Monday, January 21, 2013

THE KIDS IN THE HALL ARE AT IT AGAIN.


 Teachers Working To Rule May As Well Be Kids

Recently one of Canada’s national papers, the Globe and Mail, reported on (January 21, 2013) how Ontario teachers are being pressured by peers not to volunteer in any extra-curricular activities.  So I thought you might enjoy a little fictional variation of the story with some editorial prerogative thrown in.   Here goes . . . you’ll get the point I’m sure.  But will those for whom it’s intended.

Some Ontario elementary and high school students are breaking ranks and resuming their participation in school sports teams and clubs, but the kids say it’s not easy when other kids start bullying them because of it.

These kids are saying that we want our parents to get good value for their education tax dollars and so they’re participating in these extra-curricular activities again.  However, the majority of the kids are thankful that they don’t have to.

The “no we won’t play” kids are finding ways to send the “we want to play” kids threatening emails, putting evil notes in their lockers in the high schools, and sticking hand-written notes in their lunch bags in the elementary schools.  They’re threatening to shun them, of all things.  And if that’s not enough, they have found ways to encourage other kids to squeal on them if they catch anyone participating in any such events at recess, lunchtime or after school.  Hey, I thought we were trying to learn how to be accepting of others’ opinions and their rights.  I thought we were trying to end bullying, even punish it.  I thought we all agreed that extra-curricular activities are central a young person’s well-rounded education.    

In one school, some kids took the threat so seriously that they cancelled going on an overnight trip and the poor teachers were left to go on it alone with the very unhappy parent volunteers.  How awful.  The “I won’t play kids” are just hell-bent on punishing the teachers as a way of getting at those nasty boards and parents who put them up to such terrible things as clubs and teams and tournaments and boring trips on the kids’ otherwise ‘free time’ to “chat on my iPhone”.

But one kid who is hoping to graduate this year seems to have the most guts.  He’s one of the “you bet, I’ll play” kids and he has this to say, “Look parents and boards – this is my own free time we’re talking about here.  And I’m the boss of me on my own free time.  Mom and Dad, you cannot force me to participate if I didn’t want to because what good will that do? – I would just be a failure and you’d suffer socially.  And the boards can’t make me not participate because they would seem like a loser board if they didn’t have these activities.  So, I want to, and I am.”   Good for you, young man.  If things get worse, we’ll call in the OPP and the premier can call on the Armed Forces to protect you from your bully classmates as well as those mean parents and boards, and if necessary clear the snow in the schoolyard.

Now if only teachers felt that way instead of acting like children, bullying each other because some of them choose to do the right thing and stop punishing the students over something they have no control about.   What is encouraging, though, is that the kids are growing up in spite of the bad example some (not all) teachers are setting.  Sorry teachers, you’re loosing big-time on this one each and every day you act like this.

[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, January 05, 2013

Warning to Christians: You Cannot Read Bonhoeffer Without It Changing Your Life


Isabel Best has edited and introduced another book that in my opinion needs to be read once, put on a shelf only briefly, and then picked up again over and over whenever a child of God is feeling perplexed.  Yes, it is a book of sermons by Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached at various times from 1928 to 1939.  But I could not help but feel he was preaching to me – there I was sitting in one of his confirmation classes or in his church and everything he referred to that was going on in the world was happening to me, here and now.  It is a book that has fundamentally changed my thinking on much that I believed or thought before and I will, hopefully, never be the same again.  If I am, it is inexcusable. The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Translated from the German by Douglas W. Stott, Anne Schmidt-Lange, Isabel Best, Scott A. Moore, and Claudia D. Bergman, and edited by Isabel Best, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012, hardcover, 214 pages, is that book.

I wondered how I would review such a book as I finished it at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning.  In the middle of the night, the thought came to me that I could not do it justice no matter how clever I became.  In fact, to think that this was even feasible went against just one of the very things Bonhoeffer was teaching me.  Instead, it occurred to me that my review would best serve potential readers if it were composed of some of my favorite quotations from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s messages found in this volume.  For those that are not familiar with Bonhoeffer, I start with this simple description of the man from the friendly website www.dbonhoeffer.org:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theologian, martyr, a spiritual writer, a musician, a pastor, and an author of poetry and fiction. The integrity of his Christian faith and life, and the international appeal of his writings, have received broad recognition and admiration, all of which has led to a consensus that he is one of the theologians of his time whose theological reflections might lead future generations of Christians into creating a new more spiritual and responsible millennium. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian famous for his stand against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. His beliefs and convictions ultimately cost him his life in a Nazi concentration camp. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the most famous theologians and martyrs of the 20th century.

Bonhoeffer’s sermons in this volume focus on some very familiar and yet easy to misunderstand passages.  The topics in this book include, but are not limited to: God Is with Us (Matthew 28:20); Waiting at the Door (Revelation 3:20); The Promised Land; God Is Love (I John 4:16b); Lazarus and the Rich Man; Risen With Christ (Colossians 3:1-4); Overcoming Fear; Who Do You Say That I Am?; What Love Wants; Must I Be Perfect?; My Strength Is Made Perfect in Weakness; Lord, Help My Unbelief; Forgiveness; and The Betrayer (this one is sure to surprise you).

Here are just some of my favorite quotes from the book.  Let me be honest; I offer you only enough of each quote to entice you to read more of it in its context.  May God so motivate you.

1.     “The church does not leave anyone alone.  None of you who have come here today in mourning, no one who is really looking for consolation and not just a ceremonial memorial service should remain alone today . . . . Every other person who is interested in something else besides Christian knowledge of God and God’s will is in the wrong place here.

2.     “The church is like the seer of ancient times who, when all are gathered to commemorate a great deed of the nation, is wholeheartedly present but suffers because he sees something that the others do not see and must speak of what he sees, although no one wants to hear it.”

3.     “We must end this audacious, sanctimonious spiritualization of the gospel.  Take it as it is, or hate it honestly!”

4.     “Up until now we have spoken of these two as if they actually had nothing to do with each other.  That is obviously not the case.  Lazarus lies in front of the rich man’s doorstep, and it is the poverty of Lazarus that makes the rich man rich, just as the wealth of the other man makes Lazarus poor.”  [Brilliant with great implications.]

5.     “Today, immensely important things will be decided by whether we Christians have strength enough to show the world that we are not dreamers and are not those who walk with their heads in the clouds, that we don’t just let things come and go as they are, that our faith is really not the opium that lets us stay content in the midst of an unjust world, but that we, especially because we set our minds on things that are above, only protest all the more tenaciously and resolutely on this earth.”

6.     “We should not be surprised if for our church, too, times will come again when the blood of martyrs will be required.  But this blood, if we really still have the courage and honor and faithfulness to shed it, will not be as innocent and untarnished as that of the first witnesses.  On our blood would lie great guilt of our own . . . . ”

7.     “Our life is hidden with Christ in God.  We ourselves are already at home in the midst of our homelessness.”

8.     “Many a pastor has failed because he or she wanted to carry the congregation, but the congregation did not carry the pastor.  A congregation that does not pray for the ministry of its pastor is no longer a congregation.  A pastor who does not pray daily for the congregation is no longer a pastor.”

9.     “There are even people who think themselves particularly devout if they do not see the dark side of life, if they close themselves off from the catastrophes of this world and just lead their own tranquil, pious lives in peaceful optimism.”

10.  Imagine that someone whom we do not find likable has done something to us that surprises us, and then (imagine) that someone whom we love very much has done something that we simply cannot understand.  In the first case (the action of the person we do not find likable) we will immediately have all sorts of explanations for the bad motives that led that person to such an action; while, on the other hand, we will endlessly search and ask, and indeed invent excuses (for the action of the person whom we love very much), in an effort to understand why the person we loved acted the way he or she did.  We will certainly finish by knowing this second person better than we know the first.”

11.  “The human creature sinks down to the ground and stretches out his or her hands, and is no longer his or her self, but is in God.  That is perfection.”

12.  “A church may have great faith – the most orthodox beliefs, the firmest loyalty to its confession – but if it is not even more a church of pure and all-embracing love, it is good for nothing.”

13.  “Faith that has no hope is sick.  It is like a hungry child who will not eat or a tired person who will not go to sleep.  As surely as a person believes, surely he or she will also hope.”

14.  “Faith and hope enter into eternity transformed into the shape of love.”

15.  “Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than for the potential moral right of the strong.”

16.  “What does it mean, to believe in God, if not to make room for God’s will, what God wills for us, for the world?”

17.  “Lord, I believe – I believe what you say, I believe that your word and your promise are true.  I believe, when I am looking at you, when I hear the words, when I see.  But when I am looking at myself, then, dear Lord, help my unbelief.  When I am besieged, when everything in me resists such a promise – reason, history, the world, my experience – help my unbelief.”

18.  “You do not have your faith once and for all.  The faith that you will confess today with all your hearts needs to be regained tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, indeed, every day anew.”

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book.  The official website of “The International Bonhoeffer Society” is www.dietrichbonhoeffer.org .

--  Ken B. Godevenos, President, www.accordconsulting.com , Toronto, ON.
[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.

God Keeps Wanting to Get His Message Across to Us -- Exodus 7:1-7


Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.  But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.  When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”  So Moses and Aaron did it; as the Lord commanded them, thus they did.  And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.
 
In this passage that starts the seventh chapter of Exodus, we have again some repetition of what God has already told Moses.  The basic message to Moses is that whatever he is being asked to do, he is doing it “for God” and thus “God will be there with him”.  And furthermore, God tells Moses “I have given you a partner to help you, your brother, Aaron”.  But that is not all – Moses is told he would not succeed at first for God will harden Pharaoh’s heart.
Here is the whole package for whatever God is asking us to do:
1.     Whatever we are asked to do, is essentially for God, and on his behalf – it is His Plan, not ours.  And we have to keep remembering that and checking our attitude as we work.
2.     God is there, coaching us and keeping us as we work.  He will not abandon us.
3.     He provides helpmates where necessary.
4.     It will not be easy and we may fail big time at first, but there is a reason for that.
I also notice in the text that God said Moses was to ask Pharaoh to let the people go out from “his land”.   When we are in bondage, we often forget that we are not where we are supposed to be.  We are in someone else’s “land”.  When we are struggling, we are in someone else’s land.  We may belong to God and God is definitely with us, but we are traveling in someone else’s land and we need to get out.  In fact, all of our current life here on earth is a life being lived on someone else’s land.  And that ‘someone’ is:
“Satan, Lucifer, the bearer of light, (who) will come to you, handsome and alluring, innocent and with the appearance of light.  He will obscure God’s law and call it in doubt.  He will want to rob you of the joy you have in God’s path.  And once the evil one has caused us to waver, he will tear our entire faith out of our hearts, will trample it under foot and cast it away.  Those will be difficult hours in your life, when you tend to become weary of God’s word, when all is in revolt, when no prayer passes your lips anymore, when the heart refuses to listen any longer.”
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, sermon entitled, “The Gift of Faith” preached on April 9, 1938 at a confirmation event.
And it is at that precise moment that you and I need to say, “Lord, help me overcome my unbelief.  Help me have full faith in You, Your Word, and Your record.  Amen.”  I believe Moses and Aaron did just that.
And then God says, “Look, I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart but I am doing it for a purpose.”  He is saying to us, “You will struggle in your efforts to serve Me, but there’s a purpose for it – and it is all for good.”  In the case of Moses, it was so that God would perform many signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, in the land of the ‘enemy’.  For us, it may be that, or it may be to further hone or train us for greater service.  But whatever the reason, it is for ‘good’.
And the end result of both what Moses was asked to do, and what we are asked to do, is simply this, God says, “I will accomplish My purpose.”  That is the ultimate end result; there is never a different ending or outcome when it comes to God’s work with us and among us.
We stop for a moment and notice that God sometimes works to accomplish His purpose with “great judgments”.  Those who know the story of the children of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, know that God did in fact inflict great judgments on Pharaoh and Egypt.  Those of us who have seen God work in very difficult situations in our own lives have seen God do likewise, sometimes surprising even us to the point where we are tempted to ask, “Oh God, did you have to go that far?  Did you have to do that to them?”  When one works with God, one cannot challenge the way God takes care of things.  One can only say, “Yes God.  Thank you, God.  I trust you God.”
And God reminds us again, that He does what He does so that others “shall know that I am the Lord” when He acts to save and to free people from bondage, and takes them out of the land of the enemy.  What God is doing through you and me, and with you and me, He is doing for His purpose that “others shall know He is the Lord”.  What a privilege to be part of that.  No matter what our age – whether a child, a teenager, middle-aged, a new senior like me, or have lived the eighty years that Moses had and the eighty-three years that Aaron had at the time.  There is an exciting part for all of us to carry out, with God.

[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.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Genealogy of Moses and Aaron -- Exodus 6:14-30


Exodus 6:14-25: [The text in these verses (not reproduced here) are intended to connect for the reader, the sons of Jacob with the two men that God was using at this point in Israel’s history to free them of their bondage in Egypt.]
Exodus 6:26-30: It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts.”  They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the sons of Israel from Egypt; it was the same Moses and Aaron.  Now it came about on the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.”   But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me.”
In summary, the account tells of Reuben, Simeon and Levi’s sons and their descendants.  Of particular interest to us is the following genealogy of Levi. 
Jacob begot Levi (who lived 137 years).  Levi begot Kohath (who lived 133 years), among other sons.  Kohath begot Amram (who lived 137 years), among other sons.  Amram married his father Kohath’s sister, Jochebed, and together they had Aaron and Moses.  Here we are also told Aaron married Elisheba.  Elisheba’s family is mentioned but their names (here mentioned for the first time in Scripture) do not come into play again until later in the Old Testament.  Aaron and Elisheba had four children, some of whom we will hear about later.  One of the children is Eleazar, who marries a daughter of Putiel (whose name means “afflicted by God”) and she bore him Phinehas (whom we will meet later).
The passage itself ends by saying “these” (although it is not clear to whom that refers exactly or how inclusive it is) are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites.  Then it repeats somewhat what the author had already provided us with earlier in this chapter and even before that.  The question for the student of the Scriptures is “Why?”.
We can only offer the possible explanations that come to our mind.  First, by providing the genealogy, we are once again reminded that God cares about families and history.  He is sharing with us here how His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is linked via genealogy to Aaron and Moses.  It is this pair that is helping to carry out God’s promises to Abraham many years earlier.  As we saw, there are several generations between Abraham and Aaron and Moses.  What is important here for us to note is how each generation, beginning with Isaac, and Jacob right up to Aaron and Moses’ parents had an important role to play in “keeping the faith”.  They ran families and homes that talked about and taught their children about God, Who He was, and wanted He did for us, and what He wanted of us.  This is our job as parents representing various generations of our family tree and especially as participants in the implementation of God’s Plan for mankind.  Are you and I playing that role as best as we can?
Secondly, the text repeats itself, especially in verses 28-30, because it is important for us to be reminded that this was God’s plan, not theirs, and that He is the Lord.  And all our objections do not throw Him off at all.  He can and does overcome them.  So we find ourselves asking, “Do I realize that I am involved in God’s Plan?  And do I realize and fully accept that He is not just a business owner, or a politician, or a senior partner of a firm I work for, or a teacher at my university – but He is the Lord God Almighty?  And do I realize that while I can raise objections about His choosing me, my true happiness can only be found in obeying His instructions?”  That is the message for you and I from this passage.
[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.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Having Accepted His Calling, Moses Now Raises Objection to His Service -- Exodus 6:10-13


Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Go tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land.”  But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, “Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?”  Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
 
After God told Moses again as to Who He was, what He would do, and what He wants of His people, Moses went to the children of Israel and shared the message.  He was rejected big time.  Without letting any time pass and being aware of the rejection Moses suffered, God immediately gets back to him with further instructions.  God leaves us alone only as long as is necessary, but never longer than He knows we need, when things like this happen.
And this time, God tells Moses to go directly to the enemy himself.  Can you imagine Moses’ reaction?  Those who were supposedly on God and Moses’ side flatly refused his plans that were dictated by God Himself.  Furthermore, it was these very people who were to be saved from their bondage.  Yet God now wants him to bypass the people and go directly to Moses with God’s intentions.  Moses could contain himself no longer and it was time for yet another objection.  This time it was not about his calling for he had accepted that some time ago after five objections, you might remember.  No, this time Moses was objecting about the terms of his ‘service’ he was expected to be involved in.
In essence, God was saying to Moses that he and his brother Aaron were to go it alone.  And notice that they were to go on behalf of the people.  The goal was still the same -- to save the children of Israel from their bondage.  You see, the mission, once given, never changes for a leader.  It is the resources and the support of others that change.  They may not be the ones that we expected when we took on the assignment, but they are always sufficient.  And that is what we need to remember as we move with God to accomplish His work.
Still, for Moses, as it would be for most of us, this was a hard instruction to follow at this time.  So he raises his sixth objection.  “If my own people won’t listen to me and You, God, how will the enemy ever listen and agree to my request?”
A good question indeed, at least from a human perspective.  Moses is basically saying, to use a baseball analogy, “Lord, we didn’t get to first base, and now you want us to cross home plate.”  And if that humanly logical argument was not enough, Moses reminds God (as if He had forgotten) that he is a stutterer.  When we cannot see our way through a problem, we throw all our arguments at God.  We use logical ones and personal ones.  We give Him all the reasons as to why we cannot do what He wants us to.  We give Him all the reasons why His plan will not work.  Oh, we may not do it as blatantly as Moses did, but we do it sometimes in a way that is worse – we simply ignore His instructions, even saving ourselves from making the arguments.
But here is where we fail in our thinking.  We forget first of all that we are dealing with the Almighty God, Creator of the universe and Provider of all we need.  Secondly, we forget that He is our Lord who loves us and has an intimate relationship with us.  Thirdly, we forget that it is His plan, not ours – He is totally capable of delivering it with or without our help, and He has total responsibility for it.  We are simply a conduit, a vessel, a human mouthpiece or ambassador if you like.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  That is not to say that our heart is not to be in it, for it must.  But it is to say that we are not responsible for the end results, God is.  Moses had forgotten that at this point.
So what does God do?  Well, it is possible that He is a little frustrated with Moses.  Who would not be?  But remember, He still loves Moses and He would not give up on him as He does not give up on you and me.  And God brings in reinforcement in the person of Aaron for the text says that in response to Moses’ objection He now spoke “to Moses and to Aaron”.  God realizes that as humans we are not yet totally reliant on Him, we need the reassurance and the assistance of others, or at least the company of others as we pursue feats for God.  So God speaks to both of them very directly.  Because God did not want Moses to give up, He brought others along to encourage him.  I have noticed that in my own life and leadership.  Sometimes I pursue things and no one is with me.  It is then I realize I may have mistaken what God had asked me to do.  Other times, God brings a number of men and women of proven faith in God to come stand with me, and that reassures me.  It allows me to refocus on God and His ability to accomplish His will through me, even when some are vehemently opposed.
And the text says God gave them a charge – a charge meant for both the sons of Israel (the leaders among the people including Moses and Aaron) and to Pharaoh himself, to lead the children of Israel, and to let them go, respectively, out of the land of Egypt.  What was God saying to these two men, and through them to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh?  I believe He was saying, “Look this is no longer a request, a nice suggestion for a nice thing for you to do.  This is my will and it will be done.”  Sometimes God has to be that direct with us as well.  So, we have a choice – be part of God’s plan or sit on the sidelines.
I am reminded of President Abraham Lincoln’s frustration in the movie released in 2012 entitled Lincoln when he finally displays some anger and bangs his fist on the table around which some of his cabinet was giving him a hard time.  He wanted something done and by George, because he was the president, it was going to be done.  God is doing the same thing here with Moses.  There comes a time, for every parent, when a child refuses to obey, to lay down the law.  God was being nothing less than a loving father here.
Soon we will see how Moses reacted.  For now, I hope we each take the opportunity to reflect on how we react to God’s dealing with us when it comes to doing His work.

[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.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

“Give This Message to the People, Moses” -- Exodus 6:6-9


“Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage.  I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.  Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’”  So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.
 
In the passages previous to this one, we read that Moses obeyed God, got frustrated with the outcome, and then God reminded him of Who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised.  But I love the beginning of this short passage, “Therefore, tell your fellow Hebrews . . .”.
As I study this passage, I have come to believe that one of its purposes is to remind us that our relationship with God, our knowledge of Who He is and what He has done and has promised, is to be shared with others, beginning with our own people –family, friends, coworkers, and countrymen/women.  This is all about ‘telling others’.  It is about ‘witnessing’.  And then God, in telling Moses what he is to say, gives us some instructions as to what we are to say.  God would have us tell people that:
1.     Our God is indeed, as we saw from the previous passage, more than just a Creator and Provider – He is our Lord with whom we can have a personal and intimate relationship, as a Father and a child.
2.     Because our God is a God of love, He is fully aware of their circumstances and their needs and that He will deliver them from any bondage they find themselves in.  For many people, life is no longer fun, only bondage.  When the curtain goes down, the patrons have left for after-theatre drinks, and the lights are dimmed, the actor is often left alone, tired, spent, and despondent.
3.     Because He is a God of justice, He will also deal with our enemy, the devil, as well as those that work with him.  Vengeance is indeed His and He will judge the evildoers and repay them accordingly.
4.     He wants us to be His people, His children and to know Him as a Father.  He wants to be our God and lead us and save us.  In short, God will redeem us from being slaves.  If not Him, who or what else?
5.     At the end of our journey, if He is our God and we are His children, we will get our promised land – we will get our reward of eternal life; our struggles will be over; and we will sing of our Redeemer’s praise.
The message could not be any simpler.  All of the above is now made possible for us, who were not originally “children of Israel” and thus were not Jews.  It is now possible for the whole world to participate fully in God’s desire to have us as His children and to save us, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The New Testament thousands of years after God spoke these words and gave these instructions to Moses, instructs us so.
Now notice the interesting lack or absence of words between the completion of God’s utterance and Moses’ obedience.   The Bible simply says, “So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel.”  Wow.  Here were clear instructions, followed by immediate and complete obedience to them.  Are we as faithful, as trusting, as obedient?  Let us determine this day to be so, or at least to be more so than we have in the past.
Now here is the shocker.  This passage clearly warns us that even though we do all we are instructed to do in sharing with others our relationship with and in God, many, if not all, simply will not listen.  And they won’t listen, the Bible says, because of “their despondency and [their] cruel bondage”.  Despondency is defined as a state of low spirits caused by a loss of hope or courage -- often from years of ‘slavery’ or ‘bondage’ in our lives.  And the loss of hope or courage often comes from being or feeling defeated by the enemy, or believing that because of what they see around them, they cannot win; that life is indeed intended to be hard, and then you die.
You and I, as was Moses and Aaron in our story, are often the only chance these people of low spirits have of ever seeing things differently.  We are the only way that some of them will ever find the hope of having joy and purpose and peace again through Christ Jesus and of finding the courage to live life with Him one day at a time, realizing that each challenge He allows is for their ultimate strengthening and confidence, as well as their own mission in life.
Somehow, Moses was not getting that across to his own people, and as we will see, in the passages that follow, God moves in again.  Did Moses listen and continue with his mission?  We’ll find out.  The more pertinent question is, “Are we listening and continuing in Christ, sharing with others our story of redemption?”  I pray so.
[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.

2013: The Joyless and Ungrateful Are Still Among Us


I received a subscription to Canada’s National Post for Christmas.  The paper’s ‘Letters’ page, December 31, 2012, was dedicated to an idea suggested earlier by one of their readers, Esther Paul.  Esther had recommended to Paul Russell, the Letters editor, that readers be asked, “What gives them joy/satisfaction/what are they grateful for.”

From what I could see, the majority of printed letters were indeed “quite heartwarming” as the paper said.  People were grateful for family and friends.  Some were thankful there was a God.  Others were thankful for what Canada offers, or for their health, or for a free press, and a slew of other reasons.

But two letters in particular caught my attention.  The first was under a sub-heading that read, “Grateful that there is not a God”.  It was by an A. Hughes from Thorold, Ontario.  He wrote:

Your question is an open invitation to believers to go on about religion.  In response to them I have to say that I’m happy that I don’t believe in any sort of god.  Indeed, it even gives me joy.

The second one was printed under a heading that read, “Nothing to be grateful for”.  Another man, A. Sotto, sent it in from Montreal, Quebec.  He wrote:

I have nothing to be grateful for.  Cigarettes are expensive and the winters here are long and harsh.  However, I enjoyed watching ‘La Traviata’ [an opera by Verdi] at the Salle Wilfrid Pelletier [a Montreal concert hall].

What do we really have here as represented by these two letters?  In the first case, Mr. Hughes, in my opinion, demonstrates evidence of a “man angry at God”.  He takes issue with the very question the editor asked of readers.  Why does his mind immediately go to the idea that joy/satisfaction/being grateful can be only somehow related to God or belief in a religious faith?  May I suggest it is because a) finding true joy/satisfaction/reasons-for-gratefulness is indeed related to knowing God personally and Mr. Hughes’ inner-self knows that but refuses to accept it, and b) that the writer was in some way irate that it is so, especially since he denies God’s existence.  At the same time, the writer feels it necessary that he have some sort of joy nonetheless and insists that he has found it in his ability to believe there is no God.  Unfortunately, one’s belief that something (or Someone) does not exist does not make it so.

[As an example, denying that something more devious and evil, involving well-known and previously trusted Americans, was the cause of the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings of 9/11 fame – something like ‘controlled demolition’ as is coming to light by scientific research these days -- and instead choosing to believe the ‘official but unscientific story’ that they were solely downed by two ordinary commercial airplanes under the control of Muslims crashing into them and the resultant fires that were observed, does not necessarily make the latter to be a fact.  But that’s another story for another time.  In the meantime, readers may want to check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ddz2mw2vaEg and then https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n_fp5kaVYhk for more information on this.  But be warned, it may well shake your foundational beliefs in your country, your government, and mankind.]

Let us look at the letter of the second writer, Mr. Sotto.  His submission too is puzzling.  He offers the statement that he has “nothing to be grateful about”.  And why is that?  Well, if you believed him, it is because “cigarettes are expensive” and “winters (where he lives) are long and harsh.”  If I had a chance to spend a little time with Mr. Sotto, I am sure we could find a number of things for which he could be grateful if he so chose.  Among them would be the fact that he is still alive to enjoy some of the benefits that this country does indeed have to offer.   While cigarettes may be expensive, surely he can be thankful for the fact that he does, even from time to time, have sufficient money to purchase them for his self-satisfaction (that is assuming he hasn’t given up smoking which I very much doubt).  Perhaps he could be grateful for the very source of those funds.  And then Mr. Motto himself offers a cause for joy (surely we can say we are ‘grateful’ for things that cause us ‘joy’) when he talks about the opportunity he had to see a great opera at a wonderful concert hall.  So, you see, even those that at first reaction have nothing to be grateful for, even they have something and often, have much, to be grateful for.  [ I am reminded of the reaction I observe in my grandchildren sometimes when they are missing one thing they want right now, the whole world of blessings they have and are surrounded by, are easily forgotten.]

We can well ask what then makes the difference between a joyful or grateful individual and one who thinks and talks and feels as if he or she is not?  The answer is simple (at least to me).  It is a matter of the intellect and the emotion.  It is a matter of what one thinks in one’s head and what one feels in one’s heart.  And then of course, one has to consciously decide what that is and stick to it.  I, for one, have chosen to believe there is a God, and that makes it easy for me to see all the things in my life for which I am joyous and grateful about.  My family, my health, my life and opportunities in general, my ability and desire to help others, and so on – all these are seen by me as a gift from God.  The only thing I have to do is make the decision that what my head and heart are telling me I will stick with.

At the same time, I do realize that it is possible for some to experience the same joy and sense of being grateful without believing in God.  The only problem that arises with that approach is how one might then a) explain the presence and absence of these things for which they are happy about and grateful, in their lives, or in the lives of others; and b) who is such a person being “thankful” or “grateful” to, or from whom are we withhold such thankfulness.  The actual meaning of the phrase “thank you” makes sense when we consider that normally when we express it, we are shifting “responsibility” in a positive way from ourselves to someone else.  [For example, when your arms are full of grocery bags and you have to get through a door, and I come along and open that door for you, you say “thank you” because I have in essence taken that ‘responsibility’ from you and transferred it to myself as you allow me to.  You would not be saying ‘thank you’ if you refused to allow me to open the door for you, even if I did.]  So I would ask anyone who thinks like Mr. Sotto, “Who is taking on the responsibility of making you “thankful” by giving you any joy or gratefulness in anything?”

Finally, there are three verses in the New Testament of the Bible, found in Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, and John 12:8, where Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you.”  Commentators have translated that very literally and for good reason if one understands the full context of the wording.  But somehow, I cannot help but think that Jesus may also mean those that are “poor in the sense that they cannot be joyful or grateful” and those who refuse to shift the responsibility for life and its blessings to Him.

I hope Mssrs. Hughes and Sotto and the many they represent will indeed find more reasons to be joyous and thankful in 2013.  More importantly, it is my wish that more of us who have this JOY will indeed take the time necessary to find the joyless and the ungrateful in this world, like these two honest men, or at least those that God puts in our path, and simply share with them our own source of this most-valued asset.

[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.