Archives For moses

Moses is one of my favorite heroes in the Bible. Partly because of the danger surrounding the time of his birth. Partly because he was an amazing leader. Partly because he got to part an entire sea.

 

The Delivery of Israel & the Red Sea, 1825, Francis Danby

But mainly because I love how real Moses appears. You get to see Moses’ humanity throughout his story. The fact that he’s weak, doubts his call, and still messes up gives me loads of hope that God could use me despite my weaknesses, doubts, and failures.

God called Moses to lead the oppressed Israelites to freedom from their bondage to Egypt, and Moses doubted whether this would work. After all, he was just Moses. And Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the world.

In Exodus 4, so God could prove to Moses that He is who He says He is, God asks Moses to throw his shepherd’s staff on the ground. When he does, it turns into a snake. He then asks Moses to pick it up by the tail. Not the head. The tail. (For the record, I have some level of faith…but if you ask me to pick up a snake by the tail, I’m out. Call someone else.)

Moses picks it up, then God tells him to put his hand into his cloak. When Moses pulls his hand out, it’s leprous. God instructs Moses to put his hand back in his cloak, and when Moses pulls it out, his hand has returned to normal.

Cool story, no? Crazy miracles, no? Moses had seen two miracles, right before his eyes, but still responded with this:

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” – Exodus 4:10

Sticks turning to snakes. Hands being turned all crazy. And Moses still doubted? Doubted that God could use his bumbling mouth to lead a people to freedom? Doubted that God could do what He said He’d do? Doubted God would come through for him?

Yep. Moses listened to the voice of insecurity.

Because Moses thought he was still operating in his own power.

Insecurity does a great job highlighting weaknesses and isolating you from Truth. Moses was weak, and on his own, he would surely fail. Before the most powerful man in the world, Moses would just curl up into the corner and cry, being constantly reminded of how weak and “unusable” he was.

Good thing for Moses, though, he wasn’t going alone. He was simply a mouthpiece for the living God.

We are Moses

We’re no different than Moses.

We see miracles all around us. We see God healing people (often through medicine). We see God reconciling marriages. We see addictions broken. Hearts far from God turning back to Him. Sons returning home. Fathers owning their responsibilities. Mothers selflessly giving of themselves. Walls coming down.

We even see God using us to bring about change in others. We see God working miracles in our own lives.

Great miracles.

But we doubt. We wonder how God could ever use us. Just like Moses did. We feed our insecurities and doubts, relying on our own strengths. We remind ourselves that we’re

  • weak
  • scared
  • busy
  • tired
  • funny looking
  • dumb
  • failure
  • wounded
  • ugly
  • hopeless
  • addicted
  • lazy
  • bitter
  • worn out
  • shameful
  • too messy
  • still in process

So how could God ever use us?

Because God says to you:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s not about your strength and your gifts and your ability to lead. It’s about you trusting God to do what only He can do.

Your insecurities are a chance for God to show off through you. To remind you that it’s not about you.

Ready to fight doubt? Ready to defeat insecurity?

Take a step of risky faith.

And listen to the voice of God, not men.

 

 

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photo credit: creation swap user Drew Palko

I meet with leaders regularly. Mostly, those are small group leaders at Grace, where I’m on staff.

Nearly every leader struggles with feelings of insecurity about their leadership (I put myself in that boat, too). It’s just part of living life as a broken, fallible human trying to lead people.

Leaders wonder

  • whether our upcoming decision is the right one.
  • whether the decision we just made was the right one.
  • if we’re strong enough for the job.
  • if we’re pleasing the right people.
  • whether we’re being successful.
  • whether we’re the right person for the job.

Leaders say

  • It’s too tough
  • I’m too busy
  • People aren’t responding
  • I still have so much in my life I need to work on
  • I don’t know enough
  • I haven’t experienced enough
  • I’m in over my head
  • There are better leaders out there
  • I’m not the best leader available
  • Do you know my past?

If all leaders, at some level, struggle with insecurity, then all leaders need to hear these words spoken to them:

You can do this.

Moses and Joshua

When Moses was about to die, he knew he needed to pass the baton of leadership for the people of Israel. There was a huge task in front of the Israelites, and they needed a strong leader. Moses knew it wouldn’t be him (we learn this from Numbers 20:12) In Deuteronomy 31:1-8, we see Moses addressing the Israelites in preparation for his coming death. After addressing the people, he called Joshua to him and we read this:

“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land…”

Joshua was taking on a huge responsibility, following the greatest leader that the nation of Israel had known. I can only imagine the feelings of insecurity that were coursing through Joshua in that moment. A confirmation from Moses was what Joshua, this young leader, needed. He needed to hear from another leader, “You can do this.”

Moses told Joshua that he believed in him. He believed that Joshua was the man for the job. He believed that Joshua had what it took to get the job done. Not on his own, of course…”it is the Lord who goes before you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) In fact, this was so important that Moses affirmed Joshua “in the presence of all Israel.” Joshua needed this encouragement and affirmation.

Encouraging another leader

Every leader needs to hear this from another leader. They need to hear, “You can do this” from someone they respect. They need to hear this from you. It’s vital to their continued growth.

If this is so important, how can you honestly and helpfully encourage and affirm another leader?

Listen to them. Ask good questions. Look to affirm the work they’ve been doing, and speak hope into them. You’ve been where they are, and you’ve had the feelings of insecurity they’re having. Give them these 4 words:

You can do this.

 

 

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I tend to forget.

I get wrapped up into systems and organizational health and execution.

I get wrapped up into “best practices” and “change” and “techniques.”

I get wrapped up into “what’s next” and “what’s not working” and “who needs to be at this table.”

I tend to forget.

Not that leadership principles are wrong, or we shouldn’t be thinking about “what’s next.”

Or systems aren’t important.

Or learning “best practices” from others isn’t something we should be doing consistently.

But may we never that without God’s presence, none of this matters.

Without God’s presence, organizational execution is meaningless.

Without God’s presence at the table, nobody else’s presence matters.

I tend to forget.

Moses said to God, “Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.”

God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” – Exodus 33:12-14, the Message

Do you ever forget?

 *Photo credit: iStockPhoto user CourtneyK

 

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I talked with a friend the other day who’s in his 50s. We were talking about a potential job opportunity on his table.

It was a significant step up in pay and influence. I asked him, “Why aren’t you strongly considering this?”

He responded with, “At my age, I can’t make a move like that. If I fail, I’ll have nowhere else to go. Statistics prove that people who have been in my position for as long as I have and transition to another church tend to only spend a couple of years there before they leave.”

There are two important words in what he said. “Statistics show…”

photo credit: Creative Commons License, user Mac Steve

Here’s my word of advice for anyone who uses that phrase:

Who cares what statistics show?!?

Statistics show

  • That everyone dies. But I’m not ready for that.
  • That more marriages end in divorce than stay the course. But I’m not going to quit fighting for the health of my marriage.
  • That I’ll be an absent dad. But I’m not going to let that happen.

Who cares what the statistics say? Not me. I’m not letting statistics hold me back.

I’m thankful that God isn’t limited by what statistics say has to happen.

God isn’t limited by statistics.

  • Gideon led an army of 22,000 300 to conquer the Midianites (Judges 6-8). Against the statistics.
  • Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the most powerful man in the world. With no weapons (Exodus 12:31-40). Against the statistics.
  • Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions and survived to be a leader for his exiled people (Daniel 6). Against the statistics.
  • David, a boy at the time, defeated the best warrior the the Philistines had (1 Samuel 17). Against the statistics.
  • Abraham and Sarah birthed a nation at the ripe old age of 100 (Genesis 21:1-7). Against the statistics.
  • Jesus had 12 followers that took the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts). Against the statistics.

Statistics don’t hold a candle to God.

I know that wisdom takes statistics into account. Statistics aren’t evil, but can help inform our decisions. We should take them into account. But we should not use them solely in our decision making.

Don’t let statistics determine your decision.

Remember that you serve a God who overcomes odds and breaks through strongholds. He won’t be stopped by a mere statistic.

Neither should you.

*photo credit: Creative Commons user: Mac Steve

 

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The problem with many Bible stories that we share with children on Sundays is that they’re not really for children.

I mean, the ones we share on Sundays are for children…but the ones found in Scripture aren’t.  These are stories for adults.  And if you made a movie out of them, they’d probably be rated R.

Take, for example, Noah and the flood.  We like to share it with children because it has animals in it.  And animals are cute.  And kids like boats.  But you know what really happened?

God killed the entire human race.

We also like to share the story of Moses, and the parting of the Red Sea.  Pretty cool thinking about Pharaoh charging after Moses and the Israelites, Moses stretching his staff out, the waters parting, and the Israelites walking across on dry ground.  Until we realize that thousands upon thousands of Egyptians died that day in the Red Sea.  ”Ok, kids…color that picture!”

Speaking of Moses, it sounds like a good idea to make a movie (or two or three) about the events leading up to the 10 commandments, right?  Pretty cool to see the magicians trying to perform the plagues that Moses uses his staff to accomplish.  Cute, no?  Try ending your bedtime story with your children with, “And then all of the firstborn children died…”  ”Goodnight, my firstborn son…sleep tight!”

And it’s not that we shouldn’t tell our children the stories of the Bible.  It’s just that we often rip out the parts that make the story what it is.  I’m not all for sharing the gory details of these stories with my 2 year old.  But the problem comes in when we as adults forget that there’s more to these stories.

Instead of engaging and true stories, we can easily equate them with the realm of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  Great, well-told stories, but ultimately no more than a fantasy novel for children.  And if we use that logic with Noah and Moses, what’s to stop us from using the same logic with the rest of Scripture?  The adventures of Paul and the early church seem pretty far-fetched…speaking in tongues, healing people, the church growing by thousands when Peter and John would preach.  The resurrection of Jesus?  Fairy tale stuff.  Jesus coming back to Earth to claim His Church?  Nah…

I’m not against telling children the stories of the Bible.  But I am against crafting a god that is safe, tame, half-hearted, and weak.

Let’s not let The Children’s Bible lull us, as adults, into sleep, thinking the Bible is full of fairy tales for children.  The Bible is an intellectually robust, compelling story of God’s relentless pursuit of you.

Not just a fantasy novel.

 

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