Monday, December 31, 2012

God Reflects On His Covenant and Name -- Exodus 6:1-5


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he shall let them go, and under compulsion he shall drive them out of his land.”  God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.  And I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned.  And furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant.”

This was a hard section to title.  While God is definitely speaking to Moses in response to his complaint, I feel there is also present an element of God thinking out loud and reflecting on what has transpired so far and what will transpire.  When looking at the actual language, one can easily say God is simply restating His promises to Moses, and you can almost hear Moses thinking, “promises, promises, promises”.  Sometimes we feel like that.  “God, I’ve done all I could; I kept my side of the bargain; what about you?  Why isn’t my child better?  Why doesn’t my husband have a job?  Why do I feel no one on earth loves me?  Why can’t we buy our own place?  Why is there so much trouble in my church?”
And this is the very time that we need to remember that, in one sense, we have not really trusted and believed unless we have trusted and believed to the very end.  I have been a Christian for over five decades now.  Sometimes, when I consider all that is going on in the world, especially with respect to growth of Jihadic Islam in the world and its goal of eliminating all Christians and Jews from the face of the earth, I ask myself “What happens if I fail my Lord in the end?”  All those years of faithfulness will not count for much if I do not run the full race.  I will have only believed and trusted when I saw evidence of His hand in my life.  I will have been no different than an atheist if I stopped believing and trusting when I felt He had not kept His Word to me.
I believe that is the very secret to a Christian life.  One allows his or her faith to carry him or her throughout life right up to the point of death.  It is at that point that one can be told, “you have run a good race”.  It is then that the struggles end.  I do not for a moment want to suggest that God cannot or will not be merciful even then (that is His call to make, not ours), but from my perspective anything short of that would make me feel I have failed my Lord and my faith at the time I most needed them.
God tells Moses that He will, by force, cause Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go.  But Moses had been told that earlier.  This was just a reminder.  That is the amazing thing about God – He gives people a chance to do the right thing voluntarily.  Only when they do not, He uses His power to bring about the result that He wants.  And He can do that because of Who He is.
And so He reminds Moses of that.  He tells him He is the Lord, the same One Who appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty.  Moses only had to remember what He did for them to know that He would deliver His promises to Moses as well.  If our God is God and He is, then we need to only remember what He has done in the past, and what He is doing for others even now, in order to be assured of what He will do for us in the future.
But here God makes an interesting distinction.  He says Moses knows Him by one name and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew Him by another.  Moses’ ancestors knew Him as “God Almighty” or more literally ‘El Shaddai’ (Genesis 17:1), the Creator of the heavens and the earth, or as "Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide" (Genesis 22:8).  But God wanted His children to know Him in a much more personal way, as Lord.
What God now wanted for the children of Israel, here He was sharing with Moses, His handpicked servant.  He wanted Moses to be in this close relationship with Him.  Beforehand, God was merely known as one Who keeps His covenant, but now He is to be known more intimately.  That is what He wants for us as well.  Do you know God as just the Creator (as major as that is) or a Provider; or do you know Him intimately as your Father and as the Lord of your life?
And here’s the rest of the good news.  God says His covenant gives Canaan to the people of Israel.  Nothing would change that.  They were to get the land in due course.  And then God addresses the ‘timing’ issue as well, knowing that Moses was concerned about “when all this was to pass”.   God had heard the groaning of the children of Israel – groaning that was caused by the increased work pressure put on them lately because Pharaoh got angered at their request for time off to go and worship God.
What does this tell us?  Simply this – God is aware of our own legitimate groaning.  And if we are close to Him, we will sense that He does and we will trust Him with the knowledge of that, knowing He will come at the right time to rescue us.  I personally experienced that again just this past week.  Just when I felt all was lost in a particular situation in my ministry, God heard my cry.  But in the process I did sense His love for, and direction of, me, and then He delivered me in a most miraculous way.  The result was far more than I expected.
There was a Gospel song a few years back sung by a group called Karen Peck and New River.  It was called “Four Days Late”.  It depicted the story of Lazarus on how his starts thought that Jesus was four days late in coming and all hope was lost.  But the truth was that Jesus was “right on time”.  I encourage you to look it up on the internet and listen to it.  Friend, God remembers His covenant with His people.  He did for the Israelites and He does now for you.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Moses Questions God -- Exodus 5:22-23


Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why hast Thou brought harm to this people?  Why didst Thou ever send me?  Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Thy name, he has done harm to this people; and Thu has not delivered Thy people at all.”
It happens to all of us.  When things are not going right, especially when we think we have done all that God wants us to, and people are being hurt, the natural thing to do is to turn to God and ask “Why?”  It is a common response or frustration.  It hits Christians and non-Christians alike.  In fact, even atheists seem to want to blame the God whose existence they deny.
I experienced a little of this recently when I was speaking to one of the members of a Board of Directors I work with.  I told him that I did not know why God was allowing certain things to happen, but I was willing to keep on following what I believe He has told me and suffer any necessary consequences.  My personal view is that it is okay for us to wonder “why” God is allowing or doing something we cannot understand, but it is not okay for us to question Him.
I think that Moses, in keeping with his previous approach to questioning God, again went a little too far.  Not only does he ask “why?” but also he accuses God of bringing harm to the children of Israel.  And then he makes the issue about him when he further asks, “Why did you ever think of sending me?”  Wow.  Now Moses was actually challenging God’s selection of His choice as to who would do His work or how it was to be done.  This is probably not a wise way to question the Almighty.
And Moses does not stop there.  He tells God that he did everything in His Name, as God told him to and all that resulted was that Pharaoh started harming the people more.  God’s plan was faulty as far as he was concerned.  And then he makes it about God – “You have not delivered at all as you promised.”  We cannot miss that phrase, “at all”.  I am reminded of our grandchildren that get ‘totally’ upset at one of their parents because they were denied a fourth treat at a local fair, but give no credit to their mom or dad who take them to the fair, buy them lots of rides, and the first three treats.  So it is with us, in the moment’s frustration, we often forget God’s blessings and overall generosity to His people and His individual children.
Chuck Smith in his commentary on these verses in C2000 Series says this:
You know quite often Satan, when you embark on a work of God, throws so many things in the way that things look like they've just gotten so much worse, you wonder, "Oh man, did God really tell me that?" Or, "Did God really call me?" He does his best to discourage you right at the onset of any program that you endeavor for God. You'd be amazed how many problems can arise when you make a commitment to God, you desire to serve the Lord. Not gonna be peaches and cream, not gonna be roses. Satan will do his best to discourage you. So often things look like they have just gone from bad to calamity because you've launched out in faith to do a work for God. Satan will do his best to hinder it and stop it at the beginning. He'll do anything to stop it, discouragement, lies, anything to stop that work of God that you endeavor for Him. So that secret is "just keep on". If God has called you to a task, "just do it". Don't get discouraged at initial responses.
Years ago I thought God called me to the ministry. So I trained, went to school, prepared, and spent seventeen years trying to minister, until I got so discouraged that I thought "Well, maybe God didn't call me to the ministry." I was ready to quit, ready to give up so many times. Put out applications for different kinds of work, get out of the ministry, get into something secular. I was discouraged, I was tired, fighting, hassles, trying to feed a family, to patch the squabbles of people. The thing, the interesting thing is it was just after my period of greatest discouragement, I really just sort of resigning from the ministry, and going into home Bible studies that God really began to bless and anoint me. Just when I had a good job, started making money. Satan will do his best to discourage you. He'll make you question your call. He'll challenge you on every corner. If God has called you to do it, stick with it, God will bring you through. God will work.
I know exactly how Moses felt. I turned in my resignation to God so many times, "I've had it, through. Thought You called me to the ministry, but Lord there's nothing happening, I'm tired." Lord said, "Ah get out there and get back to work. What are you doing crying to Me?"
It is my prayer that we can all learn from Moses’ mistakes and be strengthened by God’s undying love for us and His willingness to forgive and overlook our failing eyesight and memory.  It is fine that we pour out of heart to God as Moses did, but we must never forget God’s promises and His exact words.  You will remember that back in Exodus 3:19-20 God had actually said, “But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go.  Moses had forgotten.  Let us not forget God’s promises to us, even when things look dismal.
In the next chapter of Exodus, we see God’s response once again to the man He has chosen to lead Israel out of Egypt.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Hebrew Foremen Blame Moses and Aaron -- Exodus 5:15-21


Then the foremen of the sons of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why do you deal this way with your servants?  There is no straw given to your servants, yet they keep saying to us, ‘Make bricks!’  And behold, your servants are being beaten; but it is the fault of your own people.”  But he said, “You are lazy, very lazy; therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’  So go now and work; for you shall be given no straw, yet must deliver the quota of bricks.”  And the foremen of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble because they were told, “You must not reduce your daily amount of bricks.”  When they left Pharaoh’s presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were waiting for them.  And they said to them, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Seeing that their fellow Hebrews could not deliver the quotas they were assigned due to the fact that they also had to now collect their own straw with which to construct the bricks, the foremen who were Hebrews went to Pharaoh and complained strongly.  They appealed to his sense of fairness in the way servants should be treated and to his sense of logic in terms of what was to be reasonably expected in terms of product within a set timeframe.
But Pharaoh would hear nothing of it.  Instead he accuses them of being lazy and the scripture in fact says, he repeated the words “very lazy”.  Their request to be given time to sacrifice to the Lord in his opinion was simply an attempt to get out of work.  The requirements remained in place and he sent them back to their work.
So the Hebrew foremen sensed they were in trouble having gained no good news to report to their people.
Realizing they could not win any concessions from Pharaoh, they next meet with Moses and Aaron who had been waiting to see what the outcome of the foremen’s meeting with Pharaoh was.  The foremen then take their frustration out on Moses and Aaron, accusing them of making the people hated in the sight of Pharaoh and his representatives, so much so that they believed they would kill them if they did not meet their daily production quotas.  You will remember this whole thing of the extra demands started when Moses and Aaron had asked Pharaoh to let the people go into the desert to sacrifice unto God.
What do we make of this short passage?  This was the first instance where Moses was faced with opposition from his own side as a result of his willingness to obey God with respect to his mission for God.  And interestingly enough, it came from the very people that stood to benefit from what God was doing through Moses.  There is more to come later.
The lesson is simply this – you can expect challenges and grief from the very people that should be supporting you when you set about doing the hard things that God wants you to do.  Anyone in leadership can well identify with this, be he/she a pastor, an executive, or a politician.
One may well ask “but why does God allow this to happen?”  The answer seems to be that part of the leader’s development for real challenges is the ability to handle the frustrations and oppositions that come from his/her people.   If you are experiencing this today and still feel you are doing what God wants you to do, then consider it as part and parcel of the training process.  God is not finished with you yet.  He is watching to see how true you will remain to the cause and the methodology He has given you to follow.  Hang in there and as Bill Hybels says, “Stay the Course”.
You may also ask, "why do the very people we are trying to help do this?"  That is a good question.  I can only offer these suggestions.  First, you are the leader, not they.  They often cannot see the process that has to be followed from start to finish.  Second, God has spoken to you, not necessarily to them.  There will be some in the group that will support you -- God has chosen them to be your Aarons.  Be thankful for them and pray that they can influence others.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The People Cannot Meet Pharaoh’s Increased Demands -- Exodus 5:10-14


So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I am not going to give you any straw.  You go and get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it; but none of your labor will be reduced.’”  So the people scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.  And the taskmasters pressed them, saying, “Complete your work quota, our daily amount, just as when you had straw.”  Moreover, the foremen of the sons of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not completed our required amount either yesterday or today in making brick as previously?”
 
Angry at the requests of Aaron and Moses, Pharaoh decides to make the laboring of his Hebrew slaves even harder.  His taskmasters and foremen (two different levels of command) go out and inform the people of his new wishes.  We note that they quote Pharaoh either in order to give the new instructions their proper authority (likely the reason the taskmasters did so) or as a way of indirectly telling the Hebrews it was not they that were doing this (likely the reason the foremen who worked directly with slaves did so).
In order to meet the demands of the Pharaoh, the Hebrews had to scatter throughout Egypt to gather stubble for straw, and then return to where they were making bricks to still manufacture the same amount of bricks as before within the same period of time.  Each day, as fields were scavenged and cleared, the Hebrews had to go further and further, which took up more time.  This resulted in a very tall demand which many would find impossible to accomplish.  While the Egyptians may have had their bountiful sources of straw, the Hebrews could only find ‘stubble’ from fields where the wheat or straw had long been reaped.
Many questions could be asked here.  How far did they really have to go?  How was this organized?  Who supervised them?  And so on.  I think we just have to take the Scriptures at their word that this did indeed happen somehow.  Maybe our ‘time frames’ are out.  Or maybe we are missing some other information that would make it all seem plausible to us.  But we do know some Hebrews could not accomplish the task and the taskmasters would press them to do so.  Those who have seen the old classic movie, The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston may well remember the dreadful scenes of Hebrews being whipped for their inability to keep up.
And then the passage introduces us to the fact that the ‘foremen’ rank (either all of them or just some of them) was comprised of actual Hebrews who were selected to assist the Egyptian taskmasters in getting the work out of their people.  This is very similar to trade union shops where we have management supervisors but union foremen today.  The interesting thing was that the taskmasters beat these Hebrew foremen for their inability to get their charges producing at the required levels.  I suppose the old idea being that since you cannot beat and punish all those falling short, get at least their leaders and thus try to motivate them (for their own sake) to get the others to fall in line.
Chuck Smith in his C2000 series on this passage refers us to the findings of archeologists in the area of one of these cities that the Hebrews built for the Pharaoh.  There the digs provided evidence of bricks with evenly spread straw throughout them in the lower parts of the walls.  Higher up it was uneven straw spread in the bricks and near the top of the walls there was only stubble and even roots to be found in the bricks.  This is a clear testimony to this passage in Exodus.  One can actually see this in the ruins of Pithim.
David Guzik points out that life under the leadership of Moses and his brother, Aaron, was not going too well for the children of Israel.  This had to be very disappointing for them and for Moses.  To whom will the Hebrews turn now that things are even worse?
As I searched for the meaning of this passage for us today, I was led to the commentary of Matthew Henry.  He says it so well:
See here, (1.) What a miserable thing slavery is, and what reason we have to be thankful to God that we are a free people, and not oppressed. Liberty and property are valuable jewels in the eyes of those whose services and possessions lie at the mercy of an arbitrary power. (2.) What disappointments we often meet with after the raising of our expectations. The Israelites were now lately encouraged to hope for enlargement, but behold greater distresses. This teaches us always to rejoice with trembling. (3.) What strange steps God sometimes takes in delivering his people; he often brings them to the utmost straits when he is just ready to appear for them. The lowest ebbs go before the highest tides; and very cloudy mornings commonly introduce the fairest days, Deut. 32:36. God’s time to help is when things are at the worst; and Providence verifies the paradox, The worse the better.
So what do we make of it all.  I believe many of us live in similar circumstances today, either individually or as a society.  We value our freedom, but stand the chance of losing it.  Many recently had their hopes raised as they were promised ‘change’ – whether it was in their home life from a spouse, in their work from a boss, in their church from an elders’ board, or in their nation from a president.  But greater distress, as Henry says, resulted.  What do we do?  Henry suggests we have to ‘rejoice with trembling’ that God is in control.  We have to realize that as God He can take some ‘strange steps’ to deliver us.
Are you and I at our lowest ebb?  If so do not fret, the highest tide is coming.  One cannot value a very clear and fair day unless a cloudy one preceded it.  And here is the clincher for me – to know that as Matthew Henry says, “God’s time to help is when things are at the worst.”  We’re nearly home, friends.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Dilemma of Gun Control for the Christian


I must admit that after the disaster in Newtown, Connecticut, as a Christian I was at a loss as to what to think about “gun control”.



For years, I have been listening to the arguments on both sides.  I have a son-in-law that is adamant that everyone should be allowed to own a handgun for protection of his/her life and that of their family.  I know that most American conservatives are GOP voters and thus most so far have supported the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms, unconnected to service in the military, and to use that right for self-defense within one’s home, among other things.  On the other hand, I am aware that most Christians believe that aside from one’s involvement in an act of war against an aggressor for his/her own country or on behalf of another other, one is not to kill.

When the amendment was adopted over 221 years ago, early American settlers viewed the right to arms as critical and needed for one or more of these purposes (not in order of deemed importance):
  • deterring tyrannical government;
  • repelling invasion;
  • suppressing insurrection;
  • facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
  • participating in law enforcement;
  • enabling the people to organize a militia system.

Do any of these readily apply today?  Only two (repelling invasion – especially in one’s home -- and facilitating a natural right of self-defense) come real close at the moment.  Admittedly, the first one (deterring tyrannical government) may indeed come into play before long the way things are going and if so, the last one (enabling the people to organize a militia system) will also be valid.  The third one (suppressing insurrection) is something that may be required if and when infiltrated terrorist groups promoting intolerant Islamist Jihad start acting up more than they do now, as America and Canada allows more Muslims with that intent to enter the country.  One only has to look at what is happening in other countries where this is the case.  For up to date daily examples, one needs to check www.jihadwatch.org.  Finally, that leaves the fifth one (participating in law enforcement) and as the need for the third one arises, so will the need for this one since more and more of our own police forces are becoming reticent to respond effectively to those that take such actions against those of us who may not support their Sharia law and other beliefs.  In short, every one of the reasons that were in the mind of early Americans when the Second Amendment was approved are alive and well and living in America (and to a certain extent Canada) today.

So, where does that leave us as Christians?  One question we may well ask is this:  What steps has the government taken to convince us that they are doing all they can to:
  • to govern us democratically and honestly
  • to stop (home, state, country) invasions
  • to suppress insurrection 
  • to facilitate our natural right of self-defense
  • to allow us to assist in enforcing the law especially where the police is not doing their job, and
  • to enable the people to organize a militia system where necessary?

I think the answer is obvious – very little.

On December 16, 2012, the news source, WND, asked the following question with respect to gun control in light of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut two days earlier:  What if only one teacher had a gun?

Implying an answer to its own question – that is, that the gunman may well have been dead before many of his twenty-seven victims lost their lives – it asked a follow-up question: Does making schools “gun-free zones” really protect children, or make them easy targets?

In 1999, after a similar event in Israel, the country dumped its strict gun laws dating back to British rule over the area and opened the doors for concealed carry permits.  Teachers and kindergarten nurses now started to carry guns.  Parents (and often grandpas) protected schools, guarding them in voluntary shifts. No school group went on a hike or trip without armed guards.  I was there since then and I actually witnessed this on several occasions.  Word got around that this was the case and after a few attempts by the PLO at the time failed, the attacks against schools ceased because of the risk to themselves that was now involved.  And here’s the point, according to some:  Terrorists and other evildoers don’t like risks.  We seem to ignore that.

How do we ensure, as we must, that our children are safe?  As long as attackers have guns we must also arm defenders.  The argument that if you ban guns, attackers won’t have them is, in my humble opinion, totally unrealistic at best.  Our success in achieving that would be equivalent, as some have pointed out, to our success in eliminating the use of pot, meth, and crack and its availability on the street.  In a word, total failure.

Of course, the liberals say it is the teachers’ jobs to teach, not carry arms to protect their students.  Well, aside from the fact that thousands of teachers who strike regularly for their own greedy purposes need to be told that from time to time, (no, not all – there are some very dedicated and self-sacrificing teachers thank God, but more need to learn how to stand up to their unions), I do not for a moment believe that some teachers would not see the right to carry guns as a necessary evil not only to protect their charges but also to protect themselves.  Six adult educators were killed in Newtown on this occasion.  Let’s face it, schools have children, and madmen or terrorists are attracted to places where they can do the most hideous acts in order to get the greatest reaction and in so doing, will kill teachers and principals too.

According to WND, in 2008, the tiny school district in Harrold, Texas, made national news when it approved a policy change permitting employees to carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings.  When a major newspaper checked with them after the Newtown disaster four years later, the superintendent said there has not been an incident on his campus since implementing the policy and he doesn’t expect one.

There have been some other attempts in other school districts in various states to introduce such a plan, but so far to little, or no, avail.  The liberals just do not see the need, often arguing that children in Israel are more vulnerable to attack than children in America.  I have a question for them: Where have you been?  Or, should that be “what drug are you on?”

But let us get back to the issue of the Christian in all of this.  Are we not supposed to value life?  Are we not supposed to have total faith in God to protect our children and us?  Those are good questions, but they are not fairly asked by those of us who so far sit comfortably in our homes watching the grieving parents of Newtown.  They and those that have suffered like them can only ask these questions.  And I believe God would have sufficient answers for each one of them individually.

For me, the answer is clear.  Yes, I value life.  But I ask myself what I would do in the following fictional scenario:
  •  I am a Christian nurse, totally dependent on God in every aspect of my life
  • ·By some strange circumstance, I find myself working with a doctor that is about to carry out an abortion at the request of a woman who does not want her life interfered with by the responsibilities of a child
  • My country allows all of us to carry guns
  • My country (by some miracle) also has outlawed all abortions.
I asked myself, "Would I kill the abortionist?"  I was shocked that it did not take too long for me to answer.  If I could not stop him/her in any other way, I would.  And the speed with which that answer came to me, not to mention the answer itself, helped me understand why I am on the side of the right to carry guns.  Few of us will actually live in a situation like in my fictional scenario, but many of us will someday find ourselves in other situations where the need to take similar action will be necessary.

I believe there are times other than in war that God intends to use others to stop a brutal killing of someone else – be it a fetus, a child, or an older person.  It is not a matter of not being dependent on God, it is a matter of acting in the interests of God to protect life and its sanctity – especially the life you are responsible for – be it in a classroom, on your bus, or in your home.

Please note:  This is not my preferred position.  As a Christian, I would rather there be no guns at all needed, anywhere.  I would rather live in a Civil Society.  And I admit that in some respect the ability to carry guns makes everything seem more uncivil.  But let us not allow the continuation of killings of innocent children because we search for, and do anything to get, this Edenic Civil Society we all long for.  I wish that were not the case.  Deep down I believe every Christian should be a total pacifist in a totally pacifist society.  But that is not reality.  I'd love to hear your comments preferably below.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

The Cost of Being Bold, Honest, and Clear -- Exodus 5:3-9


Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us.  Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”  But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work?  Get back to your labors!”  Again Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease from their labors!”  So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, “You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; the them go and gather straw for themselves.  But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it.  Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’  Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it that they may pay no attention to false words.”
 
The previous passage has Pharaoh saying, “I don’t know this God of Israel, who is He, and I won’t let the people go.”  But Moses and Aaron, undistracted, just keep on with their clear message in their dealings with him.  They only change the description of God from the ‘God of Israel’ to the ‘God of the Hebrews’.  They tell Pharaoh He has met with them and that the people are to go into the wilderness to sacrifice to Him and imply the people will suffer great consequences of they do not.  [I am not sure where they got this second idea from except their own fear of failing to obey God, unless the word ‘us’ was referring to both the Israelites and the Egyptians together, with Moses’ foreknowledge of what God would do the Egyptians if Pharaoh did not let his people go, although I doubt it.  It seems to me to apply to the Hebrews, and that it was a humanly added descriptive to what might happen if they did not go to sacrifice.  It was their way of convincing Pharaoh this was a good thing to do because if the Hebrews die as a result of not going, then he would lose his slaves, according to Bible commentator Matthew Henry.  We often tend to give God’s message a little help when it does not need it.]
Notice Pharaoh addressed them by name.  Was he being paternalistic or did he know them fairly well by now?  We don’t know for sure.  It is possible that this whole thing did not happen in one single occurrence, but over a period of time and a number of meetings.
While Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh on an issue involving the Almighty God, Pharaoh was only concerned about what was important to him – the potential loss of labor.   It was all about greed.  And is not that the case today when we talk to people about God?  They often miss the eternal significance of our words and worry about what they may have to give up in order to please Him.  Certainly Pharaoh was saying, “forget about God, don’t distract the people; let them work and you go back to your labors!”  It is not known whether that last phrase implied Moses and Aaron were to go back to their work as a priest in Aaron’s case and as a leader representative in the case of Moses, or whether they too had some level of ‘slave-like’ duties to perform.  Pharaoh then said to the two of them, “Look you guys, you can’t just have thousands of these people stop their labor.”  I’m sure Moses and Aaron thought, “Well, yes, Pharaoh, you can do exactly that if God wants it stopped.  However, I guess you’ll have to learn the hard way.”  And with that thought, disappointed perhaps in the failure of their efforts, but warned in advance that this would be the case, the brothers left Pharaoh and ended their beseeching him at this time.
But evil does not often abate when good men have raised their concerns and ended their pleadings.  No, sometimes the perpetrator decides to augment the atrocities just to show who is in charge.  And that is exactly what happened in this case.
Notice the passage says, “So the same day . . . ” Pharaoh gave a new order to his taskmasters and their foremen.  From now on, the Hebrews had to gather their own straw to make the bricks they had to make; no longer would the Egyptians bring the straw to them.  And the amount of bricks demanded remained the same within a given period of time – that is, no change in daily quota requirements.  In short, they were being punished because of what their leaders had asked of Pharaoh.
Here clearly is an excellent example of the risks of being a godly leader today, following the commands of God.  Not only do you risk your own life and freedom to do so, but also you risk the welfare of all those you represent, perhaps even more so.  This is an awesome responsibility that cannot be entered into it lightly.  Not only must one be certain of what God expects, but one must also have the intestinal fortitude, the emotional makeup if you like, the courage, the strength, to carry it out – because the consequences can be significant to many.  I am not for a moment suggesting that we shy away from such responsibilities if God gives them to us, but I am suggesting that we enter into them fully aware of the implications.  It also behooves those of us who are represented by such leaders to understand what it takes for them to lead, and to uphold them in our prayers, ready to do our part in following the commands of God.
The closest example I can think of to parallel this is the decision of presidents and generals to engage in a war or battle, knowing that the lives of men and women and even children will be at stake.  The leader that goes with the troops to the extent possible, rather than just sends them, is always the one who is to be respected more highly.  The farthest example I can think of is today’s business union agent or representative who facilitates and encourages members of a local to go on strike for a long time, putting the welfare and livelihood of the workers’ families at high risk, while he continues to enjoy his high salaries and benefits that are provided to him by the rich union coffers held at the national headquarters of the organization.  These types of leaders deserve little respect in my opinion.
Finally, in this passage, we see a ruler’s attempt to explain the actions of those that oppose him.  Pharaoh explains the peoples’ pleas to being allowed to go and sacrifice are not genuine, but are only being made because they are ‘lazy’ workers and people.  He insists they just want time off, totally denying any validity to their requests.  And to offset that, he ordered the men be given heavier work, while explaining his rationale as the need to distract them from such foolish and false ideas that come from their leaders, Moses and Aaron.  That is the way it is today with dictatorships that have gone awry.
While Karl Marx, the German revolutionary socialist/communist thousands of years after Pharaoh, had no use for religion himself, he did see it as an “opium of the people” that allowed them to deal with their sufferings but at the same time held them back from the ability to pursue true freedom from the real enemy, the slavery caused by illusionary religion, in his opinion.  Pharaoh, on the other hand, simply chose to alleviate religion’s impact by piling on extra work.  Neither approach – that of Marx or the Pharaoh’s worked – for true religion is an expression of faith to, worship of, and a personal relationship with, the Creator of the universe.  It is the only thing that satisfies mankind’s innate thirsting need to make sense of his physical reality with his spiritual nature.  My prayer is that each of us has satisfied that need through the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Day America Paused: A Response to Max Lucado’s Prayer on December 14, 2012

On the day that some Christian leaders say ‘evil visited America’, Max Lucado uttered a prayer to Jesus.  Earlier that day the world had heard about a young man who shot his mother at home and then proceeded to the school in Newtown, Connecticut where she taught.  There he killed twenty very young children and six other adults before taking his own life.  A total loss of twenty-eight lives.  America stopped in its tracks and Max offered this prayer on our behalf:

Dear Jesus,
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated. 
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Hopefully,
Your Children

I do not for a moment now, nor would I ever, presume to even guess how our Lord Jesus might respond to such a prayer, primarily by Americans, but really from all His children.  God has this incredible ability to respond very uniquely just when you think you have Him figured out.  But from own inner experiences in our personal reliant relationship with Him and from His Word, we may well have an inkling of what a grieving loving Father may say to us in return.  I, with millions of others, was literally devastated at the news of what happened in Newtown.  As a father of three and a grandfather of six ranging from age 11 years to minus six months, I cried hard almost my entire twenty-three and a half miles home from the office.

Because of His unique relationship with each of us, and because of where each of us is in our spiritual walk with Him, we would do best to write our own version of what He is saying to us.  This is just mine and so I personalize it.  I wrote it in the wee hours of the morning after as I could not sleep . . .

Dearest Child of Mine,

You call Me ‘Dear’ but I feel there are times when your heart considers Me anything but; when your actions say you don’t even know Me.  But you are still My ‘Dearest Child’ as are all My children.  Don’t try to figure that out logically, it’s just true.  Accept it.

Yes, I was born at night, but I was born at the appointed and the most appropriate time with respect to My Heavenly Father’s plan for you and all your brothers and sisters, including the billions you have not met.  In God’s Plan, son, there were no other times that would have been better.

Child, I am fully aware of the killings that went on today, as I am aware of all calamities that occur throughout the world and have been occurring since the beginning of time.  Do not think these happen only to people you feel closer to; some of My children suffer extremely longer and more painful hurts, although I know your great pain for I know what it is like to lose a child to an eternity without My Heavenly Father.  Yes, they were children.  Yes, they were innocent.  I love them.  I will take care of them.  You must trust Me.  There will, My Child, be more ‘raw evil’ as you call it in the days ahead.  You must be ready.  You have a job to do.  You have a job to do for Me – to be bold, honest, and clear.  You have a job to do for others.  You must love like you have never loved before.  And you must point the way as my cousin John did over 2000 years ago.

Dearest Child, the world is on edge.  Mankind, because I gave them free will has made it such.  Some of your brothers and sisters have not relied on Me for guidance and instructions as to how they could make things better, and so you are all now in this mess.  Now, I have to deal with each one of you separately (even more so than I have done over the centuries).  Now I have to convince you (and others like you) to seek Me, to lean on Me, and to listen to Me.  Then you must obey Me.  Child, the world in which you live may feel like it is “one button-push away from annihilation” but let me, the God of your fathers, assure you no one gets near that button unless I allow it.  And don’t worry; I won’t abandon you before that, through that, or after that.  I will never leave you.  I will never take away from you the strength and the power that I give you to accomplish your jobs for me and to make it safely to the other side.  In fact, you just need to keep reaching out and I’ll be right there – but walk with Me, not ahead of Me.

Yes, the world I and the Father created for you does seem a bit darker now – but only from your limited vision, My son.  You see, for Me, each passing day makes Me realize that the world is just one day (in My time, not necessarily yours) closer to when the Father says to Me, “Son, it’s time to go back.”  And that day will come, just in time, just when it is supposed to, just when it is best for mankind.  Yes, son, I am very familiar with darkness and night in the world.  That’s why I came the first time.  And yes, I brought Light, true Light.  And son, it may seem I have abandoned the world and left it in its darkness as a whole.  In one respect, I understand how one might think that.  But really, as I tried to suggest to you earlier, I have just changed My tactics.  Having come to the world and having being rejected, I continue to focus on individual hearts like yours.  I want to reside there.  I want to express My power, My life, and My love through those hearts.

Son, don’t be too hard on yourself.  You are like the wise men of old.  You sought the Light and you found it.  Now stay in it.  Share it each and every day of your life with friends, loved ones, and those I put in your path anew.  I will heal you and help you and those who accept Me when you share the Truth with them.

Now Dearest Child, pray for those that have suffered a loss – the parents, the siblings, the children who lost adults in their lives.  Do not forget them.  You will even find some like them within your own community.  Pray for them.  Help them.  Love them.  You know what that means.  Now go back to bed, for tomorrow you have work to do.

As ever,

Your Loving Father.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
 

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.