Neither Warrior Nor Coward

But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” But Peter kept saying insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing also. – Mark 14:29-31

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Peter, if he was nothing else, was bold. He was usually the first to speak and the first to act. Say what you will about his thrice denial but remember that he is the only disciple that got out of the boat!

For example, in the instance above, Peter wanted Jesus to know that he would not abandon His Lord, even if everyone else did. In retrospect, it was an arrogant statement, but do not miss the fact that the others agreed. Peter may have been brash, but the others only joined in after they had been “called out” by Peter’s proclamation.

Truth be told, we are neither the warrior nor the coward we think we are. We’re just following Jesus and He knows us better than we even know ourselves. May we be found faithful when our moment of “required faithfulness” arrives.

Honest and courageous people have very little to say about either their courage or their honesty. – Hosea Ballou

Keep Singing

Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. – Deuteronomy 31:19

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The Lord told Moses that once the Israelites had entered the Promised Land, had defeated the Canaanites, and had begun to experience peaceful comfort, they would turn to paganism and idolatry. To act as a deterrent to this future apostasy, God gave Moses a song that was to be learned and sung, reminding Israel of all God had done for them. You might even call it an Israeli “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Songs can be great reminders of joyous times. They can also help us recall what is important and draw us together. Often pleasant memories are revived by a familiar refrain. Considering the current state of things in our world, what should our song be? “How Great Thou Art?” “Amazing Grace?” What about “Get Up Off That Thing” by James Brown? What song will keep us faithful? What song will remind us to stay the course?

Perhaps such a song has not yet been written, but whether we write it or not, we must keep singing.

Songs are funny things. They can slip across borders. Proliferate in prisons. Penetrate hard shells. I always believed that the right song at the right moment could change history. – Pete Seeger

Poll God

Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. – Mark 15:15

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Leadership by consensus is akin to a sailor allowing his direction to be determined solely by the wind. While the captain of a ship should certainly consider which way the wind is blowing, it cannot be the sole determinant of his destination. In the same way, a leader must be certain of his or her destination before he “sets sail,” because the “wind” of public opinion is fickle, varied, and ever-changing. Every sailor must have the ability to “read the wind” and use that element to gain the force necessary to accomplish the best direction. In a storm, it is often necessary to drop sail altogether and wait it out. The same might be said of a leader, but ultimately an organization must be driven by purpose, not opinion or whim.

The Christian leader has two powerful “shipmates” at his disposal, guaranteeing an arrival at God’s intended destination. One is the Holy Spirit and the other is the Word of God. The Spirit “blows” providing the necessary energy for movement and the Word “guides” ensuring a steady, consistent direction. The opinions of men will sway, but God’s opinion will not.

If you want to know which way to lead, poll God.

Politics: the art of obtaining money from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of protecting each other from the other. – Oscar Ameringer

The Power of an Encouraging Word

Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. – Joshua 1:6

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Five times (in the texts of Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1) Joshua was told to, “Be strong and courageous.” Moses, when speaking with Joshua about his future leadership, challenged him privately about what his position would require. God used the same challenge: once concerning the distribution of the land, another time concerning obedience to His Word, and one last time to remind Joshua of His abiding presence. The final use of this phrase was neither by Moses nor by God, but it may have had just as much of an effect on Joshua’s budding leadership, for it came from the Israelites themselves. The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (indicating their support of Joshua’s new position) gave him the final encouragement he needed to indeed be strong and courageous.

Leaders are often evaluated and criticized for their decisions. Frankly, it goes with the position. Of course, the wise leader pays attention to the content of that criticism and seeks to improve. Yet, we must never underestimate the power of an encouraging word, particularly when we give it to those who have been called to lead.

Was Joshua strong and courageous? Perhaps, he heard it enough from those around him that he finally began to believe it himself.

We are what we believe we are. – C. S. Lewis

Ready to Serve?

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. – Luke 1:38

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In the past, I have wondered if Mary would have been chosen by God had she balked at the prospect of giving birth to the Savior of the world. Of course, Moses resisted (a lot) when God chose Him and it didn’t hinder his selection. But, then again, Mary was responsible for nurturing the Deliverer, not being one. I finally concluded that the omniscient Sovereign Creator of the universe most likely knew Mary better than she even knew herself. Even before Mary was given an opportunity to respond, God knew that this young girl would accomplish His eternal purpose.

Of course, He knows you, too. And though you will not be challenged to the magnitude that Mary was, you will certainly be tested. Will you answer His call? Will you serve God’s purpose at the expense of your own? Are you so willingly surrendered that whatever the Master desires, you will give your all to see it accomplished?

Are you, too, a bondslave of your Lord?

If anybody really wants to know God better, I would say to that person, “Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.” – C. S. Lewis