promise to keep the Sabbath holy.

I put myself in Nehemiah’s place for a moment and felt like banging my head against the wall. All the time, effort and love Nehemiah poured out to rebuild the city and the people seemed to be slipping away again. I like what Nehemiah does next, he doesn’t just give his head a shake and walk away, he takes the “bull by the horns” and starts to clean house. He evicts the illegal tenant from the temple storehouse, he set straight the division of the tithes and offerings, pulls the Levites and the singers back to their rightful place and threatens the people with the “smack down” if they don’t return to observing and respecting the Sabbath.

Nehemiah took direct action in dealing with the problems; he put new leaders in place to help fix the situations. Nehemiah always surrounded himself with others when he needed something done; he built a team around him that allowed him to make the necessary changes. At the beginning of Nehemiah’s story we know that he spent much time in prayer asking for God’s direction and I have no doubt that he did them same at the end of the story. As I walk away from this story I am better equipped through Nehemiah’s actions as a leader to face the challenges ahead of me as I grow.

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