Joshua’s Preparation for Leadership and Servanthood

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Exodus 33:11 NIV

Joshua’s accent to leadership was not an accident. He was formed through his mentorship to Moses and transformed through his relationship with God.

Before the book of Joshua opens, we have already seen Joshua son of Nun in key places of the story of God’s people. Moses calls on Joshua to lead the people of Israel in a battle against the Amalekites. Joshua accompanied Moses up the mountain where Moses would receive the 10 Commandments. And in the text we have before us, we find Joshua lingering at the tent where Moses talked with God.

Joshua’s lingering gives us clues as to how God shaped him to take on his future role as leader. There are some insights we can glean from this passage which we can apply to our lives as we prepare for all that God would seek to do through us.

Spiritual Work Cannot Be Rushed

Joshua’s lingering at the tent is a reminder that our prayers, our discipleship in God’s word, our devotion to God in worship, are not items to be check off of a religious TO-DO list. These are the ingredients that bring about the kind of transformation that prepare of for duty in God’s Kingdom.

Moses modeled prayer for Joshua by talking with God as one would talk to a friend. Conversations with friends and loved ones are not rushed. Love and devotion take time. If our praying doesn’t bring us closer to God, and make us present to God, then we are missing a crucial aspect in our communing with God.

We Are Refined in the Presence of God

One cannot truly commune with God and maintain their old identity. God has a new identity for each of us. Our goal as disciples is to constantly grow into that identity. Growth and maturity do not happen through the strength of our will or the power of our work. We can no more accomplish the growth and maturity God desires for us than a pecan tree can, by the strength of its will, produce figs. Only by being present to God, and leaning upon him, can we be transformed into the Christlike servant he desires us to be.

Do Not Become Too Busy Working FOR God that You Neglect Spending Time WITH God

Our enthusiasm for God often leads us to work tirelessly for God. Each person God calls and saves, God puts into service. Joshua already had his place of service. He was Moses’ aid and he was the commander of the forces. He had enough on in plate that he could have kept himself occupies 24 hours a day. In spite of Joshua’s busyness, we still find him humbly lingering at the tent where Moses spoke to God face to face.

Our first priority should not be about the things we can do for God. Our first priority should be God himself. Without a connection to God we have no business working for God. Through maintaining a vibrant connection to God, even the little that we can accomplish for him will be blessed beyond our understanding.

Martin Luther’s attitude concerning this was summed up when he said, ““I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Joshua Was Being Mentored by Moses, Who Spoke to the Lord Face to Face, as One Speaks to a Friend

Joshua was fortunate enough to have someone mentor him in the faith. Moses would, through his example and teachings, lay a strong groundwork for Joshua’s future leadership. This should make us reflect on who we are influencing for the Lord.

Moses influenced Joshua by allowing Joshua to accompany him, by delegating responsibilities to him, and by modeling a believing life before him. We are called to do the same for those who are in our lives.

The Result of Joshua’s Mentorship and Dedication to God was Servanthood

Moses was the only person, prior to Joshua, to bear the title, Servant of the Lord. That title was passed to Joshua at Joshua’s death. Think of all that Joshua could have been called: Conqueror of Canaan, Emperor West of the Jordan, Ruler of God’s People. But the highest accolade that could be applied to his life, a life of dedication to God, was found in the phrase “Servant of the Lord.”

After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
Joshua 24:29 NIV

Fittingly, another person, with a name similar to Joshua’s, would come along who would commend servanthood to us.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 NIV

Servanthood is the ultimate form of leadership, and the highest rung on the ladder that we can hope to achieve.

 

 


 

Too Great A Burden To Bear

 

Memorial Day is right around the corner.  It is a day set aside in the United State to pause and remember the lives lost in war.

As we do so, we cannot help but reflect on the terrible sacrifice made by so many in the defense of our freedoms and for the preservation of our allies.

I recently came across a phrase from President Dwight Eisenhower’s first inaugural address that will help fuel our remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our country.

“Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the final choice, a soldier’s pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoners chains.”

 



What’s In A Name?

A Change Of Name

Peter didn’t always go by the name Peter.  His given name was Simon.  Jesus Changed Simon’s name to Peter when Simon declared Jesus to be “the Christ, Son of the living God.”

Paul, who was formerly called Saul of Tarsus, received a new name sometime after his dramatic conversion to Christ while traveling on the road to Damascus.

Jacob, in the Old Testament, received his new name Israel after an all-night wrestling match with God.  His old name, Jacob, meant “the deceiver.”  His new name, Israel, means “strives with God.”  Quite a change!

An Unmemorable Name Change

Nestled among a host of hard to pronounce Hebrew names in the book of Numbers,  in a passage you may have read only glancingly, appears the name Hoshea.

Hoshea was one of the spies selected by Moses to enter the Promised Land and report back about its bounty and blessings.

Hoshea’s name meant “Salvation.”  Not a bad name to bear, but it referred to a general kind of salvation. It lacked specificity as to who provided the salvation it referenced.

Moses recognized this ambiguity in Hoshea’s name so he changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua.  Joshua means “The Lord Saves.”

Among the people Moses led, there could be no room for doubt as to who brought them out of Egypt, by whose hand they would find manna to eat morning by morning, or whose commandments they received at Mt. Sinai.

More importantly, Joshua would become the leader of God’s people after the death of Moses.  Every time they addressed their new leader, they would be reminded of the Lord who led them to salvation in the Promised Land.

Joshua, the name that means “The Lord Saves”, is a powerful reminder that we have a specific savior.

A Name We Can All Be Proud Of

The New Testament tells us that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” and “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Salvation, the salvation God provides, is exclusively found in a specific name.  As we come to him who died for us, we take on part of his name.  By faith, our identity is changed.  We become  “Christian” through following Jesus Christ by faith.

 



Thank Elmer Doolin’s Mom for Her Sacrifice the Next Time You Have Chips and Dips

Humble Beginnings

Frito’s, the corn chips we love, are an authentically Texas creation.  We don’t know who came up with the formula or the process, but we know who perfected it and brought it to the masses. In 1932 Elmer Doolin bought a corn chip recipe from a gentleman he met in San Antonio.

The asking price for the product that would eventually become Frito’s was $100; a significant sum during the Great Depression.  Elmer forked over the cash he had on hand, and went to his mother for the rest.  The two of them could not come up with $100 between, so Elmer Doolin’s mother took her weddings ring to the pawn shop and sold it to make up the difference.

Frito’s Secret Ingredient

The Frito’s recipe is about as simple as it gets:  Corn Meal, Salt, Water, Oil.

But the most important ingredient, the ingredient that made Frito’s possible in the first place, was a Sacrificial Love.

Financed and Encouraged by his mother’s love, Elmer Doolin set up a production facility in his mother’s kitchen and sold the chips out of his Model T.

What started out as a mom and son operation in the ’30 has become a multi-billion dollar company!

The next time you grab a bag of Frito’s, think about the sacrificial love that made these great corn chips possible.

“I hereby nominate Frito’s corn chips to be the official salty snack of Mother’s Day.”
– Jason Burden

 

5 Mother’s Day Gifts to Avoid!

You and I will be scrambling soon to get something special for the moms in our lives.  We better not mess this up.  Too much is at stake.

I’ve given some good gifts, and I’ve given some lousy gifts.   Over the years I have picked up a little wisdom that I would like to share with you about knowing the difference.

It’s easier telling you what not to get Mom.  With so many choices out there, it’s much more practical to shorten the list by telling you what to avoid.  Here we go.

5 Things to Avoid

1.  Don’t Get Mom Anything Useful

Utility is a major No No!  I bought my wife a really cool broom and dust pan combination some years ago.  How do you think that went for me?  Trust me here, if it plugs in, or can be used to make her more effective in her domestic duties, DON”T GET IT!  It’s that simple.



2.  Anything You Might Want

It is easy to get off track when you go shopping.  Sometimes our roaming through the store becomes a search for what I want instead of what She wants.

It happens.  It’s inevitable.

If you ever catch yourself wondering if She will like that Shotgun, or if She might need a new set of Wrenches, you have found yourself wandering down the wrong road mentally.

I’m working on a solution to this.  It’s a simple GPS shock collar. I program it for the gender I want to shop for and when it senses I’m in a part of the store which is gender inappropriate, I will get a low voltage reminder to turn around.  I’m not sure how legal a device like that is, but I am sure it will save many men from catastrophic mission drift at department stores.

3.  Anything Thoughtless

Here’s what I mean…

Mom: You shouldn’t have gotten me these very expensive earrings.  My oh my!  Look at that.  You forgot to take the price tag off.  Honey, I can’t believe you spent that much money on me!

You:  You’re the best, Mom.  Nothing is too good for you.  Money isn’t an issue when it comes to the Mom I adore so much.

Mom: But honey, I don’t even wear earrings.  In fact I’ve told you time and time again that I haven’t worn earrings since that time in …. (30 minutes later)… Don’t you remember now?  What were you thinking?

You: ??????

Any questions?

4.  Anything Re-Gifted

We are all guilty of this.  You get something every year you really don’t know what to do with.  You stuff it in the closet without even taking it out of the box.

When special days, like Mother’s Day, come around it begins to call out to you.  It says, “The lines will be long, the stores will be crowded, the best items will be picked through.”

What are you going to do?

You give in.  You re-wrap.  You attach an appropriate card.  You give it to Mom.

DANGER!  Moms are nearly omniscient.  This is something you remember just before she says, “Oh honey, isn’t this the gift that cousin Charlie gave you at last year’s Christmas?”

You really don’t want to suffer that kind of indignity, so don’t go there.

5.  Anything Bought at a Gas Station

No matter what you buy, no matter how much you spend, buying Mom a gift at the gas station reveals how truly ungrateful you are as a child.

Mom:  Thank you for the air fresheners and the assortment of king sized candy bars.  I can’t imagine what I did to deserve such a gift.  I mean, I bore you with great discomfort for nine months.  I was blessed, if you think about it, to only have 30 hours of labor with no epidural!  Oh the diapers I changed.  And your poop stunk…… (30 Minutes later)….  But really, thank you.  At least my car will smell great.

You:      🙁

Conclusion

Moms are a special gift from God.  They deserve a special gift from you.  Avoid these five buying errors and you will bring much honor to those moms in your life.

What wisdom would you include in this list of things to avoid?

Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her.

Whose Monkey Are You?

Forgive me if you’ve heard this one before. It was a favorite story of my maternal grandmother, Lala.


A woman carrying her baby got on a bus. As she paid her fare, the bus driver remarked, “Lady, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.”

Though hurt, she brushed off the comment, and found a seat all to herself. She held her baby tight and tried to forget about the driver’s comment.

At the next stop, a drunk got on the bus. He stumbled down the aisle and plopped down in the seat opposite the woman. After taking a swig from his flask, he looked around at the other passengers and his eyes lit on the woman and her baby.

He blinked hard twice and said with a slur, “Geez, lady, that’s the ugliest darn baby I’ve ever seen!”

She slid over from the aisle to the window, trying to avoid the drunk, the driver, and the tears forming in her eyes.

“Whoa,” the drunk shouted. “If that baby ain’t ugly, it will do till ugly get’s here!”

She couldn’t take any more of this. At the next stop, well before her destination, she rushed off the bus. She was left standing on the street corner, sobbing, as the bus drove away.

A gentleman came over, trying to console her.

“What’s the matter, lady? What happened?” he asked. “You wait here. I’ll be right back.”

He was gone for just a second. He ran into a store and when he came out he handed her a cup of water.

“Now, now. Stop crying. It can’t be that bad. Drink some of this water,” he said. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Here’s a banana…….for your MONKEY.”

I can’t count how many times I heard that joke. I guess I heard it enough to appreciate one thing: You’re Always Somebody’s Monkey, No Matter How Ugly You Get.

Mother’s Day is a good day to celebrate the one who loved you even when you were Monkey Ugly!

The Economics of Mother’s Day

Have you bought your Mother’s Day gift yet?

Americans are going to drop some MAJOR money for Mother’s Day this year! It’s projected to be in the neighborhood of $19,000,000,000!



The Florists are thankful for Mothers. They are going to rake in about 10% of that $19 Billion.

Greeting card companies are going to bring in almost ¾ of a Billion Dollars this year for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is the 3rd biggest gift buying holiday, just behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

And these number are just going to increase! There are 4.3 babies born every SECOND!

 We make a big deal out of moms, and rightly so. Join us for a special Mother’s Day worship service at First Baptist Church, Nederland and let’s thank God, together, for mom!

4 Suggestions for Mother’s Day

Your mom is unique, so I’m not going to tell you specifically what to get her or any other special mom in your life.  Here are 4 suggestions that will get you closer to that perfect gift.

1.  Give Her Affection

This is not some kind of fancy perfume.  There is nothing fancy at all about affection.  Affection is expressing your love openly.  It means giving a hug, holding a hand and bragging on her in public.

None of that hidden love stuff will work on Mother’s Day.  The corsages you will see moms wearing on Mother’s Day are worn for the world to see.   Why?  They are signs of affection.  Don’t hide your love for mom under a bushel.  Let the world know that you love her!

Sit with Mom at Church.  Put an arm around her in a crowd.  Tell your friends, “This is my Mom.  My Mom’s the best!  My Mom is better than your Mom.”  Don’t hold back!



2.  Show her Gratitude

There are only a few things worse than an ungrateful child: nuclear war, bed bugs, and ….… I forgot the third one because it was so heinous.  So if gratitude is good, pour it on baby!

Hallmark has some great cards to express thanks to Mom for all she’s done, but don’t leave it completely up to Hallmark.  Express your own heartfelt gratitude to Mom. You don’t have to be a poet to tell her “Thank You.”  You just have to have a heart.

Tell her thank you for something specific.  Thank her for a special time you shared with her.  Tell her thank you for something she never knew mattered to you.

Bottom Line: Don’t Skimp On The Thank You’s.

3.  Make Her Presence

No, I did not mean presents.  You can make her a present if you are a real craftsman or you are under 12 years old.  If you are neither of these, then focus on spending some time with her.

Cards and flowers and candies are good, but they are even better if you can give them to her in person!  It’s the personal touch that really matters.  Mom is going to throw out the flowers after a few days.  The candies will be picked through and discarded.  The cards may stay on the fridge for a month, but then to the landfill.  Apart from YOU, these things lack meaning.  Accompanied by you, they will make for a moment treasured by Mom.

4.  Show Her Devotion

Everybody likes being doted on.  They like it even more when it’s by the people they like the most.  This means dote on your mom.  Make it all about her.  Being devoted means there is nothing that will come between you today.

Make sure Mom knows you’ve turned off your phone, you’ve canceled your appointments, you’ve rearranged your schedule and you’ve done all of this just to be there for her!

What’s important on Mother’s Day is what’s going on in her life, what’s she’s interested in, the latest scoop about what she is most concerned about.  Pay attention to her.  Be devoted to her.

Conclusion

I really do hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.  We all have moms so we all have reason to thank God for the gift of Mom.  Let those special ladies in your life know that you really do care about them and all they have done for you.

What would you add to this list?

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Entering the Kingdom of God Like a Child

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive
the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Mark 10:15 NIV

When I think about the qualities of childhood that indicate our entrance into the Kingdom of God, I can’t help but think back to Hallie’s baptism.

Hallie walked down the aisle and confessed Christ as Lord on a beautiful Easter Sunday a number of years ago. She had as much enthusiasm about her decision as anyone I’ve ever seen.

At that time, we were living in a community that had a swimming pool.  As the weather warmed, and it got closer to the time for her baptism, I would ask her while we were at the pool, “Hallie, can we practice your baptism?”

She would shake her little head and say “No” with an anxious voice.  She hated being dunked in the pool, and I was afraid that she wouldn’t want to be dunked in the baptistry at the church.  She was adamant. There would be no practice baptizing!

When her big day arrived she donned her white robe, wore a proud little smile, and was as eager for the baptism as she was about walking down the aisle.

Rather than being nervous, she exuded JOY.

JOY is one of the qualities of childhood that Jesus had on his mind when he commended us to receive the Kingdon of God like a little child.

Think back to when you first realized God’s grace in your life. Think back to when you received God’s great salvation. Think of the JOY you felt as you became a child of God.

Hallie’s picture reminds me of that JOY.

JOY comes from participating in the great plan that God has for each of our lives. Participation comes only on the basis of responding to his invitation. God does not force himself upon us.  He calls to us and encourages us and invites us into his work.

Working with God brings about the kind of JOY that can only come from God.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the JOY of your master.'”
Matthew 25:21 NASB

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A Great Friday Morning for Coffee and Prayer

You can pray wherever you are, whenever you need to. But there are times and seasons that seem to enhance our desire for prayer. 

When it’s 53 degrees in the morning, on a morning in the month of May in southeast Texas, and the coffee is hot and strong, prayers come easily. 

Any moment that can be received with thanksgiving can turn into a moment of prayer. 

Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for what you do not have. Be thankful for what God has helped you to lose. Be thankful, ahead of time, for the blessings God will send.