Bellwether

Plangent complaints

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3)

The leader’s instinct is in you whether you know it or not. If only for yourself and none other, you’ve got it. Lead yourself well and you’ll be able to do the same for others. I feel it though, I feel the risk, assuming you’ve been reading up till this point–and even as I write–that I will end in sounding just like everyone else out there who inspires others to become the best version of themselves. It sounds, when I read it (their’s), that “what worked for me will work for you”. And that’s simply not true. Notice what Peter says “not by constraint, but willingly…of a ready mind”. I like this. Because it seems to be happening naturally and organically as opposed to something done because we’re being chased into that corner. A bellwether is a ram that leads the flock. I’m reminded of Jesus as “the good Shepherd” (John 10:11). The word also refers to any forerunner of a trend. The Indicator, in other words.

“And the Lord said, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-33)

Transparent as a bell

At present and with reference to leadership, the thing I want most is focus. If I end in being an “ensample” as the King James words tupos (from the Greek implying everything from “scar” to “statue”), then that’s great. Sure, I’d love to have a wide influence and lead a group or what-have-you. It’s then that things get dicey, though. Alongside true leadership are the parallel temptations of manipulation and also a shallow voyeurism (only doing things to “be seen”). And I don’t want any of that. To me, true leadership comes from the heart of one who is submitted to the leadership of Christ. When Jesus says “follow me”, it means “follow Him”. It may sound like naught but allusion and metaphor, but try it on. Taking from Him as to what true servanthood looks like will in turn teach us how to be a servant to others. This is the essence of leadership.

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

One thing truly is needful. Be it your job or place or your family. Admittedly, Jesus isn’t referring to any of those things. In my opinion, it’s any and all of those things and others, done in a Christlike spirit and around which, all of life begins to rotate with the same impetus. As you live your life, head down, hopes high, you will be an inspiration to those looking. And trust me, more people are looking at you than you may well realize.

In closing, let me just say that I don’t really care. Growing up and out of my shallow (not in a bad sense) and naive view of how the world works, I look back and see the horizons of popularity and influence for what they were: mirages. It may be lonely at the top but here’s the thing. Firstly, not if you’re there with Jesus. Secondly, you’re nowhere as close to the top as you thought you were, trust me on this.

“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:10-11)

Advertisements

The Spectrum of Idolatry part 3 Abstract Concepts

“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And thy saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” (Exodus 24:9-11)

This, to me, is one of the most powerful passages in all the Bible. It’s as if all the mystery has been removed. God is standing there and life is good. We get to eat and drink and all the while, “He laid not His hand”. It would seem in the Old Testament that things were a tad more serious. The statement implying God wasn’t going to strike them dead for being so close. Evidently, they must’ve been there by invitation. And then David comes along and the image mentioned above begins to take shape:

“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5)

Very simply speaking, I feel you can’t write something like that–sourced from an original thought, as it were–unless you’ve actually experienced it. And experienced it for yourself, I might add. Granted, we get ideas and we run with them and layer on them our own embellishments. But it can be hard to pin down exactly God’s features. You know you see Him, though, how else can I say it? Let me back up a bit here.

“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)

So, John writes again the same thing he declared in his gospel (1:18). I’m trying to wrap my mind around this evident contradiction. Perhaps if I checked the original versions, there may be a distinction of which I’m not aware. Maybe something in the Hebrew and Greek allows for me to accept how Moses was able to see Him and yet I can’t. Not with my eyeballs, anyway. Can I “see” with something other than my “eyes”? Waxing a tad pedantic, admittedly, I feel I should point out that there are indeed other ways of “seeing”. And it’s these places to which God points as I believe He wants to be seen.

“Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:8-9)

To me, that’s the most ubiquitous question in the universe. “Why won’t God show Himself?” So either Jesus is crazy or He’s saying something around which we cannot wrap our minds unless we believe. When people talk about “God”, my opinion is that they are all referring to the same one. With God as “God”, it rules out any other religion’s pantheon as that very word indicates there is more than one. Jesus says a couple chapters prior that “[He] and the Father are one” (10:30). This replaces duality (and evident contradiction?) with unity. But the one statement is buttressed with the other. We can talk all around and about God all we want. According to Christ, however, we cannot then separate Him from God. If they’re one–and I want to “see” God–I cannot overlook Jesus. Talk about God. How He’s “the Creator”. The embodiment of “the universe”. But He’s revealed Himself to humans through Jesus. Any of the former ideologies and eidolon belief systems bereft of Jesus are essentially idolatry. Because we cannot see God except through the lens of Christ.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

Sign, Wave

“And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost Thou make us to doubt? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24)

Tell us plainly…”

Sometimes, the forest for the trees is right in plain sight. Not sure if there’s anything like this in my heart and mind and life, at present, but I would need someone to point it out to me if there were. But God is good for it, you understand. He’s so patient, too.

And this is where the more important the question, the more fear layered on top of the decision in question, the harder one should listen for the God they know and love. God speaks in signs, no doubt. But His peace will be all about the movement when you do decide to take any of the myriad decisions presented before you.

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)

The Holy Spirit won’t steer you wrong. I find, as a child of God, it’s hard to make a mistake if your heart is on the same wavelength as the Father’s. Jesus says we must “become as little children” (Matthew 18:3). Taking a wide-eyed look at the world and realizing that you’re either in a situation at the Father’s leading or else in one of your own making and that He wants to both teach you within and also lead you out of, is what we need. Pan out. Ask to see your life and season through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. He will sum up what you’re going through and also tie it up. I find in retrospect, the labels of seasons succinctly explained in words and crystallized understanding. But it’s also possible to see the signs and symbols going forward, too. It goes back to keeping your hand in your Father’s. He’s leading you even if you don’t feel it. Listen for His voice.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27)

In closing, think of the diegesis style of narrative. Where the person telling the story sums up the events in voiceover-like snippets of monologue. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced life as such but I’ve come pretty darn close. Let me tell you, it’s exhausting and exhilerating in equal measure. The realization that God has your best interests at heart and that He’s leading you on to something greater than ever you had or knew, is the best. If you got the guts, you might ask Him to lead you in such a way. To show you things as they are going on. Nowhere in the Bible (to my knowledge) does it say He won’t (!).

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)

Blessings to you.

Capacious

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

Out of our selves

I love this as a rule. As a rule, I love it. I think, though, that the underlying message is just to go ahead and be generous. To give out of a pure heart and a pure motive. We are not meant to only retain that which God has gifted to us. The things He gives may require a little gestation, a little incubation. And the Father certainly wants the gift to bless us before we while it away on an unsuspecting other. I am reminded of the whole “neither cast ye your pearls before swine” paradigm (Matthew 7:6). But when it comes to God-through-us, it’s all about flow. The Holy Ghost needs both a vessel and also a conduit. Something to fill and to flow through. God is eminently personal, but beyond that, He merely needs a warm body through which He wants to bless and build and help and heal. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30) as it were.

Paul speaks: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Because you can only take so much. You can only process and handle so much. I get overwhelmed easily and what little time off I have, if it’s already scheduled out beyond my ken, I get cranky. I do pray, at times, that God would use me how He would. I would also say that where I’m at in life is because I did the same way back when. But I am still just one person. Upon realizing this, God attentuates a little. I feel Him ease, or, at least my preconception of what He’s like. And I also realize I am only one person and He has fires He’s lit all around me and all over the world. There’s always something going on. If I’ve strayed into the non-specific, it only goes to show you that I can’t even keep track of the point I was trying to make. So broad is this thing called, well, here’s Paul speaking again:

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:19-20)

You do what you can with what God has given you. And He’ll keep you filled to overflowing but also comfortably in the hollow of His hand all the while.